Entries tagged with “Wildekrans”.


Yesterday I attended the Chenin Blanc Showcase, a tasting of a selection of 50 Chenin Blanc wines, at the Cape Grace Hotel. Chenin Blanc is a cultivar growing in popularity, and we tasted the different styles of Chenin Blanc.  (more…)

Olive Oil awards 2016

At the SA Olive Oil Awards held outside Paarl earlier this week, 36 extra virgin olive oils received Gold Awards, while 53 Silver and 11 Bronze medals were awarded.

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imageIt was a quiet Human Rights Day when I drove along Bree Street from one end to the other, to update my Blogpost about Cape Town’s famous food street, and saw a board outside Folk Coffee Anthropology, signaling that it was open. (more…)

WhaleTalesTourism, Food, and Wine news headlines

*   Taittinger has redesigned its bottle label and gift pack, to reflect its status as official champagne sponsor of the 2014 World Cup soccer in Brazil.   Holograms have been used, and the footballs on the label appear raised but are flat.  The brand has already been fined in France for advertising its link to the World Cup, but will communicate this in other countries, especially in South America, having the right to the title until the end of 2015.

*   The directive by the Minister of Finance that VAT be levied on international e-books levels the playing field says the Publishers’ Association of South Africa (PASA), despite VAT being charged on books not being encouraged by the PASA.  The new legislation is not a surprise as governments are working on collecting VAT/sales tax on sales in their regions. Foreign retailers selling into South Africa will now have to register as VAT vendors. A healthier retail book trade is expect to result. Internationally digital book sales are at about 50%, but in South Africa they are currently only at 20%.  Charging VAT could generate R 1 billion in revenue for the country. The Cape Town Book Fair, running from 13 – 15 June, will showcase the latest technological developments on e-reading. (received via media release from The Embassy)

*   Bushman’s Kloof Wilderness Reserve is hosting a  number of Food and Wine Weekend treats in winter, pairing with top wine estates, including Meerlust (30 May – 1 June), Bouchard Finlayson (27 – (more…)

Olive Oil Guide Whale Cottage PortfolioAn unique ‘The Guide to Extra Virgin Olive Oil in South Africa‘ has been published, the first of its kind, providing an overview of olive oil production in our country, and providing details of the top quality olive oil producers.

Olives were first brought to South Africa from California by Piet Cillie in 1893.    A mere 14 years later Jan Minnaar from De Hoop farm in Paarl won  the prize for the best olive oil produced in the British Empire at the 1907 London Show!   Reni Hildenbrand now owns the farm in Wellington on which Piet Cillie farmed, and she has written a book ‘Olives and Olive Oils in South Africa‘.  Ferdinando Costa arrived from Genoa in Italy a few years later, and brought in Italian plants, grafting them on the local Olienhout rootstock.  He planted large numbers of olive trees in Paarl in 1925, and pressed his first olive oil in 1935.   The Costa name is synonymous with olives and olive oil, and his relative Linda runs SA Olive, a quality standards body for the industry.   Italian Baron Andreis began planting olive trees in the ‘Fifties, using Carlo Castiglione to make olive oil from 1972, under the Vesuvio brand.  Its Extra Virgin Olive Oil won four awards in Italy for the first time, and regularly wins international awards.  Italian Guilio Bertrand bought Morgenster next door to Vergelegen just over twenty years ago, and saw the potential to produce quality wines and olive oils.  He now runs an olive oil nursery, and won the SA Olive Lifetime Achievement Award last year.

The quality of olive oil quality is influenced by the terroir, cultivar, climate, and the oil maker, similar to wines.  The biggest threat to good quality local Extra Virgin Olive Oils is inferior olive oils which are  imported, and bought by consumers in the belief that the imported products should be of a better quality. Extra Virgin Olive Oil is extracted from the olives at a temperature below 30° C, (more…)

Diners Club Christiaan Groenewald Whale Cottage PortfolioLa Residence pulled out all the stops in hosting the Diners Club Winemaker of the Year 2013 Awards last night, seating and serving 150 guests in its massive entrance hall, lounge and dining room, demonstrating why it was recently voted joint Best Hotel in the world by Conde Nast Traveler.  The Awards evening was described as ‘a gathering of wine aristocracy’, and the ‘Oscars of the Wine Awards’! The Diners Club Winemaker of the Year Award is the only award given to an individual, and is even more special in that it is received in the presence of an audience of experts and peers.

Gareth Cliff of 5FM was a good MC, admitting his ignorance as a wine drinker, and doing a brilliant Julius Malema impersonation based on wines (with Ed Morton and Nick Solomon of La Residence in the photograph below).  As the venue was so large, video screens were set up throughout the venue, allowing each table to see  a screen close by.  A Twitter Feed ran on the screen, Cliff being a heavy Tweeter, which will have pleased his hosts at Diners Club Ed, Gareth Cliff Nick Whale Cottage PortfolioLa Residence and Diners Club, with his 571343 Twitter Followers.  Diners Club Winemaker of the Year 2013 Finalist Johan Jordaan from Spier was an informative and fun table neighbour, as was Franschhoek Tatler editor Siegfried Schäfer and  Helgard van Schalkwyk from Lynx Wines.  Johan was an excellent ‘lighting assistant’, in lighting my plates with his phone to photograph the food! (more…)

Pendock Wine Gallery full view Whale Cottage PortfolioNotorious Neil Pendock is launching his Pendock Wine Gallery at the Taj Cape Town hotel at 18h00, to many a most unusual move, in a minute space which would not allow more than a handful of persons to move inside the gallery at any time.  The Gallery concept and its link to the hotel’s Mint Restaurant is as quirky as Pendock is.

The roughly 2 by 4 meter space is half of the Edit[ed] hotel shop, and once inside Pendock’s Wine Gallery one can see inside the shop through a glass door, a design weakness, as it does not match the less-is-more sparse design of the Gallery.  Six ornate shelves will hold a bottle of wine each, according to a monthly theme, September being dedicated to Pinotage, but the choice of six is not explained, other than space constraints.  However, Pendock does pride himself on his selection, in that the six (Black Elephant Vintners, Diemersdal, Manley (more…)

WhaleTalesTourism, Food, and Wine news headlines

*   Good news is that the UK travel industry is seeing the first signs of recovery, after two years of a ‘meltdown‘, which severely affected the Western Cape tourism industry too!

*   One third of active American travelers travel with a smart phone and a tablet, and are an important market to watch for trends, now called the ‘Digital Elite’!

*   Ataraxia Serenity 2008 was the best selling wine at the recent Free State FNB Wine Show. (via media release from Ataraxia)

*   Sarah Baker of Wild Peacock Emporium has moved to the wholesale division of Wild Peacock, focusing on the supply of artisanal boutique cheeses.

*   French wine estate owners are being warned against fraudulent (more…)

One of the most refreshing wine marketers in South Africa, and focusing predominantly on traditional marketing media, is Hermanuspietersfontein, a mouthful of a wine brand, and also the original name of the seaside town of Hermanus.   Now its winemaker Bartho Eksteen has been named the 2010 Diners’ Club Winemaker of the Year, joining such illustrious previous winemakers winning this honour as Pieter Ferreira of Graham Beck, Carl Schultz of Hartenberg, Günter Brözel of Nederburg, Marc Kent of Boekenhoutskloof, Sydney Back at Backsberg and Danie de Wet of Dewetshof.

Eksteen and his team are proudly-Afrikaans, choosing one of the longest wine brand names in the country(although abbreviated to HPF on some labels), in their choice of sub-brand names (Bloos for their Rosé, Swartskaap, Kleinboet and more), and in their advertising.  Leading their marketing is Gerrie Heyneke, an advertising veteran of The White House, Y&R Cape Town and DDB South Africa.  He is the CEO of grapefuel.co.za.   The winery is visible as a modern structure when one enters Hermanus, on the left,  and has made itself popular as the home to the Saturday morning food and wine market.  

Eksteen himself is a character, much like his wines, and his Die Bartho 2008 blend was awarded a 5-star 2011 Platter rating  for the first time last week. However, it is the 2009 Hermanuspietersfontein No.5 Sauvignon Blanc that won the Diner’s Club award, the wine produced for the first time exclusively from grapes of its own vineyards.   His prize is a SAA ticket to any wine-producing country in the world plus expenses. Eksteen was previously a winemaker at Wildekrans in Bot River, winning SA Champion Young Wine in 1996.  He launched the Bartho Eksteen label for his Sauvignon Blanc, and five years ago he became a partner in Hermanuspietersfontein Vineyards.

The Diner’s Club Winemaker of the Year was judged on Sauvignon Blanc submissions this year.   Chairman of the judging panel, Dave Hughes, said of the six finalist wines submitted: “There was not a single wine amongst them that was not deserving of praise.  Where they differed was in style” .  Every one of them was expressive of their location and, taken together, represented virtually the entire taste spectrum that can be produced locally. We tasted the typical cool-area grassy nose and sweet gooseberry fruit; lemons and limes on the nose with a ripe tropical fruit palate and citrus zing; dusty hedges and zippy acidity; exotically oaked with opulent sweet fruit; a tropical fruit salad; and West Coast green peppers, grass and green figs”.

At the awards evening last night, the 2010 Diners’ Club Young Winemaker of the Year was awarded to RJ Botha of Nitida in Durbanville, and went to the winery’s 2009 Calligraphy, a Bordeaux-style blend of Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon.

To celebrate thirty years of the Diner’s Club Winemaker Awards, a commemorative pack of 12 wines made by past winners of the Award, including Rust en Vrede, Graham Beck, Allesverloren, Thelema and Bouchard Finlayson, has been made available via the Diner’s Club Wine Society.

Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com   Twitter: @WhaleCottage

Hermanos opened as a new restaurant in a revered restaurant space previously called Joubert, in Hermanus, about three months ago.   Rave reviews from Whale Cottage Hermanus guests about the restaurant attracted Whale Cottage Hermanus Manager Carole and I to try it 10 days ago.   Our expectations were high.

The co-owner and chef Wayne Spencer came to our table when we arrived early at 18h30, and gave us a friendly greeting.    He told us his background, and then went off to the kitchen , where he cooks almost on his own, with the help of only two staff.  

“Hermanos” is the Spanish word for brother, and symbolises the relationship between Wayne and his brother, who is a financial partner in the business but does not live in Hermanus.   Wayne trained at the Silwood School of Cooking, and has worked at the Phinda Game Reserve, Birkenhead House in Hermanus and La Residence in Franschhoek, and ‘The Mandarin’ at the Port Palace Hotel, a one star Michelin restaurant in Monaco.   The menu is relatively small, and Wayne closes bookings at 50 persons, even if the space could accommodate more clients.   He believes in “local is lekker” in supporting local wine estates and suppliers, and recognises that his two house wines do not meet this stated belief.

While the interior of the restaurant has not changed much, it is whiter and cleaner than Joubert was just before closing down.  We could not sit outside in the fairylit courtyard, due to the rain, which is the best spot, it is said.   Our table for two was small, and at one stage we had to put the bread basket on the floor, as we ran out of space.  

We were disappointed with our waiter, whom we lost early on when we talked wines – the La Couronne Menage a Trois and Brandvlei house wines were not to our liking, and we were disappointed that there was no other choice.  Also, for a winelist that prides itself on Walker Bay wines for wines, the non-Hermanus wines-by-the-glass were an oddity.   We then had to order a full bottle, and this is where the waiter showed that he was not trained on the wine side – everything we asked for he had to communicate to a colleague who was running the bar, just three steps behind our table.  He would then communicate back to us, all via the third person, who never came to our table for a direct conversation.   The waiter did not know what the word “vintage” meant.   We settled on the Raka Biography, and declined it when we were brought a 2008.  Miraculously a 2007 vintage was found, and we could be served the wine, after a long delay on this alone.  By this time we had lost confidence in our waiter, even though he seemed to exude self-confidence, and so we asked the waitress to take over.

The restaurant filled up quickly, and Carole recognised many of the diners as locals, which will ensure that Hermanos survives the winter months.

The menu has 5 starters, including the flagship tiger prawn and avo stack (R52), asparagus and parmesan risotto (R45), Halloumi salad and fish koftas (both R42) and Carpaccio (R 48).   The prawn and avo stack looked attractive, and was served with melba toast slices in-between.  It was a little hard to eat, as the melba toast does not cut well, and the stack soon collapses.   The avo was sliced too thinly for my liking, and Carole did not like the knife shape digging into her palm while using it to eat.   The 8 main course choices are beef fillet hot rock (R 120), signature rib-eye steak (R 112), Karoo lamb rump (R 98), pork loin (R 94), Chicken Ballantine (R 82), linefish (R 90), Norwegian Salmon (R 125), and Crespella di Verdura, a tasty sounding dish of slices of crepe filled with butternut and spinach.     The rib-eye steak and pork loin could not be faulted, except that the steak was a touch too rare for the “medium rare” ordered.

The dessert choice is creme brulee (R 38), vanilla bean ice cream (R 32), chocolate tart (R 42) and a cheese board at R 62.  Carole enjoyed the creme brulee, and I my cappuccino.   While the service from the waitress was better than that of her colleague, she made no effort to really connect, and just asked the standard “is everything ok?” question, without making one feel that she was really listening or interested.

Hermanos stocks a wide selection of wine varietals, with about three brands per variety, and offers a good spread of Hermanus and Hemel-en-Aarde Valley wines.  So, for example, the Shirazes are Wildekrans (R 135), Raka Biography (R 165) and Sumaridge (R 225). The Cabernet Sauvignon comes from Benguela Cove (R 185), and from Jakob’s Vineyard and Raka, both costing R 175.  Chardonnay comes from Bouchard Finlayson (R 160), Domaine des Dieux (R 160) and Ataraxia (R 267).   The Sauvignon Blancs come from Jackson (R90), Hermanuspietersfontein (R 120) and Southern Right (R 137).   Methode Cap Classique bubbly is stocked, from Wildekrans (R 160) and Domaine Des Dieux (R 215).

There was no music to create atmosphere.  There was no relationship formed between diner and staff, to make one look forward to coming back, except for the short interaction we had with Wayne on our arrival.  When I first wrote about Hermanos, without having visited, Wayne said that he wanted to come out of the kitchen and connect with his clients, but he is so thinly-staffed in the kitchen that he is unable to do so.  The waitress does not seem senior enough to guide and manage the seemingly untrained colleagues, which could be the downfall of Hermanos.

Hermanos has great potential if it gets its wine-by-the-glass choice and staff quality right, appoints a manager, and opens over lunch.  The food is of a high standard, in a town that is not blessed with any outstanding restaurants.   

Hermanos, 3 High Street, Hermanus.  Tel (028) 313-1916, www.hermanos.co.za  (menu not up to date)   Tuesday – Saturday evenings.

Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com