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Posted by on in News

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You’ve got to hand it to Overhex. This innovative player on the African wine scene is not shy to make its labels stand out on the shelves. Before it was elephants balancing on a stool, this time it’s a stolid Nguni cow, whose adventurous spirit led not only to her survival as a free-range animal, but one whose portrait gazes out at consumers as she chews the cud in flat and grassy Swartland pastures – the iconic windmill not far behind her.

She jumped off a truck travelling a country road and landed on a Swartland farm named Constantia, where she – plus her offspring – live to roam free today. This farm is the source of the grapes that produce the four-strong Survivor range, and the current vintages are only the second to be released onto an enthusiastic local market.

 

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There are two 2015 reds - a cab and a pinotage, both hearty wines with plenty of upfront fruit and smooth oak. The cabernet vines are middle-aged, and yielded berries of optimal ripeness. The wine spent 18 months in a mixture of new and second fill French and a little Hungarian oak. The pinotage, from young vines on the same farm, have also yielded a fruity wine, that offers characteristic plum and berry flavours . Both wines have 14,5% alcohol levels and sell for R130. Both sport gold from the 2016 Michelangelo Awards .

The white pair,  are, to my mind, of greater interest, the chenin being a barrel-fermented wine that combines some backbone with plenty of stone fruit flavours and a pleasing zestiness. The sauvignon blanc is partially barrel-fermented in large French untoasted oak, and presents plenty of fruit, tempered by some friskiness and there's a hint of minerality as well. Their alcohol levels are limited to a moderate 13%, another plus. Both these 2016 wines cost R95. Just one query - Why not screwcapped?

 

Survivor is just one of several ranges that Overhex has introduced since its creation in 2005. They also offer consumers a popular bistro along the R60, some 10km outside Worcester.

 

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Posted by on in Events

New labels, new venue, and one of the best festivals as well !

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Van Loveren is such a household name across the length and breadth of South Africa, one that is synonomous with  affordable, easy-drinking, unpretentious wines, that it’s easy to overlook their flagship range of reserve, limited edition,single vineyard wines. Perhaps to counter this, the Retief family have repackaged this top range, Christina, with new labels, starring a cameo of this illustrious ancestor and family matriarch whose bridal chest can be seen in the Van Loveren restaurant at the riverside winery.

Christina van Loveren arrived in South Africa as the 17th century was about to give way to the 18th, one in which Cape wine started to make waves in Europe and the UK, thanks to Groot Constantia. Intrepid travellers like her deserve to be honoured by descendants, and the Retief family do this in style with this heritage range of highly regarded wines.

The non-vintage winning brut makes a great start to any celebration, both traditional and modern, while the four –star sauvignon blanc and the chardonnay are both classy examples of the vinous art: The sauvignon grapes come from Darling, while the delicious chardonnay benefits from a long sojurn in new French oak. Both wonderful summer aperitifs, and there are impressive reds to complement - a fine shiraz, a cabernet and a noble late harvest (from unwooded chenin) to round off the choice.   Its well worth heading down the R317

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to the magnificent tasting centre to try before you buy.

This weekend sees the annual Wine on the River take place, starting on Friday October 14 and running through to Sunday. The venue is the Goudmyn farm alongside the Breede river and off the R317, where guests will, as always, savour a relaxed celebration of the wonderful wines of the broad Robertson valley, along with loads of fine fare and other attractions.

I have just read that the Van Loveren’s latest venue, the Four Cousins tasting centre and eaterie, which has risen from the former site of Branewynsdraai at the entrance to Robertson, is open – just in time for the festival.

So there will be no less than three venues where winelovers can sample the wares of Van Loveren Family Vineyards this weekend – - but note that if you want to taste the stellar Christina wines, you will have to visit the Van Loveren winery – which is almost next door to the entrance to Wine on the River.

See you there or visit www.vanloveren.co.za.

 

 

 

 

 

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Posted by on in Reviews

 

JOHN LE CARRé THE BIOGRAPHY by Adam Sisman. Published by Bloomsbury, London, 2015.

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While waiting for this book to arrive, I went online to see what British reviewers thought of it, and was relieved to find that most express admiration for Sisman’s absorbing study. I was looking forward to reading this definitive biography and hoping that my favourite spy writer hero was not going to be reduced to a mere mortal in a hatchet job.

Indeed, I was glued to most of the 650 pages as Adam Sisman chronicled the life of one of Britain’s finest living authors, someone who has proved that spy thrillers can be elevated to a finer literary genre than generally regarded.

It is more than half a century since The Spy who came in from the Cold was released, among the first of le Carré’s many titles to became a world best-seller . Using his real name, David Cornwell, we are introduced to a man who is as enigmatic as his characters that he is still creating at the ripe age of 84.

David was born to Ronnie and Olive Cornwell in Bournemouth a few years after his brother Tony. Ronnie was the original conman, unscrupulous, amoral, persuasive, exuding optimism as he relieved widows of their savings and wriggled out of debts incurred. Olive, who had had enough of insecurity and his philandering, eloped with a friend, abandoning her sons when David was five. This was the start of an unhappy childhood as he endured primary school years, retreating further into fantasy during high school. The two boys were rootless, spending school holidays with proxy mothers, or were dumped on their grandparents.

On the bright side David proved to be a skilful actor and mimic and talented cartoonist. He wrote poems that impressed his teachers and had a flair for languages. To escape constant embarrassment from his father’s crimes, David fled to Switzerland in 1948, enrolling at Bern’s university to study German literature and philosophy. While there he met two women from the British embassy who took him in for Christmas lunch and probed him on his beliefs. Keen to prove himself a patriot, unlike his father, he was happy to sign a legal document pledging him to secrecy – probably a version of the Offical Secrets Act. He was then asked to attend meetings of left-wing student groups in Switzerland and report names of those he saw there, which he did without murmur.

By the time he started as an undergraduate at Oxford David had acquired a steady girlfriend, Ann Sharp and was asked to infiltrate left-wing groups and identify Communists, as part of MI5’s response to the discovery that Burgess and Maclean had been spying for the Russians. Years later David was asked if his conscience troubled him while he was a ‘sneak’, someone who had chosen loyalty to his country over loyalty to his friends. This dilemma was a theme that would recur repeatedly in his novels.

After marrying Ann and graduating, David accepted a teaching post at Eton. In 1957 Ann gave birth to Simon, first of their three boys. David became depressed while teaching and returned to MI5. He was involved in vetting former communists who wanted to work for British firms that manufactured military equipment. He became an agent-runner or controller of agents and became friends with a senior colleague described as “short, tubby bespectacled man… fiercely patriotic, whose right wing opinions were tempered by his humanity, sweetness of character and sense of humour.”

It was somewhat startling to discover that this colleague, John Bingham, was that cousin that the rest of my British family seldom mentioned, and about whom were vague when I inquired. I knew he wrote thrillers, that I found rather plodding, but never got to meet him. Perhaps spying was regarded as a subject not to be discussed, but Cornwell borrowed some of John’s traits for his most important character George Smiley – his unassuming, inconspicuous qualities and ability to “lose himself in a crowd.”

Soon after their second son Stephen was born David moved from MI5 to MI6. Gollancz wanted to publish his spy novel , as David studied tradecraft as part of his training. He was posted to Bonn early in the 1960s “a nest of spies” in the Cold War era, Ann joined him with their two boys and Call for the Dead was published in the UK to good reviews

A Murder of Quality followed , with similar favourable reaction, starring George Smiley and then came The Spy who Came in from the Cold with its seedy settings and ambiguous characters , contrasting well with the clear-cut ones of the James Bond books . American publishers bought rights, Paramount Pictures secured film rights, and the public loved the novel, even as real life was proving dramatic with spies like Philby surfacing in Moscow.

David was able to resign from the foreign service to write fulltime. He was a prolific author although less successful husband. His second wife Jane, to whom he is still married, proved to be an ideal companion for the long months when they are hermits while a new book is on the go. “I’m a liar,” Cornwell has written. “Born to lying, bred to it, trained to it by an industry that lies for a living, practised in it as a novelist.”

More than 50 pages of footnotes, bibliography and index reflects the extent to which Sisman has delved to present a complete and honest portrait.  If memory, fact and fiction have become hopelessly entwined in the mind of Cornwell, Sisman has done a superb job in separating the strands.

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Posted by on in News

 

 

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Many of us know that Bot River is no longer just a quaint part of the Overberg region, alongside Elgin and Walker Bay. It has blossomed into a flourishing district that is producing exciting and impressive wines, attracting young winemakers both innovative and talented.

 

b2ap3_thumbnail_gabrielskloof4_20161001-113152_1.jpgPeter-Allan Finlayson has already stamped his name on his highly-rated range of Crystallum wines: Now that he has moved to Gabrielskloof in Bot River – where he is both cellarmaster and married to Nicolene, the co-owner’s daughter – he is making his mark on their wines, while continuing to produce his own .

The farm has just released the first duo of its new Landscape Series, a maiden chenin blanc called Elodie 2015 and a fresh take on an existing  semillon/ sauvignon blanc blend,  Magdalena 2015. The name of the range reflects the rolling hills of the farm’s setting as depicted in a series of landscapes by artist Neil Jonker, who is producing a painting for each label in the range. They form a tranquil if subdued black and white background to the front labels of the two new releases.

Looking at the maiden chenin first, the grapes were sourced from Paardeberg dryland bush vines more than 35 years old, offering very low yields. As we know, these are exactly the vines that are enabling Cape winemakers to produce extraordinarily fine chenin : Finlayson whole-bunch pressed the berries, transferred the juice from tank to old French oak where it was left to ferment wild.

The result is gratifying, golden, bright chenin, with a citrus and floral nose, preceding a host of fruit and nutty flavours and that touch of lanolin that reminds one of semillon. The character is complex and layered, complemented by a brisk and welcome freshness. Alcohol levels are held at 13,6%’ and, for those disciplined enough to tuck away a case or two, they will be rewarded in years to come.

Although this is a patrician chenin, it is not (unlike some of its equally impressive colleagues) too intense or concentrated to drink and enjoy and to pour a second glass. And, while not inexpensive, Gabrielskloof has resisted the temptation to join others that are priced off the market for many South African wine lovers.

The Magdalena, a Bordeaux-style blend of equal quantities of semillon b2ap3_thumbnail_gabriellskloof5_20161001-113118_1.jpgand sauvignon blanc has been produced since 2009. The 2015 vintage was produced from Franschhoek semillon, around 34 years in age and 13-year-old sauvignon from the farm. The wine, made in oxidative style, was matured in French oak and presents a classic meld, that is quite intense but well-balanced. The nose hints of citrus and berry, while on the palate a verdant friskiness dominates. Coming back to the wine after an hour or two, I did ot detect much in the way or cream or waxiness which are mentioned in the tasting notes.  

My only criticism regarding this poised and impressive debut - why the cork closure, which renders them a little stuffy?

Like its companion, alcohol levels are kept at 13,6% and both wines sell for R234 and are stocked by wine stores and some restaurants as well as the farm.

I look forward to making acquaintance with the next three Landscape wines, due for release next year.

 

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Posted by on in Restaurants

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They say it does us the world of good to wallow in luxury occasionally. Certainly I woke fresh and raring to go after a great night’s sleep in my inviting, soothing, bedroom, its stylish pastel décor livened by bedside lights doubling as branches of a ‘tree’, upon which lifelike birds perched, and a china hound-dog that kept watch over me from an adjacent desk.

Experiencing DB&B at Leeu House, BAS Singh’s enchanting boutique hotel in Franschhoek’s main road, ticked all the boxes and then some. Getting there stressed and chilly, first pleasure is finding that staff miraculously keep a couple of parking places outside the front gate empty – seemingly always! My car was whisked away while I greeted both Nelson Mandela on the left lawn and Ghandi on the right before going inside to register.

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Spaciousness is usually synonomous with luxury, and certainly my huge bedroom with its sitting area and large bathroom added to the pampered feel as I explored. The cabinet containing crockery, glasses, bar fridge and snacks invited ransacking – for the purposes of reporting, of course! Well, the snacks are mostly frightfully healthy (dried fruit and veggie crisps etc) but I did find a packet of little chocolate –coated biscuit balls to go with my tea. Guests also get a 375ml bottle of both the red and white house wines – BAS white and BAS rooi, both approachable, enjoyable aperitifs.

 

b2ap3_thumbnail_Leeu-House-2.JPGI fell in love with the hotel dining area – both inside and out – at first sight,  with its black and white tiled floor and soaring glass conservatory-feel. The other guests dining there were Americans – one couple from North Carolina and the other family party from further north up the coast. As they communicated and discussed the state of the Western Cape roads (good) and Chapmans Peak drive (stupendous) I dithered between a first course of local smoked salmon with brown bread, capers and lemon crème fraîche or  a Waldorf salad. The former won, and I went on to a delectable mushroom risotto seasoned with three-year-aged Parmesan. Other main courses included local fish, chips, peas and tartar sauce, rigatoni topped with Toulouse sausage and tomato ragout or beef and mushroom ragout with roasted carrot mash. As with the savoury courses, there is a choice of four desserts, one being a savoury option of local artisanal cheese and preserves. All in all, delicious cuisine that doesn’t try to be too grand or  gourmet, looks good and tastes even better.

This opinion was confirmed next morning when pondering on the two breakfast menus:  – One was available from the buffet – from croissants and pastries through berries and fruits to double thick yoghurt and honey-roasted nuts. Healthy items like oat granola bars and caramelised coconut were alongside muesli and tea-dried fruits while carnivores could protein-pack with the local charcuterie selection.

The a la carte choices include duck egg Benedict, folded omelettes with Swiss Gruyere and foraged mushrooms and smoked salmon with truffled scrambled eggs. Traditionalists and Scots can start the day with oats, malted sugar and single malt whisky or an old-fashioned pork sausage sandwich and brown sauce, which, I think, may hark back to the chef’s roots…

The previous evening I had walked next door to to visit Le Quartier Francais’s new renovated bar and lounge, which is now a vibrant, contemporary venue, as up to date as tomorrow’s weather. The walls are lined with a rough weave fabric, the roundback chairs sport blue suede upholstery and the long, long bar is fronted with a row of high stools dressed in blue and white. The lighting is dim, but its easy to enjoy the giant prints on some walls of everyday items like a pair of scissors and a bunch of screws. There’s also a cosy side room with nests of sofas for intimate fireside gatherings. Soft background jazz is teamed with black and white photos of the artistes, whether Jozi-style or New Orleans, I am not sure.

Everywhere at these exceptional venues now owned by Mr BAS Singh, the service is, as expected, swift and efficient. But it is also charming, friendly and concerned, with both the genial GM (who doubles up managing both Leeu House and LQF) and the receptionists and restaurant staff coming across as wanting to do their very best to make you happy. In this, they certainly succeeded.

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Posted by on in News

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It was with keen anticipation that I screwed open a sample of Asara 2015 chenin blanc from their Vineyard Collection range. It has been a long while since I tasted any of their wines, although I often thought about them when swinging past their entrance on route to Stellenbosch.

This wine, states estate manager Pete Gottgens, is the first of a vinous renaissance at Asara, the maiden result of a new regime and team. It’s an impressive chenin on every count, from its nose presenting a meld of honeysuckle and ripe stone fruit followed by a rich and concentrated mix of fruit flavours and subtle oak. The alcohol count is 14%, which is higher than Europe and the UK like, but most South Africans are less concerned about this facet with consumers in the Far East are even less so. The wine has just walked off with an international trophy for Best New World Wine at the 2016 Japan Wine Challenge, bringing home gold as well which is a pleasing start for their quality projections.

The estate grapes were sourced from a 20-year-old block, just short of 2 ha, sited at 200m above sea level. Winemaker Danielle le Roux and consultant Abe Beukes left the berries hang until mid-March before harvesting. After pressing the wine went straight into oak. While the wine is agreeably fresh in spite of its fruit intensity it could be even more palatable if discernible minerality added backbone:   Perhaps this aspect could develop in bottle.

Food wise, this is a chenin that will accommodate complex salads and all manner of poultry dishes, including some Oriental classics.

Priced at R80, it offers good value as well. While I haven’t tasted the 2014 chenin, one thing’s for sure – the 2015 is worth a lot more than the 2 and half stars Platter awarded the previous vintage.

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Posted by on in Events

The time is ripe, the weather is great, and food and wine impressive! The enchanting village of McGregor is combining Heritage Day celebrations  with their annual Food and Wine festival, an irresistible combo  for a host of good reasons..

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McGregor holds an annual one-day Food and Wine fest which is relaxed, enjoyable, and caters to all tastes. As usual, this village perched on the edge of the Little Karoo,  showcases the region's wines, and our cooks and restaurateurs, chefs and caterers present a feast of country fare which ranges from gourmet to local, seasonal to stylish. Expect some truly heritage tastes as well.

Winemakers and cellar owners will be on hand to tell you about their ranges, which, with 11 producers taking part, will offer a diverse and pleasing selection. McGregor valley has come of age, wine-wise, and visitors can sample easy-drinking reds, whites and pinks, some middle-of-the-road ranges and move on to some really fine labels, including the valley's first organic sauvignon blanc, a garagiste's bone dry bubbly and impressive shiraz, cab franc and cab franc rose that are both outstanding, a pinot noir that's making waves far beyond the village and more, much, much more... 

Relax to the appealing sounds of our local Langeberg steel band and the village brass band, then wander around the village to admire the mid-Victorian streetscapes that have survived more than a century. Take a brochure from Tourism to find out more about how this magical village was founded, and pause at the Heritage Society table to uncover the valley's  past.

Make time to head to the hills and hike around our Krans Nature Reserve, dressed in its spring flowers  or the bigger Vrojlikheid reserve. Bikers have wonderful trails to explore on the perimeter and back in the village, there is an outstanding pottery, a few art galleries, and some great places to chill, meet other pub-goers and enjoy a light or filling meal.

Of course you should be making a weekend of this excursion, so contact the McGregor tourism office for booking accommodation or more festival info.

The festival runs from 10am to 6pm on Saturday September 24 and tickets cost R80 which includes a tasting glass and tastings from all the cellars. Head to the Dutch Reformed church in the village centre to find the festival - see the photograph above.

Email info@tourismmcgregor.co.za or call 023 625 1954. See you there!

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Posted by on in Restaurants

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Why it’s taken me so long to visit this comparatively new Franschhoek estate, established in 2005, I cannot say, but I am glad that I now know more about this inviting former farmstead,  gutted inside to produce interleading spacious areas sheltering under a corrugated iron roof that has seen better days – and is proud of its heritage!

When I arrived midmorning and midweek on a perfect spring day I was  welcomed loudly by a rooster perched on the terrace. No other cars in the parking area, lined by a fragrant lemon orchard, but inside staff were bustling about setting up a food and wine shoot, while outside at the back, the chef seemed to be holding a class with a bunch of staff members.

I explored happily on my own, taking in the spacious indoor restaurant, casual seating area, furnished with plenty of blonde wood and a deli with shelves lined with produce, pates and pickles, jams and more.

I asked for a menu, was given one to take away, and offered a wine tasting, which I declined, as   a long chenin celebration llay ahead of me. The restaurant, named The Kitchen at Maison is headed by chef Arno Janse van Rensburg, who looks very fierce in his photographs, but presents an interesting menu that lists dishes by their ingredients – such as Beetroot, mushroom, turmeric, ginger, tuna and  another of Baby potatoes, nettle, chicken skin and egg yolk. He clearly is into fermenting and pickling, and includes trendy ingredients like kombucha with a dish of suckling pig, parsnip, cashew nut and celeriac. Adventurous palates are required for some of his creations, which range in price from R85 to R145 with a single steak – Angus prime rib – at an eye-watering R450.

Cheese and charcuterie plates make other options and a quartet of desserts, at R75 each, include unexpected combos like dark chocolate, quinoa, citrus, yoghurt and almond.

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I had received the 2014 Maison chardonnay with its trendy label of minimal wording and lots of white space. Maison boasts less than one ha of 11- year -old chardonnay vines, and viticulturist-cum-winemaker Antwan Bondesio has made good use of them in this wine, producing a wooded chard that is elegant, and almost frisky, in spite of its untrendy 14,5% alcohol levels. These are not apparent, however, as the citrus flavours prevail along with whiffs of butterscotch. An enjoyable summer chard, medium-bodied, with subtle oak, that will make an easy-going companion to a variety of salad fare, seafood and poultry, selling at R180.

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Posted by on in News

 

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The Paulina’s Reserve flagship trio is one of the two top ranges from Rickety Bridge, that most picturesque of Franschhoek estates. As regular visitors will know, Paulina was a pioneering widow who acquired the land straddling the river and mountain at the close of the 18th century, one of the Cape’s first woman farmers in wild and woolly Olifantshoek .

 

Cellarmaster Wynand Grobler, appointed winemaker back in ’07, will be celebrating a very successful decade at b2ap3_thumbnail_r-bridge-wynand.jpgRickety Bridge next year: His wines have just gone on improving by leaps and bounds, and the recently launched latest vintages of Paulina’s Reserve  labels are ample proof.

 

The 2013 cabernet sauvignon combines impressive quality with pleasurable drinkability, which is in itself unusual: this wine,  scoring 90/100 in the 2016 Prescient Cabernet Sauvignon Report and chosen one of the top 12 offers  complex aromas of berries, herbs and spice, and goes on to present silky medium-bodied wine, both fresh and with smooth oaked quality.  It was produced from Franschhoek grapes on the Dassenberg slopes, and sells for R250.

 

The 2015 Reserve chenin blanc is a brilliant example of our ever-improving chenins – I don’t know if it was entered into the Top 10 chenin contest, but, had I been  a judge, it is likely to have made  my top 10 selection. It was sourced from 20-year-old Worcester vines, and Grobler fermented in barrel and then transferred the wine to foudre and casks for six months. The nose is prominently floral, a mixed bouquet  of aromatic spring blossoms along with stone fruit  and honey. The wine is powerful, luscious and rich, packed with fruit, with a creaminess that harks of chardonnay or semillon. Alcohol kept to 13%. Selling for R130.

 

 

The 2013 Reserve semillon, also priced at R130, is a fine example of just how impressive Franschhoek’s mature semillon grapes can be – in this case 24 years old, toddlers compared to some. This really is a connoisseur’s wine, oxidative, waxy as semillon usually is, but here also minerally, powerful, with spice in the background, oak  adding richness. It is a wine that requires the whole sniffing, swirling, sipping routine – more than once –  to begin to take in all the facets.  Not everyone is going to enjoy it, but it is a fascinating wine that I am going to try matching to northern Scandinavian fare, if that doesnt work, then take it to somewhere in the Orient...

 

 

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Let no one say that South African cookbook writers and publishers are not up there with the best when it comes to including current culinary trends . While some techniques that are in vogue are best left to chefs in high-tech kitchens, others can be easily practised by keen cooks and dedicated braai masters and mistresses.

Think smoking, curing, pickling, fermenting, foraging - venerable processes which have come full circle and are now trending. Add to that list the ongoing focus on healthy eating, using sustainably grown or produced ingredients, plus welcome environmental savvy by insisting on ingredients in season and we have a good summary of the current food spectrum.

From the pyramid of local cookbooks that have hit the shelves recently, five titles feature below: digest the brief round-up of their contents and decide which title(s) you would like to own.

 

 A Year of Seasonal dishes from Food & Home Entertaining. Published by Human & Rousseau 2016.

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Food & Home Entertaining is renowned for supplying fans with imaginative recipes for every course and occasion. This substantial compilation is organised according to month, making it easy to find ideas for both seasonal meals and entertaining menus. The well-illustrated recipes comprise the best of those published over the last decade. Diversity is the keynote, with dishes that take five minutes to assemble (Parma ham, blueberry and feta salad for high summer) to a gluten-free chocolate torte that replaces wheat with an egg-rich chocolaty ground almond batter. A few vegan options, several vegetarian recipes and many with Asian influence can be found. I particularly like their combination of sustainably farmed kabeljou with a trendy achar of guava, teamed with a spring salad and ciabatta toast. Cooks have the option of braai-ing or frying the fish and toast .

 

Baking with Jackie Cameron, published by Penguin Books, 2016.

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Chef Cameron is not only a great baker, but all-round talented cook, who opened her own internationally-recognised school of food and wine last year. In this mouthwatering collection of biscuits and breads, pies and tarts, cakes large and small and desserts and puds, the focus is less on trends and more on absolute delicious bakes, whatever course they serve.

However, Jackie is not immune to what’s in vogue and offers us gluten-free bread, and one based on   the indigenous tuber amadumbe. (Sweet potato can be substituted). Her red velvet cake adds cocoa to increase its appeal. She gives crème brulée a local twist by flavouring it with Amarula cream liqueur, and includes trad favourites like malva pud, melktert, millionaires shortbread and even an upmarket version of peppermint t crisp tart. The small selection of savoury tarts and pies is particularly appetising. This is an appealing, crisply designed compilation, that will be well used in every kitchen it finds itself.

 

One Pot Pan Tray by Mari-Louis Guy and Callie Maritz. Published by Human & Rousseau, 2016.

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Ever since this brother and sister team burst onto the gastronomic scene with an extravagant collection of bakes back in 2011, they haven’t paused, producing several more successful titles . In this colourful compilation they assemble whole meals in a pot, a frying pan or roasting dish, saving on labour and washing-up. The contents stay with savoury fare based on red meat, chicken, seafood, bacon and ham as well as meat-free suppers, each dish balanced with both a carb and veggies.

We find traditional boerekos favourites (curried banana meatball bake, teamed with butternut chunks and quartered red onions) along with baked chicken, mushroom and leek pasta topped with cheese sauce, and a Iberian-inspired bake of sardines and potatoes, flavoured with tomatoes, peppers and paprika and sauced with lemony olive oil. There are a few soups, and the haloumi and vegetable bake offers a delectable combination of fresh asparagus, baby marrows and onion mixed with the cheese, flavoured with citrus and oregano, spiked with jalapenos and garlic. It seems to sing of spring, and is adaptable – replace pricey asparagus with spring onions, for example.

 

All Sorts of Salads by Chantal Lascaris. Published by Struik Lifestyle 2016.

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This compact softback is both a convenient size for kitchen use and a practical and useful collection. The author came to entertaining and cooking after moving from corporate business to become a pilates instructor and developing interests in both health and salads, which feature high in her diet. The recipes tried and tweaked coincide, quite accidentally, with today’s culinary trend: Their simplicity is part of their attraction. Old favourites in new guises sees up –to- date versions of coleslaw, potato, Caesar, Waldorf and three-bean salads. The substantial vegetarian chapter includes some trendy combinations like beetroot, quinoa and rocket, and cauliflower, butter bean and feta.

Fish and seafood star in summery combinations – think grilled tuna steaks and nectarine salsa , salmon and pistachio, even a fish cake salad, complete with sweet potato chips and mixed salad. Calamari is teamed with chorizo and chickpea in an Iberian charmer. Meaty salads presents main courses packed with protein plus healthy green for all-round fare, such as the Med mini-keftedes teamed with tzatziki and salad.

 

Carmen’s Best Recipes by Carmen Niehaus. Published by Human & Rousseau, 2016

.b2ap3_thumbnail_CKBK-TRENDS-Banting-lasagne.jpgBanting lasagne from Carmen Niehaus

Food writer Carmen Niehaus has been supplying her many readers with flavourful, reliable family recipes for 25 years, and has developed a vast collection in the process. Having to select 100 for this cookbook, she finally settled on 10 chapters of 10 recipes, based on criteria like family favourites, recipes with reduced carb content, many starring veggies and salad ingredients. There are a few breakfast and light meal options along with those suitable for every course on the menu. Practical tips accompany every one, as do appetising colour photographs. Her fans will be pleased with this souvenir, that also caters for slimmers – see her Banting lasagna – which replaces pasta with aubergine and omits the white sauce without going overboard with weird substitutions.

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Always exciting to unearth a winery new to one - and when I received a trio of Groenland wines I found that this Bottelary farm was one I did not know existed, even though it's near well-known cellars like Hazendal.  b2ap3_thumbnail_GROENLAND-2Steenkamp-bottle-shot-NV-resized.jpg

Turning to Platter I found that the Steenkamp family has been farming there since 1932 but only produced their first wine just under 20 years ago.

They now have more than 150ha under red and white cultivars and produce 13 000 cases of wine annually.

There are three ranges: Premium conisting of four reds, all four-star rated,  Classic – which includes a frisky green, slightly dusty sauvignon blanc which I enjoyed -  as well as a cab, shiraz and red blend, and the Landskap range – a 2015 chenin (which was fresh, accessible and very pleasant) and a shiraz-merlot blend.

In July they - father Kosie and son Piet - released a flagship 2013 Bordeaux-style blend, called simply Steenkamp, in honour of  Kosie Steenkamp, the family patriarch. This is a deep, dark wine, well-balanced, with fruit and tannins presenting in appealing meld. It opened up nicely in the glass, and will surely go on improving for several years.

While the limited edition Steenkamp sells for R285 in keeping with its status, the other Groenland wines offer excellent value for money – the Landskap chenin is R37, the Classic sauvignon blanc R49 and two award-winning shiraz (which I haven’t tasted) are R64 and R115 respectively.

The emphasis at Groenland is on friendliness, old-fashioned hospitality and a complete lack of pretension. Sounds like my kind of venue and my favourite sort of people. Their website www.groenland.co.za is very informative.

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Franschhoek Uncorked Festival

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Celebrate SA heritage over a glass or two of Franschhoek wines, and pair them  with delicious food cooked over an open flame during the Franschhoek Uncorked festival and  Braai4Heritage weekend, September 24 - 5.

Visitors can meander from farm to farm where festival offerings abound. Avoid the queues and pre-book your Uncorked Weekend Pass through www.webtickets.co.za. Tickets cost R140 per person and allows  access to all  participating wine farms as well as a complimentary tasting glass and free wine tastings. Outdoor enthusiasts can take part in a selection of outdoor activities  during the weekend. . For more info contact the Franschhoek Wine Valley offices on 021 876 2861 or visit www.franschhoekuncorked.co.za for a list of participating farms.

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Come and celebrate our Heritage in a fun, colourful and vibrant way this year at Imbuko Wines!!!

 

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On September 24th Imbuko will be hosting their 6th Annual Imbuko Heritage Day/Braai Day on  National Heritage day - uniting around fires, preparing great feasts, sharing our heritage and waving our flag.

This is a Wellington farm and there are directions on their website.

This year there will be 4  Wine Brand Pods illustrating the diversity and innovation of their wines: Du Plevaux Wine with black & white theme, Imbuko Wine illustrating Africa  Pomula Wine Spritzers with a beach pastel theme and Van Zijls wine illustrating holidays in the Hamptons!
Guests will be entertained by  local South African artists, Newton & Co. & Gerry Liberty. Delicious eats & treats will be provided by some of SA’ s best food trucks including pulled Pork Burgers & Smoked Beef Brisket, Wood-fired Pizzas, Calamari, Mediterranean Pita’s and Gourmet Biltong Pies  For the little ones there will be a Kids Zone filled with entertainment .

Tickets costs only R125 per adult – Include free Wine Glass + 4 Glasses of Wine (one at each Brand Pod). Children under 18 enter free of charge. Tickets:
ADULT ENTRY - R125pp (incl Free Wine Glass & 4 glasses of Wine - one at each Brand Pod!) Ticket Sales open on Friday 29 July.
www.webtickets.co.za

KIDS ENTRY - Free

Event starts at 10am and ends at 5pm. The first 100 guests receive a FREE goodie bag.

For more info visit
www.imbuko.co.za

#imbukohday2016

Ps. There is only 500 tickets available.
Last year it was sold out before the event, so dont delay.PizzPizzP
First 100 guests to arrive on the day will get a goody bag filled with delicious truly SA products. Tickets can be purchased at www.webtickets.co.za or at your local Pick & Pay. Only 500 tickets available and they usually sells out weeks before.For more info you can visit their website www.imbuko.co.za

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JAVA MTB CHALLENGE 2016 ADDS NEW TERRITORY TO THE MIX OF FAMILY FUN

b2ap3_thumbnail_Robertson-winery-River-and-vineyard.jpgThe annual Van Loveren Java MTB Challenge offers  fresh challenges to adrenalin-seekers who sign up for the event taking place near Robertson on Saturday, October 1 this year. Not only mountain biking, but there's also a 10km trail running competition across  farmland and mountains as well as food stalls, music and wine tasting. The centre of activities is  the Van Loveren Family Vineyards' four MTB routes, varying in distance between 8 and 85km. Prizes and lucky draws to the value of over R 40 000 await winner.

.The 8km route is an easy, non-technical fun ride that’s suitable for children. The 20km is ideal for beginners and lies mostly along a jeep track with some single track. The 45km is suitable for an intermediate level of experience, taking riders over elevation variance of 800m. The 85km route however, is gruelling and should be attempted only by very experienced riders. The 1600m elevation will challenge even the most seasoned riders.

By entering the events, participants support very worthy causes. The Java MTB Challenge is a fundraising platform for local schools and charitable organisations. Beneficiaries for this year’s event are Robertson Primary School, Robertson Preparatory School, Goudmyn Rural School and Wakkerstroom Rural School.

For more information, visit www.javamtb.co.za or contact Johan Rossouw on java@vanloveren.co.za or 023-6151505

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HOT SUNDAYS, COOL JAZZ, FINE FARE

Enjoy a lavish Sunday Jazz brunch at Taj Cape Town

 

The five-star hotel Taj Cape Town invites guests to join them for a lavish Jazz Brunch on the first Sunday of the month, starting on October 1. Choose from Mint the Grill restaurant or the opulent Lobby Lounge. Proceedings start with sparkling wine, then choose from breakfat items or oysters, prawn cocktails or the roast at the Carvery.

This is a family-friendly hotel, so there's a children' menus on offer as well.

The event takes place on October 02, November 06 and December 04.

To book call Taj Cape Town on 021 819 2000 or email restaurants.capetown@tajhotels.com

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INAUGURAL ELGIN CHARDONNAY COLLOQUIUM

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 , Wines of Elgin will host their inaugural Elgin Chardonnay Colloquium over the weekend of Friday, 7th October and Saturday 8th October 2016.  Guests are invited to join Almenkerk, Boschendal, Charles Fox MCC, Corder, Elgin Vintners, Highlands Rd, Iona, Lothian, Mathew van Heerden, Neil Ellis, Oak Valley, Oneiric, Paul Cluver Wines, Richard Kershaw Wines, South Hill and Sutherland as they showcase their Elgin Chardonnay’s with a selection of the best from around the world. A seminar and tutored tasting featuring top quality international and Elgin Chardonnays takes place on Friday, 7th October, hosted by Jamie Goode, a London-based wine writer, lecturer and respected wine judge.  This will be followed by a gala dinner  at Rockhaven, a beautiful venue in the Elgin Valley.

On Saturday, 8th October, visitors can choose from one of three morning and from one of the four lunch events  co- hosted by participating producers  .The full programme and listing of wines can be found at chardonnay.winesofelgin.co.za or by emailing info@winesofelgin.co.za Tickets are limited so please book early if you would like to attend.

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Season of Sauvignon 29 & 30 October 20

 

 

The Season of Sauvignon Festival is back in the Durbanville Wine Valley over the weekend of 29 - 30 October.

Sauvignon Blanc lovers can expect  to a host of Sauvignon Blanc activities in the Valley throughout  October in the buildup to the festival..

Altydgedacht, Bloemendal, D’Aria, Diemersdal, De Grendel, Durbanville Hills, Hillcrest, Klein Roosboom, Meerendal, Nitida, Groot Phizantekraal and Signal Gun will all celebrate the white wine season in their own individual style. Visitors can look forward to Sauvignon Blanc inspired menus in the restaurants, Sauvignon Blanc tutored tastings in the Tasting Rooms, fashion and art events as well as the chance to taste the variety of styles of Sauvignon Blanc produced in this picture perfect Valley.

The weekend Ffestivities  on 1 October will see each of the participating farms  present the Valley Tasting in their  Tasting Rooms whilst tasting the Sauvignon Blancs of all 12 producers. The tasting costs R50 per perso

Visitors will be among the first to taste and purchase the Durbanville Twelve Sauvignon Blanc 2016. This wine, produced by the Durbanville Wine Valley from a ton of grapes from each of the 12 farms, will be available during the Season of Sauvignon and afterwards for sale from each.

A detailed festival programme and information on ticket sales will be available on www.durbanvillewine.co.za from 1 September. For more information contact Angela Fourie events@durbanvillewine.co.za or 083 310 1228.

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Congrats to the winners of the Chenin Blanc, Pinotage and Terroir Awards announced recently.

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As usual the Standard Bank Chenin Blanc Top 10 award function was a stylish affair, held again at Delaire Graff estate. The lunch menu was particularly long and I had to miss out on some courses and tastings of the accompanying winning wines, but those I tried were both exciting and delicious chenins. Sitting next to Lizelle Gerber was enjoyable as her winner was the first to be served with a cured salmon starter, and it was great to see her Boschendal chenins  making it into the Top 10.

As in previous years, diversity, purity of fruit, more texture and greater structure were characteristics of the winning wines. A total of 124 were entered and seven of the 2016 Top 10 were previous winners. On a personal note, I did not think that the difference in price between several mid-priced  winners and the most expensive chenin was justified.

All the Top 10 winners are donating their prize money to various charities and worthy courses in their areas including Sunfield Home, the Du Toitskloof DGB Mobile Library, the Anna Foundation, Kusasa, The Agroecology Academy and crèches in Mbekweni and at Allée Bleue

 For Ken Forrester, Chairman of the Chenin Blanc Association, this year’s line-up and the overall quality is proof that Chenin is going places. “Across the board the wines are world class.  This is the most excited I’ve ever been for Chenin in South Africa”. 

 For more information, visit www.chenin.co.za.

The winning wines:

Allée Bleue 2015

Price: R65

Total production: 7 500 bottles

93% Chenin Blanc, 7% Viognier from Franschhoek and Walker Bay vineyards. Matured in 400-litre French oak barrels, 20% new. Citrus and white peach plus a hint of vanilla. Pure and focused with bright acidity before a savoury finish.

Bellingham The Bernard Series Old Vine 2015

Price: R160

Total production: 60 000 bottles

From Agter-Paarl, Bottelary and Durbanville vineyards, with an average age of 45 years. Matured for 12 months in French oak, 50% new. Stone fruit, spice as well as lots of yeasty complexity on the nose. Rich and broad on the palate, the finish long and savoury.

Boschendal Sommelier Selection 2015

Price: R85

Total production: 12 000 bottles

From old Agter Paarl, Bottelary and Somerset West vineyards. Largely unwooded, 15% fermented in oak. The nose shows a fynbos top note before pear, citrus, white peach and a hint of spice. Excellent fruit concentration and particularly bright acidity before a long and pithy finish.

DeMorgenzon Reserve 2015

Price: R225

Total production: 18 500 bottles

From Stellenbosch vines planted in 1972. Matured for 11 months in French oak, 25% new. Citrus, stone fruit and spice on the nose. Rich but impeccably balanced – possesses both depth and breadth, tangy acidity ensuring refreshment.

Kleine Zalze Family Reserve 2015

Price: R160

Total production: 16 374 bottles

From three different wards of Stellenbosch, vineyards approximately 35 years in age. Matured for eight months in old 400-litre French oak barrels.  A very attractive nose showing honeysuckle plus plenty of stone fruit and spice. The palate shows particular richness and intensity, the acidity nicely coated and the finish long and savoury.

Kleine Zalze Vineyard Selection Barrel Fermented 2015

Price: R80

Total production: 66 613 bottles

From Stellenbosch vineyards ranging from 25 to 40 years old. Matured for six months in old 400-litre French oak barrels. Flowers, pear, citrus and white peach plus a little spice on the nose. Lovely fruit purity and zesty acidity making for a very well-balanced wine.

Leopard’s Leap Culinaria Collection 2015

Price: R80

Total production: 6 000 bottles

From Voor-Paardeberg vineyards with an average age of 20 years. Matured in 500-litre French oak barrels, none new. A complex nose of potpourri, citrus and white peach plus an intriguing leesy note. The palate has a weightless intensity about it thanks to concentrated fruit and fresh acidity.

Perdeberg The Dry Land Collection Barrel Fermented 2015

Price: R77

Total production: 20 048 bottles

From two vineyards in the Agter Paarl area, one 26 years old and the other 32. Matured for 10 months in 500-litre French oak barrels, 20% new. A subtle but compelling nose showing flowers and dried herbs before pear, citrus and white peach. The palate shows great fruit purity and lovely freshness before an ultra-long finish.

Rijk’s Private Cellar Barrel Fermented 2013

Price: R140

Total production: 10 500 bottles

WO Tulbagh. Grapes from 17-year-old trellised vines and seven-year-old bush vines. 20% fermented in tank, 80% fermented and matured for 11 months in 300-litre French and Hungarian oak, 40% of which was new. Citrus and peach plus a little spice on the nose. Rich and full on the palate, the texture pleasantly oily with lively acidity lending balance.

Spier 21 Gables 2015

Price: R150

Total production: 32 808 bottles

From Tygerberg vineyards with an average age of 43 years. Matured for 14 months in a combination of 300-, 400-, 500- and 2 500-litre French oak barrels, 60% new. The nose shows citrus and peach plus a hint of vanilla and spice. The palate has a real succulence to the fruit and a pleasantly creamy texture while fresh acidity lends balance – a wine of precision.

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ABSA TOP 10 PINOTAGE AWARDS 2016

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The 20th Pinotage Award competition took place recently with 144 wines being judged and the results being announced last month at the Cavalli estate near Stellenbosch. Kanonkop and Rijk’s made history by both attracting their 11th Top 10 Award

Top 10 winners 2016:

2015

Diemersdal Pinotage Reserve

2014

Flagstone Writers Block Pinotage

2014

Fleur du Cap Pinotage Unfiltered

2010

Kanonkop Pinotage

2015

Knorhoek Two Cubs Pinotage

2013

KWV The Mentors Pinotage

2014

L'Avenir Single Block Pinotage

2014

Perdeberg The Dry Land Collection Pinotage

2013

Rijk's Reserve Pinotage

2015

Rooiberg Winery Reserve Pinotage

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SA Terroir Awards

After judging of a record 322 entries for the 11th Novare SA Terroir Wine Awards, two Cape estates stood out  with top achievements.

Bergsig Estate in the Breedekloof produced two National Winners for Top Red Blend with the Bergsig Icarus 2011, and for the Top Port-style wine with the Bergsig Cape LBV 2003. The latter was also adjudged one of the SA Terroir Top 5 Estate Wines and is the wine with the highest score among all the entries. In addition, another four wines from Bergsig received high scores and three of them were designated area winners.

Bergsig Estate took home both the Novare Trophy for the SA Terroir Top Wine Estate and the SA Terroir Top Producer.

Plenty more to digest on the website, which contains the complete results; visit www.terroirwineawards.co.za.

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THINK PINK, HULLO SPRING!

 

With a trio of rosés, two of them maiden vintages, arriving on my doorstep during an unseasonably warm spell, it is clearly time to welcome spring with fragrant aromas and mouthfuls of berry and melon flavours.

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First up is an appealing pink from Baleia Wines, their 2016 rosé, produced from syrah and enjoying a welcome low alcohol level of 12%. This is not just a pretty pink, but one that is crisp and dry, medium-bodied and with notable backbone alongside the more predictable flavours of strawberries dressed with black pepper.

This south coast olive farm and winery, not far from Riversdale where the Joubert family launched their first wines in 2011, now have a range comprising three reds and two whites, with a bubbly somewhere in the offing. The new rosé sells for R55 online.

Their extra virgin olive oil is a product to be sampled as well, already boasting two awards, the 2015 scooping silver in last years SA Olive Awards in the Intense category and also taking second place in the Medium Fruit category in the international Sol D’Oro contest. It consists of a blend of Frantoio, Coratina, FS17 and Leccino, offers the ideal base for your spring salad dressing, and costs R85 for 500ml.

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There’s a new addition to Steenberg’s covetable range, simply labelled “ROSE Syrah – Cinsault 2016.” The blend is 72 shiraz to 28% cinsaut and it’s a wine that will convert even non-pink drinkers, thanks to its persuasive charms. The nose hints at its shiraz character, and it’s crisp on the palate, with fruit upfront – mixed berries and rose petals, backed by a bouquet of herbs and discernible structure. Alcohol level is a moderate 13%. Selling at R80 from the cellar door, this is a pink to pair with gourmet picnics and al fresco lunches that start at noon and linger on to sunset.

Executive chef of the Steenberg Bistro Sixteen82 Kerry Kilpin recommends partnering this pink with her signature grilled chicken salad. Cool, but don’t over-chill – you will lose its appetising complexity of flavours.

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To conclude, a light-hearted salmon-hued frothy for the ladies who lunch (and picnic and gather for sundowners) the 2016 vintage of Stellenbosch Hills Polkadraai pinot noir rosé has made it debut alongside their new whites. With an alcohol level of just 10,5%, a second glass can be happily contemplated: the first can partner your spring salad, the second complement your strawberry pavlova. This is a sweet bubbly, but with zing to add fresh flavours of berries to the palate. It sells for R57, offering good value for many a summer celebration.

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Rain, sun, wind, snow - all is possible at this inconsistent season but the blossoms are out and the daisies are in full bloom and our vines are starting to bud. We have a family of three adult sheep and three lambs grazing at the bottom of our garden, and they seem impervious to whatever the weather throws at them, with the lambs growing at an astonishing rate.

Country and city events are on the Western Cape menu.

 

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GROOTE POST’S FIRST COUNTRY MARKET OF THE NEW SEASON

 SUNDAY 28th AUGUST FROM 10H00 TO 15H00

 Groote Post will be re-opening their popular country markets Sunday 28th August , followed by monthly markets on 25th September (spring market), 30th October, 27th November and 18th December (Christmas market).

Groote Post will again be a hive of activity, brimming with  artisan foods, arts and crafts, home-ware and décor, and of course, Groote Post’s well-loved wines as well as loads of kiddies’ activities. In addition, the August market will be featuring some exciting new stalls as well as live music by Francois Haasbroek.

Darling gourmet produceincluding: Darling Mushrooms, Weskus Worswa, Udderly Delicious Cheese, Darling Pomegranate Products, Saucy Boys’ organic preservative-free chilli sauces, marinades and spices, Darling Brew and more.

Groote Post’s award-winning restaurant, Hilda’s Kitchen, will be open as usual, but please note that booking is essential. The kids, as always, will be kept busy with a wide variety of kiddies’ activities - tractor rides, face-painting, water-balls, guided horse rides and, of course, the popular playground. Although pets are welcome – all 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. 

Entry to the Groote Post Country Market is free of charge.

For further information Contact Eldré Strydom: 082 877 6677 or eldre@iloveyzer.co.za

 

 

 

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Wine Concepts will host their 14th exclusive Seductive Sauvignons Festival at The Vineyard Hotel i

 

 

 This popular annual festival gives wine lovers the opportunity to taste a selection of flirtatious latest release Sauvignon Blanc’s and captivating current vintage Cabernet Sauvignons from over 40 of the country’s top producers. This year we will be including Bubblies, Rose’s and Dessert wines and there may even be an older vintage or two to savour in the line-up. Tempting and delicious snacks will be served with the wine throughout the evening.

 

All the showcased wines will be available for purchase at special prices from Wine Concepts on the evening.

 

Venue: The Vineyard Hotel, Colinton Road, Newlands,

 

Date: Friday 2nd September 2016

 

Time: 17.00 – 20.00

 

Cost: R200.00 per person – includes wine glass and light snacks

 

(Early Bird tickets @ R180.00)

 

Parking: At venue

 

The Vineyard Hotel is offering a special of a 2 course dinner in Square Restaurant, bed & breakfast for Single – R1 380; Double – R2 100

 

Tickets can conveniently be purchased via www.webtickets.co.za,   or at any of the Wine Concepts branches

 

Telephone Newlands at (021) 671 9030 or Kloof Street at (021) 426-4401

 

Email: admin@wineconcepts.co.za

 

or at the door on the evening subject to availability

 

http://www.wineconcepts.co.za

 

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A TREAT FROM TERROIR WITH ALTO'S FINE WINES

On the 1st of September 2016 Eat Out Top Ten Restaurant, Terroir, will join forces with Alto Wine Estate in creating a memorable evening of great food and wine. 

Terroir has earned a enviable reputation for outstanding and inventive contemporary cuisine and excellent service. Renowned Chef  Michael Broughton, sums up the philosophy behind the food at Terroir as follows: ‘It’s all about big bold flavours, where the basic ingredients in every dish are stretched to the top of their flavour profile’.

Guests will be treated to a three course dinner paired with exceptional wines selected by Alto winemaker, Bertho van der Westhuizen. A complimentary glass of Kleine Zalze’s MCC will be served.

At a cost of just R650 per person, seats are bound to fill up fast. Be sure to make your reservation by contacting Terroir at restaurant@kleinezalze.co.za or 021 880 8167 to avoid disappointment.

 

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South African wine industry directory 2016/17. Published by WineLand Media, 2016

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Doing the impossible, says editor Wanda Augustyn in her foreword, is how she and her team regard the annual production of the new edition. Dipping into  the new title, I can well understand why – it must be a mammoth task, updating such a complex and diverse treasury of information, figures, opinions, entries, graphs, indexes and more, keeping them accurate, and launching the tome around midyear. The result is an essential reference work for anyone remotely involved or interested in the wine industry, and a title I would hate to be without.

 

In the first section, An Overview of the SA wine industry subjects like a brief industry history, a 10-year ‘snapshot’ of progress, a harvest report and vintage guide are given. The following section, comprises details on the multitude of industry organizations and education bodies. This ranges across all aspects from agricultural to organisations focussing on responsible alcohol use. Details are listed of the associations concerned with one or another cultivar, and international wine industry bodies are also listed.

Section three lists awards and competitions - just the contents lists takes a full column on the page, and this is followed by a directory of wine writers, the shortest chapter. Grape Production is subdivided into cultivars, viticulture and regions, while the following chapter presents information on producers and wineries, including an index of brand names and lists of winemakers and viticulturists.

A guide to industry suppliers is up next, and the final section consists of more than 40 pages of industry statistics: the number of cellars in each region, the area under vines, producers income and prices, exports, consumption in South Africa and international comparison.

Hearty congratulations to the researchers, IT specialists, proof-readers and graphic designers who were part of this important collaboration, compendium and wine writers’ companion.

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b2ap3_thumbnail_Oude-Molen-1.jpgOnce again, a fine Cape brandy has proved to the world of connoisseurs that top South African cognac-style brandies are up there with the best, and are, in some cases, judged as best in the world. In May this year it was the turn of Oude Molen's XO to bring home gold for its distillers, the only South African entry to win gold in the 2016 Global Spirits Masters.

This London based competition is renowned as impartial and credible, using only independent judges who rate entries through blind tastings.

It was, naturally, great news for Oude Molen distillery MD Andre Simonis, who emphasises that the description of Cape Brandy pays off in marketing both locally and in export markets.

But of course it's basically the impressive quality of this aristocratic spirit that attracts awards, and this is a brandy that offers consumers an almost overwhelming combination of aromas, fruit and layered flavours on the palate with a long, lingering finish. Grapes used in this distillation include colombar, chenin blanc and ugni blanc.

Tropical fruit dominates on the nose, with a little coconut discernible, while the palate will also detect stone fruit flavours, both fresh and dried, before the vanilla undertones from the oak add depth to the meld.

The fact that it is also encased in a beautiful bottle and presented in a stylish box add to the visual appeal and no doubt help account for a hefty retail price of R800. So, the average brandy lover is going to keep Oude Molen XO for auspicious occasions and use nothing except an ice block or two to dilute the mastery in the balloon.

Those consumers whose budget won't stretch to these heights can find more affordable pleasure in the consistently high quality of the Joseph Barry brandies, made at Barrydale, which, incidentally, brought home silver in the same international competition and are also products of the Edward Snell company.

There will be additional reasons to pause at this delightful Barrydale cellar soon as a restaurant is scheduled to open in spring. Apparently the delay is owing to waiting for approval of their liquor licence... a rather ironic situation one would think, given the site of the restaurant...

Meanwhile, hearty congrats to all concerned in the production of Oude Molen XO, available from the distillery in Elgin, as well as other liquor outlets. Edward Snell & Co is the largest family-owned wine and spirit merchant in South Africa.

 

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Love the Klein Karoo? Crazy about Calitzdorp? And you're a fan of those world-class ports and value-for-money  red and white wines? Then  plan a weekend trip to this hospitable part of the Cape, and indulge in an irresistible event  at De Krans cellars on Saturday August 27.

 

That's the date when the third Orchards in Bloom one-day fest takes place with a varied programme to suit all tastes and ages.

Chef Francois Ferreira will be pairing De Krans wines with biscotti at various times during the day. Early birds can jog or walk on the Vineyard Run from 9am, choosing from a five or 10km trail. There are wine prizes for winners. Walks through the orchards, which will be dressed in their pastel spring best  also tempt . Visitors can also help prune the young vines planted by previous guests at the spring festivals.

Chef Retief van der Walt will be cooking up delicious country meals in the De Krans Bistro and Deli from 9am - no reservations, so diners need to get there in good time.

Then, of course, there will be ample time to sip and sample the ranges from De Krans - newly released 2016 wines include chenin blanc, sauvignon blanc and moscato perle. Or if you are in the mood for a port-based cocktail, winemaker Louis van der Riet will be happy to oblige.

Family fun is guaranteed, and boules are offered for whose who wish to show off their prowess. For more info, email dekrans@mweb.co.za or contact Helet Viljoen on 044 213 3314.

Cellar news is that De Krans has just launched it maiden Pinotage Rose 2016: Selling at just under R60, this is a fresh, low-alcohol salmon pink wine, offering spring-like flavours of berries and cherries, and a hint of watermelon. Its a dry rose that can be sipped as an ode to spring, or paired with seafood and sushi.b2ap3_thumbnail_de-Krans-pinotage-rose_20160812-135418_1.jpg

b2ap3_thumbnail_De-Krans-Cape-vintage-port.jpgIf you, like me, are a firm fan of De Krans Tawny port, perhaps time to broaden our palates with the cellar's Cape Vintage 2013 port wine: Like the Tawny, its rated 4 and half stars in Platter, and easy to understand why. It seduces with aromas of red berries, vanilla and chocolate, leads on to mouthfuls of more berries, plums and dark chocolate flavours - wonderful chilly night counterpart both on its own or with Cape baked puds and a cheese board. 

And don't underrate their Cape Ruby, a non-vintage four-star budget-beater with a string of awards to its credit. Packed with fruit and spice, produced from a blend of different Portuguese cultivars and vintages, this is a port to savour in winter and pour over crushed ice in summer.

De Krans is one of the oldest cellars in the Gamka river valley, being established in 1890 by the current owners' great-grandfather.

 

 

 

 

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It's got the depth and discernible minerality. The freshness is balanced by full-bodied flavours - from rich grilled pineapple to mango, from a mix of citrus to a hint of cream, into which vanilla essence has been whipped. Every aspect is  beautifully balanced and in tune in this very subtly wooded chard, with 13,5% alcohol levels. It is, without doubt, the chardonnay I have most revelled in sipping this winter. Muratie Isabella  chardonnay 2015 costs R145 and is worth every cent. It makes a superb aperitif on chilly evenings, and goes on to partner sauced fish and seafood  and complex poultry dishes with charm, complementing but never overwhelming. 

When such a star comes your way, one is extra pleased that it emanates from a beautiful Stellenbosch farm, steeped in history, which has, as its custodians, a hospitable family who is very aware of the importance of its conservation for future generations.

For those who haven't treated themselves to experiencing the tangible ambience of a rural complex dating back 330 years, make Muratie your destination when planning your next wineland outing - it's both olde worlde and up -to -the -minute with mountain biking and trail running facilities, and, best of all, its open seven days a week.   

 

 

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The setting is simply superb. From both the terrace and through the wrap-around full-length glass walls of the restaurant, vineyards and pastures roll out below you, bisected by the R60. The Brandwag, Rabiesberg and long line of the Langeberg range frame this inviting hilltop venue, open for some eight months.

Well-situated between Worcester and Robertson , this is an ideal stopping-point; Nuy could not have thought of a better way of celebrating their 50th anniversary.

Paging through the nostalgic and beautifully illustrated Nuy gedenkboek, we read about the cellar’s maiden harvest in 1965, a total of 6 192 tons, made up of Muscadel, Othello, Pontac, Pinotage, Hanepoot, Witsag and Hermitage. While hermitage is today better-known as cinsaut, the latest old-timer to head to trend-topping status, I could not find info on Othello or Witsag.

It it did not take Nuy long to become renowned for the outstanding quality of its soetes – muscadels both red and white, which even today continued to attract awards annually, yet are stil sold at giveaway prices.

As the number of reds and whites continued to increase, Nuy has slotted wines into three ranges. The entry wines, Inspiration, consist of five whites – sauvignon blanc, chenin, chardonnay, colombar and their perennially popular Chant de Nuit a blend of chenin and colombar finished with a little Ferdinand de Lesseps, a table grape. From the reds, my table companion found the 2015 cabernet sauvignon very agreeable, and there is also a shiraz and pinotage which we did not sample. There’s an off-dry sparkling wine made from sauvignon blanc and a semi-sweet bubbly using muscat. The 2015 red and white muscadels complete the range. Prices range from R30 to 47 for the whites, the reds are all R55 and the muscadels R52. The sparkling wines cost R50.

The middle range, called Mastery offered a delightfull, carefully wooded chardonnay, which makes a perfect “winter white” (R85) and a trio of reds , all priced at R103– 2013 pinotage (exceptionally light in colour, characteristic nose, medium bodied, modern and enjoyable), and a cab and shiraz, both 2013.

Nuy’s top range Legacy, leads with their flagship red blend Argilla 2013,(R150) a blend of 62% shiraz, 31% pinotage, finished with cab. Elegance joined by a good backbone, smooth tannins, this will be worth keeping for a few years . We did not try the bubbly, (R150) nor the potstill brandy, but I can vouch for the hugely impressive 50 Vintages Red Muscadel (R165). Matured for three years in small oak, bottled to mark the 50th anniversary, this sophisticated fortified has already attracted double gold from Michelangelo, and 4 and half stars from Platter – worth five I think.

And so, to the food.

When I see a menu as large and varied as Nuy’s I usually find that the cuisine suffers, as few kitchens can cope with such a huge number of dishes . While two of us enjoyed a simple lunch there one Friday, I can report that not only was the restaurant buzzing with happy diners, but also I did not see anyone complain or send back anything but well-cleaned plates. I have not heard a single bad report on the fare at this restaurant from local diners in the Robertson valley – so perhaps this is an exception to the usual rule.

Breakfast offers predictable variations on the bacon and egg theme, plus a salmon rosti and a Nuy Benedict. There’s a a choice of seven burgers, including a Banting burger which replaces the bun with a giant mushroom. The tapas menu is extensive – my companion tried and enjoyed the beef carpaccio, which was a generous offering teamed with shaved parmesan and a balsamic glaze. From the speciality dishes, - pork, battered fish and chicken enchilada – I opted for mushroom soup, and it was a good choice – plentiful, creamy, and well-flavoured and served with toast. There is also an extensive pizza menu prices ranging from R85 to R105, while steaks – fillet and sirloin with a choice of toppings and sauces - start from R115.

By way of contrast the dessert menu is miniscule – cake, spring rolls, waffle with banana caramel, cream or icecream, and icecream with bar one sauce. We tried two of these, again a large serving, predictably rich and satisfying for every sweet tooth. Beverages include a range of milkshakes , and there’s a full liquor licence. Nuy on the hill cocktail (R45) melds peach schnapps, vodka, orange juice and blue curacao. There are four artisanal beers from the Mountain Brewing Co made on the Klipbokkop reserve which seemed a popular choice with diners. A kiddies menu concludes a really astonishing range .

Six years go the Nuy directors handed over 1ha of white and 1ha of red muscadel vines to the cellarworkers who formed the Keerom Landbou Bpk, to develop and cultivate themselves. From their maiden harvest in 2011 their grapes have been rated in outstanding condition. They are delivered to the Nuy cellar and form part of the distinctive 50 Vintages Red Muscadel.

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