Saturday, 17 December 2011


Have gone HGVing in Yarra / Mornington until further notice, spotted this at Melbourne Airport.

Parlez-vous Sefrican? Methode Stellenoise?

and this Chinese BC wine glass at Melbourne's National Gallery Victoria.

And this one from the Zhou Dynasty

Thursday, 1 December 2011


Last night I went to the Taj in Cape Town to taste some Nederburg wines, excited at the prospect of tasting some Ingenuity white and red which are indeed impressive, creative blends. Then I tried II Centuries 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon and was promptly blown away. It also revived the old cliche about the Cape's ability to produce wines which straddle the Old and New world displaying (restrained) new world fruit richness with old world savouriness.

Its a brilliant example of the unique place the Cape occupies in the wine world. Only 2000 bottles were made and sell at R400, a snip compared to what you would pay for Cru Classe Bordeaux of similar quality.

If you dont find any, try the II Centuries 2009 Sauvignon Blanc, while it doesn't quite recalibrate as much as the Cab, its also a very sexy, seductive wine and don't forget the Ingenuity and the Riesling and the Chenin and the Eminence and ....

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

John Platter 2012 goes to the web

Following the earlier announcement of the platter 5 star wines for 2012 the media launch for the book last night revealed Boekenhoutskloof as winery of the year, Chamonix Pinot Noir Reserve 2010 as red wine of the year and Badsberg Badslese 2009 as white wine of the year while the superquaffer went to Wolftrap White 2010.

It was also the launch of the web-based version, with the iphone App in conjunction with in the next few weeks, and a version for Android smartphones, a mobi site and an e-book to follow.

The booklet continues to grow with some 1000 new wines to over 7000 from more than 900 producers. RRP for the book is R159.95 and can be ordered online from and  

speculation about the colour no passes to 2013

Sunday, 6 November 2011

2011 FNB Sauvignon Blanc Top 10

While Sauvignon’s affinity for oak is debatable, its affinity for controversy in the Cape is not. If previous results have been about making frenemies and narrowly defining its styles, Friday’s results seemed to be about making friends - and embracing WOSA’s ‘diversity is in our nature’ strap line.

Sauvignon Blanc has travelled some distance in the last 5 - never mind 10 - years, yet the results reveal more than the variety's Cape evolution. New organiser SBIG (Sauvignon Blanc Interest Group, secretary Pieter de Waal must be commended) found a new sponsor in FNB, assembled a new panel* under previous chair Christian Eedes and came up with probably the widest cross-section of regions, styles and price points the competition has ever seen. (although some usual regions where missing).

It suggests that the panel was given a brief that differed from previous years and / or it’s a reflection of the 2011 vintage which was more about textures than aromatics, playing into the hands of the warmer regions. However, with the exception of [what]? Woolworths Sauvignon Blanc from Breedekloof’s Bergsig, all non-coastal producers bought in fruit from cooler areas in varying amounts up to 100% in Overhex’s Soulo 2011.

Front l to r:  JP Quickelberge (Clos Malverne), Alex Nel (David Nieuwoudt Ghost Corner), Lizelle Gerber (Boschendal), Richard Duckitt
(Franschhoek Cellar), Jandre Human (Overhex), De Wet Lategan (Bergsig)

Back l to r:  Thys Louw (Diemersdal), Pieter Badenhorst (Fleur du Cap), Morné Vrey (Delaire), Gideon Theron (Lutzville Vineyards)

The top 10 in ascending price:

Wednesday, 2 November 2011


Sound the clarion call, ignite the fires, release the pigeons, or just get tweeting - Glen Carlou Zinfandel 09 is an absolute beauty.

If it’s not one of the Cape’s best reds, it’s certainly the best Zinfandel. This wine exudes class, charm and plenty of classic Zin plus some Barolo-like intensity. But wait that’s not all – It’s not only got BLIC – balance, length, intensity and complexity – it’s got the S for savoury version too.

You can expect to find red berries, tea leaf, clove, cedar wood and violets on the nose. The palate is at once juicy and tangy yet dense with fine tannins and velvety textures. It’s shows great tension between the tannin and acids, making it very food friendly and certainly easy to drink without.

Its got everything for Sin freaks to get evangelical. The sad news is that the 09 vintage is their last following the grubbing up of the vineyard. The good news is they have some stock of the 09 – and its only R130 a bottle.   

Thursday, 13 October 2011

Model Cap Classique

Bubbles Ferreira has pulled off another Cap Classique coup with the unveiling this week of Graham Beck Brut Zero (zero dosage), the low-cal version for size zero models - and seasoned wine drinkers who find technically dry wines increasingly sweet. While I am not a fan of the word because you can't taste minerals in wine, this wine does display what is generally termed as minerality (maybe think stone/fruit pips) and a delicious nutty/fino sherry like savouriness to arrive at an umami tsunami bubbly.

This wine has only 2, 4g/lt of sugar balanced by only 5,5g/lt of acid - lower than found in its fully-dressed siblings. Alcohol calories also low at 12%. There is no sugar to paper over cracks - not that there were any - and the bubbles amplify the wine's attributes four-fold, so viticulture and winemaking has to be expert and precise.

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Platter's 2012 Five Stars

Ammo for cork dork combat
1. One similarity with Veritas is the increase in awards for reds, but only one 5 star for KWV who stole the Veritas show with single biggest haul ever by a winery and last got a Platter fiver in 1986!
2. Does Vinimark own John Platter or visa versa?
3. Boekenhoutskloof, Mullineux Family Wines and Nederburg each got 3 x 5 stars.
4. Newton Johnson’s Domaine Pinot Noir 2010 is the third consecutive vintage to rate 5 Stars.
5. Some will be cheering that no Pinotage pulled off the high five.
6. Fleur du Cap Noble Late Harvest 2010 is the fifth consecutive year to rate 5 stars.
7. Three wines do the double of 5 Stars in Platter’s and double gold at Veritas 2011, Graham Beck Chalkboard #3 Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 Nederburg Eminence 2010 and Strandveld Sauvignon Blanc 2010.
8.Spier, triumphant at Old Mutual Trophy Wine Show could not muster a high five here.
9. At a total of 45 x 5 stars its 13 less than 2011 off 10 less nominations.
10.Grenache Blanc, this time KWV, gets another high five.
11.Like Veritas, Chard under-performed - only 2 x 5 stars and one is a CWG reserve from Jordan
12. Usual suspects missing - Kanonkop, Vergelegen, Cape Point, Hamilton Russel, Le Riche, Woolworths, De Trafford, Paul Cluver, Chamonix.
13.  Plenty of first-time five star recipients, including Badsberg Wine Cellar, Colmant Cap Classique & Champagne, Diemersfontein Wines, Glenelly Cellars, Miles Mossop Wines, Mont Destin and Oak Valley Wines, lets hope the latter's Sauvignon Blanc gets one soon.
14. Established producers returning to five-star form after a gap of several years are La Motte, which last bagged the maximum rating in the 1995 edition.
15.The best-performing category is Red Blends, with seven wines getting a fiver
16.Sauvignon Blanc and Shiraz got 5 x 5 stars each but only 3 double golds for Sauv Blanc and 2 for Shiraz at Veritas (of course not everybody enters both).
17. Nederburg Ingenuity White 2010 is the fourth consecutive vintage to get high five.
18. Graham Becks other high five is for Pheasants Run Sauv Blanc 2011, Gold at Veritas.
19. Fable Jackal Bird, formerly Tulbagh Mountain Vineyards, now owned by ex-Screaming Eagle MD, Charles Banks. Is this the most imperious bird to be found in Tulbagh?
20. Can Richard Rowe and his young team ever make KWV sexy?

The List

Monday, 10 October 2011

The Veritas Bring-Your-Own-Bling Good Value Selection

Veritas – BYOB good value selection. All prices ex cellar, inc VAT.

Big Five
Wellington Wines Chenin Blanc 2011 R27.00
Bonnievale Cellar Sauvignon Blanc 2011 R33.00
De Grendel 2011 Rose (cab sauv/Pinotage) R50.00
Calitzdorp Touriga Nacional 2010 R32.00
Nuy White Muscadel 2007 R36.00

Chenin Blanc – Gold
Nuy Chenin Blanc 2011 R28.00
Windmeul Chenin Blanc 2011 R29.00
Under Oaks Ltd Release 2011 R44.00
Knorhoek Chenin Blanc 2010 R46.00
Cape Weaver (Riebeek Cellars) Chenin Blanc 2010 TBC – but out of Riebeek sure to be less than R50 while going for £8.29 at Laithwaites in the UK.
Durbanville Hills Bastion Cabernet Sauvignon / Shiraz 2009 R67.00

Sunday, 9 October 2011

Veritas - it was the KWV show

Veritas 2011 was dominated by KWV with 5 double golds and 9 golds - can chief winemaker Richard Rowe make KWV sexy? It would be the makeover of the century and he may just pull it off with his young team. No other cellar has won so many golds in a single year.

The 2011 legends are David Biggs, Maureen Joubert, Peter Veldsman, Dr Kobus Conradie, Bernhard Lüttich, Allan Mullins, and Hans Rabie.

Strong showing of Cabernets among the golds - 5 Double Golds and 12 Golds. Muratie the only Pinot Noir to get any gold and De Grendel 2011 the only Rosé; four colombars good enough for gold!; Buitenverwachting DG for (wooded) Gewürztraminer 2010; chufffed with DG Delaire 2010 Chenin Blanc (which I helped make); Anura 08 reserve the only DG Merlot; Only one DG for Chard for Fleur du Cap unfiltered 2010. Surprise package in Shiraz category - Rickety Bridge 09 got DG, Hidden Valley Land's End 08 the only other DG.

One of KWV's many DGs was for Petit Verdot 09 from the Mentor's range. Their Sauvignon (09)also DG, only others - Strandveld 10 and Jordan Outlier 09 (wooded). Strong performances from Boplaas with three DGs and following received two - Bon Courage, Delaire, Flagstone, Kanonkop, Nederburg, Nuy and Woolworths. Gold for straw wine from Rustenberg. Two bubblies in DG - Bon Courage BdB Jacques Bruere 06 and Boschendal Grande Cuvee Brut 07.

Good to see one of my long-standing favourites Uitkyk get DG for 01 Cab Sauv in museum class.

Double Golds

Monday, 3 October 2011

CWG closes auction season on a high

Records tumbled at the 27th Nedbank Cape Winemakers Guild auction held in the Stellenbosch winelands over the weekend, with a record turnover of R5 286 700, a new record price for red wine and overseas sales doubling.

Duncan Savage with the 6 auction dwarves

More highlights include top prices for Grenache and (in SA anyway) for dry whites older than current vintage like Cluver's 09 Chardonnay.  Although comparing Nederburg with CWG raises the apples v oranges debate lets have a look anyway. Nederburg achieved an average price of R1 985 per 12 bottle case, CWG achieved an average price of R1 789 per 6 bottle case.  Nederburg turnover of R6,1m was off 6182 (x6) cases while CWG achieved R5,3m from 2955 (x6) cases.

The highest price per case, a new Auction record of R6 000, was paid by a Belgian buyer for the Boekenhoutskloof Syrah Auction Reserve 2009.

"We got the balance right between the ratio of white and the red wines on offer this year and the great diversity of wines ensured keen bidding and interest from the floor right until the end. There was something for everyone with good value on offer as buyers snatched up wines at competitive prices on the one hand, with the more sought-after collector's items fetching exceptionally good prices on the other," said Louis Strydom, Chairman of the Cape Winemakers Guild.

The auction, conducted by Henré Hablutzel of Hofmeyr Mills Auctioneers for the 14th consecutive year, attracted 122 buyers this year including 19 from overseas with a total of 2 955 cases sold at an average price of R1 789 per case equivalent of 6 X 750ml bottles. The lineup of 56 wines included 38 red wines, 13 white wines, 2 Méthode Cap Classiques, a dessert wine, a port and a potstill brandy.

Alan Pick of The Butcher Shop and Grill triumphed for the 10th consecutive year as the biggest spender at R1,3 million. The bulk of the wines, over 70%, was bought by local buyers with a record R1,5 million spent by overseas bidders headed by the United Kingdom with R586 400 this year. Overseas bids came from the United Kingdom, Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Namibia, Czech Republic, Hong Kong, Netherlands and Canada.

In addition to the record breaking red wine, other top selling wines included Kanonkop CWG Pinotage 2009 with an average price per case of R3 843, Hartenberg Estate Auction Shiraz 2009 selling at R3 264, Kanonkop CWG Paul Sauer 2008 at R3 237, Bouchard Finlayson Pinot Noir 2009 at R3 212, Neil Ellis Rodanos 2007 at R3 125 and the Saronsberg Die Erf Grenache 2010 averaging at R2 677.

Amongst the white wines, top selling wines were the Jordan Chardonnay Auction Reserve 2010 with an average price per case of R2 285, Paul Cluver The Wagon Trail Chardonnay 2009 at R2 100, the Cape Point Vineyards Barrel Fermented Sauvignon Blanc 2010 at R1 822.

In addition to the main auction, a total of R132 600 was raised on the day in aid of the Cape Winemaker's Guild Protégé Programme, a mentorship initiative for young, upcoming winemakers. Every year a very special charity item is auctioned off to raise funds. This year's item, a one-of-a-kind 18-litre 2009 Cape Winemakers Guild Auction Reserve comprising a blend of top wines from members of the Guild, was purchased by Zdenek Lang of the Czech Republic for R25 000. This was the third consecutive year that the charity item was bought by Lang, who has donated it back to the Guild for resale at the 2012 charity auction.


Sunday, 18 September 2011

Patriotism and Pragmatism Prevails at 2011 Nederburg Auction

With producers across the board feeling the pain of recession, Distell MD Jan Scanell is hopeful that yesterday's buoyant bidding at the Nederburg Auction – which saw sales pass R6m – is an early harbinger of a much needed recovery. This achievement more noteworthy by the fact that it was off 19% less wine which also resulted in no unsold lots.

The rugby before not the Echezeaux buyer
Guest speaker and Washington DC blogger David White ( ) spoke of the imminent demise of gatekeepers and über critics like Robert Parker Jr and the rise of peer and consumer review in social media and on sites like  

Friday, 26 August 2011

ABSA top 10 Pinotage 2011 - Return of the usual suspects

Top usual suspects Beyerskloof and Kanonkop return while Rijk's and Faiview repeat last years achievement.

The Pinotage Association's winemaking guidelines appear to have been followed across the board with the possible exception of Top 20 finalist Altydgedacht 2010, the only wine below 14% alc while Top 10 Laibach and Diemersdal showed some welcome reprieve from the showy blockbuster styles.

KWV has entered top 10 territory for the first time with Mentors 09 while outstanding value for money at R35 a bottle must surely go to Meerkat 09 from Schalk Burger & Sons, making this critter as cheap as chips. 
The full list;

Beyerskloof Reserve 2008 
Diemersdal Reserve 2010
Fairview Primo 2009
Kanonkop Pinotage 2006
KWV The Mentor’s Pinotage 2009
Laibach 2010
Naledi 2009 (Spier)
Rijk’s Private Cellar 2007
Schalk Burger & Sons Meerkat 2009
Windmeul Reserve 2010. (to be released late Oct, price not yet available)

The ten runners-up:
Altydgedacht 2010
Cathedral Cellar 2009
Kanonkop 2009
La Cave 2009
L'Avenir 2009
Lyngrove Platinum 2009
Simonsig Redhill 2008
Spier 21 Gables 2009
Spier Private Collection 2008

Jonathan Snashall

Friday, 12 August 2011

Auction Season - a preview

Driving to the CWG tasting I found myself wondering just how much the new selection criteria was a posturing exercise and if it would translate into better wines. The answer is an unequivocal yes – for the posturing exercise, no just kidding – the wines were delicious showing more balance and purity than I have seen before from the Guild.

Another preconceived notion I nearly quashed was that the whites would be way better than the reds but the gap has closed. Some of the alcohols were a bit hot but oaking more restrained and the fact that many of them were 09 - which many have lauded as best ever for the Cape – also must have helped close the gap. Some of the reds still showed unwanted residual sugar.

Over in Paarl, Nederburg have also re-jigged their selection criteria - including, for example, sommeliers in the selection panel – and have achieved similar results although the new CWG technical criteria may have excluded one or two Nederburg Auction wines.

Friday, 5 August 2011

Teaching your Grandmother to Suck Stones

Passing down the wisdom of (perceived) minerality in wine is becoming increasingly suspect - even for died in the wool terroirists. No lesser being than Rhône-ranger Chapoutier has declared that ‘petrol’ characteristics are a winemaking fault saying they are a result of hard pressing of decomposed veins within the grape.

Comparing the debate over petrol aromas in Riesling to the issue of spoilage yeast Brettanomyces, Chapoutier said it is absurd that ‘historical defects in wine should be accepted as part of the character of the wine’ and that the vital aspect of Riesling vinification is the gentlest of pressings, often taking 12 hours, so as to avoid breakdown of the vascular structure within the grape. The Chapoutier family also make Riesling in Alsace and Victoria, Australia. 

Scientists are challenging the notion that terroir can be detected in a wine. As part of a study into vineyard soils, the Geological Society of America concluded that the French ‘gout de terroir’ - translated literally as 'taste of the soil' – probably isn't caused by minerals found in the vineyard.  'If wine lovers are going to talk about a mineral taste in wine, they should acknowledge that we don't at present know its cause”, says geologist Alex Maltman.

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Ode to Pinot III

Without doubt the centre of the Cape wine universe, Stellenbosch boasts a myriad of producers, varieties and styles but only a handful are dedicated to the most fickle red variety of them all – Pinot Noir.

Those who can be singled out for particular dedication to the grape include Meerlust, Muratie, Vriesenhof and relative newcomer Pepin Conde, all of whom are beginning to master – if it’s possible - the heart break grape.

All have been fine tuning things according to her capricious demands including relocating vineyards (I want a view please), planting of modern clones (only the best gear will do), and experimenting with fermentation techniques and oaking (The best spa treatments please).

It was first planted on the slopes of Stellenbosch’s Simonsberg in 1927 while 2011 marks the 40th Anniversary of the Stellenbosch Wine Route and the 10th of its Wine Festival (28-31 July 2011).
Muratie's at once historic and hedonistic cellar

Muratie – site of the first plantings - have re-located their modern clone vineyard lower down the valley after discovering that higher is not always cooler and have found that gentler extraction is more suited to the new site. This wine (‘09) showed good purity of fruit and was the most structured of the four with firm tannins – for Pinot that is. Oaking here is 30% new from Burgundian coopers. (R150 per bottle ex farm). Winemaker Francois Conradie has been the impact player but he plans on making it a longer tenure.

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

What's up WOSA?

Independent South African commentators have been strident in their criticism of Wines of South Africa (WOSA), South Africa’s generic wine marketing agency, directing an overdose of vitriol in particular at CEO Su Birth and Communications Manager Andre Morgenthal.

There is a reasonable argument that the criticism is no longer constructive and has become damaging. It is also broadcasting a potentially divisive image to wine buyers and influencers in major export markets.

Many questions arise, including the challenges wine marketers face on the international stage. Not least – as noted by Neal Martin of the Wine Advocate – are the perceptions created in customers’ minds from decades of negative publicity surrounding apartheid, crime and corruption, not to mention scandals like illegal wine additives.

Monday, 6 June 2011

Ode to Pinot II

Lunching with Pinotphile winemaker Peter Finlayson at Bouchard Finlayson is always going to be special, and when you throw in a vertical of Galpin Peak from the last decade it gets particularly vertiginous. Combine that with Kitchen Cowboy Pete Goffe-Wood who did anything but shoot from the hip in his careful food pairing and you have a truly special Sunday.

Well that was the departure point but on arrival we were welcomed by a saxophonist. On our approach, his elevated position up on the Manor House stoep reminded me of the opening scene of Peter Sellers' The Party when an outpost trumpeter is repeatedly shot – but keeps on waning. Regrettably I had left my rifle at home otherwise it would have been interesting to see if he had the same gees.

Can you see him?

Now, nobody has been making Pinot in Hemel-en-Aarde Valley for longer than Peter and with modern Burgundy clones, a Nuits St George cooper, and Burgundy-like high density vineyards (low-yield per vine), his ambitions are clear.

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

OM Trophy Wine Show

The temptation to whinge about the imperfection of wine tasting and competitions is great - and tired, so I wont. Besides life would be boring without them.

Producer of the year - Spier (just pipped Thelema)
International Judges' Trophy (inaugural) - Paul Cluver 09 Chardonnay. Probably the trophy of the show when you consider the judges: Neil Martin - Wine Advocate; Debra Meiburg MW - tipped to enter Decanter's powerful list in the next few years (Hong Kong-based); Thierry Desseauve - former editor of La Revue du Vin de France.
Trophy Winners
KWV Cathedral Cellar Cabernet Sauvignon 1995
Hillcrest Quarry Merlot 2008
Meerlust Pinot Noir 2009
Rijk’s Pinotage 2007
Thelema Shiraz 2007
KWV The Mentors Orchestra 2009 (Bdx blend)
Ormonde Theodore Eksteen 2008 (shiraz-based blend)
Paul Cluver Chardonnay 2009 (oaked)
Jordan Riesling 2009
Hartenberg Weisser Riesling 1999 (museum class)
Delaire Coastal Cuvée Sauvignon Blanc 2010
Lomond Sugarbush Sauvignon Blanc 2007 (museum class)
Cape Point Vineyards Semillon 2006
Spier Creative Block 2 2010 (best white blend Sauvignon Blanc Semillon wooded)
Fleur du Cap Unfiltered Special White Blend 2010 (other white blend wooded)
Nederburg Private Bin Eminence Noble Late Harvest Muscadel 2008
KWV White Jerepigo 1933 (museum class)
Nuy White Muskadel 2005

No Trophy for Bubbly (surely Bond knows better?), Chenin Blanc (Chenin newcomer Delaire was top scorer for the '10 with yours truly assisting), Port, Cab Franc, Viogner etc. Only 17 trophies and a mere 25 Gold Medals - down on last year’s total of 25 trophies & 32 Golds, probably through stricter selection rather than a fall in quality. A dramatic increase in Silver and Bronze medals - with numbers of winning wines increasing by around 30% in each category - points towards a widening of quality.

Sunday, 29 May 2011

Big in Gugulethu

This weekend saw the opening of the first Gugulethu Wine Festival and politicians never miss a chance to impress. Introduced by festival co-founder and Gugs celebrity businessman Mzoli Ngcawuzele,  DA leader Helen Zille did a good job of opening the sold-out event, switching languages as she charmed the eager crowd.

Banner outside Pistos Place shebeen

According to Hot Salsa Media’s Sharon Cooper, Nederburg and headline sponsor Tops at Spar were the main shapeshifters. Cooper arranged the event along with the team from the Soweto Wine Festival.

Thursday, 26 May 2011

Klein Constantia Sold

South African 1st growth Klein Constantia has been sold to American-Czech billionaire Zdenek Bakala and UK banker Charles Harman. “We are privileged to be custodians of one of the most historic properties in the Cape, and regard the preservation of this heritage as a serious responsibility.” said Bakala.

 The new owners are enthusiastic about the continued development of Klein Constantia as one of South Africa’s top wineries. Lowell Jooste will be staying on as managing director and Adam Mason as wine maker with no planned changes to the team or operations.

Pongracz goes Petite

Pongracz has launched 375ml bottles of Brut and Brut Rose. The well known shape of the bottle is retained and dare I say they look rather cute.

Yes thanks

Reasons to love them:
1. They mature faster than 750ml if you have the patience and discipline to keep them for a couple of years,
2. Handy for romantic picnics,
3. Handy for he says she says,
4. Handy for weekdays Monday - Friday,
5. Handy for weekends,
6. Handy as a gift,
7. Handy for breakfast, brunch, lunch, sundowners, dinner, nightcap,
8. Fits into handbags, can sneak them into the movies or theatre,
9. You can store 24 in the same space as 12 x 750ml
10. They are the real deal bottle-fermented babies.

Should retail around R50/bottle

Jonathan Snashall

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Ode to Pinot

Pinot Noir is both minx and manure. A supreme psychological manipulator, she will cagoule you with haunting aromas and silky textures. Once she touches your lips you are Samson with short back and sides and qualify for a complimentary life membership to Pinot Noir Anonymous (PNAS, or bínáis).

Or not, for some of her synonyms include widow maker and heartbreaker. Her schizo side can reveal an acidic, shallow vixen sans backbone or colour. But she will beguile you and you will forever seek her once she indulges you with her ethereal, ancient charms.

After some bottle age, the Pinot X-factor emerges, that something that makes you want to go back to the glass again and again to pin down those elusive characters. That ever-so-faint whiff of forest floor, farmyard or mushroomy aromas that - with some cherry or black berry notes - appeals to higher and base instincts, hijacking at once both the primordial amygdala and the evolved frontal cortex. You are now truly under her spell; you pass orgasm and go directly to post-coital bliss.

bit shy

Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Ossobuco in Bianco

As far as I can remember, winter in the Cape arrives around Easter weekend - regardless of where it falls in any particular year - and there is snow on the mountains of Franschhoek.

All of a sardine you are craving rich stews & casseroles as the instinct to fatten up is activated.  This recipe omits the more traditional tomatoes and includes anchovies - one of my favourite secret ingredients – and white wine rather than red.

Veal shin is preferred but beef shin works fine, just a bit more glutinous. The Gremolata garnish is the best and almost as inspirational as the rich savouriness of the dish.

Monday, 18 April 2011

CWG spice things up

Providing they can jump through some laboratory hoops to prove their wine's health and technical fitness, CWG members can decide if they will put a wine on auction or not. 

“Winemakers were more inclined to submit very good, but safe wines in order to secure selection in blind tastings, but this inevitably led to a narrowing down of the stylistic qualities of our Auction wines,” said CWG chair Loius Strydom.

Friday, 1 April 2011

umami overdose

Time has come to dust off some favourite winter recipes. This one is up there for sure. It somehow achieves richness and lightness - the holy grail. It does require 12-24hr marinade in wine and herbs but it makes all the difference and the mash is heavenly. This is one of the first times I experienced layers of Umami, a really special dish. If you are using instant (salt-rich) stock use about double the dilution/half the strength as you are also adding anchovies - one of my fave secret ingredients.

I last served it with 09 Glen Carlou Pinot Noir and it was a beaut.

Braised beef short ribs in red wine and horseradish and goat's cheese mash.


Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Snobs or Jargonistas

So the wine trade cops a fair amount of flack for being snobbish, exclusive and convoluted. Is it justified and how much can it be dumbed down? Do wine drinkers in any significant numbers want to swan around in a world of homogenised wine? 

Wine enjoyment is linked to the brain’s pleasure centres which in turn are linked to memory and emotion so it’s not surprising wine can evoke strong emotions in people, and the need to share your experience - or light up a cigarette.

While describing a wine can quickly sound poncy and pretentious every trade has its jargon and wine is no different. Try describing any other food or beverage in words and one quickly realises that this tendency is not confined to wine.

Sunday, 6 March 2011

Catch of the Day (SASSI-friendly)*

One of my favourite European food memories is discovering a Sardine braai on the quay of a small Portuguese fishing harbour. 

Over the weekend I discovered some frozen Portuguese Sardines at a Fishmonger opposite the Spar on Lion’s Square off Main Rd, Somerset West. Obviously fresh is best but as I was not about to hop on the plane to Lisbon I decided to try them. 

 They smelled surprisingly fresh on defrosting and delivered the very same fantastic aroma on the braai after being drizzled with olive oil and a good sprinkling of Maldon sea salt.

Friday, 4 March 2011

Franschhoek Day Trippers getting caught on Simondium Rd

Kitchen heat continues to rise on Drakenstein Valley's Simondium Rd (from just after the Klapmuts intersection off the N1) en route to Franschhoek.

Glen Carlou recently extended their kitchen and head chef (and soon to be on honeymoon!) Hennie van der Merwe has been joined by Beau du Toit whose experience includes working with Chef Bertus Basson at Overture (Eat Out top 10) as well as David Thompson’s NAHM at the Haikin in London – the only one star Michelin Thai restaurant in the world.

Glen Carlou's Zen Garden of local flora

Glen Carlou now offer Tapas on a Friday evening and dinner on Thursday evening with their usual lunch time offering. Tapas with a Paarl twist include Kudu meatballs with aubergine or Basil Pesto Arancini with tomato salad.

Monday, 28 February 2011

The R5000 Cook Book

The world's über cook book comes not from an überchef but from one of the world's übergeeks (with endorsements from überchefs), Microsoft's former chief technology officer and master of the forced upgrade Nathan Myhrvold.

Sunday, 27 February 2011

Doos Wyn

Chateau de Cardboard, Happy Box, Pap Sak, Bonteheuwel Briefcase, call it want you want box wine can easily pack a punch above – albeit it previously low - expectations. But the quality of boxed wine has improved in recent years.

According to these are the best boxes in the ring today:

Friday, 18 February 2011

Rust & Vrede - Yin & Yang

It must have been really easy for the Eat Out judges to award Rust & Vrede as top restuarant if yesterday was anything to go by. On this occasion - a tasting of selected vintages going back to '79 to reveal their style evolution followed by lunch paired with their current releases - the cheese course nearly pipped the pigeon as my pairing of the day but I settled on a tie.

The Tête de Moine cheese served with Hazel’s Curried Peach, Samoosa Wafers and Basil Gel was paired with Tinta Barocca 2000 port. It again revealed the skill and experience of both chef David Biggs and sommelier Neil Grant. One of the features of this cheese - just like the port - is that it evolves with increased exposure to air (pictures ex google)and can show nutty wine-like aromas when matured.

Thursday, 17 February 2011

Glen Carlou opens new kitchen, launches new menu

The wineland's eclipsing bigger brother Cape Town on the culinary scene continued unabated yesterday with Glen Carlou's opening of their new kitchen and chef Hennie van der Merwe's delightful new menu.

Hennie with some of his Restuarant@Glen Carlou team

Hennie has been touching the stars throughout his career and it’s a matter of time before he bags a few of his own. After graduating from the Culinary Academy in 2003, he made the ideal start to his career, working with Michelin star chef and Raymond Blanc protégé Phil Alcock at Cellars-Hohenort.

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

REECE-ling; needs an introduction and a second warning.

A legion of wine writers are perplexed, a world of consumers are pleased and perplexed (sorry dads this is not about your daughter's first date). Wine writers continue to foretell about the Riesling Revolution and Riesling consumers continue to be amazed at the power and elegance they find at price points that are fantastic value for money.

Maybe this is why it’s such a slow-burn revolution - the converted don’t want to spread the word too wide as demand might just push up the prices to reasonable levels. Not to be confused with Cape or Paarl Riesling (actually Crouchen Blanc) German a.k.a Rhine a.k.a Weisser Riesling is arguably THE classic variety (and is also planted in the Cape). Now before you cough up your Chardonnay lets consider:

Thursday, 27 January 2011

End of Leafroll?

It seems an end is in site for South Africa's other big virus problem. By 2013 - assuming the Mayan calender does not come to pass - some producers including Stellenzicht will be planting leafroll virus resistant vines. However this has not occured through technology (but dont tell Thabo & Manto) but rather through good old fashioned foot slog and natural selection (no beetroot juice involved either).

Not yet Autumn

By observing infected vineyards over two seasons, consulting viticulturalist Eben Archer identified naturally resistant vines in heavily infected blocks and has propagated these for replanting of vineyards. Although these came up clean in local tests - and in the USA and France - Archer will only let time reveal if he has been successful.

Saturday, 22 January 2011

Best braai improv of the summer

So I felt like some Tandoori chicken on Friday night but did not start the marinating on Thursday and since I haven’t yet mastered time travel I decided to try a short cut. (you do need a small flying saucer tho or a kettle braai will do).

While the coals are cooling, mix some dried ground ginger, ground cumin, coriander, turmeric (or saffron if its pay-day), fresh chilli and garlic (don’t be shy if you want added richness), paprika and garam masala into some double cream yoghurt (no need to feel guilty – in yoghurt it means about 5-7% fat) and some tomato puree (I was also inspired by butter chicken) and ja I know duplication of ingredients.

it kinda looked liked this but....

Thursday, 20 January 2011

5 best health foods

Pat yourself on the back if you guessed more than 2 of them AND mixed news for chololate lovers - it has to be dark.

There are approximately 90 minerals identified in modern nutrition and ALL of them are represented in seaweed. Gram for gram, they are higher in vitamins and minerals than every other food on the plant containing 20-200% more minerals than land-based vegetables. Seaweed holds high levels of Vitamins C, D, K and B and has more Vitamin A than carrots.
Seaweed is also very rich in protein and strengthens the kidneys and nervous system. When eaten consistently, sea vegetables calm hyperactivity, reduce stress and are excellent for the thyroid gland. People complain about the taste and the general rule of thumb with seaweed is this: the worse it tastes for you, the more you need it. Dulse, Kelp and Nori are excellent types. And you dont need a licence.

Sunday, 16 January 2011

Home cured Parma-style ham

If ever you doubted pork being fashionable consider that Miss Piggy is to play the role of a French Vogue editor in the next Muppet movie ‘The Greatest Muppet Movie of All Time’.  Although bacon is surely it’s most popular type, one of pork’s strength is it’s versatility - just ask Kermit.

Pork Pageant

And if it weren’t so expensive, pukka Parma ham would be more popular than bacon me thinks. This meat – from slowly air-dried salted legs of ham – seemingly melts in your mouth with a sweet salty tang and an unctuous, velvety texture.

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

World's Oldest Winery is in.....

Archaeologists have unearthed the oldest wine-making facility ever found, using biochemical techniques to identify a dry red vintage made about 6,000 years ago in what is now southern Armenia, researchers reported this week in the Journal of Archaeological Science.

"This is the world's oldest known installation to make wine," said Gregory Areshian, of the University of California, Los Angeles, who helped lead the study. The rich, red wines produced there are Merlots and Cabernet Sauvignons, he said.

The press and vat!

Monday, 3 January 2011

Olde World Country Feeling on your Stoep

Knorhoek Country Guesthouse is only 10 minutes from Stellenbosch yet you feel you are much deeper than that – and I don’t just mean the honesty bar.

Simonsberg mountains and mature trees provide the setting. And habitat for varied and abundant birdlife - not to mention the best possible white noise substitute for city slickers – with Piet-my-vrou calls punctuating the gentle clip of the leaves in the breeze while the owls here do give a hoot.

The view from our room (Pics by Georgie Prout)