Tag Archives: Delaire

‘Chefs who Share’ 2015 showcases ‘The ART of Giving’ for the third year, introduces Young Chef Award!

Chefs Who Share 2015 _emailer_02

 

 

 

 

The black-tie gala dinner for ‘Chefs who Share – the Art of giving‘ will be held for the third time this year, once again in the City Hall in Cape Town, on 10 September. What is an exciting development is that a Young Chef Award will go Continue reading →

WhaleTales Tourism, Food, and Wine news headlines: 23 June

WhaleTalesTourism, Food, and Wine news headlines

*  MailOnline has written a flattering article about Franschhoek in the main, entitled Touring South Africa… one sip at a time. Discover a wine taster’s paradise on a trip to Cape Town and Franschhoek‘.  The writer shares her experience on the hop-on hop-off Franschhoek Wine Tram, sampling the wines of Mont Rochelle, La Couronne, and Môreson, eating at The Tasting Room, lunching at La Petite Ferme, and visiting Delaire Graff with its diamond boutique and Tretchikoff’s ‘Chinese Girl‘ (which she defines as being in Franschhoek too!).  In Cape Town she stayed at both the Cape Grace and Twelve Apostles Hotel & Spa, went up Table Mountain and to Robben Island, lunched at Baia in the V&A Waterfront, had afternoon tea at the Mount Nelson, bought art at Ebony, and dined at The Pot Luck Club.

*   The Top 12 Shiraz wines have been announced in the 2014 Shiraz Challenge, organised by Shiraz SA, an association which promotes the image of our local Shiraz, and its blending potential.  A total of 191 Shiraz wines was evaluated, and the process audited.   The Top 12 Shiraz list is Black Elephant Vintners Amistad Syrah 2012, Boschkloof Louis 57 Syrah 2012 and its Syrah 2012, Continue reading →

Keet and Van Biljon Bordeaux Blends: Terroir makes the difference!

Keet Van Biljon Bottles Nicolette Waterford 10313993_10152151046053668_7677220915155877955_nOne acclaimed winemaker, one Stellenbosch cellar, two brands, both Bordeaux blends, but vastly different and each unique.  So the two brands Van Biljon CINQ 2011 and Keet First Verse 2010 were presented to more than 30 wine writers at Aubergine Restaurant on Friday last week.

Chris Keet started off as winemaker at Delheim, and then moved to Delaire. This was followed by 15 years at Cordoba Wines.  When he left Cordoba in 2008, he decided to offer his services as a wine consultant.   He made his own wine under the Keet Wines name in 2009, and has just released the 2010 vintage.  Chris said his Bordeaux blend First Verse consists of 32% Cabernet Franc, 27% Merlot, 23% Keet v B Chris Keet Whale Cottage PortfolioCabernet Sauvignon, 14% Petit Verdot, and 4% Malbec.  The wine was matured in French oak barrels for 18 months.  Chris buys in his grapes from some of his clients as well as from other farms in the Helderberg, Simonsberg, Stellenbosch Mountain,  and Polkadraai Hills, and hopes to buy some grapes from Van Biljon Wines in future, he shared.  In Platter he and his 4,5* 2009 First Verse wine is described as follows by reviewer Tim James: ‘Unusually for a top Bordeaux blend, he uses little new oak- it’s part of the unshowy Keet style’.   Keet achieved 5 stars in Platter for his 2010 vintage.  Keet is not only highly regarded as a very competent winemaker, but also as a viticulturist and oenologist.  Only 6000 bottles of First Verse have been made, and cost R320 each. Continue reading →

Cape Chamonix Platter Winery of the Year, Franschhoek tops second year running!

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):

Cabernet Franc

Raka 2009
Von Ortloff Quintessence 2008*
Warwick 2009

Cabernet Sauvignon
Delaire Graff Laurence Graff Reserve 2009
Pinotage
Cape Chamonix Greywacke 2010
Kanonkop 2010

Pinot Noir
Cape Chamonix Reserve 2011
Newton Johnson Family Vineyards 2011

Shiraz/Syrah

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
Saronsberg 2010*
Simonsig Merindol Syrah 2010

Red Blends

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

Chardonnay
Boschendal Reserve 2011
Cape Chamonix Reserve 2011
Hamilton Russell 2011
Jordan CWG Auction Reserve 2011
Jordan Nine Yards 2011

Chenin Blanc

Alheit Cartology 2011*
Beaumont Hope Marguerite 2011
Botanica 2011
DeMorgenzon Reserve 2010
Jean Daneel Signature 2011
KWV Cathedral Cellar 2011
Sadie Family Skurfberg 2011
Spice Route 2011

Sauvignon Blanc
Fryer’s Cove 2011*
Graham Beck Pheasant’s Run 2012
Tokara Walker Bay 2012

White Blends

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*
Rall 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

Fortified Wine

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.

Platter’s Wines of South Africa 2013. Available at book stores, retailers, and wine estates from mid-November. R169.95. www.wineonaplatter.com www.sawinesonline.co.uk Twitter: @WineonaPlatter

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

Fine wine is a good financial investment! SA’s Top Cabernet Sauvignon wines a good investment!

Whilst many wine farmers may not feel that they make money out of their wines, Sanlam Private Investments Director of Investments Alwyn van der Merwe said that one can make money by investing in fine wines, quoting a 6,5 % return on 2006 wines. The Livex Fine Wine 100 index, tracking a hundred of the world’s most desired wines, has increased by 40% since 2006. There is a good supply of quality wines, with heritage, a legacy, and with craftmanship.  Creating successful wines are the ‘passionate people of the industry’.  It was on this note that the Christian Eedes Top Ten Cabernet Sauvignon wines for 2012 were presented on Thursday, sponsored by Sanlam Private Investments.

Whilst being a judge in a number of wine competitions, including Veritas Awards, Old Mutual Trophy Wine Show, and Platter’s Wine Guide, Christian Eedes remarked that he is ‘bemused at the state of wine competitions in South Africa’,  and he said that some of their results ‘are curious’.  He feels that wine competitions should be held for ‘talent spotting’, to identify the ‘best of a bunch’, especially the undiscovered wines, and to recognise those wines that deserve to be at the ‘top of the pile’.  ‘Cabernet Sauvignon is a much-loved variety, and a category in which South Africa traditionally does well’, and this led Eedes to choose this variety for evaluation, showcasing the ‘potential of this variety to produce wines that can compete with the world’s best’. It is the second most planted variety locally, at 12%, but is often overlooked against other varieties, he feels.

Eedes therefore invited 50 Cabernet Sauvignon wine producers to participate in his competition, and this grew to 60 after he received requests by others to be included too. He explained the methodology as being blind tasting of the wines, a responsibility which he shared with Roland Peens of Wine Cellar and James Pietersen, the Group Sommelier of Belthazar and Balducci restaurants. The winning wines were rated on points out of 20/stars out of 5, as per the Platter rating system. The majority of winning wines were 2009 vintages. The list of Top 10 Cabernet Sauvignons was announced as follows:

Delaire Reserve 2009 (5 stars)

De Trafford 2009 (5 stars)

Graham Beck The Coffeestone 2009 (5 stars)

Tokara 2009 (5 stars)

Cederberg Five Generations 2009 (4,5 stars)

Rickety Bridge Paulina’s Reserve 2009 (4,5 stars)

Stark-Conde 2009 (4,5 stars)

Stark-Conde Three Pines 2009 (4,5 stars)

Kleine Zalze Family Reserve 2007 (4 stars)

Louis 2008 (4 stars)

The function was held at French Toast wine and tapas bar, and they served a selection of tapas dishes including goat’s cheese tomato tarts, chicken empanadas, and a prawn and calamari dish.

Eedes highlighted the role of Social Media, praising the ‘mutually supportive ethos amongst Bloggers and Tweeters’, especially as he comes from a print media background (past editor of Wine) which still is cynical towards the ‘New World’ communication style.  Eedes has left the print media world, and has embraced Social Media, writing the BlogWhat I drank last night’, Tweets (@ChristianEedes), and Facebooks.  He added that his Social Media colleagues have ‘exceeded his expectations‘.

DISCLOSURE: We received a bottle of Graham Beck The Coffeestone 2009 with our media pack.

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

Rhapsody’s set to become a restaurant of note in Green Point!

Rhapsody’s opened in Green Point last week, where Doppio Zero used to be, perfectly positioned for business when the Cape Town Stadium hosts events, and for locals in general.  It is the first full-scale restaurant of this Pretoria-based franchise group in Cape Town, and the 12th for the group, which has ambitious restaurant opening plans for next year.  It was chatting to the Executive Chef Claire Brown, previously of Pierneef à La Motte, and some of the passionate managers that gave me confidence that this restaurant won’t be another franchise restaurant, but one that wants to make a difference for Capetonians.

I was intrigued when I first saw the logo on the boards outside the restaurant when I visited neighbouring Café Extrablatt about a month ago, and they told me the name of the restaurant.  The franchisor of the group and owner of the Cape Town branch is Michalis Xekalos, who opened his first Rhapsody’s branch in Menlyn, Pretoria ten years ago.  There are Rhapsody’s restaurants in Ghana, Bloemfontein, Polokwane, and Bedfordview, and an ambitious expansion plan for next year includes Continue reading →

Franschhoek has a wealth of wine and wine shops!

In the last month two new wine shops (WINES and the House of Wines) have opened on the main road in Franschhoek, a village that already has 45 wine estates open to the public, from which one can buy wines, in addition to a well-stocked Pick ‘n Pay Liquor department, and the long-established La Cotte Inn Wine Sales.

To get a feel for wine sales in Franschhoek via the four wine outlets, I went to visit each of them, and did a comparative price survey based on a randomly selected list of mainly Franschhoek wines, and asked each of the shops what makes them unique regarding the wines that they stock.

La Cotte Inn Wine Sales

Ludwig Maske has owned this wine shop at the entrance to Franschhoek for about fifteen years, the building previously housing a grocery store/general dealer, as well as the restaurant Lanternhof, which belonged to his father.  Ludwig started his career by running the liquor sales section of the old La Cotte Inn, where the Protea Hotel is located now, in his father’s hotel.  Maske’s grandfather owned the Swiss Farm Excelsior (now the Le Franschhoek Hotel), which was a well-known for a Sunday afternoon treat of tea/coffee and scones.  The Maskes have earned their stripes in Franschhoek, and La Cotte Inn Wine Sales is synonymous with Franschhoek wines. 

Ludwig told me that the main part of his business is to supply restaurants with their wine requirements, receiving stock from the wine estates, which is stored, and delivered to the restaurants on demand.  This service is of benefit to the restaurants and the wine estates, as each party works with only one monthly invoice.  Wine sales from the rather dark and characterful shop on the main road are incidental, and would not have carried the business alone, Ludwig said, almost feeling sorry for the new wine shops.

Ludwig said that he represents 48 of the 50 Franschhoek wine estates.   Scarce supplies of Boekenhoutskloof Shiraz or Cabernet Sauvignon may be easier to buy at La Cotte Inn Wine Sales than from the wine farm itself.   The shop sells mainly Franschhoek wines too, but also imported wines such as Mosel Riesling, and wines from France and Spain.  The largest number of imported wines in Franschhoek are sold by La Cotte Inn Wine Sales.  In addition to wines, they sell a wonderful selection of up to 100 imported French cheeses, Cuban cigars, Riedel stemware, and the popular Le Nez du Vin wine aroma testing kit.

Ludwig said that he sells about 30 non-Franschhoek wines, in addition to the 48 Franschhoek wine estates that he represents.  He helps wine farms with winelist compilation, and also with pricing, if required.  He urges restaurants to keep wine prices reasonable, and told me that he recently persuaded Le Quartier Français to reduce its wine prices.  In the shop, Porcupine Ridge is the best seller, priced at R33 for Sauvignon Blanc and at R47 for their reds.  Graham Beck and La Motte wines are in second and third place on sales, being strong and well-known Franschhoek brand names.

Being a wholesaler, La Cotte Inn Wine Sales offers the best prices of all four Franschhoek wine shops, especially for Franschhoek wines.  Ludwig was critical of Pick ‘n Pay nationally, saying that they offer customers one-shop convenience, but that they are ‘killing the small guys’, having recently bought five Aroma stores and turning them into Pick ‘n Pay Liquor outlets.

La Cotte Inn Wine Sales, 31 Main Road, Franschhoek.  Tel (021) 876-3775  www.lacotte.co.za

House of Wines

It was interesting to talk to Sigi Juling, who described himself as a Namibian and not a German, but he and his fianceé Bettina are both German-speaking.   I was not aware that Sigi had owned Bijoux Square, also on the main road, and here Sigi had owned a House of Wines shop from 2002 to 2007.  He sold the building, and worked in Namibia and went to Europe, returning to open his wine shop in a new location on the main road, opposite the Post Office.

Sigi is knowledgeable about wines, and their pairing with foods, having completed a Diploma from the Cape Wine Academy, having worked as a Sommelier at Grande Roche, having completed a hotel qualification in Germany, having worked at the Radisson Hotel in Granger Bay, and having been the Food and Beverage Manager of La Couronne Hotel before it was renamed Mont Rochelle. 

Sigi stocks wines from 170 wine estates, which are ‘perfectly matured’ according to his business card, and he is looking to increase this number.  He told me immediately that he stocks mainly non-Franschhoek wines, as his Franschhoek customers, many loyal from his previous wine shop, are bored with the Franschhoek wines, and want to try something new.  He also stocks a number of wine-related items in the shop, including an interesting game called Wine-opoly, bottle stoppers, wine books, DVD’s, and more.  Sigi described his shop as proudly-South African, not selling imported wines.  The wines he stocks are those that his clients like to buy, and those that he himself likes.  He does specialised wine tastings for his customers.  His top three sellers are Springfield Sauvignon Blanc, in top position by far (R84,85), followed by Haute Cabriere Pinot Noir Chardonnay (R72,95), and Delaire Shiraz (R84,85).

Sigi is looking to add an olive oil and vinegar section, and both products will be available on tap, which can be bottled in one’s own containers, or in a selection of containers that they will sell.   

House of Wines, 28 Huguenot Road, Franschhoek.  Tel (021) 876-4120.  www.how.co.za  Tuesday – Sunday 10h00 – 18h00.

WINES

The newest and most modern Franschhoek wine shop is in the new Franschhoek Centre, which also houses the new Pick ‘n Pay and Clicks, and is next door to Café Benedict.  It is co-owned by Elsa Post, an enterprising Franschhoeker, who also owns the Franschhoek Postnet franchise, and Robert Maingard, the owner of the centre, and of  a number of Franschhoek businesses, including Dieu Donné, Café Benedict, the Le Franschhoek Hotel, and the newly opened Le Coq.

What makes this wine shop different to the others is that the stock of wine is kept on consignment, meaning that the wine estates are paid when their wine sells.  Elsa told me that she bought the Platter’s database, and wrote to the wine farms in it, inviting them to have their wines sold on consignment.  She received a good response, and 83 wine estates’ brands are sold in the shop.  Interestingly, only six Franschhoek wine estates (Dieu Donné, Grande Provence, La Verdure, Chanteclair, La Manoir de Brendel, and Topiary) supply the shop, the Franschhoek Vignerons officially not supporting wine sales on consignment, which smacks of Franschhoek politics.   Each wine estate that has signed up with WINES at no charge has good shelf positioning, and is featured on touchscreen TV monitors on the shelves, with tasting notes provided about each wine.  The wine estates are also invited to conduct tastings outside the shop, which attracts attention to the shop, and yesterday I saw a number of persons coming to taste the wines of Arumdale from Elgin, the first time I had heard of the brand.

The top selling wine by far is the mouthful of a brand Hermanuspietersfontein, with Diners Club Winemaker of the Year Bartho Eksteen, and it is his Kleinboet (R104) and No 7 (R91) that sell particularly well, followed by wines from Under Oaks in Paarl (R54 for Sauvignon Blanc and R82 for Shiraz), and Muratie Shiraz (R123). 

In addition to the wines sold, they sell wine cooling bags, the book ‘South African Wines’, crystal glassware, and decanters. Delivery locally is free, and international shipping of wines can be done via Elsa’s Postnet service.  Special protective packaging for the shipping of wine bottles is sold by WINES.   One may buy a bottle from WINES, and then drink it at Café Benedict, without paying for corkage.

WINES,Centre de Franschhoek,23 Huguenot Road, Franschhoek.  Tel (021) 876-3185.  No website.   Monday – Saturday (they have applied for a liquor licence, allowing sales on Sundays) 9h00 – 18h00 (the licence allows them to remain open until 20h00, and they will do so if they have clients wishing to buy wine). 

Pick ‘n Pay Liquor

The local supermarket has a large section allocated to its Liquor store, with about 20 Franschhoek and about 40 non-Franschhoek wines stocked, in addition to beer and spirits, cheap glasses, ice and cigarettes.  The wines are displayed by variety, and here and there a special can be found on the shelves.

The top three selling wines this month are Porcupine Ridge (R32,99), Graham Beck Brut Rosé (R99,95), and Haute Cabriere Pinot Noir Chardonnay (R79,99).  The Haute Cabriere appears on two of the four best seller lists in the Franschhoek wine shops.

Pick ‘n Pay appears to be the most expensive outlet at which to buy wines in Franschhoek, and it does not have dedicated staff who can inform and advise their customers about the wines that they stock.

Pick ‘n Pay Liquor, Main Road, Franschhoek.  Tel (021) 876-2075.  Monday – Friday, 8h00 – 20h00, Saturday 8h00 – 17h00

                                                                 La Cotte  House of Wine  WINES   Pick ‘n Pay

Graham Beck Brut                                    R87,00         R93,85                    –            R99,99

Topiary Brut                                              R90,00          –                        R98,00      R89,99

Pongracz Brut                                            R79,00        R93,95                     –            R69,99*

Chamonix Chardonnay Reserve           R210,00        –                          –           –

Springfield Sauvignon Blanc                    –                  R84,85                    –           –

Boekenhoutskloof Shiraz ’08                   R290,00      out of stock          –           –

Chocolate Block ’08                                   R150,00       R173,00                  –           R169,99

Graham Beck Pheasant’s Run                R140,00         –                        –              –

 * Note: special sale price, normal price R88,99.

La Cotte Inn Wine Sales definitely is the shop to buy a Franschhoek wine at, both in terms of having a good likelihood of the wine being in stock, and of it being cheaper to buy there than elsewhere in Franschhoek.  For non-Franschhoek wines, WINES and House of Wines would be the best  sources, depending on the brand required, the latter offering a larger selection of wine brands, and both being likely to be cheaper than Pick ‘n Pay. 

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

Winestyle and TASTE crush Crush! digital food and wine magazine!

We have written about Crush!1, Crush!2 and Crush!3, Michael Olivier’s digital food and wine magazine, which he launched last year.   As other publications are being launched which embrace food and wine, both digitally and in print, I chose to evaluate Crush!4 against its competitors, putting myself in the shoes of a food and/or wine marketer, deciding where to spend a marketing budget, and as a food and wine lover, deciding where to spend my time reading.   I evaluated Winestyle, TASTE, and Crush!4, all three magazines focusing on food and wine, with a Postscript on Crush!5.

Winestyle

The first (Summer) issue of Winestyle was sent to subscribers (note one does not pay to receive the magazine) in December, and its concept is a most creative and environmentally-friendly “print on demand” one.  This saves the publishers from over-printing, saving paper and costs, and ultimately the environment.  It is published quarterly.  What makes it unique is that a weekly newsletter is sent by e-mail to each subscriber, updating them on food and wine news.  While the brand carry-over is not strong in terms of the banner design of the newsletter (initially I thought the newsletters were from wine consultant Nikki Dumas, who has a similar company name).   This builds brand awareness weekly, and bridges the quarterly print publishing period.

The 88-page magazine is larger than the standard A4 size, and has an attractive cover, although it is not photographed in a vineyard.  The paper quality is outstanding, as is the photography.  Editor Jenny Ratcliffe-Wright is from Warwick wine estate originally, where her mother Norma and brother Mike make excellent wines, and this makes Jenny well-connected to the wine industry.  In her editorial Jenny writes: “It is our intention to help everyone make full use of every wine-drinking day …. it’s your passport to all things enjoyable, to in-the-know wines, delicious and simple-to-prepare food and accessible travel – all in a large, sexy, glossy, collectible magazine”.   The theme of the Summer edition is celebration, and therefore champagnes and sparkling wines are predominantly featured.

Advertising support is impressive for a first edition, and reflects the confidence of the advertisers in the publication, and wine estates Graham Beck,  Glen Carlou, Clos Malverne, Kleine Zalze,  Nederburg, Highlands Road Estate, OBiKWA, Creation, Eikendal, Adoro Wines, Muratie, and Morgenhof have taken full-page ads.  Jenny anticipates having 2500 subscribers by the time the next issue is launched in March.

The editorial content includes a focus on sparkling wine producers in Franschhoek and Stellenbosch, including JC le Roux, Simonsig, Villiera, Morgenhof, Cabrière, Graham Beck, Anura, and Sterhuis, and recommends accommodation and restaurants in the area.  A profile on a very casual looking Jean-Philippe Colmant, making excellent bubbly in Franschhoek and importing champagnes, is written by Cape Talk’s John Maytham.  A travel feature focuses on the Champagne region, which is informative and has beautiful photographs.  A food feature focuses on Tapas, with short recipes, and amazing photography by Christoph Heierli.  A Restaurant feature recommends places offering ‘alfresco dining’ in Johannesburg, Durban, the Winelands and Cape Town.   A feature on cocktails has some that call for sparkling wine. The results of a wine-tasting, a panel comparing South African sparkling wines Silverthorn, Colmant Brut, Villiera, Jacques Bruére, and Simonsig, with champagnes Moët & Chandon, Veuve Cliquot, Piper-Heidsieck, Pol Roger and Tribaut Brut Tradition, are featured.  Joint first winners were Silverthorn the Green Man Brut and Tribaut Brut Tradition.  A tasting panel evaluation of the 2010 vintage Sauvignon Blanc of Groote Post, David Nieuwoudt Ghost Corner, Neil Joubert, Arabella, Sophie Terblance, Delaire, Diemersdal, Klein Constantia, De Grendel and Du Toitskloof ranks them in this order.  An article on cigars concludes what must be the most excellent food and wine publication available locally now.

I cannot wait for the Autumn edition.  I do recommend that there be more synergy between the magazine and the newsletter as well as its website in terms of branding and design.  Of the three magazines reviewed in this blogpost, Winestyle is the best by far, and we congratulate editor Jenny on this achievement for her maiden issue.

TASTE

Woolworths’ in-house magazine is written and published by New Media Publishing, and they have regularly won ADMag and Pica Awards for Customer Magazine of the Year for it, most recently in 2009.   It costs R20,95, is published monthly, and is sold in outlets other than Woolworths too.   It is A4 in size, with 134 pages, and does not have a statement to describe what it stands for, but its cover photograph represents food.  Wines appear to be a secondary focus.  The editor is highly regarded Sumien Brink, with Abigail Donnelly ably at her side.

Advertisers are a mixed bunch, including car retailers, liquor brands (Darling Cellars, Krone, Bombay Sapphire, Veuve Cliquot, Brand House), watch brands, kitchen suppliers, decor brands, food brands (Lancewood, Lindt), investment companies, a restaurant (Cape Town Fish Market), and accommodation, most of the brands not sold by Woolworths at all.

The editorial content of the December issue includes a Trends feature, and food related trends are featured with beautiful large photographs by Lee Malan and Jan Ras.  Where recipes are featured, they are short and sweet, and do not dominate the look of any page (something competitors House and Leisure Food can learn from).  A Foodstuff feature focuses on products that are sold at Woolworths, but most are non-branded items, and the Woolworths link is very low key. It even has an interview with and one done by Andy Fenner, who writes the JamieWho? blog, a contributor to Crush! issues 2, 3 and 4, but he has withdrawn his support, probably due to his new (not yet clearly defined) involvement with Woolworths, and not wanting to be associated with his friend David Cope’s disparaging Twitter campaign against ourselves, in retaliation to our review of Crush!3.   A chicken feature by man-of-the-moment Justin Bonello, a fish focus by Sam Woulidge, a canapé feature by Mariana Esterhuizen of Mariana’s, a feature on Dewetshof by Woolworths wine consultant Allan Mullins, and a feature on Oded Schwartz of Oded’s Kitchen and his relishes, chutneys and preserves, follow.  Christmas recipes are featured, but are few in number.  Restaurants featured are the fabulous Babel on Babylonstoren (next door to Backsberg), and the heavenly Hemelhuijs.  Blueberries are featured, with recipes, as are Summer lunch recipes.  An exclusive extract from Australian Bill Granger’s receipe book “Bill’s Basics” is featured.  A travel feature by Judy van der Walt focuses on the Dordogne region, and the magazine ends off with a month’s worth of recipes for snacks, lunches, tea time, and suppers.

I hadn’t bought a TASTE magazine for a while, and remembered it to be more attractive and impactful.  The focus may be too much on recipes, and too little on wines.   The features are written by good quality journalists, and could possibly be expanded.   I liked the way Woolworths as a brand is not ‘in your face’ when reading the magazine – in fact I wouldn’t have minded more direct brand-linkage, to know what to look for when next I shop.  There are so many organic and other quality suppliers to Woolworths of fruit and vegetables and other foods, as well as of wines, which could all be the subject of features, not necessarily linked to recipes only.  A “new Woolworths products” feature would be welcome.  For a marketer, TASTE would be an important advertising medium to consider, given its association with Woolworths, and the profile of the Woolworths shopper, with a reasonable disposable income.    There is little carry-over between the magazine and its website.

Crush!4

The digital food and wine magazine Crush! has no print partner, and is haphazard in its publishing frequency. On Twitter the editorial team hint at how busy they are in doing work for the publication, but on average it appears to take them two months or longer to publish a new issue.  The arrival of the new magazine is announced on Twitter and by e-mail, as one has to subscribe to receive a link to it, and is free of charge.

Crush!4  has 44 pages and was published early in December.  It appears to have lost its restaurant reviewer JP Rossouw, and Olivier has taken over writing the restaurant reviews, something we suggested in one of our earlier Crush! reviews.   We are delighted with another of our recommendations that Olivier adopted, which was to let (lady) bloggers participate in his magazine, and he has done so by giving highly regarded blogger Jane-Anne Hobbs from Scrumptious blog a recipe feature, and he has introduced a recipe competition, in which the recipes of bloggers Colleen Grove, Jeanne Horak-Druiff, Meeta Khurana-Wolff and Nina Timm can be evaluated by readers.

The navigation of the pages, and more particularly the content on each page, remains tedious. The front cover looks better, the copy on top of the photograph being easier to read, but it is not yet perfect, especially when one compares the ‘less is more’ covers of the two other magazines above.  Most flashing gimmicks have been removed from the front cover, and have largely been discontinued.   Advertising support is poor, and appears reduced relative to previous issues, and compared to the two other publications above, with only Hidden Valley, Pongracz, Laborie, Old Mutual and Ultra Liquors advertising.

The content consists of a wine page written by Olivier, and features premium brandy cocktails, a vineyard dog, wine finds, a wine myth and an overview of Sauvignon Blanc.  The Essentials page, as before, has products with poor brand recognition, but the names are typed alongside each product.  A Plaisir de Merle feature is a good promotion for the wine estate.  The recipe pages by Jane-Anne Hobbs have fantastic photography done by herself (perhaps she should become the Crush!photographer!), but I could only get to see three recipes (soup, dessert, gammon) – I am sure there were more, judging by the six bottles alongside the opening recipe, and Olivier recommends a wine per recipe.   The names of the wines are not typed alongside the bottles.   The JamieWho? page by Andy Fenner is blocked by a Laborie promotion box, still has silly moving balloon captions, and focuses on Absinthe, Champagne, Hangover Cures, Jardine’s Christmas cake,  and Christmas cocktails.  In two of his mini-stories the copy ends mid-sentence.  The review of Babel Restaurant at Babylonstoren is blocked by a competition box, and one does not know how to close it.  Restaurant names at the bottom of the Babel article are harder to read on the right hand side, especially ‘Cafeen’.

A seven-day recipe card feature by Carey Boucher-Erasmus (a food consultant to the Pick ‘n Pay Cookery School, according to Google) is easy to follow and read, but no information is supplied about who Carey is.  There is no consistency in the colours used for the names of white and red wines alongside the bottles, the white wine names typed in blue (High Five) or in green (Quaff Now).   Sophia Lindop does great food features, but has used herbs in the last two issues (rocket in the current issue and rosemary last time), making it hard to see dishes prepared with these, and thus to have attractive photographs, even if they are photographed by star photographer Russel Wasserfall.   David Cope outs himself as a guest house reviewer, of South Hills, presented on a messy red and white check background which is similar to that which he uses on his ‘The Foodie’ blog.  A summer picnic spead looks good enough to eat off the screen, and is prepared by Luisa Farelo, but there is no indication as to who she is (I could not find any information about her on Google).  The focus on Parlotones wines, named after the group, is fun in having their music videos, but I did struggle to get one to play properly.  I also struggled to find the way to open the Prince Albert feature by Russel Wasserfall, eventually finding it at the bottom right, in the smallest possible type size.  A feature on trendy Artisan Breads tells the Knead story, with colour photographs, and mentions the names of only five other artisanal bakeries around the country – there are that many others in Cape Town alone!  Helen Untiedt’s organic vegetable garden, and a Book Review page conclude Crush!4.

My overwhelming frustration with Crush! is the difficulty of reading it, and the struggle to move forward or to close what one has opened.  The promotional boxes blocking copy remains a problem, which cheapens the magazine and is irritating to have to close.  Perhaps Olivier and the design team can look at Opulent Living’s e-magazine, only 8 pages long but published regularly – it is easy to read, has no promotions, with beautiful photographs – a top class digital magazine!   I was interested to see the Crush! blogger recipe rating, and the low participation is a surprise (the highest vote is by only 100 readers after two months), given Olivier’s claim that the magazine would go to more than 1 million readers!     If I were a marketer, I would not advertise in Crush!, as a digital magazine cannot present a food or wine brand with the appetite appeal that a print magazine can, especially given the poor pack presentation.  I would therefore love to see a print version of Crush!, as it contains lots of good information, and could make for beautiful pages of copy and photography, something one would want to keep.

POSTSCRIPT 8/2

Crush!5 was launched today.  JamieWho? (Andy Fenner) has been replaced by Neil Stemmet, a talented interior designer, and he adds an Afrikaans dimension to Crush!, with all five his recipes in Afrikaans on his “Soutenpeper” page (this is causing a problem for English readers!).  David Cope has lost his name, and is only referred to as “The Foodie”, with no red and white check background to his contributions anymore, and both his article on Paternoster, and on FoodWineDesign in Johannesburg (held in November!!), are long-winded and boring, with few attractive photographs.   Jane-Anne Hobbs (unfortunately) has been replaced by Clare Bock (owner of Appetite catering company, I learnt from Google) in a food/wine matching feature – by chance I worked out how this feature works – if you click on a wine bottle, an appropriate recipe pops up, rather than finding an appropriate wine to match the recipe!   The five food bloggers in the recipe rating section are complete unknowns.  Luisa Farelo (with an introduction in this issue – she is a chef and food stylist) does another feature, this time on Sunday lunches, and the styling is good enough to eat again.  A food and wine events calendar is a good new addition, while a classifieds section probably is not, the ads being so small that one cannot read them.  A feature on The Test Kitchen, and owner and chef Luke Dale-Roberts, is good with great food photographs, as is the one on Jordan Winery, but the labels underneath the bottles are so tiny that one may not see them.  The interview with Bertus Basson of Overture (Michael is a stickler for spelling, but misspells the restaurant name in his introduction) is weird, and probably does not do him a favour.  Advertisers are Fairview, Pongracz, Old Mutual, and Avocado magazine.

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

Restaurant Review: French Toast Wine & Tapas Bar also serves …. French Toast!

French Toast Wine & Tapas Bar opened about ten days ago, and is a homely cosy wine lounge that has been created in what was previously a warehouse in Bree Street.   It is the type of place that one would pop in to for a drink before or after a function, and have a bite to eat.  It has one of the largest collections of wines-by-the-glass in Cape Town, with over 108 choices of local and international wines.   It is not cheap to eat and drink there, and portions are small, but it does offer a good selection of price options.

French Toast has a heavyweight management.   Owner John Harrison was a stockbroker on the Paris Bourse, and told me that the French bug bit him there, hence the French feel through the name and the café style music that is played.  John was the CEO of the Table Mountain Aerial Cableway Company for many years, and built up its business and introduced the new cable cars during his management of the company.  He was a client of my then-PR company many moons ago.   He spoke passionately about his new project, and how they renovated the double story building in an unbelievable three months, being hands-on in the renovation.   Raw brick walls give it a warm feeling, blackboards communicate the wine and food specials, and windows have been built to add light upstairs. There is a bar counter upstairs and downstairs, and the downstairs one will probably be the more popular one in winter, with its massive fireplace.  The upstairs section is huge, with seating for at least 80-100 persons.  A small boardroom downstairs can host meetings and functions of up to 10 persons, Shane told us.   The decor is upmarket, but the food is not fine dining, with an emphasis on wines, explained Shane.   The cutlery is shiny and new, the glassware is good, but only paper serviettes are supplied.

Karen Visser is a partner in French Toast with John, was a bio-kineticist, and is a passionate golfer and winelover, studying at the Cape Wine Academy.   She compiled the winelist in the main, and has no previous restaurant experience.  GM of the new wine lounge is Gidi Caetano, who was the GM of Salt Restaurant at the Ambassador Hotel, and also oversaw the opening of Salt Deli and Salt Vodka Bar until recently.   She also worked at The Showroom and was a hospitality trainer.   The Manager Shane has an interesting undefinable accent, having grown up in Hawaii, and lived in the UK before moving to South Africa.  He previously worked at the Protea Hotel Victoria Junction, the Devon Valley Hotel, and the 0932 Belgian restaurant in Green Point, which has since closed down.  Chef Jannie Mellis owned East London’s best restaurant, he says, the Two Dogs Bistro, and was at Bushmanskloof Lodge prior to that.  He said he came back to Cape Town “to get into the hub of food again”, a nice compliment for Cape Town. The staff are smartly dressed in black shirts and pants, a French Toast branded apron, and a turquoise tie.

We found it terribly chilly upstairs, but Shane assured me that the airconditioning was not on.  When we moved from table to table, to find the warmest spot, we discovered that a sliding door had been left wide open.  When it had been closed, all was fine.   The music was rather loud when we arrived, but seemed to have been turned down a little while we were there.  

The wines are closed with a wine preservation system Le Verre du Vin, being special rubber wine and sparkling wine bottle stoppers, allowing opened wines to be kept for up to three months.  I chose the same glass of wine I had a week ago, the Mullineux Shiraz 2008, at R83 for a 150ml glass.  The wine has the characteristic of an old-fashioned smoky shiraz, my favourite, but the very chilled serving, at 13°C, was too cold to my liking.  Four Cap Classiques are available, ranging from R44/R195 for Simonsig Kaapse Vonkel to R 81/R380 for Graham Beck Blanc de Blanc.   Seven champagnes can be ordered, Le Mesnil Blanc de Blanc costing R135/R650, and the most pricey is Dom Perignon, sold by bottle only, at R3000.   They also stock Veuve Cliquot, Billecart Salmon Rose and Guy Charbaut.  Seven Sauvignon Blancs are stocked, that of La Motte costing R31/R130, and the Cape Point Vineyard Reserve is the most expensive, at R57/R260.   Seven Shiraz/Syrah wines are served, starting with Rickety Bridge at R35/R165, and Haskell Vineyards is the most expensive at R111/R530.   Imported wines from France, Italy and Germany are also available, and range from R33/R142 – R153/R740.   The branded winelist provides information about the vintage and origin of each wine, but has no descriptions of the wines or the varieties.

The menu, on a laminated sheet without any branding, is broken down into Snacks, Tapas, Charcuterie, Cheese Platters and Desserts, and has a Mediterranean feel to it.   Snacks include olives, almonds, chillies (R30 each) and oysters (R10 each).    The Tapas selection of 16 dishes range in price from R30 – R50, with empanadas, prawns, smoked salmon trout, caprese skewers and more.   The charcuterie platter allows one to select three of a choice of imported meats, including chorizo, parma ham, salami and jamon serano, for R50.  Similarly, one can choose three cheeses for R55, from a selection of six.  Breads come from Jardine Bakery, a few meters away, and sometimes from Knead.   Chef Jannie makes his own preserves and pasta.

There is not much attention paid to the presentation of the dishes, I felt, being functionally presented on white plates.   I had the calamari and lemon (R38), and asked Chef Jannie not to add the chilli.   My (student) son had the delicious herb and pecorini croquettes (R35), as well as the parma ham and mozzarella aroncini fried stuffed rice balls (R45), but was still starving after the two tapas dishes, and therefore ordered patatas bravas with a homemade spicy tomato sauce (R45), which he proclaimed to be excellent.  I had to have the French Toast, after which the restaurant is named, one of the three desserts on the menu (R40), two tiny baguette slices served with not-so-nice almond ice cream. The cappuccino (R16) made from Origin coffee was excellent.   The specials board advertised white anchovies, Pisto bruschetta, and cheddar and rice balls.   Chef Jannie said that from the feedback received to his dishes since opening, he will be amending his menu next week. 

In general the tapas portions are small, and therefore French Toast is not the place to have a meal, but rather a glass of wine with a tapas snack.  We paid R385 for five tapas dishes and two glasses of red wine. 

POSTSCRIPT 15/1:  I have returned to French Toast a few times since I wrote the review two months ago.  Every time I have been warmly received by the management team.   Today I returned for a late Saturday afternoon cappuccino, and was impressed with the new summer menu.   My eye caught the asparagus tapas, at R35, crispy and crunchy, simply served with lemon, the best asparagus I have tasted.   Then I saw a Seafood salad advertised on a Specials board, for R55, and had to have it, when the Manager Gidi explained that it contained steamed prawns and crayfish, with bisque aïoli, beautifully presented, which had been a criticism I had expressed previously.  I felt that Chef Jannie has progressed by leaps and bounds, not only in terms of his menu selection, food preparation, but also in terms of the food presentation.  On the wine side an innovate wine trio 50 ml flight is offered for Sauvignon Blanc (Delaire, Hillcrest and Reyneke Organic), at R40 for the three wines;  the Sparkling wine flight is Steenberg 1682, Teddy Hall,  and Sterhuis, at R65, or R100 if served with a trio of oysters; and the Shiraz flight is from Eagle’s Nest, Haskell Aeon, and La Motte Shiraz Viognier, costing R80.

French Toast Wine & Tapas Bar, 199 Bree Street, Cape Town.  Tel (021) 422-3839. www.frenchtoastwine.com (website still under construction).  Twitter @FrenchToastWine. Monday – Saturday 12h00 – 23h00.  No BYO allowed, the winelist says.

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

Richard Carstens to add culinary clout to Stellenbosch Restaurant Route at Tokara

It’s been confirmed!  Six-time Eat Out Top 10 Restaurant Chef Richard Carstens is to be the Executive Chef of a new improved Tokara restaurant in October, after a week in which the rumour circulated, was denied by the Tokara Ferreira family, and was finally confirmed by a media release on Friday.   The move creates a culinary hub in the Helshoogte Pass, with the two Delaire restaurants across the road, and the Pass being a link between the competing gourmet towns of Stellenbosch and Franschhoek, and adds further weight to Stellenbosch now wearing the Gourmet Capital crown and for it to establish a Restaurant Route. 

Tokara restaurant has been an institution for the past ten years, and was vacated by Chef Etienne Bonthuys last weekend, as he is opening a restaurant on Dorp Street in Stellenbosch.    Bonthuys has not always been the easiest of chefs and restaurant owner, so new owner Wilhelm Kuehn, co-owner of Jardine’s in Cape Town, will have to rebuild the brand to attract new patrons, whilst retaining the Bonthuys regulars.  Kuehn plans to build the Tokara restaurant to be on a par with the highly regarded Tokara wine and olive oil product brands, to create synergy between the three entities.  

Carstens is not known for his long-term staying power at restaurants (the exception being his five year tenure at Lynton Hall), but Kuehn says he is hoping for a long-term relationship with his new chef.   The media release states that Tokara Restaurant will be focused on contemporary cuisine.  “Each plate of food will offer the diner a sense of the natural environment and the location of the restaurant as well as the current season through the ingredients used”, says Carstens.     The menu contains “unfussy a la carte options as well as a more playful tasting menu, each course optionally paired with a glass of Tokara wine or a selection of other premium South African wines”.   There will be no molecular gastronomy at Tokara, a distinctive Carstens’ trademark, but not appreciated by all.  A bar will be built in the foyer, from which one can enjoy the wonderful views onto the Tokara vineyards and onto Stellenbosch.

Asked about the future of Jardine’s in Cape Town, Kuehn said that nothing will change.  Eric Bulpitt is their Executive Chef, who is off to a 6-week stint at Noma, the world’s top of the 50 Top Restaurants list, until mid-September.  Sous chef Julie will hold the kitchen fort at Jardine’s in Cape Town.    A manager will be appointed for the Tokara restaurant.   George Jardine has no involvement with Tokara at all, and still is a co-owner of Jardine’s in Cape Town, although his focus is Jordan Restaurant with George Jardine in Stellenbosch, said Kuehn.

Richard Carstens is contracted to Chez d’Or in Franschhoek until September, but the association is a disappointing one.   Read our review.

Tokara Restaurant with Richard Carstens will open in October, serving lunch from Tuesdays – Sundays, and dinner from Tuesdays – Saturdays. Tel (21) 808-5959. On the Stellenbosch Restaurant Route.

POSTSCRIPT 1/8: Richard Carstens left Chez d’Or on Wednesday, the day of our review, two months ahead of his contract ending with the Franschhoek restaurant.

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