AN OCCASION, A VENUE, AND A MEAL AND WINES TO SAVOUR

2018 has seen KWV celebrating its Centenary with a series of special events.
One of these was the opening of its spectacular Cathedral Cellar as a private events venue under the custodianship of KWV Ambassador Chef, Mynhardt Joubert. The cellar houses an impressive collection of thirty-two ‘stukvats’ measuring approximately 3 meters in circumference, serving as an imposing backdrop in the serene setting.
I attended the KWV’s Centenary climax, held in the majestic Cathedral Cellar, which saw the unveiling of a brand-new carved barrel, by wood-carving artist Ivan Hunter paired with a sumptuous celebratory lunch by Chef Mynhardt.

The new work is a fusion of past and present, with the inscription, “KWV celebrating 100 years of success in innovative viti- & viniculture” carved on it.

The new centenary vat in KWV's Cathedral Cellar

The KWV Centenary carving

The spectacular setting and the splendid new carved barrel could easily have out-impacted the lunch, but Chef Mynhardt’s food and the accompanying KWV wines more than held their own.

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The scene is set

 

The five course menu consisted of:

Charcoal and olive ciabatta with anchovy and caper butter. With this we drank The Centenary Blanc de Blancs MCC

 

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The Centenary Blanc de Blancs MCC

 

Summer tomato and nectarine gazpacho with local charcuterie, crème fraiche and roasted marinated. With this we enjoyed some Cathedral Cellar Sauvignon Blanc.

Smoked salmon tartare tian with cucumber spaghetti, beetroot cream, avocado, candies beetroot and baby salad leaves. A glass of Cathedral Cellar Chardonnay was poured with this.

Mediterranean deboned and stuffed lamb rib with zucchini spaghetti, roasted vine tomatoes and garlic emulsion served with Cathedral Cellar Triptych.

Italian flourless chocolate cake served with espresso ice cream, smoked salt, Chef Mynhardt’s fruitcake and crème anglaise and….drumroll: KWV 1949 Ruby Port.

All the pairings were excellent, but the two that really appealed to my palate were the salmon with the Cathedral Cellar Chardonnay and of course the privilege and the pleasure of the KWV 1949 Ruby Port…..and that dessert was a superb companion!

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A glass of KWV 1949 Ruby Port beautifully plated

 

Congratulations on your first 100 KWV, I look forward to being around for as much of your second as is possible.

 

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Enjoying a glass of The Centenary MCC with Wim Truter, KWV’s Chief Winemaker

Visitors can view the collection of KWV’s carved vats on various tours provided by the KWV Emporium. Visit http://www.kwvwineemporium.co.za to book.

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A RETURN VISIT TO ASARA

I recently made a return visit to Asara Wine Estate in Stellenbosch. My first was for a general look around, this time it was to spend some time with Johan Joubert their Cellar Master and to taste some of their wines.

Johan and I go back a few years, and then and I relished the opportunity to catch up with him at his new work ‘home’.

Asara is easily accessible and is situated just a few kilometres outside Stellenbosch town. The setting is beautiful, the landscaping is spectacular and the buildings designed to blend seamlessly into the natural environment.

Talking mostly about wine, we walked through the cellars, drove through their rolling vineyards, with their spectacular views and enjoyed a glorious pizza lunch at the Sansibar Bistro.

I chose to taste these wines from the Asara range:

The Asara Pinotage Rosé – I found it crisp and oozing berries, melon and a hint of citrus wild. A perfect Summer outdoorsy drink.

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It sounded very quirky, the Asara White Cab 2017 – it is made from cabernet grapes and vinified as a white wine – but it isn’t, just unusual. Zesty, and easy drinking, although my head took some times to digest the white/cabernet juxtaposition, my palate had no problem just enjoying it.

the-white-cab-2017.jpeg                The Asara Cape Fusion 2015 is a blend of Pinotage, Shiraz, Malbec. Dark berries and a hint of something sweet and spicy with a lovely lingering aftertaste.

vc-cape-fusion-20151.jpg    The Asara Merlot 2017 also combined dark berries with something spicy. It gives a fruity mouthful and that savoured appeal of delicacy and full-bodiedness.

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The common thread running through an enjoyable visit, was time spent with Johan Joubert, his passion and knowledge added so much to the pleasure.

 

 

MY GRAPES IN A BOTTLE OF WINE

Ten years ago, my wife and I sponsored a row of pinotage grape vines in the Perold Vineyard on Mostertsdrift, the home of the Stellenbosch Institute for Advanced Study (STIAS).
The vineyard covers a mere 0,5 hectares and is planted with 966 vines. It produces 1 000 bottles of wine per vintage.
I recently visited STIAS to attend the launch of our latest vintage and it came with a brand change.
I proudly present, the Aliquid Novi Pinotage:

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A Liquid Novi    (photograph by Stefan Els)
Since 2017, the vineyard has been managed by Lanzerac and they describe the new wine as “an elegant, lighter wine of pronounced character. It is clear that this descendant takes more from the Pinot Noir parent than the Hermitage lineage. Not heavy or overwhelming, but nuanced and complex, more reminiscent of a Pinot, the colour is nonetheless deep and the nose typical.”
The wine’s name refers to the dictum of Pliny the Elder, a Roman philosopher: ex Africa semper aliquid novi (something new always comes out of Africa).
Proud grape daddy that I am, I found the wine delicious and worthy of a second glass.
It boasts a striking, embossed and detailed label, absolutely gorgeous.

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Aliquid Novi Pinotage is for sale at the Tasting Room on Lanzerac Estate or from the Lanzerac Wine Shop.
And remember, lurking somewhere in that beautiful bottle of wine may be the product of some of my grapes……

THE FRUITS OF SUMMER IN A GLASS

Better known for their ‘Cape fortifieds’, De Krans Wines on Calitzdorp have in recent times produced some really lovely table wines as well.

With the welcome feel of summer here, I have just tried their De Krans Free-Run Chenin Blanc 2018.

 

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Only free run juice, approximately 66% of the total juice is used to make the wine. Although maybe a little young in the bottle, its appealing aroma of gentle fruits and pleasant aftertaste, made for enjoyable drinking.

I drank the wine with three different meals and it complemented each, although the food and wine pairing enthusiasts will have raised an eyebrow or two. A versatile wine.

It sells for about R60 a bottle and will certainly populate my fridge this summer.

 

ENJOYING SOME REGIONAL BREADTH

There are many ways of enjoying a visit to a wine trade show. I approach each with an open mind and decide on my tasting fairly impulsively.

Having done so, I like to wait a while and see which wines stayed with me.

After attending Vinimark’s show, a wine from Durbanville, one from Stellenbosch and a wine from the Hemel-en-Aarde Valley did just that.

 

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I tasted and absolutely loved Durbanville’s Altydgedacht Barbera. I found its dark fruit, spiciness and toastiness made for a lovely rich mouthfeel. When I first tasted this particular wine many years ago, it was at the farm and Parker matriarch Jean presided, what a dear lady. A wine memory that I will always cherish.

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Over to Stellenbosch and to De Morgenzon and their Reserve Syrah 2015. My passion for Syrah gets reinforced time and time again. This one made by Carl van der Merwe, with its nose of plums and berries and with a hint of pepper, was certainly an enforcer. Full and lively and the balance that suggests it will age well.

 

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I recently visited Bosman Family Vineyards in Wellington and enjoyed tasting across their Wellington range. But at the Vinimark show, I tried their Hemel-en-Aarde Pinot Noir 2015. A full-bodied wine, with young berries and an earthiness I usually associate with Petit Verdot, a lovely detail on a delicious wine. Corlea Fourie its artistic creator.

 

 

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…

 

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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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.

Laborie - Rose - 2018

 

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!!

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