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Posted by on in Events

 

A couple of weather gurus have predicted an early autumn here on the fringe of the Klein Karoo. Whether this will extend to the Boland and Overberg, who knows? But if it does, it makes visiting these wine regions all the more inviting. There's a Gauteng fest in the lineup as well.

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Diarise Saturday Feb 18 for a feast of fun at one of our most iconic estates. Join the Melck family at Muratie for a day that can be as active (mountain biking, stomping grapes) or leisurely as you wish. Taste the Muratie wines in the old cellar, or enjoy a private tasting at 12 noon. Settle for an alfresco lunch from the Farm Kitchen that includes gourmet burgers, salmon sarmies, spring rolls, a cheese platter and more. Kitchen Jammin Blues will provide the musical background. Entry costs R75 a head.

For further information and bookings contact Jean-Mari Reyneke at Muratie on 021 865 2330/2336 or taste@muratie.co.za

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Savour the spirit of the Gin & Tonic Festival

 

 

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Sunday February 26 sees the  Gin & Tonic Festival return to Cape Town showcasing over 15 local and international gin distilleries at The Old Biscuit Mill in Woodstock. Taste, swirl and celebrate!

Visitors can look forward to festival regulars such as Bloedlemoen, Ginifer, Hope on Hopkins, Inverroche, New Harbour, Wilderer and a host of exciting new players in the local market. Internationally revered brands like The Botanist, Sipsmith and Elephant Gin will also showcase their craft, 

Some of the city’s finest food trucks and gourmet street food chefs will offer gastronomic goodness to festivalgoers. In addition, a summer-inspired designer’s market will feature the brightest in locally made fashion, lifestyle and accessory goods.  Local artists will entertain the crowds at dedicated music stages. Guests
will receive a 16 page gin booklet, a host of promotional vouchers and goodies from our festival partners, and a branded Gin and Tonic Festival glass.

 Join The Gin Revolution:  visit the website: http://ginandtonicfestival.co.za/

Book your tickets: 
http://www.quicket.co.za/events/24893-gin-and-tonic-festival-biscuit-mill-cape-town/#/

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 DINNER WITH THE WINEMAKER AT LANZERAC

 

 

b2ap3_thumbnail_Lanzerac-CoconutGrapeFruitPanaCotta___0197-11-2.jpgChef Fraser's irresistible dessert paired with the estate's bubbly.

 

These occasional gourmet evenings offer a tasty marriage between the considerable talents of executive chef Stephen Fraser and cellarmaster Wynand Lategan. The first of the 2017 events takes place on Tuesday, March 28 when diners will gather for a welcome drink and canapes on the picnic terrace before visiting the underground cellar to taste new vintages from the barrel. The dinner menu will include a first course of prawn pannacotta and Parma ham mousse, will go on to noisette of lamb, all partnered by new releases from the wine menu along with current favourites like chardonnay and pinotage. Lanzerac's cap classique brut will make a fine finale to complement dessert. This will be an intimate affair of just 30 guests, costs R550  a head, all inclusive, and bookings must be made with Zelda Furstenburg on winesales@lanzerac.co.za or by calling 021 886 5641.

Further seasonal dinners are planned for July and September.

 

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 START YOUR WEEKEND OFF ON A SPARKLING NOTE AT BROOKLYN BUBBLES

 

The best South African MCCs and French champagnes with food prepared by an award-winning chef is on the menu for Friday March 3 - Saturday March 4 at Brooklyn Mall. Both top Cape bubblies and renowned French houses will present their products while complementary nibbles like oysters, sushi, charcuteries and cheeses will accompany the sparkles, finishing with churros and mini-donuts for finales

 

Tickets to the VIP event on the Friday are R600 per person and include a welcome glass of bubbly, 20 bubbly tasting coupons and three food coupons, one of which is for dessert.

 Tickets for the event on Saturday, March 4, cost R300 per person and include a complimentary tasting glass and 15 tasting coupons. Food will also be available for purchase at stalls at the venue. Additional vouchers can be purchased on both days.

Details: 

  Friday, March 3, 2017, from 18h00 to 22h00 & Saturday, March 4, 2017, from 12h00 to 17h00

 Venue: Brooklyn Mall (In a marquee in Bronkhorst Street).

 Booking: www.webtickets.co.za

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Cluver Family Harvest Day | 1 April 2017

 

 

 

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No danger of April Fool jokes popping up at this autumn harvest festival in the heart of the Elgin valley. Paul Cluves Wines makes the venue for this appetising celebration of wine, cider and apples that starts at 11am. 

Leave the car at home and take the train for a memorable day: it will leave Cape Town station at 9am and pick up more passengers at Somerset West,  and on board treats are included.

At the farm children will be supervised and entertained with a programme of old-fashioned games while adults can sample the ciders and wines on offer. Artisanal foods for sale include apple crumble, cheeses, charcuterie  and gourmet sandwiches.

 

The price structure is as follows:

 

Adults

R250 per person

Children under 18           

R100 per child

 

 

Family package 

R550 (2 adults and 2 children)

Return train ticket (excludes festival ticket)

R500 per person (children under 18 travel for free)

 

 Your festival ticket includes entry, a complimentary tasting glass and a booklet of tasting coupons. The children’s ticket includes entry and a harvest party pack. Food and other beverages available on the day are not included in the ticket price.Pre-booking is essential as tickets are limited. Book directly through www.webtickets.co.za.  For more details on what you can expect visit www.cluver.com.

 

 

 

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According to the usually reliable Norwegian forecast, the weather on 

 Valentine's Day will be cool and cloudy in the Boland with a maximum temperature of 20 deg C. Ib2ap3_thumbnail_Rickety-B-Brut-Rose-NV-High-Res.jpgdeal for celebrating the day (and night)  dedicated to love and happiness. There are just so many destinations that are wooing diners to their doors that  both locals and visitors are spoilt for choice. Others may prefer to dine at home, or take a bottle of chilled bubbles to watch a fiery mountian sunset or stroll along a beach as twilight falls.

 

Whatever is on the menu, this is an occasion when a rosé bubbly is most appropriate: Choose one that is brut but not bone dry, that partners both seafood and berry desserts with panache. Given the fact that many consumers are feeling the pinch, look for one that offers good value, while being  both elegant and crisp, along with luscious berry flavours as well. There are several fine Cape sparkles that fulfil these criteria, but - if you haven't yet discovered the joys of Rickety Bridge's Cap Classiques, this is a good time to do so - their non-vintage Brut Rosé, a classic blend of 52% pinot noir with the remainder chardonnay will make an inspired choice. At R145 it is not going to weigh down your credit card either. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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b2ap3_thumbnail_la-petite-ferme1_20170123-131805_1.jpgChardonnay fans will have to visit La Petite Ferme to sample and buy this just-released 2016 chardonnay, but that’s hardly a chore. Take in the changes wrought by the new owners, then sip this impressive wine with its enticing nose offering buttered nuts and citrus followed by a good combo of fruit and well-defined mineral backbone. It’s well-balanced, freshness and body in harmony, the seasonal fruits of the Franschhoek grapes complementing the crisp flint of those from Elim. Also in tune with today’s trends are its 12,5% alcohol levels, while the R200 price tag must amaze visiting connoisseurs from the UK and Europe! It is sure to make an engaging companion for several items on their restaurant’s summer menu as well as an appealing aperitif. Only available from the farm wine shop and restaurant. Visit www.lapetiteferme.co.za for more info. b2ap3_thumbnail_lapetiteferme3.jpg

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FIVE-STAR LUXURY ON DOOLHOF AT THE GRAND DEDALE 

 

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Tucked deep in the Bovlei, one of Wellington’s most scenic and historic regions, Doolhof estate is a farm worth putting on your go-to list if you haven’t yet experienced time there. The land was granted to French Huguenot refugee Jacques Potier as the 17th century drew to a close and he had established a productive farm by his death in 1739.  Doolhof then became Du Toit property, then passed into the Lategan family who diversified into citrus as wine prices dropped dramatically around 1781 - a move that has been duplicated by many a 21st century wine farmer in other Western Cape regions.The quality of Doolhof 

oranges was was much admired by visitor Lady Anne Barnard in 1797.

 

Several more ownership changes were to follow as the 19th and 20th centuries rolled by... Today Doolhof is British-owned, makes three ranges of wine, and offers guests accommodation in a luxurious guesthouse. Horses grazing in paddocks add tranquillity to centuries-old deep-rooted stability – families and livestock come and go, produce and markets  fluctuate and settle, but farms like this emit an air of immutability that is both soothing and inviting.

 

 

In the venerable cellar three ranges are produced: from the Signatures selection, winemaker Beukes  recently released the 2016 sauvignon blanc and chardonnay. Both sell at R83 from the cellar door, both are single vineyard wines and they also share pleasing alcohol levels of 12,5%, an asset for the international market in particular. The sauvignon blanc is herbaceous and crisp, ideal for complementing any seafood while the unwooded chardonnay has much to offer those who prefer lighter, crisper chards – in summer, at any rate. There is enough body to balance the various fruity flavours that please the palate without overwhelming it.An enjoyable aperitif, this will make an adaptable companion to salads and poultry, whether at a fine table or a country picnic.

 

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Emily Hobhouse: Beloved Traitor by Elsabe Brits, published by Tafelberg, Cape Town, 2016.

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That this masterful life story is set to become the definitive biography of one of South Africa’s most famous women is not in doubt. Brits has produced an in-depth, scholarly, well-researched work that is also very readable, enlivened with numerous fascinating photographs.  The 27 pages of endnotes, bibliography, index and acknowledgements are good indications of the lengths to which she went to, to do justice to the life and work of this extraordinary pacifist, feminist and deeply compassionate person – who died alone and unsung in her home country.

As the back cover tell us, Brits retraced Hobhouse’s footsteps across three continents, but, as she is the first to acknowledge, it was her exciting discovery of Emily’s great-niece that was the cherry on the top:  Jennifer  Hobhouse Balme invited the author into her home in a fishing village on the Pacific coast of Vancouver Island  and shared her treasury of documents, diaries, scrapbooks, letters and photographs, enabling this biography to far transcend any previous attempt to record her life.

Born in 1860 into a Victorian upper-class family Emily grew up in the hamlet of St Ive in Somerset, where she and her sisters were educated at home, which she found frustrating. Her first visit abroad took her to the USA where she experienced love, was jilted by her fiancé, and was back in England in 1899. This was the year the Anglo-Boer War broke out, and Emily became involved in  the SA Conciliation Committee in London, which opposed the war.

 After the OFS and the Transvaal were annexed by Britain thhe Boer forces resorted to guerrilla warfare. The scorched-earth policy instigated by Britain saw farmhouses, barns and outbuildings burnt, farm animals slaughtered, veld set alight, and in some cases whole towns destroyed.  In London and Cornwall  Emily protested in vain about the policy then decided to go to SA to help: she  and started fund-raising to feed clothe and rescue women and children rendered destitute by the war.  Arriving in Cape Town in Dec 1900  she met the governor Lord Milner the governor who granted  permission to visit the concentratios/refugee camps where Boer women were kept provided Kitchener agree, which he did, with conditions. After shopping for clothes, blankets and food she travelled north  in January 1901.

What she found was more distressing than she had imagined – “...truckloads of women and children unsheltered and... flocks and herds of frightened animals bellowing and baaing for food and drink... In the camps exposure, starvation, illness, pain – no candle or, soap, no mortuary tent, flies thick on everything, no schooling, no wood or coal to boil water and typhoid  rife.  She kept diaries, recorded women’s stories, saw children dying as she travelled from camp to camp. She sent letters to friends, family members  and government sources in England  reporting on conditions. She took photographs and sent those as well, decided to retrun to the UK  to bring the horrors of the concentration camps to the British public.

She endured much resentment from Britons who regarded here as unpatriotic at best, a traitor at worst. In turn she pointed out that in September 1901 the number of people in the white camps had risen from 85 000 to 105 000,  that 1878 had died in August,  1545 of whom were children. When she returned to Cape Town in October she was ill and weak, but was arrested by the British on arrival. Detained on board, she was returned to England in a troop ship.

But her efforts  had some effect as conditions gradually improved, at least  in the white camps. Peace was declared  in May 1902 –the  news reached her as she sat alone in France writing her book, whereupon  she “started crying uncontrollably.”

Back in SA Emily visited the former camp sites where locals told her that they had not received any of the ‘reconstruction money of three million pounds’ that was supposed to be apportioned to the Boers. In communication with General Jan Smuts she travelled widely, reporting to the UK regularly on conditions. She then set in motion her ploughing project: newspaper appeals for funds to buy oxen and donkeys were well received, and not only Cape colonists but British donors sent funds to the bank in Pretoria.

Her plans for establishing home industries  revolved around teaching young girls spinning and weaving and  the first school opened in Philippolis in March 1905 using wool donated by farmers.  Soon there were two schools and proceeds helped many survive.

Back in the UK Emily  (predictably) got involved with the suffrage movement, yet stayed in constant touch with South Africa, where a committee was formed to erect a monument to Boer women and children in Bloemfontein. Her health did not allow her to attend the unveiling on December  16 1913, but her speech was read both in English and Afrikaans.

World War 1 saw Emily trying to alleviate the living conditions of civilians in Germany  and Belgium and of Britons interned in German camps. She was  regarded by many as a propagandist, spy and a traitor. Undeterred, 1918 saw Emily co-founding the Swiss Relief Fund for Starving Children, as children from Germany, Austria, Czechoslovakia nad Hungary were sent to Switzerland to regain their health.   South Africa helped fund Emily ‘s purchase of a cottage in St Ives, Cornwall, in 1921. She died in London in June 1926, still hoping for justice to prevail with regard to her work . Her ashes were sent to Bloemfontein and here she was revered  with a funeral service attended by hundred,s with thousands lining the streets at the first and, to date only, state funeral in this country for a foreigner.

My only criticism is that the book design, while attractive and contemporary, is impractical as the use of bold colour backgrounds on many pages render the print virtually illegible.  

 

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Harvest has begun in some regions, while grapes are being sampled and assessed in others as cellars get ready for the first influx of the 2017 harvest. Around McGregor the air is not yet filled with the aromas of crushed grapes, but the trail of trucks loaded with peaches that trundle down the main drag seem endless... With the apricot harvest behind us, and the peak of the tomato season just ahead, we have been bottling our 2016 harvest of ripe olives, making pesto, or rather pistou (no nuts) as our basil plants wave in the wind, wafting enticing aromas toward the kitchen. The first batch of ripe fig jam will be bubbling on the stove soon, although keeping birds, large and small, from our crop, is a thankless task.

 

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Durbanville Hills' maiden chenin blanc 2016  arrived just before year end, and its a charmer, Its fresh and lively, fruity and undemanding, yet far from run-of-the-mill. It's the sort of weekday wine that is ideal for those hot January evenings when a well-chilled chenin will precede your salad supper, accompanied by a further glass. The label offers no clue as to the source of the grapes, but cellarmaster Martin Moore told me that he found old chenin vines on various Durbanville farms to make his maiden vintage. So yes, this is Durbanville Hills chenin from Durbanville valley grapes.

 Selling at R55 it should  hold its own with the cellar's several stellar sauvignon blancs, but you may have to hunt for it - its not yet listed on their website or, at time of writing on the Vinoteque site yet. Worth putting on your shopping list.  

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By the first weekend of February, winelovers should be ready to don something cool and white and head to Leopards Leap Family vineyards for a late summer celebration. The 2017 Franschhoek Summer Wines takes place on Saturday, 4th February, offering a selection of summery whites, roses, Cap Classiques and light reds all suitable for warm weather sipping. Pair them with fare from the rotisserie kitchen and relax on the verandah or lawns as you drink in the valley panorama. tickets cost R180 and are obtainable from www.webtickets.co.za/

at R180 per person.  This includes a wine glass and a tasting of all the wines on show between 12pm and 5pm.  

For more info contact the Franschhoek Wine Valley offices on 021 876 2861 or email info@franschhoek.org.za.

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DESTINATION MCGREGOR FOR SLOW WINE WEEKENDS

 

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Slow Wine weekends in the picturesque village of McGregor offer two days of diverse wines, fine fare that ranges from gourmet to country, and the unique combination of tranquillity, hospitality and a pace that is as leisurely or lively as visitors choose to make it. Add in attractions like spa treatments, a busy pottery, serene art gallery and welcoming donkey sanctuary and the pressure to book for a stress-free weekend increases. Mid-February is traditionally time for romance, so the forthcoming weekend is entitled Bubbles for Lovers. There's a good choice of sparkles and Cap Classiques available in the valley, including one that's organic.

To find out more visit  <https://slowwineweekends.com/bubbles-for-lovers-february-2017/>and add a plethora of bubbles to your stay in this timeless village.

Looking ahead to late March, the organisers are putting together a four-day getaway focussing on the harvest in and around the Breede river valley. See  <https://slowwineweekends.com/four-day-harvest-experience-17-21-march-2017/>

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                                   2017 PINOTAGE AND BILTONG FESTIVAL  - ESSENTIAL DIARY DATE!

 

 

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Indulge in two of SA’s favourite delicacies on Saturday, 22  April and Sunday, 23  April 2017 at the  annual Pinotage & Biltong Festival, which takes place at  L’Avenir Wine Estate just outside Stellenbosch from 11h00-17h00.   

 A wide range of biltong products will be paired with specific wines from some of South Africa’s top Pinotage producers for each tasting. Guests can taste and buy some of the best red Pinotages or have fun with alternatives including rosé’s, bubblies, blends and even a white Pinotage!

 

The event is family-friendly with live music, food trucks, light meals and casual seating under the trees next to the dam or on the lawns in front of the cellar. The charity beneficiary is Anna Foundation who will be present to entertain the kids and raise funds for their many worthy projects.  Visit www.annafoundation.com for more info.

 

On 14 and 15 October 2017 it’s the turn of Gauteng fans when the festival will be held at the Leriba Hotel in Centurion, Gauteng as part of the official Pinotage Day celebrations, presented by the Pinotage Association.

 

Tickets @ R200 pp includes a branded crystal wine glass, a biltong cup and a pairing card for the Free Pinotage and Biltong tastings.  Tickets  at www.plankton.mobi.   or www.computicket.co.za from 1 March 2017.

 

For more info visit www.cvomarketing.co.za  

 

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FIRE TO FLOWER :  a Chronology after a Wildfire in Fynbos  by Ruth Garland and Greg Nicolson, published by the Paardeberg Sustainability Initiative, 2016.

 

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This large, heavy, stunningly beautiful hardback is both an exquisite  visual record of how fynbos regenerates after wildfire and an important contribution to South African botany, and that of the Cape Floral Kingdom in particular.

In Jan 2011 a fire broke out on the Paardebeg, that lone mountain that looms up on the plains between Malmesbury, Wellington, Paarl and Durbanville. Some 75% of the mountain above the farms was burnt, and, being the first fire in 25 years,    the event offered a fine opportunity to record and observe the plant species as they germinated and flowered after the destruction.

On  the historic Vondeling estate, one of the Voor Paardeberg farms, Dr Bridget Johnsen set about transforming opportunity into reality: She succeeded, but as we can see, it finally took more than five years to achieve in the form of this unique volume.  She engaged botanist and photographer Greg Nicolson to observe, record and photograph the plants over 18 months, in consultation with the Compton Herbarium at Kirstenbosch. Not only did Nicolson identify 1 000 species, but discovered one new to science. Walking the mountain for the best part of  2 years gave him a amazing overview of the animal, bird and insect inhabitants as well, and appealing photographs of these are  included . As Dr Eugene Moll notes in his foreword, the book’s contents capture the very essence of life on and around the Paardeberg, then interprets and portrays a complex ecosystem in simple every day language.

For this, praise must go to Ruth Garland, a writer whose passion for natural history started early in life, thanks to her parents who raised her in Zululand. Setting the scene through geology and climate, she moves on to discuss flora and fire, the latter so critical in the cycle of life in this  region.

After the fire, which raged for five days, Bridget Johnsen, along with neighbouring farmers, established the PSA or Paardeberg Sustainability Initiative which prioritises both flora and fire:  The Paardeberg Fire Protection Association now provides support services to farmers in terms of tools, staff, safety and training, alien control and  fire breaks, and was recently amalgamated with the Greater Cedarberg Fire Protection Association.

Vondeling estate has become renowned for its fine wines, among which are two named after endemic fynbos: Babiana, a fine chenin-led white blend and Erica, a spicy shiraz-based blend, both worthy tributes to their floral sources. A new limited edition red blend, named Philosophie will be launched in March, featuring a painting of a rare Paardeberg flower. 

From the sepia tones and acrid smoke of the post-fire landscape, readers are led on a seasonal photographic journey as plant life emerges . Starting in autumn, with the”ploegtyd blommetjie” the little plough –time flower appearing first,  followed by oxalis and  waterblommetjies, and later the early-flowering bulbs, we see a gradual transformation of the mountainside that continues in a diverse procession of colour, texture and beauty to late summer.  For those amateur (and professional) botanists who want more information, another section offers detail on  the species illustrated.

 For those who just love beauty, the close-ups of petals, leaves, stamens and stems provide a visual  feast that is heart-stopping and seldom seen. As a valuable record, the title is unique. As an inspiration to generations of present and future guardians of our flora, this substantial tome will prove to be priceless.

Among the many people to be thanked for their contribution, is one of Vondelings’ partners, Briton Anthony Ward who sponsored the cost of the publication.

 

Note: This review will also feature in Book Choice on FMR on Monday January 16.

 

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Which bubbly? Which red? and - Are you drinking rosé this Christmas? Answer to the last question, yes indeed. Which? Haven’t decided yet. But here is a foursome that will add lustre to many a table over the festive weekend: all special, all appealing, all quality homegrown Cape wines that I am delighted to recommend.

 

WHICH BUBBLY?

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 Festivities start with good bubbles, and the arrival of the limited edition just-released Krone RD 2001 is an event worth some fanfare. This cap classique has spent the last 15 years ageing sur lie in a cool underground cellar at Twee Jonge Gezellen, Tulbagh’s most historic of farms, developing into a sparkler of note. It's rich and concentrated, yet retains the freshness and fruit of others half its age. The classic aromas of green apple and biscuit are there, while your palate will be treated to some butterscotch and honeyed nuttiness. Low alcohol levels of 11,5% means a second flute is in order, while shoppers can expect to pay between R300 – R350 for this elegant aperitif and effervescent partner to memorable fare.

For further information contact: Abigail Rands on abigail@vinimark.co.za or Ginette de Fleuriot on ginette@vinimark.co.za.

 

WHICH WHITE?

b2ap3_thumbnail_GlenwoodSauvignonBlancSemillon2016verklein.JPGAnother five-star blend in the making? Likely to be, this elegant Bordeaux-style white blend, which saw its predecessor, the 2015,  awarded that status. Made from 22-year-old vines, probably at their peak, this GlenWood sauvignon blanc/semillon 2016 (50/50 blend) which spent seven months on lees in tank is a fine example of Franschhoek fruit, GlenWood talent and craftsmanship, producing a delicious meld of sauvignon- granadilla and bracing freshness with the cream and richness of the semillon. Moderate alcohol levels, screwcapped and ready to enhance a feast of seafood, the fact that it sells at a budget R90 ex-farm adds greatly to its appeal. For more info, send an email to info@glenwoodvineayrds.co.za

 

 

WHICH RED

b2ap3_thumbnail_NE-Stellenbosch-Cabernet-Sauvignon-2013.JPGNeil Ellis has long been renowned for his fine wines, including cabs, produced during his illustrious career which saw him buy in parcels of grapes that met his standards, and marketing the impressive results under his own label. Today he has a fine cellar and tasting centre near the foot of the Helshoogte pass, and his three children have taken over winemaking (Warren), Charl (business) and Margot (marketing).

 While the top-of-the-range Jonkershoek Valley 2013 cabernet is just about sold out, fans of this classic cultivar could well invest in a case or two of the regional Stellenbosch cabernet sauvignon 2013 and get a bargain at the same time: For just R145 they will receive a fine, modern cab under screwcap sporting its Veritas gold and Tim Atkin best-of stickers, where Stellenbosch fruit and oak dance nicely together – a quarter matured in new wood, the rest in second, third and fourth-fill. It’s full-bodied, with easy tannins and its berried flavours finish with a dash of black pepper. Rare beef, tender lamb, mixed roast mushrooms will all benefit from pairing with this wine – which will also improve with another year or two in cool darkness. Way to go, Warren. For more info, tel 021 887 0649, email info@neilellis.com or go to www.neilellis.com

 

WHICH LIQUEUR?

 

After a decade of dedicated work, Robert Rosenbach of Tanagra Boutique winery and distillery can take a bow or three.b2ap3_thumbnail_Tanagra-orange-liqueur.jpg

 

Not only are his red wines and fine cab franc rose in demand, but he and Anette have built an enviable reputation for impressvie grappas and eaux de vie, the latter offering adventurous palates exciting fruity flavour including lemon and quince. Just as their farm and guest cottabes are geared to green living and conservation, their products are produced adhering to a similar philosophy. So, its no surprise that their latest, simply labelled Orange Liqueur, is a brilliant distillation of ripe, aromatic, organic oranges - the entire fruit - to which syrup is added as the alcohol is slowly diluted to a level of 25%. It is clear and inviting, unfiltered and its jewel-like orange hue captured in slim 500ml bottles. 

It offers intense, delicious bursts of flavour - orange juice, peel, blossom - that's fresh and moreish and lingers on the palate. Don't know which is better - to dilute it with bubbly and serve as a unique aperitif or keep it neat and partner it with seriously dark chocolate at the close of the meal. Either way, it should be really cold, and it you want a bottle or two, don't leave it too long, as its a limited edition and there's not much left. Priced at R180, enjoy every sip. Visit  www.tanagra-wines.co.za or call 023 5251780 for details.

 

 

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Wineland news, events and seasonal attractions for December and into January 2017.

 

Travellers taking Route 62 will find new attractions at the historic Boplaas Family vineyards at Calitzdorp.The latest addition to their distilled product range is the Boplaas Whisky, a blended cask aged grain whisky,  to be enjoyed on the rocks or with a mixer.The Boplaas Whisky is made from maize, and distilled to an alcohol content of 93% and then diluted with distilled water to 68% strength.  Aging takes place in American oak  for between 54 and 60 months.  This is followed up with a short period in Boplaas brandy barrels. The whisky is again diluted with distilled water to 43% and then bottled unfiltered.

Then there's the Boplaas Stoepsit bistro - self-explanatory eaterie to visit.b2ap3_thumbnail_boplaas-something2.jpg

Pop! Pop! Pop! Boplaas will operate a pop-up tasting station in Sedgefield from the 16 - 31 December (excluding Sundays) where visitors can  taste the wine ranges, place an order and get it delivered to their  holiday destination in the Garden Route (next day deliveries, except on public holidays and weekends). For  more information, phone 044-2133326,  or email boplaas@mweb.co.za, admin@boplaas.co.za .

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Diners Club Winemaker of the year 2016

 

At a gala dinner last week, Pierre Wahl of Rijks received this award – many would say it was overdue.  Pierre commented "It has taken 21 years of love, determination, and patience to be named Winemaker of the Year. At Rijk's we concentrate only on Chenin Blanc, Pinotage and Shiraz which has allowed me to focus and understand  these cultivars over time from budburst to harvest. “ Congratulations Pierre.

 

 

 

For visitors who prefer an informal feast with delicious wines, Delheim’s riverside picnics offer laidback lunchtime feasts on the Klip river banks, surrounded by abundant birdlife.                          b2ap3_thumbnail_delheim-picnic-2.jpgb2ap3_thumbnail_delheim-picnic-1.jpg

 

The picnics for two cost R460 and the fare is plentiful, from cheese and charcuterie through to salads and roast beef bagels. Mini milk tarts make the finale. Vegetarian options are available as are children’s picnics at R100. A bottle of the estate sauvignon blanc or pinotage rose or cab/shiraz blend accompanies the fare. The Delheim picnics are offered seven days a week. Book by phoning 021 888 4607 or email restaurant@delheim.com.

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NEDERBURG PLANTS NEW VINES IN OLD SOIL

 

Platter’s Winery of the year has been planting interesting new cultivars to honour, they say, founder Phillipus Wolvaart.

Chambourcin a French-American hybrid grape, is one of them, noted for dark colour and spicy black cherry and plum flavours, noted for its ability to withstand extreme weather conditions as well as pests and diseases. Nederburg has also been experimenting with  Mediterranean varietals that are well-suited to changing climatic conditions for more than a decade.  Tempranillo and Graciano were established at their  Simondium farm in 2004, and a small mixed block of Carignan and Grenache on the farm in Paarl in 2008.

Varieties such as Chambourcin, Vidal blanc and Seyval blanc are being planted, both to battle climate change and help eliminate pest and disease control by planting disease-resistant cultivars.

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FACET         FOUNDATION         EXPANDS       FLEET      OF        MOBILE  LEARNING 

CENTRES

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Graff Diamonds’ charitable initiative, For Africa’s Children Every Time (FACET), recently  announced the expansion of the Graff Mobile Learning Centre fleet in the Cape winelands.In partnership with the Pebbles Project, three additional mobile units will be joining the mobile library and computer lab which have been in operation since 2014. Founder and director of the Pebbles Project, Sophia Warner, explains, “The t new Mobile Learning Centres are literally ‘opportunities on wheels’. They’ve taken our after-school programme to a whole new level and will have an even greater impact within the community.”

 The centres provide much needed after-school support for scholars between the ages of 6 to 18 years whom attend local public schools throughout the Cape Winelands from Stellenbosch Valley to Citrusdal in the Cederberg Mountains. The FACET Mobile Learning Centres have grown to include 2 computer labs, 2 travelling libraries and a multi-purpose vehicle for more remote areas. They assist 522 students in the fields of   basic mathematics, literacy and computer related skills.  The challenges of poverty, alcoholism and increasing school drop-out rates affect education in these areas. The FACET Mobile Learning Centres fulfil an acute need among the region’s disadvantaged youth .In their partnership thus far, the Pebbles Project has received financial support from the FACET Foundation to the amount of R20 million.

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JANUARY 2017

The family wine estate, Jason’s Hill Private Cellar in the Slanghoek Valley,  is the venue for the not-to-be missed Jason’s Hill Makietie Outdoor Music Show on Saturday, 28 January 2017. Look forward to an explosive lineup of SA’s finest performers. See much loved Afrikaans performer, Laurika Rauch, live. She will be joined on stage by Loki Rothman for part of her performance. Potchefstroom native Bouwer Bosch and Cape Town based musician Gerald Clark will also perform. Relax on the immaculate lawns while the kids run around before the show starts at 6pm (gates open at 4pm). Delicious food and refreshments will be on sale.. Secure and free parking.. Tickets cost R180 per person and can be purchased from Computicket. For more information contact Jason’s Hill Private Cellar on 023 344 3256 or info@jasonshill.co.za.

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Stellenbosch Harvest Parade in City of Oaks

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The oak-lined streets of Stellenbosch will be invaded by a colourful community of winemaking charismatics on Saturday, January 28. The annual Harvest Parade ushers in the grape harvest season with convivial cheer, paying homage the invaluable contribution of South Africa’s farm workers. This  Stellenbosch procession traditionally includes marching bands, Cape minstrels, drum majorettes and a flotilla of beautifully decorated tractors, trailer and trucks. The trouperepresentsparticipating wineries and will meander its way through the streets of Stellenbosch

b2ap3_thumbnail_SWR-Harvest-Parade-1_20161213-125555_1.jpgThe Harvest Parade, presented in conjunction with the Stellenbosch Municipality, gets underway on 28 January from 9am. It will be followed by a harvest blessing ceremony at the town hall in Plein Street at 10am. It signals the start of the Stellenbosch Wine Festival presented by Pick ‘n Pay, which takes place at the Coetzenburg sports grounds from 24 to 26 February. Buy tickets now at www.webtickets.co.za. For more information visit www.wineroute.co.za; contact Tel: 021 886 8275, or send an email to marketing@wineroute.co.za.

 

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Mr Analjit Singh's transformation of the upper end of Huguenot street in Franschhoek is, I think, complete. With the reorientation of Le Quartier Francais, the opening of the Leeu House boutique hotel, plus neighbouring Tuk Tuk, with its Mexican fare and artisanal beer, the face of this once rustic part of the town has been altered  to one of  sophisticated frontages that conceal luxurious interiors. With Marigold, Franschhoek's first restaurant offering North Indian cuisine, the choice of international fare has further broadened. Heading the kitchen is the charming Vanie Padayachee who has crossed the road from Le Quartiers kitchen to specialise in what she knows best at Marigold.

Guests were treated to a vibrant feast of flavour at a series of luncheons hosted by marketing head Nicolette Waterford, just ahead of the official opening.

Our menu was authentic both in flavour and dish titles, so we were pleased to have a knowledgeable manager to translate and explain the oriental delights. We started with Indian street food - little rounds of potato and tamarind  containers into which a chilli-spiked sauce was poured. Palak Chaat is the name of a spinach-based wedge of almost pizza-like snack, which came next, one of my favourite items, while Punjabi samoosa complete the appetiser trio.

Main courses included Palak Paneer, the classic cottage cheese and spinach sidedish to soothe palates coping with the fiery topping to Nimbu Machli Tikka, lemony fish. The perennially popular butter chicken (Murg Makhani) was there, along with lamb biryani accompanied by rice sparked with cumin. Delicious naan and wholewheat flatbread should not be missed, while yoghurt and cucumber raita helped temper the heat of the main dishes. 

The menu reverted to English for the dessert - attractively plated tandoor-baked pineapple and saffron crumble with coconut and a fennel seed kulfi made a memorable finale.

The restaurant is open  for both lunch and dinner from Tuesday dinner to Sunday dinner, closed Mondays and Tuesday lunchtime. Bookings to 021 876 8970 or email restaurant@Marigoldfranschhoek.com

 Hotel guests at either  Leeu House or Le Quartier Francais can cross the road to sample these oriental menus, while day visitors should arrive early to get parking, or make arrangements when booking, as Franschhoek's main drag is already crammed solid with cars from 9am. 

 

 

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Two family-focussed cookboks - one local, one British -  and the new edition of Platter's wine guide make a trio ideal for festive gifts - and for keeping on our own bookshelves.

 

FOR FRIENDS & FAMILY by Nicky Stubbs. Published by Human & Rousseau, 2016.

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Visually  appetising, this hardback is a delightful addition to any cook’s bookshelf. That said, its particularly appeal lies in its trusted tried-and-tested recipes, a collection  ideal for keen, but inexperienced family caterers.

As the title tells, the focus is on delectable, do-able fare that friends and family adore, that they expect to find when turning up at Stubbs’ home, invited or just dropping in hopefully at teatime. This hospitable cook qualified with a Cordon Bleu course, has cooked professionally in London and France, run restaurants, given cookery classes and written for magazines. But her passion is catering for those who sit around the family dining table, sharing both simple  meals and elaborate celebrations. This compilation  is, she states “…a love song to the family and friends who have fed me, taught me to cook, eaten and cooked with me.”

Useful tips precede recipes which, start, naturally enough with breakfast, go on to starters, simple meals, vegetables and salads. Main courses are slotted into categories – chicken, beef and lamb are followed by pork and seafood. A few condiments (pesto, hummus, tartare sauce) give way to a substantial section of bakes, whilepuddings complete the menu with perennially popular classics, from crème brûlée to malva pud, pavlova to icecream, pears in red wine to a baked almond and lemon finale.

Recipes are illustrated in colour, and presentation is just what novices need: a brief description of the dish, clear ingredients, and step-by-step method. Small tips (eg advice on what kind of plate to use during a dipping process ) may seem old hat to many, but will be appreciated by beginners.

Were I to cook a Christmas dinner from this title, I would start with Stubbs’ gazpacho, follow with her slow-roasted chicken and lamb recipes, and add melazane for the vegetarians. Dessert  could star her Christmas icecream bombe. In place of mince pies, teatime treats would include her Squidgies, a simple, no-fail recipe if there ever was!

One of this year’s best local cookbooks, crisp and clear, with old family photos that enhance appeal and emphasise recipes designed to delight palates of all ages.  

 

SUPER FOOD: Family classics by Jamie Oliver. Published by Michael Joseph of the Penguin Random House group, 2016.

 

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When one looks at the list of Jamie’s cookbooks, starting with The Naked Chef released in 1999 and including a title nearly every subsequent year, one can be forgiven for wondering what  he could still offer family cooks in the way of new and delicious fare? Last year he published his  Everyday Super Food, and in the introduction to this Super Food, Oliver states that readers requested a compilation of updated  family classics that are also balanced and healthy, rewritten to offer meals that “…fuel, revive, restore and energize…”

There’s probably a good reason why the health and happiness chapter is located at the back of the book. Here Oliver presents his tips, tricks and advice on food, nutrition and wellbeing.  Perhaps the publisher thought that some parents would not take to lessons on  balancing proportions from the five food groups,  staying hydrated, getting enough sleep, getting moving and eating more fibre! But Jamie’s preachings are easy to digest and he is renowned for having contributed to better diets for thousands of Britons and their children. He embraces organic, promotes carbohydrates (eat your heart out Banters), and empahises the importance of chewing properly. He also suggest setting aside more time for meals, at home, at school, at work. A chapter entitled Healthy gut, happy body investigates the roles of prebiotics, and probiotics,  and there’s plenty on the importance of drinking water, preferably from the tap. Limit sugar intake, cook with your children, grow food, and support farmers’ markets, he urges.

Recipes start with breakfast ideas,  including some super smoothies. Good variations on boiled eggs are followed by  interesting pancakes, used as  containers for healthy fruit, protein, grains, nuts, coconut and more. Quick snacks include 18 options for teaming avocado on rye toast with a host of other ingredients. Quick fix meals  includes a Japanese miso stew sparked with dried seaweed, mixed greens, exotic mushroom and tofu on brown rice noodles.  Adventurous creations are  balanced by classic pasta and sauces. His comfort food classics  - such as shepherds pie – are given extra veggies and pulses to increase fibre and vitamin content. Salads are equally colourful vitamin- rich meals and similar treatment is afforded to   curries and stews using Indian, Thai, African and Chinese influence.  The chapter of tray bakes  present oven-baked meal s-in- one dish – nad his   Sicilian fish  with aubergine, tomato, pinenuts and raisins on wholewheat couscous looks fabulous. There is a fair number of vegetarian dishes and, finally, recipes for batch bakes for healthy bulk cooking and freezer standbys.

This is a dessert-free cookbook that is also sans confectionery or sweet treats for coffee and teatimes!

Oliver’s talent for food photography is  evident in the appetising colour images on every other page. Add in a couple of his wife Jools, himself, and endpapers filled with snapshots of children of all ages harvesting, cooking and eating, and you have in your hands another surefire culinary success story.

 

PLATTER’S 2017 SOUTH AFRICAN WINE GUIDE. Published by Jean-Pierre Rossouw for Diners Club International.

 

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Forest green, this 37th edition is, presenting 660 pages of information and  ratings on about 8 000 wines and their cellars , in an alphabetical arrangement of South African producers of wine and brandy. Starting with a pithy and well-constructed  summary of trends in SA wine, (which deserved a byline) followed by editor Philip van Zy l’s introduction, readers will find the five -star wines of the year listed and who’s who on the tasting team .

Some 520 pages of entries offer comprehensive listings of wines produced and tasted, plus facilities and attractions at the cellar door along with opening hours. This section  precedes an industry overview, information on wine bodies, wine-growing areas, grape varieties and details of competitions and awards. Styles and vintages are discussed ahead of  wine-tasting  and winemaking terms.

Wine route information  is always sought after, and this section includes details of wine tourism offices, wine tours, restaurants and accommodation in Cape Town and the winelands. The updated maps  which indicate positions of cellars are equally essential items for travellers. Information on disabled access to wineries and farms is a project in action as two disabled winelovers are in the process of assessing whether destinations that advertise themselves as disabled-friendly, are, in fact living up to this.  The initiative is being funded by Platters.

As always, this is an essential companion for locals and travellers to our winelands and is still among the best and most comprehensive in the world: It is  edited with care and  proofed diligently  with a treasury of information packed into one fat pocket book .

The guide, which sells for R215,  is also available as an app for iPhone and Android and as web-based version for desktop and mobi. See www. wineonaplatter.com.

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By all accounts I missed out on one of the most memorable wine outings of 2016, as colleagues raved about their time at the Stark-Conde winery on the Oude  Nektar farm, tucked into the Jonkershoek valley.  I'll be catching up very soon, but meanwhile, am so enjoying their new vintages and want to share highlights of their oriental-occidental  story that combines Cape history with a prodigal son, international  curators and  wine that is attracting global awards.

 

Let's start with the extended family:

Hans Schroder grew up in Stellenbosch, but was drawn to Japan after visiting as a merchant mariner. He not only b2ap3_thumbnail_STARK-CONDE-1-FAMILYHans-back-and-Midori-Schrder-front-with-their-3-daughters-LtoR-Miki-Nava-Lisa-Valesco-and-Marie-Cond-Hi-Res.JPGbecame fluent in the language, but enrolled at their ICU university to study international business. While there he met Midori Maruyama whom he married in 1966. After another 25 years, with three grown daughters, the couple returned to South Africa  where he bought the lovely Oude Nektar farm in the Jonkershoek valley, formerly part of  of the late Una van der Spuy's property, famous for a renowned garden and beautiful roses. Schroder focussed on replanting vineyards and, at the close of the last century, his son-in-law Jose Conde, a Cuban -American artist, started to experiment with making cabernet in an old shed on the property.

 

b2ap3_thumbnail_STARK-CONDE-2Jos-Cond-punching-down-in-the-cellar.JPGThe result was so well received by the Platter tasters, that he soon became a fulltime winemaker, and Stark-Conde wines were created.

Japan is still involved, to the extent that during October the Japanese ambassador to South Africa presented Hans Schroder with their Foreign Minister's commendation to acknowledge his contribution to the promotion of friendship between the two countries.

Meanwhile oriental influence is easily seen in the tasting room, sheltered by willows, on a little island in the lake b2ap3_thumbnail_Stark-CondE5-tasting-room.JPGwhere visitors  sip fine wines in the tranquil garden setting and soaring backdrop of the Stellenbosch mountains.

Daughter Marie, married to winemaker Jose, runs the Postcard Cafe, also at the lake edge, where visitors can enjoy simple fresh fare.

More on the wine: The Stark-Conde Field Blend is a barrel-fermented single vineyard wine, comprising nearly half roussanne, a fair quantity of chenin blanc and finished with equal portions of viognier and verdelho. It is, in a word, outstanding example, made by pressing and fermenting all the grapes together, and matured in mostly older oak for eight months. Elegant, rich yet restrained, it's not surprising to hear that it  walked off with the trophy for Best White Blend at this years Six Nations Wine Challenge in Australia. Worth every cent of its R165 pricetag.

The cabs are not to be outdone either - and the current vintage, Three Pines cabernet sauvignon 2014, scored 95 points from Tim Atkin in his recent SA Wine Report, topping a long list of awards dating back to the maiden 1998 vintage which scooped 5 stars in Platter ( with four repeats in subsequent years). 

Expect to pay about R295.

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YEOMEN OF THE KAROO:  The Story of the Imperial Yeomanry Hospital at Deelfontein by Rose Willis, Arnold van Dyk and JC ‘Kay’ de Villiers. Published by Firefly Publications, Brandfort, Free State, 2016.

 

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I wonder how many of Rose Willis’s fans have waited  for this story to come to light, to be properly unearthed and recorded?  Reading through the  names in the Acknowledgements, one soon  realises that  the list of friends,  geologists, ecologists, heritage experts,  farmers, researchers, archivists  and family members   who contributed in some way is extensive .  Rose Willis, known to many readers as the founder and compiler of the monthly Rose’s Round-up, found time between teaching and writing  to dig  deep into intercontinental events that are woven into the tapestry of this extraordinary tale.

She discovered Deelfontein when she was living outside Beaufort West and promoting tourism in the Central Karoo, and she was helped in her research by Dr van Dyk , an authority on the Boer War with a library of pictures on the subject, while Prof Kay de Villiers,  a Cape Town neuro-surgeon and expert on both the war and its medical aspects also supplied valuable input.

As the 19th century drew to a close a war raged across South Africa and, on the desolate plains of the Great Karoo, a unique hospital sprang up…

In 1899 the British realised that this war against “a bunch of farmers” was not going well for them, and the government appealed for volunteers. This succeeded as many men, including newly qualified doctors, enlisted and ships sailed for South Africa almost daily. In England two high society women scrapped their social calendars and set out to raise funds for a private hospital to care for the men who would be wounded.

The results were nothing short of  extraordinary –  from conception  in England to erection in the Karoo,  a little less than three months passed before  the Imperial Yeomanry hospital opened at Deelfontein, a narrow valley between a row of koppies and a railway siding, 46km south of De Aar and 77km north of Richmond. The date was March 17 1900.

Stating that it was a place ahead of its time is something of an understatement . I  quote liberally from the press release:  The huge tent hospital that mushroomed in this desolate region was unique… along with operating theatres, treatment and convalescent wards, it boasted specialist units for dentistry, ophthalmology and radiology – all firsts  in a military hospital.  There was a fire station, a dispensary, electricity and a telephone system. It had its own stables and dairy, which supplied sterilised milk. Steam-driven disinfection and waste disposal units helped in the war against typhoid, and ensured hygienic conditions. The laundry washed and sterilised more than 2 000 sheets a week. Drinking water was filtered and running water was piped through the grounds.  There were luxurious touches as well –such as a comfortable officers’ mess with its own mineral water plant and ice-making machine. A chapel, a theatre, sports fields, tennis courts, a shooting range, and, (can you believe) a horse-racing track provided recreational facilities.

How did this happen?  The credit must go to two aristocratic English women – Lady Georgina Spencer-Churchill and Lady Beatrice Chesham, second daughter of the first Duke of Westminster, whose husband Lord Chesham was commander of the Imperial Yeomanry in South Africa. The former focussed on liaison with the War Office and other institutions in the UK while the latter spent much time at Deelfontein supervising affairs. The two women, with help from friends,  raised a substantial sum – 174 000 pounds – more than enough to equip and staff a hospital. The goal was conceived in December  1899, and over the next couple of months tons of equipment was dispatched from England by ship, to be transported to Deelfontein by oxwagon, horse and slow train.

During its year of operation  the hospital treated more than 6 000 patients, and lost just 134, of whom 112 succumbed to typhoid.

In order to cover all aspects of the story, events and people are grouped  into chapters chronologically. Not only  professional men enlisted but  women from all walks of life also volunteered as nurses.  The staff of 200 personnel was not only highly skilled, but their services produced many tales of bravery, dedication and lasting friendship . Boer commandos operated in the vicinity on several occasions, and skirmishes  outside  the  gates caused casualties:  Both British and enemy soldiers were treated in the hospital.

We learn about the many individuals who contributed in some way to the success of Deelfontein’s hospital through s series of cameos – brief biographies of soldiers, doctors, surgeons, donors, nurses, and more.  The final chapter covers those who are buried at the Deelfontein cemetery, today almost the only remaining sign that a hospital ever existed.  Most of these perished from disease rather than bullets.

Other stories  - and mysteries – are interwoven with medical history: the Adamstein family emigrated to South Africa and ended up at Deelfontein where they established a trading store and went on to build a luxurious hotel complete with walled gardens in which peacocks and cranes strutted. The story of the post office that never was provides light relief, its ruins  alongside modern cemeteries which are reasonably well maintained.  Visitors to this forlorn spot report they have the feeling of being watched  in spite of it being  deserted , while the local railway siding attendant takes it for granted that his surroundings are haunted.

The stories are further brought to life with a fascinating collection of old and a few contemporary  photographs scattered liberally through the book:  Portraits of many of the role players are there along with pictures of huts and rows of tents below a koppie which sports its identifying IYH in giant letters.  Interior scenes of the chapel, wards, operating theatre (and an operation in progress) offer proof of just how well organised and equipped the Imperial Yeomanry Hospital was. Sad pictures of a pathetic  informal settlement near the hospital and another of  carcasses of horses – the “true losers” as Willis labels them – remind readers of the many miseries that  war brings.  

This fine volume of Africana combines military with medical history alongside lesser-known aspects of the Anglo-Boer war.  It’s a treasury to dip into frequently, and to accompany all who choose to visit the site where cemeteries and the ruins of the Adamstein’s hotel rub eerie shoulders  in the heart of the Great Karoo.

 

This is my choice as Book of the Year for 2016 as I congratulate  Rose for fulfilling her dream of publishing a story she shared with me back in the mid- 1980s. .

 

The standard edition costs R390 and the limited collectors’ edition R1 400. Postage and packaging come to an additional R100. Order the book from Firefly Publications, make an EFT payment to their bank account at FNB, Preller Plein branch, Acct no 62138779642.. For more information  fax 0865809189 or email palberts@telkomsa.net or Rose Willis at karootour@telkomsa.net.

 

 

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Sunday December 04: the final Pop-up Sunday lunch along the Bottelary Hills wine route takes place at Kaapzicht. Chef Bertus Basson will whip up a seafood feast over the fire, to relish with wines from the sub-route. The fun starts at 12,30 and the event costs R350 a head, which includes wine-tasting, three-course meal with a glass of wine per course. Booking is essential. Tel 021 886 8275 or email marketing@wineroute.co.za.

 

Friday, Dec 09 and onward:

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La Petite Ferme is introducing Festive Fridays, where, from 4 - 6pm they will offer unique cocktails and delicious bites in their lovely garden. Cocktails - named The Pretty Lisa, The Mariano, The Spa and The Garden, are either vodka or gin-based with fruity and other ingredients. Live music wil add to the vibe, and the event will also take place on December 16 and 30, and January 06 and 13. For more info, call 021 876 3016 or see www.lapetiteferme.co.za

December 16, 17 and 18 Gabriëlskloof’s Favourite Things Market

b2ap3_thumbnail_Gabrielskloof-Market-LR-5.jpgWhether you visit for fun, relaxation, or undertake a serious shopping spree, this lovely Overberg olive and wine estate is an excellent venue to choose. Their popular three-day market offers fabulous food and wines, a host of handmade goodies including alpaca wool items, designer jewellery, exquisite quilts and intricate ceramics, along with homemade toys and knits. Friday evening visitors will be treated to the sounds of the Gypsy Jazz trio, while a French accordian adds to the charm of Saturday and Sunday browsing.

The market starts at 5pm on Friday and at 10am on the other two days.

 

For more information about the annual Gabriëlskloof Favourite Things Market contact Nicolene Finlayson on 028 284 9865 or nicolene@gabrielskloof.co.za;

 

Daily from now until April: Uitkyk estate has contracted Pikant Catering to offer lunches and tapas to visitors seven days a week  until the end of January. Main courses cost between R89 and R140.  Their picnics make another option, costing R400 for two. More info from tel 021 88 44416

 

 

Final result of the year? Sauvignon  Blanc still holds its own as first choice of many a wine consumer. This year’s results of the annual FNB Sauvignon Blanc competition hosted by the Sauvignon Blanc Interest Group of SA are as follows, wines listed alphabetically:

  • Almenkerk Sauvignon Blanc 2015
  • Cape Point Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc 2015 (wooded)
  • De Grendel Sauvignon Blanc 2016
  • Hermanuspietersfontein Nr 5 Sauvignon Blanc 2013 (wooded)
  • Jordan The Outlier Sauvignon Blanc 2015 (wooded)
  • Ken Forrester Sauvignon Blanc Reserve 2015
  • Merwida Sauvignon Blanc 2016
  • Nitida Golden Orb Sauvignon Blanc 2015
  • Tokara Reserve Collection Elgin Sauvignon Blanc 2016
  • Uitkyk Sauvignon Blanc 2015
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The biennial  Celebrations of Chardonnay hosted by the De Wet family at De Wetshof are always highlights of the year, both socially and wine-wise. This year the sixth event was hosted by De Wet sons Johann and Peter as Danie and Lesca de Wet graciously stepped back for the next generation. And the younger De Wets made sure that the 2016 event was going to go down in Cape wineland history as distinctly memorable: the guest list was long and varied, the wines quite extraordinary, the guest speaker

inspiring and the winning chef impressive…

 

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After much meeting and greetings, guests settled in one of the giant marquees on the lawns in front of the iconic Cape Georgian manor house. Sommelier Higgo Jacobs led the tasting, which started with a flight of unwooded chardonnays, a category I always enjoy. From Eikendal’s Janina 2015 - lean, green in Old World style, De Wetshof Bon Vallon 2015 followed with its fresh purity, underlying why this, the first commercial unwooded chardonnay in South Africa, is perennially popular. Bouchard Finlayon’s well  balanced Sans Barrique 2015 was up next, and the flight finished with a 2014 Joseph Drouhin Chablis where flint was followed by white velvet on the palate. A dozen more, wooded and  including four older vintages followed – every one impressed, but highlights for me included Richard Kershaw’s Clonal Selection 2014, Uva Mira Single Tree 2014, DeMorgenzon Reserve 2015 and Groot Constantia 2014. A pair of  2005 vintages – Neil Ellis and Hamilton Russell chardonnays – got my votes in the museum class.

 

b2ap3_thumbnail_Jay-McInerney-Celebrate-chardonnay-the-De-Wetshof-Celebration-of-Chardonnay.jpgJay McInerney was, as one would expect, the ideal guest of honour, presenting an insightful, enjoyable talk on chardonnay from the Old and New Worlds. His delightful tale of vinous adventures, A Hedonist in the Cellar (Bloomsbury, 2006) is still one of my favourite wine books, although he is better known as a novelist, and has just released his latest title, Bright Precious Days, the third work following the fortunes (or lack of them) of Russell and Corinne Calloway.

 

Lunch started with flutes of Klein Constantia and L’Ormarins 2012 bruts before more delicious unwooded chardonnays were poured to partner the first course, a variation on prawn Caesar salad. Four more courses followed, 10 more wooded chards accompanied them and somewhere between we were introduced to the latest winner of the Golden Vine Award, Jan Hendrik van der Westhuizen, South Africa’s only Michelin star chef.

 

b2ap3_thumbnail_Jan-Hendrik-van-der-Westhuizen-and-Johann-de-Wet.jpgHis short address was more than humble – it was an affirmation that no matter your background, innate talent, ambition, determination and perseverance make for an awesome combo on the road to success. For a budding chef whose father sent him out, as a schoolboy, to ‘smous’ mealies outside the local service station in Middelburg, Mpumalanga before class, this was a disagreeable task. In telling his audience about it, it became another reason to warm to the personality and successes of this Mpumalanga farm boy.

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What a pleasure to rediscover the chardonnays of Lanzerac! First up, a classy non-vintage Cap Classique, which is eminently suitable for a bubbly start  to a day on this noble estate. This Blanc de Blanc is produced from Jonkershoek valley grapes, harvested early, whole bunch-pressed and left on the lees for 18 months before disgorging.

Classicists will relish the characteristic aromas of nuttiness, apple and citrus, followed by biscuit and more fruit on the palate. A great recent addition to the Lanzerac stable, selling for R220.

Two delicious wines for summer include the 2015 chardonnay, a medium-bodied, carefully wooded wine, where b2ap3_thumbnail_Lanzerac-Wynand_20161110-102633_1.jpgcitrus and gentle spice are followed by a medley of tropical fruit that does not overwhelm the cream that accompanies them. Alcohol levels of 14% are not obtrusive, and the R105 price tag should inspire visitors to take home a case or two to enjoy for Christmas or tuck away for a year or more. As cellarmaster Wynand Lategan suggests, this is a wine that will partner several Cape Malay classics with panache: worth remembering for autumn feasts.

Then the star of the range, the well-established Mrs English chardonnay, the 2014 vintage marking exactly 100 years since that august lady - Elizabeth b2ap3_thumbnail_Lanzerac-Mrs-English-chard_20161110-102710_1.jpgKatherina English to give her her full name - bought the eminent estate, then known as Schoongezicht - for just 18 000 pounds. Not only did she rename the farm Lanzerac but she bottled the first estate wine as well. She would approve, I am certain, of this tribute, sporting its gold sticker from this year's Michelangelo awards.

This is a patrician wine, sleek, full-bodied, probably containing a little pinot blanc to add further interest, yet with moderate alcohol levels at 13,5%. Aromatic and full-flavoured, yet elegant and presenting classic fruit, topped with a little butterscotch, this requires a meaningful menu to complement and do it justice.

If you haven't already booked, check your diary and, if you and a group of friends are free next Wednesday, plan to enjoy a great day at the estate. It will be a High Tea to remember, its called the Most Meaningful Tea in Town and it's set to raise a substantial sum for the Community Keepers, a charity which offers both social and psychological services to children, - and their parents and teachers - who are suffering from emotional and/or social problems, thanks to family or community circumstances beyond their control.

The event offers a delectable lunch, along with fabulous bakes and cakes, gourmet coffee, exotic teas, and that wonderful Lanzerac bubbly. Fashion shows, raffle ticket prizes, and culinary workshop presented by the talented go-getter Jade de Waal, live music and great company await visitors. The event starts at 12 noon on November 16, it costs R850 and to book, click on www.themostmeaningfulteaintown.co.za.

 What a great way to start the festive season!

 

 

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Chenin fans have been watching Breedekloof chenins rise and shine for some time, offering both fresh, unwooded and a few serious wooded chenin blancs from several cellars – and at very competitive prices.

Right now its Badsberg that is making headline news with their impressive wins at the 2016 SA Young Wine Show, taking home both the General Smuts and Pietman Hugo trophies. While it was pinotage that wowed the judges, both the Badsberg  chenins are wines to try if you haven’t tasted them as yet.

The 2015 spent five months in new American oak, which has added considerable flavour layers to those of tropical fruit. Thanks to a good balancing act, the wood does not dominate, but provides structure that lifts the wine to a more meaningful level. Alcohol levels are kept to a moderate 13,5%. Last year this wine attracted gold at the Young Wine Show and silver from Michelangelo. Pay R110 at cellar door. It should pair well with complex chicken and duck dishes including north African mullti-flavoured tagines.

The 2016 chenin is an unwooded bargain of note: typical flavours of tropical fruit plus that characteristic guava , its fresh and delicious, companionable, and with alcohol levels of only 12,5%, another plus. Meant to be chilled and drunk young, and as its selling for just R38 from the cellar outside Rawsonville its likely to star on hundreds of picnic tables and at al fresco festive meals this summer.

The cellar offers a wide range of red, white and sparkling wines and award-winning fortified range, and tasting is offered every weekday and on Saturday mornings. Along with Opstal and Slanghoek the bountiful Breedekloof is a required destination for chenin fans – especially for those with limited budgets.

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*****

The Platter launch has come and gone and press releases are flooding inboxes as PR’s and marketing staff spread the news of five-star ratings for their clients’ wines. And what an interesting selection there is to contemplate.

I am going to mention just three, all of which I have sampled and greatly admired, giving these recommendations some personal meaning.

 

 

LA MOTTE PIERNEEF 2014 SYRAH VIOGNIER

 

I always welcome the arrival of wines in the Pierneef range, as you just know that they are going to offer quality enjoyment, consistently fine balance and are available at prices that offer shiraz fans excellent value. And so it was when the 2014 syrah viognier was opened – a beautiful wine to pour and savour. It had already been rated a top 100 wine and highly in the consistency awards, recognising a repeat performance over six years.

And so it really was no surprise at all to see that it also achieved a five-star rating in the 2017 Platter guide, which just confirms that CEO Hein Koegelenberg and cellarmaster Edmund Terblanche produce Rhone-style blends of world class. The 2014 vintage is a syrah which offers an aromatic bouquet, followed by some spice and tight tannins. These characteristics combine with elegance and a velvety smoothness that are particularly inviting: The careful balance of each element adds up to a finesse that will attract many more awards.

 

SHANNON MOUNT BULLET MERLOT 2013

From the Elgin vineyards of James and Stuart Downes,  superlative merlots have impressed from the time I tried their maiden Mount Bullet at a show at the CTICC a few years back. The Shannon 2013 Mount Bullet merlot has been rated five Platter stars, along with their semillon 2015, making it one of the few merlots to be honoured as it’s a cultivar that is often treated with disdain by judges and gurus. I have enjoyed every sip of Shannon merlots, wines which set a standard for this cultivar that is seldom duplicated. Downes describes this as a five-way clonal blend.

 

OPSTAL CARL EVERSON CHENIN BLANC 2015

 

Having long regarded Breedekloof chenins  as prime examples of budget-priced wines that over-deliver on quality, it is great to see that Opstal’s fine limited edition wooded chenins  receive the recognition they deserve. Their Carl Everson chenin blanc 2015 is a five-star Platter choice in the 2017 guide, (along with their Barber semillon which I have not tasted). Fruity,complex and luscious with plenty of backbone from maturation in old oak, the grapes are sourced from a 35-year-old home vineyard.

 

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More events to fill early summer weekends with country air, fine wines, delectable fare and good company…

Bid October farewell in style at the popular Country Market at Groote Post which have returned along with a new addition to the attractions in forms of a trail run.

The market, which is free to enter, is open from 10am – 3pm on Sunday October 30 and guests can relish artisanal foods, arts and crafts, as well as home-ware and décor. All the favourite stalls will be back, plus a few new ones to broaden the range. Darling locals will be out in force with gourmet produce including breads, cheese, mushrooms, charcuterie, wors, sauces, olive oils and more. Fine fare to be consumed between sips of Groote Post’s well-loved wines and popular craft beers from Darling Brew. There are two new rieslings to look out for, one a 2016 vintage of the unwooded Riesling and another, limited edition of a partially wooded Riesling the Barrique 2014. More on these when I have had a chance to sample them..

Plenty for children to do as well and the award-winning restaurant, Hilda’s Kitchen, will be open as usual, but booking is essential. Although pets are welcome, dogs must be on a leash at all times. Visitors arriving without their dogs on a leash will be given an option to buy one from the SPCA stall or hire one at the information stall.

The new trail run presents three options, the 18km Bobbejaanberg Challenge (R 180.00), the13.5km Atlantic View (R 150.00) and the 4km Ommie-Dam Fun Run (R 80.00) Entries: https://www.entryninja.com/events/event/7661-groote-post-country-run

For further information on the Groote Post Country Market Contact: Eldré Strydom: 082 877 6677 or eldre@iloveyzer.co.za.

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Perdeberg, perennially popular winery, is holding its annual Family Festival on Saturday November 5, from 10am to 5pm.

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This year visitors will find a new function venue, that will house the art expo, crafts, and provide indoor seating for those who prefer this. Outside, a marqee and umbrellas will provide shad on the lawns, where you can sip those renowned chenins and enjoy your choice of fast fare.

There will be a structured chenin blanc tasting that will be repeated twice in the barrel cellar for just R20 a head. Children will enjoy their own supervised area with plenty of play and a petting zoo.

Before the festival, the cellar will host a family fun run through their vineyards on Monday October 31- choose between a 5 or 10km route. For more information and bookings for Run The Vine, please visit www.runthevines.co.za

Entrance tickets cost R80 and are available through iTickets or at the door. Under -18s go in free of charge.

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For Gauteng connoisseurs Cinsaut wines in a tutored tasting

 
Three top South African winemakers will lead a unique Cinsaut tasting in Johannesburg next month hosted by Corlien Morris, owner of the popular boutique Wine Menu.

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 They are Ian Naudé (Adoro Wines), Francois Haasbroek (Blackwater Wine) and Duncan Savage (Savage Wines), all of whom are making Cinsaut in the same cellar  
Cinsaut, which is making a great comeback in the same vein as its sister chenin blanc has done in spectacular sytle, was earlier known in South Africa as Hermitage and was famously crossed with Pinot Noir in 1925 to create Pinotage. Cinsault produces varietal wines that are light in colour and low in tannin, often displaying bright cherries, earth and spice.
 Says Morris:  “We will taste eight different wines - and in particular those made from old vineyards - the Cinsaut grapes will tell their own story in the glass – it is all about terroir.”
After the panel discussion guests will have the opportunity to taste and buy the winemakers’ other wines

The Cinsaut Evening will take place at Rosebank's Clico Boutique Hotel on Wednesday, November 9, at 18.00. Cost is R160 per person. Seating is limited so early booking is essential to avoid disappointment.Contact Corlien Morris on 011 440-5498 or via email at corlien@winemenu.co.za.

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 Celebrate the Circle of Life with one of several Waterkloof Estate excursions

Waterkloof biodynamic estate overlooking False Bay invites nature-lovers to enjoy a farm and winemaking biodynamic tour on the crest of the Schapenberg in the Helderberg. Farm manager Christiaan Loots – the driving force behind Waterkloof’s cutting edge, environmentally responsible farming methods – will lead this edu-eco tour which illustrates biodynamic and organic farming practice.

b2ap3_thumbnail_Waterkloof-tours-4.jpg. With groups limited to 12 people, visitors will meet its beautiful Percheron horses that are used instead of tractors, to plough, compost, spray and harvest.

 An alternative is the new Tour With Us experience which includes a cellar visit, wine tasting nd, a two-course lunch at the estate’s Top 10 restaurant, in groups limited to six.b2ap3_thumbnail_waterkloof-tours-1.jpg

-Visitors can also explore the Schapenberg’s dramatic surroundings on horseback. The Ride With Us adventure offers a picturesque, 60-minute trail ride through the area and ends with a two-course lunch at Waterkloof.

All excursions must be pre-booked. For bookings, contact Zandri at Tel: 021 858 1491 or send email to zandri@waterkloofwines.co.za., Activity cost* per person: Circle of Life Biodynamic Tour  R100; Tour With Us R520; Guided Walk  R630 and Ride With Us: R670   

           

 

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This round-up of events first appeared on the front of Life of the Cape Argus on Monday October 17.

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Wonderful wine, alfresco feasts and country music are a winning combo. Add a background of some of the most beautiful winelands on the planet, and the temptation is irresistible. A preview of early summer events.

Countrywide tastings of South Africa’s finest wines take place in October and November, while the wine regions of the Western Cape lure visitors with enticing festivals that star a lot more than good wine. Many of them are geared to family entertainment for a weekend of good food, live music and children’s activities, while soft drinks and even craft beer augment the beverage choice. Make time to grab sunhats and baskets and head for your choice of rural delights.

This roundup of fests and events is largely chronological: log onto the relevant websites for more information. Veritas is the largest and longest-running wine contest in South Africa and wine bottles bearing their medal stickers are sought-after by consumers. Take advantage of the line-up of all double gold and gold winners at the Veritas A Taste of the Best event, on October 18 at the CTICC at 5pm. Wine, brandy and Qualité cheeses will be available and tickets cost R140. Veritas will host similar events in Johannesburg (October 25), Durban, (November 10), Port Elizabeth (November 16) and Knysna (November 17 and 18.) Visit www.veritas.co.za or send an e-mail to info@veritas.co.za for details.

Fashion may be fickle but sauvignon blanc remains a firm favourite among winelovers throughout the season. Fans will be in seventh heaven at Durbanville Wine Valley’s Season of Sauvignon over the weekend of October 29 – 30. Offering a total of 12 farms to visit, member cellars not only present their latest sauvignon blanc but will pour the Durbanvaille Twelve 2016, an exciting blend made from combining one ton of sauvignon grapes from all the valley farms. Every producer offers individual attractions along with their wines, which vary in style but share those distinctive Durbanville characteristics. Visit www.durbanvillewine.co.za for details. Those who savour history with their wine should not miss out on Altydgedacht, the 17th century original wine farm in the valley. The original ringmuur, slave bell and cellar stand proud, evidence of winemaking across more than three centuries, while the 2016 sauvignon presents a wonderful mix of aromas and flavours – at R75 it’s a bargain buy.

Gauteng is the only province favoured by this year’s organisers of RMB Winex 2016, taking place at the Sandton Convention Centre from October 26 – 28 at 5pm. As always, it offers a feast of over 800 prestigious wines, accompanied by celebrities and winemakers and a programme of launches and tastings. Book through Computicket or pay at the door and visit www.winex.co.za for list of exhibitors and other information.

POT, or Pinotage- on- Tap needs little introduction to the thousands who lap up coffee-chocolate pinotage. The original source of this popular wine is Diemersfontein farm in Wellington, where the home fest takes place on October 29, serving the new wine straight from barrel, alongside delectable fare and live entertainment. This year music lovers will be treated to a live performance directed by legendary Richard Cock with talented musicians, including the lead singer of Freshly Ground, the Cape Town Brass band, Jazz Trio and Wynberg Boys High steel drum brand. Book through Computicket.

There are many reasons to head south to the wild and lovely Cape Agulhas area, with its salt-laden winds and b2ap3_thumbnail_Elim-wine-fest-2.jpgcool-climate wines of the Elim wine ward. They are marking their 20th birthday with the Elim Wine Festival on November 05, an event worth contemplating by both connoisseurs and consumers eager to meet a bunch of dedicated winemakers who produce elegant, intense wines, some of which are crafted on farms dedicated to the conservation of local flora and fauna. Craft beer will be available, including the products of South Africa’s most southerly brewery while new vintages of Black Oystercatcher, Strandveld and Giant Periwinkle wines will be released. Country fare and farm products will tempt visitors of all ages. The venue is Black Oystercatcher farm. Visit www.elimwines.co.za for details.

Stellenbosch remains the Cape’s largest and most famous wine region with the oak-lined streets of the town retaining timeless appeal for locals and travellers. The bi-monthly Stellenbosch Street Soirees or summer parties, which have proved hugely popular, start again on November 16 on Drostdy Street. Wine farms bring their wares to share with that of food vendors, cars are banned, and musicians add live music to the after-work scene. Tickets, which include tasting glass, cost R70, giving access to sampling all wines on show. It’s cool and casual and very Cape. Log on to www.wineroute.co.za for more.

As the year winds down, the festive season starts up and the annual Franschhoek Cap Classique and Champagne Festival, or Magic of Bubbles as it is dubbed, is the stylish, sophisticated, and trendy event that mark its arrival.

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It’s also the social place to be seen at over the weekend of December 3 – 4 when guests gather in the grand marquee at the Huguenot Monument. This year’s fest, sponsored by Mastercard, sees the bubblies of local producers share space with a selection of imported champagnes from France, while the valley restaurants compete in presenting delicious goodies to partner them. The best-dressed couple on both days wins a generous gift card. Tickets cost R350, the festivities start at 12 noon, and bookings are through www.webtickets.co.za

Rickety Bridge is among the wine farms taking part and you may wish to sample their delectable all-chardonnay Blanc de Blancs 2012, just released to great acclaim. It offers all that bubbly lovers want, from a fine mousse, delightful wafts of green apple and buttered toast adding richness to balance crisp freshness, an aperitif that will also partner summer fare with panache.

And then, as the festive season reaches it zenith, Gabrielskloof estate outside Bot River invites weary city folk to head to the Overberg for some hassle-free Christmas shopping at their annual Favourite Things Market taking place from December 16-18. Entrance is free, olives and wine and a range of country produce is on sale, alongside designer jewellery, exquisite quilts, handmade toys and intricate ceramics. Find out more by e-mailing Nicolene at nicolene@gabrielskloof.co.za.

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