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Posted by on in News

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It proved to be a bitter-sweet occasion, that day in May when a group of wine writers and retailers gathered in Morgenster’s hilltop tasting room. Similar in many ways to past events where the ever-courteous, charming Giulio Bertrand, flanked by cellarmaster Henry Kotze and consultant Pierre Lurton greeted guests ahead of a tasting of new wines and latest vintages.

This time, however, our host was absent, although we were told he was resting in the gabled farmstead which had been his home for more than 25 years. So he was near enough as we sipped the estate’s maiden bubbly, and sampled seven still wines ahead of a tour through the impressive olive oil plant, now graced by even more sophisticated machines. As always, the lunch that followed was an Italian gourmet triumph, from the simple, flavourful green pea soup, topped with a swirl of newly pressed oil, to the buffet of charcuterie, classic salads and cheeses.

A few days later we learned that Giulio Bertrand had died, with his family around him. One of the Cape’s most beautiful 18th century farms had lost a custodian who lavished money, attention and love on his southern home, adding world-class olive oil to its reputation for fine wines.

We started our tasting with the Cuvee Alessandra 2016, a Cap Classique produced from cabernet franc sans dosage. As could be expected, this is a distinctly different MCC which I found intriguing and enjoyable, with a fine mousse and full-bodied and a long finish. It sells for R227 .

The Morgenster sauvignon blanc 2018 is a wine that should enjoy wide popularity – produced from Stellenbosch grapes it is well-balanced, with subtropical fruit flavours and fresh zestiness in enjoyable combination. At around R80 it also offers good value.

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I think that Morgenster’s White Reserve 2015 is a memorable Bordeaux-style white blend that offers elegance, complexity and great character, its components (55% s/blanc 45% semillon) melding into a fragrant, fruit-filled mouthful backed by a well-integrated structure. After being in oak for 12 months, the wine was bottled early in 2016 . Expect to pay about R220.

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On to the reds, starting with the delicious Tosca 2015, a blend of 80% Sangiovese with 15% cab, and finished with a splash of Cab Franc. While its array of aromas, smooth tannins and fruit and spice combo makes it delightful right now, it is sure to improve even further if cellared. Priced at about R230.

Morgenster’s Nabucco 2015 is an expression of Giulio Bertrand’s favourite cultivar and an example of the great quality of much of the 2015 vintage wines. Nabucco takes a while to get to know – presenting an earthiness reminiscent of pinot noir, spice and herb flavours rather than fruit, all backed by prominent tannins. Cellarmaster Kotze added that when paired with food (beef, mature cheese, dark chocolate) it has a notable effect on the latter. It will also benefit from a few years in a dark cool place. About R340.

Morgenster Lourens River Valley 2014 is a wine made in a more accessible style and offers a delightful blend of a merlot lead with cab, some cab franc and 10% petit verdot. Heady aromas of cherry and vanilla, cinnamon and licorice are followed on the palate by ripe fruit, backed by elegant tannins. It sells for about R190.

The flagship Morgenster Estate Reserve 2014 proved to be a fine finale, produced by Kotze in collaboration with Lurton. This vintage is comprised of 36% cab, 36% merlot, 14% cab franc and 14% petit verdot. It’s a big wine in every sense, with intense nose of fruit and nut, coffee and cigar box and a blend of flint and fruit on the palate, with agreeable freshness. It costs around R392

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And so, an era has come to a close. A timespan of more than two decades which has seen Morgenster - originally established by one Jacques Malan who acquired Morgenster in 1711 – gain in beauty and value while Signor Bertrand was its custodian. I heard that his grandchildren are interested in keeping the farm in the family, which is encouraging news. Arrivederci and grazie.

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The Cape Winelands and Gauteng are both hosting some tempting wine affairs during June

 

 

Franschhoek Bastille Festival | 14 & 15 July 2018

 

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The - can you believe? -  25th  Franschhoek Bastille Festival takes placeover the weekend of 14 and 15 July. As always the village dresses up in  the French colours of red, blue and white and the focus is on  the Food & Wine Marquee, set against the backdrop of the  Huguenot Monument. Sample the superb Franschhoek wines on offer and treat your tastebuds to delicious gourmet fare on sale from some of Franschhoek’s well-known eateries. 

Tickets to the  Marquee cost R350 (Saturday entry) and R280 (Sunday entry),  and include a tasting glass, five wine tasting coupons and a R20 voucher, redeemable on the day.

 As tickets are limited pre-booking via www.webtickets.co.za  is advised. Children under 18 enter for free. The festival times are 11am to 5pm on the Saturday, and 11am to 3pm on the Sunday For more information visit www.franschhoekbastille.co.za.

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OLD MUTUAL TROPHY SHOW WINE TASTINGS

 

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Time to diarise this year's public tastings of the 171 trophy, gold and silver medal winners which scored highest during the 2018 Old Mutual  Trophy Wine Show.  Meet the winning winemakers as you taste their products which will also be for sale.

Find the results of the 2018 Old Mutual Trophy Wine Show, and the lists of trophy and medal winners and additional information (such as Top 10 best value wines) at www.trophywineshow.co.za and on the Old Mutual Trophy Wine Show website.  Tasters will also be able to download a list of the public tasting wines before attending the event. 

The Old Mutual Trophy Wine Show competition took place in Paarl over 4 days from 30 April. The 2018 judging panel, chaired by wine authority Michael Fridjhon, included a number of top international judges.

 

CAPE TOWN PUBLIC TASTING

Date:               Wednesday 13 June 2018

Venue:             CTICC (Ballroom, Level 1), Convention Square, 1 Lower Long Street, Cape Town

Time:               17h00 to 21h00

Parking:           Secure underground parking available in CTICC parkade

 

JOHANNESBURG PUBLIC TASTING

Date:               Friday 15 June 2018

Venue:             Sandton Convention Centre (Bill Gallagher Room), Maude Street, Sandton

Time:               17h00 to 21h00

Parking:           Secure underground parking available at convention centre and neighbouring parkades

  • Bookings: Book tickets online now via Computicket.com for both the Cape Town and Johannesburg events.
  • Ticket price; R200 .  Buy online or at the door, subject to availability. No under 18s, babies nor prams. 
  • Important details: Ticket includes tasting glass, unlimited tastings.
  • Wine Sales: Wines at show prices can be ordered from the Makro ‘pop-up’ store at the tasting.
  • Refreshments:  Light meals are for sale.
  • Enquiries: (011) 482 5936. www.trophywineshow.co.za;www.outsorceress.co.za.  Find us on Facebook and follow @omtrophywineson Twitter; #OMTWS2018, #OMTWS

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Delheim Jazz & Cheese Fondues all jazzed up with  new line-up

 

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The Delheim Jazz & Cheese Fondue series plays an exciting new tune this year thanks to a collaboration with the Cape Town Music Academy (CTMA) and Jazz in the Native Yards. The events .will take place every Sunday from 24 June to 26 Augus.t

The CTMA is a not-for-profit company (NPO) that seeks to create opportunities for local, established and emerging musicians and related artists in the Western Cape. .The Jazz & Cheese Fondues are hosted in Delheim’s cosy ‘downstairs’ wine tasting cellar, snug with low ceilings and intimate tables.

Tickets are R450, which includes  the live  performances, Glühwein and soup on arrival and the hearty fondue meal which will be served with complimentary Delheim wines between the first and second act. There will also be a coffee bar.

 

Delheim Jazz & Cheese Fondues booking details:

Price: R450 per person –  inclusive

Time: 12h00 with the first Jazz gig happening at 12h30. The fondue will be served at 13h15.

Tickets MUST be booked ahead of time at www.webtickets.co.za. No walk-ins will be allowed.

Find Delheim on Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/delheim; Twitter @Delheim and Instagram @delheimwines or contact them at Tel: 021 888 4600.

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A TASTE OF TYGERVALLEY

 

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Tygervalley Centre presents wines from all over South Africa at the second Taste of Tygervalley wine festival which takes place on Friday, 29 June from 17h00-21h00 and Saturday, 30 June from 14h00-18h00 in the Arena,

Wineries are offering their wares ranging from pot-stilled brandy, fortifieds like Jerepigo, Port and Muscadel,  through to some serious Reds and full-bodied Whites. In addition Morgenster Wine & Olive Estate have a stand featuring their highly rated olive products and Le Creuset, Lindt and Montagu Dried Fruit and Nuts are on site to tempt visitors.

Pairing wines with Lindt chocolates is another attraction.

Participating producers include: Bayede Royal Wines , Benguela Cove, Devonvale Golf and Wine Estate, Du Toitskloof Wines, Franschhoek Cellar, Glenwood, Hill & Dale, Imbuku wines, Kunjani Wines, Le Pommier Wine Estate, Montpellier de Tulbagh, Montagu Wine and Spirits, Morgenster Wine & Olive Estate, Orange River Cellar, Perdeberg Cellar, Peter Bayley Wines, Spookfontein and Triple Three Estate Distillery.

Festival visitors will receive a booklet of discount  coupons for some of the eateries in the Centre and are welcome to have a bite to eat and return to the event afterwards

Tickets at R100 from www.computicket.com or at the door.This includes  tasting glass and most of the tastings, but some of the cocktails might carry a small additional fee.  . For more information visit www.tygervalley.co.za

 

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A diverse, delicious and plentiful choice awaits winelovers and gourmets who relish autumn affairs in the Cape winelands and exhiliarating events in Gauteng. The list is in date order.


Friday Live Music is a new event at the beautiful Bellevue estate on the Bottelary road, which is likely to become a regular feature. Entry is free to this sunset gathering on the lawn and in the revamped restaurant on Friday April 6

where live entertainment will accompany your wine and supper. Relax to classics from artists like Elton John, Toto, Fleetwood Mac and others. Booking is essential, email info@bellevue.co.za or call 021 8652054.

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.Celebrate the restoration of the historic Druk My Niet wine estate on Saturday, April 7 . All signs of the devastating fire which all but destroyed the farm near Paarl early last year have been eradicated as the tasting room and cellar re-open their doors to visitors again. To mark the occasion a family day will see a spit braai, German sausages, artisanal pizzas, craft beer and Gluhwein on the menu, along with their estate wines. Great prizes to be won as well and entrance is free. For more info, email carlien@dmnwines.co.za or call 021 868 2393.

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Irresistible pairings

 

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Mid-April and the time is ripe for a heritage fest featuring two of South Africa’s iconic favourites, Pinotage and Biltong. It takes place this year at the hospitable Perdeberg Cellar over the weekend of April 14 – 15 from 11am to 5pm. Live music, gourmet eats combine with close to 50 Pinotages from 18 wineries for tasting and buying, some of which are paired with special biltongs. Pinotages come as trad red, white, (yes!) rosé, bubbly and blends.

More on offer including craft beer, and children’s play area. Tickets cost R200 through www.plankton.mobi or www.computicket.com or R230 at the gate, giving you access, glass and 18 Pinotage and Biltong pairings. For more info and directions, visit www.cvomarketing.co.za

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Bid for the rare and unusual at Bot River Barrels & Beards

Annual auction

 

The date to diarise is Saturday 21 April 2018 when the Barrels & Beards Best of Bot auction takes place at Wildekrans estate at 5pm. Wine farms taking part have assembled lots both zany and serious, unusual and rare, to help raise funds for the Bot River Education Foundation. Tickets cost R450 for adults and can be obtained through www.quicket.co.za. For info contact Ilze Hendrson on 028 2849488 or email ilze@endlessgroup.co.za.

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CHEESE GALORE AND SO MUCH MORE!

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The 17th popular event takes place over the long weekend of Friday April 27 – Sunday 29 at Sandringham near Stellenbosch. Along with local and international cheese, there is a huge range of artisanal and gourmet products and selected wines to wash them down.

Celebrity chefs will cook up a storm in three food theatres, finalist amateur chefs will be cooking their water-wise recipes with cheese for a cook-off over the weekend, and prizes will be awarded to winners in the Ladismith cheese-carving competition.

Cheese connoisseurs can book for the exclusive Connoisseurs’ Experience for a gourmet day with luxurious treatment at R850.

As always, no tickets are sold at the gates. Book at Computicket, Shoprite and Checkers stores. Tickets cost R180, senior citizens pay R120 and children under 14 pay R20. For more info visit www.cheesefestival.co.za, or email admin@agriexpo.co.za or call 021 9754440.

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DON’T MISS GROOTE POST’S LAST COUNTRY MARKET OF THE SEASON

 

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This takes place on Sunday April 29 between 10am and 3pm. As before, the terraces will brim with market stalls packed with delicious offerings of artisan fare, arts and crafts, homeware, decor and gifts. Darling gourmet produce from bread to olives oil, preserves and craft beer will join forces with Groote Post’s well-loved wines.

Music, family activites, outdoor darts, tractor rides and more are on the menu, and the estate's restaurant Hilda’s Kitchen will also be open, booking essential. Pets are welcome, but only on a leash. Entry to market is free of charge.

For more info contact Eldre Strydom on 022 4512202 or email eldre@iloveyzer.co.za

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Take a trip on the wild side with Delheim Mushroom Forage Pop Up

 

 

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The drought notwithstanding, it’s hoped that the wild mushrooms will again appear in the forest at Delheim estate outside Stellenbosch, any time from now. Funghi fans are invited to learn how to forage and cook wild mushrooms – first they need to become members of Delheim’s get- up- and- go Wine Club. To join an order of 12 Delheim wines is required.

There will be two excursions, both of which include a short presentation about mushrooms to find and to avoid, a foraging expedition with a guide, a cooking demo and a fungi-focussed lunch with wine.

The first will take place in April or May, depending on the first rains, and be limited to 4 plus their partners. The second will take place in June or July, but exact dates will only be confirmed two days in advance.

Inquiries and bookings to wineclub@delheim.com.

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WINE MENU'S CHARDONNAY & PINOT NOIR FESTIVAL IS BACK!
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Gauteng winelovers will be pleased to know that Wine Menu's popular Chardonnay & Pinot Noir Festival returns for the seventh time and takes place in the Killarney Country Club’s Crystal Room on Thursday, May 10, from 18h00 to 21h00.

Tickets are limited and cost R250 a head, which includes tasting glass and light snacks. These Burgundian varietals are often omitted from wine festivals because of price and limited production. As can be seen from the participating cellars, the wines are aristocrats in their field: Among the producers are Ataraxia, Vondeling, Lothian, Groot Constantia, Glenelly, Springfield, Bouchard Finlayson and Domaine Des Dieux. Wines will be on sale, often at lower than retail prices and others not generally available. Booking is essential. Book through www.webtickets.co.za or from Wine Menu in the BluBird Shopping Centre, Illovo.

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The Bubbly Festival Pops Up in Hyde Park
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The Bubbly Festival – Joburg’s celebration of South Africa’s finest Cap Classiques as well as others from around the world including Champagne takes place in Hyde Park from Friday May 18 to Sunday May 20.
 
Bubbly aficionados, epicureans and those who love the good things in life can spend the weekend popping corks, filling flutes and sipping some of the best sparkles around while snacking on fine foods and listening to live music.

 
The Bubbly Festival will be held at The Park House of Events on 7, which is located in the Hyde Park Shopping Centre (in the space previously occupied by the Imax theatre), and will feature some of South Africa’s finest Methodé Cap Classiques as well as some French Champagnes.
 
To add to the occasion there will also be a selection of fabulous foods as well as live music – details of which will be announced closer to the date.
 
Tickets cost R380 per person and include a glass and 10 tasting tickets. Bookings can be made via
www.webtickets.co.za or at the door on the day. Bubbly by the glass and bottle as well as food will be for sale.
 
Details:
 
Friday, May 18, 2018, from 17h00 to 21h00;
Saturday, March 19, 2018, from 11h00 to 15h00 and 17h00 to 21h00
Sunday, May 20, 2018 from 11h00 to 15h00.
Venue: The Park House of Events on 7 at Hyde Park Corner

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Shiraz & Charcuterie Festival 2018 at Anthonij Rupert Wyne

 

Save the date for this year’s Shiraz & Charcuterie Festival, which takes place once again at the picturesque Anthonij Rupert Wyne on Saturday, 26 May (11am to 4pm). 

This is the perfect opportunity to taste Anthonij Rupert Wyne’s range of Shiraz wines and they will be joined by 18of the country’s top Shiraz producing estates, which include Thelema Mountain Vineyards, Mullineux Wines, Rickety Bridge Winery, Stark-Condé Wines and Hartenberg Wine Estate..

 Pair them with the wide range of local and international charcuterie on offer - featuring everything from salamis and cured hams to flavoured chorizos A bountiful Anthonij Rupert Wyne Harvest Table, adorned with fresh seasonal salads, homemade exotic mushroom and fontina arancini and olives, pickles and chillies - will complement the tasty line-up. The Macaroon Bar, featuring decadent sensations such as Salted Caramel, Chocolate Cherry and Milk Tart guarantees a perfectly sweet finish.

Pre-booking is essential as tickets are limited. Your tickets, which cost R280 per person, includes entry as well as tastings of the wines on show and samples of charcuterie. Book directly via www.webtickets.co.za.

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The  just-released Tanagra Colombard 2017 is, indeed, a maiden release worthy of connoisseur attention, but its also a wine  for all who relish unearthing the unexpected: - In this case finding a Colombard that, having been given star treatment, has risen to the challenge and proved that even cultivars that are not regarded as “noble” can be transformed into classy wines worthy of special status.

The beautiful little Tanagra wine farm and distillery a few kilometres outside McGregor village  has established itself as a hugely popular venue both for locals and international visitors. Beautifully restored by Robert and Anette Rosenbach it is a haven of tranquillity in a valley where vines and orchards roll up to the foothills of the Sonderend mountains. The indigenous flora – mostly Little Karoo but with patches of mountain fynbos – is as lovingly preserved on Tanagra as are the vineyards, and Continental travellers make a beeline for Tanagra’s two “getaway” self-catering cottages – off-the-grid, stylish accommodation complete with plunge pools and sweeping views. There are other cottages to hire on the main farm, within shouting distance of the giant and ancient wild fig tree that shades the tasting room courtyard.

The certified single vineyard that is home to the Colombard grapes that yielded their juice to this golden-hued wine is 20 years old and this maturity is reflected in the structure and complexity of the wine.  The nose offers fruit – subtropical,  stone fruit with a hint of characteristic  guava. Although fairly  light-bodied there are hints of flint to round out the fresh zippiness that accompanies  dry but fruity notes on the palate. Alcohol levels are kept to a moderate 13,5%.  Wild-yeast fermented  the Colombard spent 10 months on the lees before being bottled.

 It’s one of these rare white wines that tastes even better the next day after being opened and having spent a  night in the fridge, and reveals its character better if it’s not over-chilled.  Production was limited to 2 500 bottles, and the cellar door price is R80.

What has been nicely  proven here  is that’s  there is more to Colombard than its capacity as a major component of  base wine for our brandy production.

With this unique release the McGregor valley has added another “first” to its burgeoning   reputation for diverse and quality ranges:  
Another limited edition from Tanagra is their immensely popular Cabernet Franc Blanc de Noir, the 2017 vintage having also just been released. Previous vintages have taken little time to sell out, so all wanting this outstanding “pink” (which this year is darker than usual, strawberry-hued, thanks to concentrated berries) should waste no time in stocking up.    As before its dry, packed with berry flavours and presenting a fine balance between fruit and friskiness.

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No blog about Tanagra can be complete without mention of the impressive and substantial ranges of grappa or marc and eaux de vie that Robert Rosenbach crafts in his charming distillery – here, as with his wines, innovation melds with quality to intrigue guests who sample uncommon products  like quince and lemon eau de vie  along with more classic creations. And few leave without clutching a slim bottle of his irresistible Tanagra Orange Liqueur, with its extraordinarily concentrated citrus flavours.  (Tip for a festive finale: pair it with very dark chocolate sprinkled over a vanilla panna cotta.)

Tanagra  is open to the public for tastings and sales seven days a week, but it’s advisable to contact the farm ahead if possible to make sure the owners are there. For more information,  and details of their range of impressive reds not mentioned here, visit www.tanagra-wine.co.za, or send an e-mail to tanagra@tanagra-wine.co.za.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         

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We have all savoured the quality whites from the memorable 2015 vintage. Now some fine reds are emerging to claim their place in the sun. Among the first  is this enjoyable cabernet sauvignon from Boschendal, a powerful and complex wine that is  presenting its  credentials as a Stellenbosch cab with real depth. On the nose, whiffs of berry and cedar, leading to nicely balanced tannins and dark fruit on the palate lent additional interest with  spice from the oak. It can certainly be opened and relished right now – particularly, they suggest, paired with the farm’s  Black Angus biltong – or any other cuts of their pasture-fed free-ranging herd and source of the beef in the restaurants. Alcohol levels are 14%, the cellar door price is R140 and if this wine was to spend another year or two in cool darkness, it is sure to improve even further.

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When one samples new vintages emanating from the cellar of a person of Jan Boland Coetzee’s stature, two points arise: one is heightened expectation and the other is a certain difficulty in separating the man from the wine. In keeping with Heritage month. Vriesenhof’s new-look wine range sports labels that pay tribute to a handsome gabled farmstead,  set against the rugged Stellenbosch mountain.

Vriesenhof Pinotage 2016 is the simple heading above the B&W photograph while the back label offers more info:  it’s fruity, medium-bodied and meant for drinking now; alcohol levels are a medium 13,5%. Tradition, quality and enjoyment combine smoothly in this screwcapped product, a contemporary expression of a grape for which Jan Boland Coetzee has been renowned for decades. It was produced from a small vineyard of old bush vines at the top of the hill.

While Pinot noir has been his focus for some 30 plus years, Jan started his career at Kanonkop back in the ‘60s where he produced fine Pinotage. He bought Vriesenhof in 1980, which then boasted cab, cinsaut and pinotage vineyards. At the start of the new millennium his Pinotage of ’96, ’97 and ’98 from Vriesenhof-Talana Hill-Paradyskloof - were described by John Platter as four-star wines, offering “medley of intriguing flavours result of blending batches of fruit handled different ways.”

Jan soon planted Chardonnay, Merlot and Cab Franc, added Pinot Noir in the’ 90s then Grenache in 2009.

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Today his winemaker Nicky Claasens crafts each wine in the new-look range to a specific style: – along with Pinotage the reds comprise two blends, a Grenache/Shiraz/Mourvèdre  and Kallista (traditionally Cab/ Cab Franc/ Merlot) and Grenache.  It's been observed that Claasens, who started as understudy to Coetzee some nine  years ago, seems to be countering the patriarch’s anti-modernist approach somewhat.

To the whites:  a pair of chardonnays, of which I sampled the unwooded 2016. Against the connoisseur trend  I have long been a fan of unwooded chard, and this is one of the most enjoyable I have drunk in a long while:  Its meant for immediate consumption, offering  freshness, fruitiness, well balanced structure and immense charm. With moderate alcohol levels this delicious summer aperitif sells for R95, whiel the pinotage is R125.

It is apposite that Jan Boland Coetzee, a winelands character whose down-to-earth attitude is tempered by a huge respect for nature, represents the  current generation of a family who arrived in Table Bay 27 years after Jan van Riebeeck .  As he and Claasens unveil wines that offer expression of place even while they appeal to a broader spectrum of wine lovers, those wishing to celebrate our viticultural heritage alongside a braai of distinction, could hardly ask for better.

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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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There can be few landscapes more evocative of the rural Cape than that of Val du Charron – the iconic gabled farmstead, the whitewashed ringmuur, orchards and vines all set in an exquisite valley edged with mountain ranges.

Nicely named to encompass Wellington’s earlier name - Valley of the Wagonmakers -  while adding a Gallic tribute to the Huguenot founders, the beautiful 45ha Val du Charron is in the Bovlei,  in itself a district worth visiting for beauty, history, hospitality and good wine.

Just over a decade ago the Entwistle family bought the neglected fruit farm, first registered at the close of the 17th century, and set about restoring it. Once again English settlers have joined Afrikaners in this region, confirming a pattern that has been developing over the last few decades with beneficial, even synergetic,  results.

 

Val du Charron is today a renowned destination offering a choice of luxurious accommodation, fine fare and some fascinating wines. The farm acquired estate status some five years ago and today  produces two wine ranges, the Val du Charron Reserve, comprising chardonnay, pinot gris, shiraz and  cab, while their Theatre of Wine presents a trio of blends.

Catherine Entwistle sent me a pair of blends, plus the 2017 pinot gris from the reserve range.  Pinot Gris is an uncommon cultivar at the Cape, consisting of just .35% of the Cape vineyard area. I have found some previous examples rather characterless, so was keen to see what Bovlei terroir produced. This one is pleasing without overwhelming, crisp and fresh,  offering sufficient fruit, both citrus and melon, along with  discernible structure and with moderate 13% alcohol levels. A portion of the harvest from the eight-year-old vines was barrel fermented which no doubt helps account for fullness and good mouthfeel. Cellar door price is R89.

 My favourite wines of the moment are chenin-led blends, so it did not take me long to unscrew Four White Legs, a 2015 vintage comprising 38% chenin blanc, 28% pinot gris, 18% roussanne and 16% viognier. In a word – delicious! From its complex nose combining stone fruit with vanilla to wafts of flavour on the palate, fruit, cream  and honey, full-bodied but retaining freshness.  Fourie harvested the components over two and half months, and matured a portion of each in French oak, mostly second fill, for eight months. Alcohol levels at 14% are a little high for today’s tastes, but at R59 from the farm, I certainly would not let that detract me from a great buy.

This is also a chenin blend with a delightful  story behind its unusual name which is  spelled out on the back label  - suffice it to reveal that the four legs are those of a horse.

The tale behind the Black Countess red blend is also printed on the back label – this involves a British remittance man from Wellington  who met the daughter of a freed slave in the Northern Cape. The couple settled in Wellington and in 1883 the man, Harry Grey inherited the title of Earl of Stamford and his wife became the Countess. They stayed in this country, undertaking the building of schools and uplifting the poor.

The wine is a shiraz-led blend finished with 21% mourvèdre and 5% grenache. Medium-bodied, well-rounded with berry flavours alongside some herbiness, the oak adding a dash of vanilla.  French and American oak were used for 12 months maturation. Alcohol levels just over 14% and the farm price is R99.

Val du Charron also produces a merlot, malbec and other red blends.

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When you havekingfor a surname and those who celebrate your 17th century winemaking tradition produce a patrician rosé in your name, the whole concept of provincial Provençal wines is elevated to premium status. This is emphasised by a beautiful bottle embossed with the founders initials – JR – which encloses a delectable pale coppery blend. It presents an unique Cape tribute from Franschhoek to a feisty pioneer from the village of Lourmarin in southern France.

Jean Roi Cap Provincial Rosé  2016  flows from the lovely L'Ormarins estate, where the creators of Anthonij Rupert Wyne have added this new limited edition maiden release -  a blend of 70% Cinsaut, 28%Grenache and 2% Shiraz -  to their ranges. 

 

The nose  offers delicate  wafts of blossom and and melon, preceding flavours of stone fruit and melon and a citrussy friskiness. But this is no fruit salad - on the palate is  a medium-bodied  wine, its backbone presenting quiet characteristics of the trio of components, led by the gentler cinsaut rather than either of the others.. Moderate alcohol levels of 13,5% are in keeping with current trends, although higher than some consumers are demanding. 

Honouring their  founder  is not the sole reason for its production: Good rosés are part of an increasing international trend in the USA as well as the UK as the favourite aperitif and food wines among enthusiasts, gourmets and connoisseurs. High summer there, so the right time for opening Jean Roi morning, noon and night...

Here in South Africa midwinter days that are sun-drenched, windless, with cloudless skies are frequent enough, so no need to wait until spring to open a bottle of this patrician blend to toast the weekend. Or to pair with seafood and salads,  poultry and perfumed creations from Persia, Turkey and Iran. It could also well complement a Cape Malay bobotie that includes dried fruit. You will need a corkscrew, however, something to bear in mind if taking it on a gourmet picnic.

At R300 this rosé announces its intentions to be right on top of its class, with good reason. Available from the farm, online and at select wine shops.

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Italians always manage to add romance to whatever they do, and that includes winemaking. Attilio and Michela Dalpiaz of Ayama in the Voor-Paardeberg are no exceptions, having injected great appeal into their historic farm and fine wines that they produce on the lower slopes of the Paardeberg, itself a mountain that inspires beguiling stories.

Now they have added a South African first with the release of their maiden Vermentino, a limited edition of 1 500 litres, set to be sold by auction that will benefit a local farm school..

Vermentino is a wine with a long history, originally a Spanish cultlivar that made its way to Italy early last century where it was adopted with enthusiasm and much success, both on the mainland and on Sardinia  - where it was elevated to DOCG status in 1997 It produces a medium to full-bodied wine,  that sometimes offers flavours one would expect in a rosé.

It took the couple six years to import their Vermentino vines, get quarantine approval, and finally plant one hectare in 2014. The patterns on the label were inspired by those made by the must during fermentation, the result, Michela claims, of the classical music that serenaded the wine in the cellar at this state.

 

To mark the release of this special wine, a single vintage auction, both local and online, will take place on Youth Day, June 16 at the Roodebloem studios in Woodstock. The venue, a decommissioned historic church reminds one of many similar sites in Italy where beautiful churches also fulfil other roles – such as the world launch of Slow Food a couple of decades ago...

 

Perdjie school consists of a creche and after-school project started by Ayama and neighbouring farm Scali in the Voor-Paardeberg a few years ago. Close to 40 youngsters, children of farm workers, are cared for daily. Transport is difficult, and it is hoped to raise money to buy a school bus.

Ayama will donate all profits from proceeds of the Vermentino auction to this worthy cause, an apposite one for a Youth Day event.

See http://ayama.co.za/perdjie-school/ for more info.

 

There are just 40 seats reserved for members of the public who would like to attend this event. They cost R300, but readers who contact Ayama directly, identifying themselves as readers of this blog, can claim R100 discount, paying just R200 for their ticket. Either send an e-mail to info@slentfarms.com or call 021 869 8313.

 

 

 

 After the bidding closes guests will be served drinks and canapés . Seats can also be booked  through www.wine.co.za.

 

A new Mediterranean varietal to add to others being introduced to Cape vineyards is always a welcome achievement, and one presumes that Vermentino will be water-wise as well to suit our declining water reserves. Those who wish to bid online need to access the website http://ayamavermentino.com/.

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Whether your fish is braaied, fried or pickled, its likely that traditionalists will feature sustainable fish on their Easter menus come Friday. Others may choose to indulge in seafood from shellfish to sushi  for more sophisticated fare over the long weekend. 

 

Enjoyment of any and all of these will be heightened with a glass of fine Cape sauvignon blanc to complement piscine flavours and textures. It would be hard to improve on either of these two elegant recent releases, which share several cool-climate characteristics.

 

Both La Motte’s sauvignon blanc from their Pierneef Collection and the Sanctuary Peak sauvignon blanc from Shannon vineyards are of the 2016 b2ap3_thumbnail_LA-MOTTE2016--Pierneef-Sauv-Blanc-_20170411-153753_1.jpgvintage, both have moderate 13% alcohol levels and both are enriched with 10% Semillon. La Motte sourced their sauvignon grapes from Elgin, Bot River and Napier, adding Bot River Semillon. Shannon  Vineyards supplied all the  grapes from their highland vineyards in Elgin Valley, where they are meticulously managed by James and Stuart Downes.

 

Both are patrician wines that deserve to be sampled slowly as layers of flavour unfold on the palate and winelovers should make a point of putting a case away for future enjoyment, as they should age beautifully.

 

b2ap3_thumbnail_Shannon-Vineyards-Sanctuary-Peak-Sauvignon-Blanc-2016.jpgAnd there are as many differences between the two: Let’s look at Sanctuary Peak from Shannon Vineyards more closely. The grapes are taken to Hemel-en-Aarde where Gordon and Nadia Newton Johnson vinify the Downes family wines.  Given their fine reputation, it’s unsurprising that they continue to produce outstanding examples of site-specific wines, from this single vineyard. I find that the Semillon component – here having spent three months in new French oak -  adds so much in terms of richness, silkiness and of course, complexity. The fruit comes through as pear and citrus, a little herbiness followed by anticipated flint. It makes for a wonderful mouthfeel and offers distinctive companionship to fine fishy fare prepared with care.  Selling for about R120.

 

Great care is evident in the final blend of Elgin and South Coast grapes in the La Motte wine, exhibiting artistic levels that characterise the limited  premium products of the Pierneef range. The talent of that iconic South African artist is captured in the front label which feature one of a limited edition of his linocut prints, adding an indigenous feature to this complex wine. Beautifully balanced, initial friskiness is followed by layers of granadilla and citrus, plus a touch of herbaceousness before minerality becomes apparent in a long, elegant mouthfeel.

 

 I would love to sample this in three years' time. – it should be magnificent.

This is a wine that could start off proceedings at sunset, and continue to enhance a succulent seafood supper with South-east Asian leanings.

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Say farewell to April with a fun family day at the last Groote Post Country Market of the season. Taking place from 10am to 3pm on Sunday April 30, it also marks the final day of a spate of long weekends, so make the most of it!

As usual the local cooks and crafters, butchers and produce growers  will be out in force with country fare, from organic mushrooms to olive oil, pomegranate juice to handmade confectionery, west coast wors to artisanal beer. All ready to be savoured, of course, with Groote Post well-loved wines.

Children are well catered for, there’s live music and those who prefer a sit-down lunch should book for Hilda’s Kitchen. This is also one of the few markets where dogs are welcome, on a lead. The following market takes place at the end of August. For more info, contact Dave Coleshill on 076 834 8085 or email him on dave@iloveyzer.co.za

 

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Elgin Cool Wine & Country Food Festival

 

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This annual autumn fest takes place over the weekend of April 29 – 30 from 10am to 5pm on both days. Winelovers are in for a treat of fine Overberg wines, delicious food, entertainment and many outdoor activities. Those taking part are Almenkerk Wine Estate, Arumdale, Belfield, Charles Fox Wines, Corder Family Wines, Elgin Ridge, Elgin Vintners, Hannay Wines, Highlands Road Wines, Iona, Oak Valley, Oneiric Wine Estate, Paul Cluver Wines, Paul Wallace Wines, Robin Hood Legendary Wines, Shannon Vineyards and South Hill Vineyards each offering their own attractions, which erange from live music to art exhibitions. Lunch menus will vary as well, including picnics, American smokehouse barbecues, food trucks and more. Tickets cost R140 pp from Webtickets.co.za and include tasting glass, programme, access, tasting of three wines from any estate. They need to be collected from Peregrine Farmstall before setting out to the farms. Children under the age of 18 go in free of charge with adults. Visit  www.winesofelgin.co.za for more info.

 

Shiraz & Charcuterie at Anthonij Rupert

 

 

Looking ahead to Saturday May 27 the annual Shiraz & Charcuterie celebration takes place at Anthonij Rupert Wyne at Franschhoek, starting at noon.Along with the hosts three shiraz, Rust en Vrede, Waterford, Mullineux and Leeu, Hartenberg, Simonsig and Thelema are taking part.The wines can be relished with hearty dishes, including French onion soup, homemade saucisson and cannelloni beans, while the olive bar has plenty to spark the tastebuds. Tickets cost R220 from webtickets.co.za and pre-booking is essential. For more email info@dnaevents.co.za

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A couple of weather gurus have predicted an early autumn here on the fringe of the Klein Karoo. Whether this will extend to the Boland and Overberg, who knows? But if it does, it makes visiting these wine regions all the more inviting. There's a Gauteng fest in the lineup as well.

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Diarise Saturday Feb 18 for a feast of fun at one of our most iconic estates. Join the Melck family at Muratie for a day that can be as active (mountain biking, stomping grapes) or leisurely as you wish. Taste the Muratie wines in the old cellar, or enjoy a private tasting at 12 noon. Settle for an alfresco lunch from the Farm Kitchen that includes gourmet burgers, salmon sarmies, spring rolls, a cheese platter and more. Kitchen Jammin Blues will provide the musical background. Entry costs R75 a head.

For further information and bookings contact Jean-Mari Reyneke at Muratie on 021 865 2330/2336 or taste@muratie.co.za

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Savour the spirit of the Gin & Tonic Festival

 

 

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Sunday February 26 sees the  Gin & Tonic Festival return to Cape Town showcasing over 15 local and international gin distilleries at The Old Biscuit Mill in Woodstock. Taste, swirl and celebrate!

Visitors can look forward to festival regulars such as Bloedlemoen, Ginifer, Hope on Hopkins, Inverroche, New Harbour, Wilderer and a host of exciting new players in the local market. Internationally revered brands like The Botanist, Sipsmith and Elephant Gin will also showcase their craft, 

Some of the city’s finest food trucks and gourmet street food chefs will offer gastronomic goodness to festivalgoers. In addition, a summer-inspired designer’s market will feature the brightest in locally made fashion, lifestyle and accessory goods.  Local artists will entertain the crowds at dedicated music stages. Guests
will receive a 16 page gin booklet, a host of promotional vouchers and goodies from our festival partners, and a branded Gin and Tonic Festival glass.

 Join The Gin Revolution:  visit the website: http://ginandtonicfestival.co.za/

Book your tickets: 
http://www.quicket.co.za/events/24893-gin-and-tonic-festival-biscuit-mill-cape-town/#/

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 DINNER WITH THE WINEMAKER AT LANZERAC

 

 

b2ap3_thumbnail_Lanzerac-CoconutGrapeFruitPanaCotta___0197-11-2.jpgChef Fraser's irresistible dessert paired with the estate's bubbly.

 

These occasional gourmet evenings offer a tasty marriage between the considerable talents of executive chef Stephen Fraser and cellarmaster Wynand Lategan. The first of the 2017 events takes place on Tuesday, March 28 when diners will gather for a welcome drink and canapes on the picnic terrace before visiting the underground cellar to taste new vintages from the barrel. The dinner menu will include a first course of prawn pannacotta and Parma ham mousse, will go on to noisette of lamb, all partnered by new releases from the wine menu along with current favourites like chardonnay and pinotage. Lanzerac's cap classique brut will make a fine finale to complement dessert. This will be an intimate affair of just 30 guests, costs R550  a head, all inclusive, and bookings must be made with Zelda Furstenburg on winesales@lanzerac.co.za or by calling 021 886 5641.

Further seasonal dinners are planned for July and September.

 

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 START YOUR WEEKEND OFF ON A SPARKLING NOTE AT BROOKLYN BUBBLES

 

The best South African MCCs and French champagnes with food prepared by an award-winning chef is on the menu for Friday March 3 - Saturday March 4 at Brooklyn Mall. Both top Cape bubblies and renowned French houses will present their products while complementary nibbles like oysters, sushi, charcuteries and cheeses will accompany the sparkles, finishing with churros and mini-donuts for finales

 

Tickets to the VIP event on the Friday are R600 per person and include a welcome glass of bubbly, 20 bubbly tasting coupons and three food coupons, one of which is for dessert.

 Tickets for the event on Saturday, March 4, cost R300 per person and include a complimentary tasting glass and 15 tasting coupons. Food will also be available for purchase at stalls at the venue. Additional vouchers can be purchased on both days.

Details: 

  Friday, March 3, 2017, from 18h00 to 22h00 & Saturday, March 4, 2017, from 12h00 to 17h00

 Venue: Brooklyn Mall (In a marquee in Bronkhorst Street).

 Booking: www.webtickets.co.za

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Cluver Family Harvest Day | 1 April 2017

 

 

 

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No danger of April Fool jokes popping up at this autumn harvest festival in the heart of the Elgin valley. Paul Cluves Wines makes the venue for this appetising celebration of wine, cider and apples that starts at 11am. 

Leave the car at home and take the train for a memorable day: it will leave Cape Town station at 9am and pick up more passengers at Somerset West,  and on board treats are included.

At the farm children will be supervised and entertained with a programme of old-fashioned games while adults can sample the ciders and wines on offer. Artisanal foods for sale include apple crumble, cheeses, charcuterie  and gourmet sandwiches.

 

The price structure is as follows:

 

Adults

R250 per person

Children under 18           

R100 per child

 

 

Family package 

R550 (2 adults and 2 children)

Return train ticket (excludes festival ticket)

R500 per person (children under 18 travel for free)

 

 Your festival ticket includes entry, a complimentary tasting glass and a booklet of tasting coupons. The children’s ticket includes entry and a harvest party pack. Food and other beverages available on the day are not included in the ticket price.Pre-booking is essential as tickets are limited. Book directly through www.webtickets.co.za.  For more details on what you can expect visit www.cluver.com.

 

 

 

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According to the usually reliable Norwegian forecast, the weather on 

 Valentine's Day will be cool and cloudy in the Boland with a maximum temperature of 20 deg C. Ib2ap3_thumbnail_Rickety-B-Brut-Rose-NV-High-Res.jpgdeal for celebrating the day (and night)  dedicated to love and happiness. There are just so many destinations that are wooing diners to their doors that  both locals and visitors are spoilt for choice. Others may prefer to dine at home, or take a bottle of chilled bubbles to watch a fiery mountian sunset or stroll along a beach as twilight falls.

 

Whatever is on the menu, this is an occasion when a rosé bubbly is most appropriate: Choose one that is brut but not bone dry, that partners both seafood and berry desserts with panache. Given the fact that many consumers are feeling the pinch, look for one that offers good value, while being  both elegant and crisp, along with luscious berry flavours as well. There are several fine Cape sparkles that fulfil these criteria, but - if you haven't yet discovered the joys of Rickety Bridge's Cap Classiques, this is a good time to do so - their non-vintage Brut Rosé, a classic blend of 52% pinot noir with the remainder chardonnay will make an inspired choice. At R145 it is not going to weigh down your credit card either. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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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Which bubbly? Which red? and - Are you drinking rosé this Christmas? Answer to the last question, yes indeed. Which? Haven’t decided yet. But here is a foursome that will add lustre to many a table over the festive weekend: all special, all appealing, all quality homegrown Cape wines that I am delighted to recommend.

 

WHICH BUBBLY?

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 Festivities start with good bubbles, and the arrival of the limited edition just-released Krone RD 2001 is an event worth some fanfare. This cap classique has spent the last 15 years ageing sur lie in a cool underground cellar at Twee Jonge Gezellen, Tulbagh’s most historic of farms, developing into a sparkler of note. It's rich and concentrated, yet retains the freshness and fruit of others half its age. The classic aromas of green apple and biscuit are there, while your palate will be treated to some butterscotch and honeyed nuttiness. Low alcohol levels of 11,5% means a second flute is in order, while shoppers can expect to pay between R300 – R350 for this elegant aperitif and effervescent partner to memorable fare.

For further information contact: Abigail Rands on abigail@vinimark.co.za or Ginette de Fleuriot on ginette@vinimark.co.za.

 

WHICH WHITE?

b2ap3_thumbnail_GlenwoodSauvignonBlancSemillon2016verklein.JPGAnother five-star blend in the making? Likely to be, this elegant Bordeaux-style white blend, which saw its predecessor, the 2015,  awarded that status. Made from 22-year-old vines, probably at their peak, this GlenWood sauvignon blanc/semillon 2016 (50/50 blend) which spent seven months on lees in tank is a fine example of Franschhoek fruit, GlenWood talent and craftsmanship, producing a delicious meld of sauvignon- granadilla and bracing freshness with the cream and richness of the semillon. Moderate alcohol levels, screwcapped and ready to enhance a feast of seafood, the fact that it sells at a budget R90 ex-farm adds greatly to its appeal. For more info, send an email to info@glenwoodvineayrds.co.za

 

 

WHICH RED

b2ap3_thumbnail_NE-Stellenbosch-Cabernet-Sauvignon-2013.JPGNeil Ellis has long been renowned for his fine wines, including cabs, produced during his illustrious career which saw him buy in parcels of grapes that met his standards, and marketing the impressive results under his own label. Today he has a fine cellar and tasting centre near the foot of the Helshoogte pass, and his three children have taken over winemaking (Warren), Charl (business) and Margot (marketing).

 While the top-of-the-range Jonkershoek Valley 2013 cabernet is just about sold out, fans of this classic cultivar could well invest in a case or two of the regional Stellenbosch cabernet sauvignon 2013 and get a bargain at the same time: For just R145 they will receive a fine, modern cab under screwcap sporting its Veritas gold and Tim Atkin best-of stickers, where Stellenbosch fruit and oak dance nicely together – a quarter matured in new wood, the rest in second, third and fourth-fill. It’s full-bodied, with easy tannins and its berried flavours finish with a dash of black pepper. Rare beef, tender lamb, mixed roast mushrooms will all benefit from pairing with this wine – which will also improve with another year or two in cool darkness. Way to go, Warren. For more info, tel 021 887 0649, email info@neilellis.com or go to www.neilellis.com

 

WHICH LIQUEUR?

 

After a decade of dedicated work, Robert Rosenbach of Tanagra Boutique winery and distillery can take a bow or three.b2ap3_thumbnail_Tanagra-orange-liqueur.jpg

 

Not only are his red wines and fine cab franc rose in demand, but he and Anette have built an enviable reputation for impressvie grappas and eaux de vie, the latter offering adventurous palates exciting fruity flavour including lemon and quince. Just as their farm and guest cottabes are geared to green living and conservation, their products are produced adhering to a similar philosophy. So, its no surprise that their latest, simply labelled Orange Liqueur, is a brilliant distillation of ripe, aromatic, organic oranges - the entire fruit - to which syrup is added as the alcohol is slowly diluted to a level of 25%. It is clear and inviting, unfiltered and its jewel-like orange hue captured in slim 500ml bottles. 

It offers intense, delicious bursts of flavour - orange juice, peel, blossom - that's fresh and moreish and lingers on the palate. Don't know which is better - to dilute it with bubbly and serve as a unique aperitif or keep it neat and partner it with seriously dark chocolate at the close of the meal. Either way, it should be really cold, and it you want a bottle or two, don't leave it too long, as its a limited edition and there's not much left. Priced at R180, enjoy every sip. Visit  www.tanagra-wines.co.za or call 023 5251780 for details.

 

 

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Two family-focussed cookboks - one local, one British -  and the new edition of Platter's wine guide make a trio ideal for festive gifts - and for keeping on our own bookshelves.

 

FOR FRIENDS & FAMILY by Nicky Stubbs. Published by Human & Rousseau, 2016.

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Visually  appetising, this hardback is a delightful addition to any cook’s bookshelf. That said, its particularly appeal lies in its trusted tried-and-tested recipes, a collection  ideal for keen, but inexperienced family caterers.

As the title tells, the focus is on delectable, do-able fare that friends and family adore, that they expect to find when turning up at Stubbs’ home, invited or just dropping in hopefully at teatime. This hospitable cook qualified with a Cordon Bleu course, has cooked professionally in London and France, run restaurants, given cookery classes and written for magazines. But her passion is catering for those who sit around the family dining table, sharing both simple  meals and elaborate celebrations. This compilation  is, she states “…a love song to the family and friends who have fed me, taught me to cook, eaten and cooked with me.”

Useful tips precede recipes which, start, naturally enough with breakfast, go on to starters, simple meals, vegetables and salads. Main courses are slotted into categories – chicken, beef and lamb are followed by pork and seafood. A few condiments (pesto, hummus, tartare sauce) give way to a substantial section of bakes, whilepuddings complete the menu with perennially popular classics, from crème brûlée to malva pud, pavlova to icecream, pears in red wine to a baked almond and lemon finale.

Recipes are illustrated in colour, and presentation is just what novices need: a brief description of the dish, clear ingredients, and step-by-step method. Small tips (eg advice on what kind of plate to use during a dipping process ) may seem old hat to many, but will be appreciated by beginners.

Were I to cook a Christmas dinner from this title, I would start with Stubbs’ gazpacho, follow with her slow-roasted chicken and lamb recipes, and add melazane for the vegetarians. Dessert  could star her Christmas icecream bombe. In place of mince pies, teatime treats would include her Squidgies, a simple, no-fail recipe if there ever was!

One of this year’s best local cookbooks, crisp and clear, with old family photos that enhance appeal and emphasise recipes designed to delight palates of all ages.  

 

SUPER FOOD: Family classics by Jamie Oliver. Published by Michael Joseph of the Penguin Random House group, 2016.

 

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When one looks at the list of Jamie’s cookbooks, starting with The Naked Chef released in 1999 and including a title nearly every subsequent year, one can be forgiven for wondering what  he could still offer family cooks in the way of new and delicious fare? Last year he published his  Everyday Super Food, and in the introduction to this Super Food, Oliver states that readers requested a compilation of updated  family classics that are also balanced and healthy, rewritten to offer meals that “…fuel, revive, restore and energize…”

There’s probably a good reason why the health and happiness chapter is located at the back of the book. Here Oliver presents his tips, tricks and advice on food, nutrition and wellbeing.  Perhaps the publisher thought that some parents would not take to lessons on  balancing proportions from the five food groups,  staying hydrated, getting enough sleep, getting moving and eating more fibre! But Jamie’s preachings are easy to digest and he is renowned for having contributed to better diets for thousands of Britons and their children. He embraces organic, promotes carbohydrates (eat your heart out Banters), and empahises the importance of chewing properly. He also suggest setting aside more time for meals, at home, at school, at work. A chapter entitled Healthy gut, happy body investigates the roles of prebiotics, and probiotics,  and there’s plenty on the importance of drinking water, preferably from the tap. Limit sugar intake, cook with your children, grow food, and support farmers’ markets, he urges.

Recipes start with breakfast ideas,  including some super smoothies. Good variations on boiled eggs are followed by  interesting pancakes, used as  containers for healthy fruit, protein, grains, nuts, coconut and more. Quick snacks include 18 options for teaming avocado on rye toast with a host of other ingredients. Quick fix meals  includes a Japanese miso stew sparked with dried seaweed, mixed greens, exotic mushroom and tofu on brown rice noodles.  Adventurous creations are  balanced by classic pasta and sauces. His comfort food classics  - such as shepherds pie – are given extra veggies and pulses to increase fibre and vitamin content. Salads are equally colourful vitamin- rich meals and similar treatment is afforded to   curries and stews using Indian, Thai, African and Chinese influence.  The chapter of tray bakes  present oven-baked meal s-in- one dish – nad his   Sicilian fish  with aubergine, tomato, pinenuts and raisins on wholewheat couscous looks fabulous. There is a fair number of vegetarian dishes and, finally, recipes for batch bakes for healthy bulk cooking and freezer standbys.

This is a dessert-free cookbook that is also sans confectionery or sweet treats for coffee and teatimes!

Oliver’s talent for food photography is  evident in the appetising colour images on every other page. Add in a couple of his wife Jools, himself, and endpapers filled with snapshots of children of all ages harvesting, cooking and eating, and you have in your hands another surefire culinary success story.

 

PLATTER’S 2017 SOUTH AFRICAN WINE GUIDE. Published by Jean-Pierre Rossouw for Diners Club International.

 

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Forest green, this 37th edition is, presenting 660 pages of information and  ratings on about 8 000 wines and their cellars , in an alphabetical arrangement of South African producers of wine and brandy. Starting with a pithy and well-constructed  summary of trends in SA wine, (which deserved a byline) followed by editor Philip van Zy l’s introduction, readers will find the five -star wines of the year listed and who’s who on the tasting team .

Some 520 pages of entries offer comprehensive listings of wines produced and tasted, plus facilities and attractions at the cellar door along with opening hours. This section  precedes an industry overview, information on wine bodies, wine-growing areas, grape varieties and details of competitions and awards. Styles and vintages are discussed ahead of  wine-tasting  and winemaking terms.

Wine route information  is always sought after, and this section includes details of wine tourism offices, wine tours, restaurants and accommodation in Cape Town and the winelands. The updated maps  which indicate positions of cellars are equally essential items for travellers. Information on disabled access to wineries and farms is a project in action as two disabled winelovers are in the process of assessing whether destinations that advertise themselves as disabled-friendly, are, in fact living up to this.  The initiative is being funded by Platters.

As always, this is an essential companion for locals and travellers to our winelands and is still among the best and most comprehensive in the world: It is  edited with care and  proofed diligently  with a treasury of information packed into one fat pocket book .

The guide, which sells for R215,  is also available as an app for iPhone and Android and as web-based version for desktop and mobi. See www. wineonaplatter.com.

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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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This round-up of events first appeared on the front of Life of the Cape Argus on Monday October 17.

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Wonderful wine, alfresco feasts and country music are a winning combo. Add a background of some of the most beautiful winelands on the planet, and the temptation is irresistible. A preview of early summer events.

Countrywide tastings of South Africa’s finest wines take place in October and November, while the wine regions of the Western Cape lure visitors with enticing festivals that star a lot more than good wine. Many of them are geared to family entertainment for a weekend of good food, live music and children’s activities, while soft drinks and even craft beer augment the beverage choice. Make time to grab sunhats and baskets and head for your choice of rural delights.

This roundup of fests and events is largely chronological: log onto the relevant websites for more information. Veritas is the largest and longest-running wine contest in South Africa and wine bottles bearing their medal stickers are sought-after by consumers. Take advantage of the line-up of all double gold and gold winners at the Veritas A Taste of the Best event, on October 18 at the CTICC at 5pm. Wine, brandy and Qualité cheeses will be available and tickets cost R140. Veritas will host similar events in Johannesburg (October 25), Durban, (November 10), Port Elizabeth (November 16) and Knysna (November 17 and 18.) Visit www.veritas.co.za or send an e-mail to info@veritas.co.za for details.

Fashion may be fickle but sauvignon blanc remains a firm favourite among winelovers throughout the season. Fans will be in seventh heaven at Durbanville Wine Valley’s Season of Sauvignon over the weekend of October 29 – 30. Offering a total of 12 farms to visit, member cellars not only present their latest sauvignon blanc but will pour the Durbanvaille Twelve 2016, an exciting blend made from combining one ton of sauvignon grapes from all the valley farms. Every producer offers individual attractions along with their wines, which vary in style but share those distinctive Durbanville characteristics. Visit www.durbanvillewine.co.za for details. Those who savour history with their wine should not miss out on Altydgedacht, the 17th century original wine farm in the valley. The original ringmuur, slave bell and cellar stand proud, evidence of winemaking across more than three centuries, while the 2016 sauvignon presents a wonderful mix of aromas and flavours – at R75 it’s a bargain buy.

Gauteng is the only province favoured by this year’s organisers of RMB Winex 2016, taking place at the Sandton Convention Centre from October 26 – 28 at 5pm. As always, it offers a feast of over 800 prestigious wines, accompanied by celebrities and winemakers and a programme of launches and tastings. Book through Computicket or pay at the door and visit www.winex.co.za for list of exhibitors and other information.

POT, or Pinotage- on- Tap needs little introduction to the thousands who lap up coffee-chocolate pinotage. The original source of this popular wine is Diemersfontein farm in Wellington, where the home fest takes place on October 29, serving the new wine straight from barrel, alongside delectable fare and live entertainment. This year music lovers will be treated to a live performance directed by legendary Richard Cock with talented musicians, including the lead singer of Freshly Ground, the Cape Town Brass band, Jazz Trio and Wynberg Boys High steel drum brand. Book through Computicket.

There are many reasons to head south to the wild and lovely Cape Agulhas area, with its salt-laden winds and b2ap3_thumbnail_Elim-wine-fest-2.jpgcool-climate wines of the Elim wine ward. They are marking their 20th birthday with the Elim Wine Festival on November 05, an event worth contemplating by both connoisseurs and consumers eager to meet a bunch of dedicated winemakers who produce elegant, intense wines, some of which are crafted on farms dedicated to the conservation of local flora and fauna. Craft beer will be available, including the products of South Africa’s most southerly brewery while new vintages of Black Oystercatcher, Strandveld and Giant Periwinkle wines will be released. Country fare and farm products will tempt visitors of all ages. The venue is Black Oystercatcher farm. Visit www.elimwines.co.za for details.

Stellenbosch remains the Cape’s largest and most famous wine region with the oak-lined streets of the town retaining timeless appeal for locals and travellers. The bi-monthly Stellenbosch Street Soirees or summer parties, which have proved hugely popular, start again on November 16 on Drostdy Street. Wine farms bring their wares to share with that of food vendors, cars are banned, and musicians add live music to the after-work scene. Tickets, which include tasting glass, cost R70, giving access to sampling all wines on show. It’s cool and casual and very Cape. Log on to www.wineroute.co.za for more.

As the year winds down, the festive season starts up and the annual Franschhoek Cap Classique and Champagne Festival, or Magic of Bubbles as it is dubbed, is the stylish, sophisticated, and trendy event that mark its arrival.

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It’s also the social place to be seen at over the weekend of December 3 – 4 when guests gather in the grand marquee at the Huguenot Monument. This year’s fest, sponsored by Mastercard, sees the bubblies of local producers share space with a selection of imported champagnes from France, while the valley restaurants compete in presenting delicious goodies to partner them. The best-dressed couple on both days wins a generous gift card. Tickets cost R350, the festivities start at 12 noon, and bookings are through www.webtickets.co.za

Rickety Bridge is among the wine farms taking part and you may wish to sample their delectable all-chardonnay Blanc de Blancs 2012, just released to great acclaim. It offers all that bubbly lovers want, from a fine mousse, delightful wafts of green apple and buttered toast adding richness to balance crisp freshness, an aperitif that will also partner summer fare with panache.

And then, as the festive season reaches it zenith, Gabrielskloof estate outside Bot River invites weary city folk to head to the Overberg for some hassle-free Christmas shopping at their annual Favourite Things Market taking place from December 16-18. Entrance is free, olives and wine and a range of country produce is on sale, alongside designer jewellery, exquisite quilts, handmade toys and intricate ceramics. Find out more by e-mailing Nicolene at nicolene@gabrielskloof.co.za.

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New labels, new venue, and one of the best festivals as well !

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Van Loveren is such a household name across the length and breadth of South Africa, one that is synonomous with  affordable, easy-drinking, unpretentious wines, that it’s easy to overlook their flagship range of reserve, limited edition,single vineyard wines. Perhaps to counter this, the Retief family have repackaged this top range, Christina, with new labels, starring a cameo of this illustrious ancestor and family matriarch whose bridal chest can be seen in the Van Loveren restaurant at the riverside winery.

Christina van Loveren arrived in South Africa as the 17th century was about to give way to the 18th, one in which Cape wine started to make waves in Europe and the UK, thanks to Groot Constantia. Intrepid travellers like her deserve to be honoured by descendants, and the Retief family do this in style with this heritage range of highly regarded wines.

The non-vintage winning brut makes a great start to any celebration, both traditional and modern, while the four –star sauvignon blanc and the chardonnay are both classy examples of the vinous art: The sauvignon grapes come from Darling, while the delicious chardonnay benefits from a long sojurn in new French oak. Both wonderful summer aperitifs, and there are impressive reds to complement - a fine shiraz, a cabernet and a noble late harvest (from unwooded chenin) to round off the choice.   Its well worth heading down the R317

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to the magnificent tasting centre to try before you buy.

This weekend sees the annual Wine on the River take place, starting on Friday October 14 and running through to Sunday. The venue is the Goudmyn farm alongside the Breede river and off the R317, where guests will, as always, savour a relaxed celebration of the wonderful wines of the broad Robertson valley, along with loads of fine fare and other attractions.

I have just read that the Van Loveren’s latest venue, the Four Cousins tasting centre and eaterie, which has risen from the former site of Branewynsdraai at the entrance to Robertson, is open – just in time for the festival.

So there will be no less than three venues where winelovers can sample the wares of Van Loveren Family Vineyards this weekend – - but note that if you want to taste the stellar Christina wines, you will have to visit the Van Loveren winery – which is almost next door to the entrance to Wine on the River.

See you there or visit www.vanloveren.co.za.

 

 

 

 

 

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