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 .
DELHEIM’S VEGAN-FRIENDLY DUO
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.
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.
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 quality. Great 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!
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.
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.
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
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.
The Cape Winelands and Gauteng are both hosting some tempting wine affairs during June
Franschhoek Bastille Festival | 14 & 15 July 2018
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.
OLD MUTUAL TROPHY SHOW WINE TASTINGS
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
Delheim Jazz & Cheese Fondues all jazzed up with new line-up
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.
A TASTE OF TYGERVALLEY
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
There are very few who do not enjoy riding the rails and many who claim that train is by far the best way to travel. The experience of rattling along in carriages, especially when pulled by a proper steam engine, is an experience both unique and nostalgic, so that many visitors, local and international, mourned the passing of rail transport to Franschhoek.
The station, however, stayed intact and was maintained , not like other forlorn deserted stations across the South African platteland. Occasionally trips were organised to farms along the line – I remember one, in particular, a splendid journey to Bellingham to mark, I think, both a wine launch and the restoration of the old farmstead.
When doing research for my Franschhoek Food cookbook nearly a decade ago, there was talk of reviving the rail link shared by several farms along the R45 – while nothing has come of that there was great excitement some five years ago when the Franschhoek Wine Tram service was launched, taking guests on a short journey on rails in a 32-seater open-sided tram which stopped at two wine estates in the village. Brainchild of the Blyth family, who no doubt spent many frustrating hours dealing with the logistics of their venture, from bureaucracy downwards, their vision and persistence are worthy of thunderous applause!
The tram proved to be an instant success, offering local and international visitors a fun way to travel that was adventurous, but less hazardous than tasting wine on horseback.
Earlier this month, the Blyth family and GM Brett Garner hosted officials, media and visitors to the new Franschhoek Wine Tram Double Deck trams, at Groot Drakenstein station. The service now embraces some 22 wine farms, spanning the valley’s wine route. Travellers can spend between 30 and 60 minutes on board as part of a full day R220 wine tour which extends as far as Vrede en Lust in Simondium.
From the wine tram website, we learn that a combo of tram and tram-bus transports passengers around a loop of stops. They can choose to hop on and hop off for wine tastings, cellar tours, lunch or just stroll through the vineyards.There are six hop-on hop-off routes to choose from, each visiting eight wine estates in different parts of the beauteous valley, while a narrative covers the history of the valley and its wine.
As Western Cape Minister of Economic Opportunities Alan Winde remarked in his launch address, this new expanded service will allow more than 120 000 guests to enjoy the trip in the current tourist season.
Just another good reason to make sure that the stupendous Franschhoek valley is on every traveller’s must-do itinerary this summer and autumn.
See www.winetram.co.za. For more information call Brett Garner on 27(0)83 260 0453.
A COLOMBARD FOR CONNOISSEURS Featured
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
- A festive season promotion featuring a wine range with a quirky name and a reputation that stretches across three continents. The first Fat Bastard wine originated as an experimental chardonnay and was produced by two friends, UK Guy Anderson and French winemaker Thierry Boudinaud. Delighted with their creation - which had been left on the lees for far longer than normal – and that they had produced a big, fat, full-bodied wine, which led one of them to exclaim “Well now that’s a fat bastard.” The name stuck, and they went on to make a whole range of rich, round, food-friendly wines that have found favour on both sides of the Atlantic.
Back in SA they are produced by Robertson Winery, and the range offers a sauvignon blanc, chardonnay, pinot noir rose, merlot, pinotage, shiraz and cabernet. Whites cost around R70, reds sell at R110 and all are widely available.
Winelovers across South Africa can be in with a chance to win a fabulous getaway to a luxurious destination in the spectacular Blyde River Canyon in Mpumalanga. Take your partner and escape to umVangati House for three nights on a #LiveLarge trip.
To be in line to win, you need to buy a bottle of Fat Bastard wine before the year ends. See details below, and good luck...
To enter, buy any bottle of Fat Bastard wine with a promotional necktag, from any outlet in SA., before December 31, and follow the instructions on the necktag. OR Enter online before December 23 , go to http://www.fatbastardwine.co.za/pages/greencanyoncomp.php
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.
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.
De Krans has just released the new vintages of 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.
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.
When you have“king”for 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 founder’s 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.
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 email@example.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/.
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 vintage, 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.
And 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.
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. Ideal 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
Nedbank Cape Winemakers Guild Auction Showcase of rare, individual wines
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
Quest for the Best 2016
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