Last night I attended the reopening event of The Crypt Jazz Club, located below St George’s Cathedral on Wale Street in Cape Town. It is the only live jazz venue in the city centre, and is a manifestation of Cape Town’s reputation as a Jazz City, through its home-grown jazz talent and its annual Cape Town Jazz Festival. Continue reading →
This weekend the Durbanville Wine Valley celebrates the arrival of Spring, and its fresh and crisp Sauvignon Blancs, produced on eleven wine estates on the Durbanville Wine Route, with the ‘Season of Sauvignon’ Festival. Each wine estate is offering tastings of its wines, as well as food, and many are offering live music, other entertainment, and activities too.
The Durbanville wine region, with a valley of rolling vineyards, benefits from a cool climate terroir, and has been celebrating its Sauvignon Blanc festival for eight years. The ‘Season of Sauvignon’ Festival has been designed to encourage wine lovers to visit as many of the Durbanville wine estates as possible, although all the Durbanville wines will be available to taste at each of the wine estates on the Route via the ‘Ward in a box’.
Each Durbanville wine estate has organised its own entertainment and food offering for the ‘Season of Sauvignon’ Festival, has different opening hours this weekend, and has different entrance/tasting fees:
* Altydgedacht: Vineyard tours with viticulturist and owner John Parker, live music, slow food. R20 tasting fee. Open 10h00 – 16h00 Saturday and Sunday. Tel (021) 975-7815
* Bloemendal: This wine estate has the second oldest Bush Vine in South Africa. They will be offering picnics. Their new Cap Classique will be launched this weekend. Savvy On-Tap Lounge. Presentations in the Wine Theatre. Open 11h00 – 21h00 on Saturday and 11h00 – 17h00 on Sunday. R40 tasting fee. Tel (021) 976-2682
* D’Aria: A ‘Cirque de Sauvignon‘ will offer a carnival atmosphere with ‘jokes and giggles‘, there will be a Cocktail Bar, food stalls, and one can dance to live music. 11h00 – 20h00 Saturday, 11h00 – 18h00 Sunday. R 20 entrance fee. Tel (021) 801-6772.
* De Grendel: Meet the farm animals, learn how to make mozzarella, sow and grow, learn to bake bread, food pairing with Sauvignon Blanc, Chocolate World, and Family Olympics. 10h00 – ‘sundown’ Saturday and Sunday. No tasting charge. Tel (021) 558-6280.
* Diemersdal: Live music, entertainment, food stalls, tasting of Sauvignon Blanc and Sauvignon Rosé 2012. 11h00 – 18h00 Saturday and Sunday. R60 tasting fee. Tel (021) 976-3361
* Durbanville Hills: Oyster and sushi bar, foot-long boerewors rolls, cheese platters, picnics, free tutored tastings by Cape Wine Academy. Rugby match between Springboks and All Blacks screened in Barrel Cellar from 17h00. 10h00 – 20h00 Saturday, 10h00 – 17h00 Sunday. No tasting charge. Tel (021) 558-1300
* Groot Phesantekraal: Live music, Wine tasting. 11h00 – 16h00 Saturday and Sunday. R50 tasting charge. Tel (021) 976-2114
* Hillcrest: American Rock music on Saturday, and New Orleans Blues on Sunday. Food stalls, gourmet burgers, hot dogs, olives, cheese platters. 11h00 -17h00 Saturday and Sunday. R40 tasting charge. Tel (021) 976-1110.
* Klein Roosboom: Catering by Café Rugby, pancakes, cheese platters, live music. 11h00 – 17h00 Saturday, 11h00 – 16h00 Sunday. Tasting charge R50. Tel 082 784 5102.
* Meerendal: Farmer’s Market, live entertainment, and free tutored tastings by Cellar Master Liza Goodwin and Marketing Manager Bennie Howard, all on Saturday. West Coast Braai Buffet with crayfish, mussels and snoek on Sunday, 9h00 – 17h00 Saturday and Sunday. No entrance fee. Tel (021) 975-1655.
* Nitida: Live music at Cassia restaurant 11h00 – 16h00 Saturday and Sunday. Live jazz and picnic baskets at Tables at Nitida restaurant 9h00 – 17h00 Saturday and Sunday. No tasting fee. Tel (021) 975-9357/976-0640.
DISCLOSURE: We received a bottle of Altydgedacht Sauvignon Blanc 2012 with our media pack.
POSTSCRIPT 6/10: My visit to the Durbanville Wine Route started at Meerendal, lying outside Durbanville, in the countryside. They had a Farmer’s Market in a hall on the farm, with homemade chicken pies and melktert, biltong and droë wors, cheeses, charcuterie, breads, olives, and vegetables. The Deli had a selection of good looking tarts and sweet treats.
At Diemersdal I met the Louw family, the owners of the farm, even the 7th generation Louw who is about one year old. The farm was first registered in 1698, and the first Louw forbear took over the farm in 1855. Current owner Tienie Louw came to chat, and struck us as a humble wine producer yet proudly shared the success of his wines at the China International Wine Awards, at which the MM Louw, Private Collection Pinotage and Matthys won Double Gold, and the latter wine winning the Wine of the Show, out of 3500 – 4000 wines judged. They are also eagerly awaiting the results of the China Decanter Awards on 24 October. Tienie shared that the success in the Eastern market is having a family business, reflecting the passion for its business, and being a ‘friend of a friend’. Tienie’s son Thys told us that his father would only give him eight rows to grow his own grapes and make wine from them initially, and it turned out to be an award-winning Sauvignon Blanc, which he branded Eight Rows. He is now in charge of the whole farm! Diemersdal also lies outside Durbanville, and despite more than 1000 visitors tasting the food of Ocean Basket, Piroschka, Bacini’s, and more to the music of a live band, we were truly out in the countryside. A new Restaurant is about to open, with Chef Nic van Wyk at the helm, previously of Terroir, and we tasted a most unusual Brandade, a Portuguese salted dried fishcake made from smoked snoek and hake, with poached milk and mash, olive oil, cumin, lemon zest and parsley, with a crispy coating. Errieda du Toit, PR Consultant to the Durbanville Wine Route, a gracious hostess today, shared that Durbanville has developed a signature dish served by many restaurants in the area, consisting of a sosatie with a cooked curry sauce, served with pearl barley in a risotto style, and pumpkin pickle. Errieda showed me the sweet tiny jam storage building, Tienie’s grandmother having been a keen jam maker.
‘Season of Sauvignon’ Festival, 6 – 7 October. Tel 083 310 1228. www.durbanvillewine.co.za Twitter: @DurbanvilleWine
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter: WhaleCottage
I had heard about Bella Lucia Ristorante Italiano, which had opened in chic Chelsea in Wynberg in April, from my friend Mark, who raved about the new Mediterranean restaurant. It serves excellent food and wines at very reasonable prices, and is an asset for the Southern Suburbs, which is not blessed with many good restaurants.
The restaurant belongs to Nicola Gross, who bought the restaurant when it was called Lippo’s. She named the restaurant after her beautiful daughter Lucia. She added the space of a neighbouring hairdresser, doubling the size of the restaurant, and added a deck section upstairs which will become home to a cocktail bar in the next two weeks. The restaurant looked as if it had only two tables when I first peeked through the door, in-between its lunch and dinner opening times. The second section is much larger, and a total of 60 patrons can be seated. Decor is minimalist, and I loved the large decorative silver knife, fork and spoon on the wall, embodying in a focused manner what the restaurant is all about. The words COOK and EAT on the wall are part of the decor, and there is nothing else on the walls.
The restaurant has a clean, smart yet friendly look to it, all in white furniture with red seating, and white tablecloth-covered tables. Elegant olive oil and balsamic vinegar bottles are on the tables. The cutlery and glassware is of good quality, but the paper serviette was a disappointment. The waiter Keith was most friendly, and very proactive – he noticed a slight wobble of the table, due to the grooves between the floor tiles, and brought a remedy to stabilise it.
The menu is a mix of Mediterranean dishes, and others. The starters are mostly Italian, including parma ham wrapped quail (R70), mozzarella and artichoke salad (R65), potato gnocchi with pear, blue cheese and leeks (R60), and duck risotto (R65). Mains range in cost from R70 – R105, commendable in keeping so close to the R100 mark, and include confit duck leg, sirloin streak, braised lamb shank, fish and chips, a Bella Lucia Pie, and more. I ordered the wonderful Wild Mushroom sauce and homemade Pappardelle pasta, drizzled with truffle oil, and presented with rocket and large shavings of Parmesan cheese (R65). I was in-between appointments, and had been badly held up by road works on the M3, and therefore time did not allow me to have anything additional than a perfect frothy cappuccino, at a total cost of R 81. Desserts include Amarula pannacotta, tiramisu, chocolate pot with mascarpone, caramelised lemon tart and more, none costing more than R50. A new lighter summer menu will be launched next week.
David Winton is the chef, and was previously at Salt Restaurant at the Ambassador Hotel. David told me that the neighbourhood is very supportive of the restaurant, and that an increasing number of regulars come back to host special celebrations at the restaurant. David and his team are offering good food and a relaxed atmosphere.
The winelist is on the reverse of the laminated menu, and simply classifies the wines as “Bubbles”, Whites, Reds, and Dessert wines. Vintages are specified but the region of origin is not. Bubblies range from Pierre Jourdan Brut Sauvage (R205) to Guy Charbaut Premier Cru (R650). Seven wines-by-the-glass range from a reasonable R35 (R90-95 per bottle) for Petit Chenin Ken Forrester, Waterford Pecan Stream, Groote Post Old Mans Blend and Slow Wine RosÃ©, to R60/R150 for the Constantia Uitsig Unwooded Chardonnay. A good and very reasonably priced red wine selection is available, with six wines-by-the-glass (Waterford Pebble Hill, KC Cabernet Merlot, Landskroon Paul de Villiers Shiraz, Beyerskloof Pinotage, Sterhuis Merlot and Terre del Capo San Giovese) ranging in price from R40/R95 – R50/R140. It clearly is better value to order a bottle than a glass of wine at Bella Lucia.
I cannot wait to go back in two weeks’ time, when I return to the Southern Suburbs, to try the new summer menu.
Bella Lucia Ristorante Italiano, 19 Wolfe Street, Chelsea, Wynberg, Cape Town. Tel (021) 762-3855. www.bellalucia.co.za (The website is as minimalist as the restaurant decor, but has lots of lovely photographs in its Gallery, and contains the menu as well as winelist. It is the perfect benchmark for a restaurant website). Tuesdays – Saturdays. 11h30 – 14h30 and 16h30 – 21h30.
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage