Friday, 10 December 2010

Rawbones at Mzoli's

What!? No International TV news crews? In the wake of the Dewani hit I would have thought 90 white dudettes & dudes descending on Mzoli’s was newsworthy but guess good news doesn’t travel that far. Or maybe they just read ‘ Rawbones at Mzoli’s’ and thought ‘duh, nothing new there.’

But there was, Oak Valley owner Anthony Rawbone-Viljoen (ARV) launched their 2nd label ‘Rawbones'. And we partied hard, it was pure Africa time, music as loud as it would be at midnight, and you quickly forgot/didn’t care what day of the week - that university feeling - maybe weekend (if you not there by 9AM on the weekend you just don’t get in!) - who cares you feel young and bullet proof again, anything is possible!

Mzoli's Medievel kitchen, if you can't stand the heat...

ARV is also a gourmet meat producer, tending a herd of Wagyu cattle, grass-fed free range Simmentaler cattle and acorn-fed free range pigs - wonder if  any will end up at Mzoli's? How would you like your nyama  done  Sir?

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Stellenzicht launches no added sulphite wines

Stellenzicht has launched two wines without any added sulphites, a 2008 Petit Verdot, and a 2009 Chardonnay. Although Stellenzicht winemaker Guy Webber has been experimenting with low-sulphite wines for several vintages, these will be the first to be released into the local market.

Sulphur-free wines are not yet possible as yeasts produce small amounts during fermentation.
Guy said the two new wines would help to grow a very small category of wines with no added sulphites  available to local consumers. To be classified as a low-sulphite wine, the sulphite count must not exceed 10 parts per million. "This is quite a challenge, as sulphites are also generated during fermentation. One therefore has to take extreme care to reduce sulphur contact with the grapes to the minimum, and this starts in the vineyard with the avoidance of sulphur-based fungicides and insecticides."

Monday, 6 December 2010

the world's hottest chilli is from....

The UK's Cumbria!? Chilli farmer Gerald Fowler crossed three of the hottest varieties to scorch the Scoville scale. His Naga Viper rates an astonishing 1,359,000 which is a measure of the active ingredient capsaicin. The most popular chilli, Jalapeno, measures a paltry 2,500 to 5,000 Scoville units.

Hottie of the year Gerald Fowler

“When chillies are grown over here I think they fight back against the harsh climate and produce even more heat,” said Mr Fowler, 52, who runs the Chilli Pepper Company in Cark-in-Cartmel “It’s painful to eat. It numbs your tongue, then burns all the way down. It can last an hour, and you just don’t want to talk to anyone or do anything. But it makes you feel great.”

Does Nando's know about this? Chilled loo paper to go please.

Ref. The Times

Sunday, 5 December 2010

Modern Wineries of South Africa

Ok are you trying to buy a Xmas pressie for one or more of the following people:
 1. Wino
2. Photographer
3. Architect
4. South African (proudly)
5. Artist
6. Wine writer
7. Decorator
8. Make Gautengelers envious (again)
9. Planning on building a winery
10. Has everything else already
11. Not another John Platter please

Last Friday night Quivertree Publications launched Modern Wineries of South Africa at Mandela Rhodes Place.  Craig Fraser's photography is achingly beautiful and although I have not yet read the copy (by multi-talented Hugh Fraser) I have no hesitation enthusing about this book.

Friday, 3 December 2010

Supertaster? Or Superdrinker? Take the test Superfreak.

So you don't like NASA superfood-endorsed raw Brocolli - nor coffee, dark choclate, or grapefruit juice? You could be a supertaster.*   But don't fret if you are not as George dubya Bush (he doesnt like Brocolli) probaly was and who would want to join that group? Nor - it seems - is there one version of delicious.  

About 25% of the population are supertasters with a much higher density of tastebuds but much of wine assessement is via the nose where you also find supersniffers (although this not always to your benefit either). If you love food more than most  you may be a superstaster. Around 25% are non-tasters and the rest are somewhere in between - lets call it the muffin curve.

Women are much more likely to be supertasters than men (35 per cent of women vs 15 per cent of men) and more Asians are supertasters than the rest of the world. Caucasian males have the lowest rate of supertasters of any known group, and are generally also found taking extra lessons learning the cha cha.

Sunday, 28 November 2010

Rust and Vrede's David Higgs is Eat Out Chef of the Year

And Rust and Vrede is No 1 Restuarant, followed by The Tasting Room and Jordan.

Rust and Vrede's David Higgs

The most significant shift on the podium is David Higgs’s Rust en Vrede Restaurant, which went from last year's third place to being named Eat Out's Restaurant of the year where certified Sommelier Neil Grant does a fine job matching food and wine. Not too many of those in SA - apparently around a half dozen of the realsters.

Saturday, 27 November 2010

30th Diners Club Winemaker of the Year announced

The 2010 Diners Club Winemaker of the Year is Mr Sauvignon aka Bartho Eksteen from Hermanus winery Hermanuspietersfontein (only to be attempted while sober) while  RJ Botha from Durbanville's Nitida Cellars is their Young Winemaker of the Year. Bartho has been Sauvignon-mad throughout his career so this award was always a matter of time.... 

RJ Botha, Ebrahim Matthews and Bartho Eksteen aka Mr Sauvignon

Winemakers had to submit Sauvignon blanc wines while the young winemakers were judged on their unfortified dry red cultivar or blended wines.

Diners Club celebrated the 30th year of the Winemaker of the Year competition and the tenth for young winemaker award. 

Friday, 26 November 2010

the new feel good story of the day

The first woman protégé of the Cape Winemakers Guild, Praisy Dlamini, has just completed her 3-year internship honing her winemaking skills under the mentorship of members of the Guild, and has secured her first full-time position as assistant winemaker.

Rocking with Praisy 

Praisy, who trained under the mentorship of Philip Costandius at Lourensford Wine Estate, David Finlayson at Edgebaston and
Pieter Ferreira at Graham Beck Wines, will start her winemaking career as assistant winemaker across a diverse portfolio of wines at Distell.

missed by a salami skin

So I confess, even had I got some decent odds, I would have lost my bet (see ) that Oak Valley 09 Sauvignon would have got 5 stars in 2011 edition of John Platter Wine Guide - it got 4,5 and highly recommended. No cigar, but a glass has consoled me - greatly.

Thursday, 25 November 2010

feel good story of the day

Zelda Petrus, a former cleaner at Steenberg Vineyards who now has responsibility for the winery’s front-of house cellar door sales, will soon be flying to California to learn more about wine sales and marketing in  Napa Valley. This will be the first flight the Retreat-born widow and mother of one will be taking. 

Deputy mayor Clarence Johnson and Zelda Petrus

Her week-long trip will expose her to some of the region’s top cellars and sales and marketing specialists, made possible by the Great Wine Capitals, a network of the world’s leading wine-producing countries who share international best practice in the name of advancing standards in wine tourism across the world.

Says Petrus: “After my husband died, I was very depressed and saw work as an opportunity to meet people and to learn new skills. I have been very lucky in that Steenberg was prepared to give me a chance and recognised my potential. This really is a dream come true for me. Now, I am hoping I can extend my skills still further and one day, become a wine educator.”

Sunday, 21 November 2010

Hope for Wine Allergy Sufferers

Around 8% of world population suffer from wine-related allergies but only about 1% of allergies relate to sulphur. Symptoms of wine allergy can range from headaches and stuffy nose to skin rash and a tight chest. But what  triggers the remaining 7% of wine allergies remain a mystery. Or maybe not.

The Journal of Proteome Research reveals a new study showing that glycoproteins (proteins with a carbohydrate molecule attached) might be the cause of wine allergies finding that as many as 28 of the glycoproteins found in an Italian chardonnay had a similar cellular structure to known allergens, including the proteins that cause reactions to ragweed, latex and some fruit including banana and kiwi.

Molecular biologist Giuseppe Palmisano and his team are hoping that their work on the glycoproteins — many of which were identified for the first time — will help lead to the development of a glycoprotein-free wine.

However, we ALL know the feeling

World's Hottest Brandewijn

Van Ryn’s distillery close to Stellenbosch has just earned its third consecutive Best Brandy trophy at the 2010 International Spirits Challenge in London. This time, the honours for producing the world’s best brandy went to the 15 Year Old Fine Cask Reserve.  

Said Neil Mathieson, competition category chairman for cognac, armagnac and brandy entries: “Awarding the Best Brandy Trophy was a very hard choice this year, given the excellence of the products submitted and the very high marks they achieved. In the end the decision to award the trophy to Van Ryn's 15 Year Old was made in recognition of its great length, subtlety and depth of flavour.”

Mathieson, who is a world authority on international brandies and other grape-based spirits, and the founder and managing director of Eaux de Vie, a specialist spirits importer, based in the UK, believes South African brandies are becoming the standard-bearer for quality aged brandied produced outside the AOC regions of France.

Friday, 19 November 2010

Noble Rotter

The sun sure is shining on Fleur de Cap - hot on the heals of 5 stars and white wine of the year (2009 noble late harvest aka noble rot) in 2011 ed of John Platter comes the news that they have been named South African Producer of the year at London’s 2010 International Wine and Spirit Competition (IWSC) after winning two Best in Class Gold medals for the highly acclaimed Noble Late Harvest 2008 and 2009 vintages. What next? A new botanical genus in their name? Fleur de Sol?

If you go looking for it remember to ask for the Bergkelder Selection bottling.

Nedbank Green Awards

Courtesy of Wine Magazine

Reyneke, South Africa’s first biodynamic vineyard and winery, and Graham Beck Wines were the big winners at the Nedbank Green Wine Awards held in Cape Town today.

The awards – held in association with Wine magazine - promote environmentally friendly wines and are given in two categories – for the Best Organic Wine as well as the Best Environmental Practice Award.

Following international trends, more South African consumers are trying organic wines for both health reasons and because it makes sense to support wineries that farm sustainably for the benefit of future generations and vineyard productivity.

Johan Reyneke

Thursday, 18 November 2010

NEWSFLASH - we are all organic. Feeling better?

Organic is one of those very modern and ancient words that at once brings a vaguely warm and fuzzy feeling with a sprinkling of confusion, but what does organic actually mean? Will you easily become a vital octogenarian if not a dodgy vegetarian if you go organic?

You are already part of one definition as a carbon-based life form, although this could be a good time to check if your mate is also an earthling as I have recently come across growing numbers of Zoglodytes.

Like it or not, you will also become part of another definition - matter that has come from a once-living organism, is capable of decay or the product of decay, or is composed of an organic compound, i.e. contains carbon.

The shortest and strictest definition of organic viticulture is that it excludes all industrially synthesized compounds such as fertilizers, fungicides and herbicides as well as anything that has been genetically modified. But more widely would also mean excluding any practice that is harmful to the environment or unsustainable.

Avondale's duckmobile and snail control squad

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Star shower in 2011 John Platter.

58 ja fifty eight 5 star wines in 2011 John Platter Guide (41 in 2010, 32 in '09). So 08 vintage not so bad after all or panel....oh and 2 MCCs! (Topiary & Villiera). First 5 star biodynamic wine from Reyneke! Klein Constantia received 3, Steenberg, Graham Beck, Kleine Zalze and De Krans all recieved 2 five stars.  All the rest got 'not paying attention' or 'try harder next year' or 'must repeat the year' merde impossible!

Johan Reyneke

Winery of the Year - Nederburg (and five, 5 star wines).
Red of the Year - De Trafford Shiraz 08
White of the Year - Fleur de Cap Noble Late Harvest Bergkelder Selection 09
Dream Debut - Botanica (HGV award)
Super Quaffer of the year - Nederburg Lyric (off dry!)

Greener than the 04?

Darling, my Liefie, my Zonnebloem

Yesterday's launch of two limited range Zonnebloem wines at Rick's Cafe in Cape town was a lesson in cherry picking, smart wine making and food and wine pairing.

Red winemaker Bonny van Niekerk, white winemaker Elize Coetzee and viticulturalist Anneline Viljoen. How can a wine crafted by these three be anything but gorgeous?

The Ltd Ed Sauvignon Blanc 2010 is a cracker and like so many in Wine Mag's top 10 Sauv Blancs, 75% of the fruit is from Darling (balance Helderberg, both vineyards with ocean views). This is a good example of a thoroughly modern style, intensity on the nose but with tangy palate weight rather than the leaner, racier styles (despite RS of 1.47 and TA of 6.98).

Sunday, 14 November 2010

A €105 000 truffle sends market atwitter

A giant (900g) white truffle was sold off on Sunday to a Hong Kong-based wine critic for €105,000 (R1 000,000) at a lavish auction near the town of Alba in northern Italy.

The prized giant truffle aka the hunchback of fungi

Gourmets in Italy and beyond are licking their lips in anticipation of a bumper crop this year of the most prized culinary delicacy of all, the white truffle. The Piemonte region in northern Italy is reputed to grow the world's best white truffles – which connoisseurs describe as having aromas of garlic, hay, wet earth, honey, mushroom and spices - and aromas similar to pheromones that trigger a mating reflex in female pigs.

Earlier in the season the climatic conditions had been described as “textbook," according  to Giacomo Oddero, president of the National Centre for Truffle Studies in Alba, the centre of the truffle trade. “The first indications are excellent and suggest that we'll remember this year for a long time to come."

Monday, 8 November 2010

Asiago e Adoro - Capeche?

Cheese and wine maybe as old as the Flintstones but not – it seems - always a match made in heaven. Usually matched with fortified or sweet wines, cheese also serves to make more disagreeable dry wines ‘makliker om in jou lyf te kry’ (easier to get into your body) as my viticulture lecturer used to say.

The problems include the diversity of cheese, the coating of dairy fat that dulls your palate, and too many tight entertainment budgets marrying Chateaux de Cardboard with gaudy yellow Gouda.

The classics include Port and Stilton, Champagne and Chevre (goats), Sauternes (noble late harvest) and Gorgonzola, where alcohol, acidity and sweetness respectively compete - but not always respectfully - with dairy's richness for a share of palate. 

Adoro winemaker Ian Naudé has crafted the ideal compromise, a natural sweet Mourvèdre that’s neither too sweet nor alcoholic with a frisky acidity and light framework of tannin which showed remarkable versatility with a range of cheeses last night at Cape Town’s L’Aperitivo restaurant.

Adoro Mourvedre natural sweet red

Friday, 5 November 2010

the good, not so bad and the beautiful

Its unofficial, the recession is over but dipstick research does not always give an accurate picture. My once favourite quick and easy check on how the economy is doing was to look at new car sales figures. My new favourite check – attend Cape Legend’s Night of a Thousand Glasses (or a Thousand Knives as one of the hacks said – that economy is really bad).

Simple enough – well simpler than building a new car – assemble 100 guests in a spectacular setting (the Roundhouse in Camps Bay in this instance), commission an outstanding chef (PJ Vadas) and his team to assemble 10 delicious courses matched with 10 Cape Legends wines  - all to the music of  the sexiest classical music quartet on the planet. (there is nothing outside the Cape right?)

Thursday, 4 November 2010

Elderflower discovered in Oak Valley

If there is any doubt Cape Sauvignons age well it was dispelled by a vertical tasting of Oak Valley’s striking Sauvignon Blancs. Another growing school of thought is that – in cooler regions anyway – they can benefit from at least a year or two of bottle maturation before revealing all their beauty.

Oak Valley Mountain Vineyards
All the wines displayed seamless palate integration that generally occurs best with natural acidity and balanced fruit. Another cool climate marker was the Elderflower aroma I found on the 06 although wind had reduced this vintage’s yield to a mere 1t/hectar. The common threads throughout were citrus – including grapefruit and lime – and steeliness or mineral character.

Saturday, 30 October 2010

Oat Cuisine

Ok so you can’t have red wine for breakfast everyday in attempts to control cholesterol without the help of Statins* and their evil side effects. Occasionally one has to resort to alternatives like oats but - without serious disguise - Statins can seem quite charming in comparison, particularly if you can’t rid yourself of the image of a horse’s feeding bag.

My early attempts at disguising oats included double cream yoghurt but this – although only at a modest 7% total fat – was living in denial and one's sense of achievement in finishing a bowl of oats quickly faded.

I started making real progress when I tried raisins,  cinnamon and low fat milk but it did not prove that attractive in summer and my daughter tells me the raisins are not terribly low-GI compliant.

For summer, Bircher’s muesli is the route to go and offers the convenience of keeping up to a week so it’s a rare case of healthy fast food made from slow food ingredients although I don’t recommend it while driving.
heavily disguised oats

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Wine Mag Top 10 Sauv Blanc '10

When the wine industry started planting Sauvignon in earnest, (now 3rd largest planting after Chenin & Colombar) some commentators may have questioned the trend as heat and light are sworn enemies of many of the varietal’s aromatic pre-cursors.  

Another challenge – considering our soil, climate and topography diversity – is matching the right spot with the right rootstock scion and grape variety, never mind clone, which is a very slow trial-and-error process (without technology) where the Old World has a considerable head start, think Loire's Sancerre & Puilly Fume and New World's Marlborough - the exception that proves the rule.

Terroirists (see saignee, spinning cones and terroirists post link) are opposed to regional blending but surely it’s the answer until we have fully achieved the above? At first glance yesterdays top 10 are multi-regional but if there was a prize for region yesterday it would be Darling and/or Durbanville.

All of yesterday’s wines with one exception have strong maritime i.e. cold Altlantic influence including Anura (Klapmuts) who bought in fruit from Darling, the exception being Cedarburg, but they have altitude (over 1km) to protect Sauvignon's intense but flighty aromas.

Friday, 15 October 2010

Alto Luxury

Modernisation is a powerful force, and no more clear example occurred yesterday at Alto Estate with the launch of MPHS, Alto’s new luxury Cabernet Franc-based blend to celebrate the 4 winemakers – Manie, Piet, Hempies and Schalk – who have crafted wines here since 1920. Surely only a handful of Cape estates can claim such a venerable pedigree?

The warm-up flight comprised Cabernet Sauvignon – 65, 70, 84, 99, 01 and 07. The 65 showed amazing youth for its age including fruit, colour and bright acidity. Back then 5000lt oak vats were used (vs today's minute by comparison 225lt barriques) which, simply stated, means 22 times more oak today (from '84) and although not at all scientific seemed to suggest that oak has tempered all subsequent vintages for it nearly stole the show.

Alto MPHS '07

Friday, 8 October 2010

Relative Value

While value can be relative, everybody loves a bargain. What about uncovering money you accidently hid from yourself long ago? Not as good as finding fab wine at great prices.

And there were more surprises at today’s Wine Magazine Best Value Guide launch (all wine under R60) at Joostenberg Deli – the reds are making a comeback particularly Koelenbosch Sangiovese ’09  out of Koelenhof Co-op – although I think that C word no longer used in polite conversation.

Now, while I did not taste all the wines included in the guide, another stand-out red was sponsor’s Ultra Liquors own brand Secret Cellar Cab Franc Petit Verdot (NV) for its fine grained tannins – ja @ R29.99 - and Openers Occasion (Waterstone Wines) Cab Sauv 2008 for juicy varietal character and astounding value at R20.64 (when the cents start to count) although the Sangiovese was only R28.50!! No wonder Ultra bucked the wine retail trend over the last (depressed) year.

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

Alchemy Challenge

The Challenge – find the best wine match for the recipe below.
The Reward - a natural high.
The Warning - food and wine matching can be highly addictive.
Warning II – the recipe is easy but it could be easier to find a match for Scarlett O’Hara than this dish. (T&C’s apply)

The Blurb
Complimentary food and wine matching can elevate the result to something quite hallucinogenic if not spiritual while a clash can make you want to fast for at least 5 hours.

I think it was Aristotle who originally coined ‘the whole is greater than the sum of the parts’ which later became the mantra for Gestalt psychology, so too with food and wine matching – it’s just more serious.

good time to duck Rhett
yin and yang
The Recipe
Pork (or Veal) Fillet with Caper sauce. It’s better with pork because the richness is cut by the sharpness of the vinegar and the Umami* of the capers. 

Saturday, 2 October 2010

Merging tale of two Auctions

While Nederburg reversed a 5-year downward trend by 41% last month the Cape Independent Winemakers Guild (CWG) auction today came off last year’s all time high – inevitably in tough economic conditions – by 25%.

With 139 buyers spending a total of R3, 867m on 39 wines spread over 19 different types and styles, this year’s auction offered great variety including a record number of 13 white wines which could be a growing trend if one considers that some of the reds displayed big alcohols with jammy notes while some felt that the most expensive wine – Bouchard Finlayson Pinot Noir 2007 (unfiltered) - was not without its faults.

Tighter selection of wines was one of the aspects Nederburg's Carina Gous singled out as attributing to their turnaround and one wonders if some lessons will be learned at this year's CWG auction.

Other top selling red wines were Dewaldt Heyns’ Saronsberg Die Erf Shiraz 2007 at R4 500 per case followed by Etienne Le Riche’s Le Riche Cabernet Sauvignon Auction Reserve 2006 at R3 800. Striking wines include Cederberg Teen die Hoog Shiraz 2008 for its New Zealand-type purity of fruit (from the highest vineyards in the land) and Villiera Mother Earth 2008 (Cabernet Franc) for balance, elegance and restraint so lacking in too many of the reds on auction.

Wednesday, 29 September 2010

virtual re-cycling becoming a reality

Traditional hard copy media is in ICU and the prognosis does not look good. Yesterday’s launch of Winestyle at Warwick Wine Estate highlights a number of trends in media and the continuing greening of the wine industry.

Winestyle’s model is a combination of an interactive website and a 1/4ly hard copy version where so much was saved in the traditional production and circulation of hard copy magazines that web subscribers get the hardcopy edition delivered free of charge said Manta Media founder Murray Jackson. 

and 100 became four
The magazine will not be on sale at traditional retail outlets and will only go out to subscribers. Jackson also says that the saving from going more virtual is also reflected in the advertising rates. The site will also have links to advertiser’s retail platforms.

They also operate virtually – no offices or full time staff, everything is outsourced and managed remotely via the web which also dramatically reduces overhead and environmental impact.

Although wineries can be a significant producer of CO2 including fermentation, vineyards also absorb CO2 which – philosophically at least - gives wineries the perfect start toward carbon neutrality which includes green power, recycling, lightweight bottles, environmentally aware practices, organic & biodynamic farming etc but that’s at least another blog to soon appear right here.

While wine-style is not yet live you can see;

Jonthan Snashall

Friday, 24 September 2010

The Queen's Herd

Rugby is not our national sport – its braaing – or rather standing around a braai and telling each other how to braai, when the coals have cooled enough, when the meat is ready and - when everybody has had a few - if the meat has been turned yet to mention but four of a thousand and one dilemmas each braaimaster must face. 

We are imminently qualified to claim it as our national sport unlike rugby whose longest traditions are playing players out of position and mismanagement of resources. Running close second as national sport is consultant Springbok rugby coach.

However, we have been braaing longer than anyone else thanks very much Bruce, Joaquỉn and Santiago, ja the earliest archaeological evidence of a braai is to be found at the Sterkfontein caves.

Braaing continues to reverse colonise the world. Just recently Shaka Zulu - a 750-seater braai house apparently at a cost £5.5m  – opened in London with the likes of Amy Winehouse and our very own Zulu King in attendance. Amy was not there to meet the Zulu King but to try some Swazi Reds despite one of the UK’s top chefs handling the braai tongs.

Thursday, 16 September 2010


What a revelation - was at a leap year vertical tasting of Knorhoek’s Cabernets this week and they managed some time travel – not to the missing vintages – but to classic Bordeaux, then modern Bordeaux then back to Knorhoek again for some seriously comfortable comfort food in a gay-Boer-chic setting. Chefs Westley Muller and Carmen van der Merwe are also very cunning – I kept feeling like I was at my Nan’s for Sunday roast, just with more interesting wine and conversation.

Towerbosch at Knorhoek

This Stellenbosch hidden gem was owned by Dutch East India Company employee Martin Melck, and was referred to as ‘de plaats waar de leeuwen knorren’ (the place where the lions roar). Melck gave the property to his daughter as a wedding gift and it has been in the Van Niekerk family ever since. Tourists – often American with musical instrument boxes – still ask about the lions.

We started with the ‘97 which revealed old world, savoury and sea shell notes with elegance to match the setting, moved through ‘00 to ‘02 to arrive at a more opulent and textured ’03, then more new oak and higher extract in 05 and 06 while 07 showed a touch of greenness. Very good Cabs and although there were lots of vintage and style variations the common thread was good fruit and good winemaking. Winemaker Arno Albertyn joined in 05.    

If you can’t get to your Nan’s for Sunday roast, go there, I left doing the Knorhoek Leeu Loop.

Jonathan Snashall

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

Let them eat Bokkoms*

The South African government is considering legalising the dilution of wine grape must. However, closer scrutiny – particularly of EU laws - suggests it's not at all as outrageous as it first seems.

South Africa once had so much crayfish (or the prices were so good) the government agreed with France to recognise their geographical indications – one of the first new world countries to do so – and drop the use of ‘semi-generic’ terms like Champagne and Burgundy in exchange for entering their crayfish market in what became known as the crayfish agreement.

Eighty years later in the European Union era, the UK Wine and Spirit Trade Association (WSTA) is having a hissy because our government is considering legalising diluting grape must with water which is not permitted under EU and Paris-based OIV (International Organisation of Vine and Wine) rules.

UK consumer magazine Decanter recently reported on WSTA’s concerns but both, either through ignorance or agenda it seems, failed to mention that the EU permits must concentration of up to 20% - but at least mentioned that alcohol volumes may be increased by chaptalisation (adding sugar) by up to 2% (or even 3.5% in some regions- did not mention). Producers must, however, choose one or the other even if they know über critic R Parker Jnr is coming to town. More to the point - they have considerable legal means to manipulate alcohol.

Sunday, 5 September 2010

Nederburg Auction Sales Up 42%

The 2010 edition heralds the dramatic reversal of a 5-year declining trend in sales to leap 42% to R5,68m, more than R1.6m over 2009's R4m but some way off the highs of over R7m achieved in 2002,3 and 5. Spar emerged tops in the bidding war followed by Checkers and UK-based international retailer Tesco plc.

Among the highlights was a record R62 000 paid for a single case of 6 x 750 ml bottles of 1964 Nederburg Port bought by Nigerian businessman and importer of wine, Mr Obi Josephat Ndibe. This is the only port ever made at Nederburg by its legendary wine maker Günter Brözel, who retired in 1989. The previous highest price was the 6 x 375 ml bottles of 1959 Chateau Libertas that sold for R23 000 last year.

Mr Obi Josephat Ndibe pays R62 000 for a case (x6) of port

Thursday, 26 August 2010

€1,5bn Cork Dork Combat

It was just after I discovered that Bob was a fictitious character. My aunt insisted that one should never drink alone and Bob, at the very least, was always there to share a glass of wine with her.

I was also just beginning to think I knew a little bit about wine – and people - only to discover that corked wine is not when you have bits of cork bobbing in your wine glass and who Bob really was in my aunt’s life.

And so much later the thot continued to plicken. Polite conversations with sommeliers and friends could turn in a pop to heated debates, ‘Its Brett!’ (no relation to Bob, but a spoilage yeast), ‘its dirty barrels’, ‘its old filter pads’, ‘its volatile phenols!’ and so the debate raged.

Its true corked one wine can range from barely detectable to totally and utterly beyond consumption or any domestic use other than tie-dye staining some T shirts or macramé for 70s décor.

Cork Tree

Friday, 20 August 2010

saignee, spinning cones and terroirists

Militant French winemaker group CRAV are known to detonate explosives and commit arson in protest against legislative changes that threaten their livelihoods while terroirists – their virtual namesakes - are also known to get pretty puffed up about how their particular patch of soil, topography and climate influence their wine quality and style.

Taking the former view is perhaps understandable after a government workgroup proposed new laws that places alcohol on the same level as pornography, and would effectively ban wine on the internet in France.

Technology is also causing tension for terroirists who argue that traditional methods like drawing off of grape juice before on-skin fermentation of red wine (saignee), working the skins vigorously for greater extract (pigeage) and chaptalisation - the addition of sugar, often legal in the old world but illegal in the new - are de rigeur methods of increasing intensity and richness.