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Myrna Robins

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Posted by on in News

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The weather was perfect, a calm early summer day. The road to Goudmyn farm was lined with flowering trees and shrubs, the vines still clothed in that early glorious lettuce-green, here and there deepening to grassy shades of the mature leaves. The placid waters of the Breede river could be glimpsed between the trees fringing the water.

Robertson Wine Valley had – as usual – secured perfect weather for their three-day Wine on the River festival, one of the Western Cape’s most popular celebrations, and with good reason.

This year the organisers added Connoisseurs' Tickets to the choice, an option that gave visitors access to a comfy lounge area and to the Wine Theatre where a programme of tastings and food and wine pairings were among the items on the programme.

First up on Friday morning was the Riedel Tasting, and as I settled onto the tall stool in front of an array of crystal glasses I reflected that this was, indeed, the first time I had attended a glass rather than a wine tasting!

Visitors trickled in along with some media who had just enjoyed a boat ride on the river. Our presenter was polished, professional but quite relaxed and informal. She shed her shoes as she had to stand on a pallet board on the grassy floor of the marquee as she demonstrated the differences between the glasses and poured wine into both her and our glasses.

The Riedel family are Austrian, and have been producing the famous glassware since 1756. The 11th generation is now at the helm although it was only in the late 1950’s that Claus J. Riedel introduced and developed wine-friendly stemware. Today the family is recognised worldwide for making the highest quality glasses and decanters for wine and spirits, also claiming to offer ranges for every lifestyle and price range, for fine dinners and for picnics.

We tasted half a dozen wines from the Robertson valley. After learning about how the rim, bowl and shape influence the wine’s aromas, textures and tastes we started with Graham Beck's Blanc de Blancs 2015,  by trying it from the traditional flute and from the more contemporary champagne wine glass that is now recommended in its place. Yes, I could find more flavour when sipping from the latter, but it was the next sample that did much to destroy my built-in scepticism: We sniffed and sipped Robertson Winery’s Constitution Road wooded chardonnay, a classy and delicious  wine packed with characteristic flavours and creaminess. Nice enough in a riesling glass but in the chardonnay glass with its rounded bowl textures and flavours seem to treble.

We went to on compare a pinot noir, cabernet sauvignon and shiraz in the “wrong’ and “correct" glasses and by the end of the session there was an audience convinced even if they would not necessarily shell out the substantial amount required to take home a set of this grape-specific glassware. There are several more affordable options, including packs with stemless Riedel glasses for picnics and casual al fresco dining. See also www.riedel.com.

This was an enjoyable session and fine start to Wine on the River 2019.

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Every so often Krone releases another special MCC, offering one or two unique features. This time it’s “a single-vineyard terroir-specific vintage cuvee” called Krone Kaaimansgat Blanc de Blanc 2016. I don’t know if it’s the first time that this renowned Tulbagh cellar uses grapes from another region for their bubbly, but the chardonnay from the high Kaaimansgat vineyards in the secluded Elandskloof ward above Villiersdorp seem to be the first choice of several prominent cellars in other regions.

Viticulturist Rosa Kruger confirms the outstanding quality of these grapes, adding that Krone accessed small crops of chardonnay from 31-year-old vines over three years for this MCC. Although 2016 was a year generally affected by heat and drought in the Cape winelands, Kaaimansgat escaped damage thanks to its high altitude.

The wine was produced in small batches, starting with whole-bunch pressing . Natural wild yeasts fermented the juice in large upright wooden vats. Bottle fermentation followed and the the wine was aged for three years on the lees in the underground cellar at the historic farm.

The handsome dark bottle with its embossed crown on the glass offers some info on the label, including low alcohol levels of 11% and the suggestion that this is a sparkler that is worth cellaring.

There is citrus on the nose which gives way to pure crisp flint on the palate, complemented by apply flavours. The producers predict that the characteristic biscuit notes will develop in time. Meanwhile a range of fine fare is suggested as good partners for this aristocratic Cap Classique, including, surprisingly, T-bone steak with foraged mushrooms. Shellfish, trout, cheese soufflé, roasted cauliflower and pears poached in sparkling wine, accompanied by clotted cream, are also recommended for pairing.

Given input costs and time in the cellar, one is not surprised at the R500 pricetag. Collectors will probably be happy to spend R3 000 for a case of patrician classic bubbles that will just go on and on getting even better...

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Posted by on in Events

CHARDONNAY AND PINOT CELEBRATION

 

Four top producers – three from Elgin and and one from Walker Bay - are joining forces to present an exceptional tasting of their chardonnay and pinot noir wines, following by a five-course gourmet dinner. The owners of

Elgin Ridge, Iona, Paul Cluver and Hamilton Russell will pour gems from their ranges on Friday October 11 at Paul Cluver wines in Elgin. This will be followed by dinner created by chef Craig Cormack and his team at Salt restaurant on the farm

Date: October 11

Time 6.30 for 7pm

Venue: Paul Cluver wines, Elgin

Cost: R1 200 per head

Bookings: via www.quicket.co.za

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PAIR YOUR FOOD WITH YOUR WINE AT THESE TASTINGS

 

 

The winning wines in the Sommeliers Selection competition will feature at three tasting events, held countrywide this month. The competition, the only one judged by a panel of South Africa sommeliers attracted more than 400 wines, beer and gin from more than 60 producers.

 

The events all cost R100 pp or R175 for two.
  
WESTERN CAPE

  • Venue:  Roca Restaurant, Franschhoek
  • Date:      Wednesday, 9 October
  • Times:    11.00-11h30 - trade only

    11h30 - public admitted
      13h00 - doors close

JOHANNESBURG

  • Venue:  Pool Deck, Tsogo Sun Hyde Park
  • Date:      Wednesday, 16 October
  • Times:    16:00-18:00 - trade only

             18:00 - public admitted
              21:00 - doors close

DURBAN

  • Venue:  The Beverly Hills Hotel, uMhlanga
  • Date:      Thursday, 31 October
  • Times:    16:00-18:00 - trade only

             18:00 - public admitted
              21:00 - doors close

Book:    https://www.webtickets.co.za/performance.aspx?itemid=1494163066

 
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South Africa’ s first Mindful Drinking Festival

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The Stone Cottages at Kirstenbosch in Newlands make the venue for this one-day festival where a wide choice of alcohol-free wines, beers and health drinks will be exhibited and poured on Sunday October 20. A blind tasting, free workshops, local musicians are all on the menu, and the event is hosted by Mindful Drinking SA , a movement motivated to help make non-alcoholic drinks socially acceptable and desirable on any occasion. The three producers of d-alcoholised wines in South Africa will also be there along with health food stalls including vegetarian and vegan options. See also www.mindfuldrinking.co.za.

Tickets cost R100 through Quicket or R130 at the door. The festival opens at 11am

 

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The Franschhoek Cap Classique & Champagne Festival, ‘The Magic of Bubbles’

Kickstart the festive season on a high note at the annual Franschhoek Cap Classique & Champagne Festival, ‘The Magic of Bubbles’, presented by Sanlam Private Wealth. The event takes place over the weekend of 30 November and 1 December at theHuguenot Monument.

For those preferring a laid-back experience, Sunday’s offering aka ‘The Big Bubbly Brunch’, should not be missed.. The grand marquee – the place to be seen – will be oozing style, elegance and sophistication. Lounge style music and brunch inspired food add the final touches.. The dress code for the weekend’s fashionable affair is Blue and White. A prize will be awarded to the Best Dressed Couple attending the Saturday event

Festival goers can choose between three price packages;

DATE

FESTIVAL TIMES

COST PER PERSON

Saturday, 30 November

12pm to 5pm

R395 per person

Sunday, 1 December

10am to 3pm

R250 per person

Weekend Ticket (Saturday and Sunday)

Applicable to the relevant dates

R550 per person

Tickets include access to the marquee and tasting glass, as well as MCC and champagne tasting coupons. Additional vouchers can be purchased on the day. Food is excluded from the ticket price. Children under 18 years will be allowed free entry.

Book directly through www.webtickets.co.za, For more information and regular updates visit www.franschhoekmcc.co.za.

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From the De Krans cellar on Buffelvlei, the first farm to be established at Calitzdorp in the mid-18th century, comes an ever-increasing range of enjoyable and affordable wines, diverse in character, cultivar and style. From the Classic Range the 2018 Wild Ferment chardonnay is a winner that celebrates both summer and its position in the top five at the inaugural 2019 Best Value Chardonnay contest organised by winemag.co.za. Retailing at around R73 it slots into the middle of the competition price points of R60 and R100.

This charming chard is unwooded, and, as its name implies, was made with no added yeast, spontaneous fermentation taking place more slowly, after which the wine was kept on fine lees for 6 months before bottling.

Citrus and butterscotch aromas lead to more of the the same on the palate, plus a little creaminess and crispness, in happy balance.

Made to be enjoyed, with moderate 13% alcohol levels, this is a white with wide appeal, whether sipped as aperitif, partnering summer salads or fare like marinated chicken on the coals.

To find out more, visit www.dekrans.co.za

Tagged in: News Wine
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Hard to believe that it was as recently as 2006 that Hermanuspietersfontein Wynkelder produced their first vintage! Those maiden wines enjoyed fine reviews in the 2007 edition of Platter, where the two sauvignon blancs, and Die Arnoldus and Die Martha were all rated 4 stars. Winemaker Bartho Eksteen had already put his maverick touch on those bottles, as one of the first, if not the first, to use only Afrikaans on his labels, a decision that still holds good 12 years on.

 

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Today HPF winery is still owned by the Pretorius family with Gerrie Heyneke and the talented winemaker is Wilhelm Pienaar . The quirky names continue to pique the interest of potential customers while the range is well established, with appealing whites and complex reds that exhibit styles reminiscent of the Old World with many a nod to the New.

The cellar team decided to keep the original name for Hermanus as its title, although its better known today as HPF. Most of its berries are sourced from the Sunday’s Glen ward in the Walker Bay region. In the 6-bottle case the winery sent me to sample, there were two whites, a rosé and four reds, and that’s the order in which I tried them.

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Kaalvoet Meisie 2017 - described on their website as a sauvignon blanc that epitomises “...the soul of Sondagskloof”” -  is a moreish, and sophisticated sauvignon despite its name. The addition of Semillon helps soften acidity while  nouvelle adds crisp green apply freshness.  There is a hint of maritime flint, citrus and fynbos both on the nose and palate. Moderate alcohol levels adds to this enjoyable aperitif, which also makes a fine partner to seafood and summer salads. Sells for R110.

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Why a cat with a wooden leg? No idea, but this Kat met die Houtbeen wooded sauvignon blanc 2016 vintage is a fine example of the genre, which is slowly creeping back into popularity. Semillon adds waxy complexity to an already characterful wine which presents fynbos and fig on the nose. On the palate herbiness and fynbos are layered in the structure from time in first, second and third-fill oak. A wine to mull over, to pair with ocean bounty and to keep for another year or two. Could partner a gourmet paella for festive occasions with panache.

Priced at R150.

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HPF Bloos 2019 is a rosé with class. All five Bordeaux red varietals feature in this appealing salmon- hued wine, that invites sniffing with its strawberries and cream aromas . But it is both dry and more complex than many of its cousins, having spent time with French oak “alternatives”. Fresh as a daisy, it sings of summer, with 12,5% alcohol levels,and versatile enough to make a mate for fare from picnics to wedding feasts. One of the nicest pinks I have tried recently. Costs R100.

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HPF Kleinboet 2016 is comprised of the same five classic Bordeaux reds – being cabernet sauvignon, cab franc, merlot, malbec and petit verdot, - but probably cabernet- led. Litte brother, perhaps to the flagship Arnoldus, but nothing junior about this fine blend with its complex nose of berry, olive, and whiffs of fynbos and I also picked up a little smokiness. Well balanced, all five varietals blended and matured together in French oak for two years before being bottled and bottled-aged for another year before being released. Alcohol levels of 14%, it offers excellent ageing potential. Worth investing in at R185.

 

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Swartskaap cabernet franc 2016 is both elegant and full-bodied reflecting something of an Old World style, with some restraint discernible and where flint and fynbos dominate rather than fruit. , After malolactic fermentation the wine matured in new and second-fill French oak for 18 months and spent a further year in bottle before release. Sells for R305.

 

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The renowned HPF flagship Arnoldus 2015 is a five-way Bordeaux blend from one of the most outstanding vintages of this century. Impressive in every aspect, from its nose of fruit and that characteristic olive and fynbos to the palate where tannin, some spice and berry flavours are so well balanced, integrated into an intense mouthful with a long finish. A wine to pair with good red meat that has enjoyed gourmet nurturing. It costs R420.

For further info visit www.hpf855.co.za

 
Tagged in: Review Wine
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Fans of Italian fare (and isn’t that nearly everyone?) should diarise October 5 and 6 when the first Festa Italiana will take place in Milnerton at the Italian Club.

The club will be transformed into an Italian street fair, such as you find in Rome, Milan, Naples, Venice and Palermo. All things Italian will be the focus, with food and cooking playing a major role. Italian cars to drool over will prove popular while wine, fashion, music, arts and crafts are all on the menu.

Author and foodie Grazia Barletta will demonstrate Italian culinary dishes, ahead of launching her third book, Delicious Italian Moments. Expect to see her produce Peperonata and Amaretti Semifreddo. Her demos start at 11am on Saturday and 14,45pm on Sunday.

Giovanni and Gabriella Esposito, a father and daughter duo will also be demonstrating cooking, while Davide Ostuni will show us how to make authentic mozzarella cheese.

The programme is packed with two days of exciting activities with something for all age groups. As the organisers say, Italian brands are highly sought after and popular in every culture. From la Scala Opera to the Florentine arts, fashion icons, gastronomic delights and automotive brands, “Made in Italy “is in class of its own.”

 

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Tickets can be bought through Webtickets or at the door on the day. Costs are R80 for adults, R55 for pensioners and children from 12 – 18. Children under 12 go in free. The Italian Club is at 16 Donegal Street, Rugby, Milnerton.

 

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When the second vintage of a new wine is even better than the first – and the first was memorable – then you know you have found a label to love. When the winery does not raise the price to unaffordable levels just because it’s attracting awards, the said label becomes even more attractive.

So it was with the release of the 2018 vintage of Tanagra Colombard, which I sampled at the 10 year anniversary celebration of this beautiful boutique wine cellar, distillery and guest farm, a few kilometres from the village of McGregor.

Colombard (or Colombar) is not a noble cultivar., but a modest varietal occupying just more than 1,9% of South Africa’s vineyard area. It is used largely as a major component of base wine for our illustrious brandy production. And, has now proven to the wine world that it can yield grapes that – having been nurtured in the vineyard and enjoyed careful and talented attention in the cella -, it can produce a fine wine of quality.

The maiden vintage, 2017 presented us a golden-hued wine that, along with being delicious , enjoyed the element of surprise. Would its successor maintain the quality?   It did, in every aspect, adding something of a polished character as if to say – I’m here and ready to stay! The grapes come from a single vineyard on the farm, 22 years old, yielding enough berries to produce 2 300 bottles. The early-morning harvest was gently crushed, and natural or wild yeasts used to ferment the juice .

The wine spent a month in third-fill oak barrels before bottling Alcohol levels are held at a modest 13%. The wine offers flavours of sub-tropical and stone fruit on the palate, including a hint of the characteristic guava. Medium-bodied with some flint, it is fresh without being acidic and a hint of cream adds to well -rounded happiness

A charming aperitif for spring days and summer nights that comes into its own as a companionable partner for many an al fresco dish, including tomato-based fare which is usually difficult to pair well. Robert and Anette Rosenbach have received reports from far and wide on how well their Colombard adds enjoyment to both luncheon and supper menus, while it’s equally happy to partner local cheese.

It sells for R100 and details of stockists and deliveries can be found on their website www.tanagra-wines.com. Visitors to the Robertson Wine on the River festival in mid-October will be able to taste it at the Tanagra stand.

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Posted by on in Books

BOEREKOS WITH A TWIST by Annelien Pienaar. Published by Human & Rousseau, 2018 

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This delicious cookbook has been out for more than a year already, but that is not stopping me from reviewing it now, in fine time for Heritage month as Pienaar’s collection presents a collection of time-honoured family favourites, updated, so boerekos with a twist, as the title tells us.

So, you will find basil pesto following biltong paté, koeksusters preceding berry muffins, but most of the fare in this title is traditional, country fare where cooks used to substitute ingredients where necessary. Vegetables are often sweetened, tarts and pies make use of canned and smoked fillings that were available to cooks living far from markets and supermarkets.

The author is as trendy as tomorrow, food scientist, guest farm owner, television cook, cookery school owner and blogger with – wait for it – more than five million followers.

The fact that she teaches cookery shines through every page, as she presents every recipe as a lesson, from the introduction, through the ingredient list (both cup and spoon and metric measurements given) to a step- by -step numbered method with detailed instructions.

The contents follow the traditional menu format, starting with soups and sauces, working through vegetables, meat and fish before extended sections of baking, scones and pies and desserts. Those interested in heritage Cape fare will find recipes for boerewors, for curried brawn, for smoking meat on the stove top using rooibos teabags. Desserts range from a trad favourite – guava foam tart - to a sophisticated and beautiful berry and cream pavlova.

Beautifully illustrated with food photographs by Myburgh du Plessis and Hanneri de Wet , that are as tempting as any I have seen, the text concludes with some suggested menus and a detailed index.

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Unwind, unplug, breathe deep and savour the rural scene.  You're at  one of the most popular annual wine and food festivals in South Africa, with good reason. The 14th Wine on the River festival, hosted by the Robertson Wine Valley and Nedbank will welcome visitors daily from Friday October 11 to Sunday 13th with wonderful wine, fine country fare, a host of activities and memorable hospitality.

 

As before, the lawned and shady banks of the placid Breede river on Goudmyn farm make the perfect setting for the tents, stalls and al fresco restaurants that transform the riverside into a hive of happy festival-goers.

Along with tasting your favourite white, red, rosé and sparkling wines, you are likely to find exciting new varietals to try and buy. Snack on delectable local produce as you wander along, pause for quality coffee and rusks and take your pick from a tempting selection of lunch menus savoured at tables under umbrellas. Children will gravitate to their own area where supervised activities for all ages are offered.

Go one better and indulge in a Connoisseurs ticket which makes you a VIP for the day, with entrance to the Nedbank Lounge, where all kinds of goodies and treats are on tap. Book a seat at the wine theatre for wine and food pairings to remember. And note that stocking your boot with your fine quality wine purchases from this valley makes a far smaller dent in your budget than those from many of the competition!

Travellers booking for the weekend have a wide choice of village and farm accommodation to contemplate, plus luxurious camping, or glamping, presented in a package that includes tickets and transport.

B&B hosts in Robertson, McGregor, Bonnievale, Ashton and Montagu wait to welcome you (and there will be shuttle servces available from all towns to the festival over the weekend. You can even pre-book your shuttle trips on the website.)

The sporting types, both runners and bikers, will want to head to Van Loveren Family Vineyards where the popular Java MTB Challenge takes place on Saturday 12th October. There is a great choice of routes; runners have alternative 10km and 15km trails to consider while biking families can enter for  the non-technical fun ride . Serious riders can choose from more gruelling routes, some for top riders only. Every participant will receive a medal and goody-bag! Visit www.javamtb.co.za for more info, or call Alet on 023 6151505.

 

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Festival visitors enjoy feeling good about something they do or buy, which is why three charitable organisations always book their place at Wine on the River. Those enjoying a boat cruise on the river contribute to the Breede Hospice , which will also be selling snacks from their stall. The acclaimed Thunderchild red blend will also be on sale, every cent of your purchase going to Die Herberg, an orphanage with a century of history of ensuring a loving home and well educated childhood to hundreds of less fortunate children. Look out as well for the craft stall filled with useful items created by the folks at the home for seniors in Robertson – sales of  inexpensive items that boost their funds.

 

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Tickets cost from R150 to R350 a head, with a VIP ticket selling for R750. Buy your tickets online from Howler.co.za. There will be no ticket sales at the entrance gates, so it's essential that you get yours before you go.  For further info on accommodation, transport and wine theatre bookings, visit www.wineonriver.com, email admin@robertsonwinevalley.com or call 023 626 3167.

 

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Heritage month makes a great excuse, should we need one, to focus on our Cape history – its viticulture, architecture and cuisine, among other aspects. So when a trio of Lanzerac wines arrived that all embody this colourful heritage, the subject of this September blog required no further debate.

A few years back cellarmaster Wynand Lategan added the maiden vintages of a new range to the Lanzerac wine portfolio. Headed the Keldermeester Versameling he focussed on fine harvests of uncommon cultivars, bottled them in heavy glass bottles closed with wax and added a minimalistic white label. The back label offers some info, and only Afrikaans is used.

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There are two whites in this range, both of which are worth sampling when next you visit the tasting centre. There’s very little pinot blanc in South Africa, but Lanzerac boasts a single, low-yield vineyard in the Jonkershoek valley which Lategan used to make Christina in 2001, a rare example of this varietal, launched to coincide with the arrival of the new millennium and given the thumbs up by Tim James in the 2002 edition of Platter’s wines. Fast forward to 2017 when the first vintages of the Keldermeester Versameling were released, one of which is a limited edition, named Bergpad, a wooded pinot blanc which I enjoyed enormously. Golden in hue, it makes quite a bold statement, (I received the 2016), full bodied, old oak melding with flavours of pineapple and semi-tropical fruit, freshness thanks to muted acidity.  The wine is  a fine example of well-balanced handling, just different enough to offer a nice altlernative to the usual whites. It is a fine tribute to the famous mountain path that stretches from Coetzenberg sports ground to Lanzerac, that has seen generations of Stellenbosch students tramp their way to the famous bar on the farm.

Bergpad was joined by Bergstroom last year, a 2017 vintage blend of homegrown sauvignon blanc and semillon from Elgin. Fermentation took place in old French oak, using mostly natural yeast, and six months of maturation preceded blending and bottling. It is a charming example of a classic blend, offer ing green fruity flavours of kiwi and gooseberry, a long delicious mouthfeel that lacks the acidity that often dominates sauvignon blanc. Alcohol levels of 14% are not obvious, and this makes both a moreish aperitif and fine partner for local salmon trout with beurre blanc. Bergstroom also pays pleasing tribute to mountain streams, both those of Stellenbosch and of many a small South African dorp, offering irrigation lifelines to people, livestock and crops.

Both these delightful whites, limited editions and numbered, are available only from Lanzerac, priced at a reasonable R200.

No vinous discussion about heritage could exclude our one true indigenous grape – pinotage is not only enjoying global acclaim at present, but Lanzerac estate is also celebrating the 60th anniversary of the 1959 Lanzerac pinotage which was produced by then owners,  SFW co-operative, under the Lanzerac label. Created by Stellenbosch universty’s Professor Abraham Perold who cross-pollinated pinot noir and cinsaut to produce just four seeds in 1925, the new cultivar, pinotage flourished and was first used in blending with other dry reds.

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Today cellarmaster Lategan continues to specialise in pinotage, offering winelovers and connoisseurs an easy-drinking rosé, a full-bodied classic pinotage from the premium range and the flagship Pionier Pinotage, a single vineyard champion .

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Iconic wine from an iconic Cape estate: Having been fully restored after a major fire two years ago, Lanzerac is back on the winelands map, as beautiful and elegant as ever. More than three centuries of history can be experienced in the special ambience found in some sections where old walls and woodwork retain the patina of many an ancestral presence. Beauty abounds in a magnificent setting, as the estate wears its three centuries with effortless grace.

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Posted by on in Events

CHOIRS FOR AFRICA TO RAISE FUNDS FOR AGRICULTURAL YOUTH PROJECTS

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SING! Choir “Extravaganza takes place at the Grand Arena, GrandWest in Cape Town on Saturday September 7 at 18h30 for 19h00. The Ndlovu Youth Choir from Limpopo will be joining the Tygerberg Chrildren’s Choir, the Libertas Choir and the Cape Town Youth Choir in a diverse programme . The Limpopo choir is known for their performance of Afro-Pop classics and traditional music, while the Libertas choir performs a cappella music and trad and contemporary South African songs. The event is organised by Agri-Expo to raise funds for agricultural youth projects.

After their individual performances there will be a mass choir performance. Tickets from Computicket at R200 – R350. See www.singsa.co.za for more information.

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Stellenbosch Hills' Heritage pairing

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September is about roots and this year Stellenbosch Hills gets you back to yours with new tastings to celebrate the diversity of South African heritage.

In partnership with the Private Hotel School, the Heritage Food & Wine Pairing for September 2019 features a line-up of firm favourites for R75pp. 

First up is the 1707 Reserve White 2018 served in a perfect partnership with Cape Malay pickled fish and a slice of crisp, garlic-flavoured bruschetta.

: the 1707 Reserve Red 2015 – a Gold medal winner at Veritas 2017 - shines delectably alongside boerewors-inspired meatballs served on home-made tomato chutney.

The parting is delivered by the stellar Stellenbosch Hills Muscat de Hambourg 2018 – the 30th anniversary vintage of this all-round favourite – paired with orange malva pudding with a rooibos tea infused crème anglaise.

The Stellenbosch Hills Heritage Food & Wine is available Monday to Friday, 09h00 to 17h00, and Saturday 10h00 to 15h00 for R75.pp. Bookings are essential. Call 021 881 3828 or eamail info@stellenbosch-hills.co.za

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TASTING OF TIM ATKIN’S TOP-SCORING WINES

There will be a public tasting of his 95+ point scoring wines with the winemakers in Cape Town on 13 September. To book tickets at a cost of R500, go to: http://www.winecellar.co.za/tim-atkin-tasting-13-sept-cpt-nv.html

UK journalist Tim Atkin, MW is a multiple-award winning journalist, wine taster, photographer and writer with 34 years’ experience. He has just released his seventh annual guide to SA wines, and calls the Cape “one of the most exciting wine-producing countries on the planet”, thanks to a combination of old vines, young winemaking talent, established names, varied terroirs and a can-do spirit.

This year, Atkin singles out Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc, Cinsault and Syrah for special praise, all of which are established varieties in the Cape, but also highlights the “enormous potential” of Albariño, Agiorgitiko, Assyrtiko, Furmint, Grenache Blanc, Grenache Noir, Malbec, Mourvèdre, Petit Verdot, Roussanne and Verdelho. Atkin's 2019 South Africa Special Report runs to over 281 pages and is the product of three trips to the Cape over the last year, as well as further tastings in the UK, and includes:

  • Top wines of the year (white, red, rosé, sweet, fortified and sparkling);
  • Scores for 2,118 wines, with retail prices in South African Rand, ranging from R33 to R4,000;
  • 1,447 tasting notes;
  • Evocative photos of the winelands and winemakers;
  • His controversial 2019 classification of the 250 best South African wineries.
    •  Tim Atkin MW’s 2019 South Africa Special Report is available to download from www.timatkin.com for £20.

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RMB WINEX 2019

 

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RMB WineX turns a proud 20 this year, as it holds its annual wine festival from Wednesday 30 October to Friday 1 November at the Sandton Convention Centre. The

the best of the Cape – and some gems from the international wine scene – will be poured. At least 30 wineries from the inaugural show aret taking part plus a large contingent of next-generation winemakers showcasing their wares to the vibrant Gauteng market. 

The RMB Private Bank Tasting Lounge has become a much anticipated feature at the show over the last five years.  Winemakers present half-hour small-group tastings covering a range of fascinating topics.  Seats are limited and secured on a first-booked-first-served basis, so guests should reserve their attendance immediately on arrival at the show. 

Show visitors won’t go hungry with the array of edibles on show for sampling and sale.  French cheese, Morgenster olives, foie gras, West Coast oysters, sushi from the Sushi Bus, Norwegian smoked salmon, chocolates and nougat will be the order of the day along with the tapas and deli dishes sold at the Mastrantonio Café.  The Shop@Show facility, administered by Norman Goodfellows, offers the convenience of a one-stop wine buying service for home delivery in time for the festive season. 

 

RMB WineX 2019 Details:       

            

Dates: Wednesday 30 October to Friday 1 November 2019 (Wednesday night by invitation only)

Venue: The Pavilion, Sandton Convention Centre, Maude Street, Sandton

Time: 17h00 to 21h00 each night

Tickets for Thursday and Friday nights: www.winex.co.za from 16 September.  Strictly no under 18s. 

Getting there and home:

 

Event Queries: www.winex.co.za for all details, list of exhibitors and wines in the lead-up to the show, and to register for Shop@Show. 

Contact: OutSorceress Marketing, telephone 011 482 5936 or email winex@outsorceress.co.za.

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CELEBRATE CHENIN AT PERDEBERG WINES

 

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Chenin Blanc has made huge strides in quality and popularity over the last few years, with a passionate group of producers aiming for the stars!

 

 

The first “Celebrate Chenin” Festival, presented by Perdeberg Wines will share this passion with wine lovers, showing off styles from serious barrel-fermented whites, easy-drinking fruity summer wine right up to Methóde Cap Classique bubblies and incredible dessert wines.

 

Twenty wineries will offer their wines for tasting and for sale directly to visitors. Food Trucks and live music will round off the experience.

 

DATE:                    Saturday 2 November, 11h00-16h00.

 

VENUE:                                Perdeberg Wines, Windmeul Rd, Agter-Paarl.  Visit www.perdeberg.co.za for more info.

 

TICKETS:               R250 online at Webtickets, R280 at the Box Office on site. Includes: Branded crystal glass, R60 food coupon, live music and free tastings.

 

 

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Given the growing trend to produce wines that reflect a sense of place , it’s good to see Stellenbosch Hills join the mode with the release of a pair of classy limited edition wines that now form their flagship duo. The range will soon be expanded with the addition of a MCC.

Both the white, a wooded chenin blanc and the red blend have cork closures and attractive front labels, the former featuring a wild chestnut flower, the latter our beautiful sunbird , his beak deep in a Sugarbush Protea. These features are found on the farm(s) from where the grapes were sourced.

Kastanjeberg 2017 is a wooded chenin, produced from a single vineyard growing high on slopes facing False Bay. This is a bold, full-bodied chenin, offering aromas of honey and stone fruit and whiffs of vanilla from its time in oak. There is more fruit on the palate, where flavours of peach and apricot are complemented with some nuttiness, oak lending tannic structure and vanilla, and acidity assuring freshness. It’s a big wine in every sense (including high alcohol levels at 14,5%) and will make a good partner with complex poultry and game bird dishes, pork and also complement Asian fare from countries like Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore.

Suikerboschrand is a Cape blend from that superb vintage year 2015 and comprises one-third pinotage, with 29% shiraz, 14% cabernet sauvignon, 14% merlot and 10% petit verdot.  All the components were vinified separately and spent 24 months in new French oak before blending and bottling took place. This is a voluptuous blend, where an array of aromas – berries, chocolate, cigar box – are followed by a complexity of flavours on the palate, fruit melding with tannic structure from new oak. Alcohol levels of 14,5% do not overwhelm the wine which is both accessible and well balanced.

As these flagship wines are destined to be savoured by connoisseurs and those keen to know more, both about the “place” or terroir from where the harvests came, the age of the grapes, and – in the case of the chenin – how long the wine spent in wood, and was it first, second or third-fill oak, it seems a pity that these facts are neither on the labels nor can be found on the website. I would like to ask the winemaker why he decided that a bold, wooded chenin would offer a better sense of place, (that is the high single vineyard), than a wine where the grapes could have expressed their particular terroir.

The Kastanjeberg sells for R285 and the Suikerboschrand for about R385 both from the cellar and some boutique wine stores. Email info@stellenbosch-hills.co.za for more info.

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CRADLE OF LIFE: The story of the Magaliesberg and the Cradle of Humankind by Vincent Carruthers. Published by Struik Nature, 2019.

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No matter how dedicated a student, how rapid a reader, how enthusiastic an amateur, no one can absorb this amazing accumulation of knowledge in one sitting. Or even three. This is a treasure house - profusely illustrated - of the evolution of life up to the present, as found in the Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site in the Magaliesberg Biosphere Reserve.

Author and award-winning environmentalist Vincent Carruthers – who has spent his adult life living and working in the Magaliesberg, takes us along a timeline, from the birth of our planet through to the 21st century. What an extraordianary journey he presents, as we unearth the formation of our landscapes, the emergence of life, the rise of humankind. On we go through the Stone and Iron ages, early settlements, migrations, wars and modern developments.

The greater Magaliesberg has a unique geology, history, and biodiversity. Paleontologists, archaeologists, botanists, military historians and environmental lawyers were all among the academics and specialists that Carruthers worked with during his endeavours to get the entire Cradle-Magaliesberg region registered by UNESCO as a Biosphere Reserve. A decade later the proclamation took place in Paris in 2015.

Main chamber Sterkfontein Caves.

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The book opens with the birth of our planet, 13,800 million years ago. Fast forward to 3,100 million years ago and we learn about the first landmass, then about The Magaliesberg and the Pretoria Group at mere 2,350 million years back. In the section headed Africa, time moves on to the breakup of Gondwana, mammal and primate evolution at 65 million, and climate change and the spread of grasslands at 15 million years ago.

Humans enter the scene in Part 2, sub-headed Evolutionary Science. The section ends with the arrival of Homo sapiens some 200 000 years ago. Part three deals with the First People populating the world, the Stone age hunter-gatherers, early farming at Broederstroom (1 600 years ago) and the development of cattle economy as recently as 200 years back.

Maropeng Visitor Centre

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There’s more detail in the later chapters covering the 19th century, which includes the South African War and revival of Afrikaner nationalism after World War I. Modern developments make the final part, as in engineering (Hartbeespoort dam), and in science (the Leiden telescopes and Hartebeesthoek radio astronomy observatory.)

Carruthers concludes with the sobering thought that human activity is altering many of the evolutionary processes of the planet, including climate, atmospheric conditions, ecosystems and the hydrosphere. In the midst of this evidence (platinum, chrome and manganese mines and urban pollution) the Cradle-Magaliesberg retains much of its rural character and unspoilt natural environment. It is a model to be emulated because of its combination of scientific endeavour, sustainable economic enterprise, environmental responsibility and community development.

A detailed glossary, bibliography and index complete the text.

The back cover describes this book as “spectacular.” To which I would like to add “and awe-inspiring.”

 

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We have come to expect the best from Waterkloof wines, and I have yet to be disappointedThe estate’s fierce commitment to traditional organic and biodynamic methods is well-known and there is no doubt that these are reflected in the purity of their wines,  accompanied by a delicacy that promotes, rather than restrains,  expression of terroir. Add to this a natural elegance that  has long been winemaker Nadia Barnard-Langenegger’s  characteristic style, and you know what to expect as you unscrew the cap of the 2016 vintage of Waterkloof Circle of Life White.

Winelovers will be delighted to find the components listed on the front label – 67% sauvignon blanc, 29% chenin blanc and 4% splash of semillon. I found the sauvignon to be dominant both on the nose and slightly less so on the palate, but there are few typical chenin characteristics. The chenin has, however, softened the sauvignon's acidity and added a backdrop of flint Fruit is restrained, but adds roundness to the blend which lingers to a long, complex,  satisfying and serene finish. Moderate alcohol levels are in keeping.

Winemaker Nadia co-fermented the sauvignon and chenin in a combo of 600 litre barrels and concrete “eggs.” No additives were used, and extended time on the lees and with bottle maturation contribute to the fine integration that is characteristic of this blend.

A persuasive example of the positive effects of eco-farming, organic and biodynamic vini- and viticulture, this retails for around R160.

 

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With a bottle each of La Motte’s recently released 2016 Syrah and their 2018 Chardonnay, one is well prepared for weekend celebrations, whatever the weather, whatever’s on the menu.

Even before one has screwed off the Chardonnay cap and pulled the Syrah cork, you know that you have wines in hand that will adhere to the farm’s established reputation for quality and consistency. Further, you can count on elegance without austerity: these are wines to be sipped, enjoyed whether on their own or adding vinous eloquence to a spring luncheon or hearty dinner.

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Starting with the Chardonnay, the cellar reports that after a long dry ripening season, the grape harvest proved healthy with concentrated flavours. Bunches were whole-pressed and juice transferred to 300-litre French oak barrels for fermentation, followed by malolactic fermentation. A third of the juice was fermented in tank without malolcatic fermentation. After 11 months components were blended and the wine bottled in April this year.

Alcohol pleasingly low at 12,5% ,the chardonnay offers citrus and stone fruit aromas preceding similar flavours on the palate. Medium-bodied, fresh and inviting, with no obvious evidence of the wood, as it’s so well integrated. A delightful aperitif that would also partner well with seafood, poultry salads and cream cheeses

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The Syrah grapes were all homegrown , and the harvest endured heatwaves which resulted in a lower yield and earlier harvest, and the shiraz being lighter in style than usual.  Both elegance and appeal have been maintained, however.. Whole berries were placed into tanks, yeasts added and fermentation followed. The wine matured in 300 litre French oak, to which 15 % Durif (Petite Sirah) was added to enhance colour and extraction. Moderate alcohol levels are accompanied by  agreeable fruitiness from berry and plum flavours , with a little pepper on the palate. The vintage offers a good mix of Old and New World styles, increasing its potential for popularity among all who savour syrah. A wine to pair with any red meat, but will enhance, in particular, those meats sauced with fruit or braaied with a sticky marinade.

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Before adding my ten cents worth as to what Voltaire was satirising in his 18th century novella Candide, let’s look at this wine, a charming, even enchanting blend from the historic Babylonstoren estate, home to magnificent gardens along with winery, accommodation and restaurants.

Fruity, satiny, as fresh and moreish as the spring we await, Candide 2018 is a four-way blend of cultivars all grown on the enormous estate: Wine of origin Simonsberg-Paarl, the bottle proclaims – and apart from its moderate alcohol levels of 13,5% - it tells us little else.

Not even on the website will curious consumers find much about Candide, so here are some facts about this captivating wine, gleaned from their efficient marketing professional Lize Grobb and the Platter guide.

Candide is chenin-led, at 45% with 24% viognier, and the remainder almost equal proportions of chardonnay and semillon. The grapes are all grown on the Simonsberg slopes and the chenin and semillon underwent cold fermentation in tanks after pressing, then kept on secondary lees for four months until bottling. The chardonnay and viognier were fermented in French oak and were kept on the lees for four months.

The results are gentle yet quite complex, where a stone and tropical fruit flavours meld with citrus in a crisp medium-bodied wine where each element is in fine balance with the others. There’s a feminine touch to this little gem, which made me wonder if the only female winemaker on the Babylonstoren cellar team, Marina Laubser had significant input to its creation. Both elegant and eminently approachable, Candide serves to strengthen my belief in chenin-led blends being the pinnacle of Cape white wines with regard to quality, diversity and offering great enjoyment.

Apparently the 2019 vintage will be on sale in September, which is definitely an item for the spring shopping list. Meanwhile '18 is not to be missed. It sells for R155 from cellar door.

Back to the choice of name, designed, I am sure, to get winelovers talking over their Candide aperitif: As Voltaire ends his work with its best-known phrase, which, translated, reads “We must cultivate our garden” – it could literally refer consumers to the sumptuous beauty of the estate’s gardens. But that would be a waste of an opportunity to argue about what Voltaire was targeting – optimism? War? Persecution? The tolerance and the rights of the individual were among his concerns and they are there for readers to find in his fast-paced action across 18th century continents.

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Consumers are hurting, and so is the Cape wine industry. With shrinking budgets, winelovers who don’t intend to give up their chenin or chard., shiraz or pinotage, are turning to cheaper labels, with mixed results.

While there are many enjoyable labels in the R50 – 70 range, there are others that may be perfectly drinkable, but are unremarkable, even insipid, leaving one feeling more than a little irritable by the time the bottle is empty.

Move up a few rand and the scene changes – in the field of white wines selling between R80 and R90 and reds between R100 and 110 it is possible to find real class, fabulous whites, reds and blends where nurtured berries are given careful but often minimal treatment, where integrity plays as big a role as talent and dedication.

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Here are two examples recently enjoyed:

Vriesenhof Grenache Shiraz Mourvèdre 2017 costs R100 and is described by winemaker Nicky Claasens as a nod to classic French winemaking. Yet this is no austere blend with tight tannins that should be cellared for a few years before opening – it is ready to drink now, with pizza, pasta, other Med-style fare, but will keep happily for a few years if kept in good conditions. The aromas, flavours and structure were all affected by the severe drought of that vintage, producing, as Claassens says, “not only the memory of terroir, but also the expression of place.” It’s quite rich, offers berry and dark chocolate flavours sprinkled with white pepper. It matured for nine months in 3rd and 4th fill French oak and is a great example of the new generation of wines flowing from the historic Stellenbosch cellar.

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Fat Bastard Chardonnay 2018 sells for about R90 and was the wine with the highest score in the inaugural Best Value Chardonnay Tasting convened by Winemag. co.za last year. It scored 90 points and was described by editor Christian Eedes as follows” “On the nose... seduces with ripe stone fruit, tropical melon too and suble hints of vanilla. There’s good mid-palate fruit intensity... an off-dry impression enhanced by vanilla cream, oak notes and a mere hint of burnt butter. Bold be well-rounded and balanced.” It’s hard to improve on that full description, and I am not going to try, but we enjoyed every sip and found it a chardonnay not only of high quality, but rich, round and well balanced. The range may have a fun name but the wines are serious in that they are made with care, made for enjoyment, and are consistent in quality – Robertson Winery has been making them successfully for the Franco-British pair Guy Anderson and Vigneron Thierry Boudinaud for 21 years.

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Why Monica Lewinsky, I wondered as I savoured my first slice of a delectable pizza, thin, crispy, topped with capers, chopped anchovies and black olives on a tomato and mozzarella base. The flavours were so well integrated, the wedges the right size for eating with fingers, the size generous, that I could find no fault with it.

Vern and I visited Kurt and André’s new gastronomic venture with great anticipation, having heard a series of good reports about pizzas and puds.

Although they have not yet sorted out their liquor licence, the pub section of the FLA was well occupied, the long bar propping up mostly male customers and one couple preferring the sofa option. On to the spacious dining area behind, which is dotted with two long and two small pale blonde tables and trendy stick-leg 60’s-style chairs. Attractive lighting overhead was just becoming functional but there was enough daylight to take in the simple courtyard garden at the back, glimpsed through a wall of full length French windows. Al fresco dining should be popular as the weather warms up, wooden ranch type seating beckons between stone paths and the beginnings of a veggie garden.

Inside the feel is Scandinavian minimalist, with a modern fireplace emitting welcome heat at one end. At the other, Karoo aloes in tall floor vases flower either side a wall of huge butter-coloured platters on the wall. “We’re looking for five more to complete the scene...”

Settling at a small table, we were given wine glasses and a practical menu – the pizza takeaway list printed on an A4 sheet of white paper which can be replaced and updated with little expense. The pizzas start at R65 for the only vegetarian option, simply entitled Milkmaid. where the basic tomato and cheese base is topped with fresh basil. Six others follow, named after a variety of female celebrities, three of whom are deceased, and ranging in price from R85 to R95. Vern was very happy with his choice, topped with salami, feta and sweet peppadew (not pepperdew, why does no one get this spelling right?). It is dubbed Montserrat Caballe, a Spanish soprano who died in Barcelona last year, Google tells me. Ah.

Mae West lends her name to a topping of smoked chicken breast, more peppadew and smoked cheese, while nonagenarian Gina Lollobrigida is remembered with chorizo and camembert. Social media queen Kim Cardashian tweets about roasted BBQ rib and fresh rocket on her pizza and Mamma Cass’s name graces toppings of green bacon, blue cheese and green fig preserve. (I had to look her up as well – she was a member of the Mammas and Pappas pop group and died at the age of 32 in London.)

Service was solicitous and friendly. The blackboard announced the dish of the day as pork rib and mash, and the dessert was cheesecake (R45. )

And whether or not you appreciate the allure of presidential seductress Monica Lewinsky, succumb to the charms of the Fat Lady in the certain knowledge that your supper should prove to be a delicious experience.

 

A great and affordable addition to the McGregor dining out and takeout scene, The Fat Lady’s arms is open from 5 – 10pm from Wednesday to Sunday. Weekend lunches will follow soon. Find the venue in the middle of McGregor on Voortrekker street, and call them on 082 786 4888 for more info.

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In the winelands the almond trees are blossoming, a welcome sign of spring to come. Food and wine events in city and country to tempt you away from the fireside during August and into September...

 

Balance Wine and Pizza Tasting

 

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What’s for lunch on the R60? Pull into Overhex Winery and Bistro for their Balance pizza wheel tasting: sample Balance sauvignon blanc, cab/merlot and shiraz, each with a slice of pizza, topped with bacon and fig, chicken pesto and prego steak respectively. Cost: R100. Available seven days a week.

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Delheim estate’s live jazz and fondue

 

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This popular Sunday event continues until August 25 in the wine tasting cellar. Take in jazz from the Cape Town Music Academy NPC and Jazz in the Native Yards while enjoying a cheese fondue with bread and veggies for dipping with a glass or two of Delheim cabernet sauvignon or wine of your choice.

 

Cost: R350 a head, which includes gluhwein on arrival. Book through Quicket.

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ROBERTSON WINE VALLEY PRESENTS

 

SLOW FOOD & WINE FESTIVAL:

 



 

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9 – 11 AUGUST 2019

 

 

Head to the countryside for a long weekend in the valley of wine and roses.

 

Soak up the simple pleasures of rustic life at the 13th annual Slow Food & Wine Festival hosted by Robertson Wine Valley members.

 

 

Producers who created the much-loved Route 62 Wine Route will share the many benefits of the slow way of life with food and wine enthusiasts, both with those who have already savoured this experience and to first-timers who prefer to explore wine country at a leisurely pace.

 

All visitors will unearth excellent wines, farm-to-fork eateries, set amid glorious scenery and celebrated by locals who are proud of their heritage, their products and produce.

 

On the programme are fireside dinners in the homes of the winemakers, wining and dining in underground cellars, single vineyard tastings and wine pairings. For those wanting to spend time in our champagne air, there are game drives, horse and boat rides and vineyard hiking trails.

 

Each event can be booked individually, so you can tailormake your festival experience to your liking. Your choice of activities can also be booked online at robertsonslow.com.

 

The warm hospitality of Robertson Wine Valley is renowned far and wide, and during Robertson Slow visitors will have time to relish their itineraries at a leisurely pace designed to counteract stress and rush. You will also be able to take home reminders of a memorable long weekend in the form of valley wines to enhance your meals for months to come.

 

Discover the stories behind the vine, embrace country life and come taste the lifestyle!

 

 Find accommodation options online at robertsonwinevalley.com. For more festival information email admin@robertsonwinevalley.com or call 023 626 3167.

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De Krans Blossom Festival | 31 August 2019

 

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 De Krans Wine Cellar’s annual popular Blossom Festival,  takes place on Saturday, 31 August. De Krans Wine Cellar is situated in Calitzdorp, in the heart of the Klein Karoo and world famous Route 62.  The beautiful Spring blossoms symbolise the start of a new year for the fruit and wine industry in Calitzdorp, and it is  the perfect time  to say goodbye to winter,.

The 2019 festival promises to be an event  for all visitors.

This year’s fun run/fun walk (5 or 10km) will take place through the orchardsand the vineyards of De Krans. The entry fee will be R20 per person, or more if you want to make an extra donation to our charity of choice, Friends of Calitzdorp Animals, which will receive all  fees and donations on the day. Starting time is 10am on the 31st of August. Pre-enter by submitting an email to dekrans@mweb.co.za, or enter on the day from 9am at De Krans. 

From 11am on the day Matt Hatters will get the feet tapping with their live music performance at De Krans. This is also the time to  taste 20 different award-winning wines from De Krans, including the 2019 Chenin Blanc, Pinotage Rosé and Moscato wines.

The bistro will be ready to serve  excellent meals and the deli will offer a variety of tasty produce made in our area. It will also serve two of our favourite cocktails made from our wines. It is recommended to book your table well in advance.

 

For bookings or more information on De Krans and its wines, bistro & deli, visit our website www.dekrans.co.za, or phone us on 044 – 213 3314/64.

 

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THE GRAPE ESCAPE WINE FESTIVAL

 

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Join our second exclusive The Grape Escape Wine Festival at The historic  Vineyard Hotel in September. Guests will be treated to a fine selection of enticing wines from unusual varieties such as Cinsaut,Gamay Noir, Verdelho, Mouvedre, Roussanne, Riesling, Clairette Blanche, Carignan and Zinfandel.

We’ll also have some prominent Chenin Blanc and Chenin driven blends along with captivating Rhone varieties such as Viognier, Marsanne, Syrah and Grenache form 40 of our top producers. Delicious snacks will accompany the tastings. The wines will be for sale at discounted prices.

 

Venue:           The Vineyard Hotel, Colinton Road, Newlands,

Date:              Friday 6th September 2019

Time:              17.00 – 20.00

Cost:              R200.00 per person – includes entrance, wine glass and light snacks.

 

Get your tickets via www.webtickets.co.za, or at any of the Wine Concepts branches.Telephone Newlands at (021) 671 9030 or Kloof Street at (021) 426-4401 Email: admin@wineconcepts.co.za or at the door on the evening subject to availabilityhttp://www.wineconcepts.co.za

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The Chocolate Festival is back!

31 August - 1 September

 

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Chocolate, chocolate and even more chocolate! This two-day chocolate extravaganza takes place over the weekend of 31 August and 1 September (10am to 4pm daily) at The Woodmill in Stellenbosch.

Expect to find a chocolate line up with oodles of chocolate, macaroons, brownies, donuts, creamy (and dreamy) ice-cream, liquorice, marshmallows, candyfloss and so much more..Balancing the sweetness will be a selection of non-chocolate offering, including charcuterie,  hamburgers, pizzas, artisanal cheeses and breads and more. While the little ones are kept entertained in a supervised area mom and dad can relax and unwindwith live music, gin, bubbly, wine and craft beer offerings. 

  Tickets cost R180 per person . Children under 18 pay R50. Pre-booking via www.webtickets.co.zais essential.

 

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FRANSCHHOEK UNCORKED FESTIVAL

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Swing into Spring over the weekend of 14 and 15 September for this year’s Franschhoek Uncorked Festival.  

Participating wineries in and around the valley welcome the new season to showcase new vintages and releases, as well as putting on special events. Be sure not to miss the live entertainment as you plan your voyage of discovery. With most of the Franschhoek wineries participating in this fun two-day festival, there promises to be something for everyone, which includes cellar and vineyard tours, barrel tastings, food and wine pairings, old school lawn games, to name but a few.

Pre-book your Uncorked Weekend Pass through www.webtickets.co.za. Pre-booked tickets cost R180 per person. Tickets purchased on the day, at the participating wine farms, will cost R200 each. Your Uncorked Weekend Pass (valid for both days) allows you access to all of the participating wine farms as well as a complimentary tasting glass and free wine tastings.

 For more info and accommodation availability contact the Franschhoek Wine Valley offices on 021 876 2861, visit www.franschhoekuncorked.co.za

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A history stretching back 320 years. Renowned Polkadraai Hills terroir. A five-star   hotel, gourmet and bistro restaurants. A Gin bar with impressive stock. A wide choice of wines in two ranges. An estate managed by hosts with heart.

 

 

Michael Olivier, who handles their PR, is meticulous in recording developments, events and releases on this large and diverse estate and sharing them on his widely read blog. While international visitors dominate at the height of the tourist season, now is the ideal time for locals to investigate and enjoy the many attractions available at Asara.

 

As always, I find the early history of our Cape wine farms a source of endless fascination with Verdun no exception. Back in the latter part of the 18th century the farm was part of Vredenburg , which, together with Vlottenburg was bought in 1772 by Paul Roux and inherited by descendant Kosie Roux, who named his farm Verdun after the WW I battle of Verdun which was raging at the time. Some decades later he and his son, also Kosie, marketed their Gamay , then the only one bottled under this name in the Cape.

 

In the mid-1990’s the farm’s fortunes were revived when Francois Tolken bought Verdun and committed to planting a full 83ha to vine, rebuilding the old cellar and appointing a highly regarded winemaker to oversee the project.

 

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By 2 000 Verdun estate wines began making gentle waves on the Stellenbosch scene and its gamay production was revived after a break of about 15 years.

Four years on and the estate had changed ownership and was now called Asara (after a trio of venerable gods.)The wines continued increasing in quality, collecting both local and international awards.

 

Development in the form of luxury hotel, restaurant and specialty bar were in place a few years later, and today the Sansibar bistro and gin lounge bar boasts the largest selection of gin in the southern hemisphere. There is a choice of dining venues to follow visitors’ tastings. And there are vineyard walks to start the day after a good night’s sleep.

 

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The staff at Asara find time to support those less fortunate than they are, and this extends to donations to animal welfare and the well-run Stellenbosch branch of the Animal Welfare society in particular. So it was in July, Mandela month, that their chef produced large quantities of peanut butter dog biscuits for the Society kennels, now headed by efficient animal lover and former winemaker Lorna Hughes. Buy a packet or two from the Asara Tasting room and deli, or from the society offices close by. They look tempting, but are not recommended for pairing with Asara’s flagship Bordeaux-style blend, the Bell Tower.

 

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