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Posted by on in Cookbooks

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THE SOUTH AFRICAN VEGAN COOKBOOK

By Leozette Roode, published by Human & Rousseau,  Cape Town, 2018

The first of its kind in South Africa, this compilation of vegan recipes also offers readers who may be contemplating a vegan lifestyle much information, from basic equipments, answers to common questions, vegan alternatives for everyday products and menu ingredients using locally sourced products.

Last year veganism and its advocates became more frequent on South African culinary websites along with articles on the subject in the print media. This year sees more of the same, so that – while this country is, and is likely to remain, populated by avid meat-eating urban and rural South Africans, the number of vegetarians and vegans is sure to be increasing. Probably among the younger generation, who – if they stay the pace – will mean a larger number of older folk will bring up their families without eating meat in the near future. Time will tell.

Meanwhile this is the first local vegan cookbook to appear on our book store shelves, and author Leozette is well-equipped to write it: She is an international blogger, recipe developer and demonstrator of vegan recipes and ideas and has aimed, in this book, to offer readers 100 easy-to-follow, inexpensive and quick recipes.

Her journey from meat-eating to veganism is well- described in her introduction. Here she also offers facts on why going vegan is good for the environment, citing water resources needed to raise red meat and poultry, the quantity of greenhouse gases released into the atmosphere while raising animals and the huge areas of our land that are required either for grazing these animals or growing crops to feed them. She also offers a useful list of vegan-friendly alternatives to meat, dairy, confectionery and other products – including wines.

Recipes start with breakfast ideas, including some berried smoothies and chocolate granola, follow with snacks like tandoori cauliflower bites and move to lunch choices that range from simple soups like zucchini “noodle” soup and multigrain salads to chicken-style salad cups and chilli con carne using soya mince. Some of the pasta dishes will tempt non-vegan eaters as well.

In the bakes offered as teatime treats the alternative ingredients are more obvious – eggs replaced with flaxseed powder, milk by almond or soya milk, butter by coconut oil, etc. But the results – muffins, scones, cakes and sweet tarts – look very appetising in the full page colour photographs.

Recipes for supper and grander occasions complete the menu and the recipe index ends the text.

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Posted by on in Wine

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Two enjoyable chenins came my way recently, nicely adding to the rich diversity of styles winemakers employ when transforming these versatile grapes into bottled sunshine.

From the Overhex cellars near Worcester, another label in their Survivor range, their 2018 barrel-fermented chenin blanc that is a great match for the seasonal specialties of autumn – think onion tart, butternut and Camembert soup, Mediterranean chicken bakes...

The winemakers sourced their grapes from a Swartland farm called Constantia, low-yielding blocks, that delivered full-flavoured berries. While 30% of the wine was fermented in stainless steel tanks , the rest underwent barrel fermentation in first- fill 500 litre untoasted French oak where the wine spent four months before being blended and bottled.

The results are impressive: there is plenty of structure in this chenin, a good balance between wood and fruit, with stone fruit predominant, The wine is fresh but not frisky, and clearly characteristic of the Swartland with its superior ability to deliver quality, fruitiness and backbone in one delicious integrated package. Alcohol levels of 13% are in keeping. The new cellar door price, post-budget, is R120.

 

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From the north-eastern section of the Durbanville region, the vast Groot Phesantekraal farm has been releasing labels from its range  made by Etienne Louw, including this appetising summery 2018 chenin blanc, its grapes sourced from bush vines more than 50 years old. The result is fresh, fragrant and fruity, an unwooded aperitif or cheery companion to seafood and poultry salads. Unlike Durbanville sauvignon blanc which nearly always presents distinctive regional characteristics, this chenin did not identify itself – or not to me at any rate. But at R55 its a great buy and one that visitors to this sprawling farm should be sure to taste. It sports a double gold from the Michelangelo 2018 competition. (The price may have increased since the budget ).

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The name intrigues – Seasalter is, according to Nick Pentz, a mediaeval village in Kent that was engaged in salt production during the Iron Age – and transported to the Darling Hills as a moniker  for a superior sauvignon blanc. As one would expect, this is a wine that reflects Groote Post’s proximity to the Atlantic coast, with hints of kelp and saline touches between the friskiness, flint and some citrus and green fruit.

Seasalter 2018 also offers complexity, partly provided by its component of 10% Semillon and partly because half the wine matured in French oak for eight months before being blended into the rest which fermented in stainless steel tanks.

The characteristic Darling dustiness is just apparent, and the whole is a zesty, layered, distinctive sauvignon well reflecting its west coast terroir. Moderate alcohol levels of 13,5% are in keeping. Its simple white label adds an image of those white sands, the two seagulls seem to be having quite a battle with the south-easter, and turquoise touches reflect the Atlantic at its soothing best.

Earlier vintages were limited to members of the farm’s wine club, but the 2018 vintage is accessible to all, and this flagship sauvignon blanc sells for around R140.

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Posted by on in Events

 

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Those following a Banting-type diet can savour a long, guilt-free feast with autumnal flavours at the next Pop-up in Pringle Bay lunch. March 9 is the day to diarise when Brian Berkman will set his long table for a five course buffet meal that includes ratatouille, beef brisket and cheesecake, home cooking at its tastiest best. The luncheon costs R350 and a digestif in the form of a walk on the beach is free of charge....

There are just 10 places available so booking in advance at Quicket or at BrianBerkman.com is essential. 

 

Bookings via Quicket are also open for the following dates: April 27, May 11, June 8, July 20, August 17, September 7, October 19, November 23, December 14, December 21 and January 4 2020 

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Posted by on in Events

 

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There’s no need to drive between the nine farms taking part in the 2019 Paarl Harvest Celebration – a hop on, hop off shuttle will transport visitors from one to the next , leaving every 15 minutes.

The event takes place on Saturday March 02, starting at 8am. Taking part are Boland Cellar, Domaine Brahms, Mellasat Vineyards, Nederburg, Perdeberg Winery, Rhebokskloof Wine Estate, Simonsvlei, Vendome and Windmeul Cellar.

Try grape stomping, enjoy barrel tastings, go on a cellar tour and relish delicious food and wine while the kids take in special entertainment.

Each farm has its own programme which is listed on www.paarlharvestcelebration.co.za. Stock up on some wonderful value-for-money wines as well. Buy your ticket online at

https://www.quicket.co.za/events/65050-harvest-celebration-hop-on-hop-off-shuttle/#/ for R100. For more information contact +27 (0) 87 094 3850 or +27 (0) 78 706 9560.

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Posted by on in News

 

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Winemaker Nadia Barnard-Langenegger has joined other talented young Cape winemakers in their quest to re-introduce cabernets that are lent berried elegance from cinsaut, a practice that produced many of the long-lived cabs of the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s of the last century.

This makes the Revenant title of this False Bay Vineyards red particularly relevant, just as it applied to the maiden wine in this range, the blend of sauvignon blanc and chenin blanc, which made a stellar debut.

Revenant Red 2017 is the second, combining 80% cabernet from vineyards varying in age from 10 to 15 years with grapes from cinsaut bush vines up to 40 years old.

The cab harvest was slow fermented with natural vineyard yeasts, was foot-stomped twice daily after a three-day whole-bunch carbonic fermentation. The cabernet and cinsaut were aged separately for nine months in older oak before being blended and then matured in 600 litre barrels for a year before bottling.

The nose presents vibrant red fruit aromas, while the palate is well-balanced, with quite firm tannins and is medium-bodied with moderate 13,5% alcohol levels. As with its predecessor, the wine also reflects something of a light, feminine touch that distinguishes it from most other cabs, a feature that winemaker Nadia integrates into her creations with charming results. At R100 it is also competitively priced in a market where Stellenbosch cabs often command stellar prices. It's certain that many will welcome this rebirth of a classic cab.

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Waterkloof owner Paul Boutinot has established his biodynamic vineyards and cellar on the hillside above False Bay. False Bay Vineyards, his second range, is not biodynamic, but its wines are treated in similar environmentally-friendly ways, using natural yeasts, minimal processing, and sans fining before bottling. 

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Posted by on in News

 

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Going, going gone! It could be something of a record: The Bruwer family launched their maiden Albariño in Hout Bay on the first Monday in February and by mid-month the last of the 600 cases had sold, both from cellar door and the online shop.

Frustrating both to those Springfield wine fans who didn’t move fast enough and to newcomers who thought they would sample the new addition on their next visit to Robertson.

Better news is that the 2019 vintage is likely to be a little larger in quantity – the grapes were harvested yesterday, February 13, so let me tell you more about this irresistible white wine that the Bruwer family enjoy as much as do those lucky customers who  hugging their case closely to their chests...

Albariño is a new cultivar – new that is to the Cape winelands - but a Spanish varietal widely grown in Galicia, in the north-west. It made its 

 way to Portugal where it's known as Alvarinho, used in vinho verde, familiar to legions of South African travellers to Mozambique, and also to South America where Uruguay produces a fine example, and one that enchanted the Bruwer family while on holiday there. They returned, determined to acquire some vines for their farm.

Luck was on their side as the Newton Johnson family of the Hemel-en-Aarde valley had had similar ideas and kindly offered Springfield some of their cuttings.

These were carefully planted and nurtured, slowly multiplying over three years until a single block was established, and one that meets the demanding standards that Springfield estate sets for their grapes.

Earlier this month Abri, Jeanette and Jenna Bruwer gathered at Hout Bay to host curious media to the official launch of their limited edition Springfield Albariño 2018, its retro front label eye-catching, brick-red writing on a cream background, the language of choice pertinently Spanish, with just a strap at the bottom in English, identifying this unique Robertson estate.

This is a full-bodied wine, yet pleasing in having alcohol levels of just 12,5% . It is unwooded, the grapes having been harvested exactly a year ago. The wine spent more than 3 months on primary lees before bottling. There is complexity in its structure, offering the palate a delightful balance of stone fruit and the flint that wines from this terroir usually display. It’s also as fresh as a daisy without being over-acidic: All in all this South African Albariño yields mouthfuls of deliciousness that are a little redolent of the ocean: one does not need a dish of prawns on the table to know that it will partner shellfish with panache. But it also makes a charming aperitif and I imagine that the Uruguayan Albariño would have a tough time competing with its Cape counterpart.

Just 6 000 bottles of numbered bottles were produced, selling at R115 a bottle  from the cellar door. Perhaps Springfield will start a waiting list after harvest for the 2019 vintage - happily they have assured us that their journey with Albariño has only just begun.

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Posted by on in News

 

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Popular and prolific wine and food writer and broadcaster Michael Olivier has just launched the first of a new series of podcasts, featuring noteworthy wines he regards as worthy of special attention. Called Michael's Minute of Wine, each podcast will be pithy and informative, both characteristics his legions of followers have come to expect.

 

The series kicked off this week with Asara’s The Bell Tower 2013, a fine Bordeaux style blend from the historic Stellenbosch estate in the Polkadraai Hills. The podcast  offers listeners an informative and tempting portrait of this  flagship , voiced in clear and simple terms that do not require specialist knowledge to absorb.

If you missed it you will find it at http://bit.ly/2DZx9XZ. Visit Michael’s website at www.michaelolivier.co.za for this and many more wine stories, suggested pairings with recipes from local foodie and up-to-date events across the South African winelands. He also reviews new cookbooks and new non-fiction that he has enjoyed.

 

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Posted by on in Events

 

 

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Country cuisine and al fresco feasts

    

This hugely popular late summer harvest celebration takes place over three days from Friday March 1 to Sunday the 3rd with towns and farms in the Robertson, Ashton, McGregor and Bonnievale areas taking part. As before, all ages and tastes are catered for in this food and wine affair, along with activities ranging from energetic to pampering the senses.

Experience the grape’s journey from vine to barrel to glass by picking & stomping, vineyard safaris and blending & tasting experiences. Enjoy riverside lunches, gourmet dinners, vineyard picnics and food & wine pairings. Vineyard runs and mountain biking both make great starts to the day or try a game of croquet.

Among the attractions are a terroir tour at Bushmanspad, or working for your breakfast at Jan Harmsgat by harvesting a basket of grapes before enjoying your al fresco meal under the pecan nut rrees. Lords Wines are hosting a special McGregor market at their superb mountainside location on the Saturday and Tanagra hosts will be offering wine and grappa tastings between distilling their worldclass marc on their picture-perfect farm outside McGregor. Along with conventional wine-tasting and pairings, Weltevrede estate is presenting cheese and wine and chocolate and wine pairings with their Simplicity range.

Entry to the big family market at Viljoensdrift on Sunday March 03 is free of charge. See www.handsonharvest for the full programme. Book directly with the farm offering the event of your choice. For accommodation, contact the local tourism offices in Robertson, Bonnievale, Ashton and McGregor. Call Robertsonwinevalley for more info on 023 626 3167.

 

 

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Underground tastings in old candelit cellars

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Posted by on in Events

Things are hotting up in every sense of the word. With harvest in full swing in many regions, the weather in some areas is sizzling, in others just offering enjoyable late summer warmth. Wine-lovers, travellers and adventurous spirits have a wealth of harvest fests and, of course, Valentine events to contemplate as February gives way to March.

G&T’s and more at Woodstock’s Old Biscuit Mill

 

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Sunday February 24 see the fourth Gin & Tonic Fest take place at this vibey venue, where popular and new gin brands are showcased to fans. The gin makers will be there to tell their stories, the Neighbourgoods Market will operate alongside, local performers will adda musical background and tempting artisanal food will be displayed.

Early Bird tickets have sold out and General Admission Tickets are live and going fast. There are three different group ticket options. Buy your whole crews' tickets to attend in one go and get a discount on each ticket purchased… the larger your group, the more you save. Please note that tickets for the day are limited, so we advise purchasing your tickets as soon as possible. 

Join The Gin Revolution… Get tickets here: http://qkt.io/G4C0gD Website:http://ginandtonicfestival.co.za/

 

 

DURBANVILLE HILLS INVITES YOU TO A WEDNESDAY AFFAIR

 

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Every Wednesday at 18h00, from the, 20th of February until the 27th of March wine lovers are invited to enjoy an exceptional harvest experience at just R275 per person.

A glass of Durbanville Hills’ renowned Sparkling Sauvignon Blanc starts proceedings, followed by a cellar tour with one of the expert wine ambassadors. Then a delicious two-course dinner in the restaurant is matched to the cellar’s fine wines. 

As space is limited, prepaid bookings are required. For bookings or enquiries, please contact Stephanie Timm (0) 21 558 1300 or send an email to SLTimm@distell.co.za

 

 

MURATIE'S ANNUAL HARVEST FESTIVAL

 

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 tthere are several options for visitors to this popular celebrations, taking place on Saturday March 02. Good food, fine wine, great company are all on the menu at this celebration hosted by the Melck family at their beautiful and historic farm.

Grape stomping and tractor rides through the vineyards is one activitiy while tastings and a long alfresco lunch with the cellar’s wine is another. Music will be provided by the Kitchen Jammin Blues band. Entrance tickets cost from R120 pp depending on what is booked.

For further information and bookings contact Nina Martin at Muratie on 021 865 2330/2336 orinfo@muratie.co.za.

 

PERDEBERG CELEBRATE THE PAARL HARVEST FESTIVAL

 

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Perdeberg Wine Cellar will celebrate their annual Harvest Festival on 02 March, 2019 from 10am. The cellar is off the R44, on the Voor-Paardeberg road in the Windmeul district. Entrance costs R60 a head, which includes wine glass and 10 tasting tickets while youngsters younger than 18 go in free of charge. Buy at the gate or online at

https://itickets.co.za/events/416910.html

Tastings of wine, craft beer and a bubbly bar will be offered, while food trucks, cheese platters, a biltong stall and an oyster bar should keep guests well fed. Live entertainment adds to the vibe, and there is a children’s area with recreational activities charged at R20 per child.

 

FAMILY FUN AT NEDERBURG DURING PAARL HARVEST FESTIVAL

 

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The Paarl Harvest Celebration takes place on Saturday, 2 March 2019. 

Nederburg’s programme starts with an hour-long yoga session presented by The Om Revolution, from 9:00 -10:00, on the lawn in front of the manor house. Follow this with brunch from their picnic basket costing R225 per head.

From 10:00 until 18:00, visitors can sample some of Nederburg’s young wines join the adult lawn games and stomp newly harvested grapes. A variety of fun activities will be lined up for children.

Live music by popular South African artists will keep visitors entertained and various food, ice cream and drink stalls will offer  country-style fare to enjoy with Nederburg wines. 

Free guided tours of Nederburg’s state-of-the-art cellar and Old Cellar Museum will take place every hour from 11:00 until 17:00

The Red Table restaurant in the manor house, will be serving its à la carte menu between 11:00 and 16:00. Restaurant reservations are advised, and picnics need to be booked and paid for in advance.

Book through www.webtickets.co.za at R50 per adult (free for those under the age of 18 accompanied by an adult). 

 

 

MONTH LONG VALENTINES AT ANTHONIJ RUPERT WYNE

 

Sweet treats and Rosés are being paired during February at this Franschhoek estate, with free tastings of rosé wines, both still and sparkling. Partner them with a gourmet salad if liked, and finish dinner with a rose bubbly and strawberry tart.

Buy a case of rose wines and get the 6th bottle free.

Book for a MCC and Sweet Treat tasting with three bubblies paired with four treats, including  citrus and dulce fudge, a raspberry blondie and a cherry and white chocolate truffe. This costs R95 a head and is available Mon – Saturday, booking  essential. To book email tasting@rupertwines.com or call 021 874 9041.

 

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Posted by on in Blog

 

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Huge, hospitable and a hive of activity. That sums up the scene at the Perdeberg cellar now and over the next few weeks with harvest in full swing. At least seven ranges of pocket-friendly wines of consistent quality flow from this impressive set-up, but the winery is first of all known for putting chenin blanc on the map before the trend became universal.   It also makes fullest use of the fact that among its 37 member-growers there are many who supply the cellar with the fruit-intense grapes from thousands of hectares of bush vines, many of them venerable and influenced by varying micro-climates

Recently I sampled wines from four of the ranges , adding up to a delicious and diverse case of enjoyment.

I started with the 2018 chenin blanc from the Perdebeg Classic range: Just as expected, mouthfuls of fresh and fruity flavour, notably peach and melon, delivering the characterful Swartland flavours that no other region can duplicate.  A crisp wine that will happily take on the roles of both sundowner and partner summer brunch and autumn picnics. It’s a wine that complements a wide range of vegetarian and poultry-based savoury fare with imperceptible ease. R43 from cellar door.

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Rossouw’s Heritage takes chenin blanc up a notch or three, leading a patrician blend, with grenache blanc and viognier bringing up the rear in the 2017 vintage. I opened the 2015 wine, which is made up of 40% chenin, 27% Roussanne, 13% viognier, finished with 10% each of clairette blanche and sauvignon blanc.

The wine pays tribute to Jan Rossouw of the farm Vryguns, who, 78 years ago suggested to his fellow grape farmers in the Perdeberg area, that they should join forces and increase marketing strength. Which is exactly what they did, to become producers of mostly dryland, or non-irrigated vines, many of them venerable, yielding intensely flavoured grapes.  

This is a memorable wine, showing off the Cape ‘s ability to make outstanding white blends. The  nose offers a mix of stone, citrus and sub-tropical fruit, followed by the spectrum of summer fruit flavours on the palate along with vanilla from 20% oaking. The fruit is well balanced by fresh crispness, adding up to rich and memorable mouthfuls. Deserves to accompany gourmet creations based on shellfish, duck and chicken and Moroccan tagines. R120 from cellar door.

 

 

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Perdeberg has added a new rosé to the substantial Vineyard Collection. The label of the 2018 Cinsault Dry Rosé is self-explanatory – the alcohol levels are a pleasing low 11,5%, the dryland cinsault adds its own distinctive character to this light-bodied, fruity summer sipper that will also make an excellent autumn picnic mate. R70 from cellar door.

Another rosé from the Vineyard Collection, this time a Cap Classique sparkler produced from pinot noir. Silver-topped, offering inviting hues of salmon pink, the Perdeberg pinot noir rosé MCC 2015 combines bubbles with berry and watermelon flavours, medium-bodied with whiffs of characteristic biscuit on the palate. A delicious choice for Valentine celebrations..R120 from cellar door..

 

On to the reds, starting with the Perdeberg SSR, (Soft Smooth Red) 2017 from the recently introduced Soft Smooth range (just three labels, white, rosé and red), an entry-level, easy-drinking blend of shiraz, cinsault, cabernet sauvignon and cabernet franc. Partly wooded to add a little body to the juicy fruit and soft tannins, with alcohol levels at 14% this is a sweetish wine  that will go down well at braais and happily accompany pizza parties. The mountain zebra image is repeated in the markings of the screwcap. R45 from cellar door.

 

And, finally, back to The Vineyard Collection fo the Perdeberg Malbec 2017, a dark-hued medium-bodied wine lent backbone by a year in French oak. Accessible and destined to partner red meat dishes throughout the cooler months. R80 from cellar door.

            

 

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Posted by on in Reviews

FIELD GUIDE TO WILD FLOWERS OF SOUTH AFRICA by John Manning, Struik Nature, 2019

FIELD GUIDE TO FYNBOS by John Manning, published by Struik Nature, 2018.

Invaluable and beautiful, these substantial paperbacks are both new editions, fully updated by author John Manning, an internationally respected botanist at the SA National Biodiversity Institute in Cape Town. He is also renowned for his botanical illustrations and flower photographs, many of which feature in both titles. Manning is a world authority on the Iris and Hyacinth families, has written and co-authored several other books on South African flora and is the recipient of several awards in recognition of his work.

He appears on the back cover of both books, against different floral backgrounds, along with his dachshunds adding a human and canine touch to the galleries of magnificent flowering species within the covers.

 

Field Guide to Wild Flowers of South Africa

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The title presents nearly 500 pages of more than 1,100 flower species, and focuses on the more common, conspicuous and showy plants found in South Africa, Lesotho and Swaziland. The text opens with an introduction covering diversity patterns, floral regions and vegetation types. with a key to identifying plant groups.

The preface points out that around 20 000 wild flowers are indigenous to the region, along with grasses, sedges, reeds and rushes with insignificant flowers and no single book can attempt to cover even a small percentage of all these. Those that have been included are all carefully described, for easier identification, along with their scientific details.

Each entry is accompanied by its botanical name, common names, its family, genus and species a clear colour photograph, a distribution map and a key to the plant’s flowering season.

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Advice on how to use this guide to the best advantage makes important reading for any new enthusiast to the fascinating hobby of identifying what they find on hikes.  First find the right group, where plants have been divided into three categories, then consult the pictorial guide to wild flower families, then turn to the page where the relevant family is listed in the main body.

The entries for the 10 groups of flowering plants form the main body of the text, followed by a glossary of terms, further reading list and a detailed index of scientific names.

 

Field guide to Fynbos

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Another new edition, updating the original best-seller published in 2007, this one updated to reflect recent findings and taxonomy. More than 1 000 species are described,

The introduction identifies fynbos, offers a history of this unique and extraordinary African flora, defines it and describes its distribution. Its diversity, adaptations, reliance on fire, pollination and conservation.  There’ a guide to family groups, useful when accessing the entries which are arranged by these eight groups under which the entries are organised.

Each lists the scientific and common name, offers comparisons with  similar species, traditional uses, distribution map and key to flowering season, The captivating clear, colour photographs were taken by the author or by Colin Paterson-Jones, another renowned natural history photographer and writer. A detailed index of scientific names and glossary of terms completes the text.

 

To conclude, these two indispensable treasure chests of information for botanists and amateurs  are each packed into handy-sized formats where no square centimetre of paper is wasted!

Endpapers are used to illustrate flower parts and leaf shapes to complement the glossaries, while the edge of the back cover can be used as as a 20cm ruler to measure your floral finds.

 

Some fynbos beauties:

 

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Mimetes hottentoticus on Kogelberg peak

 

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Aspalathus costulata

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Muraltie spinosa

 

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THE WOMAN IN THE BLUE CLOAK by Deon Meyer, published by Hodder & Stoughton, UK, 2018.

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As usual, diverse strands of a necklace are  interwoven in Meyer’s impressive yet almost nonchalant way, as readers get caught up in a tale that strides across centuries and continents with consummate ease.

A woman’s body is discovered, naked and washed with bleach, on a rocky ledge at the top of Sir Lowry’s pass, on route to Elgin and the Overberg.

Detective Captain Benny Griessel is focussed on buying an engagement ring for his singing star friend Alexa, and wondering how he is going to pay for it.

In Holland a young man is fleeing from would-be captors as he runs through the night toward Rotterdam, then diverts to head to Delft....

Back in Cape Town the dead woman is identified, and Detectives Benny Griessel and his partner Cupido are on the case, wondering why a foreign visitor, who had been in the country just one day, was the murderer’s victim, and why she had wanted to go to Villiersdorp, a dorp near Elgin, that was not on the usual tourist trail.

Readers are taken to London to find out that the victim, Alicia Lewis,  was an expert in classical and antique art, who worked for an art loss register that searched for and recovered stolen art.

A painting now takes centre stage, a portrait of a woman, naked except for a blue cloak, attributed to Rembrandt ‘s star pupil Fabritius, and painted in Amsterdam in 1654. The woman was Rembrandt’s mistress and the painting had arrived at the Cape soon after where it ended up being sold to a member of the Van Reenen family who lived at that time in  Papenboom in Newlands. It was traced to a family descendant farming in the Villiersdorp district.

Of course Benny and Cupido get their man, an unlikely murderer, and it seems as if Alexa is going to receive a beautiful diamond ring from her lover, so all ends reasonably well, as things do in real life.

As always, the conversations between our much-loved detective Benny, and his partner Cupido, along with the action that moves across the city to the Cape winelands are realistic, accurate and convincing. 

Afrikaans fans got their dose of Griessel and co for Christmas, English addicts had to wait a little longer but both raced through this 140-page novella, finishing with appreciation and just one complaint. “It’s so short – hope the next one is back to normal. “

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The Platter’s 2019 SA Wine Guide by Diners Club International was launched, as usual, in November. Its dusky pink cover manages to be another first, its 712 pages means it’s quite a lot fatter than the 2018 edition and, as usual, its meticulous editor and his team and publisher Jean-Pierre Rossouw have produced another indispensable handbook for the wine industry.

A total of 90 five-star wines for 2019 were announced and the hghest-scoring in each category was named the category Wine of the Year.

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The top accolade, Winery of the Year was expanded to encompass three pinnacles of winemaking: The Newcomer Winery of the Year recognises the cellar that records the best results as a first-time participant in the guide. Erika Obermeyer Wines was the recipient, and it was indeed so satisfying to see this talented, determined solo player receive the recognition she richly deserves. Mullineux winery scooped the award for Top Performing Winery of the Year, having built up an impressive track record in the years that the pair have produced wines in their Swartland cellar. The third accolade, the Editor’s Award went to Newton Johnson Vineyards in Upper Hemel-en-Aarde which is sure to be a hugely popular choice, given both the scintillating and consistent quality of their wines and the popularity of the producing family.

The 2019 edition also introduces 100-point scores, alongside the ‘Platter’s Stars’. This global standard, now combined with the Platter’s own star-rating system, should give international readers a better understanding of the Platter judges’ assessments.

For the rest, the usual popular and essential features are there, although one new icon will be very popular with winelovers seeking out wines produced from vines 35 years or older. The Old Vine Project has taken off both here and overseas, and it is thought that this country posseses more surviving old vines than any other in the world. The quality of many of the wine that are being produced from these survivors is little short of stupendous.

There is a wealth of information on routes, cellars, restaurants and more for travelers to the winelands, and the maps seem to be clearer than last y ears. The RRP is R270.

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Make time for at least one visit to the Cape winelands this summer, as cellars gear up for harvest and aromas of crushed berries fill the air.

 

Delheim’s 2019 Harvest Festival

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This perennially popular event takes place on Saturday January26 with a pink theme to celebrate Delheim’s famed pinotage Rosé, one of the country’s first, launched back in 1976.

Tickets, which will be limited to 120 adults and 30 children cost : R650 per person and R150 for children (5-17 years old). Activities include grape-picking and stomping, vineyard tours and tractor rides, followed by a relaxed harvest feast: Think fresh salads, dolmades, baked breads, cheese & preserves, pickles, a variety of meats and fruit. Cheese straws, olives and grapes. Fynbos cupcakes and pinotage icecream round off the meal. Delheim wines are included, with juice for the small fry.

Book through Quicket. For more information, visit www.delheim.com or contact Delheim on marketing@delheim.com or 021 888 4600

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GROOTE POST’S FIRST 2019 COUNTRY MARKET ON 27TH JANUARY

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Start the  year off with a day of family fun and relaxation at the Groote Post Country Market in the Darling Hills.

 Arts, crafts, homeware and décor, clothing, jewellery, accessories, toys, plants, flowers, delicious eats galore and more are on the menu, including Darling gourmet produce like  Weskus Worswa, Darling Honey, Darling Olives, the popular Darling Brew and of course Groote Post’s well-loved wines

Relax on the lawns under the trees and enjoy the popular music and entertainment provided by DJ Riaan. The little one will be kept busy with a variety of kiddies’ activities: tractor trips, guided horse rides, face painting, sand art and zorb balls to name a few. 

The Three Market Lucky Draws will take place at 12h30, 13h30 and 14h30, the winners each receiving a hamper with products from the market and Groote Post wine, but you must be present at the draw to win.

Groote Post’s award-winning restaurant, Hilda’s Kitchen, will be open as usual, but please note that booking is essential. Dogs are welcome but  must please be kept on a leash at all times.  

  • Entry to the Groote Post Country Market is free of charge.
  • Groote Post Country Market opening hours: 10h00 to 15h00
  • For further information on the Groote Post Country Market

Contact I Love Yzer: 022 451 2202 or info@iloveyzer.co.za

www.grootepostcountrymarket.co.za · Facebook.com/GrootePostCountryMarket · @GPCountryMarket

 

 

 

 

 

Franschhoek Summer Wines

 

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Another popular annual event, the 2019 garden party takes place on Saturday, February 02, from noon at the Leopard’s Leap Family Vineyards . Wines being poured included the Vigneron’s choice of MCC, white, rosé and light reds. They will complement the fare prepred by Chef Pieter de Jager and his team. Live music will add to the enjoyment.

Tickets, cost R280 per person, and pre-booking via www.webtickets.co.za is essential, as tickets are limited. The cost includes entry, a tasting glass, tastings of the wines on show as well as discount voucher to be used for the purchase of any show wines on the day. 

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

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CELEBRATE THE 2019 WINE GRAPE HARVEST WITH NEDERBURG

 

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Nederburg Wines invites you to its annual Harvest at Dusk Festival at the farm in Paarl, on Saturday, 16 February 2019.  Join in the fun of picking and stomping grapes, and kick back and relax while feasting on freshly-prepared fare matched with award-winning wines, while listening to the sweet sounds of popular South African musician, Mathew Gold

Chef Lisa Cilliers of The Red Table restaurant, situated in Nederburg’s historic manor house, will be serving up a bountiful harvest feast of family-style table platters, delicious mezze, ; farm-fresh salads and vegetables to accompany delicious slow-roasted meat; as well as ‘korrelkonfyt’ and peach upside down cake served with vanilla ice cream for dessert.

Nederburg wines will be available for purchase, as will soft drinks, mineral waters, coffees and teas. 

Date:               Saturday, 16 February 2019

Time:              16:00 till late

Cost:               R460 per person (including Nederburg sparkling wine, the harvest experience, musical entertainment, the harvest feast and service charge)

R220 per child aged 6 to 12 (including a soft drink, juice or water on arrival, the harvest experience, musical entertainment, the harvest feast and service charge)

Free for those aged 6 and under.

Booking is essential. For reservations, go to www.webtickets.co.za.

 

 

 

Grande Provence Harvest Festival  -  a barrel of family fun 

 

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February is harvest time in the winelands and the date to diarise for the Grande Provence Harvest festival is  Saturday, 23 February 2019.

 

Get ready to pick and stomp grapes with the whole family to the jovial beat of the Kaapse Klopse  followed by a harvest table  laden with delicious fare and the  sounds of live contemporary music.  With plenty of action for the children including a jumping castle, face painting,  lawn games and tractor rides, adults can look forward to a laidback day of country food, fine wines and a cellar tour and tasting.

Festivities kick off at 10h00. Tickets cost R650 for adults and R325 for children under 12. Booking is essential. For more information call: (021) 876 8600 or email reservations@grandeprovence.co.za

 

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“PESTO & WINE PLAY” AT NEIL ELLIS WINES

 

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At this family-owned winery on the Helshoogte pass slopes, visitors can take part in a food and wine adventure called Pesto and Wine Play. Four pesto recipes have been created to pair with four Neil Ellis wines and visitors can discover their own choice of combos. The four, which are served with pita bread, are Chickper curry pesto, beetroot and almond pesto, mint and pecan nut pesto and kale and cashew nut pesto.

The four wines with which to pair them are

Amica Sauvignon Blanc: A complex, vibrant, barrel-fermented Sauvignon Blanc from a single vineyard in the Jonkershoek Valley with notes of white florals, nectarines, lime and lemon.

Whitehall Chardonnay: An elegant Burgundian-style Chardonnay from a single vineyard in the Elgin Valley with youthful lime and melon aromatics, gorgeous ripe citrus notes, great texture and freshness.

Bottelary Hills Pinotage: A multi-faceted Pinotage from 20-year-old bush vine vineyards in the Bottelary Hills, showing dark plum, cherry and blackberry fruit with elegant floral notes and a touch of dark chocolate.

Jonkershoek Cabernet Sauvignon: The estate’s signature Cabernet Sauvignon with all the hallmarks of the Jonkershoek Valley. Known for its classical structure and perfect balance of elegance and fruit power, it has complex notes of blue and black small berry fruit with touches of cedar and mint. 

The cost of the experience is R100 pp. For enquiries and bookings (bookings only essential for groups): 021 887 0649 or info@neilellis.com. The venue is open Mon – Fri from 10h00 – 16h30, and on Sat and public hols from 10h00 – 17h00/

 

Tel: 021 887 0649 · Email: info@neilellis.com · Website: www.neilelllis.com

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Wine of Malgas is the phrase under the Sijnn name on the contemporary labels. A name long connected with holiday homes, great angling and a venerable ferry, but now also a wine ward with a single cellar producing singular, exceptional and delicious wines.

The black and white photograph below graphically illustrates the stony path – well, a road of sorts – to the low cellar with its curved roof .

A trio of recent releases took me right back to the memorable evening when the cellar, nearly but not quite complete, opened its doors to visitors for a celebration –

 

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Founder and co-owner David Trafford took us through the young vineyards where bush vines had settled as part of the indigenous landscape, among two distinct soils which vie for sheer quantities of stone they carry . They did not deter vines from not only surviving, but thriving in this apparently inhospitable climate with its low rainfall and constant wind.

The Breede river made a  blue and placid contrast as, far below, it snaked around hills and through dales on its last 25km to the Indian Ocean.

During that evening I sampled the maiden vintage of Sijnn White, and became a fan for life. As I have said before, more than once, white blends, especially when chenin-based are perhaps the Cape’s finest achievement . The Sijnn example is not only as fine as any other but offers unique characteristics that can be attributed to both terroir and minimalist handling.

 

 

 

 

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The team has now released the Sijnn white 2017 and, unsurprisingly, this is what I opened first, knowing well that I was going to savour every sip.

Comprising 84% chenin, 13% viognier with roussanne making the remaining 3% , this is the 10th vintage , from vines now 12 and seven years old. A good year for the vintage. grapes were picked early, some bunch- pressed the balance basket- pressed. The wine was fermented in French oak, of which 11% was new, for 10 months before being lightly fined and bottled, unfiltered, in December 2017.

The wine is golden straw-coloured, with a nose presenting wafts of fruit sparked with wild fennel. On the palate, layers of complex flavour to relish, some peach  and a little lemon, overlaid with dusty spices which don't  mask the essential  freshness. I did not detect as much fruit as the tasting notes suggest, but came across a subtle wildness – herbs and minerals – with hints of maritime brine. Irresistible .

Their tasting notes suggest that its ideal on its own or with fish and seafood. Agreed. But it’s also a white that can enhance several Cape Malay classics, -including bobotie, especially when made with fish, chicken curry and chicken breyani. R280 at the cellar.

Sijnn Reds 2011 and 2015

 

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The 2015 vintage is acknowledged as one of the Cape’s finest, and equally so for Sijnn, where the wine was made in the stone cellar for the first time, avoiding the long journey to Stellenbosch. It was also winemaker Charla Haasbroek’s maiden vintage as she produced the 2015 Red using 47% syrah, 19% touriga nacional, 19% trincadeira, finished with nearly equal quantities of mourvèdre and cabernet. The vines, now 10 and 11 years old reaching maturity and – with the weather playing its part – the harvest was picked and sorted early, fermented in small open tanks and oak vats. Natural fermentation preceded a basket pressing and malolactic fermentation in 225 litre French oak for the first year. Bottled by hand in December 2016, unfined and unfiltered.

Already hugely enjoyable, but worth squirreling away as well, the freshness is there, no cultivar dominating; on the palate concentrated fruit and a little fennel well balanced by tannic structure. Spicy, rich and with a long finish, it features . alcohol levels of  just over 14%, This wine  calls for red meat given gourmet treatment, but will also complement rich dishes based on black mushroom. R350 from the cellar.

Because it took a while to open up and show its charms, the 2011 Sijnn Red has been released only now. The year saw a dry windy summer and the vines were irrigated during the growing and again during the ripening process, but otherwise left to themselves. Back in Stellenbosch the grapes were crushed into open tanks and oak vats. Spontaneous natural fermentation followed with maturation  in barrel for two years before bottling in January 2013. The nose says Malgas, the palate is rich with firm tannins and its easy to see this is a wine that will go on offering enjoyment for several years to come. The wildness of venison and game birds will be enhanced by this blend – with syrah comprising over half along with 19% touriga nacional, 17% each of trincadeira and mourvèdre,  finished with 6% each trincadeira and cab. It sells for R250 at the cellar door.

Finally, a word of appreciation to the team who compiled the information: well-written, concise and accurate, comprising everything a reviewer would like to know. If all the spec sheets and releases that come my way were as smart as these, my emails would be reduced by half.

For more info see www.sijnn.co.za

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Before we get to the bottle, the carton warrants a word or two – so cleverly designed it doubles as a display unit, opening on both sides to reveal the custom-made regal bottle, embossed with the initials JR, perched on a raised platform.

Salmon pink in hue, the wine adds to the patrician air with its simple front label, with little more than title and its 2017 vintage visible, although if you have very sharp eyes you will find more info on the producer – Anthonij Rupert Wyne and its Franschhoek setting in minute print along the bottom.

The wine is a blend of Cinsault, Grenache and Shiraz, is made in the Provençal style – as homage to the founder of L’Ormarins, home to Anthonij Rupert Wyne. Jean Roi, one of the French Huguenots who settled in 1694 in the wilds of what was to develop into Franschhoek, was born in the southern French village of Lourmarin.

Fresh and zippy, aromas of summer seasonal fruit precede the fruit on the palate which finishes with a touch of citrus. Alcohol levels are held at a modest R13%, and the whole effect is celebratory and festive, perfect for the time of the year.

It makes the ideal partner to glamorous menus, enjoyed on shady terraces, with the sound of water as background music.

This limited release sells at R290, which is steep for a pink – but for Christmas, or New Year or any other summer celebration, many will fork out to highlight the holiday or to greet 2019 in fine style. It is also available in a 1,5 litre bottle for R600.

One word puzzles me – why is it called Cap Provincial Rosé instead of Provençal? The rest of the title is French, why the English insert, which has nothing to do with the region, but simply means “of the province” and often is less than complimentary when attributed to its inhabitants.

 

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 For more information, visit www.rupertwines.co

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Bouchard Finlayson describes their estate as treasured terroir, an apt description

 

of the fine soils, pampered vines and ideal climate that combine to allow talented

 

winemaker Chris Albrecht to produce white wines that cannot be resisted. The

 

 

most refreshing of these are the unwooded chardonnay and the best-selling

 

 

sauvignon blanc, a pair that enhances al fresco gatherings and festive feasts over

 

high summer days

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The cellar may be more famous for its full-bodied wooded chards, but those

 

require serious attention and matching to gourmet menus, neither of which many

 

are willing to give or pursue over Christmas family and New Year celebrations.

 

 

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The 2017 San Barrique chardonnay is everything that a summer chard should

 

be – light- bodied, crisp, pure with wafts of melon and apple and sub-tropical fruit

 

titillating the palate all backed by a pleasing hint of minerality. Berries from the

 

renowned Elandskloof vines contribute to the rounded success of this

 

wine. 

 

No doubt this could age well, but it’s unlikely to get the chance to do that! Perfect

 

both as an aperitif and partner to fishy feasts and classic and innovative chicken

 

salads. It sells for around R150.

 

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The 2018 Bouchard Finlayson Walker Bay Sauvignon Blanc needs little

 

 

introduction to winelovers who stay with this cultivar and this label whether trends

 

wax or wane.

 

 

And with good reason: it is consistently worthy of its fine reputation, presenting

 

fragrant aromas of characteristic guava and granadilla followed by similar flavours

 

on the palate – it is crisp, with moderate alcohol levels, a balanced structure, and

 

always the Bouchard Finlayson elegance that is so attractive. Whether making the

 

choice for brunch, lunch or moonlight meals, it will rise to the occasion, enhancing

 

any fishy feast and vegetarian main courses Expect to pay around R125.

 

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THE LAST HURRAH by Graham Viney published by Jonathan Ball Publishers, Cape Town, 2018.

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A whopping 386-page softback that embraces not just three extraordinary months in 1947, but an overview of South African politics at that time. It is a very readable work of history, in which the reader can follow the progress of the White Train as the British Royal family travelled 11 172km across the country and also absorb enjoy the social life and febrile politics of the day, which Viney weaves skilfully into the royal stops.

Just how far, long and deep Viney travelled to dig into sources on three continents can be gleaned from the list on pages 364-372. Also worth reading are the pages of acknowledgements: it cheered me to see the list of libraries and archives in this country that have not fallen foul of any ‘must fall’ protests, and continue their precious roles of keeping safe our written and photographic records of the past centuries. And then there are all the senior citizens, from Cape Town to Pretoria who shared their memories of the royal visit with the author.

The black and white photographs add much to the reader’s enjoyment – many gleaned from libraries such as Transnet Heritage, others from newsreels and there’s an inset of colour shots in the book’s centre. Some have not been published before, others bring back memories of those seen in South African newspapers and cinemas.

Viney opens with an introduction on his tale “of long ago”, featuring a crowd of players that have mostly left the stage with the exception of Queen Elizabeth II. The South Africa in which the scene is set has also gone, but this book attempts, the author tells us, to place the royal tour in its post-war context of the history of South Africa and the Commonwealth.

The southeast gale  blew itself out on the evening of February 16, 1947, much to the relief of Cape Town organisers, whether at the docks, the Westbrooke garden party, the mountain floodlighting and fireworks – so that the HMS Vanguard sailed into a calm Table Bay to the newly completed Duncan Dock, its bugles sounding out across the water. Thus does the author set the scene for an account of an exhaustive and exhausting journey, during which the crowds, white, brown and black, flowed like a great tide to the events, to the roadside, to the railway line, in cities, villages, and deep rural regions, to catch a glimpse of the royal family.

(This was despite National party politicians playing down the importance of the tour, and Indian and black activists also advising against their followers joining the throngs to welcome the visitors)

The chapter headings lead readers north from Cape Town, across the Karoo to Bloemfotnein, on to Durban, then to the old Transvaal, with time in Pretoria and a shorter, but packed programme in Johannesburg. Special chapters are given to two teatime gatherings – one with Ouma Smuts in Irene and the other at Vergelegen at Somerset West which is worth chuckling over... Princess Elizabeth’s coming of age and speech to the Commonwealth reminds readers of the promise of dedication to service that she has so diligently lived up to.

As Rian Malan expresses succinctly “Viney’s South Africa is a country most of us will barely recognise, teetering on the brink of convulsive change and yet almost united, at least for a moment, by love for a king and queen who wen’t really ours.” It certainly managed to unearth memories of a small child, in butcher blue Rustenburg school uniform, standing on the edge of De Waal drive in scorching February sun, waiting for the royal Daimler to pass. Some of my kindergarten fellow pupils fainted in the heat, I just got redder and hotter but remember that at last the open car drove past, allowing a glimpse of the Queen’s hat and her wave...

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BEYOND ORGANIC – BIODYNAMIC PRACTICES ENVELOP MODERN AND ANCIENT WINEMAKING AT AVONDALE

 

 

Many moons have waxed and waned since I last visited Avondale, a farm steeped in more than three centuries of history, sprawling acrpss the slopes of the Klein Drakenstein mountains. So an invitation from brand manager Madeleine Laarman to wine and dine at their new restaurant FABER was more than tempting. I have yet to sample the farm-to-fork seasonal fare, but meanwhile was sent the current vintages from Avondale’s unique cellar where owner Johnathan Grieve and long-established winemaker Corné Marais craft an inspiring range of wines that have been certified as organic by international inspectors.

 

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Having sat through one of these inspections at another organic cellar I know just what heavy demands are made on vini- and viticulturist before they are satisfied. At Avondale the team goes a step further, employing biodynamic principles that make good use of rhythms of both earth and cosmos, using astronomical information and indications of optimal times for sowing, transplanting, cultivating and harvesting, in efforts to produce sustainable soils for healthy vineyards. Ducks replace vineyard pesticides, wasps and ladybirds deal with mealybugs and leaf-roll virus. Organic compost and cover crops increase carbon content in the soil and biodynamic preparations ensure there is no need for synthetic fertilisers.

 

In the cellar natural yeasts work their magic, while some of each harvest is matured in traditional clay amphorae, cast on the farm from its own clay.

 

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In March this year Avondale was the first South African winery to use clay qvevri for the 2018 harvest – egg-shaped earthenware vessels used for fermenting and ageing wine whose roots are found in Georgia, widely regarded as the cradle of modern viticulture. With a tradition that goes back more than 8 000 years, qvevri masters, until recently, were in danger of becoming obsolete. Now the man who made Avondale’s vessels has a waiting list for his creations. Each vessel, says winemaker Marais hold between 800 and 1 000 litres, each is unique. They are lined with beeswax and are buried in soil during use for stability. The effect on the wines of the new vintages is awaited with mounting anticipation.

 

 

 

Avondale’s six wines arrived in a simple but stylish environmentally-friendly cardboard carton, worthy of the quality of the contents.

 

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To start, the baby of the range, CAMISSA 2018 is a vibrant meld of just over half Grenache with 30% Mourvèdre and a splash or two of Muscat de Frontignan. All the vines are over 30 years in age, certified organic (naturally!) and presenting low but intensely flavoured yields. This is as fresh and moreish as the place of sweet water which the Khoisan herders named Camissa -  Table Mountain water( that today is returning to its previous significance in centuries long past.)

Camissa is an exhiliarating blanc de noir, from its onion skin hue,   scented nose and berried flavours with citrus zest leading to a long and dry finish. Alcohol levels of 13% are moderate, but the wine offers more body than most of its siblings perhaps partly because the Mourvedre and Grenache were fermented in second fill French oak and left on the lees for 12 months before being blended with the Muscat and bottled. Can be cellared until 2022 suggests their specs which sounds ambitious, but I am not going to argue... A great choice to accompany your classy New Year picnic.

 

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I remember raving about CYCLUS when I first tasted an early vintage at Avondale several years ago, so opened the 2014 vintage with great expectations. These were fulfilled and even passed:: This is an exceptional white blend, already golden in hue, made up of five cultivars: – Roussanne (30%), Viognier (20%), Chenin Blanc (20%), and finished with Semillon and Chardonnay each at 15%. Vines range in age from 10 to 26 years, yielding between four to eight tons.

Whole bunch pressed, 80% naturally fermented in 500 -litre oak, the rest whole bunch-fermented in amphorae. Left on the lees for a year with regular batonage before bottling, the result is a rich, full-bodied blend,  floral aromas preceding a refined fruit salad of stone fruit and citrus backed by some flint, the Semillon adding a touch of cream . Just 13,5% alcohol levels add to the appeal, and it makes a superb summer aperitif, but an even better partner to elegant fare: Certain Moroccan classics and  perfumed, sophisticated creations from Turkey and former Persia come to mind... Avondale named this special blend Cyclus, Latin for cycle, referring to the power of the vortex, because of the “way that Avondale’s unique life energy swirls through its invigorating layers.”

 

Avondale’s other white wine is a Chenin Blanc, 2015 vintage, named Anima, meaning vital lifeforce or soul, referring to the minerals of the farm’s soils which lend spirited character to the wine. The grapes used range in age from 10 to 34 years, and most were whole bunch- pressed, then fermented in 500-litre French oak, while a small percentage went to amphorae, which have added a distinctive body to the wine. This is an intense, wine, golden in hue, golden in character, more than a hint of honey accenting the wafts of melon, peach and pineapple, and all balanced by the minerality whichi is prominent but not assertive. Moderate alcohol levels, and this wine can be squirrelled away until 2023 the cellar suggests – I find it oxidative, concentrated and dense and wonder if it has not already reached its peak -  it lacks the freshness I expect from quality chenin. Time will tell...

 

And so to the two reds:

 

 

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LA LUNA 2012 is a fine Bordeaux-style blend comprising of 45% Cabernet Sauvignon, 36% Merlot, 10% Petit Verdot, the remaining percentage supplied by Cabernet Franc and and Malbec. First to third-fill oak barrels were used for malolactic fermentation and maturation for more than a year. The result is impressive, purity and freshness allied to smooth tannins, the dark hue indicative of restrained berry flavours,  all backed by minerality that is nicely integrated. It’s a wine that deserves to be sipped again and again, hourly, to appreciate the changes, and, while it already offers elegant enjoyment after six years, should go on delighting those who open it in future years.

Alcohol levels are unobtrusive at 14%, and its name, which reflects the biodynamic practices of Avondale  adds a nice touch of celestial romance.

 

SAMSARA SYRAH 2009

This Shiraz presents impressive proof of the regional quality of the cultivar for which Paarl is renowned, here with additional refinement that reflects both Avondale’s unique soils and handling. Freshness is there after nine years, along with characteristics typical of the varietal: berry flavours spiced with white pepper, a little cinnamon and hints of violet.

As Samsara seems unlikely to improve further in bottle, it should be enjoyed soon, especially if paired with well-cooked and spiced red meat dishes.

 

ARMILLA BLANC DE BLANC CAP CLASSIQUE  2011

Delicious and impressive, a bubbly that will heighten the joy of any celebration. It is also home to the only mistake I spotted on any Avondale label - "classic" replacing the correct "classique." This all-chardonnay Brut ,with  just 11,5% alcohol levels, produced from vines ranging in ages from 10 to 22 years, is lively, with traits one would expect – toast and green apple, restrained fruit, and a long finish. Here it marks the finale of this review, but it really deserves to be at the beginning to set a sparkling pace of wine and viniculture that are both kind to the environment and our planet.

 

 

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