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Posted by on in Restaurants

 

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 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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Posted by on in Events

 

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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Posted by on in Food

 

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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Posted by on in Events

 

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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Posted by on in Restaurants

 

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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Posted by on in News

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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Given how rapidly the upper half of Franschhoek is changing, it is as well that we get a quarterly newsletter from  Nicolette Waterford to keep us up to date. As autumn gives way to winter and the number of upcountry and international visitors diminishes, the time is ripe for locals to reclaim the village and its many culinary and vinous attractions. We are also more likely to find place to park and contemplate the magnificent scenery at our leisure, can overnight in luxurious comfort and wander down the main road the next morning, as aromas of croissants baking drift on the crisp air.

Thanks to the Leeu Collection guests can take their tastebuds a lot further than local and Gallic fare: Tuk Tuk – the popular watering hole for tailor-made brews - has just launched a new menu at its Taqueria, consisting of small snack items which make ideal accompaniments to the beers produced at the Microbrewery, unique to Franschhoek. The snack fare consists of chimichangas and croquettes while the taco selection – think corn fajitas, game fish tostadas, burritos and chicken burger – will appeal to carnivores and vegetarians alike. There is also an irresistible dessert choice based on classic Mexican and Tex-Mex favourites. Enjoy all this seven days a week from 11am onwards.

There is also a special offer of accommodation at Leeu House and the magnificent estate hotel for families staying a minimum of two nights, that is valid from now for a whole year, with exception of the period Christmas to end of February 2019. This could make a breakaway for adults and children as memorable as any destination across the planet. And that’s a personal recommendation!

For more info, see www.leeucollection.com

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Mid-April and on to  May and there is  no letup in the number of wine and food affairs on farms – the tempting invitations below came in after the earlier blog on April-May events was posted.

GlenWood’s Fine Wine and Food Experience

 

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Because its tucked away off a road less travelled, there are winelovers who yet have to unearth the charms of GlenWood and its scintillating shiraz and memorable chardonnays.

Well, now there is a further reason to make a date with this charming cellar as they have added a wine and food experience to their attractions that is not to to be missed. And this is not limited to any one month, but on offer for the foreseeable future.

The tasting room serves a palette of delicious canapés each of which is paired with one of their six award-winning wines. Guests are then invited to choose their main course for lunch from one of the pairings.most enjoyed.

The experience costs R395 and bookings are essential. The offer is open all week except for Wednesdays. Only 20 diners can be accommodated.

  

For more information contact the Tasting Room on 021 876 2044 or email tastingroom@glenwoodvineyards.co.za.

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ELGIN COOL WINE & COUNTRY FESTIVAL – PAUL CLUVER ACTIVITIES

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The picturesque Elgin Wine Valley will be a hive of activities during the festival weekend of 28 and 29 April, and the team at Paul Cluver is presenting a SALT Food & Wine Pairing lunch, available on both festival days.

Chefs Bea du Toit, Craig Cormack and Medhell Span will serve a delectable four-course meal, with Paul Cluver fine wines, and exotic salts from around the globe. Cellarmaster Andries Burger will also be there to add his expertise to the lineup.

The inclusive cost is R600 and booking is essential as only 30 places are available each day.For more info or to book your seat email saltatpaulcluver@gmail.com or phone 028 844 0012.

Tickets to the Elgin festival cost R150 a head which includes glass anad tastings at the participating farms.Golden tickets cost R200 giving access to special tastings. See

https://ecwcf.winesofelgin.co.za/index.php?page=cost-and-bookings for more info.

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Usana Farm Feast

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The weekend of May 12 – 13 sees this event take place at the farm on the Klein Welmoed road outside Stellenbosch. Usana offers an authentic farm experience where fine wines, delicious fare, and live music combine to please all ages. Farm animals may join the scene on the lawns, and other entertainment for children is also on the programme. Tickets cost R250 a head which includes the farm lunch from food stations and wine tastings. Children between 7 and 13 pay R80.

Book through www.webtickets.co.za to avoid disappointment. Email info@ussana.co.za for more info.

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CAB FRANC CARNIVAL BRINGS A TREASURY OF THESE TRENDY REDS TOGETHER

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On Saturday, 19 May the place to be is Avontuur estate on the R44 between Stellenbosch and Somerset West. From 11am until 4pm the Carnival will be swinging as no less than 19 cellars will be pouring their cab francs, their cab franc rosés and their cab franc blends for visitors. Along with tastings the wines will be on sale, and there is an unique opportunity to join one of three inter-active tutored tastings of the 2018 Cab Franc challenge Top 6 wines presented by CWM Christine Rudman. The cost is R100.

Also on the menu are food trucks, lawn games, background music and delicious dining options in the Avonturur restaurant.

Tickets cost r220 online and R250 at the gates, and includes tastings, a R50 discount coupon for food and tasting glass. Book through www.plankton.mobi.

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You can only get it from the Perdeberg cellar, and it will be a journey well-rewarded.

 

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Once again I am astounded at the ability of this giant cellar to continue to produce, year after year, chenins of impressive quality - alongside an extraordinary lineup that ranges from chenins easy-drinking and distinguished, sparkling, dessert and in blends to some prized reds in their dryland collection. And the list goes on and on. The cellar takes in some 18 000 tons annually, which would daunt most cellarmasters but this operation, now marking its 77th anniversary, seems to thrive on coping with such quantities.

Now, they have launched a maiden vintage of another dryland chenin: It’s name, Endura refers to the source, a single vineyard, for its ability to continue bearing small, flavourful grapes year after year. And the wine is a fine reflection of its provenance which is a mature vineyard sited at the peak of the Paardeberg , that fascinating lone mountain and home to terroir that yields wines of distinction on all of its slopes.

The nose offers a good promise of what’s to come, presenting both stone fruit and citrus aromas. These flavours are there on the palate, too, in a rich, full-bodied wine that is nicely balanced with both freshness and a good core of minerality. Alcohol levels are held at just under 14%. It’s delicious both on its own and with autumn favourites like poultry dishes with peaches or citrus, mild curries, butternut-filled ravioli with brown butter, rich risottos, North African tagines and some South-East Asian dishes. So, its versatile as well as offering value for money at R200. If you haven’t been to the cellar for a while, you will find several new facilities and attractions that were completed last year.

 

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How interesting. The back label of this polished, elegant and most inviting white blend defines ‘Revenant’ as “one that returns after death or a long absence.” Hmm. My trusty (and admittedly old) Cassell’s French -English dictionary lists the word as meaning “pleasing, prepossessing, charming or a ghost”. Well - leaving aside the spooky one - all these definitions apply to Revenant from False Bay Vineyard rather well.

This is another delicious wine from cellarmaster Nadia Barnard - who has helped make the False Bay range a firm and affordable favourite – this time a classic blend that mirrors the first white wine made by owner Paul Boutinot in France back in 1984. The blend of sauvignon blanc and chenin blanc brought fame to the Loire, but went out of fashion as the world turned to single cultivar wines. A decade later Boutinot established False Bay Vineyards in the Helderberg, followed by the renowned biodynamic Waterkloof 10 years on.

It is well known that our top white blends are among the finest wines to flow from Cape cellars, and Revenant can join them with pride, and, given the retail price of less than R100, comes in at considerably less than some of its competitors . As with other products from this cellar, it is made in the traditional way, with minimal intervention, maturing in old wood and concrete eggs, being left for 10 months on lees.

Comprising 80% sauvignon and the remainder chenin blanc , most of the grapes were sourced from Waterkloof’s own vineyards, some of which having reached 35 years in age. This has lent both personality and depth to the wine, which is quietly assertive and beautifully balanced, offering subtle fruity elegance with moderate alcohol levels. It will make a fine companion for a wide range of sophisticated fare, both Gallic and international gourmet but is also a delightful aperitif to sip while savouring spectacular autumn sunsets.

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I found both these Garden Route wines very charming – partly because they seem to tick all my boxes and perhaps because they encapsulate so many features that the majority of winelovers look for – from palate to purse to provenance.

As a wine writer I also appreciated a press release that that was both compact and well-written and happily sans endless pages of indulgent hyperbole and meaningless high falutin phrases.

Boets Nel, MD of the hospitable cellar of De Krans in Calitzdorp bought sauvignon blanc and pinot noir grapes from the Waboomskraal valley in the foothills of the Outeniqua range. They reached his cellar within an hour of harvesting, where highly competent winemaker Louis van der Riet made this complementary pair over the next several months.The berries were slow -ripening and intensely flavoured for both cultivars, we are told – and this is certainly borne out by the end products.

The Garden Route sauvignon blanc 2017 presents both verdant and tropical fruit aromas, which are followed on the palate by green notes and some passion fruit. While crisp, there is a pleasing lack of searing acidity, while more than a hint of flint adds structure. Moderate alcohol levels of 13,5% complete a well-balanced, appealing summer wine that is adorned with four-star Platter and Vitis Vinifera stickers and costs R70.

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Turning to the 2016 Garden Route pinot noir, its fairly pale hue forecasts the lighter, prevalent style in which its made, The wine is packed with berried fruit along with the characteristic savory character, the tannins are soft and smooth but a year in French oak has added backbone to add  appeal.

Slips down nicely on its own, but is equally happy to accompany red and white meat, meaty fish and – as always – mushrooms. Selling at R110, this wine also boasts a four-star rating and gold from Vitis Vinifera 2017.

Both wines are available only from De Krans cellar or online through www.dekrans.co.za. For more info, email dekrans@mweb.co.za or call 044 213 3314.

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A diverse, delicious and plentiful choice awaits winelovers and gourmets who relish autumn affairs in the Cape winelands and exhiliarating events in Gauteng. The list is in date order.


Friday Live Music is a new event at the beautiful Bellevue estate on the Bottelary road, which is likely to become a regular feature. Entry is free to this sunset gathering on the lawn and in the revamped restaurant on Friday April 6

where live entertainment will accompany your wine and supper. Relax to classics from artists like Elton John, Toto, Fleetwood Mac and others. Booking is essential, email info@bellevue.co.za or call 021 8652054.

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.Celebrate the restoration of the historic Druk My Niet wine estate on Saturday, April 7 . All signs of the devastating fire which all but destroyed the farm near Paarl early last year have been eradicated as the tasting room and cellar re-open their doors to visitors again. To mark the occasion a family day will see a spit braai, German sausages, artisanal pizzas, craft beer and Gluhwein on the menu, along with their estate wines. Great prizes to be won as well and entrance is free. For more info, email carlien@dmnwines.co.za or call 021 868 2393.

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Irresistible pairings

 

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Mid-April and the time is ripe for a heritage fest featuring two of South Africa’s iconic favourites, Pinotage and Biltong. It takes place this year at the hospitable Perdeberg Cellar over the weekend of April 14 – 15 from 11am to 5pm. Live music, gourmet eats combine with close to 50 Pinotages from 18 wineries for tasting and buying, some of which are paired with special biltongs. Pinotages come as trad red, white, (yes!) rosé, bubbly and blends.

More on offer including craft beer, and children’s play area. Tickets cost R200 through www.plankton.mobi or www.computicket.com or R230 at the gate, giving you access, glass and 18 Pinotage and Biltong pairings. For more info and directions, visit www.cvomarketing.co.za

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Bid for the rare and unusual at Bot River Barrels & Beards

Annual auction

 

The date to diarise is Saturday 21 April 2018 when the Barrels & Beards Best of Bot auction takes place at Wildekrans estate at 5pm. Wine farms taking part have assembled lots both zany and serious, unusual and rare, to help raise funds for the Bot River Education Foundation. Tickets cost R450 for adults and can be obtained through www.quicket.co.za. For info contact Ilze Hendrson on 028 2849488 or email ilze@endlessgroup.co.za.

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CHEESE GALORE AND SO MUCH MORE!

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The 17th popular event takes place over the long weekend of Friday April 27 – Sunday 29 at Sandringham near Stellenbosch. Along with local and international cheese, there is a huge range of artisanal and gourmet products and selected wines to wash them down.

Celebrity chefs will cook up a storm in three food theatres, finalist amateur chefs will be cooking their water-wise recipes with cheese for a cook-off over the weekend, and prizes will be awarded to winners in the Ladismith cheese-carving competition.

Cheese connoisseurs can book for the exclusive Connoisseurs’ Experience for a gourmet day with luxurious treatment at R850.

As always, no tickets are sold at the gates. Book at Computicket, Shoprite and Checkers stores. Tickets cost R180, senior citizens pay R120 and children under 14 pay R20. For more info visit www.cheesefestival.co.za, or email admin@agriexpo.co.za or call 021 9754440.

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DON’T MISS GROOTE POST’S LAST COUNTRY MARKET OF THE SEASON

 

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This takes place on Sunday April 29 between 10am and 3pm. As before, the terraces will brim with market stalls packed with delicious offerings of artisan fare, arts and crafts, homeware, decor and gifts. Darling gourmet produce from bread to olives oil, preserves and craft beer will join forces with Groote Post’s well-loved wines.

Music, family activites, outdoor darts, tractor rides and more are on the menu, and the estate's restaurant Hilda’s Kitchen will also be open, booking essential. Pets are welcome, but only on a leash. Entry to market is free of charge.

For more info contact Eldre Strydom on 022 4512202 or email eldre@iloveyzer.co.za

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Take a trip on the wild side with Delheim Mushroom Forage Pop Up

 

 

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The drought notwithstanding, it’s hoped that the wild mushrooms will again appear in the forest at Delheim estate outside Stellenbosch, any time from now. Funghi fans are invited to learn how to forage and cook wild mushrooms – first they need to become members of Delheim’s get- up- and- go Wine Club. To join an order of 12 Delheim wines is required.

There will be two excursions, both of which include a short presentation about mushrooms to find and to avoid, a foraging expedition with a guide, a cooking demo and a fungi-focussed lunch with wine.

The first will take place in April or May, depending on the first rains, and be limited to 4 plus their partners. The second will take place in June or July, but exact dates will only be confirmed two days in advance.

Inquiries and bookings to wineclub@delheim.com.

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WINE MENU'S CHARDONNAY & PINOT NOIR FESTIVAL IS BACK!
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Gauteng winelovers will be pleased to know that Wine Menu's popular Chardonnay & Pinot Noir Festival returns for the seventh time and takes place in the Killarney Country Club’s Crystal Room on Thursday, May 10, from 18h00 to 21h00.

Tickets are limited and cost R250 a head, which includes tasting glass and light snacks. These Burgundian varietals are often omitted from wine festivals because of price and limited production. As can be seen from the participating cellars, the wines are aristocrats in their field: Among the producers are Ataraxia, Vondeling, Lothian, Groot Constantia, Glenelly, Springfield, Bouchard Finlayson and Domaine Des Dieux. Wines will be on sale, often at lower than retail prices and others not generally available. Booking is essential. Book through www.webtickets.co.za or from Wine Menu in the BluBird Shopping Centre, Illovo.

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The Bubbly Festival Pops Up in Hyde Park
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The Bubbly Festival – Joburg’s celebration of South Africa’s finest Cap Classiques as well as others from around the world including Champagne takes place in Hyde Park from Friday May 18 to Sunday May 20.
 
Bubbly aficionados, epicureans and those who love the good things in life can spend the weekend popping corks, filling flutes and sipping some of the best sparkles around while snacking on fine foods and listening to live music.

 
The Bubbly Festival will be held at The Park House of Events on 7, which is located in the Hyde Park Shopping Centre (in the space previously occupied by the Imax theatre), and will feature some of South Africa’s finest Methodé Cap Classiques as well as some French Champagnes.
 
To add to the occasion there will also be a selection of fabulous foods as well as live music – details of which will be announced closer to the date.
 
Tickets cost R380 per person and include a glass and 10 tasting tickets. Bookings can be made via
www.webtickets.co.za or at the door on the day. Bubbly by the glass and bottle as well as food will be for sale.
 
Details:
 
Friday, May 18, 2018, from 17h00 to 21h00;
Saturday, March 19, 2018, from 11h00 to 15h00 and 17h00 to 21h00
Sunday, May 20, 2018 from 11h00 to 15h00.
Venue: The Park House of Events on 7 at Hyde Park Corner

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Shiraz & Charcuterie Festival 2018 at Anthonij Rupert Wyne

 

Save the date for this year’s Shiraz & Charcuterie Festival, which takes place once again at the picturesque Anthonij Rupert Wyne on Saturday, 26 May (11am to 4pm). 

This is the perfect opportunity to taste Anthonij Rupert Wyne’s range of Shiraz wines and they will be joined by 18of the country’s top Shiraz producing estates, which include Thelema Mountain Vineyards, Mullineux Wines, Rickety Bridge Winery, Stark-Condé Wines and Hartenberg Wine Estate..

 Pair them with the wide range of local and international charcuterie on offer - featuring everything from salamis and cured hams to flavoured chorizos A bountiful Anthonij Rupert Wyne Harvest Table, adorned with fresh seasonal salads, homemade exotic mushroom and fontina arancini and olives, pickles and chillies - will complement the tasty line-up. The Macaroon Bar, featuring decadent sensations such as Salted Caramel, Chocolate Cherry and Milk Tart guarantees a perfectly sweet finish.

Pre-booking is essential as tickets are limited. Your tickets, which cost R280 per person, includes entry as well as tastings of the wines on show and samples of charcuterie. Book directly via www.webtickets.co.za.

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BRUNCH ACROSS 11 COUNTRIES: Recipes of a private chef by Alix Verrips, published by Human & Rousseau, 2018.

 

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With Easter round the corner and other autumn long weekends to savour, brunch comes to mind as the perfect meal . Whether on a country excursion, lazing at home, or entertaining friends and family, there’s no better time to combine breakfast and lunch into a long, langorous and relaxed meal, preferably relished outdoors.

All of which makes this new title from local publisher Human & Rousseau both timely and inspirational. Alix Verrips is an adventurous chef who now enjoys life in Knysna, raising money for children’s charities. But she has amassed a wealth of global gastronomic experience of the most delicious kind during her 15 years as chef on luxury yachts. Having cooked for celebrities, royals, rock stars, ambassadors, statesmen and politicians on the world’s largest yachts from Alaska to Australia, she presents readers with a treasury of recipes that evoke memories of cultures and countries. Special occasions and exotic ports called for fare that contribute to irresistible brunch menus.

American Independence day calls for red, white and blue parfaits and beef sliders with blue cheese followed by a berry-filled pie, all accompanied by a seriously super-charged Bloody Mary. By way of contrast, a pheasant shooting party in the British shires features bubble and squeak, toad-in-the-hole, kedgeree and currant scones. Add spice to your brunch with a Bahamian feast, starring a colourful spread of chicken souse, sweet potato fish cakes sauced with Creole aioli and chicken and sweetcorn congee.. Chinese New Year in Sydney harbour, the Monaco Grand Pri,. a Greek Isle cruise and a stay in Capri have all produced menus that are mouthwatering and recipes that I intend to try. Other exotic fare was inspired by time spent in the Emirates, Mexico and Mallorca, while the home country is celebrated with a brunch in the bush. All those longing for that nostalgic experience of a portable feast after an early morning game safari can cook up bobotie cups, biltong, mielie and cheese muffins and malva pudding cupcakes with salted caramel sauce, washed down with gin-spiked rooibos and naartjie iced tea.

Beautifully illustrated with plenty of tempting food photographs, this is a collection that will not collect dust on the kitchen shelf.

 

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The arrival of a new vintage of Bouchard Finlayson's Blanc de Mer  is always a pleasure to contemplate. This hugely popular white blend, an annual delight is fairly unique in that it is Riesling-led and usually contains five other white cultivars. As in previous vintages  Riesling predominates with 60% in the 2017, the remaining mélange being 20% Viognier, 13% Chardonnay and 5% Sauvignon Blanc, finished with 2% Semillon.

The bouquet is delicate and flowery, but on the palate there’s both a firm foundation thanks to the personality of Riesling, along with a mix of stone and autumn fruits. A creaminess adds another delicious aspect to this crisp fresh well balanced combo that makes both a charming aperitif as well as a joyful companion to seafood and late summer salads.

All grapes are sourced from the cool South Coast region, where Bouchard Finlayson is beautifully sited in the Hemel-en-Aarde valley . Alcohol levels of 13% are moderate sand the 2017 is fine proof of  consistent quality .

Peter Finlayson has been producing this popular Cape white for many years, and Chris Albrecht has been working alongside him for the last seven years. Now Chris has been appointed winemaker, heading production since the 2017 harvest. Prior to joining Bouchard Finlayson Albrecht gained experience in cellars in New Zealand, France, and back in South Africa spent our years making the wine at Topiary in Franschhoek. The Blanc de Mer is in safe and talented hands.

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