John Collins Trade Tasting of select wine brands at Den Anker, preceded by ‘Back to Burgundy’ movie!


On a cosy winter day Parisian visitor to Cape Town Aurélie Jullien and I went to see the movie ‘Back to Burgundy’, a family drama set against a wine domain operation in Burgundy, to prepare ourselves for the intimate John Collins Trade Tasting at Den Anker, both at the Waterfront. 

It was my fourth wine tasting in four weeks, and what I liked about it was the presentation of only a select number of wine brands in the warm and cosy Den Anker, allowing the wine representatives and the trade tasters ample space to get acquainted with the wines they were tasting and the wine estate representatives. The tasting notes were detailed too, describing each wine on the table, and presenting its trade price.  Of course it is impossible to taste every wine, so I selected my favorite varieties, and was guided by the wine representatives in some instances.

The restaurant staff welcomed us with pomme frites and mayonnaise, mussels, Bitterballen, and cheese croquettes, ideal for the weather outside. 

#  I headed straight to Le Lude on arrival, it being my favorite MCC, the Rosé Non Vintage in particular. A blend of Pinot Noir (65%) and Chardonnay (35%). I met the new assistant winemaker Emma Bruwer, and chatted to winemaker Paul Gerber, who told me that their Le Lude production will increase to 120000 bottles by 2020. I had not heard of the release in December last year of their Vintage Cuvee 2012, a blend of their highest quality Cuvée juice selections of the 2012 vintage. Chardonnay (64%) and Pinot Noir (36%) blend. 

#  I had not previously met David Sonnenberg, owner of Diemersfontein outside Wellington, and we had a lovely chat about his family connections to Woolworths. While he opted to not go the retail route as a career choice, he did tell me proudly that Diemersfontein has a significant presence in Woolworths. I tasted their 10 year old Potstill Brandy, not knowing that they make one. They use the Cruchen Blanc grape to make it, at the distillery of a neighbour. Diemersfontein is well-known for its Pinotage, and its Coffee one in particular. The wine estate offered twelve wines and the brandy at the tasting. 

#  Newton Johnson is well-known for its Pinot Noir, so I asked Bevan Newton Johnson which one he recommended of the three he had available to taste. The Family Vineyards Pinot Noir 2017 is excellent, with spicy notes. The wine estate offered 13 wines to taste. It was at this stand that I connected with Raphael Paterneti, whose Open Wine has expanded into the Biscuit Mill, its new premises undergoing a quick renovation next week, he told me. They will be offering wine tasting evenings at the new venue, given its greater space. Raphael and Marta will alternate their presence at the new venue on weekdays, and will both be there on Saturday mornings, given how busy it is there due to the food market. 

#   Springfield presented eleven of its wines, poured by estate marketer Jeanette Bruwer and her partner Izak Rust. They had brought some rocks from the farm, and one was a heart-shaped one, which they gifted me. Jeanette explained that it is part of a calcified termite nest. I tasted their Work of Time 2011, a Bordeaux Blend barrel-aged for two years and bottle-matured for five years.

#  Jordan Estate had ten wines on offer, and I tasted The Prospector Syrah 2016, the name of the wine referring to the discovery of tin in the gravel beneath the Syrah vineyards. It has notes of peppered charcuterie, chipotle, and red fruits. 

# Kleinood presented its Tamboerskloof Syrah 2014, one of my favorites, poured out of a magnum by Mariska, as the 750 ml bottles she had at the tasting were all used up. It has black currant and plum notes, with white pepper and violets. They also offered Tamboerskloof John Spicer 2012 for tasting, described as a ‘Limited Release icon wine’.  it was here that I reconnected with Chef Jason Steel, a MasterChef finalist in 2013, and now in the kitchen of the Klein Constantia Bistro. 

#  Chris Keet presented his First Verse 2013, and explained that the name came from the distant family connection to poet AD Keet. It is a Bordeaux blend of 41% Cabernet Sauvignon, 22% Cabernet Franc, 22% Merlot, 8% Malbec, and 7% Petit Verdot. 

Other wine lovers I connected with were Shaun Terry of Divine Intervention, Owain John of Take Off Travel, Henry Maclachlan of Villa 47, Cindy Haupt of Gold, Jan van Huyssteen of Rickety Bridge, and Sommeliers Isabella Immenkamp and Joakim Blackadder.

‘Back to Burgundy’ is showing at the Cinema Nouveau, and is a French film with English subtitles. Against the undercurrent of tension between three siblings who inherit the domain on the death of their father, enhanced by the return of one of them after a ten year absence and himself a winemaker in Australia, the film shares the stages of winemaking, including harvesting, destemming, grape stomping, pruning the vines, and pulling out old vines and replanting. 

John Collins, Tel (021)713-0558 Cell 072 822 1452 

Chris von Ulmenstein, WhaleTales Blog: Tel +27 082 55 11 323 Twitter:@Ulmenstein Facebook: Chris von Ulmenstein Instagram: @Chris_Ulmenstein


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One reply

  1. I love John Collins! He was the first guy to introduce me to wine as a Hotel Achool student doing my on-job training practice at Grand Roche. He took me under his wing and taught me how to appreciate the juice of the grape.

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