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Events

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As I write this, the snow lies thick on the upper reaches of the Sonderend mountains above McGregor. 

Encompassing the  narrow Slanghoek valley, according to the Opstal receptionist, “ it's white all round” powdering the Badsberge, Limietberg and Dutoitskloof peaks.

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In front of me a trio of Opstal estate’s recent releases, the first of which is Attie Louw’s 2017 chenin blanc, one of the farm’s annual stars, where fruit, freshness, and complexity meld into a delicious whole. Aromas of stone fruit and pineapple greet the nose, while the grapes, sourced from various chenin blocks, after  spontaneous fermentation spent  eight months on the lees, mostly in large French oak, the remainder in stainless steel. Moderate alcohol levels of 13,3% add to the charms of this perennial best-seller, and of course the venerable chenin blanc vines of Opstal add that concentrated character that is so distinctive.

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Next up is Opstal Cabernet Sauvignon & Cinsault, which is how the label lists it, 2017, a 50/50 blend with huge appeal. The cab character – cherry on the nose mingling with herbiness, followed up fruit upfront, the cinsaut contributing its distinctive laidback  freshness, adding up to a delightful wine to complement pizzas, pastas, Sunday suppers, homely fare like cottage pie, toad -in- the- hole, mushrooms on toast... the list is endless. Alcohol levels kept at 13,3%.

Opstal’s cinsaut vineyards, planted in 1997 are celebrating their coming of age, and I hope the Attie will produce a cinsaut soon to mark the occasion.

 

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Both wines sell for R95, while the third, Opstal Blush 2018, costs R70. Described on the back label as 'a bottle of fun', this popular pink is comprised of 70% shiraz and  30% viognier. First made back in 2006 by Opstal MD Stanley Louw , it has remained a popular annual and  best-seller, particularly in Holland . Unique, says Attie, because all the grapes are harvested, pressed and fermented together, so this early combo of berry aromas of the shiraz meet the stone fruit flavours of the viognier to produce a characterful rosé that will take on sushi with panache. It will come into its own in spring, but will happily accompany your chicken pie on a crisp sunny winter’s day.

Talking of which, its time to diarise the annual Breedekloof Soetes & Sop festival taking place over the weekend 20 – 22 July. Get your tickets, plan your itinerary, book your stayover and experience an amazing weekend of outdoor activities, warming fare and both bargain-priced and top of the range wines.

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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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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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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 A GRAND INTERACTIVE CHAMPAGNE TREE FROM MOET & CHANDON

 

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With the countdown to Christmas under way, the Mother City is hosting a grand Champagne Tree, made entirely from recycled Moët & Chandon champagne bottles, which is also  interactive. Set against the backdrop of the Silo district at the V&A Waterfront, the impressive 10-metre tree, made from over 1 500 recycled bottles collected from all over South Africa,  will be topped with a spinning gold Moët & Chandon crown and decorated with more than 15,300 LED lights, in 26 concentric rows.

 

Anyone within reach can join the fun at the  tree lighting ceremony on  7th December  starting at 19h30. In another first for South Africa, visitors will be able to send messages to friends and family which will appear as scrolling notes on a magnificent light ribbon wrapped around the tree. Tweets and Instagram captions which include the hashtag #moetmomentcapetown will show in real-time and, when visitors engage on social media using the#moetmomentcapetown followed by the popping champagne bottle emoji, the Moët & Chandon crown at the top of the tree will spin!

With a bottle of its champagne opened every second around the globe, Moët & Chandon knows that every second is an experience, and every experience is a #moetmoment to live now.!

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GROOTE POST’S

CHRISTMAS MARKET ON SUNDAY 17THDECEMBER

 

As always, the terrace alongside the Groote Post Cellar will be a hive of activity, brimming with delicious and beautiful country offerings, while visitors relaxi in the shade under the trees in front of Hilda’s Kitchen  tucking into their delicious eats from the market. And the market will be a perfect playground for children who love the rolling lawns, playground, horse-riding, tractor rides and face painting, to name a few of the activities on offer.

 

Expect ‘ALL THINGS CHRISTMAS’ at Groote Post’s December Market - with decorations and gifts and Father Christmas entertaining the children.

 

Groote Post’s award-winning restaurant, Hilda’s Kitchen, will be open as usual, but please note that booking is essential.Although pets are most welcome – all dogs must be on a leash at-all-times. The market takes place from 10am to 3pm

 

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Eikendal Vineyards adds a Christmas and wine pairing to the options at the estate

 

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It’s the Festive Season andEikendal Vineyards is bringing the flavours of Christmas to their Tasting Centre with a delicious  Christmas & Wine Pairing.

Expect a truly German  Lebkuchen, with its nuances of honey, spices and cloves, covered in a thin layer of icing with the Pinotage 2016, which adds flavours of red and black cherries. The Charisma 2016, a blend of Shiraz, Petit Verdot and Sangiovese, and the Mince Pie envelope  offers a rich and sensory tastte explosion.the bold and juicy Cabernet Sauvignon 2015 steps up to join a slice traditional, South African Christmas cake, straight from Granny’s recipe book.   

 

The exclusive Eikendal Christmas & Wine Pairing, which costs R100 per person, will keep visitors in the holiday spirit from 1 to 31 December, Tuesdays to Sundays between 10:00 and 16:30.To book for this decadent indulgence or for any queries relating to the Eikendal Experience, contact Chantal-Lee at 021 855 1422 or send an email toinfo@eikendal.co.za.

 

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CONGRATS TO BOTH OF THEM

 

The winners of the 2017 Diners Club Winemaker and Young Winemaker of the Year Awards were announced at a black-tie gala dinner at La Residence Hotel in Franschhoek on  25 November,.

 

Christiaan Groenewald (Eagle’s Cliff Wines) and Wade Roger-Lund(Jordan Estate) claiming top honours respectively.

 

Christiaan Groenewald, delighted the judges with his Eagle’s Cliff Pinotage 2017. This is the second time he has been honoured with this distinguished accolade, having won Winemaker of the Year in 2013 for his ArendskloofVoetsporeTannat Syrah 2011 (Non-Bordeaux Red Blends category). Christiaan is one of only five winemakers to have won this award twice.

 

The 2017 Diners Club Young Winemaker of the Year, Wade Roger-Lund, received his award for the Jordan Blanc de Blancs Méthode Cap Classique 2015 (White Wines category).

 

The winning Winemaker receives R50 000 while the Young Winemaker, R25 000.  Both winemakers get two return businessclass tickets on Delta Airlines to any wine producing region in the USA.

 

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A NEW AND RUSTIC COUNTRY EATERY IN THE ELGIN VALLEY

 

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  Rojaal IS  an authentic country eatery housed in a former flower-packing shed overlooking one of the  region’s many valleys, Rojaal (the Afrikaans word for Royal) was established just over a year ago by enterprising apple farmer Arno Reuvers. It boasts a heritage decor and offers soul-stirring views from its grassy ridge. Its interior is homely with farmhouse furniture and crockery completing the scene. The verandah offers al fresco seating, overlooking the childrens playgournd and a vista that stretches to distant mountains.

 

. In her tiny kitchen, chef Orscilla Hitchcock  applies her loving touch to ingredients to create timeless country classics.  Originally from Prince Albert, she completed her studies at Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT) Hotel School in Granger Bay, Cape Town, before joining the Volkskombuis in Stellenbosch. Her path then led her to Leeuwenhof, where she headed the kitchen team. 

                                                                                                                 

Rojaal is open from Wednesday to Sunday from 8am to 5pm.                                                                                                                                                                   Turn off the N2 at the Viljoenshoop Road, just after the Peregrine Farm Stall and keep left for 4km For enquiries, call 021 204 1085 or email bestuurder@rojaal.co.za and chef@rojaal.co.za.

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