Myrna Robins

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Last week saw the official opening of the first of several Leeu destinations in Franschhoek. From December 1, pampered guests will check into this charming 12-room boutique hotel on the main street, just a couple of blocks down from the Huguenot memorial.

The former guest house was only built in the 1970’s, but its comparatively modern background is barely visible, as it now presents an air of great serenity, coupled with a luxurious but understated international feel: the décor, based on natural fabrics and fibres, wood, marble and stone, is the proof that Beverley Boswell is an inspired interior designer.

There is a serious swimming pool, an inviting terrace, and bedrooms are partnered by classic bathrooms with room-for-two showers. The service is set to be exemplary – someone who has booked in (to experience the cuisine!) was most impressed to be asked what size bathroom robe he would like…

Neither Leeu Estates’ owner Analjit Singh nor MD Hector de Galard were there, being on route to India, but we enjoyed meeting regional director Luis Pinheiro and GM Matthew Smith. Oliver Cattermole is the estate’s executive chef and made an excellent first impression with his lunch menu for the media. His first course of green asparagus, pancetta and poached egg was well matched to the Mullineux & Leeu Kloof Street chenin blanc, while a delectable fish masala on puy lentils coped effortlessly with an unusual skin contact chenin, “made like a red wine” explained marketing manager Nicola Tipping . A meaty grenache partnered a delicious course of blue cheese mini-gougères with green grapes, and dessert was a culinary triumph. Vanilla panna cotta topped with lemon verbena sorbet was finished with diced fresh pineapple while the five-star Platter Olerasay complemented the finale with fresh and irresistible sweet sipping. Sadly chef Oliver’s considerable talents cannot be enjoyed at present by anyone except hotel residents: we will have to wait for further Leeu enterprises to open in order to do this…

And indeed, this will not be a long wait – in February Tuk Tuk a microbrewery and Mexican restaurant, neighbour to Leeu House, will start operatons, and this will be followed by Marigold, an Indian restaurant and first for the town, just across the main road. Around midwinter the star of the show, Leeu Estates, comprising a 17-room country house retreat  high on the mountainside, formerly Klein Dassenberg farm, opens along with a winery to produce the outstanding Mullineux & Leeu family wines which are already grabbing headlines in the world of wine. Chef Oliver will be creating fine fare in the restaurant, open to visitors. Then there is the much-publicised acquisition of Le Quartier Francais which will continue to operate both hotel and restaurant much as before.

The Lion has made its first mark in this village renowned for hospitality, good food and wine. It’s a very elegant paw-print, and is set to be followed by more in the same vein.

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Muscat de Hambourg is a German cultivar that is uncommon in South Africa, with Stellenbosch Hills being one of two local cellars that processes it. Cellarmaster P-G Slabbert told us this German cultivar reached our shores in the 19th century – I cannot find it listed under any variations of muscat/moskat/etc in my Sothebys wine encyclopedia.

But these grapes were responsible for the fine aperitif or digestif that is La Serena, an aristocratic blend of Muscat de Hambourg with seven-year-old potstill brandy. La Serena is seductive to the eye, offering brilliant shades of ripe pomegranate, with a nose that incorporates rose petals and also  offers a diverse flavours to the palate, including nuttiness. There is no doubt that its handsome packaging matches its patrician status, being housed in a black box, lettered in gold, that requires some ingenuity to open. Childproof? Probably, and possible adult-proof too if being opened after a long liquid dinner… Only 1400 bottles of this anniversary tribute have been made, and it sells for R350. Wonderful birthday gift for anyone reaching their three score and 10 …. And equally appetising well chilled and paired with a variety of good SA cheeses.

But before we reached the stage of sampling this unique liqueur, Stellenbosch Hills had lined up an enjoyable function at the equally serene Signal restaurant of the Cape Grace hotel, where an impressive menu had been created to pair with the Stellenbosch Hills range.

The first course of citrus cured salmon was partnered by new vintages of the cellar’s sauvignon and chenin blancs. These two popular summer wines have always offered very pleasant quaffing at equally pleasing prices. The current prices –R45 and R35 respectively – seem to have stayed much the same, but the quality of the 2015 vintages has rocketed onto a higher plane indeed: the fruity, medium-bodied crisp sauvignon is fresh, flavourful and impressive, while the fresh and zingy chenin presents a tropical fruit salad with underlying minerality – a bargain buy of note.

Staying with whites to counter temperatures in the 30’s, the fine 1707 Reserve White 2013 made an excellent  accompaniment to a delectable porcini mushroom risotto topped with truffle foam. This opulent blend of mostly chardonnay with some semillon, finished with 10% viognier, enjoyed 10 months in French oak, each component maturing separately. It’s a limited edition, and one that can take on all kinds of spicy seafood, poultry and Middle Eastern layered compositions like B’stilla with panache. Also well priced at R70.

To Stellenbosch Hills and its team, including family member and voluntary PR Nicolette Waterford, a toast to the next three decades!


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As always, October is packed with temptation, offering visitors a range of festivals and similar delicious events to contemplate. The following events are in date order.














b2ap3_thumbnail_SWR_CM_EFlyer_2015_1.jpg SWARTLAND COMES TO KIRSTENBOSCH


Join the wine makers and olive producers of the Swartland at the annual Swartland Country Market.


Producers are bringing their wares to the Kirstenbosch Stone Cottages on Saturday October 10 from 10am - 4pm   Taste, buy and meet the community of the Swartland region.  Come and enjoy olives, breads, preserves, jams, biltong, cheeses and wine.   Free entry, R40 for a wine glass and tasting vouchers. For more info, tel 022 487 1133 or e-mail: Visit the website



On Saturday 17 October diners are invited to ‘rove’ with Boschendal’s resident beef farmer and butcher Mark Muncer as he shares his passion for natural, ethically raised meat.

Guests will enjoy drinks and a 3-course dinner at 4 different venues on the historical Boschendal Farm. One of the stops is their new artisan butchery where Mark will share his insight on what to look for, when purchasing top quality meat. Mark will be joined by Executive chef Christiaan Campbell who will be using Boschendal’s farm fresh veggies from the new Food Garden, as well as pasture-raised Angus beef, Karoo Lamb and free range pork in his delicious farm-to-table menu.


Date:                Sat, 17 October 2015

Time:                From 18h30.

Cost:                R450 pp. (Includes welcome drink, starter with wine, mains with wine, dessert and coffee)

Bookings: or +27 21 870-4274





The Season of Sauvignon Festival is back in the Durbanville Wine Valley from 24 - 25 October 2015.

 The festival will  again include the participation of 12 prestigious wine farms, offering a wide variety of festive activities. Altydgedacht, Bloemendal, D’Aria, Diemersdal, De Grendel, Durbanville Hills, Hillcrest, Klein Roosboom, Meerendal, Nitida, Groot Phizantekraal and Signal Gun will  be celebrating the start of white wine season in their own individual style with superb entertainment for adults and children alike.

The Durbanville Valley Twelve which features all of the Valley’s excellent 2015 Sauvignon Blanc’s will be available at all the  wineries. This wine is produced by the Durbanville Wine Valley from a ton of grapes from each of the 12  farms. Visit for more info or contact Angela Fourie at or 083 310 1228.



Spier Secret festival

Always a little different and hugely popular with foodies in particular, the fourth Secret Festival takes place at this lovely Stellenbsoch farm on October 30 and 31. The focus is on the restored Werf, which is back to being its exquisite historic self, the African restaurant that marred its frontage having gone. Spier Secret delegates will be the first to sample the brand new Spier Werf experience.On the Friday, local and international experts on food and wine will present talks and hands-on workshops to small groups. 

The speakers include:

  • Andrew Merritt and Paul Smyth: The duo behind Something & Son, a social design practice based in London, that tackles social and environmental challenges. The duo's most famous projects include Farm: Shop in Hackney, Future Baroque at the Tate Modern and Compost Tea Bar at the Victoria & Albert Museum. (
  • PJ Vadas: A chef devoted to the idea of sustainable dining, PJ has worked for Gordon Ramsay in the UK and US, he is also the former Eat Out Top 10 chef at Roundhouse and Camphors.

Frans Smit: Spier Cellar Master and member of the esteemed Cape Winemakers Guild (CWG).


The festival launches a planned bakery and café run by one of South Africa's top chefs, a farmer's market and a boutique estate wine cellar. 

On Saturday , the all-day annual Spier Secret Market will offer Spier wine, food from selected local producers and farm-style kids’ activities. Entry is free.

Spier Secret Food and Wine Workshops Day R1100

Visit, and The Spier Secret Festival on Facebook for more info.



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Wining, dining, hiking, biking, chilling, jolling – spend your Heritage long weekend at festive McGregor.



Have you booked your B&B? If not, don’t leave it any longer, as the 2015 mmm-McGregor Food and wine fest is drawing fun-lovers, gourmets, party-goers - and all who enjoy an intimate celebration of great wine and country fare in stunning spring surroundings -  to our special village over the Heritage weekend.

At least 10 valley wineries will take part in the main show, to be held, as usual, in the Dutch Reformed church hall in the heart of the village on Saturday 26th. Tickets cost R50 and include all wine tastings and a glass, while more than 20 food and craft stalls will tempt with a wide variety of sweet and savoury goodies and some fine handwork.

Adding a special vibe to the occasion will be performances by our well-known Unistars brass band and the unique sound of the Langeberg Steel drums, a youthful group of talented performers, in demand all over the wide Robertson valley. There will be other live performers, such as Gary G and Jazz with Steve Robinson and the duo Twixx, so music to suit all tastes and ages is guaranteed. Details of a potjiekos competition can be obtained from the tourism office, who can also update you on events and attractions.

The Heritage aspect of the occasion will be celebrated with a special three-course supper paired with single vineyard Arendsig wines on Friday 25th September. The menu includes West Coast mussels, Karoo lamb and irresistible desserts, plus wine to complement, and costs R350 a head. To book, email

Tanagra wines, grappas and eaux de vie need little introduction to a growing number of fans. This charming farm a few kilometres from the village is joining up with a talented chocolatier who is not only using their grappas in her chocolate truffles, but will offering scintillating pairings – think dark chocolate lemon and sea salt truffle with Tanagra’s brilliant Lemon eau de vie – and there’s more in this vein: Ginny Paterson is the talent behind these moreish creations.

Tanagra will be offering visitors, for the first time, tastes of their cab franc vintage 2014 and the 2015 blanc de noir from their single vineyard cab franc. Hosts Robert and Anette Rosenbach have put their beautiful farm and boutique winery and distillery on the map in a few short years, while travellers from Europe can not get enough of their charming cottages, one of which is an environmental triumph.

If you haven’t already fallen for the charms of Solara, Pat Wermuller’s brilliant organic sauvignon blanc from her single vineyard on Houtbaai farm, just beyond the village, the festival weekend will be a good time to taste it and take home a case or two. It’s a gentle ,well balanced white, with a floral bouquet, and well defined fruit. It lacks the biting acid of some sauvignons and of course is perfect for those who are intolerant of sulphur, as this is a minimal-sulphur, naturally made gem. Animal lovers will be pleased to know that R3 from the sale of every bottle goes to the Robertson Corridor Leopard Project, one of several run by the Landmark Foundation, a NGO headed by Dr Bool Smuts.

We produce some very special products and people in this magical village, and those who are most modest, are usually those whose products are of world class. We look forward to meeting you at our festival, and remember to bring your hiking boots and mountain bikes if those pursuits are on your agenda.

For more info, call 023 625 1954 or e-mail


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b2ap3_thumbnail_Franschhoek-Bastille-Festival_HR-11.jpgLess than a month before the 2015 Bastille Fest fills Franschhoek's cellars, restaurants and open spaces with irresistible offers of wine and artisanal fare. The dates to diarise are July 11 and 12, when the town presents a choice of three venues for festival fun. The first is the Bastille Market at BICCCS where entry is free and a feast of homemade goodies will be on sale, including chocolates and honey, cheese and breads and produce. the second is the Festival food &  wine in the Town Hall, where entry costs R120 which gives you glass and tasting coupons and a R20 wine voucher. Children go in free and will find plenty of entertainment. Wines are waiting to be tasted and gourmet fare will be on sale.

The third venue is the Festival Food & Wine Marquee at the Huguenot Monument, where the top local restaurants presented gastronomic fare and Seychellois chef Marcu Freminot will serve Creole cuisine.


Entrance tickets to the Franschhoek Bastille Festival Food & Wine Marquee cost R200 per person, which includes a complimentary tasting glass, a booklet of tasting coupons as well as a R20 wine voucher to be used on the day. Additional coupons can be purchased on the day.

Other activitiesi nclude the Boules Tournament and the Barrel rolling competition.

Pre-booking through is essential, as no more visitors will be admitted once the venues are full. 

A favourite amongst visitors far and wide, the Franschhoek Bastille Festival scooped the Crowd Pleaser Award at the 2014 KLINK Awards - a consumer-driven, interactive wine tourism competition.

For more information visit or follow us on Twitter @Franschhoek_SA.


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