Entries tagged with “Kaapse Vonkel”.


WhaleTales Tourism, Food, and Wine news headlines

*   An increasing number of Indian TV shows and series is being filmed in countries outside of India, and South Africa is one of the countries benefiting too (see the promo for Dare2Dance, shot in Cape Town).  SA Tourism Country Manager for India Hannelie Slabber said: ‘We have seen a great increase in films and television channels approaching us for associations over the last few years’.  Most of the shooting has been in Gauteng, the Western Cape including the Garden Route, and KwaZulu-Natal, while the Kruger National Park is a popular film location too.

*   Domaine des Dieux won the 14th Amorim Cap Classique Challenge 2014 with its Claudia Brut 2009, a Pinot Noir Chardonnay blend, for Best Brut Blend and Best Producer against 100 other Cap Classique entries.   Graham Beck and Lord both took the top honours in the Blended Brut category.  The former MCC producer also won Best Vintage (2009) and Best Non-Vintage Rosé.   Laborie won Best Vintage Blanc de Blancs (2010), and Colmant the Best Blanc de Blanc non-Vintage category.  Simonsig won the Museum Class for its Kaapse Vonkel 2004.  Judging panel chairman Allan Mullins of Woolworths said that the sparkling wines showed more consistency this year, and were of a higher quality. Mullins was named the inaugural recipient of the Frans Malan Legacy Award.

*   South Africa has dropped in its rank on World  Economic Forum Global Competitiveness (more…)

WhaleTalesTourism, Food, and Wine news headlines

*   Is it the right thing for Tourism Minister Derek Hanekom to feature in an ‘advertorial’ for Uber, (boringly) showing him booking his ride via phone in his Parliamentary office, and then being driven to the Cape Town International Convention Centre, where he addressed the eTourism Africa Summit as keynote speaker?

*   Graham Beck Blanc de Blancs 2009 has won World Champion Cap Classique, Best in its Class, as well as Gold in the 2014 Champagne and Sparkling Wine World Championships in London, with 650 wines from 16 countries evaluated.  Klein Constantia MCC Brut 2011 won Gold too, while Simonsig Cap Classique Kaapse Vonkel 2010 won Silver.  A total of 185 wines won a Gold or Silver medal.

*   Yuppiechef.com has been named the Best eCommerce Store in South Africa for the fifth year running, winning ahead of (more…)

WhaleTalesTourism, Food, and Wine news headlines

*   Malusi Gigaba, the Minister of Public Enterprises, has instructed SAA to cancel its order for 23 wide-body long-haul aircraft, which the airline said that the fuel efficient aircraft would turn around its loss situation.

*   SAA is resuming its non-stop flights between OR Thambo and JF Kennedy airports from 9 March, ahead of schedule.  On its return flights SAA made a refueling stop at Dakar.

*  Simonsig has begun harvesting its Pinot Noir, a week later than normal due to higher summer rainfalls.  The grapes have higher levels of acidity than usual, and will go into the making of their Kaapse Vonkel MCC. (received via media release from GC Communications)

*   South African Cuisine and Culture are of greater interest than Wildlife to Indian tourists.  The role of Robben Island, and the incarceration of the late Nelson Mandela, is of great interest to them, and is being added to tour itineraries.

*   SA Tourism has hosted a pre-launch screening celebration for ‘Mandela: The Long walk to Freedom, in Sydney, ahead of the movie launch (more…)

It is very bold to close down two restaurants in Stellenbosch, and to start from scratch in Cape Town.  This is what Sarah and Dup du Plessis have done, moving their two Café Dijon restaurants on Plein Street and at Zorgvliet in Stellenbosch into a most beautifully decorated space in the Rockwell Centre on Napier Street in Green Point, serving excellent Bistro food, one of the best French style restaurants in Cape Town.

When I first heard that Café Dijon was moving into the Rockwell Centre, my heart sank for the new venture, thinking that they were taking the space of Camil Haas’ Bouillabaisse, which closed down two years ago. But the Rockwell Hotel that operates from the building has made that space its bar, and created a small restaurant in the ex-Crepe Suzette space.

Café Dijon is in a space that once was a decor shop, facing Anatoli’s. Using In House designer Lawrence Holmes, the restaurant sports three ‘palm tree’ wood-cladded pillars, which not only add a most stunning decor imprint, but also hold downlighters, having a functional role too.  The original marble topped bar counter was transported across from the Plein Street branch, as were the bistro-style tables and chairs.  In raised sections near the stackable sliding doors new tables have been added, made from beautiful wood with an extra black section added, to make it look like slate. Here the bistro chairs have red striped or black and white check upholstery. A couch with blue and white striped upholstery provides seating for the tables in the lower section. The tables are allowed to show off their beauty and not hidden by a table cloth, but material serviettes and St Tropez cutlery add quality. Cape Herb & Spice Atlantic Sea Salt and Extra Bold Pepper grinders are on each table.  Laminated floors look like they are made from wine vats, with names of wine varieties.  At the entrance is a wooden structure, partly a ‘canopy’ containing downlighters, as well as a section in which wines can be stored, similar to the racking used to make champagne.  Near the bar small white and black floor tiles give an aged Bistro effect.  Bunches of San Pellegrino bottles with LED bulbs also create lighting, as do wine bottle-shaped lights hanging over the bar counter.  Interesting is a wall with names, which the designers created to honour some of the special people in Dup and Sarah’s life, with some French names added, e.g. Le Roux, Olivier, Du Buisson, and Mouton,  to suit the theme of the restaurant. The wall even contains the Zondernaam name, a brand name which Tokara owner GT Ferreira had to kill because it became more popular than its first brand, Dup told me. The walls have a green paint effect. Black canopies with the Café Dijon branding are due to be erected on the two sides of the restaurant.  I loved the big black table outside, which has been built around a tree.

The owners of Café Dijon are not French at all, but locals.  Johan (’Dup’) du Plessis grew up in the Banhoek valley, and his wife Sarah comes from Somerset West.  Sarah trained at Silwood Kitchen and then worked in Monaco for Sir David Brown of Aston Martin fame.  Dup grew up in a household in ‘which real men don’t cook’, but he did learn to, and they met at Deltacrest outside Franschhoek.   When it burnt down, they decided to open a ‘Thirties style bistro in Stellenbosch, opposite the Town Hall, offering classic French dishes and comfort food, which suited the design of the venue perfectly. Sarah and Dup started Café Dijon four years ago, and chose a cat for their logo, many Bistro’s having an animal name, explained Sarah.  In Stellenbosch an edict had banned cats in restaurants in the 1950’s, and Rose Jordaan’s grandmother had a black cat statue erected in front of the Stellenbosch library.  They live outside Franschhoek, and both are in the restaurant, Sarah looking after the kitchen until after lunch, while Dup stays on until they close in the evening.  Dup had a visitor when I ate there on Thursday, while Sarah was an excellent hostess, checking on her customers regularly.

A blackboard at the door advertised the specials: Angus beef burger R50; seared tuna with basil pesto R120; and the cheese of the day being Dalewood Brie at R60. The menu is printed on cream paper, and one is advised that food allergies should be shared with the waiter, as many dishes contain shellfish, garlic, dairy, or nuts, something one rarely sees on menus of late.  Dup is very proud of the Toulouse sausage which they make themselves from pork shoulder, nutmeg, garlic, and white wine, and he insisted that I try it as a starter. Amazingly, Sarah remembered how much I had enjoyed their duck liver paté at their Zorgvliet restaurant more than a year ago, and sent out a taster of it with home-baked ciabatta.  The sausage has a very mild taste, in contrast to the strong bite of the Dijon mustard. The sausage dish is usually a Bistro main course, two sausages served with pommes frites, a tomato and onion salad, and Dijon mustard, costing R70.  The paté is part of a charcuterie platter, served with parma ham and Felino salami, costing R65.  Other starters range from R55 – R 70, including steak tartare, calamari, trout, tomato tart, and marrow bones. Seven salad options include roasted beetroot, a classic Caesar, poached egg and bacon lardons, pear and Parma ham, grilled steak and rocket, and smoked duck breast, none costing more than R75.

Fish dishes are restricted to squid linguine (R75), and steamed West Coast mussels served with a white wine garlic, cream, and parsley sauce (R95).  For the main course I ordered from the Bistro section, being pork belly with pommes purée, puy lentils, a pork croquette, an apple and grain mustard jus, and pea shoots (R115), which I had not seen for some time.  The Bistro section also offers French onion soup, snails Bordelaise and chicken melanzane (R52 – R76 price range). Duck a L’Orange, served with confit duck leg, cabbage, bacon lardons, and an orange and Van der Hum sauce, sounds delicious, and good value at R120. A number of steak options are also offered, ranging from R115 for 200g Angus beef to R130 for fillet.  One can order sauces, vegetables, and salads as extras.

Desserts are very inexpensive at R35, and include Crème Brûlée, caramelised lemon tart, strawberry meringue (Eton Mess style), and chocolate profiteroles with caramel cream. I had a baked apple tartlet with almonds and honey, with a LavAzza cappuccino.  The cheese of the week costs R60.

The winelist offers three or four options per varietal, and it is disappointing that vintages are not specified on the paper winelist, which can easily be updated should the vintages run out.  Moët et Chandon NV and Veuve Clicquot cost around R550, while Pongracz, Simonsig Kaapse Vonkel, and Graham Beck Brut cost R175. Four Shiraz options are offered, ranging from Thelema’s Elgin Sutherland at R150, to Rust en Vrede at R375.  The winelist is dominated by Stellenbosch wines.

Café Dijon will become a welcome stop not only for lunch and dinner, but also in-between meals for a coffee, drinks, and tapas outside, which will be introduced shortly.  Ample parking is available underneath the building, on the opposite side. The service from Eric was very good, and there was not one sign that this restaurant had only been open for one week when I ate there.  The prices are very reasonable, and Dup and Sarah are hands-on, a definite plus.

POSTSCRIPT 5/9:  I popped in for a coffee and a Strawberry Meringue after a concert this evening, and was delighted that the restaurant was so busy. Yet a party of four left angry, saying that the food order was not brought to the table correctly, and that they had been overcharged. The owners had left early, the manager had the night off, and the chef had turned ill, leaving the busy restaurant in the hands of a junior team.  This is the second angry complaint we have received in the past week, in both instances the owners not being there. Best is to check if one or both owners will be there when booking.

Café Dijon, Rockwell Centre, Napier Street, Green Point.  Tel (021) 418-3910. www.cafedijon.co.za Twitter: @CafeDijonCT   Tuesday – Sunday lunch, Tuesday – Saturday dinner.

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

A most beautiful as well as informative coffee table book about South Africa’s sparkling wine industry has just been published.  ‘Celebrating Méthode Cap Classique’ has been written by Di Burger, and is the first complete bubbly book.

The book traces the history of champagne to South Africa’s sparkling wine industry, which innovated with Cap Classique forty years ago, being a bottle-fermented bubbly made in the traditional French style.  Kaapse Vonkel was made for the first time by pioneer winefarmer Frans Malan at Simonsig in 1971, while ‘Cap Classique’ wines were made for the first time in 1992.  Chairman of the Cap Classique Association, Pieter ‘Bubbles’ Ferreira of Graham Beck Wines, writes in the introduction to the book that ‘South Africa has the oldest grape growing soils in the world’.  Combined with its bountiful sunshine, the Western Cape is a perfect location for growing grapes of excellent quality for the production of Cap Classique. 

Méthode Cap Classique (MCC) is the term which describes the South African bottle-fermented production of sparkling wines in the French méthode Champenoise style.  They are dry, with less than 12 grams of sugar per litre.

The book includes profiles of the major sparkling wine producers (Simonsig, Boschendal, Graham Beck, JC le Roux, Pongrácz, Villiera, Haute Cabrière, The House of Krone, Laborie, Backsberg Estate, Avondale, Bon Courage Estate, Van Loveren, De Wetshof, High Constantia Wine Cellar, Steenberg Vineyards, La Motte, Morena MCC, Saronsberg, Colmant, Veenwouden Private Cellar,  Mooiplaas, Quoin Rock Winery, Chabivin, Klasiek by Catherine, Namaqua Wines, MC Square, Domaine des Dieux, Lourensford, Old Vines Wine Cellars, Neil Joubert, Teddy Hall, Welteverede Wine Estate, Charles Fox, Francois La Garde, Longridge, Silverthorn Wines, Genevieve, LovanE Boutique Wine Estate, Saltare Wines, Tanzanite Wines, Ros Gower Wines, Wonderfontein, Cederberg Private Cellar, Riebeek Cellars, Groot Constantia, Dieu Donné Vineyards, Roodezandt, Aurelia MCC, Bramon, Viljoensdrift Wines,  Sterhuis, Perdeberg Winery, Véraison MCC, and Allée Bleue Estate). 

The book describes four styles of making sparkling wines: the ‘impregnation method’ (injecting carbon dioxide into vats of still wine); the ‘tank method’ (second fermentation in tank instead of in the bottle); the ‘transfer method’ (second fermentation in bottles, the cloudy wine is sucked out of the bottle through a filter to remove the sediment); and ‘Méthode Cap Classique’ (second fermentation in the bottle, with a solution of sugar syrup, yeast and aged wine added to create carbon dioxide and alcohol in the bottle, aged on the lees for 18 months – 5 years).  In total, there are 90 sparkling wine producers in South Africa, of which 53 are featured in the book.  Grape cultivars used most often in the production of sparkling wines are Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.  Beautiful photographs by Riehan Bakkes reflect the vineyards, cellars, and products of the wine estates producing sparkling wines. 

Woolworths’ Allan Mullins recommends serving a glass of bubbly at the start of a function, to ‘awaken the taste buds’.  Food and Cap Classique pairings for breakfast, lunch and dinner are included in the book, and recipes by TASTE and Eat Out editor Abigail Donnelly are featured, as are recipes from Simonsig’s Cuvée restaurant, The Salmon Bar, David Grier, and Terra Mare Restaurant.  Pairings with Lindt chocolate desserts, and cheese are also featured, as are cocktail recipes with sparkling wine, created by the Cape Grace Hotel.

‘Celebrating Méthode Cape Classique’,  Stacked Publications, www.stackedpublications.co.za. Tel (021) 685-2146.   R300. 

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

Cuvée Restaurant opened on Simonsig wine estate nearly three years ago, and its interior curation by Neil Stemmet put him on the map, with its unusual marriage of old and new.  Cuvée Restaurant is a sparkling complement and compliment to the Simonsig Kaapse Vonkel, celebrating its 40th anniversary this year.

Simonsig is on the Kromme Rhee Road, one I had never previously driven, connecting the two roads to Stellenbosch via Klapmuts and Joostenberg.   There is ample parking, and one sees the modern oddly shaped posters within red frames outside the tasting room and restaurant entrance.  Dirk the waiter told me that Strijdom van der Merwe, co-owner of Casparus restaurant and nature artist, had prepared the curved large metal posters on the lawns outside to commemorate the 350th anniversary of winemaking in South Africa for Simonsig last year, a very modern statement for a long established wine estate owned by the Malan family. The late Frans Malan, with Spatz Sperling of Delheim and the late Neil Joubert of Spier, was one of the trio establishing the Stellenbosch Wine Route, which itself celebrates its 40th anniversary this year.  The Simonsig 210 hectare farm has been farmed by the Malan family for ten generations, and the late Frans Malan was a pioneer in creating the first Méthode Cap Classique, being their Kaapse Vonkel.  The Malan brothers Pieter (Marketing), Francois (CEO and Viticulturist), and Johan (Winemaker) run the farm.   In addition to the Kaapse Vonkel, there is a Kaapse Vonkel Brut Rosé, Cuvée Royale, and Encore Vin Sec. Other wines in the Simonsig range include Vin de Liza noble late harvest, Chenin avec Chéne, Chardonnay, Sunbird Sauvignon Blanc, Gewürztraminer, Chenin Blanc, Tiara Bordeaux blend, Frans Malan Cape blend, Redhill Pinotage, Merindol Syrah, Labyrinth Cabernet Sauvignon, Mr Borio’s Shiraz, Pinotage, Cabernet Sauvignon Shiraz, Shiraz Mouvèdre Viognier, Sauvignon Blanc Semillon, and Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot.

The tasting room and restaurant are design extremes, the tasting room being part of the historic building, with traditional sash windows, yet it has a modern crockery and sparkling wine glass chandelier made by Jacques Erasmus of Hemelhuijs, and Tord Boordje paper curtains, one of only three establishments to have these designer curtains in Stellenbosch!  The restaurant appears to be a building addition, with more modern architecture but with classic interior touches added by Stemmet.  The room is on two levels, the lower one having a very dominant thick black and white striped wallpaper, with black, brown and white striped curtains, modern crystal chandeliers, a riempiesbank hanging from the ceiling, a red painted wall, and glass doors facing the vineyard.  A massive fireplace ‘divides’ the room into two.  The higher level appears more modern, with a raw concrete ceiling, one wall painted in a deep grey, and another left in rough brick.  At the back end, or entrance to the restaurant, is a modern black bar counter, behind which the wines are stored across the length of a wall.  Above the bar counter are large ‘Fifties style black and silver round lights.  One wall has seating as benches against the wall, and there is a small lounge area. The tables are black stained wood with glass tops.  There is a large Persian carpet in each of the sections, adding a homely touch.  Contrasting the more modern furniture is the traditional yellowood and stinkwood heritage furniture, such as a bakkis, and an amoire.  Modern perspex lamps and shades are spread around the restaurant, and there are bold white leather pouffes near the fireplace.  An interesting Ikebana tree, with coloured silk wrapped around it, is a ‘small wishing tree’, Dirk explained. Classical music chosen by Stemmet rounded off the quality impression. I would have loved to walk through the restaurant with Stemmet, to hear the ‘story’ about his curation.

Each table has a ceramic vase with a red protea, with cutlery by Arthur Krupp, and a most impressive serviette which has a crown logo and 1971 date embroidered on it, to attract attention to the October 40th anniversary celebrations of the Cap Classique at Simonsig.  The bread knife is by WMF.  Three types of bread, beautifully folded into a serviette, were brought to the table.  Coarse salt and pepper were brought in small bowls, with a spoon.  Stemmet dictated the crockery and cutlery, and it reflects class.  Staff wear black T-shirts and trousers, with a black apron.  Dirk showed me the Van Niekerk Room upstairs, a special events function room for about 20 guests, which also has strong elements of black and white stripes, with red leather chairs around a large table.  Mr van Niekerk was the father-in-law of the late Frans Malan, whose family is now at the nearby Knorhoek, on which wine estate Stemmet did the interior curation for their Towerbosch restaurant.

I met the new chef Lucas Carstens, who had moved across from Reuben’s at the One&Only Cape Town at the begining  of the month.  He has introduced some of his own dishes on the new menu, and kept other favourites.  He previously worked at Terroir restaurant and at the Kleine Zalze Lodge.  Dirk Smit, ex-Tuscany Beach, is the new Restaurant Manager, but was not on duty on Saturday.

The menu is A3 size on white board and well-presented, each item having a Simonsig wine suggestion. The Black pepper-seared tuna (R85/R140), with a Kaapse Vonkel pairing recommendation, is printed in gold, with the logo for the 40th Cap Classique celebration on it in gold too.  Starters and mains are not separated on the menu, as most dishes can be ordered as a starter or a main portion. Not listed on the menu, but offered was fresh oysters at R12,50 each.  I chose a starter portion of pan-fried kingklip, a smallish but very juicy thick piece of fish, served with asparagus (not specified on the menu and offered as a replacement for artichoke, but was served with artichoke too), braised fennel, slices of naartjie, and a most unusual citrus butter sauce.  With this was served an apple salad with a good dressing, not mentioned on the menu, making the R70 (R130 for full portion) charge good value.  Other interesting starter/main course options are Wild mushroom soup (45), Warm green bean and tomato salad (R50/R90), Tomato tartlet (R50/R90), Kleinrivier Gruyère soufflé (R85), Cape Malay butter chicken with Basmati rice (the restaurant smelt of this lovely curry when I arrived, and will be my first choice for my next visit, at R100), Grilled Mocambique prawns (R70/R140), Bobotie (R90), Joostenberg pork neck (R60/R110), Lamb shank (R140), Venison and wild mushrooms (R80/R150), and Flame-grilled beef fillet with Café de Paris sauce (R85/R160). I had the Valrhona  66% chocolate fondant with vanilla ice cream (substituted for a red wine and cherry ripple ice cream), baked in a white dish, and thick and creamy inside (R60).   Crème Brulée, pecan nut tart, malva pudding served with Amarula and rooibos ice cream, and White chocolate panna cotta cost between R45 – R55.  A South African cheeseboard with preserves sounded expensive at R150, but I did not see it to judge the price.

The winelist is a folded A3 board, listing only Simonsig wines.  Kaapse Vonkel, the Brut Rosé, and Encore Vin Sec cost R27/R135, a R45 surcharge on the bottle price in the Tasting Room.  I had a glass of the Brut Rosé, and it was a good match to the kingklip. Cuvée Royale costs R54/R270.  The Mr Borio Shiraz costs R18/R90, and the Merindol Syrah R66/R330.  No vintages are listed for the wines, but the Platter star rating and awards won are denoted.

I almost felt sorry for Cuvée that such an excellent restaurant is so hidden away in the Winelands.  It has a dramatic ‘Cape Dutch modernism’ interior, excellent food, and stands for quality in everything that it does, much like its excellent sparkling wines.  I will go back, now that I know where it is.

Cuvée Restaurant, Simonsig, Kromme Rhee Rhee Road, between R44 and R304, Stellenbosch.  Tel (021) 888-4900.  www.simonsig.co.za  (The website contains the menu and winelist, but still has details of the previous chef.  Few of the many photographs in the Image Gallery are of the food).  Tuesday – Sunday lunch, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday dinner.

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

The pioneering Stellenbosch Wine Route, founded in 1971 by winemakers Frans Malan of Simonsig, Neil Joubert of Spier, and Spatz Sperling of Delheim, celebrates its 40th anniversary with an extensive wine and food feast and fest from 28 – 31 July.  The Route has established itself not only as one with the largest number of outstanding wine farms of the 18 wine routes in the country, representing 18% of all vines planted in South Africa, but also with the largest collection of outstanding restaurants in South Africa, Stellenbosch now wearing the Gourmet Capital crown.

The trio which established the Stellenbosch Wine Route was inspired by the wine route Routes de Vins at Morey St Denis in Burgundy, the late Frans Malan and Neil Joubert returning from their 1969 trip and connecting with Spatz Sperling to establish the Stellenbosch Wine Route, the first wine tourism activity in our country.  I was delighted to meet Spatz Sperling (who celebrated his 81st birthday last week) and his wife Vera, as well as daughter Nora and son Victor on their Delheim wine farm recently.  To create the Stellenbosch Wine Route, the founding wine farmers had to overcome red tape and bureaucracy, and even had to have wine legislation rewritten to accommodate the new Stellenbosch Wine Route.  Meals were not allowed to be served at wine estates, and bottled wine could not be sold from a winery in those days.

The renamed Stellenbosch American Express Wine Routes has 147 wine farms, making it the largest wine route in our country, but also is the only one to celebrate its assets with the Stellenbosch Wine Festival for the 10th year running.   Not focusing exclusively on wines, food has been added to the Festival.  Celebrity chefs from Towerbosch Earth Kitchen, The Restaurant @ Clos Malverne, The Restaurant at Waterkloof, and De Volkskombuis (the oldest restaurant in Stellenbosch) will be cooking in the Gourmet Lane at the Stellenbosch Wine Festival venue of Paul Roos Centre in Stellenbosch.  Presentations at the Clover Demo Kitchen will be done by outstanding photographer Russell Wasserfall with his wife Camilla on ‘Home Entertaining at its Best’ in conjunction with De Meye wines; by @KitchenVixen Bianca du Plessis, who reviews restaurants on the Expresso Show; by wine PRO Emile Joubert with wine writer Neil Pendock; by chef George Jardine of Jordan Restaurant with George Jardine on ‘Cheese if you Please’; and by Chef Greg Czarnecki of The Restaurant at Waterkloof, who celebrates the ‘French Connection’.

The Stellenbosch Wine Festival has been stretched out into the Stellenbosch Wine Week, which commenced on Friday, and continues until Sunday.  During the Stellenbosch Wine Week one can enjoy dinner with the Warwick family, a fundraising concert at Delheim, vertical tastings of Simonsig’s Kaapse Vonkel, vintage tastings of Scintilla Cap Classiques at the House of JC le Roux, a salt pairing with Fleur du Cap wines by Sofia chef Craig Cormack, a food and wine pairing dinner at Neethlingshof with Katinka van Niekerk, paired venison carpaccio with Vergenoegd wines, blend and bottle one’s own Cape Blend at Clos Malverene, enjoy free winetastings in the Waterkloof Tasting Room, vertical tasting of Kanonkop wines followed by a snoek braai, vintage and barrel tastings of Jan Boland Coetzee’s Vriesenhof wines, tasting with David Trafford of his De Trafford wines, taste rare Cabernet Sauvignon vintages at Le Riche, wine and venison pairing at Middelvlei, picnics at Chabivin with Champagnes and Cap Classique tastings, art-house films screened at Le Bonheur, ‘Dine and 30 Seconds’ dinners at Uitkyk, and participate in a chipping competition at Ernie Els Wines,

A new feature of the Stellenbosch Wine Festival will be a MCC Lounge, in which Simonsig Estate, which created South Africa’s first Méthode Cap Classique Kaapse Vonkel, Villiera, Mooiplaas, Longridge, Spier, and Pongrácz will be presenting their MCC’s, paired with oysters and other delicacies.

We wrote last year that the Stellenbosch Wine Route should create the Stellenbosch Restaurant Route, and while they have not yet done so, we have created it on this Blog nevertheless, and in honour of the cuisine excellence in Stellenbosch, list from it the restaurants on wine farms in Stellenbosch:

Rust en Vrede – named the best restaurant in the country in 2010 by Eat Out, a slick operation, previously with talented chef David Higgs, on the Rust en Vrede wine estate.  Featured on the Eat Out Top 10 list 2009, and 2010, number 74 on 50 Best Restaurants in the World 2010 list, and Top vineyard restaurant of 2010 Great Wine Capitals in the World – read the review here.  Tel (021) 881-3881

*   Overture – Chef Bertus Basson is a hard-working re-inventor of his menu and operation, always looking to improve.   On the Eat Out Top 10 restaurant list for 2009 and 2010.  Fantastic views from the location on the Hidden Valley wine estate – read the review here.  Tel (021) 880-2721

*   Terroir is a perennial on the Eat Out Top 10 list, with Chef Michael Broughton.  The outside seating on the De Kleine Zalze wine and golf estate is great for a warm day.  Tel (021) 880-8167

*   Delaire at Delaire Graff –  no money was spared in building and decorating this restaurant and winery building, and it houses a most impressive art collection.   Chef Christian Campbell is doing outstanding work and good service. Read our review here.  Tel (021) 885-8160

*   Indochine at Delaire Graff- is relatively less opulent in its interior design compared to its sister restaurant.   Young chef Jonathan Heath is a star to watch, and his Asian fusion menu is sure to attract the attention of the Eat Out Top 10 judges.   He explains the menu, and the dishes when he serves them personally.  Read our review. Tel (021) 885-8160

*   Jordan Restaurant with George Jardine –  a mouthful of a brand name but also a mouthful in value and excellent quality. Set at the end of a long road, on the Jordan wine estate, it overlooks a big pond and the beautiful Stellenbosch mountains in the far distance, teeming with birdlife.  Interior functional.  Most beautiful and unique ”bread” plate ever seen.   Read the review.  Tel (021) 881-3612

*   The Long Table Restaurant and Cafe – set at the end of a long road up a hill, above Rust en Vrede, on the Haskell Vineyards (marketers of Haskell and Dombeya wines), the food of Chef Corli Els is a wonderful surprise.  The restaurant interior and waiter service do not match the excellence of her food or the quality of the Haskell wines. The Papaya and Avo salad stands out as one of the special treats.   Read the Review. Tel (021) 881-3746

*   Warwick wine estate – owner Mike Ratcliffe is a good marketer, and his gourmet picnics are a great hit in summer.  Winter Tapas menu – read the picnic review here.  Tel (021) 884-3144

*   Tokara DeliCATessen – has a buffet lunch too, very large restaurant space combined with a deli, but service poor and food quality average – read the review here.   Tel (021) 808-5950

*   Eight at Spier – the menu was designed by Judy Badenhorst, ex-River Cafe, now running the Casa Labia Cafe in Muizenberg. Tel (021) 809-1188

Wild Peacock Food Emporium on Piet Retief Street – belongs to Sue Baker and is managed by ex-Rust en Vrede front of house manager and daughter Sarah, selling deli items, a range of cold meats, imported French and local cheese, fresh breads, and has a sit-down menu as well. Wine shop to come. Tel 082 697 0870

Pane E Vino – this food and wine bar is hidden to those who do not come to Bosman’s Crossing.  Owned by Elena Dalla Cia, husband George and father-in-law Giorgio do wine and grappa tastings in the restaurant too.  Good Italian fare. Tel (021) 883-8312

*   Bodega @Dornier – Tel (021) 880-0557

*   Cuvee Restaurant, Simonsig – interesting modernist Cape Dutch interior curation by Neil Stemmet. Impressive quality food, tableware, stemware, napery, and service.  Tel (021) 888-4932

*   Tokara – Etienne Bonthuys has left Tokara to open Casparus on Dorp Street, and Richard Carstens has stepped into the kitchen, cooking up a storm as South Africa’s Ferran Adria of El Bulli fame. Read the review. Tel (021) 808-5959.

*   Towerbosch Earth Kitchen on the Knorhoek wine estate, designed by Neil Stemmet. Lovely fairy-like setting, fantastic Boerekos feast served in bowls rather than dishing up per plate.  Read the review. Tel (021) 865-2114.

*   Johan’s at Longridge is a refreshing new restaurant on LongridgeWinery, with a focus on fresh vegetables from its large vegetable garden alongside the restaurant.  Co-owner Chef Johan comes from a Michelin two-star restaurant in Holland, as does Chef Marissa.  Attentive service led by Chris Olivier, excellent food, great wines.  Read the review.   Tel (021) 855-2004

*   Delheim restaurant – read about the visit during the Delheim Nouvelle Mushroom Week earlier this month.  Tel (021) 888-4600

*   The Table at De Meye opened in September, and won the Eat Out Best Country-Style Award in November.  It is only open for Friday. Saturday and Sunday lunches.

Stellenbosch Wine Festival, 28 – 31 July.  Paul Roos Centre, Stellenbosch. Tel (021) 886-4310.    www.stellenboschwinefestival.co.za. Book www.webtickets.co.za.  Entry R120 on-line, R140 at door.  R350 for a pass for entry over the whole period of the Stellenbosch Wine Festival.

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