HELLO RIDGEBACK SHIRAZ, MY OLD FRIEND….

Hello Ridgeback, my old friend
I’ve come to taste your wines again
Because a memory softly creeping
Left its seeds while I was sleeping
And the memory that was planted in my brain
Still remains within the taste of your Shiraz
(with apologies to Simon and Garfunkel)

Some years back, I went through a long phase of only tasting and drinking red wines. Many a friend at the time asked me what my favourite kind of wine was? – I honestly had no answer.

Then one day out on the Paarl Wine Route, I impulsively popped into Ridgeback Wines. I’d never heard of them before and the doggie name intrigued me. Little did I realise that that visit would answer the question. The wine that lit the globe in my wine memory was the Ridgeback Shiraz (made then by Catherine Marshall), I wish I could remember the vintage…that first taste was to become the cornerstone of my wine drinking pleasure. I was then able to declare that I was a Shiraz/Syrah man and I still am.

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I have just had the pleasure of getting together with my old friend, Ridgeback Shiraz, albeit in the form of its 2015 vintage and also some of its other Ridgeback friends: Ridgeback Cabernet Sauvignon 2015, Ridgeback Cabernet Franc 2015 and Ridgeback Journey 2015, now made by Toit Wessels.

Tasting the Shiraz was obviously nostalgic for me, not because I was able to recall the finer details of its older vintage, but because the pleasure I got from the 2015 was equal to my first impression. The 2015 showed the peppery, tobacco leaf noted that hooked me in the beginning, I liked their shiraz then, I like it now.

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I tried the Ridgeback Cabernet Sauvignon 2015 next. In fact, we enjoyed the wine with our T-bone and veg dinner, the pairing, as one would expect, was a good one, with the dark fruit and herbiness of the Cab complimenting the meat perfectly. I’m not sure which I finished first, but I did pour myself a second glass…

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The next Ridgeback wine I tasted was their Cabernet Franc 2015. I found it quite Mediterranean in taste, with its black olive and spicy tones. A wine I would definitely prefer on its own rather than with food.

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My Ridgeback tasting journey ended appropriately with their red blend Journey 2015. It is Cab Franc dominated (36%), with Cabernet Sauvignon (28%), Merlot (26%) and Petit Verdot (10%). A really decent Bordeaux blend and worth ageing for a year or two more.

So, Ridgeback my old friend, I’m glad I tasted your wines again. I look forward to enjoying more of your wines again before too long.

 

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PROSECCO PICCOLO

I am fairly new to Prosecco, and today I did something different – I enjoyed a glass soon after breakfast, well not even a glass, a whole bottle, all by myself!

I see you frowning. Before your frown becomes permanent, the bottle was a 200ml one…okay!

 

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It was a Da Luca Mini, a welcome and novel addition to the Prosecco family.

Da Luca Prosecco is a classic example of the Glera grape grown in the Prosecco region and an Italian sparkling wine that punches way above its weight.

Straw yellow in colour with very fine perlage, the nose features aromas of peach, pear and apricot that open to a lively, yet soft, refreshing palate. There is a touch of sweetness and a clean, lingering finish.

I like it, I like it. Salud Da Luca!

Da Luca Prosecco Mini RSP: R55 from the Flagstone Winery, Somerset West

BREAKING NEWS: SHIRAZ CHALLENGE CROWNS ITS LATEST CHAMPIONS

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

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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 http://www.cybercellar.com.
For more information, visit http://www.ShirazSA.co.za.

LEARNING MORE FROM LA MOTTE

Each time I’ve visited La Motte it has offered me something I’ve not experienced before. My latest visit was for their ‘Sauvignon Blanc Experience’.

Under the guidance of cellarmaster Edmund Terblanche we did a comparative tasting of 12 Sauvignon Blancs, the comparison being between grapes from two different regions – Elim and Darling.

One of the things that made this tasting so special was the fact that only two of the twelve wines tasted were from the La Motte Estate. I wonder how many other estates would go this far? Bravo Edmund and thank you.

I found the concentration on one varietal a wonderful opportunity to further my knowledge of and appreciation for Sauvignon Blanc.

The two wines from La Motte were their 2018 Pierneef Sauvignon Blanc and the 2018 La Motte Sauvignon Blanc.

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The 2018 La Motte Sauvignon Blanc is made with grapes from Franschhoek, Stellenbosch, Elgin, Walker Bay and Elim – and the 2018 Pierneef Sauvignon Blanc is a blend with 12% Semillon and its sauvignon blanc grapes are from Elim and Napier.

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What I also like about La Motte wines are their affordable prices. The 2018 Pierneef Sauvignon Blanc sells for about R135 a bottle and the 2018 La Motte Sauvignon Blanc goes for only R80 a bottle

I preferred the Pierneef with its minerality and after enjoying the experience of tasting the between the wines from each region, I now know I should look for Sauvignon Blancs made from Cape South Coast grapes…..my takeaway knowledge from the morning.

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Thelema Mountain Vineyards Terroir Means Different Things to Different People

For me, the first thing that comes to mind at the mention of Thelema Mountain Vineyards is not their fine wines, but their mountainous context. When I first started trail running nearly a decade ago, one of my first trail runs was at Thelema.
Why was it so memorable, you might ask? Well the course ran up through some of the estate’s vineyards. And when I say up, I mean UP. Imagine using a ladder to get to the roof of a double-storeyed house and you’ll get the idea. As a consequence, we called that uphill, Thelematic and it remains the comparison yardstick for all the trail uphills I have navigated ever since.

No wonder Thomas Webb, Thelema’s Commercial Director is such a good runner!
Thankfully since that encounter, Thelema wines have resonated greatly with me and after the memory flash of that uphill, they readily come to mind.

Thelema In the Mist

On a recent visit, it was a gorgeous misty day, I got to try their newly released, Thelema Rabelais 2015. That year for Stellenbosch marked a particularly good vintage and the Rabelais certainly reaches great heights (but with no uphill!)

thelema-rabelais-.jpgThe Thelema Rabelais 2015 is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Verdot from an estate justifiably renowned over the years for its consistently fine cabernets.
The Thelema Rabelais 2015 is everything you would expect from a good Cabernet Sauvignon with the Petit Verdot adding its lovely perfumed difference. Sitting outdoors with a gorgeous misty view and a glass of Rabelais in hand was a sublime aesthetic experience. I’m sure though that the wine will pair well with any location at which you choose to drink it.

Maybe I’ll ask Thomas if I can try some at the top of my Thelematic hill next time!

The Thelema Rabelais 2015 sells for R595-00 a bottle at the Cellar door. Visit http://www.thelema.co.za for more information.

 

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ELEGANCE IN AND ON A WINE BOTTLE

Flagstone Winery is housed in a converted dynamite factory in Somerset West, hardly sounding like a venue associated with elegance and excellence…but it is!

And if any of their fines wine attests to both those descriptors, it is their newly launched, limited-edition, Ice – a Sauvignon Blanc dessert wine.

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The design work on the wine’s bottle and label is magnificent. Flagstone Ice is housed in a slim 375ml bottle with an ice white wax seal and adorned with a beautiful, frozen Sauvignon Blanc leaf.

This is not a dessert wine that is sugar heavy and almost a dessert by itself. The Ice Vine Dried Sauvignon Blanc 2016’s sweetness veers more towards the gentle and sophisticated. Flagstone’s winemaker Gerhard Swart suggests that the wine should ideally be served chilled and would pair well with desserts. I haven’t tried it that way yet, but I can see why that suggestion would work well.

Uncorked and poured into a glass, it ‘s nose was of aromatic sweet fruits like mango with some granadilla tartness and a hint of honey too. Sipping it, was like having one’s palate caressed with the taste of stone fruit and some acidity.

I’ve written before about my appreciation of our sweeter wines and I am now happy to add Flagstone ICE Vine Dried Sauvignon Blanc 2016 to my list if Savourites.
It sells for R120 a bottle and is only available at the Flagstone cellar door.

 

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WR Quinan Boulevard (access via Beach Road entrance, opposite Strand Golf Club)
Somerset West, Western Cape 7129
Tasting Room: 021 850 5891

Something new – Fiver by Four Cousins

Those fabulous fun Four Cousins from Robertson are certainly thinking out of the box. Not only do they have that lovely welcoming Brand Home at the entrance to the town, but on the liquid pleasure front, something new from them has just leapt onto the scene – Fiver

 

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The Fiver comes in three flavours: Cool (apple and lime), Blush (strawberry and litchi), and Dry, a bracing tang of lemon. There’s a Fiver for everyone, whether you have a sweet tooth or prefer a drier style.

The refreshing, wine-based Fiver is infused with delicious fruit flavours. Proud member of the Four Cousins family, this “fifth cousin” with the fitting name is as authentic, quality craft as it comes.

Dressed in eye-catching mellow yellow, gorgeous green and perfect pink, the trio look sharp wherever you go. The handy bottles are easy to keep in your fridge and ideal for party get-togethers of friends or colleagues; refreshment when you’re out and about; or, a tasty reward at the end of a long day.

The three Fiver flavours are equally delicious to drink, give them a try too!

The Fiver sells for around R79.99/six-pack

 

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I DO LIKE TO BE BESIDE THE SEASIDE

My wife and I never take for granted the fact that living in Cape Town, we have the sea on our doorstep. From our home though, we have a lovely view of the mountain and sometimes days pass without my seeing the sea. Not good. Our 2019 resolution is to at least see the sea once a week if we can.

Well, luckily, the sea has just come to me…..in a bottle!

 

Groote Post Seasalter Sauvignon Blanc 2018 hi res

The Groote Post Seasalter. The first thing that strikes me is the bottle’s beautiful, evocative, maritime-inspired  front label. A bit like with a movie trailer, from it one has an idea what to expect from the wine.

Sauvignon Blanc has always been the standout varietal at Groote Post, which is situated in the Darling Hills on the Cape West Coast. It was therefore fitting that a Sauvignon Blanc would emerge as the estate’s flagship white wine.

The Groote Post Seasalter 2018 is a blend of 90% Sauvignon Blanc and 10% Semillon with the zesty acidity one expects from a Sauvi and the richness of the Semillon

The name was chosen to symbolise the unique minerality and saltiness of Groote Post’s white wines, the culmination of the interplay of slope, soil, climate and proximity to the icy Atlantic.

And as I opened it, I swear I could feel a sea breeze and hear the sounds of seagulls above me…if the laws didn’t frown on it, I would have headed to the beach, found a rock to sit on and enjoyed the liquid delight that is the Seasalter. Oh, and while I am on a flight of fantasy, a dozen freshly opened oysters with a touch of lemon juice would go very nicely with it, thank you.

Back to reality. I really really like this wine and had three glasses of it at first tasting.

If you do not live close to the sea, grab your self a bottle, the Groote Post Seasalter 2018  sells for about R140 and you too may hear seagulls.

ELGIN GRABOUW TOURISM ON AN UPWARD TRAJECTORY

On Cape Town’s doorstep and offering so much…

2019 started on a positive note for the Elgin Grabouw Valley, with exciting developments that have paved the way for the relaunch of tourism.

As at 30 June 2018, Elgin Valley Tourism closed, however, Wines of Elgin recognised the vital role tourism plays for the Valley and led the decision of a relaunch. Wines of Elgin is recognised internationally for its highly acclaimed and award-winning cool climate wines.

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Ensuring a hands-on involvement of members representing the relevant sectors in the valley, the newly established tourism body will be represented by the following committee members:

Marion Smith (Chairperson and co-owner of Elgin Ridge Wines)
Nicky Wallace (Paul Wallace Wines)
Liesl Cluver Rust (Paul Cluver Wines)
Nick King (South Hill Wines)
Roger Orpen (Elgin Railway Market)
Pieter Silberbauer (Trails End)
Alfra Cox, assisted by Edward Cloete (representing Theewaterskloof Municipality)

The committee will be supported by a full time Executive Head of Tourism, Catherine Boome, who resides in Elgin on a family apple and pear farm. Mariaan Meyer manages the administrative tasks.

The new structure and name encompasses the entire Elgin and Grabouw community, offering a broader scope of information for local and international tourists. These include all sectors, namely wines, the new Elgin Railway Market, outdoor adventure activities, restaurants, accommodation facilities – that range from authentic farm experiences, mountain bike hotels to glamping – as well as the traditional farmstalls hat feature as an integral part of most passing travellers’ journey.
The Valley sits within the Kogelberg Biosphere Reserve, a 100,000 hectare UNESCO designated home to the most complex biodiversity on our planet with more than 1,880 different plant species

Whilst in the process of the transition, visitors can make use of a virtual tourist office for any queries via exec@elgintourism.co.za or visit http://www.elgingrabouwtourism.co.za There are plans in place for an on-site office, but for the interim the committee feel it would be the ideal opportunity to put their innovative ideas to the test.

The valley is approximately 70km from Cape Town, and is internationally recognised for its cool-climate wines and warm hospitality. World-class eateries, accommodation and outdoor activities which add extra appeal to visitors.

THE FACE ON THE BOTTLE

The last time I visited Delheim Wines in Stellenbosch it was to take part in a trail run on their Estate. Looking back at that, the indelible memory of that visit was not the run, but the brief chat I enjoyed with Spatz Sperling afterwards. I remember besides his delicious sense of humour, talking to him about my tasting Spatzendreck the year it was first bottled. He remarked that I didn’t look old enough to have been around then.

So, I’m sure that neither Nora or Victor will mind that it is Spatz’s face I see on the bottle every time a Delheim wine is in front of me….

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He was there in my mind as I opened a bottle of Delheim Shiraz Cabernet Sauvignon 2017, the estate’s blend top-selling wine.

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Although Shiraz is my first love, I am okay if it sometimes has company in a bottle….
On the nose, the wine offered the pepperiness I enjoy in a shiraz and also some dark berries. It tasted full of fruit and lovely and smooth too.
It’s certainly better than a lot of wines tagged everyday drinkers. The 2017 Delheim Shiraz Cabernet Sauvignon sells at only R85 a bottle.

Cheers Sperlings!

 

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