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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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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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Posted by on in News

 

*****

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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It was with keen anticipation that I screwed open a sample of Asara 2015 chenin blanc from their Vineyard Collection range. It has been a long while since I tasted any of their wines, although I often thought about them when swinging past their entrance on route to Stellenbosch.

This wine, states estate manager Pete Gottgens, is the first of a vinous renaissance at Asara, the maiden result of a new regime and team. It’s an impressive chenin on every count, from its nose presenting a meld of honeysuckle and ripe stone fruit followed by a rich and concentrated mix of fruit flavours and subtle oak. The alcohol count is 14%, which is higher than Europe and the UK like, but most South Africans are less concerned about this facet with consumers in the Far East are even less so. The wine has just walked off with an international trophy for Best New World Wine at the 2016 Japan Wine Challenge, bringing home gold as well which is a pleasing start for their quality projections.

The estate grapes were sourced from a 20-year-old block, just short of 2 ha, sited at 200m above sea level. Winemaker Danielle le Roux and consultant Abe Beukes left the berries hang until mid-March before harvesting. After pressing the wine went straight into oak. While the wine is agreeably fresh in spite of its fruit intensity it could be even more palatable if discernible minerality added backbone:   Perhaps this aspect could develop in bottle.

Food wise, this is a chenin that will accommodate complex salads and all manner of poultry dishes, including some Oriental classics.

Priced at R80, it offers good value as well. While I haven’t tasted the 2014 chenin, one thing’s for sure – the 2015 is worth a lot more than the 2 and half stars Platter awarded the previous vintage.

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THINK PINK, HULLO SPRING!

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The setting is simply superb. From both the terrace and through the wrap-around full-length glass walls of the restaurant, vineyards and pastures roll out below you, bisected by the R60. The Brandwag, Rabiesberg and long line of the Langeberg range frame this inviting hilltop venue, open for some eight months.

Well-situated between Worcester and Robertson , this is an ideal stopping-point; Nuy could not have thought of a better way of celebrating their 50th anniversary.

Paging through the nostalgic and beautifully illustrated Nuy gedenkboek, we read about the cellar’s maiden harvest in 1965, a total of 6 192 tons, made up of Muscadel, Othello, Pontac, Pinotage, Hanepoot, Witsag and Hermitage. While hermitage is today better-known as cinsaut, the latest old-timer to head to trend-topping status, I could not find info on Othello or Witsag.

It it did not take Nuy long to become renowned for the outstanding quality of its soetes – muscadels both red and white, which even today continued to attract awards annually, yet are stil sold at giveaway prices.

As the number of reds and whites continued to increase, Nuy has slotted wines into three ranges. The entry wines, Inspiration, consist of five whites – sauvignon blanc, chenin, chardonnay, colombar and their perennially popular Chant de Nuit a blend of chenin and colombar finished with a little Ferdinand de Lesseps, a table grape. From the reds, my table companion found the 2015 cabernet sauvignon very agreeable, and there is also a shiraz and pinotage which we did not sample. There’s an off-dry sparkling wine made from sauvignon blanc and a semi-sweet bubbly using muscat. The 2015 red and white muscadels complete the range. Prices range from R30 to 47 for the whites, the reds are all R55 and the muscadels R52. The sparkling wines cost R50.

The middle range, called Mastery offered a delightfull, carefully wooded chardonnay, which makes a perfect “winter white” (R85) and a trio of reds , all priced at R103– 2013 pinotage (exceptionally light in colour, characteristic nose, medium bodied, modern and enjoyable), and a cab and shiraz, both 2013.

Nuy’s top range Legacy, leads with their flagship red blend Argilla 2013,(R150) a blend of 62% shiraz, 31% pinotage, finished with cab. Elegance joined by a good backbone, smooth tannins, this will be worth keeping for a few years . We did not try the bubbly, (R150) nor the potstill brandy, but I can vouch for the hugely impressive 50 Vintages Red Muscadel (R165). Matured for three years in small oak, bottled to mark the 50th anniversary, this sophisticated fortified has already attracted double gold from Michelangelo, and 4 and half stars from Platter – worth five I think.

And so, to the food.

When I see a menu as large and varied as Nuy’s I usually find that the cuisine suffers, as few kitchens can cope with such a huge number of dishes . While two of us enjoyed a simple lunch there one Friday, I can report that not only was the restaurant buzzing with happy diners, but also I did not see anyone complain or send back anything but well-cleaned plates. I have not heard a single bad report on the fare at this restaurant from local diners in the Robertson valley – so perhaps this is an exception to the usual rule.

Breakfast offers predictable variations on the bacon and egg theme, plus a salmon rosti and a Nuy Benedict. There’s a a choice of seven burgers, including a Banting burger which replaces the bun with a giant mushroom. The tapas menu is extensive – my companion tried and enjoyed the beef carpaccio, which was a generous offering teamed with shaved parmesan and a balsamic glaze. From the speciality dishes, - pork, battered fish and chicken enchilada – I opted for mushroom soup, and it was a good choice – plentiful, creamy, and well-flavoured and served with toast. There is also an extensive pizza menu prices ranging from R85 to R105, while steaks – fillet and sirloin with a choice of toppings and sauces - start from R115.

By way of contrast the dessert menu is miniscule – cake, spring rolls, waffle with banana caramel, cream or icecream, and icecream with bar one sauce. We tried two of these, again a large serving, predictably rich and satisfying for every sweet tooth. Beverages include a range of milkshakes , and there’s a full liquor licence. Nuy on the hill cocktail (R45) melds peach schnapps, vodka, orange juice and blue curacao. There are four artisanal beers from the Mountain Brewing Co made on the Klipbokkop reserve which seemed a popular choice with diners. A kiddies menu concludes a really astonishing range .

Six years go the Nuy directors handed over 1ha of white and 1ha of red muscadel vines to the cellarworkers who formed the Keerom Landbou Bpk, to develop and cultivate themselves. From their maiden harvest in 2011 their grapes have been rated in outstanding condition. They are delivered to the Nuy cellar and form part of the distinctive 50 Vintages Red Muscadel.

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If Calling northern suburbs winelovers! Just ahead of spring, head to Capegate Shopping Centre for a great weekend wine fest, taking place from 5 - 9pm on Friday August 26 and from 12 noon to 6pm on Saturday 27th.

Festival visitors can taste and buy more than 100 wines directly from the wineries, which include large producers with well-known brands and smaller boutique and family-owned wineries, giving a taste of the best of South Africa’s winelands in one venue.

The Cape Wine Academy is presenting a wine theatre (Three sessions on Friday and four sessions on Saturday) with fun tastings and pairings on the programme at set times.

Participating wineries include: Alexanderfontein/Ormonde, Arendskloof/Eagle’s Cliff, Beyerskloof Wines, Biocape Wines, Bonnievale Cellar, Diemersfontein Wines, Dieu Donnè Vineyards, Deux Frères Wines, Du Toitskloof Wines, Edgebaston, Eerstehoop Wines, Fledge & Co, Groenland, Imbuko Wines, La Couronne Wine Estate, MWS, Orange River Cellars, Overhex Wines International, Perdeberg Winery, Peter Bayly Wines, Stellenbosch Hills, Villiera Wines, Villiersdorp Cellar, Yonder Hill Wines.

The Pebbles Project, which looks after disadvantaged children, especially those impacted by alcohol, is the charity beneficiary of the festival and will be present to spread their message and raise funds and awareness.

Tickets from the door or through www.quicket.co.za  cost R70 pp (Includes a branded tasting glass) Bookings for the CWA theatre sessions can be made at the ticket office.

For up to date information, visit

 

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Nedbank Cape Winemakers Guild Auction Showcase of rare, individual wines

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This popular annual event takes place in Cape Town on Thursday, 18 August at the CTICC from 6pm and in Johannesburg on Wed August 24 at the Atrium, Nedbank Sandton at 6pm. Tickets cost R250 which includes a tasting glass.

Wine enthusiasts cantaste these unique collectors’ wines crafted exclusively in small volumes for the 2016 Cape Winemakers Guild Auction by the Guild’s 47 members.Members of the Guild will also be presenting some of their acclaimed offerings sold under their own labels. Guests can also bid on rare signed bottles from previous Guild auctions during the Silent Auction. Founded in 1999, the Development Trust seeks to transform the wine industry by educating, training and empowering young talent through initiatives such as the Protégé Programme, a highly acclaimed mentorship scheme for upcoming winemakers and viticulturists.Tickets can be purchased via

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  Quest for the Best 2016

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The seventh annual Mutual & Federal Agri Wellington Wine Route “Quest for the Best” was celebrated with an awards luncheon in Wellington on Friday 29 July. During the judging process on 21 July a record number of 92 wines by 16 Wellington producers were tasted blind by six well-known judges.  The wines are judged and scored according to a tried and tested points system. 

 

The judges were: Bennie Howard ,Samarie Smith,Sandile Mkhwanazi, Johann Fourie,Danielle le Roux and Kris Snyman.

 Best top 10 wines from Wellington are:

 Bosman Family Vineyards – Bosman Cabernet Sauvignon 2008

  • Doolhof Wine Estate – Lady in White 2010
  • Wellington Wines – La Cave Pinotage 2015
  • Wellington Wines – La Cave Shiraz 2014
  • Mont du Toit - Les Coteaux Cabernet Franc 2012
  • Andreas Wine  – Andreas Shiraz 2013
  • Diemersfontein Wines – Diemersfontein Carpe Diem Viognier 2015
  • Diemersfontein Wines – Woolworths Reserve Collection Pinotage 2014
  • Douglas Green – Douglas Green Chenin Blanc 2016
  • Linton Park Wines - Linton Park Merlot 2015

 

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Winemaker Henry Kotze, Giulio Bertrand and consultant Pierre Lurton

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It always seems to be a beautiful day when its time to head to Morgenster, and this was no exception. A group of wine media and trade representatives filled the tasting room then filed into the cellar where tables, dressed in white, sported enough glasses to indicate a tasting of some magnitude. In front, courteous host Giulio Bertrand, winemaker Henry Kotze and Gallic consultant Pierre Lurton from Chateau Cheval Blanc introduced the lineup which comprised the release of the Bordeaux-style flagship wine and the 2013 vintages of his Italian Collection. Starting with what was, for me, an outstanding wine,the Morgenster White 2015 is a blend of 55% sauvignon blanc and 45% semillon, satiny, yet frisky, exhibiting both herbaceous notes, a touch of oiliness, and a whiff of fruit, in an elegant, irresistible combination. Bottled just two months ago after 10 months in oak, this was produced from bought-in grapes from vineyards close to the estate. Their own white grape vines will be ready to produce fine wines soon, but this wine, due for release in September at around R150, is worth waiting for.

On to the Italian cultivars, starting with the Caruso rosé, made from sangiovese, with its low- alcohol level of 12,5% makes a great introduction to Morgenster, with discernible backbone, plenty of berry fruit balanced with savoury notes, selling at around R80.

Tosca 2013 is a blend of 76% sangiovese, 12% each of cabernet and merlot, selling at just under R200, is an enjoyable meld, a great food wine, and probably more popular with locals than the Nabucco – the 2013 vintage of which is 100% nebbiolo, This cultivar has its fair share of fans, and is distinctly different from our reds, and should be paired with Italian fare.

The Lourens Valley 2012 may be regarded as a second fiddle red blend to the Morgenster, but is usually one that I have enjoyed hugely in the past. No change here – from its aromatic nose to a palate with fruit balanced with smooth tannins in an elegant and approachable combination, I would choose this for winter fireside sipping . It sells for around R145.

From the prelude to the main course, the release of the Morgenster 2012, the Bordeaux-style flagship of the estate, comprising, unusually, 72% merlot, along with 16% petit verdot and 12% cabernet. With alcohol levels of 14,5% ,this fresh and enjoyable wine elicited much discussion among wine writers who queried the choice of merlot as the lead cultivar, (one being regarded with some disdain by many a fundi.) Henry’s answer was simply that this combination proved to be the best when he and Pierre took decisions on the components and proportions of the blend. Expect to pay around R370.

Back in the tasting room a team had produced a wide selection of delectable Italian snacks, each one matched to one of the wines we had tasted. From parmesan risotto to tiny meatballs, from quality smoked salmon to veal tongues on ciabatta, the visitors tucked in, savouring the pairings with relish.

As the noise levels grew, our host moved among friends and colleagues, surely pleased that both his ambitions have been realised – to produce great Bordeaux-style blends at Morgenster and to make fine wines from Italian varietals on his very lovely, historic Cape farm. His olive oils are also rewarding his sizeable investment very well.

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Farm to Table festival weekend

 

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Celebrate natural produce and artisanal fare at Boschendal farm during the weekend April 23 -24. This huge farm, in a setting of outstanding beauty, is ready to inform and inspire guests with a programme of talks, tours, demos and workshops, that will please eco-conscious visitors and should convince many others that  sustainable farming that is gentle to the earth, cuts food miles, and ensures humane treatment of animals is the route we should be taking.

While all ages will be catered for with children’s activities on the Sunday, Saturday's programme includes compost creation, sausage-making, wine tasting, craft beer, organic food garden tours, and free-range poultry and beef tours..

 There's a farm feast on Saturday, starting at 4pm and including a spitroast Angus ox and a barbecue picnic on Sunday to contemplate The farm feast dinner costs R450, children ‘R200 at separate table. The Sunday picnic and live music costs R295 for adults, children 12 and under R100. Picnic prices includes entertainment and childrens activities.

 please visit https://plankton.mobi/Home/Index to book. Tickets are limited for all events.

 

 

SOUTH AFRICAN CHEESE FESTIVAL IN THE SPOTLIGHT - 30 APRIL -2 MAY

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This annual success story is marking its 15th birthday this year with another great weekend of cheese and other goodies at Sandringham near Stellenbosch., exit 39 off the N1. As always, cheese tastings can be partnered with wines, and delicious snacks of all kinds, and celebrity chefs will be doing demos of their speciality dishes. See you there!

Tickets are available from Computicket , Shoprite or Checkers store at R150 per day. Senior citizens pay R100 and children 13 years and younger enter  free. No tickets will be sold at the gates. The festival opens from 10:00 - 18:00 daily. Facebook https://www.facebook.com/pages/Cheese-Festival/103882408706

For more information contact Agri-Expo on tel 021 975 4440 or admin@agriexpo.co.za or visit www.cheesefestival.co.za

 

The Riebeek Valley Olive Festival

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The annual Riebeek Valley Olive Festival takes place over the weekend of 7 - 8 May (10am to 5pm daily), where you are guaranteed to find everything olive related

From olives to olive oils and olive -inspired produce, this promises to be a feast for the senses. Not forgetting the great  wines in the area too.! Artisanal beers, an abundance of hearty local food and live entertainment add up to the promise of a great weekend.

 An Olive Passport, valid for the  weekend, gives visitors access to participating wine farms. It costs R125 and includes a tasting glass. Book online via www.webtickets.co.za or on the day at any of the participating venues. Children under 18 enter for free. A complimentary shuttle service will be available for the duration of the weekend.

Those choosing to make a weekend of this excursion have a wide selection of accommodation from which to choose. For more information contact Riebeek Valley Tourism on 022 448 1545 or mail olivefestival@gmail.com.

 

 

PLAISIR DE MERLE WINEMAKERS’ DINNERS 2016 

 

The first of these elegant evenings take place on May 14, from 6,30pm with others to follow in

August and October.Tickets are available at R595 per person, for the five course dinner with wine included. Limited seats are available so call 021 874 1071 or email info@plaisirdemerle.co.za to be part of this exclusive event.

 

SHIRAZ AND CHARCUTERIE AT FRANSCHHOEK

 

 

Shiraz and charcuterie events are becoming trendy affairs, with Anthonij Rupert holding theirs on Saturday, 28 May (12pm to 5pm). Their own range of syrah, which includes the Anthonij Rupert Syrah, the Cape of Good Hope Riebeek’s Rivier Shiraz and Protea Shiraz will be there for sampling, as will fine shiraz from Rust en Vrede, Waterford, Mullineux & Leeu Family Wines, Hartenberg Estate, Simonsig and Thelema. These can all be paired with a range of charcuterie and artisanal fare such as French onion soup, and braised lamb arancini with tomato chutney, Toulouse sausages with braised lentils are among the rustic Rhone specialities, perfect to pair with shiraz. Tickets cost R180 per person and are limited, so pre-booking is recommended. Your ticket includes entry and tastings of the wines.. Book directly via www.webtickets.co.za.

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b2ap3_thumbnail_Papkuilsfontein-11.jpgPapkuilsfontein where organic vines yield berries for the Earthbound range, produced at Nederburg.

 

Hard to believe it's three years since I wrote about young winemaker Heinrich Kulsen being chosen for the Cape Winemakers' Guild's mentorship programme, along with other three other equally competent Elsenburg students. His  three-year programme  saw him spend time as an intern in Burgundy, and back home, gain experience in the cellars of Villiera, Ernie Els Wines and Hermanuspietersfontein.

Kulsen joined Nederburg in 2014 as assistant white winemaker, moved on to make red and has recently been appointed winemaker of the Earthbound organic wines, taking over from Samuel Viljoen. This new challenge involves the production of accessible wines of good quality in an environment with strict limits including  minimal use of sulphur . Papkuilsfontein vineyards in the Darling West Coast district supply the grapes, grown of course sans herbicides, fungicides, synthetic fertilizers.  Heinrich's  time at Villiera has proved good experience in the upholding of organic principles.

Under the Fairtrade programme, workers at Papkuilsfontein Vineyards benefit directly from a portion of profit from wine sales. Funds raised are administered by a trust where workers have a majority share and dispensed according to community needs they identify. The Earthbound wines are a joint empowerment venture between Distell, a consortium of taverners in Gauteng, and a local community trust.

There are two whites in the range, chenin blanc and sauvignon blanc.

The unirrigated  chenin vineyards at Papkuilsfontein, 25km from the Atlantic, were planted 22 years ago.The 2015 chenin is refreshing and fruity, augmented by some minerality.  .Equally pleasing on its own, well-chilled, or teamed with warm weather salads, fish, chicken, picnic and light Asian fare.

 

The 2015 sauvignon blanc was produced from bush vines planted in '98 and '99. This is a wine with wide appeal, as there is grassiness for those looking for verdancy , balanced by tropical fruit,  litchi in particular. Good with grilled and fried fish, and will offset richness of chicken with cream sauces.

Both wines have14% alcohol levels, while low sulphur levels will be appreciated by many  whosuffer from standard  use of this basic preservative

The Earthbound duo are easy summery sippers , offering  affordability in a field where the demands of organic viti and viniculture usually result in  substantial retail prices. At  around R46 they are good value for budget-conscious consumers wanting wines that are sustainably produced and marketed with integrity.

The range can be tasted by appointment at Trinity Lodge in Darling.

If indeed these 2015 wines are Heinrich Kulsen’s maiden vintages, they are products of which he can be proud.

 

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

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

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

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

 

 

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EASTERN CAPE WINE SHOW   IN EAST LONDON

 

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

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

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


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

 

 

Eikendal Weintaufe 2016

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

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

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

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

 

 

MURATIE HARVEST FESTIVAL

 

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

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

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

 

 

Stellenbosch Vineyards Pizza & Wine

 

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

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

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

 

Upcoming Festival at Benguela Cove Lagoon Wine Estate

 

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

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

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

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

 

CELLARBAKE@NITIDA STRIKES AGAIN

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

 EASTER EVENTS AT WINE FARMS

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

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

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

 

EASTER AT BOSCHENDAL

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

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

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

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

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

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b2ap3_thumbnail_La-Motte-2011_Hanneli-R.jpg HANNELI R 2011

 

This flagship shiraz-based blend from La Motte is an extraordinary wine that deserves to complement a momentous occasion or celebration, such as, in our case, the arrival of a new addition to the family. There can be few cellarmasters more dedicated, diligent and talented than Edmund Terblanche - and with this wine, only made when the vintage is regarded as exceptional -  he applies these qualilties to ensure inspired results, blending 80% of shiraz  with equal quantities of petit syrah and tempranillo. The shiraz for the 2011 vintages was sourced mostly from Elim and a litte from Bot river, the other components from Franschhoek.

 Maturation in oak for three years has contributed complexity and structure that is balanced by minerality but there's welcome freshness as well. Spiciness and berry flavours confirm syrah dominance, adding to a full-bodied, intense, elegant whole. All in all a worthy tribute to La Motte's Hanneli Rupert.

 

WEBERSBURG CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2013

 

 

b2ap3_thumbnail_webersburg-5.jpgMany knowledgeable winemakers regard the Helderberg cab vineyards as offering the best berries in the entire Stellenbosch stretch with its various sub-regions. Difficult to argue when one comes across such a stylish expression of the grape as this one. Viticulturist-cum-winemaker Matthew van Heerden followed harvesting with berry sorting before vinification in open fermenters. He used a variety of French barrels for maturation and regards the result, with justification, as a true expression of exceptional terroir. Classic aromas precede finely balanced tannins and fruit on the palate alongside freshness and moderate alcohol levels.

 

ZONNEBLOEM LAUREAT 2013

 

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This historic Stellenbosch cellar has long been renowned for consistency - of quality and affordability - across the ranges of its many reds and a handful of whites. The Laureat is their flagship red blend, traditionally cab and merlot, although the 2012 contained small quantities of shiraz, mourvedre and petit verdot to the mix and the 2013, which we savoured, has shiraz and petit verdot to complete the cab/merlot components.  This in the stylish tradition of its predecessors, offering loads of fruit, smooth tannins, and accessibility which is a well -established trademark. Presented in a smart box, the Laureat is the first example of Zonnebloem's new generation look, with other wines to follow.

 

 

 

 

 


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

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

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

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

Wines from the SV ranges, by the glass and carafe, the restaurant is open 7 days a week for lunch and dinner and for breakfasts as well over weekends. See their website for more info. www.bistro13.co.za.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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