The most coveted 2019 Diners Club Winelist Award, its Icon Award, recognising restaurants that meet all the requirements of a Diamond Award, but also feature an extensive collection of international wines, as well as Reserve and vintage wines, having a sommelier on the floor, and having ‘a deep interest in wine curation’, were awarded to Restaurant Mosaic at the Orient Boutique Hotel in Pretoria, and the Saxon Hotel Villas & Spa in Johannesburg. This is the second year that the Icon Awards have been presented, to both restaurants. Continue reading →
On the surface one sees the wine industry as very collegial, so it was a surprise to read about the court case between The Groot Constantia Trust and DGB Limited, the owners of the Boschendal brand, about the latter’s use of the pay-off line ‘A Cape Icon since 1685‘, which was contested by Groot Constantia. Continue reading →
It was a ‘wow’ reaction when I entered newly opened Imibala Restaurant on Bright Street on Monday, at the invitation of Ian Downie representing the restaurant owners Johann and Gaynor (Ian’s sister) Rupert, and of PR Consultant Ann Wallis-Brown. The Imibala Trust, its Gallery and its Restaurant is focused on giving back to the Helderberg community through the monies that it raises, a very noble initiative.
Ian and I connected immediately, very interested in good food, Ian having founded Gastronauts in Johannesburg when he still lived there. We both have been members of Slow Food in Cape Town, when Jos Baker was Continue reading →
Yesterday we were invited by Ken Forrester Vineyards to attend a tasting of twelve of its Rhône blends, produced in the last twenty years of its journey in making Rhône varietals and blends. One could not help associate owner Ken Forrester with the character of these wines, having interesting names of Renegade, Three Halves, and Gypsy. The tasting was followed by lunch at 96 Winery Road, a restaurant co-owned by Ken with his brother.
We met at the Ken Forrester Tasting Room, on a gorgeous sunny autumn day, dressed with a Gypsy theme, in table cloths, carpets, staff outfits, bunting in the vineyard, a banner at the entrance, and ribbons on our media packs, all reflecting the Gypsy theme. Continue reading →
Durban and Cape Town have had a gentle rivalry when it comes to attracting tourists, which has never been overtly competitive and has been largely collegial, with a joint campaign on National Geographic to market the two cities, to save marketing monies. Now the relationship appears to have reached rock-bottom, with an angry Durban Tourism attack on Cape Town for its alleged ‘ambush marketing‘ of Indaba 2014, the tourism expo held in Durban, which drew to a close on Monday.
In the past other South African cities, but Durban in particular, have been annoyed that Cape Town attracts the bulk of international tourists, and that this is reflected by SA Tourism, in that it proudly features Table Mountain in much of its tourism communication, being a national icon for our country. SA Tourism and Durban were irked that World Travel Market Africa was held in Cape Town a mere week before the start of Indaba, funded in part by the City of Cape Town, and attracting a fair number of exhibitors and visitors, and receiving praise for the event. SA Tourism made a point of confirming that it would only support Indaba, there not being enough capacity for two tourism trade shows in our country, in its opinion.
Philip Sithole, head of Durban Tourism, appears to be paranoid about Cape Town, complaining to Southern African Tourism Continue reading →
* A TripAdvisor TripBarometer survey has found that hotel guests expect free wifi, free parking, and free breakfast. Items which guests are most likely to take home with them are toiletries, tea and coffee, towels, clothes hangers, and TV remote batteries. Guests are interested in learning more about the culture of the inhabitants of the town in which they are visiting, in visiting a unique icon of the town, trying new food but also wanting to eat food from their home country, as well as watching TV and movies in their home language.
* London hotels have received the lowest ratings of hotels in 30 European destinations on the measure of recommending a hotel to others, according to a survey in the last 24 months on bookings made via Expedia, scoring even more poorly than Paris and Nice. Berlin tops the recommendation rating.
* Grande Provence in Franschhoek is celebrating its 2014 harvest with a Harvest Festival on 22 February, starting the day with coffee and muffins, followed by a talk by the vine grower, winetasting, and then a country feast. Cost is R450. (received via e-mail from Grande Provence)
* It is sad to see how the death of Mr Mandela is being used by his daughter Dr Maki Mandela and his granddaughter Tukwini Mandela to market their House of Mandela wines, saying that his legacy lives on through their wines! Continue reading →
The Franschhoek Wine Tram has been built and is in Franschhoek, ready to roll in October, being the first Hop on Hop off winetasting tram service in the Winelands. It will be a valuable tourism boost to a village that has been badly affected by the recession.
This is the second attempt at establishing this service. Two years ago already it was announced that a steam train would be running on the existing but now unused railway line through the Franschhoek wine estates. The steam train proved to be environmentally unfriendly, while an imported train from Australia proved to be too expensive. The owners, father and son team David and Sean Blyth, the financiers and train and tram fanatics, were fortunate to find a local company to build a tram transporting 33 persons.
The ticket office will be at the first stop, behind the Station Pub, once the railway station building in Franschhoek. Stops along the way are the Franschhoek Cellar, Grande Provence, and Rickety Bridge. Tickets will cost R98, for an Hop on Hop off service, but exclude the tasting fees. Currently crossing three roads, each crossing will be manned with uniformed staff to warn drivers of the oncoming tram, safety being of utmost concern. The tram service will be expanded to cross the R45, their biggest challenge in terms of road safety, and warning lights and a bell will warm drivers of the tram crossing.
Wine estates that have expressed interest for the extension of the tram service are Allée Bleue, Gooding Grove, and Solms Delta, and ultimately it is planned to extend the service all the way to Paarl. Exciting too for the restaurants on the tram line is that the chefs of restaurants on the participating wine estates will offer Gourmet Tours on the tram, it running in the evenings as well. Each wine estate is planning its own special events for the tram visitors, and each will have a platform at the tram line, offering winetastings. The trip would take about an hour if one does not get out at the wine estates at which the tram stops.
One must salute the Blyths for investing in an innovative wine tourism service, which will be of benefit to all tourism players in Franschhoek, not just the wine estates through which the tram will roll. It will also position Franschhoek as an innovative and exciting wine destination.
POSTSCRIPT 17/11: The Franschhoek Wine Tram starts rolling today, with only two initial stops, at Grande Provence, and at Rickety Bridge, at the introductory price of R60.
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter:@WhaleCottage
Having written about the opening of Gorgeous by Graham Beck, I was invited to visit Steenberg Hotel (also a Graham Beck Wines property) and try out the first brand-specific bubbly bar in Cape Town, a chic transformed space alongside Catharina’s restaurant. Its staff are bubbly, the canapés well-paired with the Graham Beck MCCs tasted, and the interior is trendy. The bubbly bar has been named after the late Graham Beck’s favourite descriptive word.
A nice surprise was to discover that Jenna Adams is the manager of Gorgeous by Graham Beck, having impressed with her friendliness at Bistro 1682, also on the Steenberg estate. She bubbles with charm and information about the Graham Beck bubblies, and was willing to search for answers to all my questions.
Guests are encouraged to sit at the counter, with a Carrara marble top, on comfortable leather bar chairs, facing the Gorgeous by Graham Beck branded glass doors. Against one side of the wall is a constantly changing projection of gorgeous ladies across a broad spectrum, designed by Daniel du Plessis. The walls have a glitter effect, and the ‘Paper Jewellery’ wallpaper was designed by Vivienne Westwood. The copper pendant lamps are by Tom Dixon. The design of the bubbly bar was by architect Johan Wessels and his wife Erna, who have been involved in the design of most Graham Beck property projects. Couch corners are also available as seating.
Jenna explained the seven Graham Beck MCCs as she poured them into Graham Beck branded frosted glasses, grouped as follows:
* Non-vintage Collection (R40 per glass, R200 per bottle)
. Brut, with light and yeasty aromas, and lime on the nose, with 15 – 18 months on the lees. Bubbly used to celebrate Nelson Mandela’s inauguration and President Barack Obama’s presidential nomination.
. Rosé, with 50 % Chardonnay and 50 % Pinot Noir, 15 months on the lees, with cherry and berry notes
. Bliss Demi Sec, a bubbly I had not heard of before, with 49 % Chardonnay and 51 % Pinot Noir, 15 months on the lees, butterscotch, praline, and honeycomb notes, and has more residual sugar
This group was described by Jenna as a ‘palate cleanser’, to the more serious Vintage MCCs.
* Vintage Collection (R65 per glass, R 325 per bottle)
. Brut Zero 2005, with 87% Chardonnay and 13% Pinot Noir, spent six years on the lees, with fresh green apple, baked brioche, and crispy notes, with only 2,4 gram residual sugar, with no dosage added in its making. It was my favourite by far, and the driest of the MCCs tasted
. Rosé 2008, with 80% Pinot Noir and 20 % Chardonnay, spending 36 months on the lees, with strawberry, mousse, and sherbet.
* Icon (R100 per glass, R500 per bottle)
. The Cuvée Clive 2005 is the Graham Beck MCC flagship, and is not available for tasting but can be bought by the glass and bottle, made up of 87% Chardonnay and 13 % Pinot Noir, and having spent five years on the lees. It is only produced in excellent vintages.
One can taste flights of the Graham Beck MCCs, at R60 for a flight of the three Non-Vintage MCCs, R85 for a flight of the three Vintage MCCs, and R60 for a Rosé MCC flight. Gorgeous to Go allows one to buy the Graham Beck MCCs to take home, at (reduced) prices: Non-Vintage Collection MCCs cost R105, also available in 375 ml and 1,5 litre bottles; Vintage Collection MCCs cost R205; and Cuvée Clive costs R450.
Catharina’s Executive Chef Garth Almazan created a gorgeous tasting platter of four savoury canapés (R95); and of four canapés and a sweet treat berry terrine, served on a modern glass plate (R110). Each canapé can also be ordered individually: fresh Saldanha Bay oysters cost R18, and are served with lime wedges, Tabasco and crushed black pepper; a tian of cured Franschhoek salmon trout is served with poached quail egg and salmon caviar (R30); a poached tiger prawn is served with an avocado salsa, Japanese mayonnaise, pickled ginger and sesame seed salad (R30); and an asparagus and goats cheese risotto croquette is served with pickled shemeji mushrooms and white truffle oil (R25). The Graham Beck Brut berry terrine rests on a Valrhona chocolate foundation (R22).
The opening of Gorgeous by Graham Beck stems from the closure of the Franschhoek Graham Beck farm and tasting room in winter, due to the sale of the farm to Johan Rupert. It is planned to transform a meeting room on Steenberg into a tasting room for the other Graham Beck wines. Graham Beck Wines Cellarmaster Erica Obermeyer is completing her 2012 white wine harvest at Graham Beck Franschhoek and her red wine harvest at a cellar in Stellenbosch.
Gorgeous by Graham Beck, Steenberg Estate, Tokai. Tel (021) 713-7177 www.gorgeousbygrahambeck.com Twitter: @GorgeousbyGB Monday – Sunday 12h00 – 22h00
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter:@WhaleCottage