On Friday evening I attended the launch of the 40th edition of the Diners Club International 2020 South African Wine Guide, at the Table Bay Hotel in the Waterfront, an event that is pretty much the same in format every year, yet was different this year, in the interest of making the event shorter.
More than 8000 wines from more than 900 producers were rated for the 2020 Platter’s Wine Guide edition. Of the 125 5-star wines awarded, 26 went to Chenin Blanc brands, 18 to Shiraz/Syrah, and 11 to Chardonnay brands.
The Sweet Service Award goes to the A4 Arts Foundation, which I discovered on Buitenkant Street whilst going for a walk near The Fugard theatre last night. Despite being past 19h00, I was allowed to enter to view the exhibition, and then was offered a glass of Boschendal red wine as well as a bag of popcorn, a generous way to kill time whilst I was waiting for the show to start. The staff were very friendly and the exhibition impressive. The Foundation website describes it as ‘a free to public not-for-profit laboratory for the arts of Southern Africa’. Continue reading →
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.
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 →
* 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)
* Bain’s Cape Mountain Whisky has been awarded its 6th Gold medal at the 2014 International Wine & Spirits Competition in Continue reading →
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 →