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Posted by on in Events

CHOIRS FOR AFRICA TO RAISE FUNDS FOR AGRICULTURAL YOUTH PROJECTS

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SING! Choir “Extravaganza takes place at the Grand Arena, GrandWest in Cape Town on Saturday September 7 at 18h30 for 19h00. The Ndlovu Youth Choir from Limpopo will be joining the Tygerberg Chrildren’s Choir, the Libertas Choir and the Cape Town Youth Choir in a diverse programme . The Limpopo choir is known for their performance of Afro-Pop classics and traditional music, while the Libertas choir performs a cappella music and trad and contemporary South African songs. The event is organised by Agri-Expo to raise funds for agricultural youth projects.

After their individual performances there will be a mass choir performance. Tickets from Computicket at R200 – R350. See www.singsa.co.za for more information.

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Stellenbosch Hills' Heritage pairing

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September is about roots and this year Stellenbosch Hills gets you back to yours with new tastings to celebrate the diversity of South African heritage.

In partnership with the Private Hotel School, the Heritage Food & Wine Pairing for September 2019 features a line-up of firm favourites for R75pp. 

First up is the 1707 Reserve White 2018 served in a perfect partnership with Cape Malay pickled fish and a slice of crisp, garlic-flavoured bruschetta.

: the 1707 Reserve Red 2015 – a Gold medal winner at Veritas 2017 - shines delectably alongside boerewors-inspired meatballs served on home-made tomato chutney.

The parting is delivered by the stellar Stellenbosch Hills Muscat de Hambourg 2018 – the 30th anniversary vintage of this all-round favourite – paired with orange malva pudding with a rooibos tea infused crème anglaise.

The Stellenbosch Hills Heritage Food & Wine is available Monday to Friday, 09h00 to 17h00, and Saturday 10h00 to 15h00 for R75.pp. Bookings are essential. Call 021 881 3828 or eamail info@stellenbosch-hills.co.za

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TASTING OF TIM ATKIN’S TOP-SCORING WINES

There will be a public tasting of his 95+ point scoring wines with the winemakers in Cape Town on 13 September. To book tickets at a cost of R500, go to: http://www.winecellar.co.za/tim-atkin-tasting-13-sept-cpt-nv.html

UK journalist Tim Atkin, MW is a multiple-award winning journalist, wine taster, photographer and writer with 34 years’ experience. He has just released his seventh annual guide to SA wines, and calls the Cape “one of the most exciting wine-producing countries on the planet”, thanks to a combination of old vines, young winemaking talent, established names, varied terroirs and a can-do spirit.

This year, Atkin singles out Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc, Cinsault and Syrah for special praise, all of which are established varieties in the Cape, but also highlights the “enormous potential” of Albariño, Agiorgitiko, Assyrtiko, Furmint, Grenache Blanc, Grenache Noir, Malbec, Mourvèdre, Petit Verdot, Roussanne and Verdelho. Atkin's 2019 South Africa Special Report runs to over 281 pages and is the product of three trips to the Cape over the last year, as well as further tastings in the UK, and includes:

  • Top wines of the year (white, red, rosé, sweet, fortified and sparkling);
  • Scores for 2,118 wines, with retail prices in South African Rand, ranging from R33 to R4,000;
  • 1,447 tasting notes;
  • Evocative photos of the winelands and winemakers;
  • His controversial 2019 classification of the 250 best South African wineries.
    •  Tim Atkin MW’s 2019 South Africa Special Report is available to download from www.timatkin.com for £20.

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RMB WINEX 2019

 

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RMB WineX turns a proud 20 this year, as it holds its annual wine festival from Wednesday 30 October to Friday 1 November at the Sandton Convention Centre. The

the best of the Cape – and some gems from the international wine scene – will be poured. At least 30 wineries from the inaugural show aret taking part plus a large contingent of next-generation winemakers showcasing their wares to the vibrant Gauteng market. 

The RMB Private Bank Tasting Lounge has become a much anticipated feature at the show over the last five years.  Winemakers present half-hour small-group tastings covering a range of fascinating topics.  Seats are limited and secured on a first-booked-first-served basis, so guests should reserve their attendance immediately on arrival at the show. 

Show visitors won’t go hungry with the array of edibles on show for sampling and sale.  French cheese, Morgenster olives, foie gras, West Coast oysters, sushi from the Sushi Bus, Norwegian smoked salmon, chocolates and nougat will be the order of the day along with the tapas and deli dishes sold at the Mastrantonio Café.  The Shop@Show facility, administered by Norman Goodfellows, offers the convenience of a one-stop wine buying service for home delivery in time for the festive season. 

 

RMB WineX 2019 Details:       

            

Dates: Wednesday 30 October to Friday 1 November 2019 (Wednesday night by invitation only)

Venue: The Pavilion, Sandton Convention Centre, Maude Street, Sandton

Time: 17h00 to 21h00 each night

Tickets for Thursday and Friday nights: www.winex.co.za from 16 September.  Strictly no under 18s. 

Getting there and home:

 

Event Queries: www.winex.co.za for all details, list of exhibitors and wines in the lead-up to the show, and to register for Shop@Show. 

Contact: OutSorceress Marketing, telephone 011 482 5936 or email winex@outsorceress.co.za.

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CELEBRATE CHENIN AT PERDEBERG WINES

 

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Chenin Blanc has made huge strides in quality and popularity over the last few years, with a passionate group of producers aiming for the stars!

 

 

The first “Celebrate Chenin” Festival, presented by Perdeberg Wines will share this passion with wine lovers, showing off styles from serious barrel-fermented whites, easy-drinking fruity summer wine right up to Methóde Cap Classique bubblies and incredible dessert wines.

 

Twenty wineries will offer their wines for tasting and for sale directly to visitors. Food Trucks and live music will round off the experience.

 

DATE:                    Saturday 2 November, 11h00-16h00.

 

VENUE:                                Perdeberg Wines, Windmeul Rd, Agter-Paarl.  Visit www.perdeberg.co.za for more info.

 

TICKETS:               R250 online at Webtickets, R280 at the Box Office on site. Includes: Branded crystal glass, R60 food coupon, live music and free tastings.

 

 

Tagged in: Events Food Wine wine news
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We have come to expect the best from Waterkloof wines, and I have yet to be disappointedThe estate’s fierce commitment to traditional organic and biodynamic methods is well-known and there is no doubt that these are reflected in the purity of their wines,  accompanied by a delicacy that promotes, rather than restrains,  expression of terroir. Add to this a natural elegance that  has long been winemaker Nadia Barnard-Langenegger’s  characteristic style, and you know what to expect as you unscrew the cap of the 2016 vintage of Waterkloof Circle of Life White.

Winelovers will be delighted to find the components listed on the front label – 67% sauvignon blanc, 29% chenin blanc and 4% splash of semillon. I found the sauvignon to be dominant both on the nose and slightly less so on the palate, but there are few typical chenin characteristics. The chenin has, however, softened the sauvignon's acidity and added a backdrop of flint Fruit is restrained, but adds roundness to the blend which lingers to a long, complex,  satisfying and serene finish. Moderate alcohol levels are in keeping.

Winemaker Nadia co-fermented the sauvignon and chenin in a combo of 600 litre barrels and concrete “eggs.” No additives were used, and extended time on the lees and with bottle maturation contribute to the fine integration that is characteristic of this blend.

A persuasive example of the positive effects of eco-farming, organic and biodynamic vini- and viticulture, this retails for around R160.

 

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Posted by on in Restaurants

 

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A history stretching back 320 years. Renowned Polkadraai Hills terroir. A five-star   hotel, gourmet and bistro restaurants. A Gin bar with impressive stock. A wide choice of wines in two ranges. An estate managed by hosts with heart.

 

 

Michael Olivier, who handles their PR, is meticulous in recording developments, events and releases on this large and diverse estate and sharing them on his widely read blog. While international visitors dominate at the height of the tourist season, now is the ideal time for locals to investigate and enjoy the many attractions available at Asara.

 

As always, I find the early history of our Cape wine farms a source of endless fascination with Verdun no exception. Back in the latter part of the 18th century the farm was part of Vredenburg , which, together with Vlottenburg was bought in 1772 by Paul Roux and inherited by descendant Kosie Roux, who named his farm Verdun after the WW I battle of Verdun which was raging at the time. Some decades later he and his son, also Kosie, marketed their Gamay , then the only one bottled under this name in the Cape.

 

In the mid-1990’s the farm’s fortunes were revived when Francois Tolken bought Verdun and committed to planting a full 83ha to vine, rebuilding the old cellar and appointing a highly regarded winemaker to oversee the project.

 

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By 2 000 Verdun estate wines began making gentle waves on the Stellenbosch scene and its gamay production was revived after a break of about 15 years.

Four years on and the estate had changed ownership and was now called Asara (after a trio of venerable gods.)The wines continued increasing in quality, collecting both local and international awards.

 

Development in the form of luxury hotel, restaurant and specialty bar were in place a few years later, and today the Sansibar bistro and gin lounge bar boasts the largest selection of gin in the southern hemisphere. There is a choice of dining venues to follow visitors’ tastings. And there are vineyard walks to start the day after a good night’s sleep.

 

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The staff at Asara find time to support those less fortunate than they are, and this extends to donations to animal welfare and the well-run Stellenbosch branch of the Animal Welfare society in particular. So it was in July, Mandela month, that their chef produced large quantities of peanut butter dog biscuits for the Society kennels, now headed by efficient animal lover and former winemaker Lorna Hughes. Buy a packet or two from the Asara Tasting room and deli, or from the society offices close by. They look tempting, but are not recommended for pairing with Asara’s flagship Bordeaux-style blend, the Bell Tower.

 

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Tagged in: Food Restaurants Wine
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It’s been a while since I was last at Dornier Wines, that imposing estate sprawling across the foothills of the Stellenbosch mountain. Encompassing four farms with  diverse terroir, access is gained via a road off the R44.

Visitors are likely to comment on the contrasting architecture which spans three centuries: the 18th century barn which houses the popular Bodega restaurant, the late 19th century Sir Herbert Baker homestead, now a function venue and guest house and the striking winery: the ultra-modern brick cellar with its sinuous roofline was designed by artist Christoph Dornier.

The restaurant is closed at present, re-opening on October 31. First-time diners should look out for a small model, vintage photograph and map, unobtrusively displayed against one wall. They illustrate a fascinating story of MD Raphael Dornier’s grandfather’s achievements a century ago. Claude Dornier was renowned as the pioneer who replaced wood and paper with metal in the design and construction of early planes (and seaplanes in particular) at the start of the 20th century. The photograph shows his plane, dubbed The Switzerland, arriving in Cape town, marking the first such flight from Zurich to this country. This three-month odyssey ended early in 1927.

Philip van Staden became the estate winemaker in 2015, and heads a cellar that makes the Donatus and Dornier ranges and easy-drinking Cocoa Hill wines.

The six that I was invited to review consisted of the Donatus Red and White which comprise the range of that name, along with four Dornier labels.

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Given my penchant for fine chenins and chenin-based blends, it was unsurprising that my favourite was the 2017 Donatus White (R233) an elegant and delicious blend of 80% chenin, the remaining 20% being home-grown semillon. The chenin grapes were sourced from old bushvine vineyards in Stellenbosch. This rich, full-bodied blend presents stone fruit and floral aromas on the nose, follows with a complex palate where crispness pervades - but does not overpower - flavours of fruit, honey and a little citrus, backed by agreeable minerality. The two components were fermented separately in 300 litre French oak barrels, and spent 10 months in barrel on the lees.

Delicious as an aperitif to seafood feasts or as a partner for shellfish and rich and meaty fish such as tuna. Asian curries could also benefit from this blend, as could northern Indian and Persian vegetarian combos.

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The flagship partner wine, Donatus Red 2016, (R349) is as elegant as its white counterpart, a Bordeaux-style blend of home-grown components: Led by 60% cabernet sauvignon, petit verdot comes in at 20% with malbec at 13% and cabernet franc bringing up the rear. Open- top fermenters were used tostart fermentaton, after which malolactic fermentation took place in oak. A further 18 months saw maturation in barrel, before blending took place.

Berry,  black cherry and cassis flavours combine on the palate in pleasing purity, lent character from smooth tannins, the whole presenting a well-balanced blend that should age well. Alcohol levels are substantial at 14,5%. It already complements all manner of red meat in fine style and will enhance vegetarian dishes like mushroom or root vegetable casseroles.

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From the Dornier range, the Semillon 2018 (R196)  revealed a limited release, golden in hue that offered wafts of apple and honey when uncorked. Produced from grapes on the estate,subtle flavours of buttered brioche meld with citrus in an elegant, almost restrained manner that brings to mind Old World style. There’s no hint of waxiness, but the wine is fresh and sprightly with moderate alcohol levels. As a companionable varietal, semillon has few competitors and can accompany a wide spectrum of vegetarian, fish and white meat fare with panache.

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On to the Dornier reds, housed in elegant dark bottles finished with silver tops, starting with Equanimity Cabernet Sauvignon 2016. This appealingly named cab will find followers among most red wine fans. A well-made classic priced at R176, it presents an opulence that showcases characteristic spice and fruit: cassis and licorice yield to berry and subtle mint flavours, hints of vanilla are balanced by elegant tannins. Substantial alcohol levels do not detract from a cab that is already enticing and will go on developing for some years. A great choice when savouring red meat of every kind.

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The Dornier Siren Syrah 2016 (R176) offers a description of the said siren, pictured on the back label, who lured the artist with aromas of “wild herbs, ripe fruits and violets.” All these can be detected in this shiraz made in contemporary style, that spent 15 months in French oak, none of it new, so that fruit would not be overshadowed by wood. Like the cab, should be enjoyed by a broad swathe of shiraz fans paired with venison, lamb or beef.

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The Dornier Merlot 2017 was produced from vineyards on the estate, and berries were picked at optimal ripeness, They were fermented in open stainless steel tanks, followed by 12 months maturation in French oak. This is a juicy, delicious merlot with soft tannins, adding up to well balanced, well-made quality that offers pleasing versatility. A good buy at R159.

For more information, visit www.dornier.co.za. It’s an efficient, user-friendly site that well reflects the entire operation.

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A dark heavy bottle, made unique with its imprint of a bird perched on a tobacco pipe next to a flowerhead, the design is repeated on the minimalist white label which informs that it's Nebukadnesar 2017 and this is no. 12 285 of 21 940!. Not a limited edition then!

Babylonstoren often does things differently, and always beautifully, honouring both the farm’s  330- year old history, its venerable buildings and spectacular setting. As its name suggests this is a place of amazing gardens, now 12 years old with more than 300 varieties of culinary and medicinal plants,, offering a garden tour to delight and amaze.

The extensive vineyards which stretch from 170 metres above sea level to 600 metres – incorporating poor sand, deep shale and rich loam - have yielded pampered berries, allowing the range of wines flowing from the cellars  to increase.. This vintage of the flagship blend has attracted more awards than any previously, particularly from the National Wine Challenge: it brought home Double Platinum, Grand Cru for best in category, and was also crowned Best Wine from among the 600 entries.

Components of this blend (49% cabernet sauvignon, 25% merlot, 16% cabernet franc, 5% petit verdot and 5% malbec), were separately pressed and matured for 23 months in new French oak . The new blend was left in tank for a month before bottling took place, then given five months maturation before being released.

Its a big, bold, full-bodied wine, impressive already, but deserves to be cellared so that the prominent tannins can soften and meld with the flavours of dried herbs, black berries and tobacco, for maximum enjoyment. The palate will then offer sophisticated integration that should go on improving for up to a decade .

 

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The cellar team at Babylonstoren comprises Charl Coetzee, Klaas Stoffberg and Marina Loubser who are making magic with the wide variety of farm cultivars available, including a highly-rated chenin-based white blend with three additional components that I hope to sample soon.

Those who are happy to pay nearly R500 a bottle or R3 000.00 a case for a fine Cape Bordeaux-style blend, will surely be prepared to cellar their purchase, (or at least most of it), to enable the wine to mature further, to reach its (very considerable) peak in, perhaps, five years time.

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The Platter’s 2019 SA Wine Guide by Diners Club International was launched, as usual, in November. Its dusky pink cover manages to be another first, its 712 pages means it’s quite a lot fatter than the 2018 edition and, as usual, its meticulous editor and his team and publisher Jean-Pierre Rossouw have produced another indispensable handbook for the wine industry.

A total of 90 five-star wines for 2019 were announced and the hghest-scoring in each category was named the category Wine of the Year.

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The top accolade, Winery of the Year was expanded to encompass three pinnacles of winemaking: The Newcomer Winery of the Year recognises the cellar that records the best results as a first-time participant in the guide. Erika Obermeyer Wines was the recipient, and it was indeed so satisfying to see this talented, determined solo player receive the recognition she richly deserves. Mullineux winery scooped the award for Top Performing Winery of the Year, having built up an impressive track record in the years that the pair have produced wines in their Swartland cellar. The third accolade, the Editor’s Award went to Newton Johnson Vineyards in Upper Hemel-en-Aarde which is sure to be a hugely popular choice, given both the scintillating and consistent quality of their wines and the popularity of the producing family.

The 2019 edition also introduces 100-point scores, alongside the ‘Platter’s Stars’. This global standard, now combined with the Platter’s own star-rating system, should give international readers a better understanding of the Platter judges’ assessments.

For the rest, the usual popular and essential features are there, although one new icon will be very popular with winelovers seeking out wines produced from vines 35 years or older. The Old Vine Project has taken off both here and overseas, and it is thought that this country posseses more surviving old vines than any other in the world. The quality of many of the wine that are being produced from these survivors is little short of stupendous.

There is a wealth of information on routes, cellars, restaurants and more for travelers to the winelands, and the maps seem to be clearer than last y ears. The RRP is R270.

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A nice contrast here: the label of the Vriesenhof Unwooded Chardonnay 2017 is as traditional as can be, simple wording above and below a black and white drawing of a venerable Cape farmstead backed by the Stellenbosch mountain. But - it arrived in a cardboard carton labelled MILK, then, in smaller font “This is not...” . On one side, a description of the wine, while on another we are given a little of the owner’s winemaking philosophy. When you discover that this farm and wine brand is owned by Jan Boland Coetzee, the delicious mix of trad and zany trend is right in tune with those of its renowned and relaxed cellarmaster.

I make no secret of the fact that I usually enjoy chards that are not wooded more than some of their posher, richer and more complex cousins. I savour their natural freshness, uncomplicated elegance and fruit, often backed by flint that adds character. This wine fits that description almost exactly, with some citrus and stone fruit flavours and more than a hint of minerality lending it substance. Moderate alcohol levels, a back label advising consumers to chill and drink soon, it’s simply a delicious summer aperitif without pretensions. It sells for R100 at both large liquor outlets and at Wine Concepts and, of course at the cellar door and online from the farm. The milk carton pack is only obtainable from the farm.

In the past Jan Boland Coetzee was a traditionalist, only making wines classically austere, dry and with no upfront fruit. This wine, made by long-standing winemaker Nicky Claasens, presents a departure from that style, one that is sure to be more popular with the majority of consumers.

Vriesenhof is running a digital competition with this product: Punting it as the perfect accompaniment to be ‘cool by the pool this summer’,entrants that buy a bottle need to  tag @VriesenhofWines in a post being cool by the pool this summer to stand  a chance to win a case of this charming chard!

For more info email her at Kirsten@kirstenhopwood.co.za .

 
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SHAKEN: Drinking with James Bond & Ian Fleming, published by the  Octopus Publishing Group, 2018.

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The  stylish black and gold covers of this hardback tell readers that this is 007 The Official Cocktail Book. They also reveal that extracts from Ian Fleming’s books accompany the stories behind the James Bond drinks – ranging from 10 classic cocktails to new creations that pay tribute to the people, places and plots of the 007 series.

The concept is clever and it’s well executed: Fleming wove legends around items from cars to clothes, from travel and particularly to drink, be it vodka or brandy, gin or vermouth, champagne or whisky.

Two years ago Edmund Weil, who is related to Ian Fleming, and his wife Rosie teamed up with talented mixologists Bobby Hiddleston and Mia Johansson to open Bar Swift in Soho.  The Weils, who are renowned in the London hospitality industry and their partners have seen their venture fizz into a Soho hot spot , winning several awards.

Every cocktail has a story to tell, reflecting Fleming’s vivid imagination: these are reproduced here following each. The drinks are grouped into the following categories: Straight Up, On the Rocks, Tall, Fizzy, Exotic.

After a brief practical guide to bar essentials, including recipes for syrups and sherbets, we turn the page to Bond’s dry martini. The recipe is followed by extracts from Bond novels dealing with this classic.  Next up is Pussy Galore, a cocktail with roots in Manhattan and enough ingredients to make your head whirl: Bourbon, red vermouth, white  maraschino, Angostura bitters and crème de menthe are stirred and garnished with edible snowflakes. The Refresher, suggested as a replacement for dessert, combines dark rum and fresh coffee with coffee liqueur and hazelnut orgeat.

Fast cars, especially the Aston Martin, inspired the Supercharger, a sleek twist of a cocktail made from vodka, cold-brewed coffee, vanilla  and ginger liqueurs, finished with double cream. And to add a note of romance, A Whisper of Love pays tribute to the poignancy of love and loss which “marked the lives of both Fleming and his hero.” Premium cognac is stirred with campari, crème de mure (blackberry liqueur) and parfait amour which add floral and berry notes. The addition of red vermouth and the campari add astringency, turning the drink deep red.

Not all the drinks are lethal – with the trend toward Oriental fare blooming, Tiger Tanaka makes a warming brew imbued with the delicate flavours of Japan: Japanese whisky and sake are stirred with coconut palm sugar syrup and boiling water infused with a flowering jasmine tea ball. The drink is garnished with makrut lime leaves.

Clear colour photographs of each cocktail add much to the attraction of the recipes.

Fleming and his fictional counterpart James Bond have become synonymous with style, glamour and thrilling tales. This collection of cocktail recipes and 007 stories will make a popular gift for both Bond fans and contemporary and trad cocktail enthusiasts

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Posted by on in Restaurants

DELHEIM’S VEGAN-FRIENDLY DUO

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The 2018 white and rosé wines are trickling onto the market, and will soon become a steady stream. Among the early birds are the new vintages of Delheim’s perennially popular pair- their sauvignon blanc and their pinotage rosé.

To start with the latter, this blush has a long and illustrious history, being produced regularly since its launch in 1976, when the late Spatz Sperling first presented it to the local and German markets. It offers a good mix of candy and berry aromas, while the berry flavours on the palate are balanced by crispness and faint floral wafts of perfume , thanks to a tiny portion of Muscat de Frontignan. The prevailing drought has not affected the usual good quality and the moderate alcohol levels of 12,5% add to its attraction. Expect to pay around R75.

The 2018 sauvignon blanc will please a wide variety of tastes, as its nicely balanced, green fig and citrus notes complementing a hint of flint. Alcohol levels are moderate at 13,5%, and this wine, while fresh as a daisy, is not overly acidic. It sells for R79.

Both wines have a band on their back labels stating Suitable for Vegans. This is a good idea if, as Delheim says, they have had an increase in queries from visitors and diners as to the acceptability of their wines to vegans and vegetarians.

Of course today dozens of producers do not use egg white or fish products in the fining of their wines, while others, choosing the minimimalist approach, are not fining their wines at all. Bentonite is the product most widely in use today, a type of clay that is far less messy than working with egg whites which used to be popular. Delheim is one of the cellars that has been using bentonite for several years.

 

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Over the last few years the quality and diversity of wines available from the producers in the McGregor valley have rocketed, When talking to visitors and wine lovers in other centres it was clear that few people knew just how good and diverse the offerings are. This led to my creating the McGregor Wine Meander which forms an informal link between the local outlets and provides travellers and locals a vinous route that can be visited over a weekend or longer stay. 

We invite you to ramble or run, hike or bike, trot on horseback or just drive your four-wheeled chariot through the valley, pausing wherever you feel like sampling one of our charming wines or sipping a grappa or eau de vie.

Here below are a couple of excerpts from the website, starting with the introduction.

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At present there are six members, and this number is set to rise by one or two more. Starting at the Robertson end of the McGregor/Robertson road, the first cellar is Tanagra Winery & Distillery, followed by McGregor Wines. Bemindwyne and Grape De-Vine are in the middle of the village, with the latter acting as tasting centre for Solara Organic Wines. Beyond the village, some 10km uphill, lies Lord's Wines, the highest cellar in the Robertson Wine Valley. 

 

Please log on to www.mcgregorwinemeander.co.za to plan your route and click on each member to obtain their details.

 

 

McGregor Wine Meander

Amazing diversity. Consistent qualityGreat value for money.

This best describes the wines and spirits that flow from the farms and cellars of the valley that encompasses the magical village of McGregor.

Where else would one find such extraordinary variety within one small wine-producing district ? Cellars ranging from garagiste through boutique to a large co-operative. Single vineyard white, red and rosés. Fine Cinsaut and Colombard that take these former humble – now trendy – grapes to new levels. Irresistible award-winning Cap Classiques. Internationally registered unforgettable organic sauvignon blanc and pinotage. Highly rated popular cabernet sauvignon and, of course, soetes, in the form of warming red and white muscadels.
And, from a small distillery, a range of world-class grappa or marc as its also known, along with eau de vie produced from both red and white wines. And there’s more in the guise of a fruit-based range where apricots, peaches, lemons and organic quinces play starring roles. An inviting village wine boutique doubles as a tasting centre for one farm while providing locals with a meeting place of note.

Only in McGregor!

This little route can be compared to a jewelled necklace, along which a handful of farms and cellars perch as gems waiting to be unearthed. The winemakers, viticulturists and farmers (sometimes all-in-one) share qualities like talent, passion and hospitality – the old adage, ‘arrive as strangers, leave as friends’ – could have been coined especially for this valley.

Welcome to The McGregor Wine Meander,

a slow and winding 15km route through vine-clad hills, past orchards, farmsteads and between stretches of veld where nature rules supreme. After leaving the village the road climbs to the foothills of the Sonderend mountains, where the final destination boasts heart-stopping views over the valley.
In anticipation of your tastings, we would like to raise a glass in welcome with traditional toasts of Cheers! Gesondheid! And, with a nod to our Scottish heritage, Slainte!

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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, 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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