Tag Archives: Monis

Nederburg Rare South African Wine Auction 2015 raises R6,2 million, very stylish event!

imageThe 41st Nederburg Rare South African Wine Auction raised a record R6,2 million over the past two days, in what is one of the highlights of the wine industry events calendar. A total of 67 wineries, four being new (Anura, Axe Hill, Bloemendal, Pella) this year, participated in the Auction.

The second highest average price per liter was achieved this year, says Nederburg Auction Manager Dalene Steyn. The trend of last year to achieving premium price continued this year, the largest number of private buyers ever creating strong competitive bidding, with an average price per liter of R576. Record price per liter was achieved for the Fortified, Cap Classique, Port, and Dry White wine categories. UK wine judge Tim Atkin said that our local wines are still undervalued, especially Continue reading →

WhaleTales Tourism, Food, and Wine news headline : 29 July

imageTourism, Food, and Wine news headlines 

* The Tourism Business Council of South Africa has emailed accommodation establishments that amendments made. to the Immigration Act 13 of 2002 last year requires of hotels, motels, boarding houses, lodges, guest houses, and apartment buildings to keep a register of their guests, take a copy of their ID or passport (none of them do), and take the residential address details. Failure to do so may result in a fine and/or imprisonment of up to 12 months! Interesting is that B&Bs are not included in the list, and that Airbnb is excluded, being accommodation in private homes and apartments in the main!

*   Cape Wine 2015 will include a number of seminars on topics as Continue reading →

Eat Out Top 10 Restaurant Awards 2014: Best event ever, some highs, some shocks!

Eat Out magazine cover Whale Cottage PortfolioAfter two disastrous years, New Media Publishing was brave enough to take stock earlier this year, and asked the industry what it wanted in the Eat Out Top 10 Restaurant Awards.  Last night that hard work paid off, with a new venue for the event, a slick and short presentation, new Awards introduced, and three new restaurants making the Top 10 Restaurant list.  The surprise was the emotion which the chefs expressed when receiving their plaques, challenging MasterChef SA Season 2 on tears!

We were one of the interviewees, meeting with Eat Out editor Abigail Donnelly, its GM Aileen Lamb, MD Bridget McCarney, and Director Irna van Zyl.  We were forthright in our feedback and suggestions, including that a team of judges would be needed again (we suggested Garth Stroebel, and have yet to meet him!). We fed back that the preferential relationship with Luke Dale-Roberts in TASTE magazine (also published by New Media Publishing, and of which Abigail is the Food Editor) was unfair towards all other chefs, by featuring him every month – we were told that Woolworths had a contract with him, and therefore he received the coverage in the magazine.  This contract was terminated earlier this year, which is excellent news.  Other recommendations can be read here.  Flowing from the interviews and discussions with previous Top 20 chefs and restaurant managers, owners, and suppliers, as well as media representatives and bloggers, New Media Publishing allowed restaurants to apply to be included in the Eat Out Top 500 Restaurant List, which was selected by a Continue reading →

WhaleTales Tourism, Food, and Wine news headlines: 7/8 September

WhaleTalesTourism, Food, and Wine news headlines

*   The first ever Canadian Braai Day will be held in Toronto on 21 September, to celebrate our South African heritage and wine culture, sponsored by Two Oceans and Nederburg wines.

*   The 2013 Champagne vintage could become as good as the legendary 1996, early analyses indicate.

*   The Northern Cape is the province with the second highest revenue derived from Hunting Tourism, earning it R 398 million per year, with a strong interest from Spanish, Danish, and American hunters.

*   ‘Sell stories, don’t sell wine‘ said 1WineDude American blogger Joe Roberts in his keynote address at the Nederburg Wine Continue reading →

Restaurant Review: The Odyssey Gastropub – something old, something new!

The Odyssey interior Whale Cottage PortfolioWhen Anne Myers invited me to lunch, and asked me to choose a venue in town, I recommended The Odyssey, which I had eaten at about a month ago when Cape Legends hosted a function for its Monis brand, just after the restaurant had re-opened with a new name and new menu, having previously been French Toast Wine & Tapas Bar.  It felt familiar, as the restaurant has retained the furniture,  minimal interior changes having been made, yet it is lively and new, with a new chef and new menu, no longer just serving tapas in this first local Gastropub.

The staff are youngish and friendly, even indulging our request for the volume of the music to be toned down so that we could hear each other speak. Matt Cowan is the Manager, who was promoted from waiter at Blues, the ‘parent’ restaurant, and has a marketing background, which he applies to the restaurant too.  We discussed the surprise news that they are using Spill blog as their ‘PR company‘, and there appears to be some tension already, the relationship not appearing to have got off the ground yet.  The biggest surprise of all was the charm ofThe Odyssey Chef Lapo Magni Whale Cottage Portfolio Chef Lapo Magni, who has also moved across from Blues, and is a cousin of Lorenzo Magni, the GM of the new restaurant.  Lapo has been in the country for four years, having left his home city Florence to help out at Blues, and he has just stayed on. He is on a high, having just won the Italian RAI TV La Terra dei Cuochi award for best fledgling chef, with a substantial prize tag.  His mother runs a cookery school, and encouraged him to enter the TV cooking competition in Rome.  It was her chicken liver paté recipe that won him the competition. He is focused on sustainable sourcing, and their goal is to obtain produce within a 100 km radius, where feasible.  Warthog is excluded, for example, it coming from the Botswana border, but is something Italians love, and it offers him the opportunity to serve it as a stew with wild berries, or as sausages, he said, also sourcing desert-fed lamb.  Continue reading →

Monis sherries and port good fortification against the winter cold, yet good for summer drinks too!

On Friday a number of writers was invited by De Kock Communications to attend a tasting of Monis sherries, muscadel, and port, on behalf of its client Cape Legends, the Fine Wine Division in Distell.  The fortified wine tasting was conducted at the newly opened The Odyssey, previously the French Toast Wine & Tapas Bar, and demonstrated the versatility of the fortified wines in their pairing with foods, and in the use of cocktails.

Marketing Director Ross Sleet (below right) said that sherry is making a come back. He also said that chefs have been cooking with sherry for years.  It is a wine to be enjoyed and should not sit in the kitchen cupboard!  Monis Fino, an extra-dry sherry, is to be re-introduced.  The versatility of the Monis products was demonstrated with the welcome drink, being a refreshing Monis Muscadel on crushed ice.  During the meal three cocktail options were offered, made with Monis products too: Mojito, Cosmo, and Sex on the Beach!

Monis had its early beginnings in Paarl in 1906, when Robert Monis founded Italian Warehouse, importing Italian products and making wines locally, changing the name of the company to Monis Wineries Enterprise Ltd in 1921, according to wine.co.za. The company was bought by Distell in 1966.

Chris de Klerk, a Cape Wine Master and a Wine Ambassador from Cape Legends’ Johannesburg office (left), was flown to Cape Town to lead the tasting, and did an interactive tasting of the Monis products, and then paired them with different food types, to demonstrate the versatility of the pairing options. Chris explained that fortified wines are oxidised, given them the darker colours and their richness. Sherry is the boldest of the fortified wines, he said, and is served as a double tot due to its alcohol content. The Monis range is not endorsed by Weighless, Chris quipped, talking about their sugar content.  While the origin of port is Oporto in Portugal, it is the French who drink the most port in the world, serving it as an aperitif before a meal, making one’s guests happy and hungry quickly due to the quick absorption of the alcohol through the mouth and stomach. Sherry should be served ice cold, not known to most of its drinkers.  Chris explained that it is not allowed to label new ‘sherry’ and ‘port‘ bottles any more, according to a 1936 ‘Crayfish Agreement’ between our country and the European Union, which prohibited South African sparkling wine from being called ‘champagne‘, and also prohibited the use of the words ‘Bordeaux’ and ‘Chateau‘.  Existing packs carrying the sherry and port names were labeled before 2012, and those that are sold into non-EU countries may carry them too.  So the Full Cream bottle just has the brand name and the ‘Full Cream’ descriptor, followed by an almost unreadable ‘Traditional Flor Method’, without the word ‘sherry’ on the label. ‘Flor’ refers to the unique yeast which is used to make sherry, and gives the sherries a unique flavour. Monis makes their sherries in the style of those from Jerez de la Frontera in Spain. The port bottle is described as ‘Cape Vintage’.

We tasted the four Monis products on their own, and then again, paired with four distinctive food types felt to pair well with them, the sherries all made from 100% Chenin Blanc:

*   Monis Pale Dry sherry: Notes of apricot, wood, vanilla and salt. When paired with a very spicy chorizo, our tasting table felt it tasted less good (sugar level 18g per litre). Can be served with seafood too.

*   Monis Medium Cream sherry:  this wine was described as being a bit more shy, with more caramel and Christmas cake flavours (sugar level 95g per litre).  The pairing with a creamy camembert was superb, the best pairing of the four, the cheese toning down the sweetness of the sherry.  It would also go well with a soup, sauces, stews, spicy food, and creamy cheeses, or with cakes and sandwiches at a High Tea.  We serve this as our welcome drink to our Whale Cottage guests in winter.

*   Monis Vintage Port:  this was described by Chris as ‘red wine on steroids’ (sugar level 90g per litre)! Berry flavours dominate. There is an upsurge in sales of vintage port, despite it causing gout in some. It has good balance, is not filtered, and ages well in the bottle, for up to 20 years.  This year’s Nederburg Auction will include a 1948 Monis port at a sugar level of 90, which is the Portuguese norm.  It has an illusion of greater sweetness, but is less sweet than the Medium Cream sherry.  Good pairing with Gorgonzola, green fig preserve, and chocolates. Monis’ Port is made from Touriga Naçional, Souzão, and Tinta Roriz grapes from Calitzdorp.

*   Monis Full Cream sherry:  Notes of sultana, caramel (sugar level 128g per litre). The pairing with malva pudding was well received at our table, matching the sugar content of the dessert.

After the tasting the restaurant brought out a tasty starter platter of ham wrapped bread sticks, chicken liver paté bites, olives, crumbed mushroom risotto balls, and sweet potato, beetroot and Parmigiano wrapped in beef, with a separate container of very salty prawns, being mezes from the restaurant’s ‘nibble menu’, Chef Lorenzo Magni said. Most of us ordered the slow roasted pork belly with spinach flan, and apple purée, with a few mutters from the table, about sand in the spinach and string on the pork not having been removed.  The dessert platter was a collection of vanilla custard profiteroles, chocolate brownies, and strawberry vodka (a surprise) sorbet.  All the food was paired with the sherry-based cocktails.

Chef Lorenzo, previously running the Blues kitchen (the owners of Blues are the owners of The Odyssey), came to our table afterwards to apologise, stressing that they had only be open for two weeks, and that the Monis function had been pre-booked with the previous owners. He told us that they added sunscreens to the windows, and repainted the interior green, not much else about the interior having been changed. No signage is outside the building yet.  We were very surprised to hear that Clare (Mack) McKeon McLoughlin of Spill blog is the restaurant’s PR consultant for the next three months!

POSTSCRIPT 10/6: We have received a Comment from Francois, pointing out that the information supplied by Chris de Klerk as to the naming of ‘sherry’ and ‘port’ is incorrect, in going back to an EU agreement of 2002, and not to the ‘Crayfish Agreement’. The words ‘Ruby’, ‘Vintage’, and ‘Tawny’ may be used to describe port wines.

Disclosure: We received a bottle of Monis Full Cream sherry with our media pack.

Monis, Cape Legends. Tel (021) 809-7000.  www.moniswines.co.za Retail prices: R60 for the sherries, R80 for the port.

The Odyssey,  199 Bree Street, Cape Town.  Tel (021) 422-4084.  No website yet.  Twitter: @TheOdysseyZA

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

Pierneef à La Motte introduces fine Winelands Tea treat!

Pierneef à La Motte is one of the Winelands top restaurants, with its extensive vegetable and herb garden, its Executive Chef Chris Erasmus having recently done a stage at the world’s number one restaurant Noma in Copenhagen, has a chef from leading Dutch restaurant Specktafel working with them until the end of December, and has made the Eat Out Top 10 Restaurants Finalist list two years running in its two year history.  Now it has introduced a fine Winelands Tea.

I had seen a sample tray of the Tea treats on a previous visit, and was told then that the Tea was still in its test phase.  Now it has been introduced, and one can sit under the oak trees, or in the side section of the restaurant, to enjoy the Winelands Tea.  I probably was the first customer to order the Tea, and some of the information was not readily available, but the Manager Inge Naude brought extra notes about the teas and asked the Culinary Manager Hetta van Deventer-Terblanche, and I was able to interview the Sous and Pastry Chef Michelle Theron, for further information.

A tray with glass jars of confiture, including watermelon preserve, fig preserve, and honey, was brought to the table, either for adding to the tea, or to one’s sweet or savoury treats.

Inge brought a beautiful presentation box of eight TWG (The Wellness Group) teas to the table, and opened one sachet to show me the cotton bag in which the chunks of caramel and tea leaves are contained. It had a good-enough-to-eat aroma.  She told me that the company is from Singapore, linking back to the Spice Route between the East and Holland via the Cape, and is deemed to be one of the best tea suppliers, according to their research.  They advise that one drink the tea ‘neat’, without adding milk and sugar, to get the best aroma of the tea.  Inge said the water should be boiled at 95°C, and that one should add the tea bag to the water, letting it draw for 2 – 15 minutes. The tea is served in crockery made by Ellalou O’Meara especially for La Motte.  One has a number of other options to drink other than the tea, but Inge emphasised that the La Motte experience is more about the tea than it is about the food. I ordered a cappuccino, but could have substituted it for a number of other options too, including the home-made La Motte fruit cordial, ‘soet sopies’ such as L’Omarins Port, Slanghoek or Graham Beck Muscadel, Monis Sherry, Slanghoek Hanepoot, Pepperment or Van der Hum Liqueur, or Amarula.  A R20 surcharge allows one to have a glass of Vin de Constance or La Motte MCC.

Chef Michelle explained each dish in great detail, giving it a greater appetite appeal, relative to the very scant description in the Tea menu. The Buckwheat Blini is based on a blini recipe in their Cape Winelands Cuisine’ cook book, and was described as a ‘Blini Cake’ by Chef Michelle, layered with salmon, cream cheese and biltong, and a curried apple and peach chutney made to a recipe of Chef Chris’ mother. It was topped with poppy seed and dried capers, and at its back with chopped chives, and was the most unique item.  The menu called this lovely creation a ‘smoked salmon pancake with cream cheese’. A ‘Biltong Soes’ choux pastry contained a cheese and biltong filling too, topped with a slice of their own home-made biltong, from beef which comes from the Weltevrede farm near Kokstad.  The Truffle of the day was a Brandy Valrhona, and could be alternated with peanut mousse, milk tart, or a rose Turkish delight.  The Macaroon was a hazelnut and chocolate one, and alternatives are nougat, rose, lavender, thyme, and lemon.  The Tea Cake had layers of chocolate mousse, with a chocolate butter frosting.   One has a choice of one of three Tea Cakes daily.  Chef Michelle said that she is an ‘all-rounder chef’, responsible for pastries too,  even though officially she is the Sous Chef.

The Pierneef à La Motte Winelands Tea is expensive, especially if one does not have a TWG tea with it, being an expensive part of the offering.  The food treats should be described in greater detail in the Tea Menu, to explain how special they are.  The product knowledge of the staff about the Winelands Tea is not yet perfect.

Winelands Tea,  Pierneef à La Motte, La Motte, R45, Franschhoek.  Tel (021) 876-8000.  www.la-motte.com Twitter: @PierneefLaMotte  R125 per head.  Tuesday – Sunday 10h00 – 16h30.

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

Eat @ Altydgedacht good country food at historic wine estate on Durbanville Wine Route!

Living on the Atlantic Seaboard, I do not get out to Durbanville very often.  Errieda du Toit, PR consultant for the Durbanville Wine Route, is determined to change that, and invited me to visit Altydgedacht, the second oldest wine estate (after De Grendel) on the Durbanville Wine Route (then called Tygerberg, having been handed over to the first owner Elsje van Suurwaarde in 1698 by the Dutch East India Company) last Thursday. The wine estate has been owned by the Parker family for the last 160 years, and its rustic Eat @ Altydgedacht restaurant was named one of the Top 10 Winelands restaurants by Wine Tourism SA last month, published in Oprah magazine.

Bubbly restaurant owner Sharon Kriel showed us the original cellar at Altydgedacht, which is used for seating for her restaurant when it is cold outside, decorated with fairy lights and the original wine vats, which are over 100 years old. She showed us the plans which have just had drawn up, to show how the cellar grew from the original 1702 building to its current shape, last added onto in 1941.  Using a Bedouin canopy, Sharon has increased the size of her popular restaurant, which she started at Altydgedacht in 2009, and on good weather days one can sit outside at wooden tables and those made from wine barrels, or even on a blanket on the lawn, in picnic style.  The restaurant can seat 95 guests.

The Parker family is the fifth generation to own the farm, and its matriarch Jean Parker is a character at 87 years, I was told. Her sons John and Ollo run the farm, John being the Viticulturist, and Ollo the Cellarmaster, working with their winemaker Etienne Louw. It was a stop in Cape Town of the ship carrying the Parker forbears to Australia that made 13 year old Ralph Parker stay behind, find a job as an apprentice with Mr Chiappini, after whom a city centre street is named, marry his daughter, and buy Altydgedacht a few years later.  The history of the farm and of the Parker family is captured in the very rustic tasting room, which has a very old workbench, in which historical farm tools are still to be found in its drawers, and on which the Altydgedacht wines are displayed.  The Tasting Room has a wall with some of the original ‘koffieklip‘ from which the walls were built still showing.  The farm is 415 hectares in size, of which 180 ha is under vineyards and 30 ha is dedicated to a Fynbos and Renosterveld reserve. The farm was managed by Jean Parker when her husband died at the age of 29 after a shooting accident, with the help of their long-standing farm manager Hennie Heydenrych. John and Ollo both went to the University of Stellenbosch to study wine management and winemaking, respectively, and both worked on wine estates in California. Ollo also spent time in New Zealand and in Australia. Their initial grape production of 500 tons, from which the wine made was sold to the Castle Wine & Brandy Company and to Monis, for the production of fortified wines. When Distell set up Nederburg, incorporating Monis, in the ‘Sixties, they bought grapes from Altydgedacht, and the farm stopped making wines. In 1980 Altydgedacht was registered as a wine estate, and they started making their first red wine a year later, called Tintoretto, a blend of Pinotage, Shiraz, Barbera, and Cabernet Sauvignon. In 1985 they bottled the first wines, including the Tintoretto, a Cabernet Sauvignon, Chenin Blanc, and Bukettraube.  Their grape planting increased to 1700 tons (now reduced down to 1400 tons) of which they bottle 10% and sell the remainder of the grapes to Nederburg.  The farm produces 14 grape varieties for winemaking and two table grape varieties.  The current Altydgedacht wine range includes:

*   Sauvignon Blanc (R60)

*   Gewürztraminer (made in the French Alsace style, R60)

*   The Ollo (blend of Chenin Blanc, Semillon, Chardonnay, Viognier, R75)

*   Rosé (made from Cabernet Franc, R35)

*   MCC (made in 2008 for the first time, and now in 2012, R100)

*   Semillon Noble Late Harvest (R65 for 375 ml)

*   Merlot (R75)

*   Shiraz (R75)

*   Cabernet Sauvignon (R75)

*   Pinotage (their flagship, having made ABSA Top 10 in 2008 and 2009, R85)

*   Tintoretto (R125)

*   Barbera (R95)

*   Ralph Parker Cabernet Sauvignon (wine with a more pronounceable name for export).

*   Dry Red (R35)

It was explained that the Durbanville area is very suitable for grape production for winemaking, as the air cools down at night, coming off the Atlantic Ocean 15 km away after the hot summer days, which prolongs the ripening process. Durbanville is the reigning Terroir Award holder for fine red wines.  The eleven farms on the Durbanville wine route work well together, and ‘speak as one voice’, but are in healthy competition with each other.  Etienne said that winemaking should be ‘analog from the vineyards’, in that the more one leaves the wines alone, the better the wine that is made.

Sharon has no idea when Wine Tourism SA came to evaluate the lunch, to award it the listing in the Top 10 Winelands Restaurant list (alongside Babylonstoren, Jonkershuis, Jordan Restaurant, South Hill, Creation, The Kitchen at Maison, Black Oyster Catcher, Mulderbosch, and The Stone Kitchen).

Sharon brought us the soup of the day, which was a roast red pepper cream soup with basil pesto. Sharon explained that her menu is small, focusing on quality rather than quantity.  Platters are available, which one can make up by marking the elements one wishes to eat on the menu, including bread slices, cheeses, dips, olives, preserves, cold meats, and salads, or one can order prepared platters of cheese (R110), ‘Eat at the Farm Platter‘ for two persons (R175), and a Meze Platter (R60).

For the main course I ordered the Chicken Pot Pie (R85), the restaurant’s signature dish, which contains chicken, mushrooms, and carrots in a creamy sauce, topped with puff pastry, and served with delicious potatoes wedges ‘like my mom used to make‘  Sharon said, and a vegetable mix. Sharon is very good at including the Altydgedacht wines into her dishes, so her Pot Pie of the Day last Thursday was a Pinotage Steak one.  Her Barbera Burger has the Italian-style wine included in the beef patty (R75).  Her Bacon Quiche (R62) is the favourite of Ollo and Etienne.  Salmon on Rye with dried capers and dill cream cheese (R80), and two pasta dishes (R62 and R80) are also available. For dessert three of us shared the baked cheesecake, chocolate brownie, and apple pie, all generously served with ice cream, each costing only R30. Sharon emphasised that they subscribe to the Slow Food movement, preparing all food fresh, on order, so it takes a little longer to receive one’s order.

Eat @ Altydgedacht offers extremely friendly service and good value home-cooked meals on a wine estate that marries longstanding traditions and modern methods to create wines of quality and character.

Disclosure: I received a gift pack of Altydgedacht wines.

Eat @ Altydgedacht, Altydgedacht wine estate, Durbanville.  Tel (021) 975-7815. www.altydgedacht.co.za Twitter: @EatAltydgedacht  Monday – Saturday Breakfast and Lunch.

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