Today I attended the 7th Shiraz Challenge which was held at a function ay Ashanti Estate on Paarl,  hosted by cultivar association Shiraz SA.


Shiraz SA chairman, Edmund Tereblanche at today’s awards in Paarl

The 12 Shiraz champions for 2019 are:
• Babylonstoren Shiraz 2017 • Neethlingshof Shiraz 2015
• Bellingham The Bernard Series Basket Press Syrah 2016 • Quoin Rock Shiraz 2015
• Driehoek Shiraz 2017 • Rhebokskloof Black Marble Hill Syrah 2016
• Driehoek Shiraz 2016 • Kruger Family Reserve Shiraz 2016 (Stellenview)
• Flagstone Dark Horse Shiraz 2015 • Strandveld First Sighting Shiraz 2017
• KWV Cathedral Cellar Shiraz 2016 • La Cave Shiraz 2017 (Wellington Wines)

The winning Shiraz blends are:
• Alvi’s Drift Albertus Viljoen Bismarck 2017
• Babylonstoren Babel 2017
• Eikendal Charisma 2017

In addition, KWV and Babylonstoren were each recognised with a special award this year.

A total of 207 wines participated in the championship this year. Of these, 36 were blends – a category added to the competition in 2014.

The winning wines are available for purchase as a set of 12 through online wine portal
For more information, visit





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!!


Before attending a media preview at Avontuur Estate of this year’s Cabernet Franc Carnival, I must confess that my palate had given Cab Franc little attention.

At that preview, we had the privilege of enjoying a vertical tasting of Avontuur’s superb Cab Francs. I now appreciate the varietal and it now has my full attention.

If you too are new to Cab Franc and curious….

On Saturday, 19 May 2018 from 11-4, the Cabernet Franc Carnival takes place at Avontuur Estate and 21 wineries will be on hand to show off their 100% Cabernet Francs,  Cab Franc-led blends and in some cases even Cab Franc Rosés.

This year’s participating wineries are: Avontuur Estate, Chamonix, Delaire Graff, Doolhof Estate, Druk My Niet Wine Estate, Hermanuspietersfontein Wines, Holden Manz Wines, Kunjani Wines, Morgenster Wine and Olive Estate,  My Wyn, Onderkloof Wine Estate, Oldenburg Vineyards, Ormonde Vineyards, Raats Family Wines, Rainbow’s End Wine Estate, Snow Mountain Wines – James McKenzie,  Spookfontein Wines, The Garajeest,  Vrede en Lust, Whalehaven, Zevenwacht.

Visitors can taste and buy the wines directly from the wineries and also attend tutored tastings.

In addition to the wine-related activities, food trucks, lawn games, background music and a multitude of delicious dining options courtesy of the Avontuur Estate Restaurant are on offer.

Tickets are R220 pp on-line or R250 at the gate, which includes the tastings, a R50 discount coupon to spend on food and a tasting glass. Tickets from

Avontuur Estate is on the R44 between Stellenbosch and Somerset West






On their own, the one an iconic South African wine and the other an iconic South African foodstuff, but together a match made in pleasure heaven.

I recently thoroughly enjoyed a preview of this year’s Pinotage and Biltong Festival which takes place this weekend on Saturday 14 April and Sunday 15 April, 2018 at Perdeberg Cellar.


This year, eighteen wineries will offer nearly 50 Pinotages for tasting and for sale, some of which are paired with specific biltong flavours, each chosen to highlight the best qualities of both. The wines range from traditional red Pinotage right up to Rosés, sparkling wine, MCC, blends and even a white Pinotage.

Also at the Festival, there will be food trucks, an Oyster & MCC bar, Perdeberg’s own craft beer range, a kiddies play area and music by the popular Guy Feldman and his band.

And the Perdeberg Tapas Picnic, which we enjoyed at the preview, is enough for 2 people and includes a bottle of their Dryland Collection Pioneer Pinot Noir/Chardonnay 2017.  Another very worthwhile and fun Perdeberg experience at the Festival is the opportunity to bottle your own Cape Blend of wines, mine was delicious.

Participating wineries at this year’s Pinotage & Biltong Festival are: Badsberg Winery, Beyerskloof, Boland Cellar, Bonnievale Wines, Delheim Wines,  Flagstone Winery, Grande Provence Heritage Wine Estate, Idiom Collection, Knorhoek  Wines, Lanzerac Wines, Mellasat Vineyards, Overhex Wines International,  Perdeberg Cellar , Rhebokskloof  Wine Estate,  Simonsvlei Winery,  Stellenbosch Hills Wines,  Van Loveren Vineyards and Wellington Wines.

My first experience of pairing a variety of biltongs with a variety of pinotage styles was a wonderfully pleasant surprise. With each combination, I sipped the pinotage, then nibbled the biltong, then sipped again and if I hadn’t had to drive home afterwards, I would happily have overindulged on both…..

Pinotage and Biltong Festival promises to be lots of fun. Tickets are R200 pp at or or R230 at the gate. This includes access to the venue, a branded wine glass, a curated selection of 18 Pinotage and Biltong pairings and free tastings of the other Pinotages on show.  Perdeberg Winery is between Paarl and Durbanville and easily accessible from the N1.


I have just discovered my ideal location to taste wine – this lightbulb moment happened at this year’s Wine on the River in Robertson.

This annual event is held on the banks of the Breede River on Goudmyn Farm. This year’s event offered wines from 31 Robertson Wine Valley wineries and also local ‘country’ cuisine and great music.

The farm’s green lawns next to the river are an idyllic spot to relax and enjoy and the comfortable scale of Wine on the River makes this pleasure possible for every visitor.

I have long enjoyed the wines of the area, their quality is ever improving but at the same times have managed to remain comfortably priced.   A special privilege at the event is a tutored wine tasting with a local winemaker focusing on a specific cultivar of the Valley.

We attended three of these: a tasting of MCCs, Chardonnays and one of Cabernet Sauvignons. Each offered a range that displayed the variety available from the Valley.

Our MCC tasting was led by Phillip Jonker (of Weltevrede); Chardonnay by Johann de Wet (of De Wetshof Estate – what else!); and the Cabernet Sauvignon by Peter de Wet (of Excelsior Estate). Informative and entertaining and eloquent. All that was missing from the speaker line-up was a Bruwer…..

We tasted 22 wines in all, and each had something special to offer. Two in particular appealed to my palate:


The Villion Blanc de Blanc MCC 2009 from Viljoensdrift which had a delightful whiff of Marie biscuits and lovely fruit and honey flavour.

Also doing nice things to my taste buds was the Evanthius Cabernet Sauvignon 2012from Excelsior Estate. Dark red and full-bodied with a dark berries and chocolate nose, it drank beautifully and had a lovely long finish too.

Excelsior Evanthius 21092017

Back to the setting, we sat in a tent, with a gorgeous view, tasting lovely wines, eating local food and enjoying stimulating company, all that was missing was a hammock. Wish every wine tasting could be this serene.

Wine on the River

If there is such a thing as a Breede smile, I certainly couldn’t wipe mine off afterwards.


See you next year!


I recently made my third visit to La Motte in Franschhoek, this year. Each visit was more enjoyable than the one before and each offered something extra.

My first visit was to try the La Motte Food& Wine Pairing and then lunch; the second was to celebrate a new Pierneef Exhibition followed by a Pierneef inspired lunch.

The third visit was titled “The Splendour of Spring” and was for lunch in the form of a fynbos-inspired menu of modern Cape Winelands Cuisine at Pierneef a la Motte. With each meal I have become more and more a fan of Chef Michelle Theron’s cooking.

The something extra this time was that Michelle collaborated with Sarah Graham, the food writer, cook and the host of two food TV programmes on the Menu and the execution of it.

Fybos-inspired luncheon (63)

Sarah Graham and Chef Michelle Theron collaborating

The Splendour of Spring menu and the pairing with the fine La Motte wines made for a very special four-course lunch indeed. For me, I was glad not to know the micro-detail of the partnership and be free to enjoy each dish on its own merits.

Here’s the menu and the wines that went with each item:


Mosbolletjies with farm butter, quince spread and buchu salt


Tomato, honey bush and goat’s cheese “roosterkoek”

2016 La Motte Pierneef Sauvignon Blanc, 2017 La Motte Pierneef Sauvignon Blanc


Fragrant Cape seafood curry with lavender, lightly smoked mussels and banana chutney

2016 La Motte Chardonnay

Fybos-inspired luncheon (83)

Cape Seafood Curry


Waterblommetjie and samp risotto, Karoo lamb “sout ribbetjie”, pulled lamb belly, bone marrow, red wine jus

2015 La Motte Cabernet Sauvignon


Poached citrus salad with rosemary salted caramel, brandy milk pinch blanc mange, milk tart semi-freddo

NV La Motte Straw Wine


Each course was a joy and the wine pairings were spot on, but one dish and one wine were my personal favourites: my Dish of 2017 – the Cape seafood curry and I really enjoyed the La Motte Straw Wine that ended the meal.

Congratulations and thanks Michelle and Sarah!

I wonder what my next La Motte visit will bring……


All photos were supplied by La Motte


Tiny bubbles (tiny bubbles) In the wine (in the wine) Make me happy (make me happy) Make me feel fine (make me feel fine)

 Tiny bubbles (tiny bubbles) Make me warm all over With a feeling that I’m gonna Love you till the end of time

Don Ho (1967)

That song was a hit 50 years ago, and we continue to enjoy and celebrate those tiny bubbles today.

Yesterday, we were wined and dined at the 12 Apostles Hotel on Cape Town’s Atlantic Seaboard – the occasion was the awarding of the prizes in the 2017 Amorim Cap Classique Challenge.

Each of the four courses we enjoyed was paired with an appropriate MCC: Chicken or Egg with an MCC Brut; Yellowfin Tuna with an MCC Rose; Lamb Roast with an MCC Blanc de Blanc; and the Apple Custard with a Museum Class MCC. .

This annual event is hosted by the MCC Association in association with Portugal-based cork company Amorim, the world’s leading supplier of cork wine stoppers and has done much to elevate the status and popularity of South African bubbly.

In 2016, MCC sold 4,4m bottles in South Africa, a staggering growth of 24.5% compared to 2015 or nearly one million bottles. .

The major awards at the 2017 Amorim Cap Classique Challenge went to:

Best Producer, Overall Wine:

Simonsig Cuvée Royale Blanc de Blancs 2012

Simonsig Cuveģe Royale

Best Brut:

Domaine Des Dieux Claudia Brut MCC 2011

Best Rosé:

Woolworths Simonsig Pinot Noir Rosé 2015

Best Blanc de Blanc:

Simonsig’s Cuvée Royale Blanc de Blancs 2012

Best Museum Class:

Graham Beck Brut Zero 2005

And the Frans Malan Legacy Award went to Pieter Ferreira of Graham Beck






Helderberg Mountains



Last night I attended my first Taste the Helderberg. Billed as the annual sip-and-snack institution of warm company, levity and gastronomic delight, and it certainly delivered on that promise.

This annual event, held at the Lord Charles Hotel in Somerset-West, brings together a pairing of Helderberg wineries and eateries and provides for a delightful sensory experience in jovial company.

The place was abuzz with people having a fun time and it was not difficult to catch the vive.

Striking a comfortable balance between sipping and savouring and with the maxim ‘you can’t have it all, I made a very moderate dip into my tasting from the Helderberg.

With 20 wineries and 8 eateries, making a choice wasn’t easy.

For wine, I looked to sip something I hadn’t tried before….Kings Kloof Syrah 2014 proved to be a fine cold climate syrah and a good reason to put a visit to the winery on my list of to do’s.

To eat, a Lamb Rogan Josh from Mistress of Spices and Indian Foods won it by a nose from something from Ghenwa’s Lebanese Cooking Club. The curry was really, really good. My craving for a fattoush dripping in garlic will have to wait, I guess.

My first Taste the Helderberg will certainly lead to some exploring of the area and I look forward to next year’s event.



I spent this past Saturday morning at the Good Food & Wine Show at the Cape Town International Convention Centre.

This year’s show was the fifth that I have attended and I must admit that my previous experiences were a combination of delight and disappointment. The former – mostly in reaction to seeing Celebrity Chefs in the flesh, the latter – a reaction to the lack of surprises in the exhibition section of the Show.

So it was with a hint of trepidation, that I visited this year’s show. My prime attractor was seeing Marco Pierre White in action in the Chefs Open Theatre.


Good Food and Wine Show 2017 - Marco Pierre White .

Now part of my upbringing is to have respect for those that deserve it and to show suitable reaction when they ‘come on stage’. I was first in the queue for Yes Marco and headed for centre of the front row of the raised section of the seating. The house was full. I was ready and excited.

The two MCs did their bit, and the great man entered the spotlight show kitchen. I stood up at the entry of Marco Pierre White, and although the audience were enthusiastic in their welcome, I stood alone, flabbergasted.

Within the limitations of Chef Open Theatre genre, Yes Marco was superb. Excellent at interacting with his audience, expert and efficient at delivering the Lobster and Pasta dish. He offered tasty morsels of insight, and answered audience questions with panache.

When Yes Marco! was done, his exit was very low key. My instinct to stand up was quelled. Maybe if Bieber could cook, the audience would have got off their seats. Marco Pierre White deserved better!!

Afterwards I headed for the superbly layed-out and conceived exhibition area. There was plenty to eat and drink, even an avenue of food trucks!

Demonstration areas were divided into: Cooking with Chefs, Eat Well Live Well, Baking Theatre, and a Wine Theatre and each seemed to be very popular.

The stalls were varied and plentiful, but I saw little that I had not seen before.





If ever an appropriate venue was chosen from which to make a significant wine industry announcement, the famous Company’s Garden in the middle of Cape Town is it. For it was there in the 1650s that Jan van Riebeek’s Hendrik Boom, planted the first grape vines and in so doing gave birth to what has become, the South African wine industry

At 16h00 on Thursday 1 June 2017, it was revealed that a new Wine of Origin District had been approved by the South African Wine and Spirit Board – Wine of Origin Cape Town.

This historic move has united the wine wards of Constantia, Durbanville, Hout Bay and Philadelphia under the inclusive name, Wine of Origin Cape Town. This name now covers a total of 30 wineries including amongst others: Groot Constantia, Durbanville Hills, Klein Constantia, Nitida, Meerendal, Buitenverwachting and Cape Point Vineyards.

Wine of Origin Cape Town will certainly deliver benefits not only to the wines of its district, but to the South African wine industry as a whole. Coupled with this is the huge advantage of linking with Cape Town’s global reputation.

I raise my glass of Cape Town wine and offer every wish for a sparkling future to all involved with Wine of Origin Cape Town.