Last night I attended the launch of the ‘Platter’s by Diners Club International 2019 South African Wine Guide’ at the Table Bay Hotel. It was an evening of some surprises, and new awards presented! But one thing was consistent – the Mullineux duo of Chris and Andrea lead this country in its consistent wine award performance, winning Winery of the Year for the third time in the 39 year history of the Platter’s Guide. Continue reading →
The competition catered for wines, beers, and ciders, entered by large, small and Continue reading →
On Thursday afternoon we were invited to attend the annual presentation of the results of the fourth Christian Eedes Cabernet Sauvignon Report, held at Burrata at an unusual 15h30 start time. Thirteen wines were scored at 90 or more points out of 100, and Waterford Cabernet Sauvignon 2012 was rated the top, out of 60 invited entries.
We were welcomed with a glass of water, and jokingly Christian Eedes opened the proceedings with an explanation for the tableclothless tables, the water we were served, and the pizzas to come. His former sponsor Sanlam had dropped him, he explained, and hence the austerity of the Continue reading →
* Uber has announced its contribution to the advancement of business opportunities for women, in collaboration with the United Nations, committing to creating 1 million jobs for women drivers around the world by 2020. (received via media release from Uber)
* The Western Cape Government has announced an internet competition to the value of R12000, in two categories. The Internet Innovation category seeks ideas from residents as to how the internet can improve the social and economic benefits in their neighbourhood, with a R10000 prize. The second is the ‘How the internet has improved my business‘ category, with a R2000 prize. Western Cape Minister of Economic Opportunities Alan Winde said: Continue reading →
The 2015 Platter’s Wine Guide was launched at the Belmond Mount Nelson Hotel last night, in a Beaujolais Ferment colour, with a number of changes in terms of its methodology to evaluate the 5 star wines, as well as in the content of the Wine Guide. Out of 6000 wines submitted for evaluation, a total of 50 wines and one brandy received the highly desired 5 star rating. The Platter’s Winery of the Year is Sadie Family Wines, the second time that Eben Sadie has received this accolade. DeMorgenzon Reserve Chardonnay 2013 was named the White Wine of the Year, and De Trafford Blueprint Syrah 2012 was named the Red Wine of the Year.
The first Platter’s change is that JP Rossouw has been the new publisher for the past year, looking confident last night, relative to his first more restrained presentation a year ago. It was nice to see former publisher Andrew McDowell Continue reading →
* The Penny Ferry is to be reintroduced in the V&A Waterfront on 1 November, connecting the main shopping centre side to the more commercial and business side at the Clocktower. The ride will cost R5. The ferry stopped opening in 1997 when the swing bridge was constructed. The Penny Ferry service was officially relaunched by Tourism Minister Derek Hanekom earlier this week.
* The judging for the 2014 Diners Club Winemaker of the Year has been completed, and the winners of the 34th annual competition will be announced next month. In evaluating the nominees, it was ‘the heart and soul of the winemakers that stood out strongly‘, dominating the quality of the wines they made. The Winemaker of the Year entered in this year’s theme category of White Blends, while the Young Winemaker of the Year was evaluated on any red wine. Judges included Dave Hughes (panel chairman), Beatriz Machado from Portugal, retailer Carrie Adams, Nomonde Kubheka (wine judge and educator), Christine Rudman (wine judge), Colin Frith (GM of Hazendal), and Margaret Fry (Director of Cape Wine Academy). (received via media release from African Sky Media)
* MailOnline has written a flattering article about Franschhoek in the main, entitled ‘Touring South Africa… one sip at a time. Discover a wine taster’s paradise on a trip to Cape Town and Franschhoek‘. The writer shares her experience on the hop-on hop-off Franschhoek Wine Tram, sampling the wines of Mont Rochelle, La Couronne, and Môreson, eating at The Tasting Room, lunching at La Petite Ferme, and visiting Delaire Graff with its diamond boutique and Tretchikoff’s ‘Chinese Girl‘ (which she defines as being in Franschhoek too!). In Cape Town she stayed at both the Cape Grace and Twelve Apostles Hotel & Spa, went up Table Mountain and to Robben Island, lunched at Baia in the V&A Waterfront, had afternoon tea at the Mount Nelson, bought art at Ebony, and dined at The Pot Luck Club.
* The Top 12 Shiraz wines have been announced in the 2014 Shiraz Challenge, organised by Shiraz SA, an association which promotes the image of our local Shiraz, and its blending potential. A total of 191 Shiraz wines was evaluated, and the process audited. The Top 12 Shiraz list is Black Elephant Vintners Amistad Syrah 2012, Boschkloof Louis 57 Syrah 2012 and its Syrah 2012, Continue reading →
Earlier this week Christian Eedes presented the results of his third annual Christian Eedes Cabernet Sauvignon Report, sponsored by Sanlam Private Investments, at a lunch-time function held at Burrata. A number of the Top 10 winemakers have collected Top 10 awards in the past three years, reflecting the consistency of the results for South Africa’s second largest varietal. Eight of the Top 10 Cabernet Sauvignon winners are from Stellenbosch this year.
Eedes explained that sixty Cabernet Sauvignon producers were invited, on the basis of their performance in Platter’s, at Veritas, and other wine awards, to submit their wines for evaluation for his Top 10 Cabernet Sauvignon Report. Roland Peens and James Pietersen, both from Wine Cellar (James was formerly with Belthazar) were his fellow judges, as has been the case in the first two years. The standard is higher every year, Eedes said, making it more difficult to judge than before. He thanked Social Media writers for assisting him in spreading the results of his Reports. Continue reading →
On Tuesday I attended the Chenin Blanc Association Winter Showcase at Delaire Graff Estate, and was reminded by the association chairman Ken Forrester, a passionate champion for the varietal, that Chenin Blanc’s unique attributes are that it comes in a diversity of styles, and that it is the wine that can be paired with the largest range of foods.
Six months ago I had attended a first such Chenin Blanc Summer Showcase at the One&Only Cape Town, which focused on the full spectrum of Chenin Blanc styles, both light and fruity, and rich and fuller. The association has classified chenin blanc styles on the basis of residual sugar:
* fresh and fruity (less than 9g/litre)
* rich and ripe – unwooded (less than 9g/litre)
* rich and ripe – wooded (less than 9g/litre)
* rich and ripe – slightly sweet (9 – 30g/litre)
* sweet (30+g/litre)
* sparkling (tank fermented or Cap Classique)
Interesting consumer research was presented at the previous Showcase, highlighting that our country’s largest grape variety is not well known at all by local wine drinkers. The Chenin Blanc Association is focusing on changing the low level of awareness about the varietal, in hosting bi-annual showcases of Chenin Blancs which are more suitable to drink in summer (light, fresh and fruity), and those that are better suited to winter (rich and fuller). Another goal the association has is to see more restaurant wine lists feature a Chenin Blanc category with a number of different options, instead of this varietal being lumped into an ‘Other/Blend’ category. The association is ably managed by Ina Smith.
Ken explained the procedure for selecting the vast total of 26 Chenin Blancs we tasted, from the hundreds that are made in our country. The 96 association members were invited to submit their wines, meeting the criteria of them being made from 30 year old bush vines or older, and having an alcohol content of 13,5 – 14,5%, which led to 30 entries being received. Jeff Grier from Villiera and Association Vice-Chairman, and Carel van der Merwe from De Morgenzon whittled the Chenin Blanc portfolio for the Winter Showcase down to 26 wines. Grier led the tasting, which was held in the Delaire Graff restaurant, and he shared short notes about each of the wines, which were tasted in flights, it not being clear exactly what each of the seven flights had in common. I shared a tasting table with Delaire Graff GM Johann Laubser, Ken, and Orielle Berry from Bolander.
Our table particularly liked the De Morgenzon Reserve 2011, Tierhoek 2011 (grapes come from the Piekenierskloof area, also the area from which the Botanica chenin grapes are sourced), and Mullineux White Blend 2012 (with Viognier). Other Chenin Blancs we tasted included AA Badenhorst Secateurs 2012, Simonsig ‘Sur Lie’ 2012, Doran Vineyards Barrel Fermented 2012, Nederburg The Anchorman 2012, Spioenkop ‘1900’ 2011, Beaumont Hope Marguerite 2012, Graham Beck Bowed Head 2011, Sijjn 2011 (made by David Trafford), Joostenberg Fairhead 2010, Oldenburg 2012, Jordan 2012, Kleine Zalze Vineyard Selection Barrel Fermented 2012, Delaire Graff 2012, Diemersfontein Carpe Diem 2011, Bellingham The Bernhard Series Old Vine 2011, Spier 21 Gables 2011, Stellenrust ’46’ Barrel Fermented 2010, Cederberg Five Generations 2010, The FMC 2010, Kanu Kia-Ora Noble Late Harvest 2010, and Villiera Inspiration Noble Late Harvest 2010. What was impressive is that so many of the top winemakers attended the tasting too, including Andrea Mullineux, Razvan Macici of Nederburg, Erika Obermeyer from Graham Beck Wines, David Trafford, Bruwer Raats, and Kathy Jordan.
De Morgenzon uses cement eggs for its Chenin Blanc production, these fermentation and maturation vessels having been developed in France twelve years ago. Eben Sadie was the first South African wine maker to introduce cement eggs locally, and now they are also used by Boekenhoutskloof and Hamilton Russell. Ken explained that winemakers follow trends too, and cement eggs are one of them. Ken spoke about winemaking, and shared that one must make wine that the customer enjoys, even though it is not always the winemaker’s taste.
To get to Indochine, the Asian fusion restaurant at Delaire Graff, we took a short cut through winemaker Morné Vrey’s cellar, and passed Chef Christiaan Campbell’s vegetable garden. Indochine is in the Delaire Graff Lodge & Spa building, set back from the main restaurant. The entrance is ‘guarded’ by two Dylan Lewis cheetahs, and there are more on the lawn outside the restaurant. The Lodge interior is dominated by art of the same contemporary artists whose work is in the main restaurant building, including Lionel Smit, Anton Smit, and Deborah Bell. The restaurant seats about 40 patrons, and it has a view over Stellenbosch on a clear day. It has the most impressive work of art by Lionel Smit and Andre Stead on the ceiling, called ‘Flight of the Swallows’. The colour scheme is blue, reflected in the leather seating and the very classy looking menu and winelist folder. The chef is Virgil Kahn.
The very efficient waiters brought fritters made from cabbage, fennel and spinach as well as bread crisps to the table, with a black bean and sweet soy sauce, spicy tomato relish, and cucumber and mint sauce. Johann Laubser and Delaire Graff winemaker Morné Vrey were also at the table, and I asked Morne how the Showcase would influence his Chenin Blanc wine making. He said that he had learnt a few things he may try for the next vintage, and it had set a benchmark, but it had also helped him to define what he would not do in his Chenin Blanc making. Johann shared that Africa’s first Graff diamond store will open in the main Delaire Graff restaurant building in September, and it is being designed by the international interior designer of all Graff stores.
The amuse bouche was an unusually presented kingklip su mai (dim sum) with a gengati gel, and a citrus and fennel emulsion, a simple fresh start to the meal. The wine stewards and waiters offered the guests a continuous choice of the Chenin Blanc wines we had tasted. The Thai Duck starter, with pickled radish, bamboo, the most delicious cashew nut brittle, and orange, was the favourite course of many guests. The main course is one of the signature dishes of the restaurant, being the 7 Thai spice pork belly served with edamame beans, pickled garlic, and red pepper. An interesting looking and very tasty black rice was served with the pork. The dessert was a colourful mango parfait served with passion fruit, rose water ginger crumble, and raspberry.
Most of the wine writers and wine makers had not been to Indochine before, and expressed how impressed they were with the restaurant and its good service. Both the Chenin Blanc Association and Delaire Graff were gracious and generous hosts, and Ken thanked all involved for a fabulous event.
Disclosure: We received a bottle of Tierhoek Chenin Blanc 2011 with our media pack. My son is the Manager of Indochine.
Chenin Blanc Association www.chenin.co.za Twitter: @CheninBlancAsso
Indochine, Delaire Graff Lodge & Spa, Tel (021) 885-8160. www.delaire.co.za Twitter: @DelaireGraff
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage
Two magnificent events took place in what could be called Wine Week last week, CapeWine 2012 and the Nederburg Wine Auction running back to back, bringing the world’s leading wine writers, buyers, sommeliers and wine lovers to Cape Town and the Winelands. For an industry prone to criticism and politics, there was all-round applause and recognition for the hard work that Wines of South Africa (WOSA) put into organising CapeWine 2012, in making this what some called the best wine show ever held in the world!
Even the ever WOSA-critical Neil Pendock, who had begged to be invited to the opening CapeWine 2012 Green Tie Event when he was understandably left off the invitation list initially, was meek and mild in his reporting during the week, and no salvos have been fired at WOSA this past week, which is a tremendous achievement in itself, the reason for his boring repetitive attacks on WOSA not being understood by most.
German wine writer Mario Scheuermann is known as a critical writer, and wrote about the German media group’s disastrous SAA journey to CapeWine 2012, but he has waxed lyrical about his week-long visit to Cape Town and the Winelands, which included dinner at The Round House; lunch at Waterkloof; taking a leaf out of Mike Veseth’s Nederburg Wine Auction keynote address emphasising the importance of Braais in marketing South African wines, a braai was prepared by Eat Out Top 19 Restaurant Finalist George Jardine at Jordan, which he described as ‘the best Braai I ever had in my life’; a show at another Eat Out Top 19 Restaurant Finalist Bertus Basson’s AmaZink; wine tasting at Glenelly; visits to sustainable organic and biodynamic wine estates Backsberg, Avondale, and Reyneke; visits to Babylonstoren and to Leopard’s Leap; lunch at Pierneef à La Motte; and a meal at new Green Point located Café Dijon. He highlighted the following wines/wine estates on his Facebook page: David, Paradisum, De Toren Fusion V, Philippi, Hamilton Russell Chardonnay, Mulderbosch Sauvignon Blanc, Allee Bleue Isabeau, Springfield’s Méthode Ancienne Cabernet Sauvignon and their Wild Yeast Chardonnay, and Rickety Bridge’s The Foundation Stone. Scheuermann Tweeted about the power of Social Media as follows:“Cape Wine 2012 is the first big wine fair in the world driven and powered by social media”. The cherry of praise for our country’s wine industry was the following Tweet: ‘After this 3 days of Cape Wine 2012 we must clearly say: South Africa is today the most interesting wine country in the world’!
Scheuermann’s German writing colleagues Michael Pleitgen and Angelika Deutsch have been equally complimentary, while Eckhard Supp complained about the long queues for food at the Cape Town International Convention Centre, and the meagre snacks served at a function on 25 September, consisting of a few pieces of sushi and dim sum, not enough to soak up all the wines tasted, he wrote. The complaint about the Convention Centre food was echoed by a number of attendees at CapeWine 2012, and was the only criticism of the event.
Locally, Melvyn Minnaar described CapeWine 2012 on Grape as a ‘jolly good wine show’, which left him feeling ‘pretty upbeat about the local wine industry’. He praised the ‘experience, talent and adventurous dynamic out there in the winelands’. Even greater praise went to WOSA: if they ‘can organise such a fine event, we can clearly trust the team to take the business into the world’. And the final accolade: ‘Feedback from visiting journalists and agents – many who know the business pretty well – confirmed my own impression that this was a jolly smart event. Viva SA wine’!
British freelance and award-winning wine writer Rebecca Gibb praised the quality of the wines she tasted during CapeWine 2012, writing ‘I’ve been really impressed with the quality across the board’, and she highlighted our country’s Cabernet Sauvignons, and the Oldenburg 2009 in particular. She also praised the Sauvignon Blanc-Semillon blends, and Tokara Director’s Reserve 2011 in particular. The Swartland also received praise, and The Sadie Family Palladius 2010 in particular. Other wines on her ‘top 10 wines of Cape Wine 2012‘ list are Cartology 2011, The Sadie Family Pofadder Cinsaut 2011, Glenelly Lady May 2009, Mullineux Syrah 2010, Vergelegen GVB 2005, Miko Chardonnay 2009, and Porseleinberg Shiraz 2010. She did criticise the reaction to her question about the future of Pinotage in a seminar, which waxed lyrical about Pinotage’s past rather than address its image problem and export decline.
Swedish wine writer Erica Landin described South Africa as ‘flippin’ heaven on earth’ on her blog and asked why so much of South African wine sold in Sweden is bulk wine going into ‘Bag-in-Box’. She enjoyed the Shiraz and oaked Chenin Blancs in particular. British Master of Wine writer, broadcaster and judge Sarah Jane Evans described CapeWine 2012 as ‘Best ever!‘, and Tweeted a photograph of Cartology, referring to it as ‘a wine that got everyone talking’. Swedish blogger Anders Öhman Tweeted ‘The WOSA organisation at #capewine2012 is amazing. So many guests, bags, places, buses, tours and parties. Running flawless’. Dutch wine dealer and writer Lars Daniëls Tweeted: ‘Grote complimenten aan WOSA en in bijzonder Sara Chanell voor geweldige beurs en programma!’. Award-winning UK wine blogger Jamie Goode attended the Chenin Blanc Association’s ‘Cape Chenin Unveiled’ seminar and lunch at Nobu at the One & Only Cape Town the day before CapeWine 2012 started. He posted a number of blogposts during his stay, and no doubt there will be more. He is a great supporter of our wine industry: “Cape Wine 2012 has been brilliant. I have discovered some very exciting new wines, caught up with some cool people (and made new friends)”. He braved the crowds to attend the Hermanus Whale Festival over the weekend.
Tyler Colman, an award-winning American blogger writing as Dr Vino, praised the Western Cape, as a ‘stunningly gorgeous region that has exciting local vintners as well as an international flair’. He raved about the calibre of wine VIP’s he had bumped into in Stellenbosch prior to CapeWine 2012, including Charles Banks, Bruno Prats, and Hubert de Bouard.
WOSA’s media release praised itself in hosting its ‘best ever’ international trade exhibition, the sixth in its history, quoting its Chairman Johann Krige. The number of producers attending had increased by 15% since the last CapeWine 2008, and had the highest number of delegates ever, and especially from Asia, Eastern Europe, and other countries in Africa. This makes CapeWine the ‘most successful international wine business show in the Southern Hemisphere’. This praise was echoed by Amorim Cork CEO Antonio Amorim of Portugal, who described the event as ‘one of the finest wine industry events in the world‘. The South African quality wines, and its leadership in eco-sustainability and energy efficiency, has been recognised internationally, added Krige. Kuseni Dlamini opened the CapeWine Business Seminar, and focused on South Africa’s poor infrastructure in getting to African countries, some only reachable via Europe. If there was more investment in innovation and product quality, South Africa could become the world’s top wine producing country in the world, he said. The provincial Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Gerrit van Rensburg, said that 3600 wine farms have 100000 hectares of vines in the Western Cape, reported the Cape Argus.
The CapeWine 2012 website provides a break down of the show’s 3000 visitors: 588 South African trade, 464 international trade, 317 importers, 140 South African media, 106 wine educators, 80 international media, 32 MW, 31 international sommeliers/chefs, 12 hosted press buyers, and 12 press media. The balance of attendees was ‘unclassified’.
The Nederburg Wine Auction held this past weekend was attended by some of the international CapeWine 2012 guests, but was mainly a local affair. It raised close to R 4,7 million, down by 30% relative to 2011. Forty percent of wine sales went to international buyers, and wine buyers from African countries and Mauritius represented 22% of sales. One third of the sales went to local supermarket groups, led by Tops at Spar. Buyers played it safe, by buying ‘mainstream varieties’ such as Cabernet Sauvignon, and avoiding lesser-known cultivars. The star of the Auction was the case of Chateau Libertas, with 12 vintages ranging between 1959 – 1970 selling for R16000, in the year which celebrates the brand’s 80th anniversary.
There can be no doubt that CapeWine 2012 rejuvenated the local wine industry, created new challenges, identified new upcoming wine and winemaker stars, created new connections, and attracted heaps of praise for WOSA’s flawless organisation of showcasing our country’s prime wines! Vindaba, held at the same time as CapeWine 2012 in an open space opposite the wine exhibition venue, was an unfortunate failure, in what was an excellent wine week.
POSTSCRIPT 7/10: Mario Scheuermann has documented his impressions of CapeWine 2012, on his blog The Drink Tank.
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage