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Myrna Robins

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Posted by on in News

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

.

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

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Posted by on in Restaurants

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Just ahead of midwinter, fathers get to enjoy their Sunday, so its not surprising that marketing revolves around comfort fare, snuggly clothes, and warming wines. Groote Post is one of the few cellars that makes a pair of wines specifically for the farm owner, in this case founder Peter Pentz, or the Old Man as he is known. Way back at the start of the new century the maiden vintage of this popular red blend appeared, and found a ready market. The white blend was added much later, and together these make an enjoyable, easy-drinking duo to pair with weekend meals, whether a meaty braai or a favourite roast or casserole.

They are also ideal accompaniments to Father’s Day celebrations. To start with the Old Man’s Blend white, which I preferred, the 2018 vintage is a charming blend of sauvignon and chenin, fresh, fruity and with alcohol levels held at a moderate 13%. As good as an aperitif as an accompaniment to seafood, salads and sunny winter lunches. It sells for around R73.

The 2017 vintage of the Old Man's Blend Red comprises merlot, cab sauvignon, shiraz and cab franc, in what proportions I don’t know. It is still young and I found the tannins a little fierce, but its a robust blend that will take on red meat around a fire or a dining table with ease. Alcohol levels of 14%. It could well reward at least a year’s cellaring, as the potential is discernible. It is priced at R76.

Anyone looking for an appealing venue for a Father’s Day treat need look no further than Groote Post, a farm that combines beauty and history seamlessly, perched in the Darling Hills and offering indoor and outdoor attractions. The long term weather forecast from the Norwegians predict a sunny day for the area, with maximum temperatures of around 16 degrees. Promising indeed.

Tel: 022 492 2825 · Email: wine@grootepost.co.za · Website: www.grootepost.co.za

 

 

Celebrate Father’s Day in the Nuy Valley

 

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If previous meals are anything to go by, the Sunday lunch for Father’s Day is likely to be a generous and traditional treat. Nuy on the Hill is an airy restaurant with sweeping views, a large and diverse menu, and of course a counter where the Nuy wines can be bought by glass and bottle. On June 17 the father in the family will be presented with a mini bottle of Nuy’s delicious red muscadel to savour or take home. To book, call 023 347 0272 or email onthehill@nuywinery.co.za. They are often fully booked, so this is important. Or visit their website www.nuywinery.co.za

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AN INNOVATIVE DUO FROM THE SILVER CREEK DISTILLERY FOR WORLD GIN DAY

 

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Before I even get to the contents of the bottle, a few words on the label, box and inserts. Founder and chief distiller Mark Taverner and his team have done an impressive job on marketing his two craft gins – few consumers will fail to be impressed by The Gin Box which opens to reveal twin bottles – old-fashioned design, complete with a loop handle for easy carrying. Then there’s the distinctive retro label, announcing that this Prohibition Gin is infused with juniper, coriander, lemon, angelica and cinnamon. The label is signed by the distiller and the bottle numbered – mine was no 143 of the batch produced in June Turn to the back label and there's more info for fans wanting to find out how and where it was produced.

 

The tag that's attached to the handle announces “Helping folk dance since 1933..." which of course demands an explanation.

And so the story of Prohibition in the USA comes to light, when the conservative Temperance Movement managed to get alcoholic drinks banned in 1920. The moonshine industry flourished until 1933 when the law was revoked and the population danced as they celebrated...

Having been inspired by craft distilleries in America, Taverner spent more than two years researching and studying before returning home to found the Silver Creek distillery in Randfontein. Starting with a range of moonshine, he then turned to gin, and recently launched a clear and rose-tinted version, along with a Gin Club for happy fans.

As is standard, the alcohol level is 43%, as are the classic infusions used to flavour the spirit; they do not overpower, and the total effect is crisply smooth with a bouquet of citrus backed by a supporting and diverse cast of flavours.

The Prohibition Pink is tinted and further infused with raspberries and blueberries, while rose water adds an aromatic oriental touch that is reminiscent of Turkish delight.

They both sell for around R360 and make refreshing sundowners with classic tonic or lemon and, of course,  a base for cocktails  with exciting potential. Visit www.silvercreekdistillery.com for more information . 

 Roll on Saturday, when the 10th World Gin Day will be celebrated globally, having been established in the UK – where else, given their long history of producing the spirit and pairing it with tonic?. Did Winston Churchill really say the following: “The gin and tonic has saved more Englishmen’s lives and minds than all the doctors in the Empire?” Probably. Meanwhile our talented mixologists will be working overtime to create exciting new cocktails in gin bars across South Africa. Time to toast our homegrown distillers who are crafting innovative gins of good quality in surprising corners of our country.

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Posted by on in Events

 

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

 

 

Franschhoek Bastille Festival | 14 & 15 July 2018

 

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

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

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

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OLD MUTUAL TROPHY SHOW WINE TASTINGS

 

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

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

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

 

CAPE TOWN PUBLIC TASTING

Date:               Wednesday 13 June 2018

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

Time:               17h00 to 21h00

Parking:           Secure underground parking available in CTICC parkade

 

JOHANNESBURG PUBLIC TASTING

Date:               Friday 15 June 2018

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

Time:               17h00 to 21h00

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

Delheim Jazz & Cheese Fondues booking details:

Price: R450 per person –  inclusive

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

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

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

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A TASTE OF TYGERVALLEY

 

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

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

Pairing wines with Lindt chocolates is another attraction.

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

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

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

 

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Posted by on in Reviews

 

DEATH CUP by Irna van Zyl, published by Penguin Random House South Africa, 2018.

 

 

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How could I resist? A thriller sub-titled Murder is on the Menu, set against an Overberg background dripping with fickle foodies, on-trend restaurateurs and self-important chefs, followed by a series of deadly dishes and human corpses.

This is van Zyl’s second detective novel and is translated from the Afrikaans original, titled Gifbeker. I was impressed by the author’s culinary knowledge of gastronomic contests, trends and top restaurants. Having raced through the book, I came across pages of generous acknowledgements where she listed cookbooks that afforded her culinary knowledge both trendy and basic, chefs who shared their passion and knowledge especially with regard to foraging, both seafood and funghi and techniques like open fire cooking in the kitchens.

From page one the tension is tangible, as a well-known and not always popular food blogger keels over in a top restaurant and dies – a highly poisonous mushroom provomg responsible for her untimely death. Zebardines is one of the top restaurants in the country and is gearing up for the chef of the year and restaurant awards so timing could not be worse –Zeb the chef is celebrated, awarded, young and black – with everything going for him

Detective Storm van der Merwe is on the case, helped by a couple of colleagues, some friendly, others wary. Storm has her own problems to contend with , not least of which is Moerdyk, a former policeman who had quit the force ahead of being fired. He usually turns up at Storm’s doorstep when least wanted, such as just after the first murder. He is determined to stay, and help her find a new place to rent as the owner (also a restaurateur) has complained about her three dogs.

Tracey the waitress and seducer of Zeb is found dead in the restaurant wine cellar – victim number two and the plot thickens as Zeb is attacked by unknown men but survives and is taken to hospital. And Storm has to contend with Pistorius, her supervisor, a molester with past history and now transferred to Hermanus. Two men break into her bedroom and steal her phone and iPad, and her favourite dog Purdey disappears as they run away.

Protesters outside Zebardines, rumours of a food website takeover, a smooth property developer (and old boyfriend of Storms) add complexity to an already crowded scene. Tension reaches breaking point , as a third victim, Maria Louw Zebardine’s maitre ‘d is attacked but survives and the glitzy restaurant awards event in Cape Town take place with heightened security in place . Storm herself is in danger before the murderer is stopped – and as in all good thrillers, not many readers will guess who this is.

Topical, fast-paced, complex and accurately depicting Hermanus backgrounds, this is a well-executed and gripping crime novel.

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Posted by on in Events

 

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It’s housed in a bottle that announces it’s very special Anno 1918 -  KWV Proud Pioneer -  Limited edition the top label announces,  followed by The Centenary Blanc de Blancs Vintage 2011 down below. Festive in gold with a stylised old-world drawing of Paarl valley as background.

 

There can be few in the world of Cape wine who don’t know that this global wine and spirits producer is marking the  100th anniversary of its founding this year. Among the events is the production of this handsome sparkler, an all-chardonnay MCC that’s set to become a classic souvenir of a notable celebration

.

There are times – and this is one of them – when one would rather not open such a milestone product in order to assess its colour, its mousse, aromas and flavours on a mundane work day. The occasion – sitting in front of a computer – is not worthy of popping such an illustrious cork... But that’s the (very occasional) downside of reviewing wines, and there are always neighbours and friends in the village who will happily come and help finish it later!

 

The 2011 harvest followed a warm dry season, reducing the quantity of chardonnay available for this wine. Grapes were whole-bunch pressed and the juice used in the final blend. After the first fermentation, half underwent malolactic fermentation after which blending and bottling took place, with the secondary fermentation in bottle. Maturation of 72 months followed after which it was disgorged, corked and labelled.

 

Classic aromas of citrus and apple greet the nose. In flute the fresh zestiness is nicely balanced with the characteristic buttered toast and nuttiness on the palate, offering a delicious mouthfeel and a long finish. As expected, alcohol levels are kept at 12,5%.

 

At present the bubbly is stocked only at Makro outlets and sells at R249. During the remainder of 2018 KWV will release further products that will be stocked at its Paarl Emporium and some liquor stores.

 

With flute in hand it’s easy to think back to what one knows of the founding of KWV, at a time when South Africa was reeling from the aftermath of the first World War, followed by the great ‘flu epidemic, a turbulent period in its history. The wine industry was in a sad state, and farmers endorsed the establishment of the organisation that was able to introduce some order into their working lives. At time went on there were farms and cellars who rebelled against the tight control and legislation of the KWV, but that changed as the 20th century came to a close. Today the giant producer is renowned for its brandies, some of the best in the world as well as a fine range of wines.

 

Time to fill up the flutes as we turn to the back label and the eye falls on a handwritten message from cellarmaster Wim Truter: “Here’s to the next 100 years” he writes, with his name and signature. We’ ll raise a flute to that, even as we turn our thoughts to what another 10 decades will bring. Happy birthday, KWV.

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 Peter Finlayson, founder and cellarmaster of Bouchard Finlayson in the Hemel-en-Aarde valley recently released the 2016 vintages of the two wines for which he is most renowned.

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From his dozen hectares of pinot noir he regularly crafts a cultivar champion that attracts local and international acclaim, and the 2016 Galpin Peak pinot noir proves the point, having already claimed two trophies in the 2018 International Wine Challenge, being best South African pinot noir and best South African red wine.

 

 

The varietal is known as being one of the trickiest with which to work, and the 2016 harvest was not the easiest, offering twin challenges that Finlayson no doubt relished. Pinots can often be difficult to pin down when writing about them as they present seemingly diametrically opposed characteristics – earthy yet delicate, rich in fruit yet savoury on the palate. And yes, the new vintage offers all those and more: as usual, it’s a complex wine where dark fruit and a little spice is balanced by the backbone provided by 11 months in French oak. It’s particularly expressive of its fine viticultural terroir and will benefit from several years of cellaring. Those who choose to enjoy it this winter could find it complements classic Occidental cuisine such duck with cherries, or beef casserole and mild cheese better than fare that is highly spiced or fiery. Alcohol levels of 14% are unobtrusive and the wine sells for R355 from the cellar .

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To flavours of Italy now, and the 18th vintage of Hannibal, a hugely popular blend where Finlayson combines a varying number and variety of mostly Italian cultivars to produce a wine that sings of Tuscan reds enhancing al fresco fare at a long table... As one expects there’s fruit including olive and prominent tannins although tempered somewhat by the inclusion of some pinot and shiraz – the lineup is 45% sangiovese, 18% pinot noir, 15% nebbiolo, 12% shiraz, 7% mourvèdre finished with splashes of barbera. Moderate alcohol levels are held at 13,5% . Another wine to squirrel away for a few years then unearth and savour even further. It costs R309 from the cellar.

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It sports gold from Vitis Vinifera’s 2017 contest and a Hidden Gem sticker from

 

Platter’s current edition while its Royal Rhino logo testifies to its registration as a

 

donor to rhino conservation. All good reason s to consider The Rhino Run Ian

 

Player red blend vintage 2015, and there’s another as well: this is a delicious

 

blend of cab and merlot, medium bodied and juicy with soft tannins, and a berried

 

collection of dark flavours to please a vast number of consumers. Fireside sipping

 

at home, or, even better, round flickering flames in a bushveld camp or safari

 

lodge, where the plight of rhinos becomes tangible and taut. You may find that only

 

the 2016 is available now, but my 2015 sample celebrates one of the finest

 

vintages the Cape has enjoyed recently, so look for that one if you have a choice.

 

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Van Loveren make one white in their Rhino Run range, a lightly wooded

 

chardonnay, medium-bodied, offering citrussy aromas and flavours in the 2017

 

vintage, alcohol levels of 13,5% and a pleasing companion to seafood and poultry

 

both on the braai or baked in rich sauces for winter.

 

 

Van Loveren have been making the Rhino Run range for several years and are

 

keeping the quartet affordable at R61 for the reds and R53 for the single white.

 

There is also a cabernet sauvignon and and pinotage, not tasted, both 2015

 

vintage. A limited edition collector’s item, The Last One Shiraz 2013 completes the

 

range – selling for R1 215 and packaged in its own box.

 

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Posted by on in Restaurants

 

DEATH CUP by Irna van Zyl, published by Penguin Random House South Africa, 2018.

 

b2ap3_thumbnail_BK-REVIEW-DEATHCUP.jpg

 

How could I resist? A thriller sub-titled Murder is on the Menu, set against an Overberg background dripping with fickle foodies, on-trend restaurateurs and self-important chefs, followed by a series of deadly dishes and human corpses.

This is van Zyl’s second detective novel and is translated from the Afrikaans original, titled Gifbeker. I was impressed by the author’s culinary knowledge of gastronomic contests, trends and top restaurants. Having raced through the book, I came across pages of generous acknowledgements where she listed cookbooks that afforded her culinary knowledge both trendy and basic, chefs who shared their passion and knowledge especially with regard to foraging, both seafood and funghi and techniques like open fire cooking in the kitchens.

From page one the tension is tangible, as a well-known and not always popular food blogger keels over in a top restaurant and dies – a highly poisonous mushroom provomg responsible for her untimely death. Zebardines is one of the top restaurants in the country and is gearing up for the chef of the year and restaurant awards so timing could not be worse –Zeb the chef is celebrated, awarded, young and black – with everything going for him

Detective Storm van der Merwe is on the case, helped by a couple of colleagues, some friendly, others wary. Storm has her own problems to contend with , not least of which is Moerdyk, a former policeman who had quit the force ahead of being fired. He usually turns up at Storm’s doorstep when least wanted, such as just after the first murder. He is determined to stay, and help her find a new place to rent as the owner (also a restaurateur) has complained about her three dogs.

Tracey the waitress and seducer of Zeb is found dead in the restaurant wine cellar – victim number two and the plot thickens as Zeb is attacked by unknown men but survives and is taken to hospital. And Storm has to contend with Pistorius, her supervisor, a molester with past history and now transferred to Hermanus. Two men break into her bedroom and steal her phone and iPad, and her favourite dog Purdey disappears as they run away.

Protesters outside Zebardines, rumours of a food website takeover, a smooth property developer (and old boyfriend of Storm's) add complexity to an already crowded scene. Tension reaches breaking point , as a third victim, Maria Louw, Zebardine’s maitre ‘d is attacked but survives and the glitzy restaurant awards event in Cape Town take place with heightened security in place . Storm herself is in danger before the murderer is stopped – and as in all good thrillers, not many readers will guess who this is.

Topical, fast-paced, complex and accurate when depicting Hermanus backgrounds, this is a well-executed and gripping crime novel.

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Although chardonnay will never be eclipsed by other white varietals, I confess to having focussed more on chenin recently as there has been so much happening on the local chenin front. So it's great to return to contemplating our distinctive  chardonnays again in the light of their International Day being celebrated on Thursday, May 24.

 

Coming as it does in May, the timing is perfect for those of us in the southern hemisphere as cooler weather is more conducive to enjoying the richer, wooded chards, and pairing them with delicious autumn fare.

That said, I have long championed well-made unwooded chardonnay that can fill the bill as aperitif, and as delightful companion to al fresco fare, both casual and more formal. They also often offer great value for money.

 

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So its not surprising that my thoughts turn to the Glenelly Glass Collection chardonnay, an unoaked wine in the top tier, yet priced at under R100. I have sampled several vintages since 2013 and they seem to get better with passing time: Not having tasted the just-released 2018 I cannot comment, but it’s likely to join its predecessors in offering not only a charming partner for Gallic autumn classics, but a wine to sip and savour on its own. Cellarmaster Luke O’Cuinneagain excels with every vintage, focussing combining both purity and classic fruit and, by leaving the wine for several months on lees, it acquires some weight as well.

 

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Turning now, to the Darling Hills where chardonnays from Groote Post are wines that I have always enjoyed, and wonder if they are not perhaps overshadowed by their sauvignon blanc.. The unwooded chardonnay from the Varietal range   presents a fine balance between friskiness and stone fruit, with some depth and quite a long finish.Since 2013 this companionable wine has complemented a wide choice of light and informal fare. The 2018 vintage, which I haven’t yet sampled, is likely to be in similar vein and sells for about R97.

 

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The Groote Post Kapokberg chardonnay 2017 is now on sale, priced at around R160 and hasn’t reached me yet. Looking forward to this wine, produced from fruit from vineyards high in the Darling Hills, that are harvested late when fully ripe. Matured in 300 litre French oak for 10 months, it’s likely to be similar to previous vintages, elegant and full-bodied in style, presenting the expected classic characteristics  – nuttiness with marmalade, and buttery creaminess on the palate, as in the past. Expect to pay about R160.

 

Say chardonnay and two more cellars come to mind: Rustenberg for its Five Soldiers that I last tasted at a DeWetshof Celebration of Chardonnay, but cannot remember which vintage and the current vintage of Hartenberg’s The Eleanor, elegance personified if such a phrase is acceptable vinous-wise.

 

Cheers to chardonnay from the Cape!

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Wintry weather does not mean just cocooning when it comes to wineland events. There is a fine choice awaiting winelovers during June, both in the Cape and in Gauteng.

 

Shiraz and charcuterie six days a week!

 

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Tantalise the senses with a new wine pairing experience at Anthonij Rupert Estate! They have introduced a Shiraz & Charcuterie pairing in the Terra del Capo tasting room, which is available from Tuesday to Sunday at R120 pp. Booking is essential.

This pairing is in addition to their hosting of the annual Shiraz and Charcuterie festival on the lawns of the Anthonij Rupert tasting room, taking place on Saturday May 26.

For more information and reservations, contact 021 874 9074 or email tasting@rupertwines.com.

 

 

BURGUNDIAN CULTIVARS FOR THE JULIET CULLINAN FEST

 

As this is the 28th annual event, the Juliet Cullinan Standard Bank Wine Festival has every right to announce that it is the longer running wine fest in South Africa. This years celebration takes place on June 5 and 6 from 5 – 9pm in the old IMAX theatre in Hyde Park, Johannesburg. Gauteng winelovers will be treated to a feast of chardonnay and pinot noir grown in Burgundy as a group of select boutique wineries present innovative blends. For more information contact events@julietcullinan.co.za or log onto www.julietcullinan.co.za

 

 

CHARDONNAY AND PINOT NOIR IN NEWLANDS

 

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Wine Concepts will host their 8th exclusive Chardonnay & Pinot Noir Celebration at The Vineyard Hotel in June

Guests will be treated to a fine selection of charming Chardonnay’s and praise-worthy Pinot Noir’s! This popular annual festival gives wine lovers the opportunity to taste the best offering of these two varieties from over 40 of the country’s top producers.Tempting and delicious snacks will be served with the wine throughout the evening.

All the showcased wines will be available for purchase at discounted prices from Wine Concepts on the evening.

Venue:             The Vineyard Hotel, Colinton Road, Newlands,

Date:               Friday 8th June 2018

Time:               17.00 – 20.00

Cost:                R200.00 per person – includes entrance, wine glass and light snacks

The Vineyard Hotel is offering a special of a 2 course dinner in Square Restaurant, bed & Full English breakfast for Single – R1 665; Double – R2 210

Only 200 tickets  and these can  be purchased via www.webtickets.co.za, or at any of the Wine Concepts branches. Telephone Newlands at (021) 671 9030 or Kloof Street at (021) 426-4401.

or at the door on the evening subject to availability. Email: admin@wineconcepts.co.za

 

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TASTE THE HELDERBERG AT THEIR ANNUAL SHOWCASE

 

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This fest of wine and good food takes place on Friday June 8 at the Lord Charles hotel in Somerset West from 5 – 9pm.

It offers guests tastings of the region’s new releases, chats with the winemakers, and a chocolate buffet, while local fare will be on sale.

Tickets, which cost R150 include glass, tastings and chocolate. Book online at www.wineroute.co.za. If any tickets remain, they’ll be sold at the door.

For more information visit www.wineroute.co.za or call 021 886 8275. Taste the Helderberg is presented by the Stellenbosch Wine Routes.

 

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OM WINE TASTING FOR THE TROPHY HUNTERS

 

Diarise Wednesday June 13 for the 2018 Old Mutual Trophy Wine show public tasting taking place the CT International Convention Centre from 5pm – 9pm. Meet the winning winemakers and taste their impressive wines – all of which have scored at least 80 points and been awarded a trophy, gold or silver medals. Among them will be the two best white and red wine trophy winners, the International Judges’ trophy winner, and the Discovery of the Show, aka the best value wine.

The lists of winners will be available on www.trophywineshow.co.za from about 15h30 on May 29. This year chairman Michael Fridjhon headed a panel of three international and sxc local judges plus a team of associate judges in assessing the more than 900 wines entered.

Here are the details:

The venue is the ballroom on level 1 of the CTICC. Tickets cost R180 until June 2, then R200 thereafter. Buy online or at the door. Only over-18s, no babies. Tickets include tasting glass and unlimited tastings. Wines at show prices can be ordered from the Makro pop-up store. For more info see www.trophywineshow.co.za or www.outsorceress.co.za.

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Franschhoek Winter Wines | 16 June 2018

 

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This annual winter warmer fest takes place at the Franschhoek Motor Museuem on LOrmarins estate on  Saturday, 16 June (11am to 4pm).

The Franschhoek Vignerons who will be showcasing some of their finest seasonal red wines, among them Topiary, Black Elephant Vintners, Holden Manz, La Bri, Rickety Bridge, Haute Cabrière and Anthonij Rupert Wyne, amongst others.

 Tasty comfort food,both savoury and sweet, prepared by the chefs at Terra del Capo will be on sale. The Franschhoek Motor Museum offers the opportunity to look back at more than 100 years of motoring history with its unique and exciting collection of vehicles, motorcycles, bicycles and memorabilia. Live music will round off what promises to be the perfect day out to the Franschhoek Wine Valley.

Tickets are available directly from www.webtickets.co.za at R280 per person.  This includes a complimentary wine glass, a tasting of all the wines on show, a R20 voucher (to be redeemed on the day), as well as entrance to the Franschhoek Motor Museum. Booking is essential. l For more information contact 021 876 2861 or info@franschhoek.org.za.

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Wine plus co-ordinator Melvyn Minnaar

 

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This year, as for the last four festivals, the Hermanus Fynarts features the Wine Plus programme which has grown into a very popular and integral part of the cultural celebrations taking place from June 8.

As on previous occasions the series will be curated and co-ordinated by Melvyn Minnaar, who is focussing on South African industry giants this year – both  renowned wines and personalities from these cellars, all of whom have a store of fascinating tales to tell. These will, naturally, be accompanied by tastings of their iconic, mature, and occasional rare wines which will well illustrate why these cellars are household names, while their contemporary wines could offer hints of future trends.

Appropriately the programme starts with Simonsig which is celebrating its 50th anniversary as owner and winemaker Johan Malan expands on South Africa's first MCC, the brilliant Kaase Vonkel.

Nederburg is up next with a collection of rare wines from its historic cellar, which dates back to 1791. Staying in Paarl, KWV will follow as its cellarmaster Wim Truter continues the winery's centenary celebratons with some exciting treats from its cavernous cellars.

Cape Wine Master Bennie Howard will charm the audience with stories and wines that made pivotal points in his personal history, while Monday will be highlighted by cellarmaster Chris Williams of the 17th century estate Meerlust, another noble name in our vinous history.

From Kanonkop both Johann Krige and cellarmaster Abrie Beeslaar will present show wines, while on the final day cellarmaster Boela Gerber will present a fine taste of history and his impressive wines that flow from Groot Constantia cellars. The programme will finish with well-known winemaker Norma Ratcliffe, who will chat about the wine world and pour tastings of her choice.

All in all a celebration apposite for the Cape’s 333rd wine harvest which came to an end a month or two ago at Groot Constantia.

Bookings can be made for sets or individual sessions which takes place daily for four days at 14h00 and 17h00 hours, starting on June 9. Bookings via www.webtickets.co.za or www.hermanusfynarts.co.za. For more info call 028 312 2629.

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ILE DE PAIN ANYTIME by Liezie Mulder. Published by Quivertree Publications, Cape Town, 2018.

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This is another gem from Quivertree, a sizeable hardback with a linen- feel cover, featuring a inviting plate of Mexican fish tacos on the front cover and a shot of the restaurant, shelves laden with loaves, on the back.

There can be few South African foodies and gourmets who do not know about the iconic Ile de Pain, a Knysna café and bakery that makes a major reason for some for visiting the Garden Route town.

Co-owner and head chef Liezie Mulder, together with her partner and master baker Markus Farbinger, started the restaurant in 2002 and it did not take long for its reputation for wonderful croissants and bakes and authentic coffee to spread, first among locals, then to a wider audience.

As one would expect, bakes star prominently in this collection of approachable recipes that cover every meal of the day along with a range of chutneys and sauces to have in the pantry. Appropriately, the dishes are grouped by time slots – Around 8am, noon, 6 pm and midnight, with some sweet treats and a chapter of favourite recipes from family and friends getting their own chapters. There is also a good number of recipes that will please vegetarians and even a few vegans and many that reflect the influence of the Far East, Mexico and Italy. A three-year stint in Texas during her childhood still influences her favourite barbecue sauce recipe. Meat is not a major role player in this fresh, contemporary and nourishing culinary collection.

To focus on just a few of her dishes, the superfood smoothie in the breakfast chapter offers a powerhouse start to the day, and the baked yoghurt with berries, an Indian delight, can be served to start the day or as an easy dessert. In the midday chapter, an inspiring selection of exotic, healthy, grain-based salads finishes with a Greek salad that takes the classic to new heights. Supper recipes include casual bread-based dishes, from burger to flatbread while sweet treats reflect a more classic approach – scones, banana bread and berry tart. And there is a great choice of breads – loaves, tortillas, buns – in the midnight chapter, although readers can, happily, choose their time to start kneading...

I missed out on Liezie’s first cookbook Café Food published nine years ago which probably stars croissant recipes, the only item I missed in this collection. This treasury well reflects her present philosophy of being open to possibilities with ingredients, to have fun and not take food too seriously. On the other hand she is meticulous when testing new flavour combinations and adapting dishes that inspired her while travelling to ensure they suit the restaurant menu. As usual, Craig Fraser’s evocative photographs add hugely to the title’s appeal, and Wilna Combrinck's design make it a visual delight.

 

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The popular Fat Bastard range of wines, produced by Robertson Winery, has expanded with two new releases, both 2017 vintages. The Pinot Noir Rosé , which has a low alcohol level of just 9,5%, sports a new label featuring the famous hippo, icon of the range. Selling at around R80, this is a dry rosé but offers plenty of berry flavours, along with watermelon and strawberry on the nose. A wine for any summery day and a good companion to picnic fare.

Their new red blend, called The Golden Reserve, is a cab/merlot blend, easy-drinking with smooth tannins and ripe flavours that will accompany any red meat with ease. Medium alcohol levels of 13,5%   and prominent berry and plum flavours to tickle the palate. Expect to pay around R115.

The Fat Bastard range is one starring well- rounded food-friendly wines that has its origins in the UK where they were made by Thierry and Guy. Having moved south it has become one of Robertson Winery’s many popular brands with eight wines from which to choose. The marketing slogan – ‘living large’ – slots in with the image of Mr b, the hippo who appears on every label.

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Old vineyard in Darling

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It’s a reality. The Old Vine Project - which has seen a few dedicated and enthusiastic people beavering away for close to two decades - has spawned a certified seal to be used on bottles of wine made from vines at least 35 years old. They offer consumers a guarantee of authenticity alongside the date the vineyard was planted.

Not only is this visible progress in this hugely appealing project, but it is, according to the OVP team, a world first, as only in South Africa can such claims of venerability be officially approved.

Last month the first wines bearing this seal were showcased at Stellenbosch to trade and media. It was also time to offer congratulations to Rosa Kruger, who is largely responsible for the project’s founding and existence. Andre Morgenthal came on board soon after and sponsorship from Johann Rupert funded initial exploration . The team today also includes Christina Harvett while Johannes van Niekerk, Eben van Wyk and John Lofty-Eaton are directors.

 

Andre and Christina

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Rewind, now to earlier in the new century when a dream involving conservation and heritage, lent practicality with financial benefits, was given expression at Franschhoek, where wine media listened as this project was detailed.

Back in 2002 Rosa Kruger, self-taught viticulturist with a mission, accepted a post at L’Ormarins, historic home of Rupert Wines and soon embarked on a project close to her heart. Having long marvelled at the intensity and fine structure of wines made from venerable vines in Europe, she set out to unearth old vineyards with potential on remote Cape farms. Letters were sent to wine grape farmers to find out who had vines older than 40 years. Her subsequent odyssey took her from the West Coast to the Little Karoo, from Robertson valley to the Helderberg, from Swartland to Stellenbosch.

 Sometmes Eben Sadie accompanied her, as trips yielded a trove of gnarledvinesfrom Lutzville in the west to Calitzdorp in the east. Photographs of rugged farmers,perching with their dogs, among equally rugged bush vines surviving among rooibos bushes and grazing sheep came to typify, for me, the success of ventures in areas seldom visited.

Chenin blanc was most common varietal found, along with cinsaut, palomino, hanepoot, muscat, pinotage and semillon and a few less common cultivars, all ranging from 40 to around 100 years old.

Those worthy of restoration were singled out and their owners advised on treatment. Partnerships with the farmers were formed and the vines nurtured back to fruitful life.

The maiden wines produced from subsequent vintages included a pinotage from a 40-year- old vineyard in the Paardeberg, and a semillon and a chenin from the Skurfberg, both from vines older than half a century. They were founder members of the Cape of Good Hope range and  proved Rosa’s point as these seductive , well balanced wines presented impressive expressions of terroir.

 

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The project grew as adventurous winemakers sought out old restored vines and farmers received double or triple the amount for their harvest than before.

In 2009 Eben Sadie began releasing limited volumes of his brilliant Old Vine series, illustrating the potential of several  aged varietals  in a swathe of regions, which helped put the OVP on the global wine map.

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In 2016 a logo was added to the title enabling Andre Morgenthal to produce a suitable letterhead. More than 10 vineyards that are more than a century old have been listed which is, in itself, worth celebrating.

Meanwhile another aspect – the importance of good care for worthwhile younger vineyards so they will continue to a productive old age – is also being addressed.  UCT, University of Stellenbosch and Winetech are involved in relevant research. Thanks to  Felco, who manufacture pruning shears, vineyard workers entrusted to tending these venerable vines are undergoing specialised pruning courses.

 

The Old Vine Project already has more than 30 members, and while I was writing this summary, Attie Louw of Opstal in the Slanghoek valley added his estate.

It’s a story with, happily, no end in sight and it’s a tale that well illustrates the magic of wine, the mystery that lures men and and women to this ancient craft – no matter how the industry is struggling, what droughts prevail, how markets stagnate and governments remain disinterested.

In a future blog I will review a few of these certified wines from OVP members,. We will also  find some of  them at the OVP stand at Cape Wine 2018 later this year.

OVP team with Rosa Kruger, left

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For more information contact Andre Morgenthal who also undertakes Old Vines Heritage Tours. Send an email to andre@oldvineproject.co.za and see www.oldvineproject.co.za.

 

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When’s the right time for bubbly? Any time is the correct answer, especially as we have so many delicious sparkling wines vying for our attention today. But, when it comes to fine Cap Classiques, aka South African “champagnes” we often wait for an occasion of sorts to pop the cork and raise our flutes.

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Come May and its Mother’s Day that’s being used by advertisers to sell anything from flowers to chocolates, and, of course bubblies galore. This is one occasion when packaging plays a significant role and influences decisions when purchasing

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The Krone MCC’s score well here for a start – the rosés in particular come encased in bottles adorned with rosy-tinted labels and foil tops edged with black and gold. These go into distinctive packs which are popped into a classy carrier, adding up to a persuasive package!

But of course, the proof is in the pud, and here, as always, Krone continues the fine tradition at Twee Jonge Gezellen of producing four-star Cap Classiques that charm both connoisseurs and newcomers to the world of fine bubbles. The 2017 vintages of both the Rosé Cuveé Brut and the Night Nectar Demi-Sec Rosé have been released: The former is a blend of mostly pinot noir with 15% chardonnay and is a classic of its genre. Salmon pink and bone dry, the nose presents a meld of floral and appley aromas, while the palate is tickled with a fine mousse and swathe of berried flavours.

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Until fairly recently the semi-sweet sparklers were usually of dubious quality, and shunned by knowledgeable fans. Happily this has changed as we have producers like Krone offering fine MCC’s like their Night Nectar Demi-Sec which make wonderful companions to a range of shellfish, grilled chicken and meats with sweet marinades as well as berried puds and gateaux. Comprising a similar blend to its drier cousin, this bubbly takes you through a bouquet of berry aromas to a smooth sweep of strawberries finished with cream and laced with tiny bubbles.

Both sell for around R145.

If you haven’t been to this historic and very beautiful Tulbagh farm with its treasured three-century history for a while, it could be time for another visit. Buildings and cellar have been extensively restored offering a wonderful venue for sampling the Cap Classique range in a magnificent mountainous setting.

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Those with deeper pockets and a yen to spoil mother with a Gallic treat also have a good range of French champagnes to contemplate. Among the comparatively recent brands to enjoy international success is Nicolas Feuillatte, who offers two rosés, both non-vintage: the Graphic Ice Rosé , a demi-sec that is hugely popular in France and across the world (R760) and the Nicolas Feuillatte Brut Rosé priced at R745. Perhaps even better known in this country is the Bollinger name, and their two rosés are also stocked locally. The non-vintage is a blend of pinot noir,chardonnay and meunier (R1200) while the 2006 vintage of Bollinger Cuvée Rosé is the maiden vintage dedicated to rosé which, after a decade of ageing, has developed a distinctive and unique character. It costs abour R1300.

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Frisky and flavourful or complex and creamy - sauvignon blanc comes in both styles – and many more besides. With International Sauvignon Blanc Day being celebrated globally on Friday, May 04, it will be the wine of choice for get-togethers, at many an end -of -week party.

It’s a good idea to have both unwooded and wooded sauvignons in stock, to please all palates and to team with sunny autumn days and chilly evenings.

Neil Ellis fits the bill beautifully with his pair of 2017 sauvignon blancs of exceptional quality – both rate four and half stars in Platter – as son Warren continues to produce impressive wines to further his father’s fine reputation. They source grapes from exceptional vineyards and treat them with infinite care, continuing an established tradition which now encompasses a beautiful cellar, tasting centre and vinotheque at the foot of Helshoogte pass.

 

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To the wines: Back in 1986 when Neil Ellis started using grapes from the Groenekloof ward in the Darling district for his sauvignon blancs, the maiden wine, released in 1991, not only attracted acclaim but put the area on the Cape wine map. The 2017 Groenekloof sauvignon blanc continues the tradition, elegantly and expressively, allowing the 20-year-old bush vines to express terroir with complex structure and some flint backing the tropical fruit and friskiness. A round mouthfeel is followed by a long, satisfying finish. Alcohol levels of 13% are in keeping and the wine retails between R95 and R110.

 

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The Neil Ellis Amica 2017, a fully barrel-fermented sauvignon blanc whose simple white label belies a connoisseur’s choice and limited edition produced from a single vineyard in the Jonkershoek valley. Grapes were whole-bunch pressed and the wine spent nine months in 500 litre barrels. The nose offers a posy of floral and herby aromas, which are followed on the palate by flavours of stone fruit and some citrus beautifully balanced with mineral notes. There’s also a creaminess that’s complemented with freshness to complete a memorable tasting experience. On its own, very special, but paired, would lift a range of elegant seafood and white meat dishes to gourmet heights. It sells for between R225 and R275.

See www.neilellis.com for more information.

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Add steam train magic to the Wacky Wine Weekend for a really memorable experience! Trains are romantic, comfortable, and arguably the best way to enjoy this, the 15th WWW, taking place across the Robertson Wine Valley from May 31 – June 03.

Join adventurous winelovers who are taking the train from Gauteng to make this event a holiday - or jump aboard a carriage of the Ceres Rail Company in Cape Town to join the festival in Robertson.

Here’s what Kapenaars can expect when they settle into their carriage at Unity station in the Cape Town harbour . Plentiful refreshments ( alcoholic and non-alcoholic, hot and cold) are on sale during the journey to Wellington, then Worcester, with the first WWW stop at Rooiberg winery. There the team will welcome you to the Wacky gateway, with tastings of their wide choice of quality wines, lunch in their cosy restaurant and goodies in their farm stall. Climb onto their iconic Red chair, take a selfie, post it and be in with a chance to win a box of Red Chair wine. There are also hefty discounts available for those purchasing wine for R1000 or more. For more info, call 023 626 1663 or email info@robertsonwinery.co.za

Back on the train, you will chug along to Robertson Winery for the next halt then alight at Robertson station for your festival weekend. The trip takes around 9 and half hours, costs R500pp, R250 for children under 13 and free of charge for toddlers under two.

Other options include a trip that starts at Robertson station on the Saturday heads to Worcester, then arrives at Rooiberg late morning for a one-hour visit. Robertson Winery is the next stop, followed by Zandvliet, after which the trains returns to Robertson station.

There is also a return trip option from Robertson to Cape Town on the Sunday, where passengers can enjoy a two-hour stop at Rooiberg for breakfast, tastings and browsing before reaching Cape Town around 18h30. For more info, call 079 077 5332 during business hours.

Whether you arrive in the valley by train, bus or car, the number of festival attractions, events and choice of destinations is almost overwhelming. More than 35 wineries and tourism establishments in Ashton, Bonnievale, McGregor and Robertson combine forces to ensure visitors find their favourite wine, food, accommodation and leisure activities. Cellar tours, barrel tastings and pairings await wine enthusiasts while culinary options include dinner among the vines, farm breakfasts, bountiful braais, heritage fare and tastings of olives and olive oils, bubbly and oysters, chocolate and more...

 

Trips down the Breede river, family motorbike races, hiking and biking are all on the menu, as are tractor rides, 4X4 safaris and tours to the recently discovered Muscat caves. And there’s more, much more, while transport choices include booking a taxi, using the shuttles, or appointing designated drivers.

 

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The WWW festival tickets cost R200 which includes glass, 6 wine tasting coupons and a bottle of mineral water. Book through Webtickets. For more info, call the Robertson Wine Tourism office on 023 626 3167. Or send an email to events@robertsonwinevalley.com

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It is one of the oldest farms in the Durbanville area, but it’s only recently that visitors, diners and winelovers are being invited to discover the joys awaiting them at this venue. Celebrating its long history, Andre and Ronelle Brink, fourth generation family owners, are marking the 320th anniversary of Groot Phesantekraal with the new vintages of their range of wines, along with a renovated tasting room where guests are invited to sniff various spices, herbs and  teas to awaken their senses. Therre’s also a restaurant that occupies a mid-18th century stable, offering fine country fare of breakfast and lunch along with a Saturday brunch.

Having recently tasted some of the wines, it was good to get an update on two of their impressive releases, the 2017 sauvignon blanc and the 2015 cabernet sauvignon.

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To start with the white, Durbanville is renowned for sauvignon blanc and this, made by Etienne Louw (ex-Altydgedacht) is as good as it gets, confirmed by its being placed in the Top 10 of the 2017 FNB Sauvignon Blanc awards and sporting a double gold from Veritas 2017.  Made from vines just a decade old, the nose offers some passion fruit and other tropical flavours with citrus and green notes being added to the fruit on the palate. But there’s also a welcome crispness without searing acidity and an  elegance with faint whiffs of the Durbanville dustiness lingering at length. Alcohol levels at 14% are a little higher than current trends dictate, but this is a wine that many sauvignon fans of all ages will sip with delight. The selling price of R72 is very reasonable for quality of this class.

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Cabernet sauvignon is not Durbanville’s  signature cultivar but the region’s winemakers produce some fine examples, and this wine, from the brilliant 2015 vintage, can comfortably  compete with its regional cousins.  Its a rich medium-bodied cab, with an agreeable freshness accompanying the berry and minty flavours, alongside a hint of the trademark Durbanville dustiness. Soft tannins mean that the wine is accessible now , but it’s sure to improve with age. Those opening it now should let it breathe for an hour or two in a decanter before pouring. It sports a gold from last year’s Michelangelo contest and sells for R100.

The rest of the range consists of a Cap Classique, a chenin blanc, and a wooded chenin named after Anna de Koning, wife of the farm’s first owner. The flagship red is the 2016 pinotage Berliet.

Call 021 825 0060 for more info or visit www.grootphesantekraal.co.za. The tasting room and restaurant are closed on Sunday and Monday.

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A SHORT HISTORY OF MOZAMBIQUE by Malyn Newitt, published by Jonathan Ball Publishers, 2018.

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To start with the author, who has penned more than 20 books on Portugal and its colonial history, Newitt is one of the leading historians on the former colony and now independent Mozambique.  Now retired, he was deputy Vice Chancellor of  Exeter university and – given his background - one expects his latest title to be academic in tone and content. It is, but the text is  very readable, and not bristling with footnotes which can be so intrusive.   This is a book  that is  not only for academics, but for all involved in any capacity with Mozambique’s government and those doing business in that country.

And -  for those who head to its ocean shores for unique wild and wonderful  holidays  - you, too,  may enjoy exploring the background to the transition from Portuguese colony to independent country.The boundaries of modern Mozambique were drawn in 1891, giving a territory that is 309 000 sq miles in extent (compared with Portugal’s 35,560 sq miles! Its long coastline gives way to a low-lying hinterland leading to a plateau, and on to the high mountains on its borders with South Africa, Zimbabwe and Malawi.

Drought and famine punctuate its history and have much influenced its development, while serious floods did much to displace people and kill their cattle. Much of the lowlands are infested with tsetse fly, preventing communities from farming with cattle,

The monsoon winds not only  bring rain but link the coastal communities with ports of the Red Sea, the Hadramaut, the Gulf, India and the islands of Comoro and Madagascar.  Dhows visited the coast to trade for Central African gold and cargoes of skins, turtle shell, ivory, mangrove poles and slaves. The Portuguese started coastal settlements at the start of the 16th century and for some 300 years a pattern of life was established: ivory and gold traded through Islamic middlemen in return for imported cloth, beads and metal ware.

In the 19th century a series of droughts caused major conflict and migrations and fed the slave trade until it was abolished in Britain and Europe. However the slave trade continued largely serving markets inside Africa. The rising demand for labour in South Africa led to the slave trade of the south evolving into export of contract labour.

The  Boers, moving away from British occupation in the Cape, founded ad hoc republics in the north of South Africa , with Delagoa Bay as  their nearest sea port for the recently discovered gold and diamonds .

Frontiers drawn in 1891 gave Portugal control of British Central Africa’s access to its ports and routes for roads and railways. The country was ill-equipped to deal with the governing such a vast territory. Many Portuguese emigrated both from Portugal and its islands to Brazil but once the railwas line from the Rand to Lourenco Marques was built things improved and the city expanded rapidly .

In 1930 Antonio Salazar, now in power in  Lisbon, overhauled colonial policy and this was followed by the Great depression . Cotton and rice became major crops, supplying Portugal and receiving imported goods in return. Portugal remained neutral during the second World War after which Mozambique benefited from infrastructure projects and basic education policies while whites were encouraged to leave their home country and settle in rural subsidised settlements.

The first modern movements seeking independence for Mozambique started  among exiles livingsin Tanzania, Malawi and Rhodesia. Frelimo was formed for the liberation of Mozambique in 1962. In 1970 Samora Machel became president of Frelimo and while the Portuguese army seemed at first to be successful in clearing Frelimo bases a military coup in Lisbon in 1974 overthrew the regime and the guerrilla forces had won by convincing officers that war that could not be won was pointless.

 Subsequent events are  within memory of many adults today, Divisions in politics split along regional rather than ethnic lines. Cashew nuts became the most valuable export. But after independence up to 90 %  of the population of European origin as well as many skilled Africans and Asians left the country causing a severe skills shortage. Frelimo took over and Samora Machel became first president in June 1975.The economy came to a virtual halt. Economic policies based on Eastern Bloc practices were introduced to counteract this, but instead the country slipped into a violent and destructive civil war which lasted until 1992. Machel was killed in an air crash in South Africa in 1986 and it was widely suspected that the South African military was to blame.

The final two chapters focus on the complicated politics  post 1992 and the economy and society since 1994. That there is, according to the author, an increase in communal ceremonies connected with ancestors and bringing of rain not only in rural areas but also in towns. Some years ago there were reports of trafficking in body parts – whether or not for traditional medicine -  but just as these occur regularly in South Africa, they are not likely to surprise South African readers.

Illustrations are limited to a handful of black and white photographs. A comprehensive list of titles suggested for further reading  and a fairly detailed index complete the text.

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