Entries tagged with “Journey’s End”.


For the past two days I have participated in a Blind Tasting of more than 130 white, Rosé, and red wines at the offices of sponsorship specialists Divine Intervention, to select wines which will be incorporated into the winelists for the four restaurant brands of the new Cowboys & Cooks restaurant group, which has been founded by highly respected  restaurateur Michael Townsend and his strong support team. (more…)

imageYesterday was the first time that I experienced Journey’s End Vineyards, not having heard of it before. It was the home of the first ever Wine Car Boot sale of the members of the Premium Independent Wineries of South Africa (PIWOSA), eleven of the thirteen members offering their wines to taste and buy from the boots of unusual and largely vintage vehicles yesterday! Mulderbosch animaged Newton Johnson did not participate.

PIWOSA is a collective of like-minded, premium, independent wine producers from across the diverse wine regions of the Western Cape, says its website. It was started in January 2013, and is endorsed by Wines of South Africa (WOSA), Wine & Agriculture Ethical Trading Association (WIETA), and Independent Producers of Wine (IPW). Its goal is to jointly promote premium South African wines internationally.

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WhaleTalesTourism, Food, and Wine news headlines

*   From 25 October FlySafair will offer flights between Cape Town, Durban, and East London, as well as between Johannesburg and the two cities. Costs start at R399 one way, reports Southern African Tourism Update. The routes were selected after a vote by 20000 passengers.

*   Saronsberg is the wine estate which has been ranked highest in the South African Wine Index 2015 Wine Awards Report, of all local wine (more…)

WhaleTalesTourism, Food, and Wine news headlines

*   After having focused on Cape Town earlier this week, Huffington Post has included Hermanus in an article entitled ‘5 Lesser-known African wonders you have to see’.  Whale-watching is recommended, from July – November, with twenty to thirty whales being seen in Hermanus on average per day in that period, announced by the whale crier on his kelp horn.  The other wonders are the lunar rainbow in Zambia, the South Carmine Bee-eater migration in Zambia, wildebeest calving in Tanzania, and the Fruit-bat migration in Zambia.

*   South Africa’s premium wines over £10 a bottle were praised at a blind tasting held in London on Tuesday, offering quality and value for money.  The tasting was organised by the drinks business and the Premium Independent Wineries of South Africa, a collective of 15 local wine producers, promoting premium wines costing £10 or more.  Only 4% of wines are bought at that price-point, warned Tesco’s South African wine buyer, but he praised the quality of our wines, saying that they are ‘fantastic‘.  He said that our country’s premium wines need to promote their credentials.    Local wines tasted were Ken Forrester Chenin Blanc 2000, Beaumont Hope Marguerite 2009, Journey’s End Destination Chardonnay 2012, Mulderbosch Barrel Fermented Chardonnay 2010, Radford Dale ‘Nudity’ Syrah 2013, Mullineux Syrah 2012, Mvemve Raats de Compostella 2012, Jordan Cobblers Hill, South Africa 2011, Newton Johnson Family Vineyards Pinot Noir 2012, The Drift ‘There are still mysteries’ Pinot Noir 2012, and Paul Cluver Pinot Noir 2012.

*   Italian anti-trust and competition authorities are investigating TripAdvisor for its (more…)

WhaleTalesTourism, Food, and Wine news headlines

*   Good news is that the UK travel industry is seeing the first signs of recovery, after two years of a ‘meltdown‘, which severely affected the Western Cape tourism industry too!

*   One third of active American travelers travel with a smart phone and a tablet, and are an important market to watch for trends, now called the ‘Digital Elite’!

*   Ataraxia Serenity 2008 was the best selling wine at the recent Free State FNB Wine Show. (via media release from Ataraxia)

*   Sarah Baker of Wild Peacock Emporium has moved to the wholesale division of Wild Peacock, focusing on the supply of artisanal boutique cheeses.

*   French wine estate owners are being warned against fraudulent (more…)

Saffron is a sacred spice, used for seasoning and colouring dishes, and is the most expensive spice of all, so its choice as a name for the restaurant of the new 5-star Abalone House in Paternoster is a misnomer, in that its food does not contain any of this special spice.

I ate at Saffron restaurant for four nights in a row, not having many other options in Paternoster, during a winter break.   The dining room decor is busy, with about seven tables squeezed around a central serving table, on which the breakfast and the afternoon tea are laid out.   At night this table plays no role, and therefore makes things feel a little squashed, especially as the chairs are large high-back ones.   Beautiful big bulbous red wine glasses, good quality cutlery and napery are on the tables.   The music sounds a little canned, coming from an i-Pod, and is piped through the whole guest house.

One cannot miss the work of Tretchikoff at Abalone House, as it is in most rooms. Tretchikoff prints of the Chinese Girl and Balinese Girl are in every bedroom and bathroom, and in the public areas as well.  Natasha, Tretchikoff’s granddaughter and founder of The Tretchikoff Trust (www.vladimirtretchikoff.com), stayed at the guest house one evening, and was charming when I met her and her husband at afternoon tea.   The dining room decor colours are yellow/orange, with splashes of purple.   Beautiful glass lanterns with a candle are lit at every table every night, even though I was the only guest at the guest house on most nights, giving the restaurant a romantic and festive atmosphere.  White orchids are everywhere.  It was cold in the dining room in the evenings, as the fireplace is in the lounge, and its heat does not spread to the dining room.

The menu and winelists have a gold colour, with the branding and logo of the guest house embossed in it.   Nowhere could I see the Saffron restaurant name inside the restaurant, except on a tiny silver plaque as one enters the restaurant.  The menu changes every three days.    Three choices are offered for each course, and on the first night I chose a celery and potato soup, which tasted more of leek, and was very thin.  I could not taste the potato.  The freshly baked bread brought to the table had a crispy crust, and was more-ish. Other starter choices offered were almond rolled goats’ cheese, as well as smoked salmon and potato salad, all starters costing R 45.

I skipped the main course on the first night, and had a lovely portion of the mixed vegetable side dish, at R25, with carrots, broccoli, and beans, all crispy and not over-cooked.  The fillet of beef on another evening, served with champagne mash and a red wine jus, was perfectly prepared medium-rare, as ordered, and a little expensive at R125 for a less than 200 gram portion of fillet.   Other mains offered were a duo of salmon and and hake (R 80), and roast vegetable and garden herb risotto (R70), the latter being an extremely delicious and generous serving of risotto with green pepper, courgettes, mushrooms and beans, and quite different to what I had expected from the ‘roast’ description.   I had the apple crumble dessert served with ice cream, at R 40, but the crumble part was very crumbly and burnt when grilled in the oven.   The cheese platter is very good value at R 45, with five cheese types, biscuits and fig preserve offered.

Red wines-by-the-glass are reasonably-priced, and on offer are Chamonix Cabernet Sauvignon (R45), Hermit on the Hill (R35), and Cloof Inkspot (R 25).  White wines offered by the glass are Withington (R 25), Journey’s End ‘The Haystack’ (R30) and COAV (R30).  R50 corkage is charged.  Unusually the winelist contained the following note: “All wines are subject to availability and vintages may change due to demand”.  Commendably the vintages are mentioned.   Each wine is briefly described on the winelist.   Champagnes stocked range from R605 for a Drappier Carte d’Or to R1 430 for Gosset Grand Milliesime.   Cap Classique wines range in price from R185 for Krone Borealis to R390 for High Constantia. Three Shirazes are offered: Migliarina 2007 at R 200, Tamboerskloof 2006 at R 190, and Catherine Marshall at R 125.

My biggest problem with the restaurant was with Rudi the waiter, who doubles up as the hotel’s guest relations person.  On the day that I arrived, he wore a pair of shorts and the guest house staff’s African style shirt – in Paternoster one does not feel to be in Africa.   He must have sensed me looking at his shorts (or legs), and he quickly put on a long apron, which made him look far more professional.  He was very vague in his knowledge of the menu (i.e. which vegetables are in the mixed vegetable side-dish), and had to keep going to Nickie Lawson, the chef, to ask her.   Nickie is a fun Irish lass whose mom lives next door, and this had led her to Paternoster.  I was a little weary about eating at the restaurant, as I had been warned that it had some problems, and after a poor start on the first night, the food got better and better on each subsequent night.  Rudi is extremely willing to please and made me the best cappuccinos for breakfast and afternoon tea (yes, this is part of the guest house package, not at the Mount Nelson level, but sandwiches, chocolate cake slices and the most delicious light scones are served with strawberry or berry jam and fresh cream every day).  His past as mechanic, self-confessed, may explain some of the rough edges, but he is kind, laughs a lot, and nothing was too much trouble.

On the second day, I was told by Ann, the Manager, that the owners Johan Jansen van Vuuren and Stef Venter had wanted me to have a bottle of wine on the house.  Rudi brought me a condensed current winelist, with only a few items on it, as well as the brand new well-presented winelist.  I liked the greater selection on the new list, and requested a Tamboerskloof Shiraz from it.  Rudi looked and looked in his bar, and very few of the wines on the new list were in the tiny bar, and he had to tell me that the bar stock had been stored elsewhere in Paternoster, but that he would have the bottle for me for the following day’s dinner.  He was true to his word, and the smoky Shiraz character of the wine went well with the (unintended) smokiness of the fireplace in the lounge.

Saffron Restaurant is expensive, but its pricing no doubt is based on supply and demand, and its five-star grading – there is no other reasonable equivalent in Paternoster, except for Gaaitjie and Ah! guest house, where I also ate during my holiday.  I will be back to try the restaurant under the new management of Darren and Lindsay Stewart, the new Executive Chef and GM, respectively.

Saffron Restaurant, Abalone House,  Kriedoring Street, Paternoster.  Tel (022) 752-2044.  www.abalonehouse.co.za(the Image Gallery is very slow to download.  There is no menu nor winelist.  The name of the new chef has not been updated on the site, which probably means that the dishes in the Image Gallery are those of ex-Chef Nickie).

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

Google Street View and Google Maps are two products that will change the world of marketing, wine estate owners and marketers were told at a presentation at the Protea Fire & Ice Hotel on Thursday.  South Africa is the first African country in which Google has introduced the technology, and the South African wine estates are the first in the world to have been included on Google Street View. 

Google Street View is the largest photographic project in the world.  Google Maps has already covered 100 countries in 350000 maps, in 40 languages.  Google Street View was launched in South Africa just before the World Cup (with some errors, in that the Metropolitan Golf Club is shown to be inside the Cape Town Stadium!).   Google Maps provides summary information about a wine estate, for example, and then shows the reviews about the estate on Tripadvisor, SafariNow and on other websites, providing a potential visitor with different sources of information which they can use to prepare for their visit.   At the presentation wine estates were encouraged to club together, and to design custom-packaged wine tours – e.g. a Pinotage tour in a specific area can be prepared via Google Maps, as the “pinotage” word would be Google-searched by the visitor from the reviews that contain that word, for example.  Wine estates can also apply Google Maps into the management of their businesses, in controlling their security, crops etc, they were told.

Google Street View cars (or even bicycles), with a massive camera on them, take photographs as they drive down roads, which are then processed to put them onto Google Maps.  To protect the privacy of the public, Google blurs car registration numbers and faces of persons who may have been walking while the photographs were taken.   The imagery is not real-time once it is accessed on Google Maps, given the time that is needed to process the photographs.     Google states that it respects the laws and norms re privacy on Google Maps, an issue that is being hotly debated in Germany at the moment.  If a resident finds his/her visual on Google Maps, even if the image is blurred, they can request it to be removed completely.   Even one’s house can be deleted, on request.

Google Street View allows users to virtually explore and navigate a localised area through panoramic street-level photographs.   A Street View button needs to be clicked on the Google Maps, one clicks onto a camera icon above a city, and then zooms in.  One can see a 360 degree panorama of that specific area, so good and real that one almost does not have to go there as one has seen it on Google Street View already!   Not only can one find the exact location of where one is going for a meeting, for example, but one can also see which coffee shops and parking garages are close by.   One can check out the real environment of a hotel one has booked at, which might be hidden in the photographs provided by the hotel in its Image Gallery, possibly due to its location close to a noisy or ugly part of town.

Visitors to a wine estate or to a town/city can upload photographs of one’s property, as well as provide information about one’s property, on Wikipedia.   Wine estates and tourism businesses were encouraged to add Google Maps and Google Street View onto their websites.   One can customise these applications, which are free of charge, in changing the photographs, or in enlarging or reducing the size of the maps.

Wine estates that are on Google Street View are Warwick Wine Estate, Vilafonte, De Wetshof, Fairview, Paul Cluver, Rustenberg, Meerlust, Morgenster, Bouchard Finlayson, Jordan Winery, Klein Constantia, Journey’s End, and Groote Post.

Google Maps can be added to one’s website (www.maps.google.co.za), so that one can create one’s own map.   One can also add one’s content to Mapplets, which are map layers or applications available on Google Maps.  One can use these to display information to Google Map users, giving content to Google Maps (www.google.co.za/apis/maps/documentation/mapplets/).  Google Places (www.maps.google.co.za/places) allows one to put a business on Google Maps, searchable by Google on its Google Maps, Earth, Search, and Maps for Mobiles applications.   One can personalise this business information with contact details, opening hours, photographs and more.

Leading Johannesburg wine consultant Juliet Cullinan endorsed the Google Street View application for wine estates, saying that this is the first opportunity South Africa has to launch top wine estates, icon wines, and the best wine cellars, and is the closest one can bring the consumer to a winemaker, and ‘almost’ get them to taste the wine on-line.  

Mike Ratcliffe from Warwick and Vilafonte wines, one of the most tech-savvy wine marketers in South Africa, has embraced Google Street View, and even got Google to include the Big Five safari trip they offer Warwick visitors.  Ratcliffe reiterated the growth of social media marketing, and quoted international advertising agency WPP in stating that 26 % of the agency’s business now is on-line communications.  The fastest growth has been magazine readership, which readers subscribe to on-line.   He hinted at the launch of “Google Me’, Google’s answer to Facebook.  HD also is coming, giving even higher screen resolution.  Ratcliffe encouraged his wine colleagues to embrace Google Street View, as it gives the South African wine industry an edge, before it is adopted by wine regions in other countries. 

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