Myrna Robins

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Wine reviews, industry news and comment.

Subcategories from this category: Blog, News, Events


It will come as no surprise to the many fans of Robertson Winery’s products: This year their long-established reputation for consistent quality and affordability has been nicely affirmed with a series of awards.

There are three major contests that focus on value as well as quality in South Africa. These are the Gold Wine Awards, the Ultra Value Wine Challenge and’s Best Value Tastings. From all three Robertson Winery brought home pleasing results in the current competitions.


These comprised five gold medals in the Gold Wine Awards for their chenin blanc 2019, sauvignon blanc 2018, chardonnay 2018 , beaukett 2018 and merlot 2018. This contest judges excellence in wines selling at retail prices of less than R130; as Robertson wines are priced at between R55-60 for whites and about R69 for reds, their labels are competitive indeed.

b2ap3_thumbnail_Robertson-Winery-Shiraz.jpg placed their shiraz 2018 in the Top Five, awarding it joint second place in their recent Best Value Shiraz Tasting. Judges assess examples of shiraz, tasted blind, that sell for between R60 and R120. At R69,the Robertson shiraz is among the most inexpensive.


The Ultra Value Wine Challenge scored their beaukett 2018 with 95 points, placing it in the Top 14 highest scoring wines. This semi-sweet wine, a blend of colombard and muscadel, was awarded Double Gold and is priced abetween R45 – R50. This contest saw Robertson a multiple winner, with three golds for their gewurztraminer 2018, the shiraz 2017 and the Chapel chenin blanc/colombard 2018, along with six silver medals for two further white and four red wines


In all, a score sheet worth shouting about! Congratulations to this deservedly popular winery that is so integral a part of the town with which it shares its name.

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What incredible progress we have seen with pinotage over the last four decades. When I first took an interest in wine (beyond just enjoying) I did a wine course in which I had to identify the cultivars in a series of wines that were tasted blind. Pinotage was always, I found, the easiest, as it smelled of nail-polish remover! And some of them didn’t taste much better either.

Today our top pinotages attract serious attention overseas and command impressive prices. Easy-drinking versions are also available, at affordable prices for those on tight budgets. And now there is an a middle-of-the-range selection – and most of them are good pinotages, made with care, offering consumers an enjoyable experience: upfront fruit is well- balanced by sturdy or soft tannins. Prices range approx from R80 to R180 and the fact that this is the only true South African varietal is a good selling point among loyal locals.


Released in time for Heritage month, Middelvlei Free-Run Pinotage 2018 also marks a centenary of winemaking by three generations of the Momberg family, a hospitable and down-to-earth bunch of friendly people whose lovely farm continues to stave off suburbia on Stellenboschs outskirts.

The straighforward bottle with its simple label tells us that the wine is  made from 100% free-run juice, which is known to produce gentler tannins. Winemaker Tinnie Momberg describes his pinotage as offering berry flavours combined with spices and vanilla from its time in oak. Soft tannins and a long finish add to its appeal, and alcohol levels are held at 14%. Middelvlei is home to 15ha of pinotage bush vines that were planted in 2010, so now reaching maturity.

The pinotage costs R130 from the farm, and at selected liquor outlets countrywide. Middelvlei is well known for its boerebraai, and suggests that this wine is the perfect companion. For animal lovers this is also a delightful destination as, along with friendly tail-wagging dogs you could spot a pair of donkeys, a pair of potbellied pigs and some pygmy goats. There are also mountain tortoises resident on the slopes, while and several of the menagerie inhabiotants are rescue animals.

 For more information visit


Another pinotage that made its appearance in time for heritage celebrations is Van Loverens Christina Trousseau Reserve Pinotage 2017, a limited edition of nine barrels that pays tribute to the venerable chest that family ancestor Cristina van Loveren brought with her to the Cape back in 1699. She has been honoured with several of the estate wines in the past, but this time the cellar pays homage to her bridal chest that makes a heritage centrepiece in the tasting room. The dark bottle is heavy, topped with a silver sheath over the cork while the black and white front label features the centuries-old lock on the chest.

The wine spent 18 months in French oak and offers plenty of fruit along with vanilla and whiffs of dark chocolate on the palate. Alcohol levels of 14,5% are higher than prevailing trends prefer, but are not obvious. This new addition to the Christina range is priced at R250.

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700g large, preferably king-size raw prawns, peeled and deveined

1and half cups panko (or other crisp) breadcrumbs

2 large egg whites, free-range please

1T milk

Quarter cup flour

2t garlic powder

Salt and black pepper

Olive oil

Paprika Aioli:

2 T butter

2 t smoked paprika

2 cloves garlic, finely crushed

1 cup of good quality bought mayonnaise or homemade


Preheat oven to 200 deg C. Set out 3 bowls – fill one with the breadcrumbs, another with the egg whites whisked with the milk, and in the third, combine the flour, garlic powder and seasoning. Dipe each prawn in the flour mixture, then the egg mixture and finally the crumbs.

Place them on a non -stick baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil and bake for 8 – 12 mins.

To make the aioli, heat the butter in a pan, add the paprika and garlic, and fry over low heat for 2 mins – making sure the garlic doesn’t colour. Whisk this mixture into the mayonnaise and serve with the prawns.





 2T olive oil

 2 onions, chopped

 3 t ginger and garlic paste

 3t mustard seeds

 2 t curry powder

 1 t turmeric

 400g coconut milk

 Half cup Perle de Jean

 1 X 400g can chopped tomatoes

 Salt and pepper

 1t sugar

 700g raw, shelled, deveined large prawns

 Rice to serve


Heat oil in heavy-based pan over medium heat, add onion and fry gently until golden. Add garlic paste, mustard seeds, curry powder, turmeric and salt to taste. Cook for 3 mins, then stir in coconut milk, wine, tomatoes and sugar. Simmer for 8 – 10 mins until sauce has reduced slightly. Add prawns and cook about 5 mins or until prawns are cooked through. Serve with rice.

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Flagstone has added a delightful pinotage and chenin blanc, both 2019 vintage, to their Poetry range. They also serve to celebrate our Cape winemaking heritage.

With contemporary pinotage increasing in popularity month on month and with chenin taking the role of the white equivalent as national grape – these two cultlivars can be said to make a perfect pair.

Winemaker Gerhard Swart waxes lyrical about their ability to produce exquisite wines, in this case wines that are food-friendly, accessible and offer great value for money. Which, at R55 each, they do.

The Poetry Range, he enthuses, aims to reflect the essence of the grape, in an honest and open way, similar “.the way that short poetic verses capture ideas...” One detects Bruce Jack’s eloquent influence in his romantic tribute, and it would be hard to find a better teacher!


The pinotage screws open to offer aromas of berries and spice, and on the palate is juicy and vibrant with plum and berry flavours, fresh, with well-integrated wood adding some structure to the wine. A relaxed partner to braaied fare, from roasted veggies to meat, and winter fireside sipping. Alcohol levels are held at 14%


The chenin blanc can be identified by its bouquet of ripe melon and stone fruit,  the palate adding subtropical flavours, with pineapple predominating. There’s sufficient acidity to keep it fresh and alcohol levels of 13,5% are moderate  A summery wine for complex salads that will also pair with casual autumn fare and happily take on breyani and other Cape Malay specialities.

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The weather was perfect, a calm early summer day. The road to Goudmyn farm was lined with flowering trees and shrubs, the vines still clothed in that early glorious lettuce-green, here and there deepening to grassy shades of the mature leaves. The placid waters of the Breede river could be glimpsed between the trees fringing the water.

Robertson Wine Valley had – as usual – secured perfect weather for their three-day Wine on the River festival, one of the Western Cape’s most popular celebrations, and with good reason.

This year the organisers added Connoisseurs' Tickets to the choice, an option that gave visitors access to a comfy lounge area and to the Wine Theatre where a programme of tastings and food and wine pairings were among the items on the programme.

First up on Friday morning was the Riedel Tasting, and as I settled onto the tall stool in front of an array of crystal glasses I reflected that this was, indeed, the first time I had attended a glass rather than a wine tasting!

Visitors trickled in along with some media who had just enjoyed a boat ride on the river. Our presenter was polished, professional but quite relaxed and informal. She shed her shoes as she had to stand on a pallet board on the grassy floor of the marquee as she demonstrated the differences between the glasses and poured wine into both her and our glasses.

The Riedel family are Austrians who  have been producing the famous glassware since 1756. The 11th generation is now at the helm although it was only in the late 1950’s that Claus J. Riedel introduced and developed wine-friendly stemware. Today the family is recognised worldwide for making the highest quality glasses and decanters for wine and spirits, also claiming to offer ranges for every lifestyle and price range, for fine dinners and for picnics.

We tasted half a dozen wines from the Robertson valley. After learning about how the rim, bowl and shape influence the wine’s aromas, textures and tastes we started with Graham Beck's Blanc de Blancs 2015,  by trying it from the traditional flute and from the more contemporary champagne wine glass that is now recommended in its place. Yes, I could find more flavour when sipping from the latter, but it was the next sample that did much to destroy my built-in scepticism: We sniffed and sipped Robertson Winery’s Constitution Road wooded chardonnay, a classy and delicious  wine packed with characteristic flavours and creaminess. Nice enough in a riesling glass but in the chardonnay glass with its rounded bowl textures and flavours seem to treble.

We went to on compare a pinot noir, cabernet sauvignon and shiraz in the “wrong’ and “correct" glasses and by the end of the session there was an audience convinced even if they would not necessarily shell out the substantial amount required to take home a set of this grape-specific glassware. There are several more affordable options, including packs with stemless Riedel glasses for picnics and casual al fresco dining. See also

This was an enjoyable session and fine start to Wine on the River 2019.

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