A REFRESHINGLY DIFFERENT WHITE BLEND

Although best known for its fine Pinot Noirs, the Hemel-en-Aarde Valley produces many other wines of distinction.

Bouchard Finlayson Vineyard, holds its Pinot Noir flag proudly aloft, and I have long been a fan of it and their other wines.

One of them, for no particular reason, seems to have slipped by my palate – the Bouchard Finlayson Blanc de Mer, a Riesling driven blend. Recently I had the pleasure of remedying this omission.

 

image_302.jpg

 

Their first Blanc de Mer was bottled in 1991 and has evolved to where its current vintage has 60% Riesling, 20% Viognier, 13% Chardonnay, 5% Sauvignon Blanc and 2% Semillon.

The 2017 certainly delivers a glorious mouthful – floral on the nose, and stone fruit on the palate. I particularly enjoyed its delicate smoothness.

Personally I think I am leaning towards preferring white blends to their single variety colleagues and the Bouchard Finlayson 2017 Blanc de Mer at a little over R100 a bottle, will certainly be a  visitor to my table again.

 

34[1]

Advertisements

ZANDVLIET…. AT LAST!

A few years back, my wife and I decided to spend a few days exploring the Robertson Wine Valley. We’d booked a self-catering as our base and had drawn up a list of things we’d like to do and wineries we’d like to visit. At the time, I was a shiraz only wine drinker.

Well aware of Zandvliet Wine Estate’s reputation for fine shirazes, I had scheduled a visit there for our second afternoon, except we never made it. We had received a call to say that our home had been broken in to, so we immediately headed home to Cape Town.

So no Zandvliet shiraz-tasting for me then…..until recently, when I eagerly accepted a media invitation to visit the Estate

What a wonderful surprise the Zandvliet of 2018 was/is.

Kalkveld Lounge vista

Central to its visitor experience is its beautiful tasting room, the Kalkveld Lounge, the name inspired by the Estate’s Kalkveld Shiraz. Its interior design is quite frankly breath-taking, a tasteful blend of old and new and aesthetically one of the most impressive I’ve seen. It even boasts an underground art gallery, with an atmosphere unlike any other you’re likely to visit.

Bottle-Kalkveld-Shiraz[1]

 

I tasted most of the Zandvliet range of wines, but a little like a thirsty dog, I was panting to taste their shirazes. I was not disappointed, both the Zandvliet Shiraz 2015 and the Zandvliet Kalkveld Shiraz 2014 certainly hit the mark for this shiraz fan, I liked both shirazes equally. (Subsequent to our visit, the Zandvliet Shiraz 2015 garnered a prestigious Gold Medal at the 2018 Old Mutual Trophy Wine Show).

zadw026c-292x1030[1]

Besides their standard wine tasting, they also offer a Cellar Tour and Wine Blending experience, where you blend your own wine and get to take it home and the unique Zandvliet Clemengold Pairing – Spicy panforte, biscotti and smooth dark chocolate – all with elements of zesty citrus – and Clemengold (a special type of mandarin) marmalade complement Zandvliet’s Estate Chardonnay, Kalkveld Shiraz, Vintage Liqueur Wine and Zandvliet Estate Muscat. I absolutely loved the flavour pairings,  wow wow wow!

Zandvliet-Logo-Trans[1]

Zandvliet is not far from Ashton, and well worth a visit if you are visiting the Robertson Wine Valley.

 

MAY THE MORNING STAR CONTINUE TO SHINE

Giulio Bertrand and Flos Olei 2014 trophy

Giulio Bertrand – 13 March 1927 – 20 May 2018

 

Today I received the sad news of the passing of Giulio Bertrand, owner of prestigious Somerset-West Wine and Olive Estate, Morgenster.

I had the privilege and pleasure of meeting Signor Bertrand on a number of occasions, most recently towards the end of last year. When we last met, we discussed great things Italian, after I expressed my affection for Morgenster’s Italian varietal wines. I suggested he should consider making gelato on the farm. He smiled and said he didn’t have any cows. I respectfully answered that he came across as a man who enjoyed a challenge..

Signor Bertrand was easy to talk to, charming and gracious.  He will be missed.

Possa la sua anima riposare in pace

 

Morgenster-logo-smaller[1]

 

 

 

WHAT I NOSE AND WHAT I DON’T KNOWS

 

Not everyone has the ability to detect the subtleties of aroma and taste when tasting wine.

The good people from Leopard’s Leap in Franschhoek sent this useful note to me, together with a bottle of their Leopard’s Leap Chardonnay Pinot Noir:

Anyone who has ever been to a wine tasting, knows that there is a lot of ‘nose’ action. Swirling the wine in the glass to open the ‘nose’ and smelling the wine to identify the ‘nose’. This can be quite intimidating for wine novices and those who drink wine purely for the enjoyment it brings.

While identifying the berry flavours – and if you are really good, the specific berry – raspberry, not cherry… – really is not necessary, it can actually be quite a bit of fun! These nuances are what differentiate wine from other drinks – vintage influences, winemaking methods, maturation, serving temperature, food pairing and even stemware all have an influence on what you experience in your glass of wine. With a little bit of guidance, some information and of course practice, one might actually enjoy building a memory bank of flavour associations.

As an example, the Leopard’s Leap Winemaking team has deconstructed the popular Leopard’s Leap Chardonnay Pinot Noir from our Classic Range. The flavours identified are Pink Lady apple (quite different from Golden Delicious or Granny Smith or Top Red…), raspberry, red grape, grapefruit and strawberry.

 

LL-Chardonnay-Pinot-Noir-2017-1024x284[1]

Taking advantage of some Autumnal warmth, we sat on our stoep the other afternoon, and enjoy a glass or two of the Chardonnay Pinot Noir. I’m not much of a chardonnay fan, but with the pinot noir in the mix, it brought a gentle smile to my palate. At a cellar price of just under R50-00 a bottle, well worth a try.

Now you too knowse about it!

 

CAB FRANC-LY MY DEAR, I DO GIVE A DAMN!

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 www.plankton.mobi

Avontuur Estate is on the R44 between Stellenbosch and Somerset West

 

51851_image3[1]

A TALE OF WINE AND TWO JULIANS

Usually my prime reason for visiting a wine estate on my own, is to try wines that I haven’t tried before. That was certainly the case when I recently visited Vondeling Wines, in the Voor Paardeberg wine region of the Western Cape. Although slightly off the beaten track, it is an easily-accessible 45 minutes’ drive from Cape Town.

Although I was well aware of their wines’ fine reputation, there was another reason for my visit, albeit not exactly a mature one. I had discovered that Vondeling’s MD was also a Julian, and we Julians……..

In Julian Richfield’s Savourite Things, I only post about things that are also available for you my readers to enjoy. So in this sposting I will limit the content to the shareable pleasures, the estate and the wines I tasted.

Vondeling is beautifully situated on the southern slopes of the Paardeberg Mountain, and has a gorgeous Cape Dutch manor house and a small country-feel chapel which serves the local community and is also a wedding venue.

We sat in the warm and friendly tasting room before lunch and Julian took me through many of the estate’s wines. I tried their Rose, Chenin Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Merlot, their Baldrick Shiraz and their Rurale 2015 Methode Ancestral (a Brut sparkling wine). All well-balanced, very drinkable and thoroughly enjoyed.

But it was two limited release wines in particular that stood out for me:

The Vondeling Bowwood Pinotage 2014 and their Sweet Carolyn 2017.

 

bowwood-2014.jpg

 

I love a good pinotage, the Bowwood is unquestionably “a very good ‘un indeed!”. Full of flavour, it gives a savoury nose and a gentle sweetness from its time in American oak. The wine is a blend from five barrels and shows great intensity of fruit. Does it command enjoying a second glassful? Tick, tick! And if you have the patience – it should age very well. Its cellar door price is R335-00 a bottle, a moderate price for a wine of this stature.

 

vondeling-sweet-carolyn-2015-nv.jpg

 

I really enjoy the pleasures that dessert wines offer- generosity on both the nose and the palate. Sweet Carolyn is a Muscat de Frontignan. Moderate in alcohol, its nose is a delight of fruitiness and floral tones. Even a non-drinker would revel in the pleasures of its bouquet. It is not oversweet and a slow sipper, don’t rush the pleasure. It’s my current indulgent personal treat. Shh!! (R225-00 a bottle at the cellar door.)

The added bonus of visiting a wine estate for me is meeting the people. Meeting Julian Johnsen was a huge plus and a privilege.

If you visit Vondeling, you may not necessarily get to meet Julian, unless you too are a Julian and want to join this exclusive fraternity .We Julians found much to talk about and we enjoyed lunch and our time together, and the pleasure of a return visit will hopefully be a case of sooner rather than later.

 

vondelinglogo200[1]

WINE TASTING  – MONDAYS TO FRIDAYS FROM 10:00 TO 17:00 WEEKENDS AND PUBLIC HOLIDAYS BY APPOINTMENT ONLY

ENJOY SOUTH AFRICAN BLISS THIS WEEKEND – PINOTAGE AND BILTONG

Pinotage.

Biltong.

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.

20180308_113921

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 www.plankton.mobi or www.computicket.com 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.

WHEN YOU’RE FEELING LOW, VERDELHO: V-E-R-D-E-L-H-O

My first tastes of Org De Rac wines, were their splendid Die Waghuis Red 2016 and Die Waghuis White 2016.

Verdelho was one of the components of the Waghuis White and, as I write, I sit with a glass of their Org de Rac Verdelho 2017 at my side.

org-de-rac-verdelho-20171.jpg

Immediately drinkable, the wine has a fruity aroma with a hint of that nostalgic sherbet of my youth. It offers a gorgeous complexity of flavours and demands at least a second sip. The day in Cape Town is a warm one and the bottle of Verdelho seems to empty before my eyes……

The Org de Rac Verdelho sells for only R80 a bottle, a fridge-pleasing price indeed….

Three Org de Rac wines tasted, three palpable hits. What next, I wonder?

Org de Rac is an organic wine estate situated across the Berg River on the N7 near Piketberg in the Western Cape, about 160 Kms from Cape Town.

org-de-rac-logo-700x609[1]

 

 

THANK YOU QVEVRI MUCH

Not the sort of thing I usually write about, but an innovation at Avondale is something to keep one’s eye on.

Paarl estate Avondale has become the first winery in South Africa to introduce clay qvevri into the cellar.

These egg-shaped earthenware vessels, used for fermenting and ageing wine, hail from Georgia in Eastern Europe., Georgia is widely regarded as the cradle of modern viticulture, with a tradition of winemaking dating back more than 8000 years.

avondale qv

Qvevri – pronounced kwe-vree – have long been a crucial aspect of that winemaking heritage. And while these vessels may have ancient roots they are set to bring a brand new dimension to the terroir-driven wines of Avondale.

Avondale’s 24 qvevri arrived just in time for the 2018 harvest, and the cellar team has been hard at work experimenting with these ancient vessels.

The qvevri at Avondale each hold between 800 and 1000 litres, and because these are handmade vessels each one is unique, and slightly different in shape and size

“For now we’re really enjoying experimenting to see what characters the qvevri brings to the wine ” says Avondale winemaker Corné Marais.

 

NewLogo[1]

 

A REFRESHINGLY DIFFERENT WHITE BLEND

Although best known for its fine Pinot Noirs, the Hemel-en-Aarde Valley produces many other wines of distinction.

Bouchard Finlayson Vineyard, holds its Pinot Noir flag proudly aloft, and I have long been a fan of it and their other wines.

One of them, for no particular reason, seems to have slipped by my palate – the Bouchard Finlayson Blanc de Mer, a Riesling driven blend. Recently I had the pleasure of remedying this omission.

2017 Bouchard Finlayson Blanc de Mer

 

Their first Blanc de Mer was bottled in 1991 and has evolved to where its current vintage has 60% Riesling, 20% Viognier, 13% Chardonnay, 5% Sauvignon Blanc and 2% Semillon.

The 2017 certainly delivers a glorious mouthful – floral on the nose, and stone fruit on the palate. I particularly enjoyed its delicate smoothness.

Personally I think I am leaning towards preferring white blends to their single variety colleagues and the Bouchard Finlayson 2017 Blanc de Mer at a little over R100 a bottle, will certainly be a frequent visitor to my table.

34[1]