* Wine judge and writer Tim James, and winner of a number of wine writing competitions, including the inaugural Du Toitskloof Wine Writer of the Year as well as the Franschhoek Literary Festival wine writing award, has expressed his strongest criticism of the announcement of the 2014 Franschhoek Literary Festival wine writing competition. It has been announced that the competition and its prize money will be split into short writing (less than 1500 words) and long writing (3000 – 4000 words). No award will be given to any writing submitted of between 1500 – 3000 words! Earlier this year the Franschhoek Literary Festival, and the convenor of its wine writing judging committee John Maytham, were lambasted when they chose to not award the prize at all, stating that no entry was of a good enough standard. (Note: the category definitions have subsequently been changed to under 1000 words, and 1000 – 4000 words)
* Only 8% of South African tourism and hospitality businesses plan to appoint more staff, according to tourism consultants Grant Thornton, compared to 25% by their global counterparts.
* South African restaurant brands operating in the United Arab Emirates include Nando’s, Butcher Shop, Meat & Co, Mug & Bean, and Debonairs Pizza.
* Argentina is encouraging its citizens to stay home with a punitive 35% tax on all credit card payments made outside the country, to protect its monetary reserves.
* The Stellenbosch Wine Festival will take place from 24 January – 2 February next year. Some of the events planned include a High Tea at Muratie on 28 January; a 5-course gala dinner on Plein Street with Longridge wines being served on 29 January; a 5-course meal at Towerbosch restaurant on Knorhoek, in conjunction with Muratie, Quoin Rock and Delheim on 30 January; a ‘DeZine Dine Cultivar Showcase‘ will be held at Blaauwklippen, well known for its Zinfandel; one can drive through Jordan or Villiera to enjoy their flora and fauna, with wine tasting; and ‘Alice in Wonderland‘ will be screened at Blaauwklippen on 31 January.
* Top end gift wine packs are not selling in China for the Chinese New Year on 31 January, given that the Chinese President Xi Jinping has announced a clampdown on ‘conspicuous consumption’.
* The Stellenbosch Slow Market at Oude Libertas is holding a Christmas Night Market on Friday, from 17h00 – 22h00. (received via newsletter from the Slow Market)
* Spier has released two special limited edition wines to tie in with the work of artist Berco Wilsenach, named after his series of works ‘The Blind Astronomer’, which has been supported by the Spier Arts Patronage Programme. The Blind Astronomer Chenin Blanc 2009 was made from grapes from a single vineyard block older than 40 years, while the Pinotage 2008 was matured in Hungarian and French oak barrels for 20 months. The two wines are available in a gift pack costing R660 at the Spier wine shop. (received via newsletter from Spier)
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage