Entries tagged with “Cape Wine Master”.


imageOn Saturday I attended the elegant black and white dress launch of the maiden vintage of the Klein Sering Sauvignon Blanc/Semillon 2016, on the 1,2 hectare property on which the grapes are grown in Noordhoek, just off its main road. (more…)

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 (more…)

WhaleTalesTourism, Food, and Wine news headlines

*   Tourists do not want to ‘face administrative hurdles‘ in their visa application process when travelling in Africa, said Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, Chairman of the African Union Commission, at Indaba at the weekend.  Making visa applications easier, liberalising air routes, and acting against animal poaching could increase tourism to Africa, she added.  Joint visas to travel within Africa are being considered.  The African Union is working on making Africa the preferred travel destination in fifty years from now!   Another goal is to motivate Africans to travel within Africa.

*   Indaba 2014, which closed its exhibition doors today,  attracted significantly fewer buyers than in previous years, and was criticised for having become ‘stale’, and for not having re-invented itself as was promised last year by SA Tourism’s Marketing head Jan Hutton.  While larger than the recent World Travel Market Africa exhibition held in Cape Town, it disappointed attendees, many especially smaller tourism players not planning to return next year.  The speed networking sessions were a shambles on Saturday and Sunday, with many buyers not present. Costs of catering were said to be prohibitive.

*   The Great Wine Capitals Best of Wine Tourism Awards is open to entries for the 2015 Best of Wine Tourism Awards, in the (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…)

On Friday a number of writers was invited by De Kock Communications to attend a tasting of Monis sherries, muscadel, and port, on behalf of its client Cape Legends, the Fine Wine Division in Distell.  The fortified wine tasting was conducted at the newly opened The Odyssey, previously the French Toast Wine & Tapas Bar, and demonstrated the versatility of the fortified wines in their pairing with foods, and in the use of cocktails.

Marketing Director Ross Sleet (below right) said that sherry is making a come back. He also said that chefs have been cooking with sherry for years.  It is a wine to be enjoyed and should not sit in the kitchen cupboard!  Monis Fino, an extra-dry sherry, is to be re-introduced.  The versatility of the Monis products was demonstrated with the welcome drink, being a refreshing Monis Muscadel on crushed ice.  During the meal three cocktail options were offered, made with Monis products too: Mojito, Cosmo, and Sex on the Beach!

Monis had its early beginnings in Paarl in 1906, when Robert Monis founded Italian Warehouse, importing Italian products and making wines locally, changing the name of the company to Monis Wineries Enterprise Ltd in 1921, according to wine.co.za. The company was bought by Distell in 1966.

Chris de Klerk, a Cape Wine Master and a Wine Ambassador from Cape Legends’ Johannesburg office (left), was flown to Cape Town to lead the tasting, and did an interactive tasting of the Monis products, and then paired them with different food types, to demonstrate the versatility of the pairing options. Chris explained that fortified wines are oxidised, given them the darker colours and their richness. Sherry is the boldest of the fortified wines, he said, and is served as a double tot due to its alcohol content. The Monis range is not endorsed by Weighless, Chris quipped, talking about their sugar content.  While the origin of port is Oporto in Portugal, it is the French who drink the most port in the world, serving it as an aperitif before a meal, making one’s guests happy and hungry quickly due to the quick absorption of the alcohol through the mouth and stomach. Sherry should be served ice cold, not known to most of its drinkers.  Chris explained that it is not allowed to label new ‘sherry’ and ‘port‘ bottles any more, according to a 1936 ‘Crayfish Agreement’ between our country and the European Union, which prohibited South African sparkling wine from being called ‘champagne‘, and also prohibited the use of the words ‘Bordeaux’ and ‘Chateau‘.  Existing packs carrying the sherry and port names were labeled before 2012, and those that are sold into non-EU countries may carry them too.  So the Full Cream bottle just has the brand name and the ‘Full Cream’ descriptor, followed by an almost unreadable ‘Traditional Flor Method’, without the word ‘sherry’ on the label. ‘Flor’ refers to the unique yeast which is used to make sherry, and gives the sherries a unique flavour. Monis makes their sherries in the style of those from Jerez de la Frontera in Spain. The port bottle is described as ‘Cape Vintage’.

We tasted the four Monis products on their own, and then again, paired with four distinctive food types felt to pair well with them, the sherries all made from 100% Chenin Blanc:

*   Monis Pale Dry sherry: Notes of apricot, wood, vanilla and salt. When paired with a very spicy chorizo, our tasting table felt it tasted less good (sugar level 18g per litre). Can be served with seafood too.

*   Monis Medium Cream sherry:  this wine was described as being a bit more shy, with more caramel and Christmas cake flavours (sugar level 95g per litre).  The pairing with a creamy camembert was superb, the best pairing of the four, the cheese toning down the sweetness of the sherry.  It would also go well with a soup, sauces, stews, spicy food, and creamy cheeses, or with cakes and sandwiches at a High Tea.  We serve this as our welcome drink to our Whale Cottage guests in winter.

*   Monis Vintage Port:  this was described by Chris as ‘red wine on steroids’ (sugar level 90g per litre)! Berry flavours dominate. There is an upsurge in sales of vintage port, despite it causing gout in some. It has good balance, is not filtered, and ages well in the bottle, for up to 20 years.  This year’s Nederburg Auction will include a 1948 Monis port at a sugar level of 90, which is the Portuguese norm.  It has an illusion of greater sweetness, but is less sweet than the Medium Cream sherry.  Good pairing with Gorgonzola, green fig preserve, and chocolates. Monis’ Port is made from Touriga Naçional, Souzão, and Tinta Roriz grapes from Calitzdorp.

*   Monis Full Cream sherry:  Notes of sultana, caramel (sugar level 128g per litre). The pairing with malva pudding was well received at our table, matching the sugar content of the dessert.

After the tasting the restaurant brought out a tasty starter platter of ham wrapped bread sticks, chicken liver paté bites, olives, crumbed mushroom risotto balls, and sweet potato, beetroot and Parmigiano wrapped in beef, with a separate container of very salty prawns, being mezes from the restaurant’s ‘nibble menu’, Chef Lorenzo Magni said. Most of us ordered the slow roasted pork belly with spinach flan, and apple purée, with a few mutters from the table, about sand in the spinach and string on the pork not having been removed.  The dessert platter was a collection of vanilla custard profiteroles, chocolate brownies, and strawberry vodka (a surprise) sorbet.  All the food was paired with the sherry-based cocktails.

Chef Lorenzo, previously running the Blues kitchen (the owners of Blues are the owners of The Odyssey), came to our table afterwards to apologise, stressing that they had only be open for two weeks, and that the Monis function had been pre-booked with the previous owners. He told us that they added sunscreens to the windows, and repainted the interior green, not much else about the interior having been changed. No signage is outside the building yet.  We were very surprised to hear that Clare (Mack) McKeon McLoughlin of Spill blog is the restaurant’s PR consultant for the next three months!

POSTSCRIPT 10/6: We have received a Comment from Francois, pointing out that the information supplied by Chris de Klerk as to the naming of ‘sherry’ and ‘port’ is incorrect, in going back to an EU agreement of 2002, and not to the ‘Crayfish Agreement’. The words ‘Ruby’, ‘Vintage’, and ‘Tawny’ may be used to describe port wines.

Disclosure: We received a bottle of Monis Full Cream sherry with our media pack.

Monis, Cape Legends. Tel (021) 809-7000.  www.moniswines.co.za Retail prices: R60 for the sherries, R80 for the port.

The Odyssey,  199 Bree Street, Cape Town.  Tel (021) 422-4084.  No website yet.  Twitter: @TheOdysseyZA

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

Cru Cafe’ is the first restaurant to have opened in the new extension to the Cape Quarter, and is a wine bar serving meals, rather than a restaurant that has a winelist!   With more than 120 wines and 20 wines-by-the-glass on its extensive winelist, handpicked by its director Elsie Pells, a Cape Wine Master, it makes a serious statement about its commitment to wine.  A wine shop forms part of the restaurant.   The restaurant space is their “terroir”, says Elsie.

Elsie Pells is charming, and a first meeting at the Portofino launch forms the foundation for a chat when she sits down at the table, and tells us about the wines and the restaurant.  She has a strong hand on the wine and food serving.   Previously with NMK Premium Global, she now works as a wine consultant, sourcing wines, designing wine lists, and is soon to jet off to Prague, where she will help a local importer select the best South African wines to import.   She explains that Cru Cafe’ has selected twelve wine partners, who will provide wines to Cru Cafe’ for the next year, in return for more than one variety of the estate being carried, and these include Delheim, Boekenhoutskloof, Meerlust, Laibach, Joubert Tradouw, Kaapzicht, Paul Cluver, Graham Beck, Klein Constantia and Cederberg.  She is proud to have selected a number of Platter 5-star wines on the winelist, before Platters announced its  2010 5-star list.

White wines range from R 80 for the Vergelegen Vin de Florence to R 460 for a Sterhuis Astra Sauvignon Blanc/Chardonnay.   The red wines range from R 90 for the Delheim Cabernet Shiraz to R 580 for the Kanonkop Paul Sauer.   Boekenhoutskloof’s 2006 Syrah costs R 480, and the Meerluct Rubicon 2004 costs R 490.

Elsie explains that in wine, “cru” is usually linked to “grand”, meaning ‘great growth’, and this is what Cru Cafe’ hopes to achieve: serving high quality food, wines and offering quality service.  

The chef Wesley Petterson is from the Twelve Apostles Hotel and Vineyard Hotel, and Elsie is clear that only lunches and dinners will be served, to match their wines.   Breakfasts are to be eaten at other restaurants in the Cape Quarter, she says.  The menu has a smallish selection of about 6 starters, salads, mains and desserts each, as well as about ten tasty-sounding tapas choices. 

The most more-ish homemade cheese sticks are served prior to the meal coming to the table.  The steak was good and the dried seaweed on the steak was a reminder of steaks enjoyed at Tank across the road many moons ago.   The Delheim Shiraz by the glass was excellent.   The waitron service still needs some help, especially on the wine side.

A most annoying discovery was an automatic addition of 10 % “commission” to the bill.   The manager graciously took it off the bill.   The service is not yet at the level to deserve a 10 % tip.  Tips should be a discretionary payment by the diner anyway.

Tom and Jacques Castelein are the owners of the restaurant, which has a name-sake in Chicago, and they previously owned Tasca de Belem in the V & A Waterfront.

Cru Cafe’ is in the Cape Quarter extension at 27 Somerset Road, De Waterkant, tel 021 418 6293, www.thecrucafe.com.  Parking is available in the building, and is currently free of charge.

Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio www.whalecottage.com

The Cape Town restaurant scene has been buzzing this month, with a number of new restaurants opening, and an e-mail exchange creating the biggest restaurant stir ever experienced in the city.

The opening of the Cape Quarter extension on Somerset Road in De Waterkant has seen two restaurants open in the centre to date: Cru Cafe, a restaurant which has created “its own terroir” in the centre, says director Elsie Pells, in serving a selection of 150 wines hand-picked by Pells, a Cape Wine Master.   Voila, an all day breakfast and light meal restaurant, owned by the owners of Wakame, is a friendly addition, with cakes, muffins, croissants, fudge, toffee apples and many more treats prepared on site.   A clever touch is that glass domes presenting the treats are placed upon stacks of cookery books!  Downstairs, at the entrance, is an Andiamo Espresso, which is a sister coffee shop to the one in the original Cape Quarter, but on a very much reduced scale, only selling coffee, ice creams, juices, sandwiches and muffins.  It belongs to the same owners as the amazing Spar Gourmet Food Store at the entrance to the center.   Vanilla will open at the end of the month, and is owned by father and son duo Nigel and Simon Newhouse from Tuscany Beach in Camps Bay.   It will be the lead restaurant in this centre, with 180 diners catered for on two levels.   The chef  Evan Coosner worked at Reuben’s  and Ginja previously.   Kuzina – Greekooking, LAZARI, and BICCCS (Bread, Ice Cream, Cakes, Coffee, Croissants, Sandwiches) are restaurants still set to open in the centre.    To celebrate its opening, the Cape Quarter has organised a Food & Brandy Festival on 13 and 14 November, with Giggling Gourmet Jenny Morris, in conjunction with the Alchemy of Gold (Klipdrift, Flight of the Fish Eagle, Oude Meester, Nederburg, Uitkyk and Van Ryn’s brandies), talking and preparing food all day long.

The talk and tweet of the town has been an e-mail exchange between Cormac Keane, owner of new restaurant Portofino, and a client, who cancelled a 5 pm dinner reservation one hour before time of arrival.  Keane expressed his frustration to the client in no uncertain terms and with true Irish directness.  The client was not happy with the replies he received from Portofino, and made contact with some websites that had written favourable reviews of the restaurant, including WhaleTales.    He also sent it to a hip website called 2oceansvibe, which decided to post the e-mail exchange on its blog, leading to an outburst of mainly critical and at times extremely crass and defamatory attacks against Keane.  On the other hand, many readers of the exchange admired Keane for standing up to an inconsiderate customer, and lauded him for his bold and direct stand. The end result:  the customer has gone into hiding, and has requested that his name be deleted from the exchange on the 2oceansvibe website.  For Portofino, it has meant a fully booked restaurant ever since the e-mail exchange was circulated around the city, reinforcing that there is no such thing as bad publicity!   The WhaleTales’ review of Portofino, which was written shortly after Portofino opened, was offered as a link in some of the website comments, and the review attracted more than 2000 readers in the past week, a record readership.   A vindictive customer tried to show up what he felt was a rude restaurateur, and got more than he bargained for.  Instead of spreading the word to prevent others from going to Portofino, he has done the restaurant the best possible favour by creating wide-spread exposure for it, a bonus for a restaurant which only opened 6 weeks ago, and now has become the best known restaurant in town!   Portofino is not the first restaurant to have told a customer to not return: Le Quartier Francais, Carne, Beluga and Sevruga are known to have done so too!    Carne and Le Quartier Francais are finalists for the Prudential Eat Out Top 10 restaurant awards, and it begs the question whether such poor restaurant customer care should make them eligible for such a sought-after award.  

Another restaurant that is on the Eat Out Top 10 restaurant shortlist is The Roundhouse in Camps Bay, which has demonstrated its arrogance almost since its inception, stating at the outset that its goal is to become the best restaurant in Africa.  A response of the owner Fasie Malherbe to a customer comment on the Eat Out website is a scary reflection of what one might encounter at this ‘Big Brother’ restaurant: “every guest that has ever walked through our door and dined with us is on record to the extent that I will outline your exact time of arrival, what you ate, what you drank as aperitif’s, digestif’s wine that was served to you, the guests comments made on each dish, positive or negative feedback, special dietry (sic) requirements, the guest interaction between staff is noted, what car you drove, whether you smoked or not, how many times you went to the restroom and any other details that we could use to ensure that when you return that we may ensure consistency in offering or if you have complaints as we have here that we have all our ducks in a row and can learn from the ordeal”!

Bruce Robertson, the previous owner of The Showroom, which is where Portofino is now located, has confirmed that the Franschhoek restaurant that he is consulting on is that of La Motte, which is due to open in May.   The wine estate has just opened its new tasting room.   Robertson is also working with Warwick wine estate outside Stellenbosch on their gourmet picnic offering, which will be available from 1 December.  Robertson is also a gourmet food tour guide now, and he led the editor and 8 readers of USA foodie magazine Bon Appetit around the culinary delights of the Cape, including Reuben preparing a meal at Boekenhoutskloof in Franschhoek; a winepairing dinner at Grand Roche with Cederberg Wines; a malas tasting at Paul Cluver matched to organic farm foods; a seafood braai paired with Hamilton-Russell wines at Birkenhead in Hermanus, with the Southern Right whales frolicking in the ocean as a backdrop; and an interactive Cape Malay cooking demonstration with Cass Abrahams and paired with L’Omarins wines. 

OYO, the restaurant in the V&A Hotel in the Waterfront, is offering a crayfish special at R 185 for 500 grams.  A choice of hot or cold crayfish is offered.  Sister restaurant SALT at the Ambassador Hotel in Bantry Bay is also offering this special.

Alle’e Bleue wine estate has opened its beautiful top class winetasting room, and has a new outside courtyard restaurant seating about 80 linked to it, serving only five options:   Flammkuchen, Bobotie, a cheese platter, a chicken/spinach salad and a mixed grill.

Delaire Graff has made three changes after only being open for four months:  its prices have increased, its staff have changed, losing their exceptional Maitre’d, and their menu has changed.   Read a report on the latest visit here.

New Italian restaurant Alla Posta is to open at 51 Kloof Street shortly.  It will not only offer Italian delicacies, but also Italian furniture, decor and books, and show Italian movies.

Two new restaurants are set to open in Franschhoek soon, both owned by one of Franschhoek’s largest retail and hospitality landowners Robert Maingard.   In the old station building once hosting the Tourism Bureau, a sports bar is set to open, while a creperie should have opened a few months ago already close to the Huguenot Fine Chocolate shop.   A Franschhoek branch of Gelato Mania, which already exists on Somerset Road, in Green Point, opened recently and is tucked away alongside Col’Cacchio.

Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio www.whalecottage.com