Myrna Robins

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If I didn’t already live here, this is a weekend that I would book for right now! Our little village, perched on a road that climbs through vines and orchards to reach a dead end among drifts of fynbos and proteas on the Sonderend mountains, is small, historic, beautiful. It is also home to a diverse collection of fascinating wine cellars and restaurants that range from award-winning fine dining to hearty country fare presented on a terrace with heart-stopping views across valleys, hills and undulating ranges.

Along with weekends as quiet and reflective or as energetic and busy as visitors wish, there’s a new attraction to contemplate: Geared to small groups of friends or family (8 – 12) or even corporate colleagues, Fiona Cameron-Brown is orchestrating slow wine and food weekends for visitors who enjoy taking the road less travelled and unearthing the secrets of rural cellars, small and large, who produce good to outstanding wine at palate-pleasing prices.

Mouthwatering meals will be as varied, the wines matched to courses, the hospitality will be warm, and the accommodation cosy and central or luxurious in a lofty setting. Weekends that are planned well ahead are themed, but groups who would like their own itinerary catered for, are welcome to discuss their wishes with Fiona.

The best part is that those who yearn to be pampered from start to finish, will relish typical itineraries that start with transport from Cape Town International airport to McGregor on a Friday afternoon, with sundowners and dinner to come. Saturday could see the group enjoying morning tastings at local cellars, and free time to explore the village attractions in the afternoon. Tastings and dinner at another venue will be on the Saturday evening programme, with more to follow on Sunday morning, finishing with a memorable Sunday wine and dine lunchtime finale before being taken back to Cape Town.

Slow Wine Weekends are designed for the 40 – 50+plus set. Visit the website at For more info, send an email to with your queries or call 023 6251450 between 10h00 and 13h00 from Mon – Thurs.

Among the cellars taking part is the large McGregor Wines, a producer of agreeable white wines selling at budget-beating prices, good cabernet, easy-drinking merlot and pinotage.

In a charming thatched cellar perched on the lower slopes of the Sonderend, Lord’s Wines are producing some fine wines: their pinot noir has been discovered by retailers in other regions, their cap classique is moreish, and their sauvignon blanc is a good choice on a warm day.

McGregor is also home to Solara, the valley’s first certified organic wine, a single vineyard sauvignon blanc that makes a memorable sundowner. A portion of profits from sales of every bottle is channelled to the Landmark Foundation which does sterling work in conservation of Cape leopards across the Western and Eastern Cape provinces

Ilse Schutte is a talented garagiste who makes her hand crafted shiraz and an excellent bone dry non-vintage cap classique from accommodation in the centre of McGregor. These make a fine pair and I hope she will include a rosé in her range soon, as she has made fine examples in the past. Bemind Wyne translates to Beloved Wines.

A few kilomeres outside the village Tanagra Private Cellar has already been discovered by hundreds of enthusiastic German visitors, and if you haven’t sampled their superb cabernet franc, grappas and eaux de vie of world class, you are in for a treat. Their rosé is in a class of its own, and is sold out virtually before bottling. Robert and Anette Rosenbach have restored a rundown farm with a magnificent wild fig tree to pristine perfection, and their stylishly decorated cottages are another attraction for weekenders from afar.

Jan Kannemeyer, owner and winemaker at Wolfkloof, has had a life-long love affair with merlot.  Set in spectacular surroundings and producing wonderful wines, Wolfkloof’s cellar is located on the edge of Robertson.

Also taking part is well-known winemaker and consultant Lourens van der Westhuizen who makes great wines and enjoys sharing his expertise with keen winelovers. His single vineyard wines are renowned for their affordable quality.



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RESULTS of local wine shows,  contests and steakhouse finalists.




The 2016 Old Mutual Trophy Wine Show results were announced recently.  Gold medal counts were significantly higher than in 2015, with a better spread across a number of classes. This year's winner of the Old Mutual trophy for the Show's most successful producer was Delaire Graff Estate, first time recipient of the coveted award. With the American Express trophy for the highest scoring cabernet sauvignon, gold medals for the Chenin Blanc Swartland Reserve 2014 and Coastal Cuvée Sauvignon Blanc 2015 and a clutch of silver and bronze medals, winemaker Morné Vrey’s stellar achievement was evident for all to see. Close on his heels were Tokara with the Grande Roche trophy for Best White Blend and the Old Mutual trophy for best White Wine overall for the Director’s Reserve 2014, and Nederburg with trophies for The Young Airhawk Wooded Sauvignon Blanc 2015 and the Private Bin Eminence Noble Late Harvest Muscadel 2012, respectively.

There were 1067 entries, from which the 9 judges awarded 509 bronze, 113 silver and 35 gold medals. There were 21 trophy winning wines and 27 trophies overall.The most decorated wine at the 2016 show came from a mystery producer: Secret Cellar chenin blanc’s identity remains unknown except to a lucky few.


 2016 Trophy Winners

Old Mutual Trophy for Most Successful Producer Overall

Delaire Graff Estate

American Express Trophy for Best Cabernet Sauvignon, Old Mutual Trophy for Best Red Wine Overall

Delaire Graff Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve 2013

Grande Roche Trophy for Best White Blend, Old Mutual Trophy for Best White Wine Overall

Tokara Director’s Reserve 2014

Harold Eedes Trophy for Best Chenin Blanc, Old Mutual International Judges’ Trophy,

Old Mutual Trophy for Discovery of the Show / Best Value Gold Medallist

Secret Cellar Chenin Blanc No. 235 2015 (Ultra Liquors)

Miele Trophy for Best Chardonnay

Rustenberg Five Soldiers Chardonnay 2013

Nestlé Pure Life Trophy for Best Sauvignon Blanc

Nederburg The Young Airhawk Wooded Sauvignon Blanc 2015

Riedel Trophy for Best Bordeaux-Style Red Blend

Gabriëlskloof The Blend 2013

Tony Mossop Trophy for Best Cape Port

KWV Classic Collection Cape Tawny NV

Trophy for Best Semillon

Franschhoek Vineyards Semillon 2014 (Franschhoek Cellar)

Trophy for Best Cabernet Franc

Vrede en Lust Artisan Cabernet Franc 2014

Trophy for Best Shiraz

Stellar Organics No Sulphur Added Shiraz 2015

Best Shiraz Blend,winner of the Trophy for Best Non-Bordeaux Red Blend

Zonnebloem Shiraz Mourvèdre Viognier 2014

Trophy for Best Pinotage

Brampton Pinotage 2014

Trophy for Best Merlot

GrootePost Merlot 2014

Trophy for Best Unfortified Dessert Wine

Nederburg Private Bin Eminence Noble Late Harvest Muscadel 2012

Trophy for Best Fortified Dessert Wine

Landzicht Wit Muskadel 2015

Trophy for Best Museum Class Unfortified Dessert Wine and Trophy for Best Museum Class Wine Overall

Neethlingshof Short Story Collection Maria Noble Late Harvest 2009

Trophy for Best Museum Class Sauvignon Blanc

KWV Cathedral Cellar Sauvignon Blanc 2010

Trophy for Best Museum Class White Blend

Vergelegen G.V.B 2012

Trophy for Best Museum Class Chardonnay

KWV The Mentors Chardonnay 2011

Trophy for Best Museum Class Chenin Blanc

Bosman Optenhorst Chenin Blanc 2011

Trophy for Best Museum Class Cape Port

KWV Limited Release Port 1948

For more, see





Twelve  Shiraz wines were crowned  victors during the award ceremony of the 4th Shiraz Challenge held at Rhebokskloof in Paarl. A handful of cellars are staking their claim in the contest for the country’s foremost Shiraz by repeatedly winning top honours with five producers in particular taking the lead.


Top 12

Alto Shiraz 2013

Babylonstoren Shiraz 2014

Cederberg Shiraz 2014

De Morgenzon Reserve Syrah 2014

Eagles’ Nest Shiraz 2013

Fairview Eenzaamheid Shiraz 2013

KWV The Mentors Shiraz 2013

KWV Laborie Limited Collection Shiraz 2014

Rickety Bridge Shiraz 2013

Saronsberg Shiraz 2014

Strandveld Syrah 2012

Windmeul Shiraz Reserve 2013


 In the division for Shiraz blends Alvi’s Drift, Eikendal and Middelvlei showed their mettle



The Prescient Cabernet Sauvignon Report 2016


In conjunction with Prescient, a multinational financial services provider, is pleased to present the fifth annual Cabernet Sauvignon Report. Cabernet Sauvignon is the world’s best travelled dark-skinned wine grape. In its traditional home of Bordeaux, it’s a component of some the world’s greatest wines and it’s been taken up far and wide as producers seek to emulate this. In South Africa, it’s the third most widely planted variety making up 12% of the national vineyard. The Report was devised to scrutinise the top producers on an annual basis.There were 60 wines in the line-up, submission by invitation only and judged blind. 12 wines were rated 90 or higher on the 100-point quality scale .

The top wines

Delaire Graff Reserve 2013
Price: R500

Spier Woolworths Private Collection 2013
Woolworths price: R149.95

Plaisir de Merle 2012
Price: R180

Nederburg II Centuries 2012
Price: R345

Môreson Magia 2013
Price: R750

Thelema 2012
Price: R195

Vergenoegd 2011
Price: R190

Boekenhoutskloof Stellenbosch 2014
Price: R420

Fleur du Cap Unfiltered 2013
Price: R144

Kleine Zalze Vineyard Selection 2013
Price: R115

Rickety Bridge Paulina's Reserve 2013
Price: R250

Stony Brook Ghost Gum 2012
Price: R275




Winners of The 14th Muscadel SA Awards, sponsored by Enartis SA, were announced at, Paarl on 26 May. From the 16 entries received, Orange River Cellars White Muscadel 2015 and Du Toitskloof Cellar Red Muscadel 2014 triumphed.


The Breede Valley showed once again why it is the “soetes” capital with a handful of gold awards: Van Loveren Rooi Muskadel 2015, Rooiberg Red Muscadel 2015, Badsberg Red Muscadel 2014 and De Wet Cellar, who took gold last year as well, won gold for their De Wet CellarRooi Muskadel 2014.

 Boplaas from Calitzdorp in the Klein Karoo won gold for the second consecutive year for their Boplaas Heritage White Muscadel. .

This year’s judges were Dave Hughes, David Biggs (wine writer), Bennie Howard (Cape Wine Master), Gert Van Deventer (winemaker) and Winifred Bowman (Cape Wine Master).


The Wolftrap Steakhouse Championships 2016

Twenty Finalists have been announced and the 2016 Champion Steakhouse will be announced on 21 June

The 2016 finalists in alphabetical order, and colour-coded according to location, are:

  • Cattle Baron, Mossel Bay - Southern Cape
  • Cattle Baron, Tableview - Western Cape
  • Havana Grill, Durban - KwaZulu Natal
  • Hillside Tavern, Lynnwood, Pretoria - Gauteng
  • HQ, Cape Town - Western Cape  
  • Jayz Grill, Pietermaritzburg - KwaZulu Natal
  • Karoo Cattle and Land – Irene, Pretoria - Gauteng
  • Little Havana, Umhlanga Rocks - KwaZulu Natal  - 2015 Champion
  • Longhorn Steakhouse, Bloemfontein - Free State
  • Milhaus, Kyalami, Midrand, Johannesburg (North) - Gauteng
  • Milhaus, Olympus, Pretoria - Gauteng
  • Pioneer’s Butcher & Grill, Hazyview - Mpumalanga
  • Texas Grill, George - Southern Cape
  • The Butcher Restaurant, Camps Bay - Western Cape
  • The Cricketer, East London - Eastern Cape
  • The Godfather, Centurion, Pretoria - Gauteng
  • The Grumpy Griller, George - Southern Cape
  • The Hussar Grill, Rondebosch - Western Cape
  • The Local Grill, Parktown North, Johannesburg (North) - Gauteng – 2013 and 2014 Champion
  • ·  Woodstock Grill & Tap, Woodstock - Western Cape
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It’s been a while since I visited this timeless venue, that combines art and history, fine fare and winning wine in an elegant, seamless invitation to linger. It’s one of Franschhoek’s most historic farms and one that wears its centuries lightly.

While planning to soak up some Grande Provence charm this month I have been sampling their 2014 wooded chardonnay with enjoyment. It is full-flavoured, well-balanced, with oak and fruit - stone fruit and citrus – offset by a freshness that makes it an enjoyable summery aperitif as well as a wine that will partner complex salads, poultry and shellfish with panache. It sells for R150 from the farm.

Mid-March will see Earth Hour being marked across the globe. Grande Provence celebrates the occasion with a special dinner, served by candle and lantern light between 8 and 9,30pm on Saturday March 19. Chef Darren Badenhorst will complement the occasion with a menu of sustainably sourced and free-range produce, cooked, where possible, over open fires. There’s an alternative Earth Hour lunch as well, cosing R395, while dinner is R695 a head and includes a welcome glass of bubbly.


Looking ahead to April, the farm will present the first of their annual monthly Wine and Dine Collaboration dinners on April 29. Chef Badenhorst tailors his menu to suit the wines, which starts with chardonnay, including those of De Morgenzon, Iona and Newton Johnson vineyards. Cost: R695 a head. To book call 021 876 8600 or email

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We enjoyed a diversity of wine and bubbles over the festive season, including a number of new releases. Here’s info on the latter that I think merit attention – they were relished by family and friends.



Starting with an exotic white (a grape that I have now added to my favourites lists along with some Med varietals,) every sip of Thelema’s maiden unwooded Verdelho 2015 was savoured. From a vineyard planted in Sutherland in 2007, the specs list this as produced from the earliest recorded harvest in Sutherland history. I liked that fact that its markedly different to our standard whites, and is a little fruitier than some of the Provencal grapes now favoured by adventurous winemakers. The combination of gently spiced citrussy flavours and discernible structure was delicious. It’s also a fine partner for Iberian fare: Gyles Webb suggests that local Angolan and Mozambican favourite, fiery chicken livers (and fado) - I would also recommend trying it with chicken liver, yes, but gently spiced and finished with fresh coriander or possibly an Algarve cataplana with chourico and onion, tomatoes and fresh clams.

I believe that both KWV and Fairview are producing Verdelhos as well – I hope to get to taste these soon.


Now for a wine that both gourmets and geeks will probably sniff at, but – when January budgets are depleted and the bills are still rolling in - a pleb colombard, well chilled, fits the bill. This fresh, easy-drinking (and early-drinking) dry but fruity white has enough character to please, and at R32,50 ex-cellar, slips down smoothly. Robertson Cape White Columbar 2015 sports not one but three golds above its long white minimal label, including one from Veritas. Interesting to see that the only other colombards to attract gold are from neighbouring Worcester region.


Another holiday white worth noting is La Petite Ferme Baboon Rock unwooded chardonnay 2015: - heavy bottle, white label adorned with realistic baboon, minimal wording on front label. More on the back, expanding on how baboons frequently ravage the chardonnay vineyards, but (philosophically) adding that what’s left is more flavour-packed. And this is, indeed, a frisky flavourful chard, with aromas of honey, citrus and pear which continue to the palate. There’s a little minerality (now an unfashionable term?) as well, and it costs R68 according to the farm’s website.

La Petite Ferme acquired a new owner late last year, who is busy refurbishing and upgrading. There is also a new bistro, but I was not able to attend the press opening so cannot offer details. I presume that Mark Dendy Young will be replaced as winemaker, but have not heard about this.

See separate blogs about recently sampled sauvignon blancs, a trio of splendid wines from Neil Ellis and a few fine reds to contemplate.

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The ongoing story of Stellenbosch Vineyards is complex, one I have only partly unravelled:

Let’s start with the recent launch of a small range of Enaleni wines, part of an empowerment project, and the wines Fairtrade-certified. Stellenbosch farmer Schalk Visser gave a 23ha portion of his farm Nagenoeg to 23 farmworkers, now also shareholders in 2009. This BEE project is now coming to fruition, with four cultivars producing harvests, and at least two wines recently launched under the Enaleni label. These are a 2015 sauvignon blanc and 2014 cabernet sauvignon, both of which are selling at around R65. Both wines are undemanding, easy on the palate, and should find favour with  consumers looking for enjoyable wines to accompany summer fare, weekend braais, or just aperitifs on the the stoep. Enalenif funding has come from both the SA government and Schalk Visser. There is more information on the website

Stellenbosch Vineyards, which is marketing the Enaleni wines, is both a wine producer and exporter of several labels, with their head office at the historic Welmoed farm on the R310 outside Stellenbosch. Along with Welmoed wines, they market The Flagship, Credo, Stellenbosch Vineyards, Four Secrets, Infiniti, Arniston Bay, Versus and Infusions.

Their popular restaurant Bistro 13 on the Welmoed farm has established itself as a venue that is true to its title, offering real bistro-style fare – chef-patron Nic van Wyk presenting seasonal, simple, inviting creations  incorporating new trends without going overboard. Summer menu includes items like smoked mackerel salad with pickled fennel, an Asian-style tuna tartare, classic steak tartare, ox tongue gratin and desserts worth keeping space for. Prices are reasonable, if the website is accurate – from R120 to R160 for mains, most desserts around R50.

Wines from the SV ranges, by the glass and carafe, the restaurant is open 7 days a week for lunch and dinner and for breakfasts as well over weekends. See their website for more info.

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