Tulbagh winery Saronsberg is our country’s top red wine producer when it comes to winning wine awards, its Full Circle being the most lauded red wine, followed by its Shiraz, over the past ten years. Continue reading →
The dry weather and reduced rain in winter of 2016 is unusual, and will reduce the harvest in the Swartland, says Zakkie Bester, CEO and cellar master of Riebeek Cellars. The quality of the grapes may however be higher, with more concentrated flavours.
Bester shared his concern about the impact of the Continue reading →
Last week a number of writers was invited to a ten-year vertical tasting of Saronsberg Full Circle, the wine estate’s flagship brand, followed by lunch at the Cape Grace. While the reason for the choice of name is not known, the wine is likely to not come full circle, getting better and better with every vintage.
Winemaker Dewaldt Heyns has a wonderful ability to explain his wines, speaking with passion but without technicalities, remembering the peculiarities of each of the ten vintages which we tasted, without a note to refer to. The tasting was held in the recently refurbished Leeward Room, adjacent to the Signal restaurant and facing the refurbished pool area. During the tasting the glass sliding doors were closed when the pool chlorine could be smelt inside the venue. We were spread over four round tables, with chairs with unusual modern upholstery in black, grey, white and burgundy, in contrast to the green velvety drapes. I Continue reading →
Jardine at Jordan Manager and former Sinn employee Riaan Moll told me recently that Chef Thomas Sinn, once an Eat Out Top Restaurant Chef, has closed down all his restaurant interests in Cape Town, and has opened Rivendell Restaurant on the road to Hermanus, near the turn-off to Kleinmond and Arabella. On our way back from a trip to Hermanus my colleague and I found an oasis of food, in the middle of nowhere, offering a whale of a good value.
Rivendell is referred to in J.R.R. Tolkien’s books, ‘Lord of the Rings’ amongst others, and means ‘deeply cloven valley‘, referring to the Bot River valley lying between two mountains. The wine estate Rivendell is owned by Austrian couple Heimo and Maria Talhammer, and they invited Chef Thomas to open the restaurant on their farm three months ago. The restaurant building is set back on the estate, and is not visible from the road to Hermanus. It was previously the tasting and functions venue, but the Continue reading →
* The Airports Company South Africa (ACSA) has announced that its profit has increased to its highest level ever, at R1,7 billion, a 73% increase on the year before. The profit increase was achieved despite the decline in passenger numbers. The airport infrastructure is to be improved, without any ‘significant’ increases in passenger tariffs.
* SA Tourism captured attention for our country on Times Square in New York last week, with Hugh Masekela and Sindiswe Nxumalo, a cast member of ‘The Lion King’, performing on a double decker bus to publicise the ‘Ubuntu: Music & Arts of South Africa‘ Festival being held at Carnegie Hall until 5 November. Masekela and Vusi Mahlasela are headline artists for the Festival, which celebrates the 20th anniversary of our democracy, and aims to position South Africa as offering more than the Big Five, in having ‘the most hospitable people in the world‘ as well as the most resilient, given the country’s 350 year history.
* The Franschhoek-based Bhabhathane (meaning butterfly in Xhosa) charity promoting childhood development and education Continue reading →
* A travel study conducted on behalf of Google in the USA has found that mobile Apps are less likely to be used to plan and book a trip, multiple devices now being used to book trips. The ‘Traveler’s Road to Decision‘ is yet to be published, but report highlights have been released. Search engines are increasingly consulted first in planning a trip, and in searching for car rental, cruises, and accommodation, at the expense of Apps, for leisure travelers, while business travelers mostly use mobile Apps to make travel bookings.
* Telegraph Travel recommends how to spend 36 hours in Franschhoek, including staying at La Residence, eating at Pierneef à La Motte, The Kitchen at Maison,Grande Provence, and La Residence; tasting wine at Boekenhoutskloof (sneaking in Waterford in Stellenbosch); and visiting the Huguenot Monument, Babylonstoren, the Franschhoek Motor Museum, and the Holden Manz Gallery.
* Entries are open for the Diners Club 2014 Winelist Awards, with a closing date of 29 August. The main element of judging the winelists is content, followed by a lesser weighting for balance, suitability, and presentation. Dave Hughes will chair the judging panel. (received via media release from African Sky Media)
* The Nedbank Cape Winemakers Guild is making its wines available for tasting ahead of its prestigious Auction at Spier on 4 October. The Cape Town showcase will be held at the Cape Town International Convention Centre on 21 August, while in Johannesburg it will be held at the Nedbank Head Office The Atrium on 27 August. All proceeds of the Auction go to the development program of the Cape Winemakers’ Guild. Entrance costs R170. (received via media release from GC Communications)
I was sorry to miss the vertical tasting of ten vintages of Saronsberg Shiraz at Auslese last week, not being able to attend earlier in the day due to a work commitment. I was however able to taste two of the vintages with the lunch prepared by Aubergine Chef Harald Bresselschmidt.
Saronsberg has been very low-key in the past ten years in terms of its media coverage, and only recently commenced with a PR campaign via Waterford Communications. Its Shiraz has been regarded as one of this country’s best, and has won a 5 star Platter rating for its 2010 and 2011 vintages. Other awards which the Shiraz has won include double gold at the Veritas Awards, Gold at Michelangelo International Wine Awards, Gold at Syrah du Monde, the Red Wine Trophy at the Winemakers’ Choice awards, Gold and trophies at the Decanter Asia awards, and the South African Shiraz Trophy at the International Wine Challenge. Winemaker Dewaldt Heyns has been building the Saronsberg wine brand since owner Nick van Huyssteen bought the farm in Tulbagh in 2012, the year in which he joined Saronsberg. Half of the farm is planted with Shiraz, due to the good quality red wines made in the region. Dewaldt’s expertise in making the Saronsberg wines led to him being invited to become a member of the Cape Winemakers’ Guild, an association of top winemakers for which membership is by invitation only. Just a few days ago wine writer Tim James included Dewaldt in a list of 12 top winemakers of our country! Continue reading →
* Writing in The Guardian, Fiona Beckett warns against generalising the wine styles of a New World country like South Africa, and not acknowledging that different styles do well in particular regions of our country. So she highlights that Constantia, Darling, and Elgin are synonomous with Sauvignon Blanc; the Hemel-en-Aarde valley with Pinot Noir and Chardonnay; Stellenbosch with Bordeaux-style red wines; and the Swartland with Chenin Blanc and Syrah. She further highlights Elgin in particular, and its wines Elgin Ridge 282, Paul Cluver Ferricrete Sauvignon Blanc and Riesling, and Kershaw Elgin Chardonnay 2012.
* A South African Attractions Management Conference will be held in Cape Town at the Old Mutual Conference and Exhibition Centre at Kirstenbosch on 4 and 5 June, The Table Mountain Aerial Cableway Company CEO Sabine Lehmann being the driving force for the Conference. Topics include staffing, Seasonality, online ticket sales, Social Media, crisis management, market research, family-friendliness, and customer requirements. The Conference is aimed at the management of Cape Town and the Winelands’ tourist attractions.
* More than 10000 tourism and travel executives are expected to be attending Indaba, Africa’s major tourism expo, which runs in Durban until tomorrow, according to The New Age. The expo is expected to generate R150 million for Durban, Continue reading →
* On Freedom Day President Jacob Zuma bestowed a number of awards upon South Africans as well as some international recipients, for their contribution to our country. Sadly many of the awards were made posthumously. The recipients included Caster Semenya (Bronze Order of Ikhamanga), Cameron van der Burgh (Silver Order of Ikhamanga), Fanie van der Merwe (Silver Order of Ikhamanga), Zakes Mda (Silver Order of Ikhamanga), Sandra Prinsloo (Silver Order of Ikhamanga), Raymond Ackerman (Silver Order of the Baobab), Chris Ball (Silver Order of the Baobab), Alex Boraine (Silver Order of the Baobab), Frederick van Zyl Slabbert (Silver, Order of the Baobab, posthumous), Lord Richard Attenborough (Silver Order of the Companions of OR Tambo), Danny Glover (Silver Order of the Companions of OR Tambo), and Quincy Jones (Silver Order of the Companions of OR Tambo).
* American tour operators are seeing a shift of bookings to South Africa, due to the weak Rand, comparing the cost of a top end ‘five star’ meal in our country to the price one would pay for a meal at McDonalds in the USA, and praising the price of the good value ‘world class wines’ locally compared to those from Napa.