ENJOYING SHIRAZ THREE WAYS

Bonnievale Wines lie in the Robertson Wine Valley and they describe their wines as ‘unpretentious’…

My curiosity was piqued when I first heard of their Natural Sweet Shiraz on social media. Being a shiraz lover I couldn’t wait to try and did not know what to expect.

How sweet is sweet? Would the taste of shiraz come through?

Natural Sweet Shiraz

My first sip answered both these questions. The Bonnievale Natural Sweet Shiraz was shirazy enough for my taste and the sweet was moderate. I poured a full glass and its spicy nose was followed by a yummy fruitiness. This wine is seriously gluggable!

For dinner we had a mild curry and the Natural Sweet Shiraz paired beautifully with it. The next night we had spaghetti bolognaise, and it went perfectly with that too!

Good to drink, versatile to pair and at R45 a bottle, the Bonnievale Natural Sweet Shiraz is delicious and pocket-friendly to boot.

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MY FIRST TASTE OF ORG DE RAC WINES

What does one do after having been on antibiotics for nearly two weeks and being denied alcohol? One head’s straight to one’s wine collection in search for a good ‘un.

I decided to try a bottle of something from an estate new to me, Org de Rac.

 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 recently launched two wines under its new Die Waghuis label. A red and a white blend. The name Waghuis refers to the 18th century guard-house that once stood at the foot of Piketberg to ensure the safety of travellers between Cape Town and the rugged north-western hinterland.

What does one do after having been on antibiotics for nearly two weeks and being denied alcohol? One head’s straight to one’s wine collection in search for a good ‘un.

I decided to try a bottle of something from an estate new to me, Org de Rac.

 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 recently launched two wines under its new Die Waghuis label. A red and a white blend. The name Waghuis refers to the 18th century guard-house that once stood at the foot of Piketberg to ensure the safety of travellers between Cape Town and the rugged north-western hinterland.

What does one do after having been on antibiotics for nearly two weeks and being denied alcohol? One head’s straight to one’s wine collection in search for a good ‘un.

I decided to try a bottle of something from an estate new to me, Org de Rac.

 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 recently launched two wines under its new Die Waghuis label. A red and a white blend. The name Waghuis refers to the 18th century guard-house that once stood at the foot of Piketberg to ensure the safety of travellers between Cape Town and the rugged north-western hinterland.

OrG Die Waghuis - Syrah Grenache Mourvedre Verdelho 20171005_0252

The bottle chose to relieve my ‘alcohol drought’ was Die Waghuis Red 2016. It is a Shiraz-dominant blend with some Grenache, Mourvèdre and Verdelho. I am a sucker for a Mediterranean blend and found Die Waghuis well-balanced with yummy ripe fruit flavours and an exotic, aromatic nose. My return to alcohol was a two-glass one with a further two glasses the next day. (Note to self: you chose well)

Org de Rac Die Waghuis Verdelho Chenin Blanc Roussanne 20171005_0247

The Org de Rac Waghuis White 2016 is a blend of Verdelho, Chenin Blanc and Roussanne. We had this with a gentle fish dish, salmon. It brought the fish alive with its lively fruitiness and was speedily consumed.

The wines sell for about R160 each.

These two Die Waghuis wines certainly bode well for the rest of the Org de Rac range.

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GLENELLY ESTATE NOW HAS THE WOW FACTOR

My lasting impression of my first visit to Glenelly Estate in Stellenbosch was surprise at the unimpressive way owner Madame May Lencquesaing’s extraordinary glass collection was displayed.

That was the Glenelly of yore – no more…..

I was recently invited for lunch and a wine tasting and to see the result of extensive renovations – the estate now boasts a Glass Museum, a bistro, and a new tasting room.

11 Glenelly - Tasting Room interior

 

The tasting room is on the top floor of the winery and has a spectacular view of the Simonsberg Mountain. One is able to taste current and older vintages of Glenelly’s Glass Collection, Estate Reserve and Lady May wines. I particularly enjoyed the Glenelly Estate Reserve Red and the Glenelly Glass Collection Unoaked Chardonnay (yes, I enjoyed a chardonnay!).

 

21 Glenelly - The Vine Bistro interior (8)

 

The Vine Bistro, also with “that view”, has cuisine that is French-inspired and which was deliciously evident in the dishes we tasted. Looking at the menu, I noticed that the prices of the Mains are at fine-dining level rather than bistro.

45 Glenelly - glass museum 001 - Copy

 

The display of glass has been majorly upgraded as befitting Madame May’s breath-taking collection and is now a Glass Museum with the wow factor! It is such a unique and captivating assembly of beauty that it is well worth a visit on its own. The Glass Museum is in the underground of the winery, and has 340 magnificent pieces on display.

Wow again!

 

 

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Glenelly Estate

Lelie Street, Idas Valley, Stellenbosch

www.glenellyestate.com

FRANSCCHOEK WINE TRAM EXTENDS THE PLEASURE

Visiting Franschhoek has always been a pleasure, but I recently enjoyed a taste of a different way of enjoying a visit – by tram!

Right from its start five years ago, Franschhoek Wine Tram has enhanced the Franschhoek visitor experience. That beginning was a short rail journey in a 32-seater open-sided tram that only visited two wine farms.

Now that pleasure has been enhanced and today spans the entire Franschhoek Wine Route, visiting 22 wine estates, with the opportunity to spend between half an hour to an hour on the new 80-seater double deck railway tram.

F'hoek Tram launch

I tried a brief ride in the new tram. It is superbly designed, with the aesthetic of yesteryear combined with the ‘ride” of today and (no double entendre intended) its seats “swing both ways”. Try the experience and you’ll find out to what I am alluding.

Wine Tram passengers aboard the hop-on hop-off tour on a combination of tram and tram-bus around a loop of stops allowing them to hop-off at each stop and experience the activities on offer, be it wine tasting, a cellar tour, lunch or simply a stroll through the vineyards and when they are ready, hop-on to continue the tour.

What a special, enchanting journey and a boon to a Franschhoek visit!

I cannot wait to return and enjoy the full Franschhoek Wine Tram journey and as is my won’t, I’ll share the “full monty” pleasure with you.

 

 

F'hoek Tram logo

http://winetram.co.za/

info@winetram.co.za + 27 21 300 0338 Franschhoek South Africa

THERE’S MUCH MORE TO BELLEVUE WINE ESTATE….

I recently paid a second visit to Bellevue Wine Estate in Stellenbosch, this time to taste their newly launched pinotage and also to experience their new tasting room and restaurant.

Now way back in the 1950s, Bellevue was one of the pioneers of pinotage and if they were launching another example, it had to be special…..

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And, so it was…..the new wine, a limited release, is the Bellevue 1953 Pinotage 2016. and it gets its name from the year its vineyard was planted.

Sporting a really gorgeous front label, the 1953 Pinotage is medium-bodied, and its nose oozes dark fruits and a full fruity palate with a long aftertaste follows. I don’t know if it was the romance of the old vineyard talking, but I much prefer the 1953 Pinotage 2016 to the estate’s regular pinotage, and it will drink even better after a year or two in the bottle.

The new tasting room and restaurant are beautifully designed and tastefully blend a tribute to the past with some quiet modernity and offer restful, garden views. The restaurant’s menu has some glorious wood-fried pizzas, and a variety of starters, mains and desserts.

Together these have certainly added a welcome new attraction to the Bottelary area

But it is another of Bellevue Estate’s wines that has played a significant part of my wine drinking pleasure. I have a little story to tell…

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Chatting to Dirkie Morkel about my Petit Verdot “moment”.

(Image © John Ford, Adamastor & Bacchus)

My first visit to Bellevue was to take part in a trail run on the farm. After the run I headed for the tasting room for my first taste of the Estate’s wines. Presiding was Bellevue viticulturist, Dirkie Morkel. I took a look at the price list and I noticed the PK Morkel 2010 Petit Verdot., I had never tasted Petit Verdot before and was curious.

Petit Verdot

I asked Dirkie if the Petit Verdot was available for tasting. He said that it was but suggested it would drink better with food rather than on its own. As the first sip hit my palate, I instantly fell in love with the grape variety and have sought it out ever since. Thank you Dirkie, thank you Bellevue!

My passion for Shiraz/Syrah now had company…Petit Verdot.

 

 

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Bellevue Wine Estate

WATER WATER EVERYWHERE AND LOTS OF WINE TO SIP

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:

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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.

WOR NEW LOGO GREY

See you next year!

LUBBLY BUBBLY AND LUBBLY LUNCH TOO

A bubbly lunch may sound to some that I am on the drinking man’s diet …..I most definitely am not.

The title refers to a lunch I recently enoyed at which each course was paired with a different bubbly from Simonsig – home of the original Méthode Cap Classique.

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Our genial and effervescent hosts were Simonsig supremos Johan and Diane Malan.

Malans

 

Now by any criteria this was no ordinary lunch. Firstly Simonsig and in particular their Kaapse Vonkel, have led the way in South African bubblies for over 45 years. The lunch was held at one of this country’s leading restaurants, Harald Bresselschmidt’s Aubergine in Cape Town.

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Now that the wine and restaurant credentials are on the table, there is another hugely significant element to join them – many rate Bresselschmidt supreme amongst South African chefs when it comes to pairing food with wine.

So upfront it was likely that a huge treat was I store, and boy did it deliver and then some!

 

Here’s the majestic Simonsig/Aubergine menu:

Ocean Kabeljou marinated and sous-vide nettle and green apple shoots

Simonsig Kaapse Vonkel 2015

Application: Marketing/ Catalogue
Category: Standard Packshot.

Calves Liver with fava beans, lemon balsamic-glazed white grapes

Simonsig Cuvée Royale 2012

Simonsig Cuvée Royale

Quail Breasts filled with mousseline, prawn reduction, pistachio, cherry-quinoa dressing

Simonsig Pinot Noir Brut Rosé 2015

Simonsig Pinot Noir Rose 2015 HR

Ivory Chocolate Dome with MCC soft centre, almond streusel and angelica ice cream, white flower espuma

Simonsig Demi Sec 2015

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True confession. I am an avid wine drinker and food eater, but when it comes to doing both at the same time, I am severely handicapped. So enjoying food and wine pairings is usually somewhat of a challenge.

But I think a corner has been turned for me. Savouring the glorious range and different vintages of Simonsig bubblies before the lunch was pleasure enough. But then, my personal food and wine-pairing sea change…..

The superb Harald Bresselschmidt dishes and the Simonsig’s always excellent Cap Classiques were so magnificently complementary that my taste-buds finally got the food/wine pairing message. Food, wine, food, wine, food, wine , left right left right, whichever way I turned the balance and harmony were perfect.

Although Simonsig are the Cap Classique pioneers, they continue to strive for excellence and regularly receive industry accolades.

At the recent 2017 Amorim Méthode Cap Classique Challenge, they won: Best Rosé: Simonsig Woolworths Pinot Noir Rosé No Sulphur Added 2015: Best Blanc de Blanc and Best Overall: Simonsig Cuvée Royale Blanc de Blancs 2012 and Best Producer:
So seek out the Simonsig bubblies, dine at Aubergine, enjoy sensory excellence.

Long may they vonkel!

 

THE GASTRONOMIC JOYS OF SPRING

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:

ODE TO BREAD

Mosbolletjies with farm butter, quince spread and buchu salt

FIRST

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

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

SECOND

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

2016 La Motte Chardonnay

Fybos-inspired luncheon (83)

Cape Seafood Curry

THIRD

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

2015 La Motte Cabernet Sauvignon

FOURTH

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……

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All photos were supplied by La Motte

MERCI – I WISH I COULD RECIPROCATE

I recently had the enormous pleasure and privilege of attending an intimate lunch at Cape Town’s Vineyard Hotel. The occasion was a food and wine pairing of some of the wines of French House, Domaines Ott.

 

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Domaines Ott was founded in 1912 by Marcel Ott, an agricultural engineer from Alsace who dreamed of establishing a great wine estate near the Mediterranean in France. Today, the wineries are owned and managed by Champagne Louis Roederer and produce some of the world’s most prestigious wines. These wines are made at three distinctively different estates in the Bandol and Côtes de Provence appellations: Château Romassan, Clos Mireille and Château de Selle

During the course of the year, I have enjoyed many pairings. Some where the food outshone the wines, others where the balance was more even. With Domaine Ott/Vineyard Hotel lunch, the balance was such that the wines were Roi and the food complementary.

I am able to taste mostly South African wines as a rule, and prefer when tasting wines from another country, I prefer to do so without making any comparisons to our local wines.

With a butternut, fennel and beetroot salad, we tasted: Blanc de Blancs Clos Mireille 2012 and Blanc de Blancs Mireille 2014

With Chicken Supreme, we tasted: By.Ott Rosé 2016. Chateau de Selle Rosé 2016 and Chateau Romassan Bandol Rosé

With a cheese platter, we tasted: Chateau Romassan Rouge 2012

And it didn’t stop there, with our date and brandy pudding, we enjoyed a glass of: Ramos Pinto Port LBV 2009

What a superbly delicious experience, Vive Domaines Ott, Vive la France!

 

And the sharing part of it is that you too can enjoy these wines.

They are all available from Reciprocal Wine Trading Company (www.reciprocal.co.za) at very accessible prices.

BUBBLY AND A BURGER ON THE ROCKS

I recently made my second visit to the beautifully situated Linton Park Estate near Wellington. And although the occasion was not directly a wine one….we did indeed enjoy some of their wines!

The visit was to attend a celebratory luncheon at which an amount of R120 000 was presented to the Rhinos Without Borders campaign.

For a couple of years now, Linton Park, together with the Hugo Rust Primary School, has been involved with raising money for Rhino conservation. Rhinos Without Borders was formed in order to start moving these endangered animals away from the poaching hotspots to a safer environment.

Prior to the luncheon, we enjoyed a special treat – atop a koppie with a magnificent 360 degree view, we joined by Schalk Burger Sr (of neighbouring wine farm, Welbedacht) who kept us captivated by his knowledge and passionate detailing  of  the unique terroir of the Groenberg and its positive impact on the wines produced in this area. We did so, glass of Linton Park MCC in hand.

The spectacular picture below of the rocky ‘ice bucket’ needs no caption:

 

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The always warm hospitality and a delicious lamb shank lunch was served at a long table in the wine cellar, accompanied by equally lovely Linton Park wines.

Afterwards, I had the opportunity to try two more of their wines: the Linton Park Estate Sauvignon Blanc 2017 and the novel Linton Park Café Malbec 2017.

LP Sauv Blanc 2017

I started off with their Sauvignon Blanc 2017. I am not much of a Sauvi fan, but found this one easy drinking and medium-bodied, fresh and more-ish.

LP Caf+¬ Malbec 2017

As to the Café Malbec 2017, for no rational reason, I was not expecting much of it. Happily, I really enjoyed it. A lovely, dark fruity nose and gently complex on the palate. The chocolate flavour was surprisingly pleasant and the wine for me falls into that “something different’ category.

….I’ll be back!