Hermanus, and neighbouring towns in the Cape Whale Coast region, has recently been named the UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation) City of Gastronomy, in a bid led by Darryl David, surprisingly from KwaZulu-Natal. Hermanus takes its place alongside top international cities of Gastronomy, such as Parma, Italy; San Antonio in the USA; Phuket, Thailand; and Bergen, Norway.
Despite a hugely challenging year for the wine industry due to the drought, CapeWine 2018 is an impressive showcase of optimism, friendliness, and proudly South Africaness, running at the Cape Town International Convention Centre until tomorrow. I attended yesterday, with my Parisian friend Aurelié Jullien, and we were both impressed with the magnitude and professionalism of the exhibition, held every three years, and attended by the local and international wine trade. Continue reading →
Last night I returned from the Hermanus FynArts Festival, having spent six days of the Festival ten-day period enjoying a feast of a fine Festival! I have experienced Festivals in my time, but never for so long a period, and none so extensive in content as the Hermanus FynArts Festival. I cannot wait for the 2017 Festival, to be held from 9 to 18 June 2017! Continue reading →
On a quick visit to Hermanus last week, I was lucky to meet Chef Warwick Taylor, previously of Creation, where he was extremely popular and created excellent dishes which were paired with the Creation wines. Continue reading →
On Wednesday evening I attended a special tasting of the wines of Bouchard Finlayson, a Boutique Vineyard according to its marketing material, at the invitation of Janie van der Spuy of FIVE STAR PR. It was held in the special function room upstairs at Mondiall, with Chef Oliver Cattermole and his team preparing excellent tapas dishes which were paired with the four flights of wines we tasted.
I have to admit that I have not previously stopped at Bouchard Finlayson on the R320 Wine Route in the Hemel-en-Aarde Valley in Hermanus, it being the longest standing wine farm in the area. I was fortunate to sit next to Peter Finlayson, who has been at the farm for 25 years. He studied Oenology (Chemistry was a tough subject, but he is grateful for the grounding it gave him for winemaking) at Stellenbosch University, which he followed up with a year at Geisenheim in Germany. Of his class of nine graduating in 1974, only two have become winemakers. Peter previously worked at Boschendal. Only 22 ha of the 125 ha farm is planted to vine, Peter having bought it in 1989 from a farmer who farmed with ‘mielies, sheep, and baboons‘, Peter said, at a time when the locals said that the valley was only suitable ‘for farming by poor Whites’! The baboons are still there, he told me with a laugh! The remainder of the land is covered with fynbos, and Bouchard Finlayson is committed to conserving and adding fynbos, and they joined the Biodiversity and Wine Initiative. Peter was the first winemaker to import Nebbiolo and Sangiovese vines, planting them in 1994. His real achievement has been with Pinot Noir, known as the ‘Pioneer of Pinot Noir’, and now the whole valley is synonymous with the varietal. Galpin Peak Pinot Noir is the flagship Bouchard Finlayson wine. Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc also do exceptionally well in the valley. Continue reading →
I last visited Creation more than two years ago, when I wrote a story about the Hermanus Wine Route, which had been launched in 2011. Since then a number of changes have taken place, new chef Warwick Taylor offering even more heavenly food to match the heavenly Creation wines, living up to promise made in the Tasting Menu heading: ‘Original, distinctive flavours. Exceptional, harmonious matches’!
The road to travel to Creation was never in great condition, having been a gravel road 7 km before the entrance to the wine estate. They were very excited when the Western Cape province announced the tarring of the road to Caledon, and 3 km of the untarred section had been tarred when the construction contractor went bankrupt, a huge frustration for Creation. A number of months have gone by while the province appointed a new contractor, and work has finally commenced again, it taking ten months for the road to be completed, owner JC Martin estimated. The road currently is in a worse condition than it was on our last visit, in terms of its surface, with more accidents on the road, and having a stop/go system in place. Co-owner Carolyn Martin said she is placing pressure on the Western Cape Minister of Transport and Public Works Robin Carlisle to get things moving. Creation will have to possibly change its entrance once the tarring is complete. Despite the poor condition of the road, it was a surprise to see the car park at Creation completely full, Carolyn’s marketing of their wines and the Tasting Room being so excellent that tourists as well as Johannesburg and Pretoria locals come anyway.
I thought I had arrived without being recognised, but Carolyn had seen me (I was sitting with my back to the desk) and she called JC to come and say hello. JC was busy in the cellar with the preparation for the start of the harvest the following day, but made time to chat, reflecting how good they are in connecting with their customers (we stock their Whale Pod range) and visitors. JC said that the harvest is only 3 – 4 days later than last year after the wet winter, and that they have some botrytis, which his staff is picking out. He expected the harvest to take a little longer this year, being 3 – 4 weeks, depending on the weather. He shook his head, almost in disbelief, Continue reading →
The Bay Hotel in Camps Bay was a perfect venue for the tasting of the newest Overhex Wines International’s Balance wines on Tuesday, the venue being as light and crisp as the Balance wines.
The function moved to different venues inside the hotel, a welcome glass of Balance Boldly Brut being served with a canapé of samoosa filled with crocodile (luckily we were not told what was inside when it was served!), bacon, and green apple on an Asian spoon, in Sandy B, the downstairs bar.
The tasting was held in the downstairs Bistro, with an introduction of Overhex Wines International by co-owner and MD Gerhard van der Wath. The company was established seven years ago, and he got Swiss winemaker JC Martin, co-owner of Creation and son-in-law of highly respected winemaker Walter Finlayson, on board as winemaker. JC and Gerhard recently bought out the other partners, and JC makes his own Creation wines as well as blending the Balance wines. The company is one of the top 20 exporters of South African wines. Their strategy is to be different, Gerhard said, which shows in their fun label of an elephant balancing on the letter ‘l’! They develop different styles of wines for different markets. All the grapes are bought in for their wine production, a total of 10000 tons. He shared that they have won the largest number of wine tenders in Finland in the past Continue reading →
* Creative Week Cape Town forms part of the Loerie Awards being held from 14 – 22 September, with a range of ‘crowd-sourced’ events on offer at no charge. Cape Town will be turned ‘inside out’ , offering film, yoga, night time bicycle rides to street art installation, artist’s tours and talks, gatherings, poetry,and public space pop-ups. (received via media release from Rabbit in a Hat)
* Tim Atkin praises the ‘Swartland Revolution‘ for being ‘one of the most dynamic regions in the southern hemisphere‘, and Charles Back of Continue reading →