Tag Archives: Anura

25th Veritas Awards crown KWV as 2015 king of the wine industry!

imageLast night KWV was crowned as the king of the wine industry for the fifth year running, winning 5 Double Gold and 9 Gold Awards for its wines, more than any other winemaker. Nederburg (2 Double Golds and 11 Gold Awards) and Spier (2 Double Golds and 8 Gold Awards) followed in second and third place, respectively, awarded at one of the highlights of the wine industry, a function attended by about 400 wine industry staff and media, with their partners. Kanonkop won the Best Performance by Entry title for 10 wines or fewer entered, while KWV won the title for more than 10 wines entered.  A total of 57 Double Gold, 157 Gold, 473 Silver, and 662 Bronze medals was awarded.  A mix of local and international judges evaluated the entries.

Not only were the wines with their winemakers and related staff celebrated, so too was the 25th anniversary of the Veritas Awards. The highlight of the evening for me was seeing how many women Continue reading →

Nederburg Rare South African Wine Auction 2015 raises R6,2 million, very stylish event!

imageThe 41st Nederburg Rare South African Wine Auction raised a record R6,2 million over the past two days, in what is one of the highlights of the wine industry events calendar. A total of 67 wineries, four being new (Anura, Axe Hill, Bloemendal, Pella) this year, participated in the Auction.

The second highest average price per liter was achieved this year, says Nederburg Auction Manager Dalene Steyn. The trend of last year to achieving premium price continued this year, the largest number of private buyers ever creating strong competitive bidding, with an average price per liter of R576. Record price per liter was achieved for the Fortified, Cap Classique, Port, and Dry White wine categories. UK wine judge Tim Atkin said that our local wines are still undervalued, especially Continue reading →

2014 FNB Sauvignon Blanc Top 10 announced at Nitida, Neil Pendock gets some of his own medicine!

FNB Sauvignon B All Top winners Whale CottageI have not been to Nitida wine estate in Durbanville in a long time, nor to its Cassia restaurant.  As the FNB Top 10 Sauvignon Blanc awards were held at the wine estate, it was a good opportunity to revisit, and to experience the new function venue, which comfortably seated 120 guests for lunch yesterday.

Invited guests included two representatives each of the FNB Sauvignon Blanc Top 20 shortlist, writers, and FNB staff as well as their clients.  Prior to the lunch, each of the 20 Sauvignon Blanc producers manned a tasting table, and provided information, making it a good opportunity to rub shoulders with other guests.   Continue reading →

Veritas Awards: KWV, Spier, and Nederburg lead the ‘Oscars of the SA wine industry’!

Veritas Wine top achieversKWV, Spier, and Nederburg are our country’s top three wine estates based on the number of Double Gold and Gold Awards they received at the 2014 Veritas Awards Gala Dinner at the Cape Town International Convention Centre on Saturday evening, making up almost half the 51 Double Gold awards. The Veritas Awards are viewed as the ‘Oscars of the South African wine industry‘, with close to 1800 wines entered, a slight decrease on the number of 2013 entries.

KWV was announced as the Best Wine Producer for the fourth year running, and increased its Double Gold awards from four last year to seven this year.  KWV also won 2 Double Golds for its Brandy.  Spier has greatly enhanced its Veritas performance, with 7 Double Gold awards, compared to only one last year. Nederburg increased its Double Gold tally from four last year to six.  Flagstone won Best Performer in the less than 10 wines entered category, and the KWV won in the 11+ wines entered category.

Four wine industry legends Danie de Wet of De Wetshof, Diaan de Villiers, Professor Diko van Zyl (author of historical works on Continue reading →

WhaleTales Tourism, Food, and Wine news headlines: 25 February

WhaleTalesTourism, Food, and Design news headlines

*   A total of 10,6 million South Africans use WhatsApp,  a free messaging service which was bought by Facebook last week.  This represents close to half of all adults living in cities and towns.   Facebook usage on mobile phones is at 9 million (45%), Mxit is at 25%, BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) (21%), and Twitter 20%, according to a survey conducted last week.

*   The Stellenbosch American Express Wine Routes will be participating at the tourism and travel show ITB in Berlin next month for the first time.  (received via media release from Random Hat Communications)

*   The ATKV-Oesfees will be held at Solms-Delta outside Franschhoek on 22 March, with headline acts including Karen Zoid, Theuns Jordaan, Robbie Wessels, and Loukmaan Adams.  It is the 7th Oesfees on the wine estate, and 100 performers will participate, to celebrate the harvest in the Franschhoek valley with local music and dance.  Last year more than 5000 music fans attended the Oesfees.   Solms-Delta is dedicated to preserving and developing the musical heritage of the Cape, through its Music van de Caab project run by Adriaan Brand.  Entrance costs R130 per adult. (received via media release from Paula Wilson Media Consulting)

*   Food Routes has launched a new Culinary Sensibility Identities (CSI) tool, allowing restaurant goers to match their culinary personality with that of a compatible restaurant on the Food Routes Continue reading →

WhaleTales Tourism, Food, and Wine news headlines: 31 August/1 September

WhaleTalesTourism, Food, and Wine news headlines

*   Research has shown that the moderate drinking of wine reduces the likelihood of depression amongst 55 – 80 year olds significantly!

*   About 4000 UK pubs are expected to close next year, being old and outdated and serving ‘indifferent’ food, the 2014 Good Pub Guide predicts.  However 1000 new pubs are expected to open next year.

*   Is there a future for blogging?  It appears so, and having a blog may become as commonplace as ‘having a smartphone or an e-mail address‘.

*   The 8th annual South African Food & Wine Festival will be held at Grayhaven Winery in Gum Spring, Virginia in the USA, on 14 and 15 September.  Tastings of  30 wines from Anwilke, MAN Vintners, Ernie Els,  Fairview Estates, AA Badenhorst, Kanonkop, as Continue reading →

WhaleTales Tourism, Food, and Wine news headlines: 13 August

WhaleTalesTourism, Food, and Wine news headlines

*   Good news is that the UK travel industry is seeing the first signs of recovery, after two years of a ‘meltdown‘, which severely affected the Western Cape tourism industry too!

*   One third of active American travelers travel with a smart phone and a tablet, and are an important market to watch for trends, now called the ‘Digital Elite’!

*   Ataraxia Serenity 2008 was the best selling wine at the recent Free State FNB Wine Show. (via media release from Ataraxia)

*   Sarah Baker of Wild Peacock Emporium has moved to the wholesale division of Wild Peacock, focusing on the supply of artisanal boutique cheeses.

*   French wine estate owners are being warned against fraudulent Continue reading →

Restaurant Review: Peter’s House home to Peter Rabbit’s tales and tails!

On Saturday I visited new restaurant Peter’s House just off Kloof Nek Road, and was surprised that there was no ‘Peter’ at the restaurant.  The waiter explained that Peter Rabbit is the hero of the restaurant, being the favourite character of its owner Ziggy Francisco.  My first impressions were not positive, but speaking to Ziggy later that morning and again early evening, improved my experience of the restaurant.

Peter’s House is a tiny restaurant, with an eclectic mix of furniture which Ziggy said were family hand-me-downs, and which she re-upholstered, mainly using a lilac fabric.  She also wore a lilac top, and the walls are painted a lilac colour, Ziggy admitting that it is her favourite colour.  The crocheted chair and cushion covers were done by Ziggy, and they give the restaurant a less professional feel, looking untidy.  Ziggy admitted that she loves to crochet.  At the counter the bar chair seats are covered with leopard print.  A long church pew runs along one wall, and few of the chairs and tables match, giving a homely student digs feel.   On the tables are old fashioned tea cups, in which cacti have been planted. On the shelving behind the counter is a collection of Ziggy’s personal Peter Rabbit items, including a complete set of the Beatrix Potter books, rabbit figurines, and interesting tea pots, which she bought on eBay. An interesting looking teaspoon chandelier, which Ziggy found in Scarborough, attracts attention near the counter.  A collection of portraits covers a section of the wall close to the counter. Two very large artworks by graphic artist Luis Tolosana are for sale, one of them being a reflection of the view from his kitchen (photograph).  The interior is hot, the fan over the door not coping when the sun bakes onto the restaurant windows in the late afternoon.  One restaurant window has a collection of beaded carrots, while the other has the restaurant name sandblasted on the window.  The restaurant is difficult to find, officially being on Kloof Nek Road, but it is wedged between the pharmacy and Miller’s Thumb, across the road from Power & Glory, from which came shrieks of cheering from a sports broadcast.  Two wire bunny shapes are a trellis for creepers outside the door.

Ziggy shared that she knew what look and feel she wanted to create for the restaurant, but struggled to find the right name.  The Peter Rabbit theme leant itself to her establishment, as she loves drinking tea and eating healthy food.  She grew up in Cape Town, worked in Financial PR before leaving for London, where she worked in the same field for five years. A two year sabbatical, travelling around the world, led her back to Cape Town, with the idea of opening her own restaurant.

I had arranged to meet Johan Bamberger and William Baldie (a breeder of rabbits), themselves restaurateurs, and we had a lot of catching up to do.  The music was blaring, and as we were the only customers, we asked the waiter to turn down the volume.  I enjoyed the iced coffee, which simply was an espresso with ice blocks, and cold milk on the side, as well as the Red Velvet cupcake, which Ziggy told me her mother bakes.  William and Johan had the carrot cake (R25), and more and more I picked up the Peter Rabbit connections on the menu, but there wasn’t much more than that, other than ‘Rabbit Food’ (breadsticks, crudités, olives, feta stuffed peppadews, and a selection of homemade dips, costing R35), and ‘Mr Mcgregor’s (sic) Garden Salad’ (mixed lettuce, feta, cucumber, cherry tomatoes, and carrots, costing R40, to which can be added smoked salmon and avocado, or roast chicken, at an extra charge). The bill reminds one to ‘don’t forget to eat your Carrots!’ Cute is that the menu says that ‘No bunnies were harmed in the making of this menu‘!

‘Breakfasty Things’ are listed on the Lunch Menu, and oddly follow a listing of starter type dishes (soup of the day, smoked angel fish paté, roast vegetable enchilada, and potato skins, costing R30 – R45).   For breakfast there are only two options: ‘Shakshuka’ (free range egg baked in a Napolitana sauce topped with shaved Parmesan, costing R30), and Breakfast Burrito (scrambled eggs, bacon, fried peppers and onions, with tomato salsa, costing R45).  Wraps cost around R50, and one can choose between ostrich, vegetarian, and smoked salmon and herbed cream cheese. Sandwiches made with homemade bread are affordable at around R30.  The dinner menu has most of the starter dishes and salads from the Lunch menu, a number of sides (I loved the glazed carrots at R15), and a choice of six ‘main meals’, including a surprisingly good wild mushroom risotto, oven roasted chicken, spaghetti meatballs, a pasta dish, and ‘Jou Ma se Fishcakes, costing around R65.

In addition to paper lunch and dinner menus, a board on the wall advertises specials, which was Alfredo pasta (R45), and Quiche and salad (R35) on Saturday.  The weekly special is the Meatless Monday Macaroni Cheese for R25.  On Thursday and Fridays from 16h00 – 19h00 they offer the ‘High Tea for Hooligans’, consisting of a Rooibos Tea Sangria, savoury treats and cookies, for a mere R25.  On Wednesday it is ‘Hump Day’ at Peter’s House, offering two pasta dishes and two glasses of wine at a total of R120.  A board lists the wine prices, a small collection of affordable wines, some offered by the glass and bottle: the house white wine costs R20/R80, the red wine costs R25/R100,  Anura Sauvignon Blanc 2012 (R25/R100), Quando Rosé 2012 (R28/R110), Robert Alexander Merlot 2011 (R130), and Miss Molly Cap Classique from Môreson (R180).

Peter’s House is quirky, with its decor focus on Peter Rabbit, but the menu does not carry the theme through well enough.  One wonders if the theme is attractive to adults, the first ‘The Tale of Peter Rabbit’ by Beatrix Potter having been published in 1902.  The energy and efficiency definitely is improved when Ziggy is there, coming over to chat and checking that everything is to one’s satisfaction. Prices are extremely reasonable. Parking could be difficult to find during the day.  Dinner seems a better option, judging by the menus.

Peter’s House, 14 Kloofnek Road, Tamboerskloof, Cape Town.  Tel (021) 424-3451. www.petershouse.co.za Twitter: @Peters_House Monday – Saturday 11h00 – 22h00.

Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage

Restaurant Review: Sacred Ground Artisan Bakers and Deli welcome addition to Franschhoek gourmet offering!

The opening of Sacred Ground Artisan Bakers just over two weeks ago created big excitement in Franschhoek, it being the first artisanal bakery in the village that has been called the Gourmet Capital of South Africa. Sacred Ground is not just a bakery, but also is a deli, a coffee shop, a wine shop, and gourmet sandwichery.

What makes Sacred Ground special is the spacious selection of Deli treats and the very friendly hands-on owners and staff.  Michelle Hewitt from next-door Surrey Homes and Sannette Koopman are partners in the venture and have both been in the shop when I have visited on two occasions, as has Sannette’s husband Heinrich.  Michelle is used to doing home interiors, so it was a natural that she guided the design of Sacred Ground, wooden counters, wood top tables, and wooden chairs with green seating having been used to give the shop an earthy and warm feel. One places one’s order with the super-nice Michelle van Sittert, who is also Sacred Ground’s Tweeter.  Thomas is the head baker, and joined the Sacred Ground team from Zimbali.  He was the Pastry Chef of the Year in 2008.  The staff wear black, with a branded hessian apron.

There is so much to take in when one arrives at Sacred Ground, but the bread selection probably catches one’s attention first, displayed on shelves, and the names and prices are marked.  So, for example, there is olive ciabatta (R22,50), Panini (R7), Sacred Baguette (R10), Ciabatta (R17), French Baguette (R15), Stumpy (R10), Crusty Sourdough (R25), 10% Rye (R25), and Cheesy Baguette (R18).  Cakes and cupcakes are still bought in, but will be baked on the premises in future.  A slice of cake costs R35, and one can choose from Chocolate orange, Cheesecake, Carrot cake, and Red velvet cake.  The cupcake selection comes in different colours, at R15 each. Macaroons cost R8.  There is fudge, biscotti, nougat, panforte made in Betty’s Bay, and slabs of Honest Chocolate.

The shop has a couch seating section for coffees, wines or a beer and a chat, a counter at which one pays and which displays the cake selection, and a large charcuterie fridge.  Fresh food fridges are placed along the walls, alongside the bread selection, and the rest of the space is filled with tables and chairs.  The colourful red and yellow BOS umbrellas attract attention from the main road, and the owners have planted red and yellow plants outside their door to match these colours.

Bread is the foundation of Sacred Ground and the Deli selection, and the food offered on the menu all relate to it.  Surrounding the bread selection is a fine selection of Truckles, Anura, and Dalewood cheeses,  as well as Bocconcini and Fior de Latte. There is a big range of Allée Bleue’s herbs; unbranded unsalted and salted butter; chicken liver paté; duck eggs; Froggit thyme-infused balsamic vinegar; Kloovenberg and Olyfberg olives; Prince Albert and Olyfberg olive oil; Oryx salt and pepper; Bean There coffee;  Dilmah teas; honeys; a selection of craft beers from &Union, including Steph Weiss and Berne; Whalehaven Idiom, as well as Mon Rêve boutique wines, of which the Merlot 2010 has already won a ‘Michael Angelo’ (sic) Double Gold in its first year of launch; and wooden boards, which are also used to bring the food to the tables.  The Charcuterie counter allows one to choose specific cuts of cold meats supplied by a variety of suppliers, including Raith and Gastro Foods, and includes various salamis, black forest ham, coppa ham, parma ham, as well as speciality cheeses, to take home.

The menu is short and sweet, and a blackboard advertises the Daily Specials.  All food is served on paper placed on wooden boards.  Commendable is that Breakfast is served all day.  I ordered The Artisan Egg Mayo (R35) on my first visit, sounding better on the menu than its execution, promising ‘free range egg, mayo and chives on bread of your choice’. The scrambled egg was cold and was drizzled with Froggit balsamic vinegar, which I was not warned about nor wanted.  An alternative ‘Breaking the Fast’ option is ‘Oeufs Bicyclette’, or Eggs on Wheels (R59), ciabatta layered with parma ham, two eggs and mozzarella, topped with hollandaise sauce.  One may choose the bread on which the eggs are served.  One can also order sandwiches throughout the day, with salami or mozzarella (R49), salmon or chicken (R59), or a ‘Sacred Dog’ with a Frankfurter or a Bratwurst (R40).  The Platters look super, a choice of two cold meats and two cheeses costing R 85, and three of each costing R120.

The cappuccino (R14) is made in the flat white style with Bean There beans, but a second order and careful explanation of a dry cappuccino resulted in a perfect cup. The Fair Trade description of the coffee, in its own outlets too, is misleading, as it is not Fairtrade endorsed.  Sacred Ground is licensed, and it is a surprise to see that no Franschhoek wines are stocked.  Hermanus-sourced La Vierge Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, and Sangiovese style are offered by the glass (R25 – R45) or bottle (R85 – R150) with Whalehaven Idiom (Bordeaux blend) at R280, as well as Paarl-based Mon Rêve wines, at R25 – R45 per glass, and R75 – R250 per bottle for the Merlot.   Pongracz is available by the glass (R45 – R55) or bottle R150 – R180. Pierre Jourdan Cuvee Belle Rose costs R190,  and Krone Borealis Cuvee Brut 2009 is available at R150.

Sacred Ground is a friendly village meeting place, with good service, reasonable prices, a good selection of deli items and excellent breads, as well as cakes and cupcakes, which have been in short supply in the village.  It has added life to The Square, which has not had much traffic since it opened about 18 months ago.

Sacred Ground Artisan Bakers, The Square, Huguenot Street, Franschhoek.  Tel (021) 876-3948.  www.sacredground.co.za Twitter: @SG_Bakery Monday – Sunday 7h00 – 19h00.

Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage

Babylonstoren the centre of ‘Simonsberg Wine Route’ in its new wine tasting centre!

Even though it shouldn’t have been a surprise, it was a most impressive visit to the new wine tasting center at Babylonstoren, not only offering a tasting of its own four wines, but also offering for sale two wines from each of the wine estates surrounding the Simonsberg, as well as gorgeous produce in its cheesery, bakery, and charcuterie, which opened two months ago.

One enters the tasting centre, housed in the original smithery and stable on the farm, which has been beautifully restored by owner Karen Roos and her GM Terry de Waal, to keep the building as authentic as possible. Flooring which looks weathered and as if it has been there for ever, comes from the old Dietman piano factory in Wellington.  The walls are part raw brick and part plastered and painted.  As Ms Roos has shown on the estate, she is a ‘less is more’ decorator, giving the tasting room a spacious feel, with only a central table displaying the Babylonstoren wines and one other Simonsberg wine, as well as a cheese of the day to taste. A small wooden table with a bench on one side is the only seating in the room, beautifully ‘decorated’ with a box of just picked and washed vegetables, including carrots and purple potatoes. From the central room the cheesery and charcuterie are on the right, behind modern glass doors, and the bakery is to the left.

Koos Bekker, husband of Ms Roos, has a passion for the terroir of the Simonsberg, and came up with the idea of a ‘home’ on his wine estate for the wines produced at the wine estates on the ‘inner circle’ surrounding the mountain.  When Babel restaurant opened on the wine estate over a year ago, it served wines from the neighbouring wine farms when it had not yet made its own wine, a commendable service. A ‘map’ showing the ‘Simonsberg Wine Route’ is painted onto a tile collage on the wall, showing where each of the 27 wine estates, being Vuurberg, Zorgvliet, Thelema, Tokara, Neil Ellis, Rustenburg, Glenelly, Morgenhof, Remhoogte, Quion Rock, Knorhoek, Muratie, Delheim, Uitkyk, Kanonkop, Natte Valleij, Marianne, Mt Vernon, Anura, Glen Carlou, Neil Joubert, Backsberg, Noble Hill, Rupert & Rothschild, Vrede & Lust, Plaisir de Merle, and Babylonstoren, is located.  A shelving unit stores the wines of the other Simonsberg estates, and as they are lying, it is difficult to see the estate names. Each is price marked, and sold at the cellar door price of each wine estate. Because the ‘Simonsberg Wine Route’ is not a formal one, there are no maps, no price list, nor information about any of the wines, including the Babylonstoren ones, a surprise, given the marketing and advertising background of Mr Bekker (Y&R, M-Net/Multichoice/MWeb, Naspers).  None of the four Babylonstoren wines have their 2011 vintage indicated on their bottles, and the staff could not explain this unusual strategy. They called winemaker Charl Coetzee to come over for a chat, and he seemed to think it odd that I was asking questions about this, only mentioning that they were matured in tanks (with the exception of 20% of the Viognier, which was matured in barrel). He was generally cagey about providing information about the Shiraz, Viognier, Mourvèdre Rosé, and Chenin Blanc.  He explained that there is no price list, as the two wines sold per Simonsberg wine estate will change over time, depending on their customers’ interest in them.  He referred to the launch of their flagship Chardonnay and Shiraz in September, and these will have the vintages on them, having been matured in barrels.  He was previously at Clos Malverne and Kaapzicht, and has been at Babylonstoren for about eighteen months. He said that he personally loves Pinotage, but this grape variety is not grown on the estate.  Grapes were on the farm when it was bought by the Bekkers, and the vines are 14 years old. This is the first winemaking on the farm. The wine side is so new to the wine estate that it is not even on their website yet, he said.  In the upstairs section there is a private winetasting and wine storage area, with minimal decor.

Having got stuck on the wine information, Karen ‘Bread’ Pretorius came to my rescue before the winemaker could be found, and she was extremely friendly and informative. She is in charge of the tasting centre, and also doubles up as the baker, having previously worked in the Babel kitchen. The breads baked vary every day, cost R25 each, and include baguettes; a 50% Rye, with Rooibos and raisins; and a tomato relish on a white loaf.  All are baked with Eureka stoneground flour in their wood-fired oven, which looks like it has been there for ever.  Karen is not formally trained in breadmaking, she said honestly, learning through ‘trial and error’, and ‘stealing with my eyes’, describing herself as a passionate breadmaker.  She was the Head Chef at Umami in Stellenbosch previously, and praised Maranda Engelbrecht for what she has learnt at Babel.  The Charcuterie is a large room, and its painting of a duck, bull’s head, and a pig onto the white brick wall, which is visible from the tasting room, reminds one of the bull painted on the Babel restaurant wall. The meats are supplied by Jason Lucas’ Jamon from Prince Albert, who also was the thatcher of the building roof.  They sell pre-packed portions of Black Forest, Parma ham, Pancetta, and Coppa hams, salami, Kalbsleberwurst, and biltong.  The cheeses come from nearby Dalewood predominantly, but also from Kleinrivier and Nuwehoogte.  The cheeses are displayed in fridges, and also in the airconditioned cheese room, which opens into the charcuterie.  Karen told me that they have a close relationship with their suppliers, all having passion for their products in common with Babylonstoren, being chemical-free, MSG-free, and healthier.

Babylonstoren is bound to come up with further surprises in future.  A Loyalty Card is in the pipeline.  A visit to see their extensive vegetable and fruit garden, to eat at Babel restaurant or at the Babel Tea House, to try their wines in the winetasting centre, and shopping at their bakery, charcuterie, and cheesery is highly recommended.  As the tasting centre is only two months old, there were some information deficiencies amongst the staff, which Karen will fix through training.  A coffee machine may be in the pipeline for the tasting centre too, as Babel does not serve coffees only, and the Babel Tea House is a long walk away.

Babylonstoren Tasting Centre, Bakery, Charcuterie, and Cheesery, R45, Franschhoek. Tel (021) 863-3852. www.babylonstoren.com Twitter: @Babylonstoren.  Cellar Tour 12h00 Wednesday – Sunday, must be booked ahead as they only take 12 – 15 persons, R100. 10h00 – 16h00 for tasting centre. R10 per person entry fee to the wine estate.

Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage