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Myrna Robins

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Wine

Wine reviews, industry news and comment.

Subcategories from this category: Blog, News, Events

 

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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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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It’s been a while since I was last at Dornier Wines, that imposing estate sprawling across the foothills of the Stellenbosch mountain. Encompassing four farms with  diverse terroir, access is gained via a road off the R44.

Visitors are likely to comment on the contrasting architecture which spans three centuries: the 18th century barn which houses the popular Bodega restaurant, the late 19th century Sir Herbert Baker homestead, now a function venue and guest house and the striking winery: the ultra-modern brick cellar with its sinuous roofline was designed by artist Christoph Dornier.

The restaurant is closed at present, re-opening on October 31. First-time diners should look out for a small model, vintage photograph and map, unobtrusively displayed against one wall. They illustrate a fascinating story of MD Raphael Dornier’s grandfather’s achievements a century ago. Claude Dornier was renowned as the pioneer who replaced wood and paper with metal in the design and construction of early planes (and seaplanes in particular) at the start of the 20th century. The photograph shows his plane, dubbed The Switzerland, arriving in Cape town, marking the first such flight from Zurich to this country. This three-month odyssey ended early in 1927.

Philip van Staden became the estate winemaker in 2015, and heads a cellar that makes the Donatus and Dornier ranges and easy-drinking Cocoa Hill wines.

The six that I was invited to review consisted of the Donatus Red and White which comprise the range of that name, along with four Dornier labels.

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Given my penchant for fine chenins and chenin-based blends, it was unsurprising that my favourite was the 2017 Donatus White (R233) an elegant and delicious blend of 80% chenin, the remaining 20% being home-grown semillon. The chenin grapes were sourced from old bushvine vineyards in Stellenbosch. This rich, full-bodied blend presents stone fruit and floral aromas on the nose, follows with a complex palate where crispness pervades - but does not overpower - flavours of fruit, honey and a little citrus, backed by agreeable minerality. The two components were fermented separately in 300 litre French oak barrels, and spent 10 months in barrel on the lees.

Delicious as an aperitif to seafood feasts or as a partner for shellfish and rich and meaty fish such as tuna. Asian curries could also benefit from this blend, as could northern Indian and Persian vegetarian combos.

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The flagship partner wine, Donatus Red 2016, (R349) is as elegant as its white counterpart, a Bordeaux-style blend of home-grown components: Led by 60% cabernet sauvignon, petit verdot comes in at 20% with malbec at 13% and cabernet franc bringing up the rear. Open- top fermenters were used tostart fermentaton, after which malolactic fermentation took place in oak. A further 18 months saw maturation in barrel, before blending took place.

Berry,  black cherry and cassis flavours combine on the palate in pleasing purity, lent character from smooth tannins, the whole presenting a well-balanced blend that should age well. Alcohol levels are substantial at 14,5%. It already complements all manner of red meat in fine style and will enhance vegetarian dishes like mushroom or root vegetable casseroles.

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From the Dornier range, the Semillon 2018 (R196)  revealed a limited release, golden in hue that offered wafts of apple and honey when uncorked. Produced from grapes on the estate,subtle flavours of buttered brioche meld with citrus in an elegant, almost restrained manner that brings to mind Old World style. There’s no hint of waxiness, but the wine is fresh and sprightly with moderate alcohol levels. As a companionable varietal, semillon has few competitors and can accompany a wide spectrum of vegetarian, fish and white meat fare with panache.

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On to the Dornier reds, housed in elegant dark bottles finished with silver tops, starting with Equanimity Cabernet Sauvignon 2016. This appealingly named cab will find followers among most red wine fans. A well-made classic priced at R176, it presents an opulence that showcases characteristic spice and fruit: cassis and licorice yield to berry and subtle mint flavours, hints of vanilla are balanced by elegant tannins. Substantial alcohol levels do not detract from a cab that is already enticing and will go on developing for some years. A great choice when savouring red meat of every kind.

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The Dornier Siren Syrah 2016 (R176) offers a description of the said siren, pictured on the back label, who lured the artist with aromas of “wild herbs, ripe fruits and violets.” All these can be detected in this shiraz made in contemporary style, that spent 15 months in French oak, none of it new, so that fruit would not be overshadowed by wood. Like the cab, should be enjoyed by a broad swathe of shiraz fans paired with venison, lamb or beef.

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The Dornier Merlot 2017 was produced from vineyards on the estate, and berries were picked at optimal ripeness, They were fermented in open stainless steel tanks, followed by 12 months maturation in French oak. This is a juicy, delicious merlot with soft tannins, adding up to well balanced, well-made quality that offers pleasing versatility. A good buy at R159.

For more information, visit www.dornier.co.za. It’s an efficient, user-friendly site that well reflects the entire operation.

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