JAN the JOURNAL has published its second volume of 2018, just before the year closed. It has taken me almost two months to look at it after buying a copy at Woolworths, the 297 page manuscript of The Jan Hendrik Group (PTY) Limited being more than intimidating in thickness, and time required to do it justice in reading it. Despite having an editor for the publication, one wonders how Chef Jan-Hendrik manages to find the time to collate such a heavy-weight Journal in his role as Editor-in-Chief, given his commitment as chef to his one Michelin star restaurant JAN in Nice, and his regular trips to Cape Town and SA. Continue reading →
A year ago I was introduced to the Rare Grill in Kenilworth, after it was named Best Steakhouse in the country in the Wolftrap Steakhouse Championship, as well as Eat Out Best Steakhouse in the Cape in its Everyday Eateries awards, the latter accolade repeated this year. On Saturday evening I spontaneously popped in at the steakhouse, and found its service and steak to be as good as a year ago, and its desserts even better! Continue reading →
* The Tourism Business Council of South Africa has emailed accommodation establishments that amendments made. to the Immigration Act 13 of 2002 last year requires of hotels, motels, boarding houses, lodges, guest houses, and apartment buildings to keep a register of their guests, take a copy of their ID or passport (none of them do), and take the residential address details. Failure to do so may result in a fine and/or imprisonment of up to 12 months! Interesting is that B&Bs are not included in the list, and that Airbnb is excluded, being accommodation in private homes and apartments in the main!
* Passengers traveling by plane may be faced with hand luggage size reductions by up to 40%, it was announced last week. The new dimensions have not yet been announced, but 50 airlines have agreed in principle, reported German TV channel ZDF. Should the hand luggage not meet the new size guidelines, a charge of $25 may be levied.
* Do hotel star ratings still matter, when TripAdvisor has become the Continue reading →
* Angola and Nigeria will be the two African countries on which Wines of South Africa (WOSA) will focus its attention, says new CEO Siobhan Thompson
* Jancis Robinson chose two South African cultivars, out of a total of seven, at a New York tasting of ‘unusual grape varieties that typify an ongoing trend in wine to re-visit traditional grapes in their historical homes around the world‘, being Chenin Blanc and Cabernet Franc.
* The price of petrol has decreased by 28 cents a liter.
* Huffington Post Travel recommends ten wine destinations around the world, and includes ‘Cape Town’, but elaborates that the Cape Winelands is meant, and Stellenbosch, Paarl, and Franschhoek in particular. Groot Constantia is recommended for a visit. The other destinations are the Yarra Valley in Australia, Napa and Sonoma in the USA, Okanagan in Canada, Bordeaux in France, Finger Lakes in the USA, Mendoza in Argentina, Willamette Valley in the USA, Tuscany in Italy, and Barcelona in Spain.
* New World wines from New Zealand, Australia, Chile, Argentina and South Africa make up 30% of world wine exports, states the Morgan Stanley report.
* Brazilian hotels have been found to be up to five times more expensive than normal, and FIFA accommodation booking agency MATCH has been blamed for excessive accommodation pricing for the 2014 World Cup, with average accommodation prices twice as expensive as those in South Africa for the 2010 World Cup.
* Durbanville wine estate Diemersdal has won top prize at the South African Young Wine Show for best current vintage wine, a competition which attracted more than 2000 entries. Thys Louw of Diemersdal is the proud recipient of the General Smuts Trophy, and they were also crowned the Champion Sauvignon Blanc. The Louw family has been farming at Diemersdal for six generations. Bon Courage won the Pietman Hugo trophy for Continue reading →
At the Bouchard Finlayson tasting at the Twelve Apostles Hotel last week ‘Wine Tourism Handbook’ publisher Monika Elias gave me a copy of her 2012 edition. It is a very handy guide to the wine estates of the Western Cape in particular, but also in the Northern Cape and Kwa-Zulu Natal. It is ideal for tourists wishing to get a quick overview of our wine routes and regions, and for staff working in the hospitality industry.
‘The Wine Tourism Handbook‘ introduces the topic by painting a picture of the 350 year history of South African wine, as well as the making of the first wines in the world up to 10000 years ago! It tells the story of South African wine-making by Jan van Riebeeck, in February 1659 for the first time, the establishment of the KWV in 1918, the creation of Pinotage in 1941, and the launch of the first wine route, in Stellenbosch, in 1971. From these early beginnings South Africa has become the 7th largest wine producer in the world. It addresses equitable issues of winemaking via Fairtrade, which promotes ‘greater equity for small producers in the international trading arena. The ethos of their work is that trading partnerships should be based on transparency, respect and a sustainable and ethical system of production and purchase’. The growing trend to sustainability led to the development of the Biodiversity & Wine Initiative, with land of wine farms set aside for conservation, eradicating alien vegetation, and protecting endangered species such as the Cape Leopard, Geometric tortoise, the Cape Leopard toad, and the Riverine Rabbit.
A chapter is dedicated to winemaking, starting with viticulture, and describing the white and red wine making processes. The value of the label, in communicating the region and farm from which the wine comes, the alcohol content, the vintage, the variety, the origin of the grapes is explained. Details about the origin, cultivar and vintage are certified by a seal from the Wine and Spirit Board. Just more than half of vines planted are for white wine production, and Chenin Blanc is the single largest varietal, at 20% of planting. The methods used to make Fortified wines, Rosés, and sparkling wines are also described. A ‘South African Bubbly Route’ lists 69 producers of MCC sparkling wine. The best way to store wine is shared, and companies through which one can order South African wines in other countries are listed.
Brandy production is addressed separately to wine production, and the types of brandy, and tasting it, is covered. Two Brandy Routes are described – the R62 Brandy Route, and the one including Stellenbosch, Paarl, Franschhoek, Wellington, and Elgin. Twenty brandy producers are listed.
Most of the book is dedicated to the wine routes of the Western Cape, categorised as Central Region, Inland, East Coast, and West Coast. The Central Region consists of Cape Town wine production in Constantia and Durbanville, and also in Franschhoek, Paarl, Stellenbosch, Stellenbosch Berg, Bottelary Hills, Greater Simonsberg, Helderberg, Stellenbosch Valley, Tulbagh and Wellington. Advice is provided on getting around on the wine routes, and drinking and driving is strongly advised against. Tour guides specialising in wine are recommended. A Top 10 ‘Things to do’ list is presented, which includes lunch at Jordan wine estae, Staying in a tented camp at Clara Anna Fontein Game Reserve, seeing a show and eating at Die Boer Theatre Restaurant, viewing the Hess Collection at the Glen Carlou art gallery, tasting Jorgensen Distillery’s ‘artisanal drinks’, visiting the first biodynamic farm Bloublommetjieskloof, making wine at Stellenrust, enjoying a braai at Midddelvlei, and going on a game drive at Villiera Wildlife Sanctuary.
Highlights of the Constantia Region include Groot Constantia, Klein Constantia, Buitenverwachting, Eagle’s Nest, Constantia Glen, Constantia Uitsig, Steenberg, and Cape Point Vineyards, and the restaurants La Colombe, Bistro Sixteen82, and Buitenverwachting. Some top Durbanville wine estates include De Grendel, Durbanville Hills, Meerendal, and Nitida. The Franschhoek wine route includes Allée Bleue, Boekenhoutskloof, Boschendal, Cape Chamonix, Colmant Cap Classique & Champagne, Morena, Graham Beck, Grande Provence, Haute Cabrière, Holden Manz, La Motte, Rickety Bridge, Solms-Delta, Stony Brook and Vrede en Lust. Restaurants on this Route include Pierneef à La Motte, Fyndraai, Haute Cabrière Cellar Restaurant, and Babel. The Paarl wine route includes Babylonstoren, Backsberg, Fairview, Glen Carlou, KWV Wine Emporium, Laborie, Landskroon, Nederburg, Noble Hill Wines, Perdeberg Winery, Scali, Veenwouden, Val de Vie, and Vondeling.
Stellenbosch is the oldest and largest wine region, and has a number oif wine routes. Some of the best known estates on these routes include Waterford, Blaauwklippen, De Trafford, Flagstone, Kleine Zalze, Neil Ellis, Stark-Condé, Beyerskloof, Hartenberg, Hazendal, Villiera, Delaire Graff, De Meye, Bartinney, Kanonkop, Mont Destin, Rustenberg, Slaley, Thelema, Tokara, Uitkyk, Warwick, Alto, Dombeya/Haskell, Graceland, Ken Forrester, Longridge, Rust en Vrede, Vergelegen, Waterkloof, De Toren, Dalla Cia, Jordan, Meerlust, Spier, and Vilafonté. Recommended restaurants are the Postcard Café, Terroir, Delaire Graff, Towerbosch, Overture, and Jordan Restaurant by George Jardine.
The Inland region consists of the Breedekloof, Klein Karoo (Boplaas is one of the best known), Swartland, Robertson (dominated by Graham Beck, but also with Zandvliet, De Wetshof, and Van Loveren being better known) and Worcester wine routes. The Swartland wine route is growing in stature, and very fine wines are being made in this region, including Mullineux, Sadie, AA Badenhorst, and Allesverloren.
Agulhas and Elim (Jean Daneel and Raka are best known), Bot River (Beaumont is best known), Elgin (a wine route with increasing recognition for Almenkerk, Paul Cluver, Shannon, and Iona), and Walker Bay are the wine routes classified under East Coast in the book. The new Hermanus Wine Route has excellent wineries, including Creation, Hermanuspietersfontein, Ataraxia, Bouchard Finlayson, and Hamilton Russell.
The West Coast region consists of the Darling (Cloof is best known) and Olifants River (Cederberg and Stellar better known) wine routes. The Garden Route is not well-known as a wine region, and Bramon makes an organic sparkling wine in Plettenberg Bay. In KwaZulu-Natal Abingdon and Meander wines are made.
Twenty-seven wine-related festivals are also listed, with dates for the year ahead.
The Wine Tourism Handbook is a wealth of wine information, and should ideally be given to all tourists arriving in Cape Town, as compulsory reading about the excellent and extensive wine range on its doorstep.
Wine Tourism Handbook 2012: Enjoying Wine at the Source, World Focus Media, Tel 083 631 3393 www.winetourismhandbook.co.za
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter:@WhaleCottage
“Forgive me if I’m excited, but I can’t help it. I want to tell you straight out that South Africa, of all places , is one of the greatest sources for moderately priced cabernet sauvignon on the planet today”. So begins Eric Asimov’s story in praise of this country’s Cabernet Sauvignon wines in the 21 January edition of the New York Times.
Asimov’s verdict resulted from a tasting of 25 South African Cabernet Sauvignon wines, which he generalises as “balanced”, “with a sense of structure and shape”, “with flavours of cassis and violets, cedar and minerals”, “they demonstrated power”, “but also showed finesse”.
Asimov and his tasting panel voted the De Trafford 2004 as the top scorer, followed by the 2004 Rust en Vrede, and the 2003 One Stroke One from Graceland. The remaining top ten Cabernet Sauvignons, as ranked by Asimov, a wine critic not easily pleased, were 2004 Bon Cap, 2004 Thelema, 2004 Neil Ellis, 2004 Bilton, 2005 Waterford, 2005 Alto, and 2005 Stark-Conde Jonkershoek Valley Twin Peak. All but the Bon Cap are from Stellenbosch.
Asimov was less kind to Boekenhoutskloof : ” …the 2006 Boekenhoutskloof cabernet from the Franschhoek region was, at $ 47, the most expensive wine in our tasting. While the winemaker is critically acclaimed, we rejected the wine for its generic vanilla-cherry cheesecake flavours, which I often taste in New World red wines that are intended to please an international audience.”
Wines of South Africa (WOSA) are delighted with the article, and say that it should have a strong impact on marketing South Africa’s relatively unknown wines in the USA.
Asimov is somewhat sceptical about the future of South Africa’s wines. “Yet the track record is slim. We don’t know yet how these wines will age. Many of these producers are too new to have shown consistency over time.” Yet, he says that “South Africa has the potential for greatness. In the snapshot offered by these 25 bottles, we found a region offering wonderful values and lovely wines.”