Yesterday I posted an overview of the Media Visit day we spent in McGregor for Wacky Wine Weekend, my first taste of the wine event covering the Robertson Wine Valley, which continues until the end of today. It is the 14th Wacky Wine Weekend. I was unable to ascertain where the ‘Wacky’ part of the event name comes from! Continue reading →
* The Reserve Bank Monetary Policy Committee has kept the repo rate unchanged at 5,75%, the new Governor Lesetja Kganyago has announced. The rate did not change due to the reducing inflation rate, the lower international oil prices being an inflation benefit, and the weak economy.
* The Vancouver Sun writes about ‘Sensational South Africa‘, highlighting its ‘Big Five must-see list’. It includes Cape Town (‘the country’s prettiest city‘, Bo-Kaap, the City Bowl market – certainly not the best Cape Town has to offer – Table Mountain and its ‘tram ride‘, the Mount Nelson Hotel, and Robben Island), the Winelands (Franschhoek and its Wine Tram), Himeville and the Drakensberg, Durban, and Safaris.
* The City of Cape Town has announced its extensive plans for the safety of the city and its visitors over the Festive Continue reading →
* L’Huguenot, a joint venture between Leopard’s Leap and Yangzhou Perfect, sold 1,5 million bottles of wine in China last year. A cheaper varietal is planned for 2015, which could double the sales of the brand, according to Leopard’s Leap MD Hein Koegelenberg.
* Brands Krone Borealis and Krone Rosé, and brand owner Vinimark, have been left red-faced after Die Burger disclosed that its 2010 MCCs in fact were not Cap Classiques, and have been removed from retail shelves due to the two brands misleading consumers. Winemaker Rudiger Gretschel explained that the 2010 vintage bottles started exploding during fermentation. With the help of Robertson Winery, the content of the remaining bottles was decanted and re-bottled into stronger bottles. The 2010 vintage is now being sold with the Twee Jonge Gesellen label, at almost half the original price. The Méthode Cap Classique Association of South Africa is reported to be outraged by the incident.
* Bouchard Finlayson is sponsoring the Tollman Bouchard Finlayson Art Award 2014 Tondo Competition for the Hermanus FynArts Festival, taking place from 6 – 16 June. Each of the 40 art Continue reading →
* Auslese Summer Sessions will pair tapas dishes created by Aubergine owner Chef Harald Bresselschmidt, fine wines, and good jazz every second Thursday evening, from 21 November onwards. (received from Auslese via e-mail)
* The 325th anniversary of the arrival of the French Huguenots was celebrated with a special concert, ranging from classical music to cabaret, last night at the Endler Hall. (received from the University of Stellenbosch via e-mail)
* Tour operator ‘Great Safaris’ has launched a ‘South African Culinary Treasures Journey’ 7 day tour of the Winelands and Cape Town, which includes learning about wine blending, food and wine pairing, bread baking, and a cooking class ‘in Cape Malay‘!
* The South African Pinotage restaurant is opening in Beijing.
* Scandinavia, Russia and the United Kingdom could become the main vine growing regions in Europe by 2050.
* ‘Franschhoek Uncorked’, the annual event in which the Continue reading →
* Babylonstoren is expanding its offering of fruit and vegetables, by now growing various varieties of mushrooms in its Mushroom Cellar.
* Eurostar is to introduce a London – Amsterdam route from 2016, a four hour journey.
* Xolani Mancotywa, Sommelier at the Saxon Hotel, has reached the Finals of the international 2013 Best Young Sommelier, having won the South African title. He is competing against eleven other such country winners in Washington on 18 October. The competition is sponsored by the Chaîne de Rôtisseurs, a global gastronomic society.
* An innovative way of attracting business into the city in the evening is First Thursdays, the 20 or so city centre art galleries staying open until 21h00 (some even later) on the first Thursday of each month, Continue reading →
The first ethically produced wines in the world have been launched in South Africa, it was announced yesterday, the 26 wines carrying the new ethical seal of the Wine and Agricultural Ethical Trade Association (WIETA) reflecting that the wines have been produced using fair labour practices.
The ethical seal is awarded to individual wines, and not to wine estates generically, and resembles the wine sustainability seal applied in this country. To achieve accreditation, at least 60% of the wine producer’s suppliers must be WIETA accredited already, and the balance already audited and preparing themselves for accreditation for the 2013 vintage wines.
The WIETA Code evaluates labour practices against the base code of the International Labour Conventions’ Ethical Trading Initiative and South African labour law. It is a guarantee that no child labour has been used, that employment was chosen freely, that the employees have a healthy and safe working environment, that the employees have the right to ‘freedom of association’ , earn ‘a living wage’ , are protected against unfair discrimination, and have rights to housing and tenure. Each wine is individually audited on its labour ethics in every step of the production process, and an agreement must be signed to allow producers to carry the ethical seal over from one vintage to the next.
The wine estates featuring the new ethical seals are Fairview, for their Fairview Chenin Blanc 2012, Durif 2010, Nurok 2011 and Shiraz 2010, La Capra Chenin Blanc 2012 and Malbec 2011, and Spice Route Sauvignon Blanc 2012, Chenin Blanc 2012, Mourvèrdre 2009, and Leeuwenjacht Leeuwenblanc 2012; Place in the Sun Cabernet Sauvignon 2011 and Shiraz 2011; Tukulu Syrah unwooded 2009, Cabernet Sauvignon 2011, Pinotage 2010, and Chenin Blanc 2012; Durbanville Hills Sauvignon Blanc 2012 and Rhinofields Pinotage 2011; Robertson Winery Cabernet Sauvignon 2011, Chardonnay 2012, Chenin Blanc 2012, Merlot 2012, Pinotage 2011, Shiraz 2011; and Spier Frieda’s Vine Shiraz Mourvèrdre 2010 and Vine Chenin Blanc 2012. Some of these wines are Fairtrade accredited too. All the new WIETA accredited wines will be showcased on the WIETA stand at Cape Wine 2012, running from 25 – 27 September at the Cape Town International Convention Centre.
Wines of South Africa (WOSA) CEO Su Birch said that the new WIETA ethical seal highlights ‘the priority South African producers were giving to implementing fair working conditions for wine farm and cellar workers‘, and may be an important means of addressing international criticism by Human Rights Watch a year ago of the working conditions on wine farms.
POSTSCRIPT 14/9: On Twitter yesterday smaller estates wrote that they too treat their workers ethically, but cannot afford to pay for the audit and accreditation.
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage
My favourite lifestyle magazine is House and Leisure, and I have subscribed to it for years. In fact, it is the only magazine (I don’t classify Noseweek as a ‘magazine’ as such) that I subscribe to. Its new brand extension launched earlier this week is a great disappointment.
I had read the pre-publicity about the new House and Leisure Food, described by editor Naomi Larkin as an “inaugural collectors’ issue”, and was excited about the idea of the publication. I chased after the issue at Exclusive Book’s when it hit the street on Wednesday, having to have it, and being sure that subscribers would not be sent a copy. In fact, nowhere in the latest House and Leisure issue was there any reference to the new publication, which is silly in marketing terms, as current subscribers to House and Leisure should be the most obvious priority target market.
In her Editor’s Letter Larkin drools: “Whether you’re seduced by the mouthwatering food pictures or enchanted by the beautiful lifestyle images – designed to get you in the mood – there really is something for everyone”.
Oh my gosh, what a let down, when I paged through the magazine. Here’s why:
1. A big song and dance is made about the chefs that have ‘contributed’, and the names that are dropped are Chefs Luke Dale-Roberts of The Test Kitchen, Bertus Basson of Overture, Richard Carstens of Tokara, Mike Bassett of Terroir, Clare and Fiona Ras of Sprigs in Durban, and Jackie Cameron of Hartford House, as well as cookery school owners Marlene van der Westhuizen, Andrea Bergener, Toni Scorgie and Susan Greig. The main contributors to the magazine are billed as Jules Mercer and Sarah Matsuhara, both names I have never heard of before. Yet, none of the names of the chefs or their photographs are to be seen on any page, except in the Editor’s Letter. The content of the magazine is purely a recipe book of 75 recipes, not one recipe attributed to any of these named chefs! I have tried to re-read and re-read the Editor’s Letter, and I can only assume that House and Leisure Food is a rehash of previously printed recipes from past issues of House and Leisure.
2. An even bigger flop is the ‘Connoisseurs’ picks of top South African wines to match”, as shouted on the front cover, and the editorial page proudly highlights the names of Wade Bales, Michael Brampfield-Duggan, Michael Olivier, Thato Goimane, David Cope and House and Leisure wine writer Leigh Robertson as “Wine Connoisseurs”! A “connoisseur” is defined “a person who is especially competent to pass critical judgement” or “a discerning judge of the best in any field”. Most of the ‘connoisseurs’ are not widely known, and some may argue that they may not all be ‘connoisseurs’ either! There is not one wine pack shot in the magazine, except in the few paid-for advertisements for Reyneke, Robertson Winery, Barista, and Krone. The wine recommendations are featured in the smallest possible type size underneath the title of each recipe! There is no description of each wine’s taste and flavour, no motivation for the match, nor is a vintage recommended. Only the initials of the “wine connoisseur” is indicated, and is most often those of Leigh Robertson!
3. But the biggest disappointment of all is the endless 130 pages of 75 recipes, interspersed with a handful of advertisements, the Paul Kovensky Restaurant Collection being the largest advertising supporter, advertising its Kove, Zenzero, Paranga and Pepenero restaurants. Not all food lovers cook, and many may have liked to see interviews with chefs, cooking hints and tips, chef profiles, and even restaurant reviews and profiles. The Indochine Restaurant page is a paid-for promotion, but would have made good editorial, in the way the chef Jonathan Heath is profiled and one of his dishes is featured, with an interior shot of the restaurant at Delaire Graff. In this regard the magazine fails badly.
4. The magazine is divided into four sections, and the recipes are spread over these. The categories are “Easy Living”, “Summer”, “Winter Warmth” and “Luxury”, not sounding a logical delineation, and the first and the last of these categories not clearly defining which types of recipes one might expect. The magazine index does list which recipe is in which section.
5. Even worse, is the most irritating “talking ad” for Cell C, as one turns the pages. The spokesperson Trevor Noah never gets to say more than “Welcome to the world of Cell C. The power is in your hands”.
Credit must be given for some excellent food styling and photography, and the photographers’ and stylists’ names that are mentioned are Russell Smith, Retha Erichsen, Julia Stadler, and Elsa Young. Some lifestyle photographs break the monotony of the recipe pages.
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage