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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.



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.





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.


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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Posted by on in Events

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.






 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






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,   or at any of the Wine Concepts branches


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




or at the door on the evening subject to availability





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 or 021 880 8167 to avoid disappointment.


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Posted by on in Reviews

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



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 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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ALL SORTS OF SALADS by Chantal Lascaris. Published by Struik Lifestyle 2016.




This compact softback is both a convenient size for kitchen use and a compilation that is likely to pay its way and more, a practical and useful collection that will be consulted often over the four seasons.

Its neither showy or madly original, and the author is someone who came to entertaining, food and cooking after moving from corporate business to become a pilates instructor and developing a new interest in both health and unearthing new ideas for salads, which feature high in her diet.

Lascaris tells us in her introduction that the recipes she has developed and tweaked coincide, quite accidentally, with today’s culinary trend. She says this, her first cookbook, took a while to materialize: its simplicity is part of its attraction and both health nuts and reluctant and nervous cooks will be among its keenest fans.

Use your freezer to keep crispy bacon bits and garlic croutons ready to add zip to salads, roast nuts and seeds when you have the time and keep them in a glass container. Freeze cooked rice, lemon juice and pesto as well as almonds for use in salads and dressings. (Pesto is best frozen without the parmesan cheese, by the way).

Old favourites in new guises sees up to date versions of coleslaw, potato, Caesar, Waldorf and three-bean salads, among others. The substantial vegetarian chapter includes basics like tomato and onion, lemon mushroom and the popular butternut and mozzarella salad recipes, and some trendy combinations like beertroot, quinoa and rocket, and cauliflower, butter bean and feta. I like her citrus salad for winter, which includes avo and cucumber, but I would omit the mangetout which is not a winter ingredient.

Fish and seafood star in some delectable summery combinations – think grilled tuna steaks and nectarine salsa , salmon and pistachio, even a fish cake salad which is also a main course , complete with sweet potato chips and usual mixed salad ingredients. Shrimp and avo are presented as a first course with green apple, calamari is teamed with chorizo and chickpea in an Iberian charmer. Chicken makes the base for a number of tempting meals, some of which take the form of open sandwiches, Asian and Occidental main courses.

The chapter on meaty salads presents main courses packed with protein plus healthy green and other ingredients for all-round one-dish fare. Ostrich, pancetta, egg and bacon, steak, bacon, beef carpaccio are all dressed up with ingredients to present a colourful and complete meal.

The collection concludes with fruit salads, some spiced, some spiked, with a final section of salad dressing recipes both conventional and innovative.

Good photographs add hugely to the attraction of this collection, which is also well-indexed.

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

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

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

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

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

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

For up to date information, visit



Nedbank Cape Winemakers Guild Auction Showcase of rare, individual wines


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

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



  Quest for the Best 2016


The seventh annual Mutual & Federal Agri Wellington Wine Route “Quest for the Best” was celebrated with an awards luncheon in Wellington on Friday 29 July. During the judging process on 21 July a record number of 92 wines by 16 Wellington producers were tasted blind by six well-known judges.  The wines are judged and scored according to a tried and tested points system. 


The judges were: Bennie Howard ,Samarie Smith,Sandile Mkhwanazi, Johann Fourie,Danielle le Roux and Kris Snyman.

 Best top 10 wines from Wellington are:

 Bosman Family Vineyards – Bosman Cabernet Sauvignon 2008

  • Doolhof Wine Estate – Lady in White 2010
  • Wellington Wines – La Cave Pinotage 2015
  • Wellington Wines – La Cave Shiraz 2014
  • Mont du Toit - Les Coteaux Cabernet Franc 2012
  • Andreas Wine  – Andreas Shiraz 2013
  • Diemersfontein Wines – Diemersfontein Carpe Diem Viognier 2015
  • Diemersfontein Wines – Woolworths Reserve Collection Pinotage 2014
  • Douglas Green – Douglas Green Chenin Blanc 2016
  • Linton Park Wines - Linton Park Merlot 2015


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Pinotage and Peace Parks – and Wine, Wheels and Wildlife



Conservation benefits from sales of Eikendal estate’s recently launched 2015 pinotage, a South African red that offers as much pleasure to keen palates as it will help swell the  funds of the Peace Parks Foundation.

This follows on Eikendal’s sponsorship of other conservation organizations like Cheetah Outreach and the Bushveld Foundation.

Peace Parks has been doing sterling work in the fields of transfrontier conservation, development of human resources and support of sustainable economic development.

Pinotage, our only all-South African cultivar seems the right grape to be involved in helping fund biodiversity and regional peace projects across southern African borders. It’s also a very enjoyable wine, with moderate alcohol levels of 13% that presents a modern, subtle approach in its treatment of our national black grape, offering elegance and freshness from a 20-year-old dryland vineyard. Selling from the cellar door at R105, 5% of sales from this source will be channelled to the Foundation.




Staying with wines and wildlife conservation, Painted Wolf owner/winemaker Jeremy Borg has led mountain biking weekends to raise funds for wild dogs and community projects in South Africa, Botswana and Zimbabwe. The next Pedal 4 Paws excursion will see up to 40 riders enjoy a Rare Carnivore ride in Somkhanda Game Reserve in northern KZN. Somkhanda is a community reserve , a wild and beautiful stretch of thick bush and rolling hills, belonging to the Gumbi community. It takes place from September 16 -18

Both conservation and community projects will be supported.The Endangered Wildlife Trust will benefit from a donation as well. For more info, see




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Health benefits and sensational flavours are two reasons to welcome the current gastronomic craze of fermentation. Myrna Robins gets the lowdown on updates of this ancient technique . This article first appeared in the Cape Argus on July 20 and in The Star the following day.


Less adventurous palates will no doubt shy away from an offering of fermented black garlic with a “tender, almost jelly-like texture with a consistency similar to a soft dried fruit…” Yet the same diners probably relish their breakfast yoghurt followed by crisp toast, and enjoy fine wine or a good artisanal beer when eating out. All of which have undergone fermentation, which is best defined as a metabolic process that converts sugar to acids, gases or alcohol. It occurs in yeast and bacteria, and also in oxygen-starved muscle cells, as in the case of lactic acid fermentation.

We humans have been busy fermenting our food and drink since the Neolithic age, both for preservation and good health. China, India, Egypt, Babylon (Iraq), Mexico and Sudan are countries where evidence of fermented fare and beverages have been uncovered, the earliest around 7 000 years ago.

Early this year culinary websites were announcing fermentation as one of the hottest trends of the year. And, predictably, South African chefs are not being left behind as they experiment with a range of ingredients that are adding zing to our tastebuds . I contacted a few of the Western Cape’s leading chefs to get their say on the subject.

First stop Franschhoek where executive chef Oliver Cattermole presides over the kitchens of Leeu House, a boutique hotel in the village and the five-star mountainside Leeu estate. At the launch of the latter last month, his luncheon menu included black garlic and smoked miso as accompaniment to braised heirloom carrot, an intriguing mix of bland root vegetable with tingling flavours. Miso, a traditional Japanese seasoning is produced by fermenting soybeans with salt, a particular fungus and other ingredients such as rice or barley.

With an enviable relaxed approach that belies carefully created, utterly delicious five-star cuisine, Cattermole is embracing the new trend comprehensively, as these comments from him prove:

“Jac [his baker] ferments all of his yeast for his breads and sour doughs – we have one that he feeds daily that is nearly three years old. All the chocolate that we use is fermented. We are currently fermenting red onions, slowly turning them translucent, which we use in our butternut lunch dish. We have just started a ferment with walnuts, which should be ready by Christmas. And we are fermenting garlic, both wild and elephant ,which has been ongoing since October last year… about three weeks ago it started to turn black which is the desired effect, and it makes the kitchen smell lekker.”

Down the R45 to the Drakenstein valley and Boschendal estate where chef Christian Campbell has spent months researching and experimenting with fermenting produce traditionally popular in international cuisines. Along with the mammoth task of overseeing all the restaurant menus on this large estate, he sources his produce from the huge organic vegetable and herb garden, which enables him to present seasonal menus which change daily. Fermented lemons feature right now, while Campbell embraces the popular oriental traditions of kimchi, kombucha and kefir on his his signature shared meal platters in the Werf restaurant. He describes these classics for us:

“Kimchi is a national Korean dish consisting of fermented chilli peppers and vegetables, usually… Chinese cabbage, radish, garlic, red pepper, spring onion, ginger, salt and sugar… fermented with red pepper, garlic, ginger and salty fish sauce. …It is rich in vitamins, aids digestionsand may even prevent cancer…. The best tasting kimchi is stored at room temperature for an average of six months to reach its full flavour.

“Kefir is high in nutrients and probiotics and is incredibly beneficial for digestion and gut health… a fermented drink, traditionally made using cow’s or goat’s milk. It is made by adding kefir “grains”– cultures of yeast and lactic acid bacteria… to milk. These multiply and ferment the sugars in the milk, turning it into kefir. All the rage with health addicts, this is considered to be a healthier, more powerful version of yoghurt.”

Readers who shop at pharmacy chains and health shops will have seen bottles of kombucha on the shelves, a fermented drink made with tea, sugar, bacteria and yeast. Kombuch ais a colony of bacteria and yeast which is added to sugar and tea, and left to ferment. The result is rich in vinegar, B vitamins and other compounds.

Campbell also uses fermented black garlic, which he describes as “sweet meets savoury, a perfect mix of molasses-like richness and tangy garlic undertones” and has turned to honey mead, which he describes as “fermented honey and water mixed with herbs and spices.” As one of the original alcoholic drinks of Africa, this is a good choice indeed.

We continue our culinary journey from bountiful Boschendal to the equally aristocratic Delaire Graff estate, off Helshoogte pass. Here pampered guests can choose to go oriental when dining in the Indochine restaurant where chef Virgil Kahn is introducing fermented ingredients with their rich probiotic profile to several dishes on his exotic menu. He had this to say about the hot topic of fermentation:

“On the whole consumers are still nervous to experiment with fermented foods, however they add a wonderful flavour profile to a dish, a natural refreshing zing which I love to experience in a dish. From kimchi to our salt- fermented black garlic, fermented foods are transforming not only the balance of flavours on a plate, but our overall health.”

So there you have it. Back to Chef Campbell for the following list of benefits that probiotics and a good balance of healthy bacteria, found in ferments, afford us: Boost our immune system and lower cholesterol. Reduce allergic reactions to both food and environment. Help reduce intestinal inflammation, prevent constipation, and suppress growth of harmful micro-organisms. And finally they apparently help manufacture K and and B-group vitamins, along with digestive enzymes and essential fatty acids.

Wow! no wonder fermented ingredients and drinks have long been red-hot hot favourites in the East, both with chefs and home cooks. Now that the West has cottoned on, are South Africans making their own versions of kimchi at home, or are our Occidental palates staying with sauerkraut and pickled cucumbers?

Fermentation festivals are taking place, I hear, across the United States in Portland, Oregon, in Massachusetts and in California at Santa Barbara. Perhaps we can look forward to our first South African celebration soon? An event where both the health-conscious and trendoid diner will mingle, palates a-tingle…



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As the lime-green baby leaves emerge from the pruned vines the original heart of wine production at Buitenverwachting, the old cellar, is being renovated to take on a new and very appropriate role.

This gracious building was first restored in the early 1980’s by Gwen and Gawie Fagan, which was also when the modern wine cellar and restaurant were built on the farm.

But the cellar’s history goes back to the late 18th century, and its likely that wine has been made on the farm since 1769, date which is reflected in the name of its  exceptional Noble Late Harvest.

Recently the cellar has housed the picnic facility, where generations of locals and overseas visitors have booked to savour family lunches on the lawned court enclosing the venerable outbuildings.

Now MD Lars Maack is breathing new life into the cellar, taking it back to a vinous role: A large terrace will seat guests for al fresco wining and dining, and inside a wine bar will cater for those visiting in inclement weather. Part of the cellar will showcase older vintages and present the history of these wines on a story-board. And, to keep the decor trendy, a lounge area will be added where guests can relax in comfort with their choice of vintages and order from a selection of light snack fare.

A large illuminated map illustrating the vineyards anad detailing the various cultivars and soil types, will add further interest.

Those 18th century walls are set enclose a facility where aromas and tastes will be evocative of the days when berries were brought in for crushing, and new wine gurgled in old oak barrels.


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Beautiful, bountiful Buitenverwachting, an estate which is allowed to present itself, its buildings, fine wines and gourmet fare in its serene setting without being prodded and pushed by marketing and advertising teams. Everyone there – from courteous owner Lars Maack to those pruning the vines – is aware of just how special this historic, five-star estate is, and gets on with the job of maintaining its fine reputation in cellar, restaurant and coffee shop.  The current edition of the Platter guide sums up its philosophy as “unshowy quality remains the watchword” adding that innovation and experimentation are never excluded.

That well said statement came to mind as I sampled two Buitenverwachting wines that fall into the unusual cultivar class, both limited releases that  deserve to be better-known and tried by the armies of fans who stay with sauvignon blanc and Christine, while adding a couple of cases of the ever-popular Buiten Blanc as their house wine.

Talented winemaker Brad Paton produced the 2014 vintage of 3rd Time Lucky in slightly oxidative style. It’s an aromatic, silky viognier, offering as much  spice as fruit, well-structured with moderate alcohol levels. It is a white wine that works well in the winter months with and without food, but makes a fine companion to well-prepared Cape Malay fish and poultry and Kashmiri dishes.

Brad's MPV 2010 – an unusual blend of merlot and petit verdot is delightfully fresh, the PV adding facets of sophisticated crispness and backbone to the easy-drinking fruity merlot. As well as pairing with lamb, it cuts the richness of rare peppercorn-crusted tuna, roasted in olive oil and served with lemony hollandaise.

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SORTING THE BEEF FROM THE BULL by Richard Evershed and Nicola Temple. Published by Bloomsbury, 2016.



The sub-title, ‘the science of food fraud forensics ‘ is an immediate indication of the serious nature of this paperback, stated on the cover, (under a drawing of a horse, complete with outlines of cuts of horsemeat!)

However, thanks to witty chapter headings and lots of play on words, the text is very readable. The reader is drawn into a fascinating, thought-provoking, and occasionally depressing series of culinary operations that range from cheating to really sinister practices.

Misrepresentation or false statements on packaging are acts of fraud that cheat consumers while legitimate producers are being cheated out of business. Examples include eggs labelled ‘free-range’, fresh produce labelled ‘organic ‘and salmon as ‘wild-caught’.  USA pomegranate juice labelled as 100% was found to contain little or no pomegranate, consisting rather of corn syrup and other fruit juices.

Food fraud becomes food crime when networks of perpetrators are involved. They consist of the fraud inventor, the one who devises how to cheat, those who deal with transporting the goods across borders and countries, those who develop ways of avoiding detection in laboratory testing and auditing, and finally those who threaten the vulnerable in the industry to turn a blind eye to the practices.

One chapter focuses on egg production – an ingredient essential to western breakfasts and in hundreds of recipes. Apparently it’s neither difficult nor expensive to produce hen’s “eggs” from a series of chemicals that include sodium alginate, gelatin, sodium benzoate, colouring (for the yolk) and melted paraffin wax and gypsum powder (to create the shell). Fake eggs appeared in China in the mid-1990s and were cooked and eaten, they were so authentic looking. The health consequences of this are unclear as most of the ingredients are already used in food products, albeit in smaller quantities.

The authors realised, after initial research, that food fraud is truly an enormous topic. They devote a chapter to how scientists tackle the subject of finding evidence , complex in a globalised industry where ready-to-eat meals are processed to the point that nothing resembles the living things that once grew. How to develop tests to confirm or authenticate that truth of what labels tell us becomes a real challenge. As they develop ways of detecting corn syrup disguised as honey, the fraudsters find a new type of syrup that will escape detection.

Vegetable oil endures a long history of adulteration and continues to present challenges – cheap oil frequently added to expensive oil, while swindles has caused hundreds of deaths in Spain and shaken the US economy.

Mislabelling of seafood is a major occurrence, one to which the UK government is giving attention. Then there is the emotive issue of horse and other meats being included in burgers, curries, kebabs and chicken breasts. Many so-called all- beef sausages are anything but beef, and ham and chicken contain much  water. And vegetarians are not immune as the authors uncover cases of meat adulterating spices and of blood products making their way into baked goods…

Corruption in dairy products ranges from an extreme – fake milk made of urea and shampoo in India – to replacing animal-based fats with vegetable-based products . Only the major health scandals make the headlines, such as the 300 000 Chinese children who fell ill (six of whom died) in the 2008 discovery of melamine in milk.

The wine industry is described as one where the greatest economic gains can be made by falsifying. This in a market rife with scandals, where the criminals are “often as wealthy as their victims and …have the refined palates… that enable them to carry off such scams”. And don’t think that spirits like vodka and whisky are left out, as they are quite easy to adulterate, say the authors.

The spice story is another tale liable to cause some nausea. Suffice it to say, we need to check the source of our peppercorns. We should buy whole spices rather than ground to ensure that they do not contain additives (which can, apparently) include dust, rodent hairs and insect fragments. Cayenne pepper has been found to contain ground rice, mustard seed, sawdust, brick dust and salt, and can be coloured with red lead oxide (which can lead to lead poisoning.) The turmeric story is equally depressing – and ironic – given that  many health nuts are hailing this as a wonder food.

Even fresh fruit and vegetables do not escape fraudulence – mangoes a sprayed with formalin (from Bangladesh)and other methods to keep items looking fresh well beyond their real age, are grey areas  that may not be illegal but certainly are deceitful. And could even be deadly.

Looking to the future, its likely that food fraud will increase: climate change will increase the prevalence of livestock diseases and affect crop yields, tempting more people toward dishonest practices. As Prof Chris Elliott of Belfast University remarks in the foreword – “A number of food-business operators …have told me their biggest dilemma is to decide if they should cheat in the same way as their competitors, or go out of business”

The authors discuss actions we, the consumers, can take:   Be informed readers, (you could be, thanks to this book), so we are better equipped to detect and avoid food fraud. Be careful of unrealistic prices or bargains. Buy from people you trust. Other measures, like eating seasonally, can help. In some northern countries, governments are taking inspections seriously, with Denmark forming a Food Flying Squad whose inspectors arrive by helicopter unannounced, and inspect with a no closed doors policy (if keys are “lost” they call a locksmith immediately). Media have an important role to play as well, exposing fraud in industry and pressurising governments to act.

The British authors have, naturally, focussed on food and beverages in the United Kingdom. Local investigation? It's definitely needed. I don’t have the stomach (sorry!) for it, but perhaps some energetic food bloggers could mount a joint project.

Myrna Robins

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As I write this a galeforce wind buffets our garden, sending lemons flying off the tree as the last of the vine leaves lose their battle to cling to the stems. The temperature is plummeting, and it’s time to light fires, dream up cosy suppers and good red wine to partner them.



b2ap3_thumbnail_Tamboerskloof-Syrah-2013.jpgWe start our vinous journey at Kleinood, that enchanting boutique farm in the Blaauwklippen valley where a stunning cellar is home to Tamboerskloof wines. Traditional and minimal winemaking methods are used to transform the shiraz berries into complex and sophisticated syrah, enlivened with the addition of a splash of viognier and 4% mourvèdre. The 2013 vintage, recently released, is a fascinating wine, broody and earthy, rather than fruity, yet there’s underlying elegance in its characterful mouthfeel. Alcohol levels of 14,5% are not obvious and this shiraz is hugely appealing. Highly scored by Wine Advocate and awarded four stars by Platter, this is a connoisseur’s shiraz that will develop substantially over the next decade.


Moving to the Simonsberg ward we pause at the historic farm Muratie with its absorbingb2ap3_thumbnail_Muratie-shiraz.jpg centuries of stories highlighted by a fascinating mix of owners, from resolute to colourful, talented to hospitable. Their 2013 shiraz has also just been released, named after larger-than-life personality Ronnie Melck who became custodian in 1987, thus returning the farm to the Melck family after a break of almost a century.

Here the terroir yields a more typical shiraz, with plenty of pepper and other spices, backed by Christmas pudding fruit and dark chocolate. Its smooth and juicy and fulfils all expectations that fans anticipate of this all-popular cultivar. This is another wine that will benefit from further ageing, and, at R140, it won’t break the bank to squirrel away a case or two. In fact it offers very good value.







Off the R44, backed by the Helderberg’s verdant slopes,

Yonder Hill Wines cultivates just 6ha of vineyards that are now reaching theirb2ap3_thumbnail_Nicola-2010-Platter-4-star.jpg peak at 20 years old. Their recently released red blend is named Nicola, after the only daughter of owners Frikkie and Danila Naudé. As this is a shared characteristic, I was keen to sample this limited edition and second vintage of a four-star cab-led blend with 22% cab franc and 18% merlot completing the mix. Grapes were hand-picked, sorted and fermented in an oak open fermenter. Only new oak was used for maturation and the results are fresh and succulent, with fairly dominant cab character and rounded tannins, a wine that will make a fine accompaniment to grilled steak and rich beef casseroles. It sells for R255.

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Gauteng winelovers are in for a treat of a wine show next month.


The Unusuals is a wine show with a difference. Corlien Morris of the popular outlet Wine Menu will present an amazing range of top wines all of which are the lesser-known varietals. Think grenache noir, malbec, mourvedre and roussanne - to name just a few. Or try barbera, nebbiolo, petit verdot, sangiovese and zinfandel... Where else could one get a chance to taste these under one roof? Complementary canapes will be offered as well.

The venue is the Wanderers Club in Illovo, and the  show takes place on Thursday, August 18 from 6pm.

Tickets - which are in limited supply - cost R200 from Webtickets or from the shop at Blu Bird Centre. If still available, buy at the door on the night for R220.

Your host, Corlien Morris, has personally invited producers with labels that are both uncommon and of superb quality to take part. If there are wines that you fancy, you can buy at the show  at less than regular prices. In fact several of these wines are no longer available in the market.




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 Franschhoek Bastille Festival


 16 & 17 July 2016

An annual highlight that's always as popular, no matter what the weather. The food and wine marquee will keep visitors warm and dry, and if the weather is winter perfect, the surroundings are as fair as any in France.

Going Gallic over the weekend in mid-month is just what we need to remind us that Franschhoek continues to make superb vintages that complement the valley's gourmet fare.  Take part in boules, visit the markets and savour the vibe.

Tickets to the marquee cost R220, which includes glass,tasting coupons and a R20 wine vouchers. Book through www.webtickets.  For more information visit






To the Eastern Cape where the second FNB wine show takes place in Port Elizabeth on July 28 and 29 at The Boardwalk in Summerstrand. A great selection of SA' top wines are there to sip and its a good chance to stock up your cellar as well.

Exhibitors include produces such as Blaauwklippen, Ernie Els Wines, Jordan and Ken Forrestr,  while there are interesting boutique wineries taking part that can make worthwhile discoveries. Oude Molen brandy could make a fine finale . Visit for a full list of exhibitors and wines.


  Local wine outlet Prestons will operate the convenient Shop@Show facility where wine purchases at the show are delivered to your door.   


Venue: Tsitsikamma Rooms, The Boardwalk, Beach Road, Summerstrand

Time: 17h00 to 21h00

Ticket Price: R140 to R160 (includes unlimited tastings and  tasting glass). The early Bird price of R140 is valid for sales until 27th July. Thereafter and at the door tickets are R160.No under 18s, nor babies and prams.  A complimentary show guide includes producer information and informative notes on wine variety characteristics, food matching and serving temperatures.

Refreshments:  Light meals will be available for sale.

Queries:  011 482 5936/5/4

Tickets: Tickets can be purchased at one of the following options:

  • Online through
  • Money Market counters in Shoprite Checkers stores
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Ultra Mussels Wine Celebration



Den Anker Restaurant, V&A Waterfront, Cape Town

30 July 2015 12:00 till 16:00

Not only will guests tuck into a kg of delicious black mussels, and wash them down with a range of fine white and red Cape wines, but there's more fun in watching the tussle that's promised between girls and boys in the wine sphere.


This years’ Ultra Mussels Wine Tournament to be held on Saturday, 30th July 2016 from 12 noon until 4pm at Den Anker Restaurant, V&A Waterfront, Cape Town.  Not only is this battle unique in that it pits guys and girls in wine against each other, but this is the first time  only one wine region will be represented.  Mark Norrish of Ultra Liquors Wine Division has  selected participants from the Stellenbosch region for this years’ battle.The girls in wine will be representing Blaauwklippen, De Morgenzon, Fleur du Cap, Haskell Vineyards, House of J.C. Le Roux, Simonsig , Uitkyk  and Warwick. The guys will be representing Beyerskloof , Delaire Graff , Ernie Els Wines, Glenelly, Kanonkop , Kleine Zalze and Rust en Vrede.


The best of Belgian cuisine has been embraced in the form of 1kg of mussels for each of the guests.

 Luke Krone Events will again be behind the scenes ensuring that a fun-filled experience is had by all.

Tickets cost R230 per person and are available through Webtickets and  include 1kg of fresh mussels, a souvenir wine glass, wine tastings and live entertainment.  Only 200 tickets available.  Booking essential.  No under 18’s allowed. 

For further information or queries contact Luke Krone,Cell: 082 354 9007 Email: Website:





 The annual FNB Free State Wine Show will  bring cheer to the palates of Bloemfontein wine lovers on Thursday 4th and Friday 5th August at Emoya Estate.  With award-winning producers  from the regions of Stellenbosch, Paarl, Hermanus, Robertson, Constantia, Franschhoek, Stanford and Tulbagh, show visitors will be spoilt for choice by the range of  styles on offer – from celebratory sparklings, to delicate whites and robust reds,  with a classic Cape Port or brandy as finales.    Visitors can also sample and buy at the Just Biltong, Dinutty Nuts, Woodview Gourmet Foods and Snyman Sjokolateur stands too.


Tickets to the show are available via Computicket as well as theoutlets listed below.  Wine lovers can plan their tasting experience in advance by visiting for a full list of exhibitors and wines in the lead-up to the show.  Online wine retailer Cybercellar will operate the convenient Shop@Show facility where wine purchases at the show are delivered to your door.   

 Event name:       FNB Free State Wine Show

Dates:                   Thursday 4th and Friday 5th August 2016

Venue:                  Emoya Hotel and Conference Centre, 7 Kleynhans Avenue, Groenvlei, Bloemfontein

Time:                     17h00 to 21h00  

Ticket Price:        R150 to R190 (includes unlimited tastings and wine tasting glass)The early Bird price of R150 is valid for sales until 30th July. Thereafter and at the door, tickets are R170 for Thursday and R190 for Friday. No under 18s, nor babies and prams.  A complimentary show guide includes producer information and informative notes on wine variety characteristics, food matching and serving temperatures. 

Tickets can be purchased via, Money Market counters in Shoprite Checkers stores and at the door subject to availability.

Refreshments:  Light meals will be available for sale.

Website:      for a full list of exhibitors and wines from 18 July.   

Enquiries:            Telephone (011) 482 5936.


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If I didn’t already live here, this is a weekend that I would book for right now! Our little village, perched on a road that climbs through vines and orchards to reach a dead end among drifts of fynbos and proteas on the Sonderend mountains, is small, historic, beautiful. It is also home to a diverse collection of fascinating wine cellars and restaurants that range from award-winning fine dining to hearty country fare presented on a terrace with heart-stopping views across valleys, hills and undulating ranges.

Along with weekends as quiet and reflective or as energetic and busy as visitors wish, there’s a new attraction to contemplate: Geared to small groups of friends or family (8 – 12) or even corporate colleagues, Fiona Cameron-Brown is orchestrating slow wine and food weekends for visitors who enjoy taking the road less travelled and unearthing the secrets of rural cellars, small and large, who produce good to outstanding wine at palate-pleasing prices.

Mouthwatering meals will be as varied, the wines matched to courses, the hospitality will be warm, and the accommodation cosy and central or luxurious in a lofty setting. Weekends that are planned well ahead are themed, but groups who would like their own itinerary catered for, are welcome to discuss their wishes with Fiona.

The best part is that those who yearn to be pampered from start to finish, will relish typical itineraries that start with transport from Cape Town International airport to McGregor on a Friday afternoon, with sundowners and dinner to come. Saturday could see the group enjoying morning tastings at local cellars, and free time to explore the village attractions in the afternoon. Tastings and dinner at another venue will be on the Saturday evening programme, with more to follow on Sunday morning, finishing with a memorable Sunday wine and dine lunchtime finale before being taken back to Cape Town.

Slow Wine Weekends are designed for the 40 – 50+plus set. Visit the website at For more info, send an email to with your queries or call 023 6251450 between 10h00 and 13h00 from Mon – Thurs.

Among the cellars taking part is the large McGregor Wines, a producer of agreeable white wines selling at budget-beating prices, good cabernet, easy-drinking merlot and pinotage.

In a charming thatched cellar perched on the lower slopes of the Sonderend, Lord’s Wines are producing some fine wines: their pinot noir has been discovered by retailers in other regions, their cap classique is moreish, and their sauvignon blanc is a good choice on a warm day.

McGregor is also home to Solara, the valley’s first certified organic wine, a single vineyard sauvignon blanc that makes a memorable sundowner. A portion of profits from sales of every bottle is channelled to the Landmark Foundation which does sterling work in conservation of Cape leopards across the Western and Eastern Cape provinces

Ilse Schutte is a talented garagiste who makes her hand crafted shiraz and an excellent bone dry non-vintage cap classique from accommodation in the centre of McGregor. These make a fine pair and I hope she will include a rosé in her range soon, as she has made fine examples in the past. Bemind Wyne translates to Beloved Wines.

A few kilomeres outside the village Tanagra Private Cellar has already been discovered by hundreds of enthusiastic German visitors, and if you haven’t sampled their superb cabernet franc, grappas and eaux de vie of world class, you are in for a treat. Their rosé is in a class of its own, and is sold out virtually before bottling. Robert and Anette Rosenbach have restored a rundown farm with a magnificent wild fig tree to pristine perfection, and their stylishly decorated cottages are another attraction for weekenders from afar.

Jan Kannemeyer, owner and winemaker at Wolfkloof, has had a life-long love affair with merlot.  Set in spectacular surroundings and producing wonderful wines, Wolfkloof’s cellar is located on the edge of Robertson.

Also taking part is well-known winemaker and consultant Lourens van der Westhuizen who makes great wines and enjoys sharing his expertise with keen winelovers. His single vineyard wines are renowned for their affordable quality.



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Picture captions: Mr BAS Singh with Nicolette Waterford; Nothing but a Hound Dog outside the Garden Cottage; Oliver's sublime apple dessert; Soothing, welcoming sitting room - whoops, there's that hound again.

b2ap3_thumbnail_Leeu-nicolette-and-BAS.jpg b2ap3_thumbnail_Leeu-Hound-dog.jpg



It struck me at the launch of Leeu House, and now, again – with even more insistence – on the 68ha stretch of mountainside  that is now Leeu Estates. The sense of tranquility that pervades what is a working wine farm envelops,  both in and out of doors.

We were at the press launch of Leeu Estates, the impressive centre of five-star hospitality created from the amalgamation of three Franschhoek farms over the last few years.  The view from the Founder's Vineyard across the valley to where the pass snakes upward is breathtaking, seemingly in perfect harmony with one’s immediate surroundings.

A serene old farmstead now houses the luxurious hotel, and adjoining buildings offer further accommodation. Throughout, interior designer Beverley Boswell has achieved this admirable air of luxurious calm that  invites guests to unwind, de-stress and relax. Pastel and neutral shades contribute to this, all sparked with fascinating art, handmade lighting, fabrics, carpets, curtaining with wonderful  textures obtained from around the world. These are backed by a harmonious architectural design of sitting rooms, bedrooms and bathrooms that combine sophistication with practical and pampered  living.

While there are numerous statues  by renowned artists given lofty locations at various points on the farm, I loved the inclusion of whimsical works of art like Nothing but a Hound Dog, which guards the entrance to the Garden Cottage.  The practical simplicity -  with all amenities – of the Wine Studio is a pleasing destination in which to enjoy sampling the range of Mullineux wines, soon to be followed by the Mullineux & Leeu Family Wines when the Swartland vineyard comes on stream.

Staying with wine, another hillside vineyard has been planted with a variety of red cultivars to produce, in time, a fine red blend for founder Analijt BAS Singh, whose vision this is. The Founders Vineyard lies next to a brilliant bed of blooming yellow and orange marigolds, which forms part of the Bokkie Garden, soon to be inhabited by a few springbok (who won’t eat these flowers, but other grasses and plants have been chosen to provide them with good green meals.)

Executive chef Oliver Cattermole presents fare that is as delicious to the palate as its easy on the eye. While he keeps up with gastronomic trends, he never lets these dominate his menu – taste is foremost followed by maximum use of seasonal and local ingredients.


On this cool autumn day his canapé of home-cultivated mushroom velouté was superb, alongside bites of Madras-cured salmon with celery. Late season tomatoes were given royal treatment – roasted and teamed with tabbouleh and a spicy tomato fondue, while the humble carrot also rose in the world thanks to Cattermole’s imaginative creation, complemented wby the brilliant Mullineux 2014 Old Vines white. Kingklip partnered by rich aubergine and a green olive salsa made a fine main course, and a seasonal finale of roasted apple terrine with a smidgeon of salted caramel and an apple sauce rounded off the lunch in fine style, the crisp freshness of Mullineux’s straw wine 2015 adding the perfect accompaniment.

Great news for gourmet diners is that this fine dining experience is open to non-residents as well as the guests who fill both the 17-room country hotel and Leeu House, a boutique hotel in the heart of Franschhoek.

It was a launch that was seamlessly successful, in keeping with its goal, organised by Leeu PR, brand and marketing head, Nicolette Waterford.

Next up? Marigold, an Indian restaurant, is set to open toward the end of the year  opposite the hotel and Le Quartier Francais, now also a Leeu property. In developing the Leeu Collection into what could be termed the lion’s share of Franschhoek hospitality, the portfolio is also presenting a hard-to-beat standard of tasteful luxury paired with attentive, caring service..  b2ap3_thumbnail_Leeu-sitting-room.jpg

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Ken Forrester's historic farmstead and Delaire's new cheninb2ap3_thumbnail_delaire-chenin.jpg


Having missed a fine showcase of chenins at the Cape Grace last week, I have already diarised August 24 which is when the winners of the 2016 Chenin Blanc Top 10 Challenge will be announced at Delaire Graff estate. If you are thinking of entering your chenin, note that entries close a week from today, on June 29, and the judging panel meets from July 5 – 7 to identify the stars.

Having looked at the Showcase categories – fresh and fruity, rich and ripe, cap classiques, blends, older vintages and sweet wines – I turned to a trio of chenins at home waiting to be sampled and decided to categorise them as well.

Ken Forrester’s 2015 Dirty Little Secret has already received a fair amount of publicity, partly because of its name, secondly its price (R950) and thirdly in various comparisons with other single vineyard, “naturally made” chenins from old vines. Grapes were sourced from low-yielding 51-year-old bush vines in Piekenierskloof, and the wine was made to age and gain complexity in the bottle. Winemaking involved only wild yeasts , spontaneous fermentation and no sulphur was added until after malolactic fermentation. It matured in 400 litre French oak for five months before being bottled, unfiltered and unfined. The process can be described as a trip back in time to make a thoroughly modern wine. Ken stated that he wanted to ‘showcase the terroir’ along with a wine that can be identified by terroir, vintage and age of the vineyard.

The “dirty” in the wine’s name refers to a technical term about wines that are cloudy and unstable, because of natural or minimal- interference winemaking. Will the name put off fastidious consumers, one wonders?

It is indeed an impressive chenin, one that certainly fits the rich and ripe category, offering a luxury packaging with a pricy charcoal and yellow box to hold the dark bottle with its decorative front label  informing consumers  only of the name. Only 12,5% alcohol levels, its golden, with definable structure, minerality allied to a smooth mouthfeel. There’s plenty of fruit in its rich flavours and I really like it, as it does not overwhelm with the intensity of some barrel-fermented chenins.

It will be interesting to see if local consumers are happy to fork out close to R1 000 for their pleasure, and if export sales are what Ken has in mind here.

Delaire Graff chenin blanc Swartland Reserve 2015 presents quite a sharp contrast. Bottled in a green screwcapped bottle, its simple white label is unadorned offering basic information. This is an elegant chenin, also made from very old bush vines, which were whole bunch pressed, no sulphur added. The wine was matured in French oak for 10 months, in both 400 litre and 2 500 litre barrels.

It charms with restrained layers of citrus and pineapple, with wisps of honey coming through. There is structure and minerality too, but nothing is obvious, nicely balanced, with 14% alcohol levels not being noticeable either. It sells for R160 and will find favour with a wide spectrum of local and international palates. It would fall into the fresh and fruity category: Fresh,  yes, but  the fruit is held in check to obtain perfect balance with mineral structure. A class act.

My final chenin was purchased from Checkers a couple of weeks ago: BC or Brandvlei Cellar is one that I have often meant to stop at while driving on the R43 from Worcester to Villiersdorp and Elgin. Somehow appointments have always interfered, although I know this grower-owned cellar is renowned for value for money whites and reds enjoyed by a wide range of consumers. I paid R27 for their 2016 chenin blanc, and was impressed by the enjoyment offered by this quaffer. Fresh and fruity, certainly, 12,5% alcohol levels adding to its appeal. The typical Breede valley characteristics of guava and subtropical fruit are there, it is not bone dry, and it is a chenin that can accompany fare from picnics to fruit tarts in undemanding style. I would certinaly give it more than 2 and half stars which the 2015 vintage gets in the current edition of Platter. Its a chenin to convert budget-minded consumers who usually buy boring white boxed blends.

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