On Saturday I attended the elegant black and white dress launch of the maiden vintage of the Klein Sering Sauvignon Blanc/Semillon 2016, on the 1,2 hectare property on which the grapes are grown in Noordhoek, just off its main road. Continue reading →
The invitation was enticing: join Chenin Blanc king Ken Forrester at The Westin on the 19th floor, to hear about his Dirty Little Secret, and it is no wonder that they had a full house, with trade representatives as well as writers attending! Continue reading →
The winners of the inaugural Rosé Rocks competition have been announced, with Tamboerskloof Katharien Syrah Rosé 2015 named the overall winner.
The 160 Rosé and MCC Rosé wines were evaluated by a panel of judges, which was chaired by Woolworths’ Allan Mullins. Wines were tasted blind, without information provided about the vintage, wine estate, and technical analysis. The results were audited by Grant Thornton South Africa. Continue reading →
I did a quick visit to Hermanus yesterday, and at a stop at Rivendell Restaurant, between Bot River and Hermanus, I was told that Chef Thomas Sinn was coming back from his overseas holiday especially to participate in a super-sounding feast, for which he is one of eight chefs cooking on Monday evening. The staff brought a copy of the programme, and I could not believe what the organisers have planned for the 11-day Festival, ‘A Celebration of South African Arts’ its 80-page Festival brochure proudly proclaims!
The programme consists of different themes: Continue reading →
* An increasing number of Indian TV shows and series is being filmed in countries outside of India, and South Africa is one of the countries benefiting too (see the promo for Dare2Dance, shot in Cape Town). SA Tourism Country Manager for India Hannelie Slabber said: ‘We have seen a great increase in films and television channels approaching us for associations over the last few years’. Most of the shooting has been in Gauteng, the Western Cape including the Garden Route, and KwaZulu-Natal, while the Kruger National Park is a popular film location too.
* Domaine des Dieux won the 14th Amorim Cap Classique Challenge 2014 with its Claudia Brut 2009, a Pinot Noir Chardonnay blend, for Best Brut Blend and Best Producer against 100 other Cap Classique entries. Graham Beck and Lord both took the top honours in the Blended Brut category. The former MCC producer also won Best Vintage (2009) and Best Non-Vintage Rosé. Laborie won Best Vintage Blanc de Blancs (2010), and Colmant the Best Blanc de Blanc non-Vintage category. Simonsig won the Museum Class for its Kaapse Vonkel 2004. Judging panel chairman Allan Mullins of Woolworths said that the sparkling wines showed more consistency this year, and were of a higher quality. Mullins was named the inaugural recipient of the Frans Malan Legacy Award.
The inaugural Standard Bank Chenin Blanc Top 10 Challenge winners were announced yesterday at a cosy function on a wet Winelands day at the ever smart Delaire Graff. The function and competition, combined with the recent three-year sponsorship by Standard Bank of the Chenin Blanc Challenge, are giving Chenin Blanc the recognition it deserves, said Ken Forrester, Chairman of the Chenin Blanc Association. ‘Chenin Blanc is a wine whose time has come’, he said, adding that ‘Chenin Blanc is THE white wine of South Africa‘!
A total of 126 wines was entered for the Challenge, and assessed blind by a panel of judges which included chairman Christian Eedes, Jamie Goode, Alan Mullins, Carrie Adams, and Higgo Jacobs. Interviews were conducted with the judges, Allan Mullins of Woolworths saying that Chenin Blanc has been underrated for so long. He lauded Standard Bank for the support of the competition, and as Chenin Blanc drinks so well, it should be drunk by all. It is a gem of a wine variety, and ranges in price between R25 – R 300 in retail outlets. British wine writer Jamie Goode said that our country has a variety of Chenin Blanc styles, ‘ranging from the ‘VW Beetle to a ‘Rolls Royce’! Eedes said that he was honoured to chair the judging panel, and while he may be ‘shot down‘ for the results, having the auditors made the results indisputable. Out of the wine Continue reading →
* Decanter included three South African wines in its 2013 top 50 wines, out of a total of 3200 wines evaluated. Alheit Vineyards’ Cartology 2011 was ranked 4th; Vuurberg White 2011 was ranked 36th; and Adoro Red 2006 was ranked 37th.
* Given that the week of romance is upon us, the top five most romantic beaches of South Africa have been named, Clifton making first place, followed by Umhlanga Rocks, Noetzie in Knysna, Margate, and Noup in the Northern Cape.
* About 10% of tourists arriving in South Africa come to participate or watch a sports event. Now a new sport called Bossaball, a combination of soccer, volleyball, gymnastics, and an Afro-Brazilian martial arts form capoeira, is to be introduced to our country by Zinto Sports.
* The Cape Town Art Fair 2014 will be held at The Pavilion in the V&A Waterfront from 28 February – 2 March. The entrance fee of R120 also entitles entrance to ‘GUILD’, an exhibition of Design, held at The Lookout, also in the V&A. Both exhibitions form part of Cape Town hosting World Design Capital 2014.
Tables had been set up in the cellar, a cool space on a hot Stellenbosch day, and Gary Jordan took us through the history of Jordan, the wine farm having been in the family’s ownership for 30 years. Gary said that they are a hands-on family, his late mom having helped to pick grapes and driving the truck. Over the 30 year period they rebuilt the worker cottages, planted the vineyards, built their own house, built the cellar, and the restaurant, which opened in 2009 with Chef George Jardine at the helm, the same year in which they opened High Timber in London with Neleen Strauss. Both Gary and his wife Kathy completed a Masters in Winemaking in California. The late Tony Mossop and Allan Mullins were saluted for encouraging the Jordans to do the course and in their winemaking.
Over time they have added four pockets of neighbouring land, now with a total of 165 ha, of which 105ha is planted with vines. The pay-off line at the end of the slide show said: ‘Celebrating 21 years of synergy between soul and soil‘. Continue reading →
Last week Blaauwklippen hosted its sixth International Zinfandel Tasting, this year choosing to compare its Zinfandel wines against four from Australia. The thirty or so wine writers attending judged the Blaauwklippen Zinfandel Reserve to be better than the Australian counterparts.
The tasting was led by Rolf Zeitvogel, Cellarmaster and CEO of Blaauwklippen, and passionate about Zinfandel. He said of the wine variety: “Zinfandel is a particularly demanding variety to manage both in the vineyard and the winery. The resulting unique and hedonistically rich wine makes all the hard work worthwhile”.
The four Australian Zinfandel wines we tasted, with interesting labels and some with high alcohol content, were the following:
* Cape Mentelle 2010 – of this wine from the west coast Margaret River wine region Rolf said that it has developed a ‘cult following’ amongst Zinfandel lovers. Their first Zinfandel was planted in 1974, to low density bush vines, and there is ‘fastidious attention to detail to ensure that only the best quality fruit is produced’, Rolf said. The grapes are hand picked, de-stemmed, and berries sorted individually. The must is soaked at cool temperatures prior to fermentation. Fermentation and maturation took place in oak vats, 25 % going into new French oak barrels. Zinfandel was first planted in 1974. Some say that this is the best Zinfandel producer in Australia.
* Cargo Road 2010 – this is one of the older Australian Zinfandel blocks, based in Mount Canobolas, planted in 1983. It is planted northfacing at 860 m above sea level, allowing it to be un-irrigated, developing a good dark colour, and maintaining good acidity. Its total planting of 4 ha is one of the largest in New South Wales. The crop is thinned dramatically, from a potential crop of 20 ton to 9 ton, to assure quality grapes. This Zinfandel was not well received by the tasting panel.
* Smallwater Estate 2009 – located in the south west, this region is proving itself as one of Australia’s most reliable wine growing areas, and the wine estate saw the opportunity to plant the Zinfandel grape in 1993 for the first time, and make a premium flagship Zinfandel. Initially the wine estate contract-produced grapes for Cape Mentelle, but started making its own wine from 2006 onwards. The crop is thinned out in four stages, taking out bunch wings and shoots first, reducing the crop to 5 tonne per ha. A Rosé is also made from the Zinfandel. Of the four Australian wines, this Zinfandel was liked most by the wine writers.
* Peel Estate 2007 – produced in Karnup, 70 km south of Perth, the Zinfandel was first planted in 1974, and the first wines were made in 1980. Being 3 km from the ocean, the grapes benefit from a Mediterranean microclimate, with mild winters and cool coastal breezes in summer. The dry summers suit Zinfandel well. The grapes are crushed and fermented on their skins for a week before being pressed and are then transferred to a stainless steel tank for the primary and secondary fermentation processes. Thereafter it is matured in oak for two years. The wine writers likened this Zinfandel to a port.
The Blaauwklippen Zinfandel Reserve 2011 is made from Block Padstall1 grapes first grown in 1982, at 146 m above sea level. They are planted on southfacing slopes in sandy duplex soil. They use a six wire trellising system, the bunches are halved, and intense canopy management is practised, to make a single vineyard wine. They get a crop of 4,5 – 5 tonnes per ha. There is no irrigation. Fermentation is in French Oak, for at least 18 months. Its character is described as spicy plums, raisins, rum chocolate and vanilla spice flavours with ‘whiffs of cigarbox, bitter chocolate, and English tea’. It is ideal to drink with spicy dishes, game, potjiekos, and matured cheeses. It was best liked of all the five wines tasted, tasting like a wine, it was said, and not like a port. We tasted a tank sample, and Rolf said that the wine would be at its best in three to four years. It costs R310 at the cellar door.
Rolf shared how difficult it is to manage the Zinfandel grapes, when asked why so few winemakers grow Zinfandel. Blaauwklippen had wanted to pick the grapes at the end of February, but the heavy rains in early February forced them to pick overnight just after the rain, otherwise they would have lost their crop. The wine variety is also not well known. He shared that at a food and wine pairing evening the day before they had paired a Zinfandel 2007 with a steak served with a pepper sauce, the wine standing up well to the strongly spiced sauce.
Exciting news is that an MCC is to be launched by Blaauwklippen in 2015.
After the tasting we were spoilt with a Zinfandel-inspired lunch at the water’s edge, prepared by Radisson Blu Hotel Executive Chef Grant Kennedy. PR consultant Nicolette Waterford related how much trouble the chef had taken to prepare a well-matched menu for the function. The amuse bouche was a beef and dried peach carpaccio, served with emerald asparagus, pomegranate hollandaise gratin, and sprinkled gems, which was paired with the Blaauwklippen White Zinfandel 2012. The peach added a touch of colour to the dish.
The starter was a pink tuna pavé, served with gremolata fresh herb crumb, root bulb dauphinoise, a cranberry beurre noisette, and runner bean shoots, which was paired with Blaauwklippen Zinfandel 2010. This was followed by a prickly pear and grappa dash sorbet palate cleanser. A number of the guests mistook this for granadilla, but the pips of the prickly pear are much harder and bigger, making them hard to swallow. The main course was described as ‘Journey of Duck’, and was an excellent pairing with the Blaauwklippen Zinfandel Reserve 2011. It was a most generous serving of Leg Confit with gooseberry jelly, a thigh and goats curd samoosa with liver parfait, delicious slow grilled breast with a naartjie la orange jus, quinoa and wild mushrooms, braised baby onions, and glazed vanilla carrots.
The dessert was also generous, with an interesting collection of raisin tea and rooibos bread and butter soufflé, an unusual avocado and bitter chocolate tart, and a coconut blackberry semi freddo, which was paired with the Blaauwklippen Zinfandel Noble Late Harvest 2011.
Sitting close to Woolworths wine buyer Allan Mullins it was interesting to hear that he became one of the first Cape Wine Masters in 1986, and started at Woolworths four years later, having been a maths teacher at SACS in his previous career.
Disclosure: We received a bottle of Blaauwklippen White Zinfandel 2010, Zinfandel Noble Late Harvest 2011, and Zinfandel 2012 with our media information.
Blaauwklippen Vineyards. R44, Stellenbosch. Tel (021) 880-0136 www.blaauwklippen.com Twitter: @Blaauwklippen Wine Tasting 10h00 – 18h30 (summer)/17h00 (winter)
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage
Yesterday Franschhoek Wine Valley and the Vignerons de Franschhoek producing Méthode Cap Classique (MCC) sparkling wines hosted a preview of twelve of their sixteen MCC producers and products, in the beautiful setting of the Le Verger restaurant at the Le Franschhoek Hotel.
The Franschhoek MCC Route will be officially launched early in 2013, we were told by new Vignerons Chairman Irene Waller, winemaker and GM at La Bri. A full size map will be designed, for visitors to Franschhoek to use on their visits for MCC tastings. Ms Waller highlighted that the first MCC was made in Franschhoek by Achim von Arnim 32 years ago, while he was working at Boschendal, before he made his Pierre Jourdan sparkling wines in the French style on his own wine estate Haute Cabrière a few years later. Ms Waller also explained that the Vignerons de Franschhoek has three geographical boundaries, being Backsberg on the R45, Val de Vie, and Boschendal on the road to Stellenbosch, potentially confusing to consumers wine writer Angela Lloyd felt, in not reflecting the Franschhoek Wine of Origin demarcation.
Divided into Blanc de Blancs, Bruts, and Rosés, each of the twelve winemakers addressed the writers attending the MCC Preview, and highlighted how their bubbly is made, its price, and other special product and production details.
Blanc de Blancs
* Dieu Donné Methodé Cap Classique 2010 is made from Franschhoek vines, as a fresh easy drinking sparkling wine for the increasing number of weddings being hosted on the estate. 100% Chardonnay. Creamy, fresh apple, and lemon, with biscuity richness. 24 months on the lees. Whole bunch pressed, fermented in French oak. Hand riddling and degorging. 8000 bottles produced. R140 per bottle.
* Pierre Jourdan Blanc de Blancs NV was presented by the youngest von Arnim family member Tamo, its Brand Ambassador. In 1982 Achim von Arnim bought Cabrière, and in 1986 the first MCC was made, a blend of Chardonnay from De Wetshof (Danie de Wet and Achim von Arnim studying together at Geisenheim) and Pinot Noir at that time. Now it is produced from 100% Chardonnay, 40% matured in French oak for 4 – 5 months, which brings out vanilla. It is a perfect welcome drink, pairs well with a variety of foods, and is a perfect palate cleanser. Tamo shared that his sister-in-law Christiane is launching new Pierre Jourdan labels soon.
* Môreson Solitaire Blanc de Blancs NV is made by winemaker Clayton Reabow, whole bunch pressing being an important aspect of the production, he said, as is the ‘Cuvee juice’, being the first 250 litres per ton. All their production is non-vintage, keeping a reserve of four previous vintages. No fermentation or food additives make it the ‘cleanest bubbly’. 18 months on the lees. R89.
* L’Omarins Brut Classique 2008 is made by Dawie Botha, its 2008 produced MCC not yet released, it being its first public tasting. The bottle is label-less, embossed with JR (for Jean Roi, the first L’Omarins owner, and not Johan Rupert, we were told). Blend of 60% Chardonnay from Elandskloof and 40% Pinot Noir from Stellenbosch. 48 months on the lees, 4 months on cork. To be released in January 2013. R100.
* Colmant Cap Classique Brut Reserve NV owner JP Colmant (left) works with Nicolas Follet of Oenosense Consulting, a French winery consultant now based in Franschhoek. The MCC is one of three produced by Colmant, the others being a Pinot Noir and Chardonnay blend, and a Brut Chardonnay Rosé. Grapes come from nine vineyards in Robertson, Elgin, Franschhoek, Somerset West, and Stellenbosch. 42000 bottles per year. Focus on fruit and freshness. No malolactic fermentation. Also endorses use of reserve wines of previous years, using 10% from previous vintage. R130.
* Plaisir de Merle Grand Brut 2010 is made by Neil Bester, and he explained that the Marketing department had recommended the development of a MCC, given the increasing number of weddings held at the wine estate. The Chardonnay grapes come from the farm, while Pinot Noir comes from Stellenbosch currently, but will be available on the farm from next year. Blend of 63% Pinot Noir, 37% Chardonnay. Malolactic fermentation, 24 months on the lees. 12000 bottles, of which 4000 have been released. R140 – R150.
* Backsberg Sparkling Brut 2008 is a blend of 40% Pinot Noir and 60% Chardonnay, and is hand riddled, said its marketing executive Alana Ridley. It is made by winemaker Guillaume Nell. Whole bunch pressed. R110.
* La Motte MCC 2009 was presented by Edmund Terblanche, from grapes sourced from its own farm exclusively, a need that was stimulated by its restaurant Pierneef à La Motte. The Pinot Noir vines were planted in 1985 and the Chardonnay in the ‘Nineties. 60% Chardonnay, 40% Pinot Noir, the blend proportion changing every year. Edmund said originally they had little knowledge of MCC-making, but learnt as they went along, experimenting with oaking. 25 months on the lees. Won Best MCC in the Terroir Awards in last two years. 3000 bottles. R200.
* Stony Brook The Lyle 2007 is now made by Craig McNaught, a fresh MCC blend of 55% Chardonnay and 45% Pinot Noir. All grapes are from their farm. 450 cases produced. 50 months on the lees. Brioche flavours. R115.
* Rickety Bridge Brut Rosé 2010 is made by Wynand Grobler, a blend of 50% Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. Wynand joked and said he wanted to make a MCC, because he saw Achim von Arnim do the Sabrage and kiss the young ladies! His MCC uses 10% of their Reserve wine, and is Wine of Origin Franschoek. Hand harvested. Fresh acidity, uses signe method, 3500 bottles. R115.
* Boschendal Grand Pavillon Brut Rosé NV was presented by JC Bekker, but is made by Lizelle Gerber, saying that women winemakers are better at making MCCs. Strawberries on nose, and cream on the palate. No barrels, no malolactic fermentation. 24 months on the lees. The back label has all the MCC terminology, JC said.
* Morena Brut Rosé was presented by raconteur Nick Davies from Franschhoek Pass Winery, the highest vineyard in Franschhoek. They do a ‘green harvest’, and then 3 staged pickings. Half the grapes from own vineyard, balance from Stellenbosch, Robertson and Franschhoek. Zesty, fresh. No malolactic fermentation. 24 months on the lees. Blend of 60% Chardonnay and 40% Pinot Noir. Nick has just returned from Champagne, and said that the international trend is to a fresher style, and that the target market is 25 – 40 year old females. R100
La Bri will release its first MCC in 2014. My Wyn, La Petite Ferme, Topiary, Noble Hill, and Cape Chamonix are also MCC producers on the new Franschhoek Cap Classique Route, but did not attend the presentation.
Le Franschhoek Hotel Chef Oliver Cattermole created a delicious feast of salmon dishes, an ideal pairing with the MCCs, and had prepared the salmon in various styles: Salmon and soy lollypops, Salmon California rolls with ginger and wasabi, Salmon marbles with rooibos and liquorice, Beetroot fermented salmon with mustard croissant, Salmon croquettes, Salmon pastrami on rye, Blackened salmon with “bloody orange” and vanilla mayo, and Sugar cured salmon and pain de épice sandwich.
The launch of the Franschhoek Cap Classique Route is a clever way of repackaging the Franschhoek wine estates, and will be an attraction to locals and tourists visiting what is now the most exciting wine region in South Africa, given that it is the home of the Platter Winery of the Year 2012 (Boekenhoutskloof) and 2013 (Cape Chamonix). MCC lovers can enjoy the Franschhoek MCCs, as well as those from other regions, at the Franschhoek Cap Classique and Champagne Festival from 30 November – 2 December.
MCC (with Chardonnay) consumption is expected to increase, with a greater focus on natural and eco-friendly wines, Woolworths’ Allan Mullins was told when he asked a question about wine trends at our lunch table, making the Franschhoek Cap Classique Route on trend! It was unanimous at our table that the Colmant Brut Reserve was the best MCC tasted.
Disclosure: We received a bottle of MCC of our choice from the selection still available, ours being the La Motte MCC, with our media pack.
Franschhoek Cap Classique Route, Franschhoek Wine Valley. Tel (021) 876-2861. www.franschhoek.org.za
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage