Tag Archives: Laurence Graff

Sparkling new book on Laurence Graff launched!

Laurence Graff bookA new coffee table book entitled ‘Graff‘ has been launched, and is available for sale locally from Delaire Graff, proceeds of the book sales going to the Graff charity FACET (For Africa’s Children Every Time).

Seven writers present the multi-faceted life of Laurence Graff, who founded the Graff diamond house at the tender age of 22 years, fifty-five years ago.  He worked as an apprentice from a young age, becoming a self-taught gemologist, and was particularly interested in diamonds. He has sold some of the most famous Continue reading →

LifeStraw launch at Le Roi Beach Bar in Camps Bay a lifesaver!

LifeStraw product Whale CottageWhat an unusual product launch to have been invited to, and what an interesting venue for client Aqua4Life to have chosen to launch its LifeStraw water filtration product on Thursday.

When we arrived at Le Roi Beach Bar in Camps Bay, the previous one half of Blues, we saw a pack lying on the table where the media goodie bags were displayed too. Made by Vestergaard, a Swiss company, the LifeStraw is a chemical-free filter which makes contaminated water safe to drink.  The product has been tested by the SABS, and equivalent international standards bodies, and removes ‘bacteria, protozoan cysts and turbidity from water’, according to the media release we received.   Aqua4Life has the exclusive rights to selling the product in Southern African countries, which comes in three sizes: the Personal portable filters up to 1000 litres; Go (in a water bottle) filters up to 1000 litres; and Home unit filters up to 4500 litres.  Aqua4Life MD Nico Germishuizen, said: ‘We have a plethora of projects lined up for the implementation of LifeStraw in poorer communities with little or no access to any water sources. Our foremost quest in southern Africa is to save and change the lives of those most desperately in need of clean, running water. We now need role players to step up and help us change those people’s lives’.   The product appears to have been around for a number of years already, and was named by Time magazine as the ‘Best Innovation of 2005‘.  The company is partnering with Rotary International, the Red Cross, the World Health Organisation, US Aid, and our government to provide clean water to those needing it.   On the company website, I found the prices for this innovative product range: R199 for Personal, R399 for Go, and R1999 for the Home unit. Continue reading →

$200 Laurence Graff Reserve 2009 launched at star lunch at Delaire Graff!

On Thursday wine and food writers were spoilt with a tasting of Delaire Graff wines followed by an excellent lunch, to celebrate the launch of its outstanding new Laurence Graff Reserve 2009, which was revealed at CapeWine 2012 for the first time, and which achieved a 5-star rating from Platter 2013, the only Cabernet Sauvignon to receive this top rating this year, judged by esteemed Michael Fridjhon.

Delaire Graff Estate CEO Johann Laubser spoke about the great vision which owner Laurence Graff, Chairman of Graff Diamonds International, had in developing the estate into what it has become now, having opened four years ago, immediately visible to visitors through the beautiful plants along the drive to the restaurant, the gardens having been developed by renowned landscaper Keith Kirsten.  Laurence Graff has a fine eye for detail, and invests in the finer things in life, which is evident through the outstanding artwork by South Africa’s leading artists throughout the building, including the painting of Mr Graff by Lionel Smit in the entrance hall.  He shared that Mr Graff had left school at 14, had become an apprentice jeweller, and owned his first jewellery store at the age of 23.  He is now listed on the Fortune 500 list, having grown his wealth on his own, without any family money.  He likened Mr Graff’s marketing insight to that of Dr Anton Rupert.  A number of interior decorators were invited to pitch for the contract, but Mr Graff wanted the best, choosing David Collins from London. Mr Graff is passionate about his property, we were told.

The Laurence Graff Reserve 2009 came about, with winemaker Morné Vrey bringing Mr Laubser a sample of wine from remarkable barrels of Cabernet Sauvignon, the grapes coming from a 12 year old vineyard on the estate, which were hand picked and sorted, with whole berry fermentation, and basket pressing to create a gentle extraction of the fruit. The wine was matured for 15 months in new French oak barrels, and then the best five barrels out of 60 were selected, matured for another five months, and then blended with 8% of Bordeaux varietals. They felt it was good enough to become their flagship brand, and wanted to name it after the owner.  Only 1370 bottles have been produced, and the wine will only be produced in exceptional years. The new wine is being sold at $200 per bottle, one of the most expensive bottles of wine in South Africa, and the first to be marketed locally in a dollar price.  Platter gave it the 5-star crown immediately. The wine was described as being complex, multi-layered, having structure and balance, being immediately drinkable yet would age if put down, or even once the bottle is opened. Delaire Graff only has 20 ha to plant its vines, and uses its own land to grow Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Shiraz.  Grapes are bought in for the white wines.

Chef Christiaan Campbell, who has been at Delaire Graff since it opened, is excited about the Eat Out 2012 Top 10 Restaurant Awards, his restaurant being on the Top 19 shortlist.  He shared that he has never won an award, and has never been on the Eat Out shortlist before.  We were extremely spoilt, the restaurant having been closed for our function, with a large complement of waitrons looking after our every need.  On a perfect wind-free day we sat outside on the terrace, with the magnificent view onto the Simonsberg.  I was lucky to share the table with Marketing & PR Manager Tanja Mackay-Davidson, gregarious Greg Landman who had us giggling throughout the lunch, award-winning wine writer Joanne Gibson, winemaker and writer Jonathan Snashall, Batonage Blog writers Maggie Mostert and Hennie Coetzee, and Delaire Graff winemaker Morné Vrey’s assistant Jacqueline van Wyk.

Chef Christiaan is dedicated to the ethics of food sourcing in his restaurant, and obtains his meat and eggs from Farmer Angus McKintosh at Spier, and vegetables from his own garden at Delaire Graff as well as from Daniel Kruger’s vegetable and herb garden at La Motte. The bread basket offered four different bread varieties, served with olive oil and balsamic vinegar.  The starter reflected his dedication to freshness, being spring vegetables, lemon confit, set goat’s milk, goat’s cheese ice, and almond cream, which was paired with Delaire Sauvignon Blanc 2012 (grapes come from Olifantsrivier, Walker Bay and Durbanville, costing R70 at the cellar door) and Delaire Coastal Cuvee Sauvignon Blanc 2012 (grapes coming from Stellenbosch, Darling, and Durbanville,  with some Franschhoek Sémillon added, costing R90 at the cellar door).

The Intermediate dish was a lovely medley of octopus, lobster, pickled radish, broad beans, crackers, drizzled with a lobster vinaigrette, paired with the Delaire Graff Sémillon/Sauvignon Blanc Reserve 2010, the Sémillon coming from Franschhoek, and the Sauvignon Blanc from Olifantsrivier, Durbanville, and a 45 year old Franschhoek vineyard,  and costing R180 at the cellar door.

Our main course was served on beautiful black plates imported from France, Tanja shared, and was a slow-cooked lamb shoulder, served with potato pavé, broad beans, and velouté, paired with the new Laurence Graff Reserve 2009.  Tanja had a special Vegetarian dish prepared, and it looked so delicious that she ordered another plateful of it, and shared it at our table.

The dessert was a delicious study in chocolate, consisting of a chocolate tart, banana crumble, peanut  butter ice cream, and a most delicious home-made ‘Del-air’ chocolate that looked brittle, but was as soft as Aero, which was paired with Delaire Graff Cape Vintage 2010, a port-style wine, and coffee and tea.

Disclosure: We received a special gift pack of the precious Laurence Graff Reserve 2009 with our media pack.

Delaire Graff Estate, Helshoogte Pass, Stellenbosch. Tel (021) 885-8160. www.delaire.co.za Twitter: @DelaireGraff    Wine Lounge Monday – Sunday 10h00 – 17h00. Lunch Monday – Sunday, Dinner Monday – Saturday.

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

WOSA’s world-wide wine week at CapeWine 2012 and Vindaba benefits Cape Town!

The world’s leading winelovers, wine experts, wine traders, sommeliers, and wine journalists have started arriving in Cape Town for the three day Cape Wine 2012, being held at the Cape Town International Convention Centre from tomorrow until Thursday, and Vindaba running alongside it.

More than 5000 wines from 300 wine estates are on show at CapeWine 2012, and more than 30 international wine journalists are expected to attend, having a tourism benefit for Cape Town and the Western Cape.  Delegates are attending from Europe, the UK, the USA, other African countries, South America, China, and Japan.  For the first time SA Tourism, in conjunction with WOSA (Wines of South Africa), have organised Vindaba, an exhibition of wine tourism products in the Western Cape.

CapeWine 2012 is held every two years, but was not held in 2010 due to the soccer World Cup, and is one of the largest marketing events organised by WOSA.  For the first time WOSA has gone green to reflect ‘the South African wine industry’s environmental consciousness’.  This includes booking guests into hotels within walking distance of the convention centre; only recycled paper will be used for printing, if printing is required at all; the stands are made from recycled boards; most stands will not use electricity, but rather LED lighting; all bottles, corks, and screw caps will be recycled; no bottled water will be available;  cork supplier Amorim will create a lounge made from recycled cork; media information will be made available in bamboo memory sticks; VIP bags have been made from recycled advertising banners; lanyards have been made from ‘sunbaked paper’; all fish served at the Green Tie event will be SASSI certified, and all eats will be made from local produce; the ‘green ties’ which allow entry to the event have been made from discarded plastic; solar lighting will be used for the Green Tie event; furniture for the Green Tie party has been made from recycled wooden pallets, and will be donated to a crèche afterwards; the plates at the Green Tie party are those from CapeWine 2008, and the cutlery is made from bamboo.

CapeWine 2012 will reflect the development of our local wine industry in wine growing, wine making, and wine marketing since South African wines were opened to international trade almost 20 years ago.  Tastings, seminars, workshops, and a Producer’s Soapbox will focus on changes in wine styles, reaction to climate change, the management of scarce natural resources, and the protection of old vines.

Su Birch, CEO of WOSA, said that interest in CapeWine 2012 was growing, as ‘South Africa has distinguished itself both in terms of quality and pioneering programmes to promote eco-sustainability. This has earned global recognition for the country on both fronts, from the market and environmentalists, particularly in recent years’. Mrs Birch added that CapeWIne has a solid reputation as a trade exhibition.

The organisation of the first ever Vindaba has been driven by SA Tourism, having sponsored the exhibition, and is project managed by Susannah Holz.  SA Tourism has identified that wine tourism is ‘one of the fastest-growing and most lucrative sectors of the global tourism market‘, says Marthinus van Schalkwyk, Minister of Tourism.  Wine tourism can make an important contribution to the country’s economy, the Minister said.  International as well as local media focusing on wine, travel and lifestyle are expected to attend.  The objective is to increase the income of wine tourism, only $41 per capita in our Winelands, compared to $188 in Napa Valley in the USA.  Seminars at Vindaba will focus on gastro-tourism, and tailor-made wine tours to the 17 wine routes in the Western Cape will expose the international visitors to the diversity and quality of their offerings.  The eco-friendly green focus of the Vindaba exhibition reflects that of CapeWine 2012.  The Vindaba exhibition organisation has not been without controversy, SA Tourism having been blamed for not being proactive enough in spreading international media across the different wine routes, having instead allowed them to choose where they want to visit, meaning that the majority have opted for Stellenbosch and Franschhoek.  Lesser-known wine routes, such as those in Paarl and Wellington,  will therefore remain exactly that!

Tonight WOSA is hosting a ‘Green Tie Event‘ for the opening of CapeWine 2012, and even this function is going green, in that invitees have been asked to park at the Cullinan Hotel, and will be bused in collectively or will be guided by a ‘Green Guide’ in walking to the function venue in the V&A Waterfront.  The evening promises a ‘sampling of our finest wines, paired with the freshest and most delicious local cuisine, and accompanied by a showcase of local music, song and dance‘.  The wine week will be concluded with the prestigious Nederburg Auction, which takes place on the Paarl wine estate on Saturday.

CapeWine 2012: 25 – 27 September, 10h00 – 17h00, Cape Town International Convention Centre. www.capewine2012.co.za

Vindaba: 24 – 27 September, 10h00 – 17h00, Cape Town International Convention Centre. www.vindaba.com

POSTSCRIPT 24/9: This evening about 720 guests, of which about 50% were international wine writers, sommeliers, wine buyers, and wine trade, attended the ‘Green Tie Event’ for the opening of CapeWine 2012. Initially one heard more ‘American’ than local English spoken!   The Who’s Who of the wine industry attended. Met German wine writers Mario Scheuermann (a Facebook friend) and Eckhard Supp, and Mike Veseth, the guest speaker at the Nederburg Auction on Saturday.  Neil Pendock, who received a late invitation from WOSA to attend the event, was the most spruced up we have seen in years, having had a hair cut today in honour of the event, it would seem!  The green theme of CapeWine 2012 was carried through in the event, with lighting made from recycled milk cartons. Excellent wines were served.   Even the food was ‘green’ and locally sourced.  The salmon cream on cucumber canapes were excellent.  The calibre and quantity of international wine visitors in Cape Town and the Winelands is an exceptional wine tourism marketing opportunity for our country.

POSTSCRIPT 26/9:  Yesterday I visited CapeWine 2012, and was impressed with the best looking exhibition in the Cape Town International Convention Centre. More than 300 wine estates have pulled out all the stops to package and present their wines to the top level local and international attendees.  The highlight was tasting a preview of the new Delaire Graff Laurence Graff Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2009, not yet labelled, an icon wine made in honour of the owner of the wine estate, its GM Johann Laubser said.  It will be the first South African wine to sell at $200 a bottle.

The Botanica Wines’ label design, reflecting the brand name, impressed once again, and the Chenin Blanc is likely to do well at Platter this year, its owner-winemaker Ginny Povall hinted.  The label designs come from botanical drawings by Mary Delany, seen by Ginny at the Yale Centre for British Art.  One of the largest stands was that for Fairview, which focused attention on its Fairview, La Capra, Goats do Roam, and Spice Route labels, as well as on its Fairtrade connection.

POSTSCRIPT 26/9: Vindaba, the first wine tourism showcase, is very disappointing, not having any of the design quality or professional look of CapeWine 2012, with few visitors.  Its location in an open space at which the banqueting is normally done is not ideal.  The Wine Routes are not collectively branded, and it is not clear as to where they start and end.  Some of the Wine Routes had individual products alongside them too. All are manned by very friendly staff, and include Wellington Tourism, the KWV Sensorium (a first in pairing art works with wines), Franschhoek Tourism, Spier, Elegantly Elgin, Mellesat (in Paarl, now famous due to the write up by Neil Pendock in the Sunday Times on Sunday), Neil Grant representing the South African Sommeliers Association and manning a stand of white blends, the Cape Whale Coast sharing with Hermanus Wines, Grande Roche, Durbanville Wine Valley, Cape Town Tourism, Solms-Delta, Laborie, and more. Creation was running the Cape Whale Coast/Hermanus Wines stand, but this is rotated over the three day exhibition.  By yesterday afternoon the Cape Town Tourism brochure bags had already run out, and no attempt had been made to supplement them.

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