Entries tagged with “Cape Wine Academy”.


Yesterday I went to visit Chef Arno Janse van Rensburg of Eat Out Top 10 Restaurant The Kitchen at Maison, to hear more about his new restaurant Janse & Co he plans to open on Kloof Street in Cape Town in December. We stayed for lunch, and enjoyed Chef Arno’s three-ingredient focus of his dishes. (more…)

Last night I attended a tasting of six wines by Cederberg Wines with Altitude at OpenWine on Wale Street. The Wine estate has the highest location above sea level, at 1036m, of all vineyards in the Cape. (more…)

imageTourism, Food, and Wine news headlines

*  The 6% decline in international Tourist arrivals in the first quarter of this year is the biggest since our country became a democracy 21 years ago, writes the Financial Times. Ebola is partly to blame, but the new visa rules are the main reason, requiring personal biometric evaluation in India, China, and Russia, and unabridged birth (more…)

Bosman's Grand Roche View from terrace Whale CottageI don’t visit Paarl very often, usually disappointed with the restaurant offering of the town.  Last week I spent a day there, to visit Jan Willem & Seuns, and Melissa’s newish branch. I had given up on Bosman’s at Grande Roche, after repeated poor experiences in the restaurant. However, a chance meeting of Bosman’s new Restaurant Manager and its Sous Chef at Maison in Franschhoek a few days prior led me to return.

During the busy festive season days I took a break at The Kitchen at Maison in Franschhoek, and sat next to a table with a couple, which turned out to be Austrian Chef Christoph Terschan and Restaurant Manager Onwaba Maholwana of Bosman’s.  We chatted for ages, talking through the whole Eat Out Top 20 restaurant list, and our respective experiences with the restaurants.  Onwaba was well-informed about my previous Bosman’s disasters, and (more…)

WhaleTalesTourism, Food, and Wine news headlines

*   The Penny Ferry is to be reintroduced in the V&A Waterfront on 1 November, connecting the main shopping centre side to the more commercial and business side at the Clocktower. The ride will cost R5. The ferry stopped opening in 1997 when the swing bridge was constructed.  The Penny Ferry service was officially relaunched by Tourism Minister Derek Hanekom earlier this week.

*   The judging for the 2014 Diners Club Winemaker of the Year has been completed, and the winners of the 34th annual competition will be announced next month. In evaluating the nominees, it was ‘the heart and soul of the winemakers that stood out strongly‘, dominating the quality of the wines they made.  The Winemaker of the Year entered in this year’s theme category of White Blends, while the Young Winemaker of the Year was evaluated on any red wine. Judges included Dave Hughes (panel chairman), Beatriz Machado from Portugal, retailer Carrie Adams, Nomonde Kubheka (wine judge and educator), Christine Rudman (wine judge), Colin Frith (GM of Hazendal), and Margaret Fry (Director of Cape Wine Academy). (received via media release from African Sky Media)

*   At the International Spirit & Wine Competition held in London recently, five South African wines won (more…)

WhaleTalesTourism, Food, and Wine news headlines

*   Cape Town just cannot stay out of the New York Times!  Travel writer Sarah Khan has profiled some of the city’s hottest coffee and quirky shops, linking the city to World Design Capital 2014.  In the print edition on Sunday, the article headline ‘Have some Dim Sum with your shirts’ introduces the article with the story about the success of I  My Laundry, which recently opened a second branch in the city centre.   Other hot spots that are featured in the article are Loading Bay, Latitude 33, Haas, Pedersen & Lennard, House of Machines, and Los Muertos Motorcycles.

*   Standard Bank’s economist Goolan Ballim says that South Africa’s economy has underperformed ever since the global meltdown, which commenced in 2008.    He only sees a recovery in 2016 or 2017.

*   One third of British travellers have visited 10 countries on average, a survey conducted on behalf of the London City Airport has found.  The most popular (more…)

WhaleTalesTourism, Food, and Wine news headlines

*   Selling direct to wine lovers is the way to go delegates at a Wine Vision conference were told earlier this week by an international panel of speakers.  Mike Ratcliffe of Warwick Wine Estate in Stellenbosch shared that 22 % of their wine sales is to members of their Wine Club.

*   Prince Harry’s UK, the USA and the Commonwealth teams have flown to Antarctica, for their trek for charity to the South Pole, having been held up in Cape Town for the last four days due to bad weather.

*   Big Concerts has added a third Carlos Santana concert at the GrandArena at GrandWest on 27 February, in addition to 25 and 26 February in Cape Town, and 1 March in Johannesburg.

*   Bouchard Finlayson won the ‘Coup de Coeur‘ at the first Vinidivio show (more…)

Blaauwklippen Blending Competition Bottle and FrameYesterday Blaauwklippen celebrated the 30th anniversary of its popular Blending Competition, and it was a day filled with celebratory balloons and nostalgic reflections of the heritage of the Blaauwklippen Blending Competition on the 331 year old wine estate in Stellenbosch.  The competition has helped to demystify wine and make it more accessible to wine drinkers.

I have attended the Blaauwklippen Blending Competition (which they refer to as BBC) for a number of years, but had never seen so many guests before, 70 guests seated in the Barouche restaurant, many of whom having links to 1984, the first year of the blending competition.  Blaauwklippen MD and Cellarmaster Rolf Zeitvogel reflected on the world 30 years ago, Apple having launched its Macintosh PC, Archbishop Tutu receiving the Nobel Peace Prize, Mrs Margaret Thatcher becoming Prime Minister of the UK, and Nelson Mandela seeing his wife Winnie for the first time in 22 years.  Through a number of speakers, we heard about the history of the blending competition, having been the idea of Angela (more…)

Diners Club Winelist Awards 2More restaurants in the Western Cape than in any other province entered and received a Diners Club International Winelist Award 2013. At the 30th Awards function held for the Western Cape at the Vineyard Hotel on Wednesday,  MasterChef SA Judge and Tsogo Sun Chef Benny Masekwameng announced the 38 winners in the Diamond, 30 in the Platinum, 26 in the Gold,  and 2 in the SilverDiners Club Chef Benny Whale Cotatge Portfolio Award categories, 96 awards in total.

Veteran wine critic Dave Hughes chaired the judging panel, which included fledgling judge Chef Benny, restaurant guide editor JP Rossouw,  wine judges Christine Rudman and Fiona McDonald,   Winestyle.biz owner Nikki Dumas, and the Cape Wine Academy head Marilyn Cooper.  He said that it was fitting that the Awards ceremony was held at The Vineyard hotel, the Newlands area having been the first in Cape Town in which grapes were grown, but soon (more…)

I would not have known about Sage restaurant at Chabivin Champagne and MCC House on the Blaauwklippen Road in Stellenbosch had I not received an e-mail from its Chef Jan Kruger, alerting me to their move to their new home.  The restaurant also manages the tasting of the Chabivin Methode Cap Classique (MCC) wines, and its imported French champagne Guy Charbaut range, a sparkling pairing.

I arrived on a chilly and grey autumn day, but chose to sit outside to enjoy the peaceful garden with a view onto the Helderberg mountains.  The garden is surrounded by bluegums, and has as its centrepiece a most unusual wire ‘tree’ which has bottles attached to it.  Bistro style chairs at wooden tables reinforce the Bistro nature of this eatery, being a small restaurant with a MCC and champagne bar, its modest prices, and its French style cuisine.  The restaurant is named after sage, one of the oldest culinary and medicinal herbs.

I met the owner Alison Cronje and Chef Jan in the lounge section inside the restaurant, with three comfy couches and a massive fireplace for the cold winter to come.  They moved Sage to Chabivin a month ago, having experienced some problems from the authorities with their previous venue at Sweetwell Farm, which belongs to Alison’s husband Hendrik, who has been running a piggery at the R44 smallholding for 27 years, and supplies Sage with pork and beef. The predecessor to Sage at Sweetwell Farm was Nice, which was run by the very nice Anne and her late husband Chef Chris de Jager.  To accommodate Sage, the Chabivin tasting room was transformed into a restaurant, and sommelier Justin does the Chabivin MCC and Guy Charbaut champagne tasting at the tables of their Sage guests, to bring out the pairing between the Sage dishes and the sparkling wines and champagnes.  Justin was once a construction worker, became a barrista at the previous Sage, and completed his sommelier course at the Cape Wine Academy last year.  Chef Jan started his cooking career at a kibbutz after school, returning to Johannesburg to work at Ile de France with Chef Marc Guebert (he now owns Le Souffle), who taught Jan to cook in the French style, and the importance of sauces. In the Cape he worked at 96 Winery Road and Eatwell in Stellenbosch, before joining Sage three years ago.  I liked Chef Jan’s explanation of the restaurant operating seven days a week, saying that he did not want to confuse his diners in having to remember on which days they are open, a problem diners face with most restaurants!  His policy is to offer ‘quality finer dining‘.  He will be starting a vegetable and herb garden at Chabivin. Currently he sources from Wild Peacock, Nouvelle Mushrooms, and Steve the Magic Man.  While the menu is changed regularly, some standards are never removed, so that the diners referred by others will get to try the favourite dishes.

The restaurant interior is painted purple, perhaps a colour symbolising sage.  A parrot in a cage and dried flowers in the lounge section jarred in what could become a popular restaurant, given its excellent cuisine, and MCCs and champagnes.  The restaurant seats 45 inside and 30 outside. Tables are laid with table cloths and material serviettes inside, while there are no tablecloths outside.

Bread is brought to the table in a woven basket, both unexciting.  The menus and the winelist are typed on cream paper, and laminated.  The Breakfast menu sounds delicious, with dishes costing R60 – R70, and including rosti, egg and bacon; a poached Frankfurter and eggs; Eggs Benedict; and Français Pain Grillé, with smoked bacon, avocado and honey. The A3 lunch menu is sectioned as ‘start…’, ‘inspired’, and ‘end…‘.   Starters cost R45 – R55, and include ostrich carpaccio, Tunisian pork on bruschetta, Cape Malay curried yellowtail, and crumbed calamari. None of the main courses cost more than R120, and a mix of fish, meat, and vegetarian dishes are offered.  Two pork dishes are available, the meat coming from Sweetwell Farm. The tender pale pink pork fillet I ordered was delicious, made so by the unusual brandy, cream and raisin sauce in which it was poached, topped with pea shoots, and I requested a spoon to finish every last drop.  The shoestring fries were not fully cooked and were too strongly drizzled with truffle oil for my taste.  Pork belly is served with a sundried tomato cream served with basil pesto couscous, which sounds delicious too. Other main courses are seared tuna, lamb burger on brioche, kingklip, chicken, duck, and rib eye steak.  The apple flan dessert was made with the lightest pastry and sliced apples, dusted with castor sugar and sprinkled with almond flakes, was served with an unusual basil ice cream.  Being a cold day, the ice cream could have been replaced with cream, to make the flan the hero, as the basil was fighting with it.  Crème brûlée, chocolate fondant, meringue, and a cheese board are other dessert options, costing R50.

The Chabivin vines were planted two years ago. The estate currently buys in grapes locally, and its sister Guy Charbaut champagnes are made from grapes from three farms in France.  Guy Charbaut’s sister Brigitte and her husband Jean-Pierre Abiven are the local owners, and the name of the wine estate came from an amalgamation of the two surnames.  The prices of the Chabivin MCC and Guy Charbaut champagnes are the same in the restaurant as they are for sales via the Tasting room, a commendable pricing policy.  Most of the wines are available per glass too.  The Chabivin bubbles ‘linger for longer’, Chef Jan said.  There are three Chabivin MCCs: The Mademoiselle Megane NV is made from 100% Chardonnay grapes, is bottle fermented, matured for 48 months, has a light sweet taste, and costs R30/R120.  The Jean-Michel 2008 costs R35/R150, and is made from equal quantities of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, on the lees for 48 months. The Acléméé Semillon 2005 is unusual in being made from Semillon grapes only, and is bottle fermented and matured before degorgement for 72 months (R45/R210).  There are five Guy Charbaut champagnes: Selection Brut NV is made from Pinot Meunier, Pinot Noir, and Chardonnay, lying on the lees for 36 months (R60/R380); Rose Premier Cru NV is 100% Pinot Noir lying on the lees for 36 months (R70/R410); Blanc de Blancs Premier Cru NV is 100% Chardonnay, and is aged on yeast for 48 months (R70/R440); Millesime 2000 Premier Cru, with 67% Pinot Noir and 34% Chardonnay, is left on the yeast for 48 months (R80/R500); and Memory 1998 Premier Cru is made from 100% hand selected Chardonnay grapes (R1000).  The Blanc de Blancs and Millesime are available in a 375 ml bottle too, costing about R200, and as magnums. Commendable is that ‘Chabivin friendly‘ wines from the neighbourhood are also offered on the wine list, including Meinert, Guardian Peak, Ernie Els, Peter Falke, and Waterford Estate.  Winemaker Hendrik Snyman came to say hello.  He has worked for the family business since 2007, first in France, and now locally.

Sage is well hidden, creating peaceful country bliss with heavenly French-influenced cuisine and a good MCC and champagne range at affordable prices.  I will go back to Sage, as Chef Jan is clearly a talented saucier!

POSTSCRIPT 25/4: We received this refreshing e-mail from Chef Jan in response to our blogpost about sage: ‘I just want to say A HUGE THANK YOU for the wonderful article you wrote & posted on Whale Cottage Blog.  I saw it Tuesday morning and I was blown away by the in-depth writing and analysis. It was a true pleasure to have met you and I hope we cross paths in the continuous future.  Thank you for honest comments; both the critical and the complimentary. Kind Regards. Jan Kruger.  Sage Restaurant’

Disclosure: Chef Jan refused to accept payment for my meal and the MCC tasting.

Sage Restaurant, Chabivin Champagne and MCC House, Blaauwklippen Road, Stellenbosch.  Tel (021) 880-1643.   Sage Facebook page www.chabivin.co.za Twitter:@Chabivin  No Twitter page for Sage.  Breakfast and Lunch Mondays – Sundays, dinner by appointment.

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