Myrna Robins

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Ken Forrester's historic farmstead and Delaire's new cheninb2ap3_thumbnail_delaire-chenin.jpg


Having missed a fine showcase of chenins at the Cape Grace last week, I have already diarised August 24 which is when the winners of the 2016 Chenin Blanc Top 10 Challenge will be announced at Delaire Graff estate. If you are thinking of entering your chenin, note that entries close a week from today, on June 29, and the judging panel meets from July 5 – 7 to identify the stars.

Having looked at the Showcase categories – fresh and fruity, rich and ripe, cap classiques, blends, older vintages and sweet wines – I turned to a trio of chenins at home waiting to be sampled and decided to categorise them as well.

Ken Forrester’s 2015 Dirty Little Secret has already received a fair amount of publicity, partly because of its name, secondly its price (R950) and thirdly in various comparisons with other single vineyard, “naturally made” chenins from old vines. Grapes were sourced from low-yielding 51-year-old bush vines in Piekenierskloof, and the wine was made to age and gain complexity in the bottle. Winemaking involved only wild yeasts , spontaneous fermentation and no sulphur was added until after malolactic fermentation. It matured in 400 litre French oak for five months before being bottled, unfiltered and unfined. The process can be described as a trip back in time to make a thoroughly modern wine. Ken stated that he wanted to ‘showcase the terroir’ along with a wine that can be identified by terroir, vintage and age of the vineyard.

The “dirty” in the wine’s name refers to a technical term about wines that are cloudy and unstable, because of natural or minimal- interference winemaking. Will the name put off fastidious consumers, one wonders?

It is indeed an impressive chenin, one that certainly fits the rich and ripe category, offering a luxury packaging with a pricy charcoal and yellow box to hold the dark bottle with its decorative front label  informing consumers  only of the name. Only 12,5% alcohol levels, its golden, with definable structure, minerality allied to a smooth mouthfeel. There’s plenty of fruit in its rich flavours and I really like it, as it does not overwhelm with the intensity of some barrel-fermented chenins.

It will be interesting to see if local consumers are happy to fork out close to R1 000 for their pleasure, and if export sales are what Ken has in mind here.

Delaire Graff chenin blanc Swartland Reserve 2015 presents quite a sharp contrast. Bottled in a green screwcapped bottle, its simple white label is unadorned offering basic information. This is an elegant chenin, also made from very old bush vines, which were whole bunch pressed, no sulphur added. The wine was matured in French oak for 10 months, in both 400 litre and 2 500 litre barrels.

It charms with restrained layers of citrus and pineapple, with wisps of honey coming through. There is structure and minerality too, but nothing is obvious, nicely balanced, with 14% alcohol levels not being noticeable either. It sells for R160 and will find favour with a wide spectrum of local and international palates. It would fall into the fresh and fruity category: Fresh,  yes, but  the fruit is held in check to obtain perfect balance with mineral structure. A class act.

My final chenin was purchased from Checkers a couple of weeks ago: BC or Brandvlei Cellar is one that I have often meant to stop at while driving on the R43 from Worcester to Villiersdorp and Elgin. Somehow appointments have always interfered, although I know this grower-owned cellar is renowned for value for money whites and reds enjoyed by a wide range of consumers. I paid R27 for their 2016 chenin blanc, and was impressed by the enjoyment offered by this quaffer. Fresh and fruity, certainly, 12,5% alcohol levels adding to its appeal. The typical Breede valley characteristics of guava and subtropical fruit are there, it is not bone dry, and it is a chenin that can accompany fare from picnics to fruit tarts in undemanding style. I would certinaly give it more than 2 and half stars which the 2015 vintage gets in the current edition of Platter. Its a chenin to convert budget-minded consumers who usually buy boring white boxed blends.

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 I am deliberately pairing these two fine cap classiques in one blog as as several winelovers have been confused about their provenance.





Not only bubbly fans but winelovers everywhere were sad to hear that the Krone family – who had been dedicated and caring custodians of the historic Twee Jonge Gezellen estate in Tulbagh since 1712 –had to sell their farm 300 years later. The estate was renowned for its fine cap classiques, and the Krone family as pioneers of night harvesting, cold fermentation and late disgorgement, along with innovative approaches to employer-worker relationships.

Twelfth generation winemaker Matthew Krone swore at first he would never make wine again after leaving the farm, but, happily for consumers and the local industry, was persuaded by friends to return to what he is best at. As a consultant he made fine MCC’s for various Cape cellars then graduated toward his own label. Alexandra de la Marque 2010 was launched, with suitable fanfare, at the Societi Bistro on February 29 this year. It’s a highly acclaimed classic, comprising 80% chardonnay and 20% pinot noir and limited to 6 000 bottles. It is apposite that its name has a patrician ring, being a combination of that of his first child, and of his maternal grandmother. Future vintages will only appear in leap years, evidence that this is a cap classique for those who want bubblies with complexity and structural depth, only obtainable when they are left to develop for up to five years or more. Rich flavours of peach, citrus, crusty newly-baked loaves enveloped in tiny bubbles are followed by a savoury finish. It sells for around R220. See for more info.


Twee Jonge Gezellen farm and estate is now owned by Vinimark, a major wine company, who has invested in renovation and expansion of the sparkling wine cellar and vines. They have also retained the Krone family name as brand name of the cap classique range, a decision both sensible and sensitive. Along with a classic and rosé brut, they have launched The Phoenix, a non-vintage bubbly that blends the 2004, 2005 and 2006 vintages and that has enjoyed nine years maturation. Biscuity aromas lead to wafts of apple, lemon and almond, all melding into a zesty whole with a fine mousse. The imported bottle in its matching black box adds an air of luxury to this impressive MCC which sells for around R280.

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South Africa's favourite red wine will take centre stage on Tuesday June 21 when the annual SA Shiraz Showcase takes place at the CTICC in the city. There for the sampling will be the winning dozen - the top 12 shirazes and three shiraz blends that took top honours at the Shiraz SA Challenge awards ceremony in Paarl last month. But, along with with the winners, finalists, more than 100 shiraz and shiraz-led blends will be poured at the show.

Snacks and fare that complements shiraz will be on sale.

Along with the many fans of this spicy red wine a number of restaurateurs, sommeliers and wine students are expected to attend. The showcase is sponsored by Juvenal Cork SA in conjunction with  French Tonnellerie Berthomieu Ermitage.

Cyber Cellar, who will have a stand at the show, are selling to 12 winning wines in two price brackets - premium and great value..Also there will be The Pebbles Project who benefit from the wines remaining after judging. They will showcase their projects at the show.

Tickets cost R120 which includes entry, glass, brochure, and tastings. Book through or from Cape Town Tourism. The show runs from 18h00 to 21h00.





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As June draws closer, there are more tempting wine events to diarise, appetising enough to win over alternatives like fireside cocooning.



An early winter evening to savour! Finish the second week in June with an appetising lineup of the finest chardonnays and pinot noirs from top Cape producers.

Head to the hospitable Vineyard hotel on Friday, June 10 at 5pm and sample these patrician cultivars along with a range of delectable snacks. Stock up with your favourites at special prices before going home.

As before, the event is hosted by Wine Concepts, and tickets cost R170. The Vineyard is offering a special DBB deal at the hotel to complement.

Tickets are available through, at Wine Concepts stores and at the door. For more info, Newlands at (021) 671 9030 or Kloof Street at (021) 426-4401 or email or visit





There’s no excuse for not relishing this lunchtime treat! Eikendal is hosting their Winter Pizza & Wine Pairing every week, from Tuesday to Sunday, from noon to 4pm, until the end of June. For just R50 a head, diners will tuck into a trio of thin-crusted mini-pizzas, topped with a great range of piquant flavours, and paired with the perfect estate wine to please the palate.

Along with the freshly-baked pizzas, children are catered for with cookIes and milk for R30.

The tasting room makes the venue, and the menu includes a Mexicana (Mince, chilli and peppers), accompanied with shiraz, the ham, olive and mushroom partnered with their 2014 pinotage and their fillet and avo served with the 2013 cabernet sauvignon.

 To book for this winter pairing  contact Eikendal at Tel: 021 855 1422 or send an email to



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 Johan du Preez, CEO of Rooiberg Winery, and Mossie Basson, conservationist at Graham Beck Wines recently received the Cape Fox trophy for best conservancy in the Western Cape area of the Conservation at Work organisation.




When it was announced last week that Graham Beck wines was going to focus exclusively on making MCC’s, bubbly fans applauded while others wondered about the future of the fine wines in their still ranges.

The good news is that the future of the highly enjoyable and popular Game Reserve wines is guaranteed with Rooiberg as new custodian. The two wineries will collaborate to ensure consistency of quality, and the range will be distributed by Rooiberg from July.  For each bottle sold R3 is contributed to the Wilderness Foundation’s conservation and education programme.

Rooiberg’s CEO Johan du Preez pointed out the following: .“As Graham Beck’s neighbour in the Rooiberg Breede River Conservancy, Rooiberg boasts a 50-year history and shares its dedication to quality wine production in harmony with nature and in the best interests of the community.  Rooiberg is ISO 9001 and HACCP accredited, a certified Organic Producer of wine, registered for Integrated Production of Wine (IPW)."

The Game Reserve wines comprise seven varietal wines, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Chenin Blanc, Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Pinotage.      

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