John Platter’s name is synonymous with the wine industry, having created the Platter’s Wine Guide 36 years ago with wife Erica. His surname is still linked to the Guide by name, even though he has sold the Guide. Launching a new book, it was obvious that it would have something to do with wine. ‘My Kind of Wine‘ is such a book, Continue reading →
* The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has reacted to the additional Immigration Regulations introduced on Monday, requesting our government ‘to act in the best interests of the country and review‚ modify‚ and if necessary‚ rescind‚ the new measures if they do not have the desired effect and if they act as a handbrake on travel‚ tourism and economic growth‚ not just for South Africa — which is experiencing its weakest GDP performance in decades — but for the entire region. From a commercial and economic perspective‚ the industry is concerned that the harsh and onerous requirements South Africa has prescribed for travellers will negatively impact on the sustainability of air services‚ travel‚ trade and tourism to‚ from and via South Africa‘!
* The inaugural Cabernet Franc Carnival will be held at Avontuur on 20 June, with thirteen producers presenting their wines to taste, including Ridgeback Wines, Avontuur, Lynx Wines, Hermanuspietersfontein, Camberley Wines, Cape Chamonix, CK Wines, Doolhof Wine Estate, Druk-My-Niet Wine Estate, Mont du Toit, Ormonde Vineyards, Raats Family Wines, and Nelson Family Vineyards. Entrance R120.
* ‘People love our country and continue to visit South Africa‘, said President Jacob Zuma in his State of the Nation Address at the opening of Parliament last night. He set our country’s tourism target at 15 million visitors per year by 2017, with a revenue of R125 billion generated.
* TripAdvisor is testing amongst a sample of American hotels a new Question and Answer service on listed property pages, so that guests can request further information before they book, including for example questions such as the cost of a mini-bar, availability of tickets to attractions at reception, opening times of the pool, etc. Other travelers and the property can answer the questions. Hotels in the same town are not allowed to answer about another hotel in the discussion forums.
* Much admired and liked Eat Out Top 10 Chef Jackie Cameron from Hartford House is leaving the KwaZulu-Natal hotel at the end of July, to open Jackie Cameron’s School of Food and Wine in Hilton in January next year. Continue reading →
Vignerons participating in Franschhoek Summer Wines 2014 are La Bri, Morena, Môreson, Anthonij Rupert Wines, Bellingham, Noble Hill, Leopard’s Leap, La Motte, Solms-Delta, Haute Cabriere, Grande Provence, Cape Chamonix, Akkerdal, Babylonstoren, Black Elephant Vintners, Boschendal, Eikehof, Franschhoek Cellar, Glenwood, Holden Manz, La Chataigne, La Couronne, La Petite Vignerons, Lynx Wines, Maison, Rickety Bridge, Rupert & Rothschild Vignerons, Terra del Capo, Boekenhoutskloof, and Vrede & Lust. Continue reading →
It was a boisterous Diners Club Platter’s South African Wines 2014 ‘prize-giving’ last night, with a record 80 wines receiving the much-desired 5 star accolade, selected blind-tasted from double the number of 5-star finalists. It was an evening that honoured publisher Andrew McDowall, and saw new publisher JP Rossouw in action for the first time.
A number of records were set last night, with the largest number of wines evaluated ever, at 7434, there being 49 new entries, and close to 900 producers of wine in the Guide. After an absence, brandy and sherry-style wines were awarded again.
On arrival, sipping Klein Constantia MCC, a number of well-known winemakers and estate owners were visible, giving one a taste of some of the 5 star winners, including last year’s Winery of the Year winner Gottfried Mocke of Cape Chamonix, Mike Ratcliffe of Warwick, Razvan Macici of Nederburg, Anthony Hamilton Russell, Johann Laubser of Delaire Graff, and Ginny Povall of Botanica. We commented that it was wonderful to see so many women winemakers amongst the top 5 star recipients! Once we were allowed to enter the venue at the Vineyard Hotel, the wines were displayed in groups, for one to taste and to see the 5 star winners by their presence.
David Hughes sang the praises of Andrew, and his direct involvement with 29 of the 34 Platter’s Wine Guides. He described Andrew as a man ‘massive in character’, who has a nickname ‘Grunter‘, who got himself smuggled into a Nederburg Wine Auction via the boot of a car when he did not receive an invitation, who fell onto a cannon at the bottom of the steps of the Mount Nelson when he slid down the bannister at his 40th birthday party, a man one can trust when he gives you his word, ‘and a hell of a good guy‘, warning JP that he has big boots to fill in taking over from Andrew. There was roaring applause for Andrew.
Andrew looked well, and his dry humour was on full form, saying that the romance with Diners Club last year had led to marriage during the year. He was full of praise for his ‘young, strong and virile’ successor JP. He was proud that the edition was printed locally and not in Singapore. He revealed the ‘Walker Bay blue’ cover, saying that they had considered calling it ‘Pendock sea sick’, which brought the house down! He praised editor Philip van Zyl as the ‘most ethical man’, which led to applause from the floor. The 80 5 star winners include 7 brandies, up from 62 last year. I asked Andrew what he would be doing with his time, and he said he wasn’t sure, but getting better at bridge is one of his goals. Continue reading →
Yesterday the Franschhoek Wine Tram operated for the first time, having been eagerly awaited, after its introduction was announced more than two years ago. In the first month the Wine Tram will only travel between its starting platform, and Grande Provence and Rickety Bridge, but will expand from 15 December with an additional hop-on hop-off bus service.
We have written previously about the Wine Tram, and its owners David and Sean Blyth, a father and son team who are avid train fans. They identified the potential to introduce a tram service, a modern built tram based on the Brill Tram design of the 1890’s, as a hop-on hop-off service for tourists and winetasters wanting to taste wines without having to drive themselves.
Having received a newsletter about the new tram service early yesterday, announcing its opening day, my colleague and I made use of a two hour gap before guests arrived to try out the tram. We thought the station was alongside Franschhoek Cellars, where the tram has been securely parked since it was completed. It was a little further along, past the old Pippin Farm Stall (soon to open as The Stall), one seeing the tram in an open field, that one reaches by turning left just after The Siding, where Graham Beck now has its marketing offices, and first left again, following a road alongside the track. It was impressive that we could pay per credit card in the middle of nowhere, receiving an SMS notification of our payment, having been asked for our ‘South African’ cell number! The tram, sporting French flags, was waiting to depart (every hour, on the hour), and goes to Rickety Bridge first, where one can be picked up every hour, allowing one to spend more than hour there to taste and buy the Rickety Bridge wines, buy from their gift shop, play boules, stay over, and enjoy lunch at their new Paulina’s restaurant. On the way back, one can get off at Grand Provence, to enjoy their restaurant, art gallery, and tasting room.
The tram track uses that of the original railway that transported wine and fruit from Franschhoek, a line that has been dormant for ten years, an informative commentary spoken by recent new Franschhoek property owner Malcolm Gooding, well-known as a radio and TV voice going back to Springbok Radio days, informed, unfortunately at times inaudible due to some noisy children on board. The tram travels along the tree-lined track, and the vineyards of Grande Provence and Rickety Bridge. The tram crosses side roads, and must stop at each of these, its staff getting off, and waving red flags, with a hooter going off too. We were told that clients get on on a first come, first served basis. No food and drink, nor smoking, is allowed on the tram. An environmentally friendly bio-diesel is used to fuel the tram.
At Rickety Bridge we got onto a 1950’s farm Dodge truck that has been transformed into a vehicle transporting one to the tasting room and restaurant. One is given a list of eight Rickety Bridge and four Paulina’s Reserve wines, and one is allowed to taste five of these for free, as part of the ticket price of R60. Paulina de Villiers was the first female owner of a wine farm in South Africa in the 1800s, and the wines and restaurant have been named in her honour. We were lucky to find Sales Manager Jackie Rabe and her partner Guy Kedian at the wine estate, and were spoilt with a personalised wine tasting. Rickety Bridge is the entry level wine range, and is unwooded, while the Paulina’s Reserve range is partially wooded. Guy shared that Chenin Blanc once made up one third of South Africa’s vine production, and that it was largely used to make brandy, a large part of it consumed in the army. When the compulsory conscription came to an end, the consumption of Brandy & Coke fell dramatically, and many farmers removed their Chenin vines, this varietal only making up 20% of the country’s vine production currently, yet it is still the largest varietal. Rickety Bridge still has 34 year old chenin vines, which are full of flavour. Interesting is that Semillon vines dominated 250 years ago, and Franschhoek is particularly well suited to grow this big wine varietal. Rickety Bridge is best known for its Shiraz. The Rickety Bridge range consists of Sauvignon Blanc 2012, Chenin Blanc 2011, Semillon 2006, Rosé 2011, Merlot 2008, Pinotage 2011, The Foundation Stone 2010 (made from Syrah, Mourvèdre, Grenache, Tannat, and Cinsaut), and Shiraz 2010. The Paulina’s Reserve Range consists of Sauvignon Blanc 2010, Chenin Blanc 2010, Semillon 2008, and Cabernet Sauvignon 2009.
We did not have time to get off at Grande Provence, but the farm tractor with a trailer with seating fetches the guests from the La Provence platform, and transports one down to the wine cellar, the tasting room, the delectable restaurant for which Chef Darren Badenhorst and his team cooks, and an award-winning art gallery, winning Best Art & Culture recently in the Great Wine Capitals Global Network awards.
We are confident that the visitors to Franschhoek will enjoy their outing on the Franschhoek Wine Tram, and at the two inaugural wine estates Grande Provence and Rickety Bridge. From mid-December the route will expand to include Dieu Donné, Platter Winery of the Year 2013 Cape Chamonix, Haute Cabriere (which will offer a welcome glass of Pierre Jourdan MCC), and the Huguenot Museum, utilising a special bus, also on a hop-on hop-off basis, in conjunction with the Wine Tram. There is no doubt that current wine tour operators could see the Wine Tram as a competitor.
POSTSCRIPT 18/11: It was impressive that Sean Blyth called on Saturday evening, to obtain feedback about the Wine Tram trip, and has made changes already as a result, for example children may no longer travel unaccompanied by the parents.
POSTSCRIPT 21/12: Sean Blyth sent an update e-mail today: To give you an update, we have had a excellent response from passengers re the service with several positive reviews on Tripadvisor: http://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g469391-d3536165-Reviews-Franschhoek_Wine_Tram-Franschhoek_Western_Cape.html
We are averaging about 50-70 passengers a day at this point and this is with very little marketing. We have also opened our new ticket office in Franschhoek which has been a great way to attract passengers. Top Billing will be doing a segment on the tram with the shoot lined up for mid Jan – this should be great exposure. We are now getting ready to launch the bus service early next week which will extend the stops from 2 to 6 – will you been in Franschhoek next week to join us as our guest to experience the full product?
POSTSCRIPT 26/12: Today the Franschhoek Wine Tram has announced that the Franschhoek Wine Bus has begun operating, stopping at Chamonix, Dieu Donné, Haute Cabriere, and the Huguenot Museum, in addition to the Tram stops at Rickety Bridge and Grande Provence.
Franschhoek Wine Tram, Tel (021) 300-0338. www.winetram.co.za Twitter:@WineTram. Monday – Sunday 10h00 – 17h00. R60, includes one complimentary wine tasting.
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
Franschhoek has shown the wine industry that it is a serious wine destination, winning the Platter’s 2013 Winery of the Year a second year running, the accolade going to Cape Chamonix wine estate, and its winemaker Gottfried Mocke. The Mullineux Family Wines of Riebeeck Kasteel also performed excellently.
Publisher Andrew McDowall announced that the blood orange colour of Platter’s South African Wines 2013 is ‘West Coast Sunset‘ this year. Published for the 33rd time, the publication has started a ‘relationship’ with and has become ‘engaged’ to Diner’s Club, the credit card brand appearing on the wine guide cover for the first time. McDowall hinted that a ‘marriage’ may follow! For the new Guide, 900 wine estates and 7300 wines were evaluated, 54 of the wineries being new. The largest number of 5 stars was awarded ever, to 62 wines. The theme of the publication this year is ‘Backstories’, showcasing the dreams, passions, challenges, and successes of the wines featured in the Guide.
Michael Fridjhon opened the proceedings, and spoke about his first involvement with the Guide 30 years ago, when it was owned by Erica and John Platter, who had just moved to Delaire at that time. He shared that Erica Platter was very strict, and a word such as ‘mouthfeel’ was banned by the tasters. He said that 30 years later, ‘the guidelines for the tasters have become far more rigorous, but that the editors are gentler’. Fridjhon was congratulated for having been announced as the International Wine Columnist of the Year 2012 in the Louis Roederer International Wine Writers’ Awards.
The motivation for choosing Cape Chamonix as the 2013 Platter Winery of the Year, in addition to winning four 5 Star Platter Awards for its Greywacke 2010 Pinotage, Pinot Noir Reserve 2011, Chardonnay Reserve 2011, and White Blend Reserve 2011, is ‘Kaizen’, Platter’s editor Philip van Zyl said, the process of continuous improvement, and the seamless integration of viticulture and winemaking by the same team. This has made Cape Chamonix one of the top wine growers in the country, he said. Winemaker Gottfried Mocke has worked at Cape Chamonix for eleven years, and proudly shared the honour with his assistant winemaker Emul Ross, who has worked with him for just over a year.
The husband and wife team of Chris and Andrea Mullineux did well last year, and repeated its performance this year, winning three five star Platter awards for its Mullineux Family Syrah 2010, Straw Wine 2011, and Schist 2010, and was recognised for Red Wine of the Year for its Syrah. Nederburg (Ingenuity 2011, Winemaster’s Reserve Noble Late Harvest 2011, Sauvignon Blanc-Semillon Private Bin D252 2012) and Fairview (La Beryl Blanc 2011, Nurok 2011, Jakkalsfontein 2009) also received three five stars each.
The White Wine of the Year went to Paul Cluver Noble Late Harvest 2011. Superquaffer of the Year, selected out of 12 candidates in a 2,5 – 3 Platter star band and costing R 50 – R70 a bottle for reds and R40 – R60 for whites, was selected as the Muratie Melck Shiraz Cabernet Sauvignon 2011. Three of the Platter’s winners could not be present, being stranded in America due to Hurricane Sandy: Ken Forrester, Pieter Ferreira, and Kathy Jordan.
The 5 star Platter 2013 wines are the following (first time 5 star recipients marked with an asterisk):
Von Ortloff Quintessence 2008*
Delaire Graff Laurence Graff Reserve 2009
Cape Chamonix Greywacke 2010
Cape Chamonix Reserve 2011
Newton Johnson Family Vineyards 2011
Boschendal Cecil John Reserve 2010
Cederberg CWG Auction Reserve Teen die Hoog 2010*
Delheim Vera Cruz 2009
Fable Bobbejaan 2010
Fairview Jakkalsfontein 2009
Mullineux Family Schist 2010
Mullineux Family Syrah 2010
Raka Biography 2010
Simonsig Merindol Syrah 2010
Dalla Cia Wine & Spirit Company Giorgio 2007*
Fleur du Cap Lazlo 2008
Keets First Verse 2010*
Ken Forrester The Gypsy 2009
La Motte Pierneef Shiraz-Viognier 2010
Mvemve Raats MR De Compostella 2009*
Nico van der Merwe Mas Nicolas Cape 2007
Sadie Family Columella 2010
Boschendal Reserve 2011
Cape Chamonix Reserve 2011
Hamilton Russell 2011
Jordan CWG Auction Reserve 2011
Jordan Nine Yards 2011
Alheit Cartology 2011*
Beaumont Hope Marguerite 2011
DeMorgenzon Reserve 2010
Jean Daneel Signature 2011
KWV Cathedral Cellar 2011
Sadie Family Skurfberg 2011
Spice Route 2011
Fryer’s Cove 2011*
Graham Beck Pheasant’s Run 2012
Tokara Walker Bay 2012
AA Badenhorst Family 2010*
Cape Chamonix Reserve 2011
Cape Point CWG Auction Reserve 2011
David Aristargos 2011
Fairview Nurok 2011
Flagstone Treaty Tree Reserve 2010
Miles Mossop Saskia 2011
Nederburg Ingenuity 2011
Nederberg Sauvignon Blanc-Semillon Private Bin D252 2012
Nitida Coronata Integration 2011*
Tokara Director’s Reserve 2011
Méthode Cap Classique
Bon Courage Jacques Bruére Brut Reserve 2008*
Villiera Monro Brut 2007
Dessert Wine Unfortified
Fairview La Beryl Blanc 2011
Fleur du Cap Noble Late Harvest 2011
Mullineux Family Straw Wine 2011
Nederburg Winemaster’s Reserve Noble Late Harvest 2011
Paul Cluver Noble Late Harvest 2011
De Krans The Last Cape Vintage Reserve Port 2010
Catering was by the Vineyard Hotel, and one of the waiters said that each of their canapés was planned to be paired with a wine varietal. An unusual combination was the strawberry Turkish delight dessert.
It would appear that Franschhoek’s reputation as the best wine destination in South Africa will receive another boost on Saturday, when it is likely that Marc Kent of Boekenhoutskloof will be announced as the 2012 Diner’s Club Winemaker of the Year, judging by the posters on lamp posts throughout the village, announcing that ‘Franschhoek home to the Diner’s Club Winemaker of the Year 2012‘, without mentioning his name. Kent is the only finalist from Franschhoek. Discussing this with Christian Eedes at the Platter function, he expressed his disappointment, in saying that it takes the ceremony out of the award evening if the result is known up front.
POSTSCRIPT 31/10: This blogpost received an honourable mention from Neil Pendock on the Times Live blog today, quoting our last paragraph about the Diner’s Club Winemaker of the Year Award in full. The question he raised is how Boekenhoutskloof managed to not receive any 5 stars from Platter yesterday, yet was named Winery of the Year 2012, and how anyone could know the results of the Diner’s Club Winemaker of the Year 2012 accolade, as the wines were tasted blind! We have heard that the Diner’s Club awards function will be held in Franschhoek, and the poster headline may have referred to this, yet that would make the wording misleading.
POSTSCRIPT 3/11: The Diner’s Club Winemaker of the Year posters in Franschhoek were certainly misleading. Razvan Macici, Cellar Master of Nederburg, has been named Diner’s Club Winemaker of the Year 2012. Interesting is the Tweet from Llewellyn Lambert, who attended the event, that finalist Marc Kent of Boekenhoutskloof did not attend the Awards dinner.
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage
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
One of the cleverest ideas for a new restaurant and champagne bar is MCC Franschhoek, and it is appropriate that its opening co-incided with the Franschhoek Cap Classique & Champagne Festival this weekend. MCC Franschhoek is a showcase of 34 Franschhoek sparkling wines of 14 Franschhoek producers.
The brainchild of Philip and Christy Harrison, previously managing De Huguenot Estate, MCC Franschhoek allowed the couple to work with a beverage they love best. Christy told me that Philip loves cooking, having started to do so in Majorca, after studying accountancy. Both Philip and Christie owned a Weatherspoons outlet in Heathrow, but moved back to Cape Town thirteen years ago, Philip managing The Galley in Fish Hoek. They moved to the design of wedding stationery, and it is Christy who designed the stylish logo for MCC Franschhoek. Due to the closure of the De Huguenot restaurant and Harry Q Bar at De Huguenot Estate (to be run as a wedding and event venue only in future), Philip and Christie took part of their share of the venture in kind, and therefore they have the stylish silver-upholstered chairs, black bar chairs and tables, and couches from De Huguenot restaurant, which are spread out in the courtyard of the Village Square. Each table has the MCC range and price list, and a perspex salt and pepper grinder stand. Quality material serviettes and Fortis cutlery are stylish.
Alleé Bleue (Brut Rosé), Boschendal (MCC Le Grande Pavillion Brut Rosé, MCC Grande Cuvée Brut), Cape Chamonix (MCC Blanc de Blancs), Colmant (Brut Reserve, Brut Rosé, Brut Chardonnay), Dieu Donné (Maingard Brut, Rose MCC), Franschhoek Pass Winery (Morena Brut, Brut Rosé, Cuvée Catherine, Malabar Shiraz), Graham Beck (Brut, Brut Rosé NV and 2008, Bliss Demi Sec, Brut Blanc de Blancs, Zero), GM & Ahrens (Cap Classique), Hauté Cabriere (Pierre Jourdan Brut, Cuvée Belle Rose, Brut Sauvage, Blanc de Blancs, Cuvée Reserve), La Motte, Môreson (Miss Molly, Solitaire, Gala, Pink, One), My Wyn, Stony Brook (The Lyle), and Topiary (Blanc de Blancs Brut) sparkling wines are sold by the bottle, while a select number of bubbly brands can be bought by the glass, advertised on a blackboard. Prices start at R110 for Miss Molly, peaking at R650 for the GM & Ahrens. Surprisingly (given its name), a number of wines are offered too, and many are non-Franschhoek. Protea Sauvignon Blanc, Glenwood Sauvignon Blanc, Haute Cabrière Chardonnay/Pinot Noir, Beyerskloof Pinotage Rosé, Glenwood Shiraz Merlot blend, Graham Beck Game Reserve, and Guardian Peak Shiraz are all available by the glass, reasonably priced in a range from R20 – R35.
MCC Franschhoek opens from 8h00, and serves well-priced breakfasts, one paying per item (e.g. 2 eggs, bacon and toast costs R47); muesli, yoghurt and berry coulis, and a croissant with cheese and preserves cost R20 each. There is no breakfast cut-off time. The ‘Bites’ menu has a mix of salads (R45 – R65), sundowner platters (R50 – R75, and includes oysters, cheese, cold meats, and biltong), main courses, and desserts (R35 – R45), which can be ordered throughout the day. I ordered a perfectly prepared Franschhoek salmon trout served with boiled potatoes, and a crispy fresh asparagus salad (R75). Other main course options are sirloin steak and prawns in a beer batter, also costing R75. One can also order beef lasagne, mussels, an open chicken Satay burger, and two tarts. The menu will be updated and amended regularly.
I was impressed with the scale of the Franschhoek Cap Classique & Champagne Festival in showcasing the leading bubbly brands for sale in this country. It is held at the Huguenot Monument, which attracted 2000 bubbly-lovers yesterday, and more are expected today between 12h00 – 17h00. Eight champagne brands (Billecart Salmon, Champagne Guy Charbaut, Claude Beaufort, Follet-Ramillon Brut Tradition, Piper Heidsieck, Thierry Lesne, Tribaut Brut Tradition, and Veuve Clicquot) presented their precious bubbles, as did 37 local sparkling wine producers. Staff representing the local brands Allée Bleue, Avondale, Bon Courage (in beautiful Carrol Boyes coolers), Boschendal, Bramon, Chabivin, Colmant, De Wetshof, Dieu Donné, Domaine Des Dieux, Francois la Garde, Genevieve MCC, The House of GM & Ahrens, Graham Beck, Groote Post, JC le Roux, Krone, Laborie, La Motte, Nicolas Feuillate Champagne for Woolworths, Morena, Môreson, My Wyn, Namaqua Wines (Guinevere very deep pink, with 60% Pinot Noir and 40% Chardonnay, all 3000 bottles exported), Pierre Jourdan, Pongracz, Quoin Rock, Rickety Bridge (new 2010 release, 50% each Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, with only 3500 numbered bottles produced from Franschhoek grapes), Ross Gower, Saltare, Silverthorn, Simonsig, Steenberg, Sterhuis, Villiera, Weltevrede and Woolworths Wines all looked chic in their black and white outfits, the dress code of the Festival, which most attendees honoured too. There were surprisingly few Franschhoek restaurants represented (Le Quartier Français, Mont Rochelle Country Kitchen, Haute Cabrière, Roca Restaurant, and the Salmon Bar), and the food was generally of a disappointing quality, given the theme of the Festival. An exception was the sushi, salmon and other canapé platters made by new Le Franschhoek Hotel chef Oliver Cattermole.
MCC Franschhoek, 3 Village Square, 53 Huguenot Road, Franschhoek. Tel 083 772 9449/083 391 3869. No website. Twitter: @MCCFranschhoek Wednesday – Monday, 8h00 – until late, weather dependent.
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter:@WhaleCottage