BEST BUBBLES RISE TO THE TOP

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

 

 

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A TASTE IS BUT THE START….

 

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Helderberg Mountains

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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.

 

NOT CELEBRATING AN ICONIC CHEF!

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.

 

HISTORIC ANNOUNCEMENT FOR CAPE TOWN AND FOR THE SOUTH AFRICAN WINE INDUSTRY

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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.

Cheers!

SIZZLING SYRAHS AND SHIRAZES FROM THE 2017 SHIRAZ SA CHALLENGE

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Shiraz SA’s annual Challenge awards lunch was held at Rhebokskloof in Paarl yesterday.

Being the self-confessed syrah/shiraz fan that I am, it was a treat to taste all the wines that made the finals before the ceremony. It would be indiscreet to reveal which were my favourites, but happily they all featured on the list of top Shiraz wines for 2017.

Over a suitably meaty lunch in the gorgeous The Rhebok venue, the following wines were revealed as are the Top Shirazes for 2017:

Cederberg Shiraz 2015

D’Aria The Soprano Shiraz 2015

Eagle’s Nest Shiraz 2014

Fairview Beacon Shiraz 2014

Fairview Swartland Shiraz 2014

Flagstone Dark Horse Shiraz

KWV Cathedral Cellar Shiraz 2015

La Motte Pierneef Syrah Viognier 2015

Rustenberg Buzzard Kloof Syrah 2015

Saronsberg Shiraz 2015

Strandveld Syrah 2013

Wildekrans Barrel Select Reserve Shiraz 2015

And the Top Three Shiraz blends are:

Bellingham The Bernard Series SMV 2014

Rustenberg Stellenbosch RM Nicholson 2015

Saronsberg Full Circle 2015

There may be no surprises in this year’s winners list, but these top shirazes are fine examples covering all the styles that make a shiraz such a pleasure to drink.

 

Shiraz SA Awards 2017 winners

The Top Shiraz winners for 2017 and their certificates

My congratulations and thanks go to all the winemakers that feed my wine pleasure zone!

Cheers!

2017 OLD MUTUAL TROPHY WINE AWARDS DELIVER A FINE SPREAD

 

One of the most prestigious wine competitions in South Africa, the Old Mutual Trophy Wine show, is always a class act.

From the privilege of listening to the Judges’ feedback to the excitement of the Awards lunch – its superbly organised all the way and the tone set is unpretentious and elegantly relaxed.

The 2017 awards climaxed yesterday at a lunch at the Mount Nelson Hotel in Cape Town. The late May day delivered balmy warmth as we arrived to welcoming drinks and canapes.

It was tempting to over-indulge on the canapes – Marinated calamari on tapioca cracker; Seared springbok loin with crispy beef tendon and pickled cucumber; Mushroom and baby marrow terrine; and Crispy fried potato skin with salmon mousse and watercress – but in anticipation of the lunch, I bravely held back……a bit!

Lunch was at the Nellie’s famous Planet Restaurant and without going into the menu in detail, we enjoyed a superb spread: Seabass ceviche, Roast beef fillet and slow-cooked beef short rib, and a waistline endangering dessert.

Michael Fridjhon with his charm and tongue-in-cheek delivery-style announced the Gold winners first and then the Trophy Winners. The geographic breadthof ht winners speaks volumes for how our quality wine industry has grown.

I lift my glass and salute:

Old Mutual Trophy for Most Successful Producer Overall

Tokara

Makro Trophy for Best Shiraz, Old Mutual Trophy for Best Red Wine Overall

Leeuwenkuil Heritage Syrah 2014

Miele Trophy for Best Chardonnay, Old Mutual Trophy for Best White Wine Overall,

Old Mutual International Judges’ Trophy

DeMorgenzon Reserve Chardonnay 2016

Old Mutual Trophy for Discovery of the Show / Best Value Gold Medallist

Secret Cellar Merlot Malbec Cabernet Sauvignon No. 702 2015

American Express Trophy for Best Cabernet Sauvignon

Landzicht Winemaker’s Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2015

Grande Roche Trophy for Best White Blend

Cavalli Cremello 2015

Old Mutual Trophy for Best Sparkling Wine

Constantia Uitsig Méthode Cap Classique Brut 2013

Old Mutual Trophy for Best Dessert Wine

Buitenverwachting ‘1769’ 2014

Riedel Trophy for Best Bordeaux-Style Red Blend

Buitenverwachting Meifort 2014

Harold Eedes Trophy for Best Chenin Blanc

Darling Cellars Old Bush Vines Chenin Blanc 2016

Nestlé Pure Life Trophy for Best Sauvignon Blanc

Stark-Condé Round Mountain Sauvignon Blanc 2016

Tony Mossop Trophy for Best Cape Port

Boplaas Cape Vintage Reserve 2015

Trophy for Best Red Blend – Non-Bordeaux Style

De Krans Tritonia 2015

Trophy for Best Sauvignon Blanc Semillon Blend

Tokara Director’s Reserve White 2015

Trophy for Best Pinotage

Bosman Family Vineyards Pinotage 2014

Trophy for Best Pinot Noir

Paul Wallace Brave Heart Pinot Noir 2015

Trophy for Best Semillon

Deetlefs Familie White 2014

Trophy for Best Niche Variety

Credo Limited Release Verdelho 2015 (Stellenbosch Vineyards)

Trophy for Best Museum Class Chenin Blanc

Kleine Zalze Family Reserve Chenin Blanc 2012

Trophy for Best Museum Class Chardonnay

Rustenberg Five Soldiers Chardonnay 2009

Trophy for Best Museum Class Unfortified Dessert Wine

Nederburg Private Bin Edelkeur Chenin Blanc Noble Late Harvest 2009

 

I not so modestly cconclude with this from my blog written in 2015: “Last, was my Shiraz 2013’s daddy, the truly splendid, fynbos-influenced Leeuwenkuil Heritage Series Syrah 2012. I am convinced much acclaim and recognition is coming this wine’s way. I shall certainly be following its track record.”

 

 

 

ENJOYING THE SWEET SMELL OF SUCCESS

I have been a huge fan of South African Muscadels for decades. I think some of them are world class and most are grossly under-priced and under-recognised.

Last night, my wife Rosalie and I attended the 2017 Muscadel SA Awards dinner function held at Noop Restaurant in Paarl.

 

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Enjoying some Muscatini with my sweet wife, Rosalie

On arrival, we enjoyed a glass of Muscatini. Muscatini? What is that, I hear you ask? It’s a Summer drink made with muscadel and gin and served on ice! The nose of the two, each aroma-generous on their own, was gorgeous and even though the night might not have been Summery, the Muscatini went down well in both its red and white garb.

After a yummy first course, the Gold and Platinum awards were handed out. The entire meal was a beautifully-plated treat.

The Golds were awarded for the Nuy Rooi Muscadel 2012, the Rooiberg Red Muscadel 2014, the Landzicht Rooi Muskadel 2016 and the Boplaas Heritage Red Muscadel 2014.

 

Muskadel SA 2017 Double Platinum winner Chris Venter (Orange River Cellars)

Chris Venter of Orange River Cellars with their two Platinum Awards

The Platinums were awarded for the Orange River Cellars White Muskadel 2016 and for their Red Muscadel 2016, for the Du Toitskloof Cellar Red Muscadel 2014 and for the Alvi’s Drift Premium 2014.

I got to taste them all and they certainly were worthy of accolade.

Seek them out and try them for yourself, I’m sure you will not be disappointed.

SPENDING QUALITY TIME WITH PIERNEEF AT LA MOTTE

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This year marks 60 years since the death of celebrated South African artist Pierneef, as well as the 90th birthday of his daughter Marita.

To celebrate these two anniversaries, the La Motte Museum in Franchhoek is presenting a new exhibition – A Tribute to the Life and Work of Jacob Hendrik Pierneef (1886-1957). The exhibition will run for the duration of 2017, and enhances La Motte’s permanent heritage collection with selected artworks from various collections in South Africa and some of Pierneef’s personal artefacts are also on display.

I was fortunate enough to have attended its official opening recently.

Our hosts, Hein and Hanneli Koegelenberg painted a vivid picture of their relationship to Pierneef’s works and gave background to the new exhibition. Both spoke eloquently from the heart (although I would have given anything to have heard Hanneli break into song!).

The Rupert-Koegelenberg support of the arts and cultural heritage is legendary and has added so much to the South African cultural landscape over the years and this exhibition is but the latest example.

Jacob Hendrick Pierneef is considered by many to be the quintessential South African artist.and this Pierneef Tribute exhibition is both a privilege and a delight. For those, like me, who only think of trees when the name Pierneef is mentioned, the works on display certainly broaden one’s appreciation.

“For Pierneef art and architecture were inseparable because for him both depended on the structuring of space and proportion. One can say that he interpreted the landscape through with a structural bias. He often treated mountains and rock formations as structures and even his trees were sometimes used like collonades through which the landscape in the background is seen in perspective. The Architectural structural elements in his paintings are emphasised by his simplification of subjects that reveal their basic structure”.

Of course there are many marvellous works featuring trees, but there are also painting depicting architecture, mountains and clouds. It was wonderful to be able to see in one venue Pierneef’s stylistic evolvement.

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In particular, his Composition in Blue (1928) really appealed, as did the technical mastery he showed in his pencil drawing of the Union Buildings (1947).

There is so much to savour at the rare opportunity that is this Pierneef exhibition of over 100 of his works, make sure to give yourself enough time when you visit it.

After an extensive walk through the exhibition, it was off to Pierneef a la Motte for lunch. The day’s Pierneef focus continued, with Executive Chef Michelle Theron producing four exquisite courses (paired with La Motte wines, of course!) that were inspired by the master of the paint palette.

For a starter we had: Confit tomato, goat’s cheese and nut millefeuilles; our main was: Venison with traditional stewed peaches and wild rosemary; the cheese dish was creativity at its best and consisted of: Gorgonzola parfait, blue cheese candyfloss, black pepper honey cake and boerenkaas choux with straw wine jelly, homemade preserve and pickles; and to end on a sweet note: White chocolate blanc mange with strawberry and elderberry jelly and red velvet opera (Hanneli’s influence?)

A feast for the eyes, a feast for the palate, La Motte certainly feeds the senses.

 

 

The Pierneef Tribute Exhibition is at the La Motte Museum which is open from Tuesday to Sunday, 09:00 – 17:00 and entrance is free.

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MAGIC WAS IN THE AIR

 

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Such were circumstances thirty years ago that I found myself becoming one of the dozen original subscribers to pay television channel M-NET.

My original experiences all those years ago were of service excellence. Not only did they transmit programmes unlike those of our National Broadcaster, but that excellence also displayed itself when dealing with any technical problems.

The original M-NET decoder was to say the least, more prototype than state of the art.

I remember one night wanting to watch a live boxing match (I think it may have been Gerrie Coetzee vs Leon Spinks?), except my decoder stopped working. In panic, I phoned M-NET service department, they suggested that as I lived close by, what would work best was to quickly bring the decoder to them, they promised to have it fixed and that I would be back home in time for the boxing. I was and do you know what? Five minutes after I got home, they phoned me to ask if the decoder was working properly. How’s that for service? It’s still excellent albeit now handled by MultiChoice.

M-NET has stayed in touch with us “old faithfuls” and they recently flew my wife Rosalie and I to Johannesburg for the M-NET 30th Birthday Dinner.  And what a night and dinner it was!

We started off in the vast and most impressive lobby of MultiChoice City in Randburg which for the occasion hosted a magical M-NET 30 Year retrospective. Here’s a picture of the original decoder:

After Registration, we mingled and there were drinks aplenty on offer and really yummy canapés too: Cappuccino Tomato Soup Sips, Mini “Croque Monsieur”, Spanish Prawn Spikes, Pretzel Cheese Lollipops, Shredded Crab Taco Bites served on Chinese Spoons, Marinated Wild Mushroom Bruschetta, Italian Chicken Meatballs with Marinara Dipping Sauce and Moroccan Lamb Briouats with a Minted Yoghurt Dip.

 

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Rosalie & Julian with Caroline Pritchard, MultiChoice Corporate Services Manager, Corporate Affairs.

It was lovely looking at the exhibition and seeing TV Celebrities, some of them old friends not seen for quite a while. But for me a personal highlight of the mingle was having a brief chat with the very personable Koos Bekker, one of the founders of M-NET. In case you want to know what we talked about, it was his glorious wine farm, Babylonstoren! As Clooney would say: “What else!”.

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And the Magic continued………..

The dinner and show were held in a huge domed tent erected in the MultiChoice City car park, spectacular!

On arrival we were offered drinks. When it came to what to choose, no decision was required. Moet & Chandon was perched on the bar counter, how could I say no?

In the Dome, we were seated at a table for 10 facing a stage surrounded by 180 degrees of large AV screens. At our table were Alan Jones (who designed the first decoder) and Raymond Ofula (the veteran Kenyan actor), amongst others.

And the Magic continued…..

The menu was stupendous, take a look at what I had (my wife revelled in the Vegetarian menu, which was equally splendid):

Starter

LIGHTLY OAK SMOKED, LAVENDER-INFUSED TROUT AND NORDIC SHRIMP served with citrus dill crème fraiche, Swedish style mustard and balsamic pearls, baby leaves and potato salad

Sorbet

Mint and basil sorbet

Main

SOUS-VIDE BEEF MIGNON infused with thyme oil, Maldon salt and peppercorns accompanied by a crumbed chicken croquette, Boulangèrie potatoes and seasonal vegetable bundle with a red wine jus and sweet potato shard

I drank a KEVIN ARNOLD SHIRAZ with me meal!!!

Food of this high standard is usually challenging for as many people as we were. But not when MNET/MLTICHOICE are involved

And the Magic continued…

The show was a sensory spectacular a feats for ears and eyes and using the highest calibre of state of the art tech.

Below: Lira

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Presenters includes; Trevor Noah! Yes, but he wasn’t actually there, he was a hologram. WOW!!!!!! Words fail me, real and yet not; Lira, Carol Tshabalala, Lungile Radu, Thomas Gumede and Siyabonga Ngwekazi; and IK Osakioduwa.

Performers were: Claire Johnston (still in magnificent voice) and Themba Ndaba with Special Star; Claire, Khaya Mthethwa, The Muses, Clash of the Choirs with Where Magic Lives; the incomparable Lira with Pata Pata; 2Baba (from Nigeria) with African Queen; Lira this time with Let There Be Light; The Parlotones with Richard Stirton and The Muses doing We Were Just Having Fun; Lira with Feel Good; Kahn Morbee, Khaya Mthethwa and Richard Stirton with the anthemic We are The Champions; and the phenomenal closing number KIND OF MAGIC featuring all the performers.

And the Magic continued…..

Speeches were kept to the minimum and no notes, just from the heart – Koos Bekker and Ton Vosloo.

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Koos Bekker standoutishly attired!

 

We headed back to our hotel, elated and filled with the delights of a memorable evening filled with Magic.

Thank you M-NET long may your Magic continue!

 

 

 

THE NEW PLATTER’S SOUTH AFRICAN WINE GUIDE, LOOKING GOOD AND DRESSED IN GREEN

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Last night saw the annual highlight in the South African wine industry – the launch of the Platter’s by Diners Club 2017 South African Wine Guide.

This year, it sported a gorgeous dark green cover, appropriately tagged Harvest Green!

Eagerly anticipated, the launch function also serves as the announcement of the producers whose wines have garnered the much sought after Five Star rating.

It was a thrill that the 2017 Guide features 17 wines that have earned the top rating for the very first time. Altogether 94 wines got 5* ratings and the diversity of the producers and their geographic spread speaks wonders for South African wine.

Congratulations to all these winners, my wine bucket list overfloweth!

Also announced were the Wines of the Year and the Winery of the Year.

DRUMROLL………………..

The Platter’s Winery of the Year is Nederburg Wines, a truly amazing winery that from a total wine production of 2,8 million cases, manages to produce outstanding ‘top of the range’ wines too, including four that earned the 5* rating. No mean achievement.

The Platter’s Red Wine of the Year is the Radford Dale Black Rock 2014 from The Winery of Good Hope.

The Platter’s White Wine of the Year went to the Stellenrust 51 Barrel Fermented Chenin Blanc 2015.

The Platter’s Dessert Wine of the Year is Straw Wine 2015 from Mullineux and Leeu Family Wines. It was the last wine I tasted at the event and it left me speechless with pleasure. I went home sporting a sweet smile….

My regular blog readers will remember that I wrote that Chenin Blanc seems to be trending? Well 15 received 5* ratings, only topped by Chardonnay with 17.

Add to this that there are many wines that achieved 4 ½* status, and wine drinkers will have a lot of fun pointing their palates at the liquid delights listed in the Platter’s by Diners Club South African Wine Guide 2017.

Go get yourself a copy.

Cheers!