Entries tagged with “Franschhoek Cap Classique and Champagne Festival”.


It was apt that while I visited Franschhoek a week ago, for the Franschhoek Cap Classique and Champagne Festival, that I popped in at Le Coin Français, and was introduced to the new Grand Provence Brut and Rosé Brut MCCs by Chef Darren Badenhorst.   (more…)

Franschhoek Cap Classique and Champagne FestivalOne of Franschhoek’s most popular annual events is the Franschhoek Cap Classique and Champagne Festival, which will be held this coming Saturday and Sunday.  Close to 50 top Champagnes and MCCs (Méthode Cap Classique) will be available to taste, as is food supplied by Franschhoek restaurants.

The theme is ‘Black and White‘, with an emphasis on spots and stripes, and bubbly fans will be enjoying ‘The Magic of Bubbles‘ on what is forecast to be a perfect weather weekend. Not only will MCCs from Franschhoek be on show, but top sparkling wines from other regions  and Champagnes will be too.

Veuve Clicquot winemaker Pierre Casenave will be at the brand’s stand between 12h00 – 13h00 on both days. Other Champagne brands available for tasting are Billecart- Salmon, Champagne Guy Charbaut, Claude Beaufort, Follet-Ramillon, Piper Heidsieck, Thierry Lesne, and Tribaut.

The 40 well-known MCC producers pouring their bubblies are Pierre Jourdan, (more…)

Yesterday I met up with a fellow writer at the Franschhoek Summer Wine festival, and we had an interesting discussion about PR companies, and how professional or mediocre they can be. Unfortunately there are many mediocre PR companies, and few truly professional ones.  Smart Communications & Events, the PR agency of the festival, was a prime example of mediocrity, with no presence at the event nor providing a media pack.

The discussion arose when the writer shared his pet peeves about PR companies, being particularly sensitive about not having been invited to a wine-related function earlier this week, yet he was sent a media release after the dinner, which highlighted that top Tweeters and Bloggers had attended the prestigious dinner at The Greenhouse, he obviously not being one, in the opinion of the PR company, he felt!  I shared a similar incident when I was not invited to the launch of a winter menu of Reuben’s in Cape Town, obviously seeing all the Tweets about it, and then received the media release whilst the lunch was on the go!  Media invitation lists are a sensitive issue, and an invitation exclusion can be held against a PR company and/or its client’s brand, especially as we were reminded by one PR company recently that it is not the communications representative but often the client that decides on the final attendance list. This can make things awkward for the PR agency, especially when they represent a number of clients in the food and wine industry.

While we were on a roll, we shared the following peeves about PR agencies:

*   not saying thank you for coverage received – a ‘thank you’ is a rare treat and much appreciated

*   being chased for coverage – attending a function is no guarantee that any writer will write about it, although one does feel obliged to write.  Most events attended are covered on Facebook and Twitter by the writers.  Many PR agencies charge their clients for the number of Tweets achieved for an event, and hence the use of the hash tag to track this easily, it was explained to me.

*   being asked to list an event on one’s ‘Events page of the blog’, even though our blog does not have such a page!

*   being asked to send a link to the PR agency when the blogpost has been written and posted, an absolute no-no!  Not all PR agencies follow one on Twitter, and are rarely ‘Likers’ on Facebook, so they don’t pick up the coverage their clients’ brands achieve on these Social Media forums.

*   being sent media releases with large format photographs in the body of the media release, and on a colour background, make it impossible to print.  The information is what counts, even though the ‘packaging’ of it does look impressive.

*   being sent media releases regularly about clients’ wine and restaurant brands, yet never having been invited to the restaurants or sent a bottle of wine to try before using the media release!  Such media releases have a very low chance of receiving coverage on a blog, and even on Facebook and Twitter.

*  functions that are too long and start too early in the day, especially day-time ones, given that most writers have paying job commitments which must take first priority, especially in summer.

*   not being introduced to fellow attendees, as not all writers know each other, the media mix changing for every function.  Name tags are rarely seen.

*   functions being held far out of Cape Town, where most writers live and work.  Many wine writers will insist on accommodation for evening functions, or a transport service, which covers the issues of drinking/driving and the cost of petrol, and usually leads to great camaraderie on board.

*   functions/launches being too similar – one takes one’s hat off to PR agencies that can find a new angle for their clients’ brands, and always search for new venues to host their clients’ functions.

When a media release was requested of the Franschhoek Summer Wines event yesterday afternoon, Franschhoek Wine Valley CEO Jenny Prinsloo contacted her PR company, and they promised to send a release.  It was the same two paragraph e-mail we had been sent to attend the function.  The PR company head said she wanted to wait for the attendance figures before she issued a media release, a total waste of effort, as most writers would write almost immediately or not at all.   The ‘release’ only contained the names of 12 of the 28 wineries participating in the festival.  Each winery only offered one white wine, Rosé, or MCC for tasting, yet there was no information provided about each of the 28 wines, and what makes them unique. With a few exceptions, it seemed as if the B Team had been sent to man the ‘stands’, which was just a wine barrel per winery.  Very few of the winery representatives offered information proactively, being pourers of wine rather than sharers of information.   Only Morena had a booklet of information one could take from its stand, always stylish with its owner Nick Davies hands-on and in attendance.  There was no information provided about the specialist tastings that formed part of the festival.

Leopard’s Leap was an ideal venue and the perfect weather helped the event greatly. Additional parking was opened up, and golf carts drove one to the entrance.  It’s a pity that a (outsourced security company) boom operator is persistently rude when one arrives at Leopard’s Leap.  The invited media guests had to buy their own food (the wine tasting was on the house), something one would rarely experience if one is the guest of an event – the petrol alone for the journey from Cape Town and back would have cost around R375.  The invitation’s description of the ‘mouth-watering deli-style food from the Harvest Table‘ was completely misleading, as they had changed their menu for the event, being chicken and a few leaves (R60), salmon quiche with a good helping of salad at R45, and a vegetarian wrap (R30), not representative of the fantastic food that The Rotisserie at Leopard’s Leap usually serves.  Even though we wanted to pay for an ice cream when ordering our food, payment was not taken, and consequently the ice cream had run out at 16h00, an hour before the close of the event!

The Franschhoek Summer Wine Festival was organised for the second time, by professional event organiser Darielle Robertson of DnA Events.  Franschhoek can do much better than it did yesterday to attract attendance, given its excellent track record in hosting the Franschhoek Cap Classique and Champagne Festival, Bastille Day festival, and Franschhoek Uncorked.  It is unfortunate that the festival clashed with the Cape Town Carnival yesterday, the Spar Ladies Race this morning, and the start of the ABSA Cape Epic today, which would have kept many wine tasters from Franschhoek.  From Twitter and spending time at the festival it appeared that the media attendance was extremely low (only three we picked up), which means that it will take longer to establish the event in years to come.  We Tweeted twice only from the festival, the food and most of the stands not being attractive enough to photograph and Tweet. As a brand Franschhoek and its excellent wine estates and good restaurants are far too special and unique to be represented by a mediocre PR company!

POSTSCRIPT 8/4: Epic Communications, organisers of the publicity for the RE•CM Top Ten Year Old Wines dinner at the Greenhouse last month, sent this e-mail today: The RE:CM 10 Year Old Wine Awards 2013 winners were announced at a gala dinner held in Cape Town on 14 March 2013 where valued clients and judges were treated to a three-course dinner at the award winning Greenhouse Restaurant by acclaimed chef, Peter Tempelhoff, who specially designed courses to pair with each 2013 RE:CM 10 Year Old Wine Award winner.  Please see attached social images, as well as images of the dishes served on the evening and the handover of the awards.  I have also pasted below captions for the images and a press release with further information.  Would this be of interest for your blog?’ Our bogpost about the event was posted on 18 March!

POSTSCRIPT 7/5: It appears that we were removed from Smart Communications & Events media list after posting this blogpost.  We have just been added back to the list again, after sending a request to the Franschhoek Wine Valley CEO!

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

I was invited by La Motte and Leopard’s Leap Culinary Consultant Hetta van Deventer-Terblanche to try out their new The Rotisserie at Leopard’s Leap for lunch on Saturday, and enjoyed the beautiful display of their salads, made from just-picked vegetables and herbs on the property, and the excellent pork and chicken prepared in their impressive-looking rotisserie.

The Leopard’s Leap tasting room opened a year ago as a brand new tasting centre combined with the Liam Tomlin Food culinary store and cookery school. Chef Liam Tomlin has decided to move back to Cape Town, returning to his Chef’s Warehouse and Cookery School. This has allowed Leopard’s Leap to utilise its rotisserie imported from France, and its impressive herb and vegetable garden to source ingredients for a number of salads, and to offer Leopard’s Leap wine tasting guests lunch and sweet treats.  Hetta put together the concept, inspired by CEO Hein Koegelenberg, yet is very modest about her role.

Chef Pieter de Jager has moved across from Pierneef à La Motte, to run The Rotisserie kitchen.  He started at La Motte when the restaurant opened two years ago, having moved across from Le Quartier Français.  He has worked in London at The Waterside Inn Restaurant with Chef Alain Roux.  His father Chef Chris owned Die Fonteine and Chagalls, French inspired restaurants in Pretoria, when he was still at school.

One takes a tray with linen/cotton serviette and modern Sola cutlery and makes one’s way through to the salad bar, which is then weighed and charged, at R15 per 100 gram.  Salad options include a pasta salad, garden leaves, a root vegetable salad, a papaya salad, a potato salad, onion salad, couscous and date salad, marinated mushroom salad, feta, beetroot salad, cucumber and carrot shavings, chicken and bean salad, and stuffed mushrooms, all beautifully displayed.  The names of the salads are written on mini ‘blackboards’, attached to sticks and placed in jars containing miniature white pebbles.  The selection of salads will vary according to what is available in the herb and vegetable garden.  Bunches of herbs add green to the display, presented in a mini watering can, and in little terracotta plant pots.  A Leopard’s Leap ice bucket holds bottles of home-made beetroot, carrot and ginger, as well as pineapple juice, and ginger ale, all made by Chef Pieter’s team.  Three different vinaigrettes add further colour to the display. One is then asked if one would like chicken or pork from the rotisserie, which Chef Pieter and his colleague cut, and then add to the plate.  A quarter piece of herb grilled chicken costs R29, half R64, and a whole chicken costs R128.  A 100g slice of pork costs R25 and 200g R45.  For vegetarians there is a vegetable wrap filled with roasted butternut, carrots, sorrel, feta, sweet potato, and aioli, costing R25. A special children’s menu will be made available too. Miniature ciabatta and wrapped portions of herb butter are available at the till, and are included in the price.

For dessert there is a tempting selection of cupcakes, each in an individual mini bell jar (R15), miniature berry cheese cake (R10), popsicles (R10), berry jelly and custard (R10), brownies (R15), Rice Crispie treats (R9), and lemon tarts (R10).

One sits down at one of the tables, with fun tops of illustrations of knives and other kitchen utensils, the cuts of beef, and even some wine ‘stains’.  Glassware is the German Rastal, which Hetta said brings out the best in the wine for tasting.  One can also sit in a lounge area, with a cosy fireplace for winter lunches, or outside in summer. The tables only have water glasses, so that one knows that it is self-service.  The Leopard’s Leap wines are sold at a small premium to the prices in the tasting room, exceptionally well priced at R15/R33 per glass/bottle of the Leopard’s Leap Lookout range; R20/R38 for the Classic range; R25/R49 for the Family Collection Chenin Blanc and R25/R70 for the Family Collection Shiraz Mourvèdre; and R95 per bottle of the new Culinaria MCC, which was launched at the Franschhoek Cap Classique and Champagne Festival this past weekend.

Hetta is setting up a shop which will sell culinary, wine and conservation (Leopard’s Leap supports the Cape Leopard Trust, and sponsors literary events) related items. One will be able to pop in The Rotisserie at Leopard’s Leap, and buy a piece or a whole chicken, or even a cupcake or popsicle, to take home or sit down and eat there.  The 24-station kitchen is available to chefs in Franschhoek to host demonstrations, and other events, Hetta emphasising that they are willing to share what they would like to call ‘Franschoek’s Kitchen’ with their chef colleagues. Ideally they would love a cooking program to be filmed in their state of the art kitchen.

The Rotisserie at Leopard’s Leap is a friendly informal restaurant at which to enjoy a light meal for about R100 a head.  It joins an increasing number of Winelands estates offering the convenience of being able to eat after a wine tasting.

The Rotisserie at Leopard’s Leap, R45, Franschhoek.  Tel (021) 876-8002. www.leopards-leap.com Twitter: @LeopardLeapWine.  Wednesday – Sunday from 10h00.  The Tasting Room is open from Tuesdays – Sundays.

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

The Sweet Service Award goes to the Franschhoek Cap Classique and Champagne Festival, which took place in Franschhoek last weekend, with 37 sparkling wine and eight champagne producers serving their brands, in addition to food sold by a number of Franschhoek restaurants, despite the incredible heat on Sunday in particular.  A good time was had by all, lots of bubbly was tasted, and good sales done.  There was not one word of criticism to be heard about it, and adherence to the black and white dress code by the majority of the exhibitors and by Festival goers added to the stature of the Festival.  The weekend attracted good business to Franschhoek accommodation establishments, restaurants, wine estates, and shops.

The Sour Service Award goes to Spill Blog, and is nominated by Darren from Hout Bay: “Interesting stuff, I went to see what the Societi Brassiere was like in Tokai, we know how much your Irish mate loves these guys and raves on at them. I posted some comments on her website a couple of days ago, some praise but really criticising the service and would you believe it she has not posted it on the site.  Another case of complete blatant subjectivity, no wonder she gets so few comments on her site, is she that easily bought.  Maybe this could be a good case for sour award this week”. The Comment was written three days ago, and praised its welcome and good food, but he was very critical of the Societi Bistro service failure (‘.. a little fawlty towers’…).

The WhaleTales Sweet & Sour Service Awards are presented every Friday on the WhaleTales blog.  Nominations for the Sweet and Sour Service Awards can be sent to Chris von Ulmenstein at info@whalecottage.com.   Past winners of the Sweet and Sour Service Awards can be read on the Friday posts of this blog, and in the WhaleTales newsletters on the www.whalecottage.com website.