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Some 80 years back,  grapes were planted on Buffelsvallei farm, soon to be renamed De Krans, for the first time. They were destined to produce raisins and a little sweet wine. Forward nearly 30 years to 1936 and we find that this farm on the outskirts of Calitzdorp in the Klein Karoo has acquired a cellar, that’s still  in service today, housing the production of a range of quality ports and Muscat wines. More recently, a bigger range of table and dry wines were added to the list, offering consumers a fine choice from this friendly operation.

b2ap3_thumbnail_DK-Chardonnay.jpgDe Krans has just released the new vintages ofb2ap3_thumbnail_DK-Chenin-Blanc-Free-Run.jpg its 2017 Wild Ferment Chardonnay and Chenin Blanc, a pair of unwooded whites which call for long summer days and slow al fresco meals with which to pair them.

 The Chenin is produced from only free-run juice, and winemaker Louis van der Riet chalked up gold from last year’s Michelangelo and the Champion White Wine award from the 2014 Klein Karoo Young wine show with previous vintages. This is a sprightly wine, its zing great for sultry days, where the tropical fruits pair well with marinated braaied chicken and salads or grilled fish. Low alcohol levels at 12,63% are a bonus, as is its price of just under R60.

The Chardonnay, harvested from low-yielding vines on the banks of the Gamka river is  wild or naturally fermented with no yeast added. It presents an appealing hue of limey yellow and offers characteristic aromas of citrus and caramel. Followed by similar flavours, in a mouthful that is also frisky and refreshing with alcohol levels of 13,22. As a lively aperitif, it’s delightfully easy to enjoy, but will also take on pasta, salads and simple poultry dishes with ease. Also selling at R59, which is  easy on the purse as on the palate.

Both these wines are geared to long hot days and balmy evenings, for  informal occasions that do not demand sniffing and swirling and serious discourse. Effortless pleasure, easy drinking, screwcapped whites that spell out Come on Summer, come on!

If you are heading for the Spring Blossom Fest at De Krans this weekend, you will be on the spot for sampling. But they are also stocked at outlets nationwide.

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Harvest has begun in some regions, while grapes are being sampled and assessed in others as cellars get ready for the first influx of the 2017 harvest. Around McGregor the air is not yet filled with the aromas of crushed grapes, but the trail of trucks loaded with peaches that trundle down the main drag seem endless... With the apricot harvest behind us, and the peak of the tomato season just ahead, we have been bottling our 2016 harvest of ripe olives, making pesto, or rather pistou (no nuts) as our basil plants wave in the wind, wafting enticing aromas toward the kitchen. The first batch of ripe fig jam will be bubbling on the stove soon, although keeping birds, large and small, from our crop, is a thankless task.

 

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Durbanville Hills' maiden chenin blanc 2016  arrived just before year end, and its a charmer, Its fresh and lively, fruity and undemanding, yet far from run-of-the-mill. It's the sort of weekday wine that is ideal for those hot January evenings when a well-chilled chenin will precede your salad supper, accompanied by a further glass. The label offers no clue as to the source of the grapes, but cellarmaster Martin Moore told me that he found old chenin vines on various Durbanville farms to make his maiden vintage. So yes, this is Durbanville Hills chenin from Durbanville valley grapes.

 Selling at R55 it should  hold its own with the cellar's several stellar sauvignon blancs, but you may have to hunt for it - its not yet listed on their website or, at time of writing on the Vinoteque site yet. Worth putting on your shopping list.  

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By the first weekend of February, winelovers should be ready to don something cool and white and head to Leopards Leap Family vineyards for a late summer celebration. The 2017 Franschhoek Summer Wines takes place on Saturday, 4th February, offering a selection of summery whites, roses, Cap Classiques and light reds all suitable for warm weather sipping. Pair them with fare from the rotisserie kitchen and relax on the verandah or lawns as you drink in the valley panorama. tickets cost R180 and are obtainable from www.webtickets.co.za/

at R180 per person.  This includes a wine glass and a tasting of all the wines on show between 12pm and 5pm.  

For more info contact the Franschhoek Wine Valley offices on 021 876 2861 or email info@franschhoek.org.za.

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DESTINATION MCGREGOR FOR SLOW WINE WEEKENDS

 

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Slow Wine weekends in the picturesque village of McGregor offer two days of diverse wines, fine fare that ranges from gourmet to country, and the unique combination of tranquillity, hospitality and a pace that is as leisurely or lively as visitors choose to make it. Add in attractions like spa treatments, a busy pottery, serene art gallery and welcoming donkey sanctuary and the pressure to book for a stress-free weekend increases. Mid-February is traditionally time for romance, so the forthcoming weekend is entitled Bubbles for Lovers. There's a good choice of sparkles and Cap Classiques available in the valley, including one that's organic.

To find out more visit  <https://slowwineweekends.com/bubbles-for-lovers-february-2017/>and add a plethora of bubbles to your stay in this timeless village.

Looking ahead to late March, the organisers are putting together a four-day getaway focussing on the harvest in and around the Breede river valley. See  <https://slowwineweekends.com/four-day-harvest-experience-17-21-march-2017/>

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                                   2017 PINOTAGE AND BILTONG FESTIVAL  - ESSENTIAL DIARY DATE!

 

 

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Indulge in two of SA’s favourite delicacies on Saturday, 22  April and Sunday, 23  April 2017 at the  annual Pinotage & Biltong Festival, which takes place at  L’Avenir Wine Estate just outside Stellenbosch from 11h00-17h00.   

 A wide range of biltong products will be paired with specific wines from some of South Africa’s top Pinotage producers for each tasting. Guests can taste and buy some of the best red Pinotages or have fun with alternatives including rosé’s, bubblies, blends and even a white Pinotage!

 

The event is family-friendly with live music, food trucks, light meals and casual seating under the trees next to the dam or on the lawns in front of the cellar. The charity beneficiary is Anna Foundation who will be present to entertain the kids and raise funds for their many worthy projects.  Visit www.annafoundation.com for more info.

 

On 14 and 15 October 2017 it’s the turn of Gauteng fans when the festival will be held at the Leriba Hotel in Centurion, Gauteng as part of the official Pinotage Day celebrations, presented by the Pinotage Association.

 

Tickets @ R200 pp includes a branded crystal wine glass, a biltong cup and a pairing card for the Free Pinotage and Biltong tastings.  Tickets  at www.plankton.mobi.   or www.computicket.co.za from 1 March 2017.

 

For more info visit www.cvomarketing.co.za  

 

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YEOMEN OF THE KAROO:  The Story of the Imperial Yeomanry Hospital at Deelfontein by Rose Willis, Arnold van Dyk and JC ‘Kay’ de Villiers. Published by Firefly Publications, Brandfort, Free State, 2016.

 

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I wonder how many of Rose Willis’s fans have waited  for this story to come to light, to be properly unearthed and recorded?  Reading through the  names in the Acknowledgements, one soon  realises that  the list of friends,  geologists, ecologists, heritage experts,  farmers, researchers, archivists  and family members   who contributed in some way is extensive .  Rose Willis, known to many readers as the founder and compiler of the monthly Rose’s Round-up, found time between teaching and writing  to dig  deep into intercontinental events that are woven into the tapestry of this extraordinary tale.

She discovered Deelfontein when she was living outside Beaufort West and promoting tourism in the Central Karoo, and she was helped in her research by Dr van Dyk , an authority on the Boer War with a library of pictures on the subject, while Prof Kay de Villiers,  a Cape Town neuro-surgeon and expert on both the war and its medical aspects also supplied valuable input.

As the 19th century drew to a close a war raged across South Africa and, on the desolate plains of the Great Karoo, a unique hospital sprang up…

In 1899 the British realised that this war against “a bunch of farmers” was not going well for them, and the government appealed for volunteers. This succeeded as many men, including newly qualified doctors, enlisted and ships sailed for South Africa almost daily. In England two high society women scrapped their social calendars and set out to raise funds for a private hospital to care for the men who would be wounded.

The results were nothing short of  extraordinary –  from conception  in England to erection in the Karoo,  a little less than three months passed before  the Imperial Yeomanry hospital opened at Deelfontein, a narrow valley between a row of koppies and a railway siding, 46km south of De Aar and 77km north of Richmond. The date was March 17 1900.

Stating that it was a place ahead of its time is something of an understatement . I  quote liberally from the press release:  The huge tent hospital that mushroomed in this desolate region was unique… along with operating theatres, treatment and convalescent wards, it boasted specialist units for dentistry, ophthalmology and radiology – all firsts  in a military hospital.  There was a fire station, a dispensary, electricity and a telephone system. It had its own stables and dairy, which supplied sterilised milk. Steam-driven disinfection and waste disposal units helped in the war against typhoid, and ensured hygienic conditions. The laundry washed and sterilised more than 2 000 sheets a week. Drinking water was filtered and running water was piped through the grounds.  There were luxurious touches as well –such as a comfortable officers’ mess with its own mineral water plant and ice-making machine. A chapel, a theatre, sports fields, tennis courts, a shooting range, and, (can you believe) a horse-racing track provided recreational facilities.

How did this happen?  The credit must go to two aristocratic English women – Lady Georgina Spencer-Churchill and Lady Beatrice Chesham, second daughter of the first Duke of Westminster, whose husband Lord Chesham was commander of the Imperial Yeomanry in South Africa. The former focussed on liaison with the War Office and other institutions in the UK while the latter spent much time at Deelfontein supervising affairs. The two women, with help from friends,  raised a substantial sum – 174 000 pounds – more than enough to equip and staff a hospital. The goal was conceived in December  1899, and over the next couple of months tons of equipment was dispatched from England by ship, to be transported to Deelfontein by oxwagon, horse and slow train.

During its year of operation  the hospital treated more than 6 000 patients, and lost just 134, of whom 112 succumbed to typhoid.

In order to cover all aspects of the story, events and people are grouped  into chapters chronologically. Not only  professional men enlisted but  women from all walks of life also volunteered as nurses.  The staff of 200 personnel was not only highly skilled, but their services produced many tales of bravery, dedication and lasting friendship . Boer commandos operated in the vicinity on several occasions, and skirmishes  outside  the  gates caused casualties:  Both British and enemy soldiers were treated in the hospital.

We learn about the many individuals who contributed in some way to the success of Deelfontein’s hospital through s series of cameos – brief biographies of soldiers, doctors, surgeons, donors, nurses, and more.  The final chapter covers those who are buried at the Deelfontein cemetery, today almost the only remaining sign that a hospital ever existed.  Most of these perished from disease rather than bullets.

Other stories  - and mysteries – are interwoven with medical history: the Adamstein family emigrated to South Africa and ended up at Deelfontein where they established a trading store and went on to build a luxurious hotel complete with walled gardens in which peacocks and cranes strutted. The story of the post office that never was provides light relief, its ruins  alongside modern cemeteries which are reasonably well maintained.  Visitors to this forlorn spot report they have the feeling of being watched  in spite of it being  deserted , while the local railway siding attendant takes it for granted that his surroundings are haunted.

The stories are further brought to life with a fascinating collection of old and a few contemporary  photographs scattered liberally through the book:  Portraits of many of the role players are there along with pictures of huts and rows of tents below a koppie which sports its identifying IYH in giant letters.  Interior scenes of the chapel, wards, operating theatre (and an operation in progress) offer proof of just how well organised and equipped the Imperial Yeomanry Hospital was. Sad pictures of a pathetic  informal settlement near the hospital and another of  carcasses of horses – the “true losers” as Willis labels them – remind readers of the many miseries that  war brings.  

This fine volume of Africana combines military with medical history alongside lesser-known aspects of the Anglo-Boer war.  It’s a treasury to dip into frequently, and to accompany all who choose to visit the site where cemeteries and the ruins of the Adamstein’s hotel rub eerie shoulders  in the heart of the Great Karoo.

 

This is my choice as Book of the Year for 2016 as I congratulate  Rose for fulfilling her dream of publishing a story she shared with me back in the mid- 1980s. .

 

The standard edition costs R390 and the limited collectors’ edition R1 400. Postage and packaging come to an additional R100. Order the book from Firefly Publications, make an EFT payment to their bank account at FNB, Preller Plein branch, Acct no 62138779642.. For more information  fax 0865809189 or email palberts@telkomsa.net or Rose Willis at karootour@telkomsa.net.

 

 

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*****

The Platter launch has come and gone and press releases are flooding inboxes as PR’s and marketing staff spread the news of five-star ratings for their clients’ wines. And what an interesting selection there is to contemplate.

I am going to mention just three, all of which I have sampled and greatly admired, giving these recommendations some personal meaning.

 

 

LA MOTTE PIERNEEF 2014 SYRAH VIOGNIER

 

I always welcome the arrival of wines in the Pierneef range, as you just know that they are going to offer quality enjoyment, consistently fine balance and are available at prices that offer shiraz fans excellent value. And so it was when the 2014 syrah viognier was opened – a beautiful wine to pour and savour. It had already been rated a top 100 wine and highly in the consistency awards, recognising a repeat performance over six years.

And so it really was no surprise at all to see that it also achieved a five-star rating in the 2017 Platter guide, which just confirms that CEO Hein Koegelenberg and cellarmaster Edmund Terblanche produce Rhone-style blends of world class. The 2014 vintage is a syrah which offers an aromatic bouquet, followed by some spice and tight tannins. These characteristics combine with elegance and a velvety smoothness that are particularly inviting: The careful balance of each element adds up to a finesse that will attract many more awards.

 

SHANNON MOUNT BULLET MERLOT 2013

From the Elgin vineyards of James and Stuart Downes,  superlative merlots have impressed from the time I tried their maiden Mount Bullet at a show at the CTICC a few years back. The Shannon 2013 Mount Bullet merlot has been rated five Platter stars, along with their semillon 2015, making it one of the few merlots to be honoured as it’s a cultivar that is often treated with disdain by judges and gurus. I have enjoyed every sip of Shannon merlots, wines which set a standard for this cultivar that is seldom duplicated. Downes describes this as a five-way clonal blend.

 

OPSTAL CARL EVERSON CHENIN BLANC 2015

 

Having long regarded Breedekloof chenins  as prime examples of budget-priced wines that over-deliver on quality, it is great to see that Opstal’s fine limited edition wooded chenins  receive the recognition they deserve. Their Carl Everson chenin blanc 2015 is a five-star Platter choice in the 2017 guide, (along with their Barber semillon which I have not tasted). Fruity,complex and luscious with plenty of backbone from maturation in old oak, the grapes are sourced from a 35-year-old home vineyard.

 

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THINK PINK, HULLO SPRING!

 

With a trio of rosés, two of them maiden vintages, arriving on my doorstep during an unseasonably warm spell, it is clearly time to welcome spring with fragrant aromas and mouthfuls of berry and melon flavours.

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First up is an appealing pink from Baleia Wines, their 2016 rosé, produced from syrah and enjoying a welcome low alcohol level of 12%. This is not just a pretty pink, but one that is crisp and dry, medium-bodied and with notable backbone alongside the more predictable flavours of strawberries dressed with black pepper.

This south coast olive farm and winery, not far from Riversdale where the Joubert family launched their first wines in 2011, now have a range comprising three reds and two whites, with a bubbly somewhere in the offing. The new rosé sells for R55 online.

Their extra virgin olive oil is a product to be sampled as well, already boasting two awards, the 2015 scooping silver in last years SA Olive Awards in the Intense category and also taking second place in the Medium Fruit category in the international Sol D’Oro contest. It consists of a blend of Frantoio, Coratina, FS17 and Leccino, offers the ideal base for your spring salad dressing, and costs R85 for 500ml.

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There’s a new addition to Steenberg’s covetable range, simply labelled “ROSE Syrah – Cinsault 2016.” The blend is 72 shiraz to 28% cinsaut and it’s a wine that will convert even non-pink drinkers, thanks to its persuasive charms. The nose hints at its shiraz character, and it’s crisp on the palate, with fruit upfront – mixed berries and rose petals, backed by a bouquet of herbs and discernible structure. Alcohol level is a moderate 13%. Selling at R80 from the cellar door, this is a pink to pair with gourmet picnics and al fresco lunches that start at noon and linger on to sunset.

Executive chef of the Steenberg Bistro Sixteen82 Kerry Kilpin recommends partnering this pink with her signature grilled chicken salad. Cool, but don’t over-chill – you will lose its appetising complexity of flavours.

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To conclude, a light-hearted salmon-hued frothy for the ladies who lunch (and picnic and gather for sundowners) the 2016 vintage of Stellenbosch Hills Polkadraai pinot noir rosé has made it debut alongside their new whites. With an alcohol level of just 10,5%, a second glass can be happily contemplated: the first can partner your spring salad, the second complement your strawberry pavlova. This is a sweet bubbly, but with zing to add fresh flavours of berries to the palate. It sells for R57, offering good value for many a summer celebration.

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Every now and then one attends a function that delivers pleasure way beyond expectation. In this case a few hours spent in the serenely historic surrounds of a 17th century farm in the incomparable Groot Drakenstein valley enfolded us with genteel but warm hospitality. The aura of the past is present at Bellingham - not so much in the gabled farmstead – but in the green and pleasant acres that surround it. This was heightened by the fact that the host – Bellingham winemaker and brand manager Niël Groenewald - is himself a generous and enthusiastic food-and-wine connoisseur enabling the present to entwine seamlessly with the past.

Launches of new wine ranges can take many forms, and here guests were treated both to an informal tasting followed by a buffet of superior Kaapse kos, a menu partly designed to complement the wine. Our tasting involved matching the new Homestead range to piquant rubs and spreads designed to enhance soups, salads, seafood, poultry, red meat – and even dessert. These trendy creations of Niel’s comprise a lemon and fennel salt rub which paired nicely with the sauvignon blanc, a well-balanced meld of Durbanvhille herbaceous and fruit flavours. A delicious coriander and sesame dukkah with Middle Eastern notes was matched to my favourite of the range, the 2015 chardonnay: Sourced from various Stellenbosch vineyards 60% of the wine spent time in oak

Rosemary and elderberry rubbed into red meats call for the 2014 pinotage, to highlight South African favourites like leg of lamb. These grapes were sourced from Stellenbosch and the wine bursts with mixed berry flavours. The 2014 shiraz is an easy-drinking, gently peppered and spiced classic, companion to a smoked rooibos and paprika sprinkle. From Paarl grapes this spice mix is great for slow casseroles and warming bredies.

There’s a chenin blanc as well, which we did not get to taste, and I guess it leans toward the off-dry as Groenewald accompanies it with a moreish honey butter spread, designed as a dessert topping or salad dressing ingredient.

The Bellingham farmhouse has been altered so much over the centuries that Hans Fransen and Mary Cook simply state that the gable, dated 1777, is modern, though the farm was originally granted to one Gerrit van Vuuren in 1695. Following many owners, the renowned Podlashuk couple bought the property some 250 years later, acquiring a rundown farm, which they set about making very much their own. Having added on rooms at odd angles and various levels, visitors today enter into something of a maze, with interior décor that mingles beautiful antiques with kitsch, exotic eccentricity with the rare and lovely, all in happy abandon.

This fascinating couple were not just famous for their lavish hospitality, but also responsible for developing orchards and vineyards, with Bernard making the first dry rosé in South Africa, followed by our first premier grand cru, or dry white - unknown at that time. The Bellingham shiraz, launched in 1957 was yet another first in the Cape industry.

The new range, priced at R65 for white and R75 for the reds and available from the Franschhoek Cellar in the town mirrors the entertaining memories of the mid 20th century, offering unpretentious wines that can be opened and shared with friends and family .

We took home a little manuscript of Bellingham family recipes in a leather folder, some history preceding tried and trusted recipes from Niël and friends and others dating back to Fredah Podlashuk ‘s dinner parties. It’s a charming heritage collection and one that suggests that a bigger cookbook could offer a treasury of Bellingham culinary bounty. Just one word of advice: today’s cooks need their ingredients listed in order of use!

Now, I just need to get hold of that missing chenin blanc , before I have emptied the pot of honey butter spread… When I inquired earlier today, it had still not arrived at the outlet in Franschhoek.

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JAN - A Breath of French air by Jan Hendrik van der Westhuizen. Published by Struik Lifestyle, Penguin Random House, 2016.

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There can be very few chefs who not only cook and style their gastronomic creations, but complete the process by doing their own photography.

There are even fewer – in fact, just one - South African chef-patrons who can boast of cooking, styling and photographing fare in his renowned French Riviera restaurant JAN, a venue that has just been awarded a prestigious Michelin star.

Meet Jan Hendrik van der Westhuizen, South Africa’s first Michelin star chef, presently working his way through a hectic programme of launches, talk-shows, dinners and more in Gauteng and the Western Cape. His second glamorous cookery book, JAN, is getting star treatment, along with its author.

It’s a covetable hardback, lavishly illustrated with the chef’s photographs, both culinary and moody shots of antiques, bountiful floral arrangements, timeless French doorways and tiny balconies with curly balustrades. South African pincushions fill a small container, a touch of home in an otherwise Gallic book. Whereas The French Affair, published just three short years ago, contains much that was inspired by his mother and grandmother, this collection is sophisticated gourmet, up-to-the-minute fare, beautifully styled and presented. What adds hugely to each recipe is Jan’s generous instructions, enabling all but the most ignorant to reproduce their choice of his dishes.

From his childhood on a farm near Middelburg in Mpumalanga to the opening of his restaurant in Nice, is a story, he says, “filled with many obstacles, hard work, determination and more than a little bit of luck.” He took over a former motorbike repair shop, and dived into the world of doing business with French. As opening day grew near, Jan continued with his French classes, published his first book and shed a few kilograms. They were fully booked when they opened their doors to diners on a Saturday evening. A little later, with half the main courses yet to be prepared, a power failure led to a comedy of errors, when, Jan relates, there was only thing to do: drink a shot of your dad’s homemade mampoer, offer guests complimentary champagne, take a deep breath and regroup.

Today not only his guests but his staff come from all over the world, and his high standards of service and cuisine have brought plentiful rewards and awards.

The contents of JAN the book follow the menu formula, opening with Boulangerie, recipes for baguette and other French loaves. The Cape with its famous seed loaf, inspired by those served in a Stellenbosch restaurant where Jan had worked as a waiter is there, and another for mosbolletjies, which the French have taken to with enthusiasm. The ideas for amuse-bouche in the next section include squares of pissaladière, mini tarte tatins of fig and blue cheese, his mother’s souttert with sundried tomato jam and Charroux mustard, all easy to copy if you plan a bistro menu. Sophisticated alternatives will please ambitious cooks.

Seasonal dishes inspired by what’s available at the Nice market fill a chapter – salt-roasted beetroot and goat’s cheese crepes, shallot and orange custard, salads of glazed endive, spelt and caramelised sunflower seed and an easy roasted butternut and almond quiche. Meat and poultry are up next, starting with chicken liver and Parmesan mousse (it will be hard to improve on the liver paté in his first book, topped with a Old Brown sherry jelly). Duck, beef, pork and lamb – his lamb shanks look irresistible – precede fish and seafood. Sardines, scallops, and shellfish are given original treatment, alongside good ideas for salmon and trout. Patisserie encompasses several dessert delights – including a luxurious milk tart teamed with muscat-poached pears and quinces, perfect autumn fare for Cape hosts…

Chocaholics will hone in on Jan’s finale of berries and chocolate mousse, his pear and white chocolate hazelnut cake and a chocolate and cassis tart. Buchu sparks his version of classic madeleines with burned butter and honey, and locals will love naartjie panna cotta with white chocolate rocks. Cooking for the staff is a chapter one doesn’t often find in cookbooks but at Jan’s restaurant they can tuck into spag bol, pot-au-feu, courgette fries or a traditional Gallic banana rum and raisin rice cake before or after a busy evening’s work. Alternatively, they make themselves after-midnight snacks before heading home: these could include a banana and salted caramel popcorn smoothie, or Jan’s favourite, biltong, mayonnaise and Mrs Ball’s chutney filling a sandwich of white bread, with crinkle-cut chutney flavoured crisps on the side. Ah, clearly you cannot take South Africa out of this boy! A detailed index concludes the text.

Good food  is a popular subject in South Africa, and when a farm lad makes his mark in the glamorous Med region of the western world’s gastronomic champion, it’s a good news story indeed.

 

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Caption: Willem Blou gets to grips with the sauvignon blanc arriving at Diemersdal for the 2016 Durbanville Twelve.

Photograph: Neels Kleynhans.

 

 

Caption: Brunch in a cellar 

 

Dedicated, determined – and delicious. The first two adjectives apply to the winemakers and owners of the string of wine farms that lies across the Durbanville valley. The last applies to the sauvignon blanc that is a blend of the grapes of a dozen cellars – and it could also be ascribed to the more appealing of the valley  winemakers.

 

The 2016 Durbanville Twelve sauvignon blanc will be the third vintage of this collaborative effort, likely to be launched before the valley's annual sauvignon fest. Soon after the 11 farms each delivered one ton of just-harvested grapes to Diemersdal, which has been the host cellar from the start, the media gathered in the cool cellar of this 17th century farm to find out more about the challenging 2016 harvest.

 

That the valley’s marketing and PR person Angela Fourie managed to get several of the Durbanville winemakers to come to the brunch midway during the busiest week of the harvest was no mean feat. After a sociable start over bubbly from a trio of cellars, we trooped through the cool cellars to taste the sweet juices of the crushed sauvignon before settling at two long tables for a bountiful brunch.

During the many imaginative courses that were served we heard from Charles Hopkins of De Grendel who described the current harvest as the trickiest he has ever experienced, adding that the yield was down by one-third from last year. Both he and host Thys Louw of Diemersdal recently returned from New Zealand and are now experimenting with harvesting the sauvignon blanc at a higher temperature than before, as are the wine farmers from down under. Liza Goodwin of Meerendal, marking her 18th year in the Durbanville valley, commented on the camaraderie that flourishes between the farms. Charles confirmed this spirit of co-operation that comes to the fore if disaster strikes one cellar, also remarking  that nearly half the winemakers in the valley are now women. Veteran cellarmaster Martin Moore of Durbanville Hills remains confident about the quality of the vintage, particularly as the berries on their west coast vineyards were too green to be adversely affected by the recent heatwaves. Etienne Louw of Altydgedacht agreed, saying that they were crushing the components of their cap classique that day. Bernhard Veller of Nitida added that this was a unusual harvest as they had already been picking grapes for four weeks, whereas in other years, they usually only started after the middle of February.

It was also interesting to listen to Bernhard’s views on the future of wine farming in Durbanville; how, as surburb sprawl had reached the boundaries of many farms, he saw the necessity of farmers considering putting a portion – perhaps up to one third – of their land aside for controlled residential development. Survival tactics, this could be called. He also feels strongly that the valley wines are over-delivering on quality and are very under-priced: he thinks that a combined effort on the part of the Twelve could help alter this, which would  raise the status of the valley’s wines at the same time.

 

 

If anyone still has bottles left of the 2013 Twelve, open a couple and enjoy – we sipped this with our meal and the sauvignon has developed beautifully, acquiring mellow minerality, with delicious Durbanville verdancy and fruit upfront.

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We all knew that Kleine Zalze's new cellarmaster had big boots to fill, as he took over from Johan Joubert. Alastair Rimmer's maiden chenin blanc and chardonnay are both ample, enjoyable proof that he will be carrying on the cellar's impressive reputation for over-delivery on quality and pure enjoyment with a range of wines that have attracted strings of awards both here and internationally.

The farm's Vineyard Selection chenin blanc 2015 follows in the tradition of a beautifully balanced meld of fruit with structure lent from subtle oak. Enough acidity to keep everything fresh, ideal late summer wine for both aperitifs and al fresco fare, but can safely be kept for a few years as well. A very good buy at R77.

In similar style, the Vineyard Selection chardonnay 2015, selling for R80 from cellar door is a fine example of Rimmer's talent: both Stellenbosch and Robertson grapes were sourced for this wine, which spent seven months in oak before blending and bottling. The citrus, pear and stone fruit, with apple providing a floral note, fulfil chardonnay fans' expectations, there's a mineral core, and overall elegance which combines to make this a classic with complexity that should develop further if cellared.

In best Kleine Zalze tradition, these constitute another pair of winners.

 

 

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EASTERN CAPE WINE SHOW   IN EAST LONDON

 

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 In response to overwhelming support FNB is extending the East London event to a two-day show.  It takes place at Hemingways in East London on Thursday 3rd - Friday 4th March.  Visitors can enjoy sampling  over 150 of SA's best wines, stock their cellars and meet the winemakers or their representatives.

Find Hemingways at the cnr Western Avenue and Two Rivers Drive, East London.  The show is on from 17h00 to 21h00  Tickets cost R160 per night which includes unlimited tastings, wine tasting glass and wine show guide. Light meals will be  for sale.

For further info, contact  011 482 5936/5/4 or visi:www.easterncapewineshow-el.co.za.


Tickets are obtainable online from
www.computicket.com and from Money Market counters in Shoprite Checkers stores and at the door.

 

 

Eikendal Weintaufe 2016

Eikendal Estate's  its annual Weintaufe,  harvest celebration tkaes placefeast on  Sunday, 6 March 2016. The 2016 vintage of their flagship Chardonnay, still in barrel, takes centre stage as, after its official baptism, guests can sample it, before enjoying lunch from the estate's resident restaurant   Cucina di Giovanni, famous for its delicious Italian fare.

Plenty of other activities including tractor rides, cheetah viewing, lucky draws, golfing action at the dam and grape stomping. Children will also be well catered for.

Tickets for the Eikendal Weintaufe Harvest Celebration 2016 will be available at the gates on the day and cost R50 per person, which include a free glass and barrel tasting. Under 18’s get in for FREE.  Gates open at 10am and  the official christening and tasting of the new Eikendal Chardonnay 2016 takes place at 12h00.

 For more information  contact the estate at Tel: 021 855 1422 or send an email to counter@eikendal.co.za.

 

 

MURATIE HARVEST FESTIVAL

 

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The Melck family will  be hosting their annual Harvest Festival at Muratie Estate on Saturday 12th March under the ancient oaks that guard this historic wine estate. Action starts at 11h30. Entrance costs R50.00 per person. A selection of delicious meals and cold drinks will be on sale and Muratie’s full range of wines will be available for purchase, by the glass or by the bottle

Rijk Melck will talkat 12 noon about the extraordinary characters from the farm’s colourful past, after whom the Muratie wines are named  . After lunch, guests can enjoy live music pfrom the popular Kitchen Jammin Blues Band.

Festival-goers should book their tickets in advance to avoid disappointment. For further information contact Jean-Mari Strauss at Muratie on 021 865 2330 or taste@muratie.co.za.

 

 

Stellenbosch Vineyards Pizza & Wine

 

An inaugural Stellenbosch Vineyards Pizza & Wine Festival  will take place at Welmoed farm,

 home of Stellenbosch Vineyards, on 12 - 13 March where superb pizzas paired with great wines will be served. From gourmet to traditional, vegetarian to Banting and Flamenkuchen to Calzones - the choice is unlimited. the Stellenbosch Vineyards signature range and the hand-crafted Welmoed heritage selection will accompany them. Guests can also.indulge in oyster and bubbly under the thatched area in the middle of the Welmoed pond.  Live entertainment completes what promises to be an unforgettable experience.,

 Tickets cost R120 per person and includes entry, a tasting glass, tasting coupons and the live entertainment. Additional coupons can be purchased on the day. Book directly via www.webtickets.co.za.

 

Upcoming Festival at Benguela Cove Lagoon Wine Estate

 

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Benguela Cove invites guests to experience the excitement of harvest-time and  celebrate the release of their latest vintages on Saturday, 19 March. The day will be packed with fun activities for young and old including a blind wine tasting experience, cheese and charcuterie boards as well as grape juice tasting and face painting for the children.

The event will showcase the following new release wines on the day: Noble Late Harvest 2015, Matilda's Secret Rosé 2015, Matilda's Secret Sauvignon Blanc 2015, Matilda's Secret Red 2014, Benguela Cove Cabernet Sauvignon 2014, Benguela Cove Merlot 2014, Benguela Cove Shiraz 2014 and Benguela Cove Semillon Sauvignon Blanc 2015.

Entry to the event is FREE and guests can look forward to hearing the results of the first Benguela Cove Harvest Photo Competition. The competition is still open for entries and entrants are encouraged to like and follow Benguela Cove on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter for updates about the competition. Competition entries are accepted by means of social media tags using the hashtag #BenguelaGlamour

Contact the Benguela Cove Tasting Room on 083 645 6198 or visit www.benguelacove.co.za for additional information on the competition or to book your visit.

 

CELLARBAKE@NITIDA STRIKES AGAIN

 Popular bake-and-wine pairing festival, Cellarbake@Nitida, will take place at  Nitida Wine Farm,  Durbanville Wine Valley, on Human Rights Day on Monday, 21 March 2016, with a decadent mix of delicious baked goods (savoury and sweet) paired with Nitida’s award winning wines and Methode Cap Classique.

SA’s leading bakers will showcase their creations paired with Nitidas cultivars - synchronizing a balance of tastes, terroir and tannins.

The event takes place at  Cassia Restaurant with an area double the size from previous years to accommodate the influx of  bakers and exhibitors. Pockets of live entertainment and demos are set to accompany the festivities, whilst the little ones may enjoy the outdoor activities. Picnics by the lake and ample indoor and alfresco dining areas are being catered for guests.

 

Tickets are available through Nutickets at a cost of R150 per person [http://cellarbake.nutickets.co.za/1958].

Tickets include entrance, a Cellarbake@Nitida tasting glass and five delicious bake and wine pairing portions. A non-alcoholic option is available at R75 for children and for those who wish to taste only the baked goods. Entrance is free for children under the age of 12 years.

Additional baked goods, as well as a variety of delicious eats, will be available for purchase. Alternate exhibitor products are also available for purchase from the various stalls.

For more information email inga@nitida.co.za or visit the Nitida website at www.nitida.co.za or follow them on Facebook and Twitter @NitidaWine for up-to-date news. Nitida Cellars is situated on the Tygerbergvalley Road (R13), Durbanville, 7550.

 EASTER EVENTS AT WINE FARMS

A week of Easter treats at Yonder Hill wines on the R44 starts on March 19. Adults are offered a tasting of five wines, for R50, each of which will be paired with a variety of Easter treats. Small children can sample Easter bunny juice and sweet treats for R30 a head, while colouring in Easter pictures.

This event takes place daily (excluding Sundays) from 09:00 – 14:00.

For more information on Yonder Hill Wines, please visit www.yonderhill.co.za or phone us at 021 855 1008.

 

EASTER AT BOSCHENDAL

Three items on the programme:  kiddies Easter egg hunt at the Werf Picnics, a 3 course share-dish menu at the Werf Restaurant and a traditional Easter Buffet at Rhone Homestead.

On Sunday, 26 March 2016, children can enjoy enjoy an Easter Egg hunt, pony rides and egg painting while parents relax with their picnics. Picnics start at 12h00, with the ‘hunt’ commencing at 13h30. The cost is R360 for two adults, R195 for a basket for one and R150 per child’s basket, ages 3 – 12 years, including the Easter hunt and pony rides. We also invite our guests to bring their own fold up chairs, tables and blankets.

Executive Chef Christiaan Campbell, will be offering his popular and unique shared dishes, inspired by our farm-style generosity, at Werf Restaurant. A three course menu will be available, including a shared starter, main course and dessert, offering exceptional food, freshly produced off the farm. The seating is at 12h00 and will cost R450 per person.

Throughout the weekend, Rhone Homestead will serve an Easter themed traditional buffet from 12h00, priced at R295 per person, or why not take home some freshly baked hot cross buns and Easter gifts from the Farm Shop & Deli.

 Bookings and pre-payments are essential at reservations@boschendal.co.za or 021 870-4274. 

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MY FAIR LADY AT WAHNFRIED – CATCH ONE OF THE JANUARY PERFORMANCES.

Howzat! A theatrical hat-trick plus one as Atholl Hay and his impressive cast present the fourth consecutive end-of-year triumph to locals and visitors from near and far. A brilliant adaptation of the timeless classic that is My Fair Lady exploded onto the little Wahnfried stage last week, and, after a short break over the New Year holiday, will resume behind the footlights for a scintillating start to 2016.

As Jean van Elden of Durban Theatre Awards has already put up a brief review of the musical on Facebook – one with which we all agree enthusiastically – I am going to quote some of it here, and then focus on a more intimate villagy write-up to pay tribute to a bunch of talented, dedicated, hard-working McGregor locals.

Van Elden: “An impressive well-crafted piece of theatre by an extremely talented cast of performers… A cleverly adapted, succinct script retained the essence of George Bernard Shaw's writing and delivered the charm of a full-length stage production… Beautiful voices, great energy and sincere polished performances were delivered by all.”

Hear, hear – or should that be “ear, ear.”

Mary Corpe is a wonderful Eliza, which we expected her to be, and impresses as she subtly changes accents from London cockney to queen’s English. John Hargreaves is a natural for Professor Higgins, and fulfils a demanding singing and talking role with his usual professional sang-froid. David Magner is a welcome addition to the core of McGregor players, lessening his military aloofness as he warms to his role in support of Eliza. Mrs Pearce, Professor Higgins’ housekeeper, is beautifully portrayed by Barbara Jacobs, while Atholl Hay manages to include a convincing picture of a lovelorn Freddy Eynsford-Hill in spite of demands as director. Gentle Lisa van Zyl-Jones comes across as a delightfully querulous mother to Henry Higgins, while the trio - which constitute the roles of chorus, flower-sellers, maids and race-goers – presents an admirable example of multi-faceted talent: singers, dancers and quick-change artistes. Heidi Muller, Corli van Wyk and Ilana van der Colff , take a bow.

I would like to comment on the impressive quality of costumes – no mention of a wardrobe mistress, but someone (or maybe more than one) deserves applause, while Debbie Mosca does sterling work on the cast’s hair and makeup. As usual, Pieter Holloway sits quietly on one side, ensuring the lighting is faultless, while Michael MacKenzie fulfils the nail-biting post of sound operator – of course he and Freddie are generous hosts as well, welcoming audiences to their charming theatrical venue Wahnfried, which, thanks to a programme of continuous and classy entertainment, has made a difference to many McGregor lives.

As the Worst End Theatre Company’s January production comes to an end, it’s possible to hear My Fair Lady’s classic tunes being whistled and hummed all over McGregor. Perhaps we can get some of that rain on the Spanish plain diverted south as well.

Myrna Robins. Dec 31, 2015.

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 b2ap3_thumbnail_Tanagra-team.jpgTeam Tanagra under the farm's gigantic Wild Fig b2ap3_thumbnail_Tanagra-Karoo-kapokbos.jpgb2ap3_thumbnail_Tanagra-Faraway-portrait-picture.JPGOver the hills and faraway - no one wants to leave this retreat...b2ap3_thumbnail_Tanagra--Cabernet-Francs.jpg

It is tempting to wonder why a linguistics professor and successful businessman from Germany chose to give up life in the Old World and take on an historic, dilapidated farm in the McGregor valley,  but a large number of Tanagra fans is very pleased that they did.

Now, after a decade, the farm is looking wonderful, the distillery and winery are operating smoothly, the veld is pristine, the vineyards flourish and and the farm cottages provide simple, stylish, accommodation for visitors to unwind, explore, chill in delightful surroundings.

Recently WWF, the World Wide Fund for Nature, published an attractive coffee-table book, packed with information and stunning photographs, to mark 10 years of BWI, the Biodiversity and Wine Initiative whose members have set aside hundreds of hectares of their wine farms for conservation. The goal,  to preserve the flora and fauna of Cape regions, ranging from fynbos to renosterbos to succulent Karoo, has been hugely successful.

Tanagra is featured in a chapter on walking trails, and the farm’s three trails are well described: the Bluegum with its resident nest of a pair of African fish eagles, the Reed Route and the Old Dam and Vrolijkheid trail which includes an area where 40 species of indigenous plants are identified with signage.

Trails of Tanagra is also the name given to the farm’s small range of notable single vineyard wines, a trio carefully crafted by talented winemaker Lourens van der Westhuizen, who is well-known for making winning wines for farms all over the Little Karoo and Robertson regions.

The cabernet franc is one of the best I have sampled in years: the 2014 vintage costs R105 and is worth every cent, while the grapes are also the source for an outstanding and popular  blanc de noir, which is always in short supply (R60). For R90 you get either the cabernet sauvignon or shiraz, both 2013 vintages, and both impressive wines to pair with good red meat.

The range of grappas and eaux de vie need a whole article on themselves – suffice to say that these spiritous aperitifs and digestifs are impressing both local and European fans: I recommend anyone visiting the farm to make sure to taste the lemon and quince grappas, both unique and impressive.

While visitors from Europe fill the cottages on the farm at peak season, it’s worthwhile for South Africans to contact Robert and Anette Rosenbach to see what is available: First prize is Faraway Cottage, perched on a rise among fynbos, completely off the grid, yet with every mod con (except a microwave oven!)  But all of them are comfortable, beautifully maintained, and just the venue for a de-stressing weekend. And the Rosenbachs are ideal hosts, offering five-star hospitality that combines efficiency with friendliness while respecting visitors’ need for privacy.

See www.tanagra-wines.co.za for more info.

 

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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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HERE'S THE WINNER

 

 

We are delighted to announce that the winner of the Van Ryn/Klipdrift Brandy competition is Kathleen Hornby Walsh of Hillcrest, Natal. Her prize of two handsome brandies will be delivered to her soon.

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Meanwhile thanks to all those who entered and wish we could have all won!

 

 

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Worthy winners, fantastic fund-raisers, winning wines and a new club – as 2015 draws to a close, this Paarl-based couple and their many friends (and pack members) have an impressive count to celebrate.

 

 

Let’s start with this week’ announcement that the annual EWT Cheetah Awards for advancing conservation efforts in South Africa have been bestowed on Jeremy Borg of Painted Wolf Wines and Angus Burns of WWF SA. In the photo above Jeremy, right poses with EWT's Dirk Ackerman and Kelly Marnewich.

This award goes to individuals who have “ gone beyond the call of duty and extended themselves over a prolonged period of time in support of …the Endangered Wildlife Trust…”

That description certainly applies to Jeremy who, together with wife Emma, have been dedicated in their determination to save the African wild dog, one of our most endangered animals, being hunted to near extinction and with shrinking habitat.

From the date of the launch of their Painted Wolf wines in 2007, they have supported the cause with a donation from every bottle sold. Jeremy works with the Tusk Trust in the UK, which was set up to save elephants in Kenya, but now supports more than 100 wildlife projects in Africa.

Just this year alone, the Borgs have donated just over R300 000 to conservation in the past 12 months, to Tusk and to EWT here to support wild dog conservaron and to Childlren in the Wilderness, which undertakes projects with rural children.

Earlier this year Borg set out on a gruelling 850 mile cycle race from Padstowe to Edinburgh, which he dubbed Pedals 4 Paws, A Celebration of Painted Wolves, raising four thousand British pounds for Tusk. Charity wine tastings, dinner and a pop-up art auction featuring renowned wildlife photographers relieved the cycling monotony..

Earlier this month Jeremy heard that he was shortlisted for Diners’ Club Winemaker of the year for his 2012 Guillermo Pinotage…b2ap3_thumbnail_Painted-wolf-Guillerm.jpg

 

Which brings us to the exuberant, enjoyable, characterful wines of the Painted Wolf ranges.

The entry level Den comfort wines embrace a cab, pinotage, a pinotage rosé, chenin and sauvignon blanc, none of which I have sampled recently. But I was more than charmed by the twin blends in the Cape Hunting range : the screwcapped Peloton Blanc 2014 , (also labelled Lekanyane which is Tswana for wild dog) is an intense partially wooded meld of viognier, chenin, roussanne, chardonnay and marsanne: bold, fruity, complex with a minerally backbone, while its partner, Peloton rouge 2012 is mostly pinotage, finished with 8% Grenache and 6% cinsaut. It’s drinking well, both juicy and savoury, with some oak on the palate. Earlier vintages have scooped awards in Cape blends contests.

The Pack range includes the distinctive Guillermo pinotage, an impressive 4-star example of our indigenous grape, sourced from organically grown Swartland bush vines. Fragrant, fruity, and sophisticated,

The Penny viognier - also from organically grown grapes, wild yeast fermented - is a joyful wine, very moreish, offering a feast of fruit and a dash of vanilla. Citrus and summer stone fruit merge seamlessly with a little spice to a lengthy finish.

Wooded, rich and somewhat elegant describes the 4-star Roussanne 2014 , from Paarl grapes, recently released, this well balanced niche white can take on any competitor.

The Borgs use friends or “pack members” as sources for their grapes in several regions, from Darling to the Swartland, Paarl and Stellenbosch, acknowledging their input, even naming two of their wines after Billy and Penny Hughes, who make their own distinctive wines as well as supplying the Borgs.

Emma and Jeremy met at a bush camp in Botswana which where they came to admire the wild dog teamwork and sociable nurturing, and proved their admiration by structuring their new wine company using a similar hierarchy.

If you are new to these wines, with their appealing hand-drawn labels from artist friends, you are in for a treat. Those who are already fans can now join the new wine club where members can access the rarer labels or attend special events like wild dog safaris. E-mail wineclub@paintedwolfwines.com.

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A pair of  superior Cape brandies – great testimony to the impressive quality of South Africa’s most historic spirit - awaits a winner… This could be you, so don’t delay, enter today, and be in with a chance to raise a balloon to spirited craftsmanship.

 

The Van Ryn’s distillery is a landmark on the Eerste river banks outside Stellenbosch. Established in 1845 by Jan van Ryn, the tradition of fine brandy-making was introduced 170 years back and continues today. Among its range of copper potstills is one dating back nearly two centuries that is still in daily use.

Van Ryn’s 20-year-old Collectors' Reserve is the crown jewel in the Van Ryn collection, a golden spirit that has benefitted from two decades of leisurely maturation in French oak. Sniff it gently, and savour aromas of dried fruit, fresh pears, spice and honey. Sip slowly and let those flavours fill your palate, further enhanced by whiffs of marmalade, citrus, tropical fruit and mellow nuttiness, all enveloped in a satin -smooth mouthful. Since 2008 this brandy has collected an array of gold and double gold awards, both from the IWSC or International Wine & Spirit competition and the SA Veritas Awards. Earlier this year two Van Ryn potstill brandies – The Reserve 15-year-old and the 20-year-old - brought home gold and silver from the prestigious Concours Mondial de Bruxelles, held in China and competing against nearly 1400 spirits from 43 countries.

The Klipdrift distillery in Robertson is not as old as Van Ryn but boasts an intriguing history which is well illustrated at its fine visitors centre. Their Black Gold brought home a silver medal at the 2015 Concours, where judges clearly enjoyed the uncommon blend of fine potstill brandies with Arabica coffee beans from the Ethiopian highlands and cocoa beans from the Cote d’Ivoire. This is a spirit offering a fine tribute to delectable tastes from the African continent, crafted into an after-dinner liqueur that combines spice, mocha and more,  best served neat, over ice.

Both these brandies are among a stable of spirits whose quality is recognised globally as world class, as well as being proudly South African. We need more consumers to discover this, after which they are likely to become enthusiastic converts, and resist the temptation of rivers of diverse – and sometimes inferior - competitors' products  that flow south from Scotland!

When it comes to creating trad Christmas fare, it’s brandy that we need for the cake, the brandy butter, the fruity pud – although using the prize bottles below would be a touch extravagant.

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COMPETITION

A pair of brilliant brandies is awaiting a winner somewhere in South Africa. The prize consists of a bottle of Van Ryn’s 20-year-old Collectors Reserve and another of Klipdrift Black Gold, Together they are worth nearly R1 800.00, and will make an opulent and impressive addition to your home cellar.

To be in line to win the pair, send an e-mail to joycloete11@gmail.com by close of business on Friday, November 13. Include your full name, daytime telephone number and address. Put Brandy competition in the subject line. The winner will have his prize delivered to his doorstep.

The winning entry will be randomly drawn and the winner contacted by e-mail and telephone. Good luck. The winner's name will be published on this website.

Rules:

  1. Only one entry per email address please.
  2. Judges’ decision is final and no correspondence will be entered into.
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Spier estate, above, won awards in both the chenin and sauvignon blanc categories.

Keeping records of the top 10 or 20 wines that were judged winners in various categories this year can be useful, even if only to see which of your favourite wines were not placed and to wonder why. Were they entered in the first place? We are unlikely to find out. But, among these winners, I have found names new to me that could be worth following up and adding to our personal lists. 

 

The second annual Standard Bank Chenin Blanc Top 10 Challenge

A total of 145 wines were entered.

Aeternitas Wines 2010 Price: R120

Boutinot Tea Leaf 2014Price: R74

DeMorgenzon Reserve 2014Price: R210

L'Avenir Single Block 2014Price: R195

Leopard's Leap Wines Culinaria Collection 2014Price: R70

Perdeberg Winery The Dry Land Collection Barrel Fermented 2014Price: R77

Simonsig Chenin Avec Chêne 2014Price: R115

Spier 21 Gables 2014Price: R139

Stellenrust 49 Barrel Fermented 2013Price: R130

 For more information, visit www.chenin.co.za.

 

FNB Sauvignon Blanc Top 10

This year’s Top 10 wines, in alphabetical order, are

Cederberg Private Cellar Sauvignon Blanc 2015

Jordan Wine Estate Sauvignon Blanc 2014

Kleine Zalze Family Reserve Sur Lie Sauvignon Blanc 2015

Merwida Winery Sauvignon Blanc 2015

Mooiplaas Estate Sauvignon Blanc 2015

Nederburg Two Centuries Sauvignon Blanc 2014 (wooded)

Overhex Wines Survivor Sauvignon Blanc 2015 (wooded)

Spier 21 Gables Sauvignon Blanc 2015

Tokara Reserve Collection Elgin Sauvignon Blanc 2015

Uva Mira Sing-a-Wing Sauvignon Blanc 2015

 

ABSA TOP 10 PINOTAGE 2015

The judging panel for this year’s Absa Top 10 comprised Duimpie Bayly, winemakers Neil Ellis, Fred Viljoen and Corlea Fourie, wine writer Samarie Smit, sommelier Georgio Meletio and viticulturist Stephan Joubert. the Top 10 IN A-Z ORDER

:

Altydgedacht Landgoed

2013

Altydgedacht Pinotage

Ayama Wines

2013

Ayama Pinotage

Diemersdal Wine Estate

2014

Diemerdal Pinotage Reserve

Flagstone Winery

2013

Flagstone Writer's Block Pinotage

Groot Constantia Wine Estate

2013

Groot Constantia Pinotage

Kanonkop Wynlandgoed

2012

Kanonkop Pinotage

Neethlingshof Estate

2014

Neethlingshof Estate Pinotage

Overhex Wines International

2014

Overhex Wines International Survivor Pinotage

Rijk's Cellars

2011

Rijk's Reserve Pinotage

Windmeul Kelder

2014

Windmeul Pinotage Reserve

 

AMORIM CAP CLASSIQUE AWARDS 2015

Overall winner and best Blanc de Blancs: Altydgedacht all-chardonnay MCC 2013

Best Rose: Louisvale non-vintage

Best blended brut: KWV's Laborie 2010

Best museum class: Pongracz Desiderius 2003

 

 

 NOVARE SA TERROIR WINE AWARDS 2015

The list of winners in this contest is very lengthy, so here are just a couple of the winners, the rest of which can be found on the website.

Top 5 Estate wines:

  • Neethlingshof Gewurztraminer 2015
  • Groot Constantia Grand Constance 2012
  • Bon Courage Noble Late Harvest 2014
  • Bon Courage White Muscadel 2014
  • Bergsig Cape LBV 2006
  • Novare Trophy for Top Wine Estate
    Bon Courage
    Novare Trophy for Top Terroir Producer
    Nuy Wine Cellar
    Novare Trophy for Top Wine Area
    Nuy Ward
    Novare Trophy for Top 10 Year Achievement Award
    Bon Courage

 

 

ROSE ROCKS

Top Rosé Wines South Africa 2015
Over 160 wines were entered in this,

the inaugural competition.

Overall winner: Tamboerskloof Katharien Syrah Rosé 2015

 

Top 10 rosé wines 

 Arabella Pink Panacea 2015

Brampton Rosé 2015

Eagle’s Cliff Shiraz Rosé 2015

Fat B-d Pinot Noir Rosé 2014

Noble Hill Mourvèdre Rosé 2015

Noble Savage Cabernet Sauvignon Rosé 2015

Signal Gun Rosé 2015

Slanghoek Vinay Rosé Natural Sweet 2015

Tamboerskloof Katharien Syrah Rosé 2015

Warwick The First Lady Dry Rosé 2015

Top MCC  Rosé Wines :

 First: Villiera Woolworths Brut Rosé

Second: Klein Optenhorst Pinot Noir 2012 MCC

Third: Plettenvale Brut Rosé MCC             

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b2ap3_thumbnail_Perdeberg-cellarmaster-Albertus-L-ouw.jpgPerdeberg cellarmaster Albertus Louw

Any cellar that releases 22 million litres of wine a year and still maintains a reputation for consistent quality - along with regularly attracting awards - deserves both attention and pats on the back, no matter what geeks may pronounce about their ranges.

Perdeberg Winery is the giant producer in the Voor Paardeberg ward, a former co-operative, now a limited company,that has been going strong for more than 70 years. Some 60-plus producers, most of whom are in the ward, are contracted to grow grapes of all kinds, although it is chenin blanc for which the winery is best known.

Visit the site at harvest time and you will have to negotiate your way around the queue of trucks carrying bins piled high with grapes that snakes around the yard and out of the gate. If you get to look inside the large cellar, you will see rows of giant stainless steel tanks in the gloom.

Along with its very affordable standard range, there is the Vineyard Collection and, more recently, the Dry Land range, which have upped the quality and choice considerably. Fine chenin, wooded and unwooded, leads the whites, which include chardonnay/viognier and pinot noir/chardonnay blends. Chenin is also used for two bubblies, a maiden four-star Cap Classique and sparkling chenin in the standard range.

The cellar is celebrating a pleasing total  from 2015 Veritas at present, having scooped 24 awards from 29 entries, including double gold for its Dry Land sauvignon blanc 2014 and gold for the Dry Land chenin 2014. I would have reversed these two.

A recent sampling of half a dozen of the newly-relased vintages confirms Perdeberg’s ongoing commitment to value for money. Starting at the top, the star of the show for me was the Dry Land 2014 unwooded chenin, a prime example of how the Cinderella cultivar has blossomed into princess garb, offering delicious aromas of citrus and tropical fruit followed by more on the palate, encased in a crisp summery wine, selling at R70. The chenin from the Vineyard range (R55) is less intense, but presents plenty of stone and tropical fruit, while the Vineyard sauvignon blanc (R55) should please most fans, as it offers a spectrum of flavours along with some grassiness.

I find the whites a step ahead of the reds when it comes to quality: that said, the Vineyard Collection 2013 shiraz is a very acceptable example, medium-bodied, offering classic white pepper, and plum on the palate,(R65) and the 2013 pinotage at the same price will satisfy many fans. The Dry Land 2012 cab (R82) is a typical example of contemporary ready-to-drink red with some backbone and spice along with berry fruit. And that really is what sums up Perdeberg products – if you choose to keep them they will surely improve, but the vast majority of consumers will open them soon after purchase, to toast the sunset, to sip ahead of the weekend braai or to enhance al fresco fare, whether salad, seafood or good Karoo lamb.

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It's still cool enough to appreciate two recently-released classics from La Motte - in fact the weather this week has called for good reds and substantial suppers. The 2012 cab already boasts a winning sticker from the 2015 Sommeliers Selection and its easy to see why, as this beautifully balanced wine satisfies on every level, with juicy fruit offering berry and herby flavours, firm tannins adding structure and a slight earthiness in the long finish. Grapes from Stellenbosch, Paarl, Durbanville, Walker Bay and Franschhoek contribute complexity from assorted terroirs. Open and serve with confidence to enhance good red meat or squirrel away for a couple of years.

Also from the 2012 vintage is an intriguing syrah, enjoyable now with its savoury flavours, but will benefit from cellaring. Fruit is partnered by berry flavours along with a hint of both aniseed and mint. The winemaker has added splashes of grenache, tempranillo, cinsaut and durif, the last-named being also known as Petite Sirah and is a cross between syrah and peloursin. Fascinating sipping...

 

A little earlier I tried the Pierneef 2014 sauvignon blanc and found what I expected: a fresh, green, wine with mineral notes complemented by wafts of apple, green fig and grassiness that reflects the terroir, which, I guess, is a vineyard within spitting distance from Cape Agulhas. A wine to relish as temperatures soar and the yellowtail move into the Southern Cape waters. It sports gold from this year's Mundu Vini, while its companion wine, the Pierneef 2013 syrah-viognier is gilded with stickers from the Old Mutual Trophy show, Concours International, and Top  100. As with previous vintages, an elegant, gently spicy, silky classic that will complement good fare, but is a solo wine of distinction.

 

 

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They win global awards year in and year out, yet our own cabinet insists on quaffing whisky from Scotland (and bubbly from France, but that's another story). The quality of top Cape brandies is simply superb, and that goes for the well-known names, along with some little gems from rural cellars across the winelands.

 

You can be in with a chance to find out more about a couple of these prize-winning spirits early in November, as I have been given two pricy patricians from the House of Van Ryn to give away to you, the reader, in a festive e-mail competition:  Look out for this blog next month. 

 

The SA Brandy Foundation has updated the two main Cape brandy routes, one in the Boland area, the other through the Klein Karoo, which together offer visitors 21 destinations, or 'brandy homes' as they are now being dubbed. There are a couple of lone cellars in other areas, such as Oude Molen in Grabouw and Kaapzicht in Cape Town. The Northern Cape now boasts one too, near Upington.

 

 

 

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Those looking for a few venues to visit, should spend time trawling the website www.sabrandy.co.z/brandyhomes to compile an itinerary. Directions and opening hours are  given,. Some offer tours, others present brandy and food pairings, while others are open only by appointment.

 

When the Little Karoo route was launched many years ago, press members were treated to a short but hugely enjoyable weekend sampling the hospitality and spirits of a few of the members - and those in the Oudtshoorn and De Rust areas are people and places I still recall - overwhelming hospitality, historic farmsteads and cellars, ostriches and six-course dinners that went on until the early hours.  If you enjoy history with your tastings, and are in the De Rust area, don't miss Mons Ruber, housed in an old toll house, with photographs of the 1947 British royal tour on the walls (apparently the royal train stopped there).

 

 

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