It was fellow writer Llewellyn Lambert who introduced me to the brand new winery Paserene, and who suggested that we stop at it when driving past it outside Franschhoek last week. We were very impressed with the beautiful new tasting room, and the exquisite three wines that we were offered to taste. Continue reading →
* Good news from ratings agency Moody’s is that our country is unlikely to go into recession this year, and is not likely to be downgraded until the end of 2016! It did warn however that our economy is slowed down by a number of factors, and that our country would average 2% growth in the same period.
*. The six Finalists in the WORLD CLASS Bartender of the Year 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 →
* Cape Town will host the 14th World Summit of the Noble Peace Prize Laureates from 13 – 15 October, the first time that it will be held in Africa, report the Cape Times and Weekend Argus. A total of 1500 delegates is expected to meet at the Cape Town International Convention Centre, with the topic ‘Peace: living it’. Previous Noble Peace Prize recipients such as Mikhail Gorbachev and Lech Walesa will join FW de Klerk and Archbishop Desmond Tutu.
* The largest number of international visitors to Cape Town in the third quarter of last year, ranked by figures just released by Wesgro, were from Germany, the USA, the UK, and Italy. Gauteng was the largest source of local visitors, followed by those from other parts of the Western Cape.
* Rio de Janeiro received close to 900000 visitors during the Soccer World Cup, spending $4,4 million, with more than half of the visitors planning to return in two years to attend the 2016 Olympic Games. The city hosted the closing Final, which was viewed by 3 billion TV viewers, and its iconic statue of Christ the Redeemer against a sunset was shown during the broadcast, as Continue reading →
South Africa’s wine industry has a great fan in American wine economist Mike Veseth, who has visited our country twice in the past two years. In his latest article, the third about his trip earlier this year, he praises the wine industry for dealing with the ‘bottlenecks‘ it faces in selling its wines in the USA. According to him, the design of the South African flag can be seen to reflect a bottleneck too!
Veseth visited in 2012, as the guest of Nederburg, addressing the Auction as guest speaker. He observed the wine industry then and compared it with his observations of his visit this year. He writes that it can be easier to make good wines than it is to sell and market them, and this applies to selling in the USA in particular. He noted the increased confidence of our winemakers, and their ‘concrete plans‘ to tackle the marketing challenges, comparing his last two visits. His observations of our wine industry over two visits are as follows:
1. The leadership of the Winelands in Wine Tourism globally, a fantastic accolade. Continue reading →
The AfrAsia Bank Cape Wine Auction 2014 is an inaugural exclusive, almost elitist, charity event which aims to raise monies which are to be used for educational purposes in the Winelands. It takes place at Delaire Graff Estate over lunch today, with 250 guests, half of whom are likely to travel from overseas to the Cape especially for the auction.
With an aura of a by-invitation-only attendance, Auction organiser Mike Ratcliffe of Warwick Wines invited 30 Auction Ambassadors to assist him in spreading the word about the event, to assist in raising lots for the auction, and to invite guests as bidders to the event. Ambassadors include May de Lencquesaing of Glenelly, Wendy Appelbaum of De Morgenzon, Hein Koegelenberg of La Motte, Rose and Michael Jordaan of Bartinney, Delaire Graff, Charles Banks of Mulderbosch, Paul Cluver, Jeremy Ord and Kevin Arnold of Waterford, Chris and Andrea Mullieneux and their partner ‘Anlajit’ (sic) Singh, Zelma Long and Dr Phil Freese of Vilafonte, the Buys family of Vrede en Lust, Francois Pienaar, Eben Sadie, Ryk Neethling, Jean Engelbrecht, Ken Forrester, Anthonij Rupert Wines, Lanzerac Estate, Anthony and Olive Hamilton Russell, and Giorgio and George Dalla Cia. One wonders why so many of the country’s top winemakers have not been involved in the Auction, the list of Auction Ambassadors clearly concentrated in Stellenbosch. Missing from the list, one would think, is Babylonstoren, Backsberg, Boekenhoutskloof, and a winery or two from the Constantia, Paarl, Wellington, Robertson, Tulbagh, and Durbanville Wine Continue reading →
On Thursday I met writer and recent Winelands resident David Bullard, Shan Pascall from Oneiric Wines, and Sophia Hawkins of Vilafonte for lunch at Wild Peacock Food Emporium in Stellenbosch, after we had connected at the pop-up lunch by Chef Bertus Basson at Oneiric Wines last Sunday. I met new Wild Peacock Chef Andrew Jordaan, and we were told by co-owner Andrew Baker that they supply all 2013/2014 Top 20 shortlisted Eat Out restaurants on their wholesale side, run by Sue Baker with son Ross. Wild Peacock is synonymous with oysters, and other ‘fine delicacies’ served by our country’s leading restaurants, the wholesale operation having opened more than 20 years ago.
Andrew said that the space of their deli and The Larder restaurant had seen a number of different retail outlets previously, and none had been successful due to the lack of parking. He and Sue had the vision for the deli, which was initially managed by their daughter Sarah, who now focuses on the company’s artisanal cheese selection. Parking has been addressed, and from next week onwards there will be parking marshalls operating outside their door, ensuring a regular replacement of shoppers, now able to pop into the Emporium, and to have a bite to eat and a glass of wine to drink. The deli has grown to become the 2013 Eat Out (previously run by former sister publication Eat In) Produce Awards Best Food Outlet in the South of South Africa!
Andrew created the wine section of the Emporium, and its offering has won a Diners Club Diamond Award as well as Best Small Wine List Award. Andrew runs The Wine Worx in his day job, selling, marketing, and distributing a range of wines of 21 boutique wineries. He is also a keen winemaker, having made a house Pinot Noir, which we enjoyed with our lunch. We were told by the waiter Danny that Andrew uses the cellar at Fryer’s Cove on the West Continue reading →
I spent a wonderful afternoon in the middle of nowhere yesterday at Oneiric Wines, 5 km off one of the Elgin roads, spoilt by Chef Bertus Basson of Overture, who set up a pop-up restaurant for 30 guests at the homestead of the owners overlooking the beautiful valley.
Shan Pascall did not tell me about the road I would be travelling to get to the homestead, which is beyond their tasting room, with steep inclines and declines, but she had ‘incentivised’ me by saying that not only would Chef Bertus be cooking, but that her friend David Bullard of former ‘Out to Lunch’ Sunday Times column fame would be there too. I was shaking a little on arrival, after the drive, so had to refuse the Sauvignon Blanc which was offered as a welcome drink.
David and I were introduced to each other where Chef Bertus was cooking, and we did a quick run through of our favourite restaurants in the Cape. David writes for Prestige magazine, and moved to Somerset West six months ago. I was surprised about the choice of the town, but he raved about the Croydon estate in which he lives, which is a producing vineyard with its own wine label, the wines being made by Beyers Truter of Beyerskloof. The 200 houses on the estate are separated by vineyards, so that one is hardly aware of one’s neighbours. The residents are very social, finding any opportunity to meet for some wine, lovely resident Claudine Wheeler told me, sitting next to her and her husband Francis. David’s restaurant favourites so far are The Long Table, Equus at Cavalli, Guardian Peak, Overture, Indochine, Avontuur, and Tokara. It was hard to photograph David in serious mode, as he isn’t, so we settled on a ‘silver spoon in mouth’ portrait! Continue reading →
* Humpback whales are off the endangered list, and are estimated at a population of 80000. Right whales may be extinct by the end of the century.
* Well known Cybele Forest Lodge will close down on 17 November due to a land claim by the local community.
* Fashion designer Gavin Rajah has been announced as the South African Tourism Designer of the Year by SA Tourism.
* Tour operators are blaming poor management and cost control for SAA’s Buenos Aires route being unprofitable, and have urged the airline to reconsider its decision. They have also requested the connection to Argentina to be via Cape Town, and not Johannesburg.
At the Bouchard Finlayson tasting at the Twelve Apostles Hotel last week ‘Wine Tourism Handbook’ publisher Monika Elias gave me a copy of her 2012 edition. It is a very handy guide to the wine estates of the Western Cape in particular, but also in the Northern Cape and Kwa-Zulu Natal. It is ideal for tourists wishing to get a quick overview of our wine routes and regions, and for staff working in the hospitality industry.
‘The Wine Tourism Handbook‘ introduces the topic by painting a picture of the 350 year history of South African wine, as well as the making of the first wines in the world up to 10000 years ago! It tells the story of South African wine-making by Jan van Riebeeck, in February 1659 for the first time, the establishment of the KWV in 1918, the creation of Pinotage in 1941, and the launch of the first wine route, in Stellenbosch, in 1971. From these early beginnings South Africa has become the 7th largest wine producer in the world. It addresses equitable issues of winemaking via Fairtrade, which promotes ‘greater equity for small producers in the international trading arena. The ethos of their work is that trading partnerships should be based on transparency, respect and a sustainable and ethical system of production and purchase’. The growing trend to sustainability led to the development of the Biodiversity & Wine Initiative, with land of wine farms set aside for conservation, eradicating alien vegetation, and protecting endangered species such as the Cape Leopard, Geometric tortoise, the Cape Leopard toad, and the Riverine Rabbit.
A chapter is dedicated to winemaking, starting with viticulture, and describing the white and red wine making processes. The value of the label, in communicating the region and farm from which the wine comes, the alcohol content, the vintage, the variety, the origin of the grapes is explained. Details about the origin, cultivar and vintage are certified by a seal from the Wine and Spirit Board. Just more than half of vines planted are for white wine production, and Chenin Blanc is the single largest varietal, at 20% of planting. The methods used to make Fortified wines, Rosés, and sparkling wines are also described. A ‘South African Bubbly Route’ lists 69 producers of MCC sparkling wine. The best way to store wine is shared, and companies through which one can order South African wines in other countries are listed.
Brandy production is addressed separately to wine production, and the types of brandy, and tasting it, is covered. Two Brandy Routes are described – the R62 Brandy Route, and the one including Stellenbosch, Paarl, Franschhoek, Wellington, and Elgin. Twenty brandy producers are listed.
Most of the book is dedicated to the wine routes of the Western Cape, categorised as Central Region, Inland, East Coast, and West Coast. The Central Region consists of Cape Town wine production in Constantia and Durbanville, and also in Franschhoek, Paarl, Stellenbosch, Stellenbosch Berg, Bottelary Hills, Greater Simonsberg, Helderberg, Stellenbosch Valley, Tulbagh and Wellington. Advice is provided on getting around on the wine routes, and drinking and driving is strongly advised against. Tour guides specialising in wine are recommended. A Top 10 ‘Things to do’ list is presented, which includes lunch at Jordan wine estae, Staying in a tented camp at Clara Anna Fontein Game Reserve, seeing a show and eating at Die Boer Theatre Restaurant, viewing the Hess Collection at the Glen Carlou art gallery, tasting Jorgensen Distillery’s ‘artisanal drinks’, visiting the first biodynamic farm Bloublommetjieskloof, making wine at Stellenrust, enjoying a braai at Midddelvlei, and going on a game drive at Villiera Wildlife Sanctuary.
Highlights of the Constantia Region include Groot Constantia, Klein Constantia, Buitenverwachting, Eagle’s Nest, Constantia Glen, Constantia Uitsig, Steenberg, and Cape Point Vineyards, and the restaurants La Colombe, Bistro Sixteen82, and Buitenverwachting. Some top Durbanville wine estates include De Grendel, Durbanville Hills, Meerendal, and Nitida. The Franschhoek wine route includes Allée Bleue, Boekenhoutskloof, Boschendal, Cape Chamonix, Colmant Cap Classique & Champagne, Morena, Graham Beck, Grande Provence, Haute Cabrière, Holden Manz, La Motte, Rickety Bridge, Solms-Delta, Stony Brook and Vrede en Lust. Restaurants on this Route include Pierneef à La Motte, Fyndraai, Haute Cabrière Cellar Restaurant, and Babel. The Paarl wine route includes Babylonstoren, Backsberg, Fairview, Glen Carlou, KWV Wine Emporium, Laborie, Landskroon, Nederburg, Noble Hill Wines, Perdeberg Winery, Scali, Veenwouden, Val de Vie, and Vondeling.
Stellenbosch is the oldest and largest wine region, and has a number oif wine routes. Some of the best known estates on these routes include Waterford, Blaauwklippen, De Trafford, Flagstone, Kleine Zalze, Neil Ellis, Stark-Condé, Beyerskloof, Hartenberg, Hazendal, Villiera, Delaire Graff, De Meye, Bartinney, Kanonkop, Mont Destin, Rustenberg, Slaley, Thelema, Tokara, Uitkyk, Warwick, Alto, Dombeya/Haskell, Graceland, Ken Forrester, Longridge, Rust en Vrede, Vergelegen, Waterkloof, De Toren, Dalla Cia, Jordan, Meerlust, Spier, and Vilafonté. Recommended restaurants are the Postcard Café, Terroir, Delaire Graff, Towerbosch, Overture, and Jordan Restaurant by George Jardine.
The Inland region consists of the Breedekloof, Klein Karoo (Boplaas is one of the best known), Swartland, Robertson (dominated by Graham Beck, but also with Zandvliet, De Wetshof, and Van Loveren being better known) and Worcester wine routes. The Swartland wine route is growing in stature, and very fine wines are being made in this region, including Mullineux, Sadie, AA Badenhorst, and Allesverloren.
Agulhas and Elim (Jean Daneel and Raka are best known), Bot River (Beaumont is best known), Elgin (a wine route with increasing recognition for Almenkerk, Paul Cluver, Shannon, and Iona), and Walker Bay are the wine routes classified under East Coast in the book. The new Hermanus Wine Route has excellent wineries, including Creation, Hermanuspietersfontein, Ataraxia, Bouchard Finlayson, and Hamilton Russell.
The West Coast region consists of the Darling (Cloof is best known) and Olifants River (Cederberg and Stellar better known) wine routes. The Garden Route is not well-known as a wine region, and Bramon makes an organic sparkling wine in Plettenberg Bay. In KwaZulu-Natal Abingdon and Meander wines are made.
Twenty-seven wine-related festivals are also listed, with dates for the year ahead.
The Wine Tourism Handbook is a wealth of wine information, and should ideally be given to all tourists arriving in Cape Town, as compulsory reading about the excellent and extensive wine range on its doorstep.
Wine Tourism Handbook 2012: Enjoying Wine at the Source, World Focus Media, Tel 083 631 3393 www.winetourismhandbook.co.za
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter:@WhaleCottage