HAVE I TURNED A PERSONAL (WINE) CORNER?

In my over five decades of tasting and drinking wine, my wine pleasures have changed.  given me enjoyment.

I started my wine journey as a white wine only person, evolved to a white or red wine drinker and then to being a red only drinker. None of these evolvements were intellectually driven, my preferences have changed of their own accord over time.

In recent years, I have happily tasted across the wine spectrum. But, if asked, I call myself a red wine drinker and add that I don’t drink white wine….

At the recently held Cape Wine 2018, I briefly discussed this with Chris Mullineux. I said that in grammatical terms I found white wine a full stop, whereas for me reds were a comma.

“Maybe you find whites aggressive?” he offered. Eureka! Until I find a better descriptor, aggressive is it.

Having said that, I was delighted to taste three ‘non-aggressive’ wines at this year’s Cape Wine: Andrea Mullineux’s Mullineux Old Vines White, Adi Badenhorst’s AA Badenhorst White and Abrie Bruwer’s Springfield Estate Life From Stone Sauvignon Blanc. They definitely had non-aggressive in common, but were very individual wines, worthy of a glass or two rather than merely a taste.

 

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As the names suggests, the Mullineux Old Vines White has old vines (Chenin) at its core, with small parcels of Mediterranean varieties. I love the detail in Andrea’s wines, and the Old Vine White was no exception.

 

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Before I first tasted AA Badenhorst White, I was gobsmacked to find that it was a blend of 10 varietals: Chenin Blanc, Rousanne, Marsanne, Grenache Blanc, Viognier, Grenache Gris, Clairette Blanche, Semillon and Palomino. It really is a tremendous wine and the sum of its many parts make for a delicious whole.

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From the moment Abrie asked me if I had as a child picked up a stone on the beach and licked it, I’ve loved drinking Springfield Life from Stone and its gorgeous flintiness in particular.

Have I turned that corner? Not yet, but at least I have the above three wines populating my ‘happy to drink anytime I can’ list!

The search continues…

 

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A HAPPY RETURN TO IDIOM

Two years ago I attended the opening of Idiom’s impressive tasting room and restaurant, on the outskirts of Somerset West, near Sir Lowry’s Pass. It was a lovely introduction to the Bottega Family and to their wines.

So I happily accepted a recent invitation for a return visit.

The Idiom building affords an unforgettably breath-taking view and I found seeing the view for a second time as impressive as the first.

I enjoyed tasting across the Idiom range and three of their wines in particular tickled my fancy: the Idiom Viognier, Idiom Barbera and their Imperium White Gold Viognier.

As I get to taste more and more viognier, I am really getting to appreciate the grape.

 

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The Idiom Viognier 2015 (much was lovely, with stone fruit and a hint of something spice on the nose and very smooth on the palate. I would have happily converted the taste to a glass or two.

 

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I really enjoy Italian varietals, so I was tempted to try the Idiom Barbera 2013 before tasting their whites…but I didn’t. The nose offers dark stone fruit and an almost fruit-cakey palate. A really delicious wine, particularly for those wanting something a little out of the ordinary.

 

 

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The Idiom Imperium White Gold Viognier was quite a surprise, it is a dessert wine that I would happily drink before or after a meal. Aromatic and delicious. I think they only produce a limited quantity of it, worth the drive there to get some!

Idiom also have two dining options, contemporary dining in their restaurant and authentic pizzas in their pizzeria.

It is well worth a visit.

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TREAT YOURSELF TO SOME MIND PHYSIO

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Yuval Harari’s first two books, Sapiens and Homo Deus were internationally acclaimed, deservedly so.

In Sapiens, he surveyed the human past, examining how an insignificant ape became ruler of the planet Earth. While in Homo Deus, Harari explored the long-term future of life, contemplating how humans might eventually become gods, and what might be the ultimate destiny of intelligence and consciousness.

In my review of Homo Deus I asked:” It is astonishing that Harari, at a little over 40, has had time to produce two such profound major works. One wonders what next he will share with us?”

The answer is his new book, 21 Lessons for the 21st Century. In it he asks how can we protect ourselves from nuclear war, ecological cataclysms and technological disruptions? What can we do about the epidemic of fake news or the threat of terrorism? What should we teach our children?

Harari takes us on a thrilling and thought-provoking journey through today’s most urgent issues. The golden thread running through the book is the challenge of maintaining our collective and individual focus in the face of constant and disorienting change.

“Of course 7 billion people have 7 billion agendas, and thinking about the big picture is a relatively rare luxury. My agenda here is global. I look at the major forces that shape societies all over the world, and that are likely to influence the future of our planet as a whole. Reality is composed of many threads, and this book tries to cover different aspect of our global predicament, without claiming to be exhaustive.’

21 Lessons for the 21st Century is not an academic textbook, as fine a brain as Harari obviously possesses, he is a superb communicator as well. He has the ability to discuss sometimes lofty subjects in the most clear and understandable way.

As in his first two books, almost each and every page will offer a sentence that requires thought. An example: “Whereas the major movements of the twentieth century all had a vision for the entire human species – be it global domination, revolution or liberation – Donald Trump offers no such thing. His main message is that it’s not America’s job to formulate and promote any global vision.”

We live in a world where taking offence and umbrage at almost everything is a global phenomenon. Those who partake in this will have a field day at much of what Harari gives us in this book. Bully for them.

I found 21 Lessons for the 21st Century hugely stimulating, and it is a book that I just know I will want to read again and again.

This last word and advice from Yuval Harari to end the book: “And we had better understand our minds before the algorithms make our minds up for us.” A sobering thought.

 

SOMETHING NEW AND DELICIOUS FROM LABORIE

It has been some time since I last tasted wine from Laborie, so I was delighted to be able to remedy this.

The wine was a newie from them, their first Rosé.

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Made in the style of Provence, the Rosé is a blend of shiraz, mourvèdre and cinsaut, with a touch of cabernet sauvignon as well.

The wine is a lovely salmon pink in colour. Its nose is a lovely mix of strawberries and melon, for me the smell of summer. On the palate I picked up some citrus and a pleasing minerality too.

It drank beautifully and begged to be enjoyed outdoors, I obliged!

Time for me to seek out more of the Laborie range…….

 

The Laborie Rosé 2018 retails at about R95 a bottle

 

 

 

 

LOCAL BUBBLIES SET TO BLOSSOM INTERNATIONALLY

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Domaine des Dieux, the boutique wine producer in the Hemel-en-Aarde Valley near Hermanus, was crowned as South Africa’s best Cap Classique exponent at this year’s Amorim Cap Classique Challenge.

The Domaine des Dieux Claudia Brut MCC 2012, a blend of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, won the category for Best Brut Blend as well as Best Producer having achieved the highest score of all the 127 wines entered into this year’s rendition of the 17th Amorim Cap Classique Challenge.

Simonsig Estate from Stellenbosch dominated the competition’s Rosé Category with the Woolworths Pinot Noir Rosé 2016 (no added sulphur).

In the category for Best Blanc de Blancs, Colmant Brut Chardonnay (non-vintage) from Franschhoek took top honours. And in the Museum Class for wines eight years and older, House of JC le Roux came out tops with its classic Pongracz Desiderius 2009.

Chair of the judging panel, Heidi Duminy says that Cap Classique is poised to explode on the international scene …..if this year’s Amorim Cap Classique Challenge winners are anything to go by – BOOM BOOM!!

ANDREW LLOYD WEBBER: UNMASKED

 

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One of the most successful and distinguished artists of our time, Andrew Lloyd Webber has reigned over the musical theatre world for nearly five decades. Winning numerous awards including multiple Tonys, Oliviers and an Oscar, Lloyd Webber has enchanted millions worldwide with his music and his shows.

In Unmasked, written in his own inimitable, quirky voice, he takes stock of his achievements, the twists of fate and circumstances that brought him success and disappointment, and the passions that inspire and sustain him.

Although the musical in its original 22 minute form first took to the stage in 1968 at Colet Court School in London, the Lloyd Webber name was most likely first heard of here in South Africa in 1974 with the first production here of his and Tim Rice’s iconic Joseph and His Amazing Technicolour.

In his Prologue to Unmasked, Lloyd Webber reveals: “I have long resisted writing an autobiography. Autobiographies are by definition self-serving and mine is no exception. It is the result of my nearest and dearest, aided and abetted by the late great literary agent Ed Victor, moaning at me “to tell your story your way.” I meekly agreed, primarily to shut them up. Consequently this tome is not my fault.”

With this introduction, Andrew Lloyd Webber reveals a glorious sense of humour which he unleashes throughout this remarkable memoir.

“This medium sized doorstop judders to a halt at the first night of Phantom of the Opera. Quite how I have been able to be so verbose about the most boring person I have ever written about eludes me. So here is part one of my saga. If you are a glutton for this sort of thing, dive in, at least for a bit.”

Covering several exciting and turbulent decades of musical theatre and the transformation of music itself, the book is a chronicle of artistic creation. Lloyd Webber reflects on some of his most famous productions and his collaborations with luminaries such as Tim Rice, Robert Stigwood, Harold Prince, Cameron Mackintosh and Trevor Nunn. Taking us behind the scenes, he reveals fascinating details about each show, the rich cast of characters involved with making them, and the creative and logistical challenges and artistic political battles that ensued.

The narrative takes one to both sides of the Atlantic and the subtle differences between their audiences are most interestingly detailed.

Much like when enjoying a glass of wine, and acknowledging its grape variety, area of origin, winemaker etc., gaining an appreciation of the challenges involved in conceiving and staging a stage musical, as one does in this book, is a tremendous value add for lovers of musical theatre and audiences alike.

Having seen and thoroughly enjoyed the original London productions of both Jesus Christ Superstar and Cats, I found the chapters on their gestation fascinating.

Cats in particular was a production that I will never forget. Remembering the production as a whole and its unique and spectacular stage setting still sends shivers of excitement down my spine after all these years.

The last few chapters of Unmasked, as seems far too common with many autobiographies, seem a little hurried. Maybe Lloyd Webber was aboard the Starlight Express, or had a submission deadline looming from his publisher? There are other parts in the book that too suffer from an overdose of “speed”, but this is not a criticism merely a frustration.

The three big discoveries for me from this book were his oft self- deprecating wit (I find what I’ve seen of him on television ’terribly’ serious), his passion for architecture and that he is a foodie. All three subjects add further interest to an already full and rewarding “showbiz” memoir.

Andrew Lloyd Webber was knighted in 1992 and received a peerage in 1997. His work has garnered amongst others, six Tony Awards, three Grammy Awards, an Academy Award, seven Olivier Awards, a Golden Globe Award, and a 2006 Kennedy Center Award. He also has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, is an inductee into the Songwriters’ Hall of Fame and is a Fellow of the British Academy of Songwriters, Composers and Authors.

With a remarkable career like Andrew Lloyd Webber has enjoyed, Unmasked cannot but be an excellent read. Add to that his erudition and superb sense of humour and you are in for an entertaining and informative ride. Some might find too much space and detail being given to the business side of his work and to some of the technicalities of mounting a production, but they are a necessary and valuable part of the whole. Unmasked is nearly 500 pages, and I found every page of it totally absorbing.

There is so much more to the Andrew Lloyd Webber story waiting to be told. And his creative juices are not lying dormant: He deserves the highest appreciation not for his ouevre alone, but also for his herculean efforts to keep theatre and musical theatre alive and well. As at theatre lover, I for one doff my hat to him.

“I haven’t found a subject for a new show. But I’ll find it. I am having dire withdrawal symptoms. Even if I haven’t got near to writing “Some Enchanted Evening”, I hope I have given a few people some reasonably okay ones. I’d like to give them some more.”

Luckily, there is an allusion that this Phantom of the Opera-ending volume will have a second tome. Yes please Baron Lloyd-Webber, please raise the curtain soon, your reading audience is waiting.

Encore, encore.

 

SOUTH AFRICAN MOONSHINE? YES SIREE!

And now for something refreshingly different ….. Moonshine.

A bottle of Silver Creek Margarita Moonshine has arrived for me to try. Packaged in a 750ml jug with a nifty finger loop.

 

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What exactly is moonshine I asked myself? And how did it come to be made in Jozi?

Distilled in the traditional way, moonshine got its name during America’s Prohibition era when fiercely independent distillers could only ply their art under the cover of darkness, by the light of the moon. These days however, moonshine is not illegal if it is produced by a licensed distillery.

Margarita Moonshine is the latest innovation in Silver Creek’s Southern Moonshine range of unaged, small-batch American-style moonshines.

“In making the Margarita Moonshine, we wanted to create something laid-back and fun-loving. The classic Margarita, said to have first originated in a 1930s bar in Tijuana, was the inspiration,” says Silver Creek Craft Distillery founder and chief distiller Mark Taverner.

The Margarita Moonshine is lime-green in colour, with fresh lime zing. Although it is suggested to drink it over ice, with the cold weather here in Cape Town, I first tried it neat without any ice. It reminded me of my favourite childhood drink – Hubbly Bubbly Lemon-Lime, but with 24% alcohol, this is definitely adult territory. It was absolutely delicious and enjoyed a full glass of it.

I will definitely pour some more on a warmer day and I think Silver Creek Margarita Moonshine is destined to be our Summer stoep sundowner…

 

 

 

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You can find out more about Silver Creek Craft Distillery by visiting their website:

http://www.silvercreekdistillery.co.za

WINNING CAPE BLENDS FOR 2018

The 2018 Perold / Absa Cape Blend winners were announced at the end of last week.

In the rules of the competition, at least 30% of the final blend – but not more than 70% – has to be Pinotage.

We were able to taste all the finalist wines before the announcement. I loved their diversity. I was familiar with all the wineries, but Leipzig Winery was new to me and I really enjoyed their award winning wine.

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The winners are:

KWV Abraham Perold Tributum 2014

WO Coastal: Shiraz, Pinotage, Malbec , Cabernet Sauvignon ,  Petit Sirah

Winemaker Louwritz Louw.

Leipzig Master Blend 2017

WO Western Cape: Pinotage, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot . Winemaker: Vian Bester.

Lyngrove Platinum Latitude 2016

WO Stellenbosch: Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinotage, Shiraz.

Winemaker: Danie van Tonder .

Pulpit Rock Louisa Reserve 2014

WO Swartland: Pinotage, Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz, Petit Verdot.

Winemaker: Dewald Huisamen .

Wildekrans Cape Blend Barrel Select Reserve 2015

WO Botrivier: Pinotage, Shiraz , Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir .

Winemaker: Braam Gericke

 

A CHERISHED CHILDHOOD MEMORY ON A BOTTLE

Durbanville Hills recently launched their premium collection of wines, the Collectors Reserve.

Since the establishment of Wines of Origin Cape Town last year, I have been waiting for a wine producer to “come out of the blocks” with a concept that fully advantages their Cape Town identity. With the recent launch of their premium range, the Collectors Reserve Durbanville Hills have done just that…… and then some.

To complement each of the wines, they commissioned Cape Town artist, Theo Vorster to create a hand-coloured linocut to pair each wine with a prominent landmark in Cape Town.

The Durbanville Hills Collectors Reserve range consists of: The Cape Mist Sauvignon Blanc, The Cape Gardens Chenin Blanc, The Cableway Chardonnay, The Lighthouse Merlot, The Castle of Good Hope Cabernet Sauvignon, The High Noon Shiraz and The Promenade Pinotage. Each sports a striking linocut label by Vorster.

One linocut in particular struck a chord with me, it was The Promenade Pinotage. Depicted on it are penguins strolling along the Sea Point promenade with the Table Mountain range in the background.

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As a child in the middle-to-late 1950s living in Sea Point, I remember occasionally encountering penguins walking along the promenade. Even at that young age, I appreciated these sightings. I have shared this memory with a many a Sea Pointer, the youngsters I asked dismiss that memory as being nonsense. But the older people, after a while undergo a facial expression change and a smile that signals that memory rekindled for them too.

I thoroughly enjoyed my first taste of the Durbanville Hills Collectors Range wines, each of which is affordably priced.

Initially, four varietals in the range (Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Merlot and Pinotage) will be available at select retail stores and the other three (Chenin Blanc, Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon) available to purchase at Durbanville Hills itself.

Congratulations Durbanville Hills your new range of wines has made this Capetonian happy and proud.

 

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PALETTE/PALATE BOTH APPLY TO BOSMAN FAMILY VINEYARD WINES

As a lover of wine, for me, nothing beats a visit to an estate. But sometimes one has a visit that delivers so much more than the pleasure of a tasting.

From attending wine trade shows, I have met Bosman Family Vineyard’s winemaker, Corlea Fourie and tasted some of her wines. But I recently had a rather special wine-related experience, a visit to their estate in Wellington.

My host for the visit was Neil Buchner, their Brand Consultant.

From the moment I drove through the gates, I was enchanted by the look and the feel of the Bosman Estate, peppered as it is with exquisite Cape Dutch buildings dating back to the early 1700s and thanks to winter rains, lots of lovely greenery.

 

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Neil drove me around the vineyards and the neighbouring community projects supported by Bosman Family Vineyards. I must say I was totally spellbound by what I saw, especially from their Bosman Adama arm.

 

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Bosman Adama graft more than eight million vines – and that makes them the biggest vine nursery in Africa. They grow all Vitis species: Wine grapes, Table grapes, and Raisin grapes and also graft all possible combinations of vines. Currently more than 350 different combinations are grafted every season. Clients choose the rootstocks that best suit their soil types and growing requirements.

It was most impressive to see their grafting shed full of staff working with rootstock, there was a palpable air of pride in what they were doing. This first sighting of rootstock has left added an indelible mark on my appreciation of wine.

 

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After the tour we went to their absolutely exquisite and atmospheric Tasting Room, one of the most impressive I’ve seen anywhere.

I tried to taste those Bosman wines I hadn’t tried before. Of their chenins, I was already familiar with their iconic Optenhorst Chenin Blanc, so I tasted instead the Generation 8 Chenin Blanc. It gave off lovely stone fruit and a crisp aftertaste. It reaffirmed why of whites, I like chenin the most.

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Also special was the Fides Grenache Blanc. An ‘orange’ white wine – orange wines are left to macerate on their skins for longer than usual. It had a citrusy nose with some aromatic gentle spiciness. I’m fairly new to grenache blanc, but I really liked the Fides and think it would do well paired with some full-flavoured dishes. Note to wife of self….let’s try it out.

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On to some of the reds I tried. The first one was the Generation Shiraz. Medium-bodied, with the spicy tobacconess I enjoy.

 

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After that I tasted, DRUM ROLL…..

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The Twyfeling Cinsault. I’m not going to detail its nose and palate, but let me say just this one thing, it is my favourite wine of 2018. Please if you can, give it a try and let me know what you thought of it.

Recently, there was discussion on social media about the sometimes misspelling of the word palate on wine back labels. Palate is a taste term, palate relates to art.

In the case of the Twyfeling Cinsault, both words apply. Under the creative talents of winemaker Corlea Fourie, this wine is unquestionably a work of art and also adds much colour to the taste-buds as well. I’m going to keep an eye on this wine, it could (and should) start a cinsualt revival in this country.

All in all, I enjoyed everything about my visit and Neil was a charming and “good company’ host. I can’t guarantee Neil if you visit, but you will definitely be hospitably looked after.

 

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