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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

 

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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.

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EUREKA, I HAVE FOUND ‘THE DRINK OF THE GODS’

Memories of a stop-over in Jerez in the early 70s came flooding through my being recently when I attended a tasting of sherries from classic Spanish bodega, Gonzalez Byass.

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Established in 1835, today Gonzalez Byass produces a variety of sherries, ranging from the classic of yore to those reflecting the tastes of the more modern palate.

We started by tasting the globally iconic, Tio Pepe Fino NV followed by: Croft Original NV; Alfonso Oloroso NV; Solera 1847 Oloroso Dulce NV; Matusalem Cream NV; Nectar Pedro Ximenez NV and finally the Beronia Reserva 2012 and the Beronia. Each variation offered something deliciously different without foregoing the taste expected from a really good sherry.

I have never before given thought what wine I would like as a last sip before departing for that cellar in the sky, until now… Eureka, I have found the ‘drinkf the gods!’

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It is the Gonzalez Byass Nectar Pedro Ximenez NV, quite a mouthful to say, but what a mouthful to savour and sip.

The dictionary says of nectar: Delicious, sweet, and special, nectar is the best juice you can imagine. When the ancient Greeks visualized the gods having a party on their Olympian lawns, they saw nectar in their cups.

The Nectar coated my palate in sweet velvet, and that sublime sensation stayed with me as I smiled and sighed with delight. Viva Gonzalez Byass, Viva Nectar, muchas gracias – the gods are certainly not crazy!

My pleasure can be enjoyed by all, the sherries I tasted are all available here in South Africa through Reciprocal Wine Company, call them on +27 11 482 9178 or per email on: orders@reciprocal.co.za.

DURBANVILLE RISING

For no particular reason at all, it has been some time since I tasted a wine from Durbanville. So I was quite excited recently when a bottle of Diemersdal wine landed (gently) on my desk.

The estate enjoys a glorious Table Mountain backdrop and they practice dryland-vineyard farming.

Obtaining its grapes from old red vineyards, the Diemersdal Private Collection 2016, is a Bordeaux-blend dominated by Cabernet Sauvignon, with Merlot, Malbec, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot.

Diemersdal Private Collection

I poured a glass of it and I know not why, immediately took a large sip of it without hesitating to sniff the wine first. Young as it is, full of dark fruit on the palate, the wine drank beautifully and it also had a very pleasing long finish.

Not all of us are that patient with our wines, but I am sure the Private Collection will develop well in the bottle…..Its recommended retail price is R160.

This was certainly a “good ‘un”!

I must check that my Durbanville visa is up to date, so that I can pay a visit to Diemersdal and taste some of their other wines ….

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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.

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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)

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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.

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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!).

 

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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.

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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