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After a surfeit of gourmet, gimmicks, leaves and ferments, Myrna Robins is ready for simple, rustic, flavour-packed classics. Turn to bistros, she suggests, to find time-honoured  Gallic  creations, made with love, prepared with  care and offered at palate-pleasing prices.

 


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It’s that time of the year when the best of everything is awarded medals and certificates and, of course, gets welcome publicity. The recent Eat Out awards saw Western Cape restaurants take nine out of the Top Ten places, with a single Gauteng venue taking fifth place. While culinary practices of pickling, smoking, foraging and fermenting continue to be prominent on menus, the Eat Out website suggests that the hottest current trend is that of vegetarian “charcuterie”,  illustrated by colourful pictures of artfully arranged forests of leaves, strewn with edible flowers , funghi  and baby veggies.

While it’s exciting to explore the world of gourmet innovation, few can afford to dine at these exalted venues regularly. The appeal of popular alternatives – burger and pizza joints and Asian noodle bars – can also pall. Time, perhaps,  to consider finding a neighbourhood  bistro, preferably one that offers traditional French  dishes.  If the quality of ingredients and the care taken in combining them are regarded as the yardsticks by which to judge the fare, you probably have a winner. Of less importance is the plating, likely to be straightforward with nary  a wisp of foam, puddle of essence or scattering of crumbs in sight.

French bistro food celebrates generous, full-flavoured cooking, family  fare that includes robust soups, rustic salads, wine-scented stews and casseroles, bubbling gratins and granny’s desserts.  It adds up to inexpensive soul food from small eateries all over France, where pride and tradition ensure maintenance of quality: even truck drivers would not continue to frequent bistros where popular  items like sausage and potato salad, coq au vin, salade niçoise and  lemon tart were not consistently good.  Summer may see pan bagnat or pissaladière on the menu or mussels steamed in white wine, while winter warmth comes as  pot au feu  and chicken with tarragon vinegar. Creations are  usually well-balanced, combining  chicken roasted in chicken fat or butter with fresh watercress to foil the richness and  leg of lamb roasted above a gratin of potato, onion and tomato, the latter flavoured by the meat juices which drip into it.

b2ap3_thumbnail_BISTRO-Christophe.JPGWhere to find these sources of Gallic goodness? Meet one of our most popular of French chefs, known to hundreds of Cape diners: Christophe Dehosse  has lived in  South Africa for some 25 years, where he has delighted  locals and visitors with both gourmet cuisine and now bistro fare in two venues.

Paris-trained, Christophe was working in a well-known restaurant in Cognac country when he met Susan Myburgh, who grew up at the historic Joostenberg farm, near  Klapmuts. The couple relocated  to South Africa where they opened the popular La Maison de Chamonix restaurant on the Franschhoek wine estate in 1992, then  moved to the city and started the Au Jardin restaurant at the Vineyard Hotel in Newlands  two years later. Regulars were devastated when they left the suburbs to join the Myburgh family enterprises:  a farm stall and nursery at Klein Joostenberg soon blossomed into a deli and bistro, while a pork butchery, cut flowers, and a winery on the old farm occupy  other family members.

Today the deli and bistro are well established, the wines attract awards and Christophe leaves the kitchen to head chef Garth Bedford, who started as a trainee way back at Au Jardin.  A  peek at the a la carte menu reveals a delectable choice of bistro classics: starters include homemade charcuterie with terrine, rillette, cured pork and ham with a mini-bobotie quiche for local flavour. Mains offer that famous toasted sandwich Croque Monsieur, English-style pork sausage with apple sauce and mashed potato, and braised beef and mushroom ragout in red wine on homemade pasta.  Families that reserve tables for Sunday lunch can expect trays of starters to include items like brawn and pickles, hummus, a vegetarian roulade and salads with homebaked breads.  Their choice of main course could vary from tuna steak with ratatouille and sauce vierge to slow-cooked Karoo lamb or roast shoulder of pork.  The final course is a mélange of local cheeses,  classic floating islands, fresh strawberries and a blueberry cheesecake. This feast costs R205, while children can enjoy two courses for R85. The value is obvious and the culinary standards consistently high, and advance bookings are required.

When I heard that chef patron Dehosse was to open a bistro on the sophisticated Glenelly wine estate outside Stellenbosch, I wondered if the downhome bistro principles could be maintained: a recent lunch there has proved that indeed they can. He continues to be inspired by traditional French fare, sourcing ingredients from local organic growers, adding a soupcon of African  flavours to the mix. A starter of tuna tartare preceded silverfish or beef fillet in red wine sauce  and chocolate fondant with poached pear and yoghurt Chantilly completed the meal. Prices are higher here than at Joostenberg, but, says Christophe firmly, Glenelly is still a bistro where no jacket is required.

It ‘s a measure of his talent that Glenelly’s owner, 91-year-young Madame May de Lencquesaing chose a chef who specializes in rustic  fare to complement her ranges of distinctive estate wines, which offer Old World elegance and New World fruit in appealing combinations. Visitors can choose to dine at long wooden tables on the terrace, or inside where antique chairs and classic Parisian tables offer views of  verdant hills of manicured vineyards. 

 

This article first appeared in the Life section of the Cape Argus on Tuesday November 29.

 

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This inviting, unpretentious Durbanville estate scores on so many levels. That it has managed to fend off suburban creep (which had already reached its boundaries decades ago) is something to celebrate. That the clever Parkers have managed to maintain the original cellar, the ringmuur and slave bell, the ambience of a bygone era are equally important. (the farm was granted by Simon van der Stel in 1698 and named Tygerberg)

And the fact that, along with the lesser-known cultivars that the cellar has been producing (barbera, gewürztraminer) and sauvignon blanc, the winemaking trio have now added a cab to their ranges, rounding out the choices nicely.

To start with the cabernet sauvignon 2015, this is a pleasing example of modern cab-making, easy on the palate, yet with plenty of body, and a delicious freshness. Described as full-bodied, but I found it less so than many others, making it suitable for summer drinking, and as a good partner for fare other than red meat – a mushroom burger for example.

Juicy tannins, a smooth finish, and plenty of lightly spiced berry flavours add up to a well-balanced whole. The grapes came from 17-year-old bush vines, and the wine was aged in French oak for 10 months.

Priced at between R75 and R79 it’s even more appealing to stock up with a case or two as its sure to improve over the next year or two.

The 2016 vintage of sauvignon blanc was a wine I enjoyed very much – firstly because it is not searingly zesty, so no antacid tablets were required. I also loved the wide spectrum of aromas that greeted my nose whenever I unscrewed the cap – some verdant, a little green fig, and far more granadilla and other tropical fruit . These also showed on the palate, but occasional wafts of that distinctive Durbanville verdancy.

This multi-layered wine is sourced from berries from seven separate blocks of dry-land vineyards, ranging in age from 24 down to 10 years old.

This is a most companionable sauvignon, good for an aperitif or partner to summer salads, seafood and poultry. As one of the first Durbanville farms to present their award-wining sauvignon blanc in 1988 – now the region’s rallying cry – Altydgedacht’s version is an essential label on visitor itineraries. And well-priced at around R75.

 

Although gewürztraminer has grown in popularity – thanks perhaps because of its affinity with Thai and other South-east Asian cuisine – but its still fairly uncommon, and the Atltydgedacht gewurz is even more unusual as its made in the style of its European home, Alsace, that is dry rather than the off-dry vintages of other Cape cousins.

This 2015 vintage, produced from bush vines with an average age of 15 years, has just collected gold from the 2016 Michelangelo Awards.  Floral and spice on the nose, and the characteristic combo of rose petals and lychees, is followed by more of the same on the palate, balanced with a crispness and mineral hint that add to its charm. Some will find it an elegant aperitif that offers something more than conventional summer whites, others will pair it with spicy fare with great satisfaction. Expect to pay about R95.

 

 

 

 

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Perhaps it’s only when you have taken part in an organic certification audit that you begin to realise the lengths wine farmers and producers need to go to to obtain that international certification.

Earlier this month I was lucky enough to sit in on such an audit, and one that had particular significance for both the farmer – Patricia Werdmuller von Elgg – and one of the auditors! But let me set the scene…

If you wish to label your wines as organic, you need to have your farm and cellar certified by one of the international certification organizations. One of these is SGS, an enormous global group which certifies many manufactured as well as natural products. Because of the limited number of serious organic farmers in South Africa, SGS recently appointed a German company specialising in certifying organic agriculture to conduct the final audit and issue the certificates.

Hout Baai farm is a beautiful boutique wine farm just outside McGregor, in a high valley that looks onto the Sonderend mountains which surround it. From the owner’s terrace sweeping views over vines take the eye toward Die Galg – the saddle at the end of the “road to nowhere” - which is really a high meeting place for hikers and travellers who revel in the protea-rich fynbos which cloaks the terrain.

The picture-perfect farm has been certified as fully organic since 2005. This year Hout Baai was chosen by the certification team as an example of just how an organic farm should look and operate with a place for everything and everything in its place. The audit was particularly important as not only was the resident SGS auditor conducting the checking, but the LACON international auditor was present, overseeing the process, and both were under the eagle eye of DAkkS, the German accreditation body for that country’s Federal Republic.

The inspection date for this three-tier audit was set for mid-July, but the three arrived in Mcregor a day ahead of schedule. They settled into the office where the local representative of the certification body started her work with a long list of questions, which needed not only oral answers but proof by way of reams of paperwork. Pat Werdmuller possesses more files than I have ever seen on a farm, where delivery notes, invoices, statements, receipts and printouts provide years of proof of transactions with approved service and material providers. These were hauled out on demand, as they worked their way through how water is tested, how pipes are cleaned, what fertilizers are used. Records of purchase of guano, seaweed and donkey manure were checked then questions turned to frequency of their application and in what concentrate?

Moving to harvest time, when grape picking machines were hired, questions were asked about the possibility of their bringing in unwanted residue of non-organic matter. They are delivered the day before, replied farm manager Del Jones, “so our guys can scrub and wash them down, ready for harvesting which started at 3.30am."

If there is any doubt about dates, the diary is consulted – this set of annual volumes, dating back to when the farm started operations – is filled with daily entries of chores completed, indoors and out, accompanied by photographs as way of proof.

The second half of the audit took the form of a tour of the farm, as the visitors were shown firebreaks, and buffer trees along boundaries (to limit the chance of non-organic sprays drifting over from neighbouring farms). The approved korog, a wheat-like grass planted between the vine rows to provide a nutrient-rich mulch was starting to show green and pruning of the sauvignon blanc vines was under way , each row numbered (and named after an animal or bird that frequents the farm). Del showed the inspectors the sizeable hole dug by a friendly anteater which had these Germans looking a little bewildered. She also pointed out the camera traps which record the visits of caracals, jackals, hares and antelope, as this farm is as much of a nature reserve as it is a wine grape farm.

The compost plant and the worm farm were duly inspected, and then the stores and workshop revealed just how diligently tools are looked after and kept in their place. The farm labourers’ wendy house – cosily furnished with places for both wet and dry weather uniforms and footwear and sporting refreshment facilities – was duly admired and also noted were the required warning signs and notices detailing safety and health information both inside and outside buildings and machinery.

It came as no surprise to any of us that Hout baai farm passed inspection with flying colours and was thanked by SGS for their faultless presentation and co-operation.

Since that day I have been thinking about the number of organic wine and grape producers listed in the latest edition of the SA wine industry directory, which I received recently. In this useful compendium, published annually by WineLand media, a total of 38 organic growers and cellars are listed. According to one Western Cape producer, who shall be nameless at this stage, only three of these are certified organic. While I have not trawled through those 38 to see if they have included details of international certification in their Platter entries (if, indeed, they are all listed in Platter), it does bring up the vexed question of some producers labelling their wines as “organic” without having been certified.

“We’re all organic these days!” was a cheerful comment from one (non-organic) farmer and winemaker. Many would beg to differ.    

Those who are spending inordinate amounts of time and money to transform their farms and cellars to comply with the exacting demands of global organic auditors do so, of course, of their own free will. But it’s unsurprising they also grit their teeth in frustration at the lack of monitoring and control over those who are benefitting from the green and environmentally-conscious consumer through fraudulent labelling.

Even if farms grow grapes and produce wine organically, only those certified by an internationally accredited body – accompanied by a seal of this organisation – are entitled to label their wines as organic. However, some producers who follow organic principles in every respect choose not to be certified, because of the expensive, labour- intensive, regular, obstructive and lengthy inspections.                                                  

And to further muddy the waters, SA producers are allowed, I am told, to state on bottle labels that their wine was produced from organically grown grapes. And, what about the cellars who produce a range of organic wines alongside non-organic …

At which stage, it seems high time for a glass or two of enjoyable wine, made from organically grown and certified grapes in an organically certified cellar. Make mine a Solara sauvignon blanc. Cheers!

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A varied lineup of events as winter gives way to a green and glorious spring!

 

Benguela on Main restaurant is offering a five-course Christmas dinner on Saturday July 30 . Chef Jean Delport is including treats like smoked breast of goose on his menu, which costs R540 a head. Pair your meal with Benguela Cove wines, and Somerset West residents can enjoy a complimentary drive service to and from the restaurant. For more information or to make a reservation to avoid disappointment, visit the website, call 087 357 0637 or email onmain@benguelacove.co.za

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 Steenberg’s Cool Runnings charity trail run takes place through the Constantia vineyards on Saturday August 6. Choose from a 5 or 10km loop. All proceeds to the Mdzananda Vet Clinic in Khayelitsha, a community project that provides quality care for ill and abandoned animals. Finish with a glass of Steenberg sparkling sauvignon blanc and follow with a free wine tasting if you wish. A Mdzananda Vet Donation Box will be available prior to the race where leashes, blankets, dog or cat food and other pet items can be dropped into.The entry fee is R130 per trail runner, R50 per teen between the ages of 12-17, while children under 12 have free entry. Registration opens at 7am outside the Bistro1682 Restaurant. Walkers are welcomed. The briefing takes place 15-minutes ahead of the race at 8am. Pre-booking is essential and can be done online at www.quicket.co.za.

 

Bottelary Hills Wine Route ‘Pop Up’ Lunch

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Savour a slow-cooked Sunday pork lunch with chef Bertus Basson on August 14 at Groenland estate when he will present a three-course lunch that smokes, sears and sizzles. The fires will be lit and guests can enjoy Bottelary Hills wine ahead of their meal. Lunch costs R350 a head, including a wine tasting and glass of wine per course. Book through www.wineroute.co.za or Tel: (021) 886 8275 or marketing@wineroute.co.za

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Nedbank Cape Winemakers Guild Auction Showcase of rare, individual wines

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

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

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“WE LOVE WINE” FEST RETURNS TO CAPEGATE 

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

 

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

For up to date information, visit www.capegatecentre.co.za

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Bot River hosts blooming nice Spring Weekend

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Enjoy a relaxed weekend in the Overberg from September 2 – 4 during the annual fest hosted by the winemaking community. The region features 11 wine farms, each of which will offer attractions ranging from farm fare, olive oils, fine wines and local talent. Attractions include sausage-making course at Luddite, oysters and bubbles from Genevieve MCC, fynbos hikes at Paardenkloof, lunch at Wildekrans and at Gabrielskloof. Plenty to amuse the small fry as well. Farms will be open from 10am to 4pm. Tickets (weekend pass) cost R100 and obtainable from www.quicket.co.za .For more information on the Bot River Spring Weekend 2016 contact Melissa Nelsen at Cell: 083 302 6562 or email Melissa@genevievemcc.co.za.

 

MIKI CIMAN OF LA MASSERIA INTRODUCES SMALLER CHEESE MAKERS

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Be it gorgonzola, pecorino, fontina, mozzarella, provolone, brie, chèvre, blue or cheddar, the Say Cheese! Artisan Cheese Fair will celebrate all things cheese on 24 and 25 September 2016 at the Italian Club, Milnerton. THE event will bring together artisan cheesemakers, cheese lovers, bakers, brewers and visitors. Says Ciman, “The Fair will allow guests to appreciate every step of the farm-to-table process of cheese making, while highlighting the extraordinary local talent we have in this field. Chefs will take part and wine will be on sale. Tickets will be on sale at the door, at R80 for adults and R30 for children from 11 – 18. Children under 10 go in free.For further information, please email Kiki at saycheesefair@gmail.com or phone Elize Nel on 072 795 4214.

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A CULINARY JOURNEY OF SOUTH AFRICAN INDIGENOUS FOODS [compiled] by Kgaladi Thema-Sethoga and Ursula Moroane-Kgomo. Published by Indiza Co-operative and Modjaji Books. 2015.

 

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Myrna Robins enjoyed the gastronomic trip through our provinces, but questions the fare included in one of the chapters.

Those following western diets may gulp at thought of a snack of salted stinkbugs fried in butter, while others – who spend as little time as possible in the kitchen – may appreciate the Swati dish Indakala,or boiled,salted peanuts. Both can be found in the second edition of a compilation of our indigenous dishes, following on the original, published in 2000 through the CSIR.

The new and intriguing collection of heritage recipes from 11 ethnic groups across South Africa, reveals that much of the fare is also contemporary, as current generations of rural cooks continue to use local ingredients and traditional recipes to feed their families.

IndiZA Foods is a Pretoria-based company headed by MD Kgaladi Thema-Sethoga and Operations Director Ursula Moroane-Kgomo, both high-powered businesswomen with degrees in food science, business management and considerable experience in the food industry. Both are also passionate about the preservation of indigenous culinary cultures, women empowerment and rural development. Their joint enthusiasm resulted in the publication of this worthy addition to our traditional culinary literature.

Women in the rural communities were invited to submit recipes for the food they cook daily: These reveal simple fare using local ingredients, occasionally enlivened by stock cubes, seasonings, and items like margarine. Several high schools were also involved in the project.

The compilers started in North West, with Tswana dishes and went on to Mpumalanga where Ndebele and Swati specialities were hunted down. The Free State yielded Sotho staple fare and the northern province of Limpopo saw recipes collected from Tsonga, Pedi and Venda cuisines. In the Eastern Cape the Xhosa gastronomic heritage was celebrated and Kwa –Zulu Natal presented Zulu menus. From the Western Cape comes a listing described as Khoisan recipes and the final grouping is Afrikaans marked, somewhat strangely, as centred in Gauteng.

The dishes are, as one would expect, simple, largely straightforward renderings of grains, legumes and leaves, gourds and tubers, sparked by indigenous fruits and enlivened by worms and insects. Beef and chicken feature occasionally. There is not a single seafood recipe in this collection.

Perhaps because of their (comparatively) exotic nature, I enjoyed browsing through the cuisines of the northern groups in particular: Among the Pedi recipes is one labelled baobab-fruit yoghurt, a good start to the day, while Venda cooks lift their protein intake with Mashonzha (mopani worms and peanuts) and Thongolifha (stinkbugs fried in butter ). Several species of Morogo, or wild leaves are used, including Pigweed or Amarinth, Blackjack, Spider plant, pumpkin, and wild jute. Breads are uncommon, but the Tswana make Diphaphata, a flatbread using wheat flour, Ndebele cooks use brown bread flour for their steamed bread, while others are based on mealie meal. Desserts are almost non-existent although there’s a Sotho recipe for bottling peaches in sugar syrup.

I contacted the compilers to ask why Gauteng was used as a source for Afrikaans recipes and was told that they invited several groups in the Western and Northern Cape to take part, without success, so eventually resorted to finding them from Gauteng-based Afrikaners. The recipes are authentic Cape cuisine, dishes that have become South African classics.

I gazed, somewhat incredulously, at the pictures and recipes in the Khoisan section, pages where I expected to find items like shellfish, venison, ghaap, sour figs, veldkool, waterblommetjies, and perhaps drinks based on milk. Instead, there’s a Greek-style salad with feta and olives, a caramel pud and a standard white bread recipe. Liver and onions and a mutton potjie (with red wine and packet soup powder) could just pass muster but there is virtually nothing that says “Khoisan” or “Khoi-khoin” in this mini-collection. The recipes were sourced from a group of cooks in Vredendal, and I contacted one of the contributors to ask her how these came to be regarded as Khoisan. Freda Wicomb is the housekeeper at a local boarding school, and is a popular and capable cook, but she had no answer, saying this was how she cooked.

Khoisan, referring to two distinct groups of early South African inhabitants, is a term that should not be applied to their cuisines, as they were very different. The Bushmen, or San were hunter-gatherers while the Khoi were herders. The latter group’s culinary and cultural heritage has been well researched, by fundis such as Dr Renata Coetzee whose brilliant book Kukumakranka presents an exhaustive discussion on the subject. Ingredients used in the past can still be found today, and cooks of both Griqua and Nama descent use veldkos in their potjies, and make askoek, potbrood and vetkoek, as did their forbears.

I suggested that the compilers also contact Chef Shaun Schoeman of Solms Delta’s Fyndraai restaurant, whose Heritage menu includes Khoe-Khoen breads, waterblommetjie soup and desserts starring herbs like buchu, for their next edition.

Kgaladi Thema-Sethoga assures me this section will be more authentic and will also include Cape Malay cuisine. Sadly we will have to wait until 2024 for the new edition.

Meanwhile, this title, illustrated with photographs of many of the recipes, is well-indexed and includes information on many of the ingredients unknown to western cooking. The book is endorsed by the SA Chefs Association and supported by the Department of Arts and Culture.

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Victorian wine cellar at Mont Rochelle

 

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Great to see winemaker Dustin Osborne back in the mountainside cellar of Mont Rochelle. Pretty sure I recognised one or two of the staff at the Country Kitchen as well; if they were there seven years ago, then I am probably right in thinking I met them when gathering information on this unique farm for my Franschhoek Food cookbook.

Champagne was its first name, given to this picturesque stretch by Abraham de Villiers in 1694. It changed to an equally positive Goedehoop more than a century later, finally was christened Mont Rochelle by a 20th century descendant, Graham de Villiers when he acquired it. Earlier this century then owners of hotel and vineyards, Erwin Schnitzler and Miko Rwayitare merged the two to create Mont Rochelle hotel and Mountain vineyards, and newly appointed winemaker Dustin Osborne started producing some memorable reds, one of which is the farm’s flagship red blend today.

Although Franschhoek is a sophisticated village growing increasingly used to foreigners buying bits and pieces, the acquisition of the estate by Virgin Limited Edition collection, and Richard Branson in particular, caused a buzz, which died down while renovations were undertaken at the hotel and gourmet restaurant, and at the rustic Country Kitchen and picturesque cellar.

The latter two venues have not changed much – the 150 year-old-cellar, a former fruit packshed, is as appealing as ever, although Dustin is happier with new flooring and updated machinery. The restaurant, open to terrace and lawns lining a big dam, is still relaxed, serving deli-type fare inside and out, along with picnics.

During a recent visit, a handful of wine writers started their tasting in the cellar, with a charming sauvignon blanc 2015, grapes from the farm’s 22 -year-old vineyards, the fresh wine with subtle fruit lent complexity by 10% semillon and 2and half % viognier. Well-balanced and a great buy at R85.

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Osborne has long been a champion chardonnay maker, and his latest, Mont Rochelle’s 2015 chardonnay is as good as any I remember. It’s elegant, fresh, with tangible minerality, full-bodied, with a long finish. Limited edition from vines planted in ’94, just over half barrel-matured, this is equally delicious as an aperitif or complementing voguish salads and well-bred poultry. We paired

[Caption: Dustin Osborne, Enrico Jacobs and Jenny Prinsloo in picnic mode] Photograph: Shantelle Visser

it with an inspired cauliflower and vanilla risotto – memorable. The wine is also reasonably priced at R100 from farm.

More good news is the launch of an easy-drinking red, Little Rock Rouge 2014, a cab-based blend with merlot and splashes of mourvèdre and petit verdot adding aroma and flavour to a vibrant, enjoyable wine with smooth tannins. Along with its 2015 white counterpart, not yet released, these cost R72 each.

During Dustin’s first stint at the farm he created a fine syrah-based blend named Miko in honour of former owner the late Miko Rwayitare. This flaghip 2009 vintage wine, intense, complex, and well-balanced with dark fruit, spice and savoury undertones, is showing well and is an impressive introduction to the potential of the farm’s terroir.

Our little group had moved through cellar to lawns to tasting cellar to terrace, where we teamed this vinous star with tender venison on sweet potato. Dustin then produced a number of aged cabs which had been discovered under a floor in the adjoining manor house during renovations and an informal vertical tasting commenced, starting off with the ’96 vintage… A few of these may be added to the cellar stock for those seeking museum class reds.

 

We did not see the hotel or more formal Miko restaurant during our visit but heard that the hotel is just about full until Easter, with bookings for weddings increasing nicely. What impressed me at the winery and Country Kitchen was the informality, the friendly yet efficient service, and an atmosphere that is far from stiff or grand. One gets the impression that Branson, having appointed good staff, is content to leave his estate in capable hands. Global visitors can now move from his private game reserve, Ulusaba, in the north of South Africa to our incomparable winelands, for a holiday that can compete with the best on the planet.

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

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

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

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

 

 

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b2ap3_thumbnail_Rose--Ken-F-Petit-Ros.jpgINb2ap3_thumbnail_Saronsberg-rose.jpgb2ap3_thumbnail_Muratie-Lady-Alice-Brut-Ros.jpg THE PINK AND LOVING IT

 

The focus has been on rosé recently,as these wines are promoted for Valentines day – or weekend as it is this year. I’ve been sampling enjoyable examples while putting together a story for the national lifestyle pages of the Independent group. And, doing it during a heatwave made me appreciate the charms of a well -chilled pink, particularly those with some backbone along with berry flavours.

I am sure that the first Rickety Bridge rosé fest on Saturday the 13th is going to be a sellout – the attractions are wide-ranging and the heatwave should be past its worst, according to predictions. It’s been a while since I tasted examples of their winemaker, Wynand Grobler’s craft, but I have long regarded him as one of the valley’s most talented – and his Foundation Stone rosé (shiraz/Grenache/mourvèdre) and his scintillating NV Cap Classique brut rosé confirm my opinion.

Meanwhile, up the Franschhoek pass to La Petite Ferme, that perennially popular destination for thousands of repeat visitors, now under new Swiss ownership. There’s a new winemaker too, but the 2015 rosé, a largely merlot affair with a dash of sauvignon blanc, is still a product of the Dendy-Youngs. This salmon-tinted summer charmer presents an aroma of rose petal, with berry and cinnamon flavours, with a little sauvignon zest. It finished dry on the palate.

Staying in the Franschhoek valley, Vrede en Lust's enjoyable dry rose, named  Jess, has become a firm favourite in the Vrede en Lust range. Named after the owner's eldest daughter, this crisp wine with its berry and melon notes is a blend of mostly pinotage, with some shiraz and a dash of grenache.

b2ap3_thumbnail_Glenrose-3rd-attempt.jpgThe L’Avenir team from Stellenbosch is not content to produce admirable conventional pinotage, but has added a fine pinotage rosé to the range, its patrician status emphasized by an unique bottle featuring a protea-shaped punt. Glenrosé is made in the Provencal style, its nose of rose petals and strawberry and citrus ahead of a crisp, dry but fruity flavours on the palate, along with a mineral presence. This top of the range example sells for R200. b2ap3_thumbnail_Glenrose-3rd-attempt.jpg

 

 

Turning to my adopted wine region, there are two rosés that I strongly recommend to visitors heading Robertson  way soon: Tanagra’s superb example produced from cab franc has just one fault, and that is there isn’t enough of it. The other is the 2015 rosé from Quando, Fanus Bruwer’s boutique cellar near Bonnievale. He use mourvèdre for this charmer.

I also enjoyed Saronsbergs all-shiraz rosé from their Provenance range. Cellarmaster Dewaldt Heyns specializes in shiraz, among other reds, and this offers a light-hearted aside, complete with sculptor Angus Taylor’s Earth Mother on the label. Tulbagh has acquired a major red wine player with the establishment of this art-filled estate.

One would hardly know where to start when contemplating pinks from the vast Stellenbosch region, but for good value for consistent quality, the dry, fruity and flavour-packed rosé in Ken Forrester’s Petit range is ready to complement many a late summer al fresco meal.

When it comes to rosé Cap Classique bruts, I always enjoy Allee Bleue’s, the NV from Graham Beck and have heard great reports about Webersburg’s NV pinot noir/pinotage brut. Finally, its been a long time since I tasted it, but if memory serves me well, the patrician Lady Alice all-pinot, MCC from Muratie, which comes complete with tales of memorable early 20th century parties, is a bubbly to consider.

A word of thanks to those marketing colleagues who obtained rosé samples for me at such short notice – Posy, Nicolette, Melissa, hugely appreciated.

Whatever fare you’re planning for the coming weekend it’s likely that a crisp pink will pair well. Picnics, salads, sushi, shellfish, salmon, berry finales, you name it, rosé will enhance it.

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CAPE MEDITERRANEAN BY Ilse van der Merwe, published by Stuik Lifestyle, 2019.

 

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Neither heritage nor nostalgic - the contents of this colourful hardback focus on the fare you would find on long lunch tables, set in vineyards, on patios or under beach umbrellas. The meal starts with breads and spreads, goes on to tapas-like starters, followed by generous salads and vegetable dishes around crisp roasts or grilled seafood. Such appetising scenes can be found all over our country, but are more prevalent in the Western Cape, where the Mediterranean climate calls for seasonal, sustainable al fresco feasting.

The cuisine of the Med basin incorporates that of south-western Europe, the Middle East and north Africa, and is driven by olive oil, fruit, vegetables, seafood and wine, with some meat and dairy. Many South Africans who relish contemporary fare embrace CapeMed, as it also known, while still adding more poultry and meat than the northern cooks do.

Stellenbosch- born food writer and blogger Ilse still lives in this wineland town where she also finds time to be a TV presenter and recipe developer. With this, her first book as inspiration, cooks keen to turn to a healthier and very delectable diet will find the answer, from the opening chapter – Loaves, flatbreads and pizza – to the finale of mostly fruit-driven desserts.

Delving into the contents, we find that the array of breads, both yeasted and flat, include smoky cheese sticks and olive and feta focaccia. Among the dips and spreads you will find smoked snoek pâté followed by Bo-kaap harissa paste, adding classic Cape favourites to others like tzatziki, pesto, hummus and tapenade..

Ilse dubs her chapter of starters or small plates Tapas, Terrines and Tasters, opening with panfried calamari tentacles with chorizo which precede vegetarian platters like grilled marinated sweet peppers with garlic and olive oil, shellfish delights such as roasted garlicky prawns with lemon and herbs and finishes with some beautiful terrines – free-range duck liver and hot-smoked trout.

Sustaining fare for chilly days can be found in the chapter on soups, chowders and stews. Cooks with time on their hands should love the Cape style bouillabaisse, those who want supper served in 30 minutes will be drawn to the black mussel and tomato stew. When mountain peaks are snow-capped it’s time to make her Italian-style white bean soup with Karoo lamb while vegetarians will relish leek and potato soup with mature gouda.

The salad section offers favourites that most of us know and rely on, from Caprese to Caesar, tabbouleh to roasted beetroot – and more. The chapter on Pasta. Potatoes andRrice offers no less than three recipes for gnocchi, starring potato, butternut and semolina, and they all look delicious.

Compared to the typical South African cookbook the section on roasts and grills is short, starring the ever-popular slow-roasted leg of lamb, coq au vin using local Riesling and yellowtail, stuffed and braaied.

Summer stone fruit, figs, granadillas and berries star in indulgent desserts, along with a few preserves . The index completes the text of this appetising collection, beautifully photographed by Tasha Secombe. The title is, I noticed, published by Linda de Villiers, now retired, who also proofread the text – which explains the fact that this is one cookbook where I failed to find a single error... 

“The way we love to eat” is the subtitle on the cover, to which many Kapenaars would answer “is there any other way?”

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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 www.riedel.com.

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

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Every so often Krone releases another special MCC, offering one or two unique features. This time it’s “a single-vineyard terroir-specific vintage cuvee” called Krone Kaaimansgat Blanc de Blanc 2016. I don’t know if it’s the first time that this renowned Tulbagh cellar uses grapes from another region for their bubbly, but the chardonnay from the high Kaaimansgat vineyards in the secluded Elandskloof ward above Villiersdorp seem to be the first choice of several prominent cellars in other regions.

Viticulturist Rosa Kruger confirms the outstanding quality of these grapes, adding that Krone accessed small crops of chardonnay from 31-year-old vines over three years for this MCC. Although 2016 was a year generally affected by heat and drought in the Cape winelands, Kaaimansgat escaped damage thanks to its high altitude.

The wine was produced in small batches, starting with whole-bunch pressing . Natural wild yeasts fermented the juice in large upright wooden vats. Bottle fermentation followed and the the wine was aged for three years on the lees in the underground cellar at the historic farm.

The handsome dark bottle with its embossed crown on the glass offers some info on the label, including low alcohol levels of 11% and the suggestion that this is a sparkler that is worth cellaring.

There is citrus on the nose which gives way to pure crisp flint on the palate, complemented by apply flavours. The producers predict that the characteristic biscuit notes will develop in time. Meanwhile a range of fine fare is suggested as good partners for this aristocratic Cap Classique, including, surprisingly, T-bone steak with foraged mushrooms. Shellfish, trout, cheese soufflé, roasted cauliflower and pears poached in sparkling wine, accompanied by clotted cream, are also recommended for pairing.

Given input costs and time in the cellar, one is not surprised at the R500 pricetag. Collectors will probably be happy to spend R3 000 for a case of patrician classic bubbles that will just go on and on getting even better...

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CHARDONNAY AND PINOT CELEBRATION

 

Four top producers – three from Elgin and and one from Walker Bay - are joining forces to present an exceptional tasting of their chardonnay and pinot noir wines, following by a five-course gourmet dinner. The owners of

Elgin Ridge, Iona, Paul Cluver and Hamilton Russell will pour gems from their ranges on Friday October 11 at Paul Cluver wines in Elgin. This will be followed by dinner created by chef Craig Cormack and his team at Salt restaurant on the farm

Date: October 11

Time 6.30 for 7pm

Venue: Paul Cluver wines, Elgin

Cost: R1 200 per head

Bookings: via www.quicket.co.za

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PAIR YOUR FOOD WITH YOUR WINE AT THESE TASTINGS

 

 

The winning wines in the Sommeliers Selection competition will feature at three tasting events, held countrywide this month. The competition, the only one judged by a panel of South Africa sommeliers attracted more than 400 wines, beer and gin from more than 60 producers.

 

The events all cost R100 pp or R175 for two.
  
WESTERN CAPE

  • Venue:  Roca Restaurant, Franschhoek
  • Date:      Wednesday, 9 October
  • Times:    11.00-11h30 - trade only

    11h30 - public admitted
      13h00 - doors close

JOHANNESBURG

  • Venue:  Pool Deck, Tsogo Sun Hyde Park
  • Date:      Wednesday, 16 October
  • Times:    16:00-18:00 - trade only

             18:00 - public admitted
              21:00 - doors close

DURBAN

  • Venue:  The Beverly Hills Hotel, uMhlanga
  • Date:      Thursday, 31 October
  • Times:    16:00-18:00 - trade only

             18:00 - public admitted
              21:00 - doors close

Book:    https://www.webtickets.co.za/performance.aspx?itemid=1494163066

 
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South Africa’ s first Mindful Drinking Festival

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The Stone Cottages at Kirstenbosch in Newlands make the venue for this one-day festival where a wide choice of alcohol-free wines, beers and health drinks will be exhibited and poured on Sunday October 20. A blind tasting, free workshops, local musicians are all on the menu, and the event is hosted by Mindful Drinking SA , a movement motivated to help make non-alcoholic drinks socially acceptable and desirable on any occasion. The three producers of d-alcoholised wines in South Africa will also be there along with health food stalls including vegetarian and vegan options. See also www.mindfuldrinking.co.za.

Tickets cost R100 through Quicket or R130 at the door. The festival opens at 11am

 

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The Franschhoek Cap Classique & Champagne Festival, ‘The Magic of Bubbles’

Kickstart the festive season on a high note at the annual Franschhoek Cap Classique & Champagne Festival, ‘The Magic of Bubbles’, presented by Sanlam Private Wealth. The event takes place over the weekend of 30 November and 1 December at theHuguenot Monument.

For those preferring a laid-back experience, Sunday’s offering aka ‘The Big Bubbly Brunch’, should not be missed.. The grand marquee – the place to be seen – will be oozing style, elegance and sophistication. Lounge style music and brunch inspired food add the final touches.. The dress code for the weekend’s fashionable affair is Blue and White. A prize will be awarded to the Best Dressed Couple attending the Saturday event

Festival goers can choose between three price packages;

DATE

FESTIVAL TIMES

COST PER PERSON

Saturday, 30 November

12pm to 5pm

R395 per person

Sunday, 1 December

10am to 3pm

R250 per person

Weekend Ticket (Saturday and Sunday)

Applicable to the relevant dates

R550 per person

Tickets include access to the marquee and tasting glass, as well as MCC and champagne tasting coupons. Additional vouchers can be purchased on the day. Food is excluded from the ticket price. Children under 18 years will be allowed free entry.

Book directly through www.webtickets.co.za, For more information and regular updates visit www.franschhoekmcc.co.za.

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From the De Krans cellar on Buffelvlei, the first farm to be established at Calitzdorp in the mid-18th century, comes an ever-increasing range of enjoyable and affordable wines, diverse in character, cultivar and style. From the Classic Range the 2018 Wild Ferment chardonnay is a winner that celebrates both summer and its position in the top five at the inaugural 2019 Best Value Chardonnay contest organised by winemag.co.za. Retailing at around R73 it slots into the middle of the competition price points of R60 and R100.

This charming chard is unwooded, and, as its name implies, was made with no added yeast, spontaneous fermentation taking place more slowly, after which the wine was kept on fine lees for 6 months before bottling.

Citrus and butterscotch aromas lead to more of the the same on the palate, plus a little creaminess and crispness, in happy balance.

Made to be enjoyed, with moderate 13% alcohol levels, this is a white with wide appeal, whether sipped as aperitif, partnering summer salads or fare like marinated chicken on the coals.

To find out more, visit www.dekrans.co.za

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Hard to believe that it was as recently as 2006 that Hermanuspietersfontein Wynkelder produced their first vintage! Those maiden wines enjoyed fine reviews in the 2007 edition of Platter, where the two sauvignon blancs, and Die Arnoldus and Die Martha were all rated 4 stars. Winemaker Bartho Eksteen had already put his maverick touch on those bottles, as one of the first, if not the first, to use only Afrikaans on his labels, a decision that still holds good 12 years on.

 

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Today HPF winery is still owned by the Pretorius family with Gerrie Heyneke and the talented winemaker is Wilhelm Pienaar . The quirky names continue to pique the interest of potential customers while the range is well established, with appealing whites and complex reds that exhibit styles reminiscent of the Old World with many a nod to the New.

The cellar team decided to keep the original name for Hermanus as its title, although its better known today as HPF. Most of its berries are sourced from the Sunday’s Glen ward in the Walker Bay region. In the 6-bottle case the winery sent me to sample, there were two whites, a rosé and four reds, and that’s the order in which I tried them.

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Kaalvoet Meisie 2017 - described on their website as a sauvignon blanc that epitomises “...the soul of Sondagskloof”” -  is a moreish, and sophisticated sauvignon despite its name. The addition of Semillon helps soften acidity while  nouvelle adds crisp green apply freshness.  There is a hint of maritime flint, citrus and fynbos both on the nose and palate. Moderate alcohol levels adds to this enjoyable aperitif, which also makes a fine partner to seafood and summer salads. Sells for R110.

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Why a cat with a wooden leg? No idea, but this Kat met die Houtbeen wooded sauvignon blanc 2016 vintage is a fine example of the genre, which is slowly creeping back into popularity. Semillon adds waxy complexity to an already characterful wine which presents fynbos and fig on the nose. On the palate herbiness and fynbos are layered in the structure from time in first, second and third-fill oak. A wine to mull over, to pair with ocean bounty and to keep for another year or two. Could partner a gourmet paella for festive occasions with panache.

Priced at R150.

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HPF Bloos 2019 is a rosé with class. All five Bordeaux red varietals feature in this appealing salmon- hued wine, that invites sniffing with its strawberries and cream aromas . But it is both dry and more complex than many of its cousins, having spent time with French oak “alternatives”. Fresh as a daisy, it sings of summer, with 12,5% alcohol levels,and versatile enough to make a mate for fare from picnics to wedding feasts. One of the nicest pinks I have tried recently. Costs R100.

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HPF Kleinboet 2016 is comprised of the same five classic Bordeaux reds – being cabernet sauvignon, cab franc, merlot, malbec and petit verdot, - but probably cabernet- led. Litte brother, perhaps to the flagship Arnoldus, but nothing junior about this fine blend with its complex nose of berry, olive, and whiffs of fynbos and I also picked up a little smokiness. Well balanced, all five varietals blended and matured together in French oak for two years before being bottled and bottled-aged for another year before being released. Alcohol levels of 14%, it offers excellent ageing potential. Worth investing in at R185.

 

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Swartskaap cabernet franc 2016 is both elegant and full-bodied reflecting something of an Old World style, with some restraint discernible and where flint and fynbos dominate rather than fruit. , After malolactic fermentation the wine matured in new and second-fill French oak for 18 months and spent a further year in bottle before release. Sells for R305.

 

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The renowned HPF flagship Arnoldus 2015 is a five-way Bordeaux blend from one of the most outstanding vintages of this century. Impressive in every aspect, from its nose of fruit and that characteristic olive and fynbos to the palate where tannin, some spice and berry flavours are so well balanced, integrated into an intense mouthful with a long finish. A wine to pair with good red meat that has enjoyed gourmet nurturing. It costs R420.

For further info visit www.hpf855.co.za

 
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Fans of Italian fare (and isn’t that nearly everyone?) should diarise October 5 and 6 when the first Festa Italiana will take place in Milnerton at the Italian Club.

The club will be transformed into an Italian street fair, such as you find in Rome, Milan, Naples, Venice and Palermo. All things Italian will be the focus, with food and cooking playing a major role. Italian cars to drool over will prove popular while wine, fashion, music, arts and crafts are all on the menu.

Author and foodie Grazia Barletta will demonstrate Italian culinary dishes, ahead of launching her third book, Delicious Italian Moments. Expect to see her produce Peperonata and Amaretti Semifreddo. Her demos start at 11am on Saturday and 14,45pm on Sunday.

Giovanni and Gabriella Esposito, a father and daughter duo will also be demonstrating cooking, while Davide Ostuni will show us how to make authentic mozzarella cheese.

The programme is packed with two days of exciting activities with something for all age groups. As the organisers say, Italian brands are highly sought after and popular in every culture. From la Scala Opera to the Florentine arts, fashion icons, gastronomic delights and automotive brands, “Made in Italy “is in class of its own.”

 

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Tickets can be bought through Webtickets or at the door on the day. Costs are R80 for adults, R55 for pensioners and children from 12 – 18. Children under 12 go in free. The Italian Club is at 16 Donegal Street, Rugby, Milnerton.

 

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When the second vintage of a new wine is even better than the first – and the first was memorable – then you know you have found a label to love. When the winery does not raise the price to unaffordable levels just because it’s attracting awards, the said label becomes even more attractive.

So it was with the release of the 2018 vintage of Tanagra Colombard, which I sampled at the 10 year anniversary celebration of this beautiful boutique wine cellar, distillery and guest farm, a few kilometres from the village of McGregor.

Colombard (or Colombar) is not a noble cultivar., but a modest varietal occupying just more than 1,9% of South Africa’s vineyard area. It is used largely as a major component of base wine for our illustrious brandy production. And, has now proven to the wine world that it can yield grapes that – having been nurtured in the vineyard and enjoyed careful and talented attention in the cella -, it can produce a fine wine of quality.

The maiden vintage, 2017 presented us a golden-hued wine that, along with being delicious , enjoyed the element of surprise. Would its successor maintain the quality?   It did, in every aspect, adding something of a polished character as if to say – I’m here and ready to stay! The grapes come from a single vineyard on the farm, 22 years old, yielding enough berries to produce 2 300 bottles. The early-morning harvest was gently crushed, and natural or wild yeasts used to ferment the juice .

The wine spent a month in third-fill oak barrels before bottling Alcohol levels are held at a modest 13%. The wine offers flavours of sub-tropical and stone fruit on the palate, including a hint of the characteristic guava. Medium-bodied with some flint, it is fresh without being acidic and a hint of cream adds to well -rounded happiness

A charming aperitif for spring days and summer nights that comes into its own as a companionable partner for many an al fresco dish, including tomato-based fare which is usually difficult to pair well. Robert and Anette Rosenbach have received reports from far and wide on how well their Colombard adds enjoyment to both luncheon and supper menus, while it’s equally happy to partner local cheese.

It sells for R100 and details of stockists and deliveries can be found on their website www.tanagra-wines.com. Visitors to the Robertson Wine on the River festival in mid-October will be able to taste it at the Tanagra stand.

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Posted by on in Books

BOEREKOS WITH A TWIST by Annelien Pienaar. Published by Human & Rousseau, 2018 

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This delicious cookbook has been out for more than a year already, but that is not stopping me from reviewing it now, in fine time for Heritage month as Pienaar’s collection presents a collection of time-honoured family favourites, updated, so boerekos with a twist, as the title tells us.

So, you will find basil pesto following biltong paté, koeksusters preceding berry muffins, but most of the fare in this title is traditional, country fare where cooks used to substitute ingredients where necessary. Vegetables are often sweetened, tarts and pies make use of canned and smoked fillings that were available to cooks living far from markets and supermarkets.

The author is as trendy as tomorrow, food scientist, guest farm owner, television cook, cookery school owner and blogger with – wait for it – more than five million followers.

The fact that she teaches cookery shines through every page, as she presents every recipe as a lesson, from the introduction, through the ingredient list (both cup and spoon and metric measurements given) to a step- by -step numbered method with detailed instructions.

The contents follow the traditional menu format, starting with soups and sauces, working through vegetables, meat and fish before extended sections of baking, scones and pies and desserts. Those interested in heritage Cape fare will find recipes for boerewors, for curried brawn, for smoking meat on the stove top using rooibos teabags. Desserts range from a trad favourite – guava foam tart - to a sophisticated and beautiful berry and cream pavlova.

Beautifully illustrated with food photographs by Myburgh du Plessis and Hanneri de Wet , that are as tempting as any I have seen, the text concludes with some suggested menus and a detailed index.

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Unwind, unplug, breathe deep and savour the rural scene.  You're at  one of the most popular annual wine and food festivals in South Africa, with good reason. The 14th Wine on the River festival, hosted by the Robertson Wine Valley and Nedbank will welcome visitors daily from Friday October 11 to Sunday 13th with wonderful wine, fine country fare, a host of activities and memorable hospitality.

 

As before, the lawned and shady banks of the placid Breede river on Goudmyn farm make the perfect setting for the tents, stalls and al fresco restaurants that transform the riverside into a hive of happy festival-goers.

Along with tasting your favourite white, red, rosé and sparkling wines, you are likely to find exciting new varietals to try and buy. Snack on delectable local produce as you wander along, pause for quality coffee and rusks and take your pick from a tempting selection of lunch menus savoured at tables under umbrellas. Children will gravitate to their own area where supervised activities for all ages are offered.

Go one better and indulge in a Connoisseurs ticket which makes you a VIP for the day, with entrance to the Nedbank Lounge, where all kinds of goodies and treats are on tap. Book a seat at the wine theatre for wine and food pairings to remember. And note that stocking your boot with your fine quality wine purchases from this valley makes a far smaller dent in your budget than those from many of the competition!

Travellers booking for the weekend have a wide choice of village and farm accommodation to contemplate, plus luxurious camping, or glamping, presented in a package that includes tickets and transport.

B&B hosts in Robertson, McGregor, Bonnievale, Ashton and Montagu wait to welcome you (and there will be shuttle servces available from all towns to the festival over the weekend. You can even pre-book your shuttle trips on the website.)

The sporting types, both runners and bikers, will want to head to Van Loveren Family Vineyards where the popular Java MTB Challenge takes place on Saturday 12th October. There is a great choice of routes; runners have alternative 10km and 15km trails to consider while biking families can enter for  the non-technical fun ride . Serious riders can choose from more gruelling routes, some for top riders only. Every participant will receive a medal and goody-bag! Visit www.javamtb.co.za for more info, or call Alet on 023 6151505.

 

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Festival visitors enjoy feeling good about something they do or buy, which is why three charitable organisations always book their place at Wine on the River. Those enjoying a boat cruise on the river contribute to the Breede Hospice , which will also be selling snacks from their stall. The acclaimed Thunderchild red blend will also be on sale, every cent of your purchase going to Die Herberg, an orphanage with a century of history of ensuring a loving home and well educated childhood to hundreds of less fortunate children. Look out as well for the craft stall filled with useful items created by the folks at the home for seniors in Robertson – sales of  inexpensive items that boost their funds.

 

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Tickets cost from R150 to R350 a head, with a VIP ticket selling for R750. Buy your tickets online from Howler.co.za. There will be no ticket sales at the entrance gates, so it's essential that you get yours before you go.  For further info on accommodation, transport and wine theatre bookings, visit www.wineonriver.com, email admin@robertsonwinevalley.com or call 023 626 3167.

 

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Heritage month makes a great excuse, should we need one, to focus on our Cape history – its viticulture, architecture and cuisine, among other aspects. So when a trio of Lanzerac wines arrived that all embody this colourful heritage, the subject of this September blog required no further debate.

A few years back cellarmaster Wynand Lategan added the maiden vintages of a new range to the Lanzerac wine portfolio. Headed the Keldermeester Versameling he focussed on fine harvests of uncommon cultivars, bottled them in heavy glass bottles closed with wax and added a minimalistic white label. The back label offers some info, and only Afrikaans is used.

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There are two whites in this range, both of which are worth sampling when next you visit the tasting centre. There’s very little pinot blanc in South Africa, but Lanzerac boasts a single, low-yield vineyard in the Jonkershoek valley which Lategan used to make Christina in 2001, a rare example of this varietal, launched to coincide with the arrival of the new millennium and given the thumbs up by Tim James in the 2002 edition of Platter’s wines. Fast forward to 2017 when the first vintages of the Keldermeester Versameling were released, one of which is a limited edition, named Bergpad, a wooded pinot blanc which I enjoyed enormously. Golden in hue, it makes quite a bold statement, (I received the 2016), full bodied, old oak melding with flavours of pineapple and semi-tropical fruit, freshness thanks to muted acidity.  The wine is  a fine example of well-balanced handling, just different enough to offer a nice altlernative to the usual whites. It is a fine tribute to the famous mountain path that stretches from Coetzenberg sports ground to Lanzerac, that has seen generations of Stellenbosch students tramp their way to the famous bar on the farm.

Bergpad was joined by Bergstroom last year, a 2017 vintage blend of homegrown sauvignon blanc and semillon from Elgin. Fermentation took place in old French oak, using mostly natural yeast, and six months of maturation preceded blending and bottling. It is a charming example of a classic blend, offer ing green fruity flavours of kiwi and gooseberry, a long delicious mouthfeel that lacks the acidity that often dominates sauvignon blanc. Alcohol levels of 14% are not obvious, and this makes both a moreish aperitif and fine partner for local salmon trout with beurre blanc. Bergstroom also pays pleasing tribute to mountain streams, both those of Stellenbosch and of many a small South African dorp, offering irrigation lifelines to people, livestock and crops.

Both these delightful whites, limited editions and numbered, are available only from Lanzerac, priced at a reasonable R200.

No vinous discussion about heritage could exclude our one true indigenous grape – pinotage is not only enjoying global acclaim at present, but Lanzerac estate is also celebrating the 60th anniversary of the 1959 Lanzerac pinotage which was produced by then owners,  SFW co-operative, under the Lanzerac label. Created by Stellenbosch universty’s Professor Abraham Perold who cross-pollinated pinot noir and cinsaut to produce just four seeds in 1925, the new cultivar, pinotage flourished and was first used in blending with other dry reds.

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Today cellarmaster Lategan continues to specialise in pinotage, offering winelovers and connoisseurs an easy-drinking rosé, a full-bodied classic pinotage from the premium range and the flagship Pionier Pinotage, a single vineyard champion .

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Iconic wine from an iconic Cape estate: Having been fully restored after a major fire two years ago, Lanzerac is back on the winelands map, as beautiful and elegant as ever. More than three centuries of history can be experienced in the special ambience found in some sections where old walls and woodwork retain the patina of many an ancestral presence. Beauty abounds in a magnificent setting, as the estate wears its three centuries with effortless grace.

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