Richard Carstens finds a culinary home at Tokara

Posted by peter | Articles | Posted on January 31st, 2011

Richard Carstens finds a culinary home at Tokara

Chef Richard Carstens has been running the kitchen of Tokara restaurant at the crest of the Helshoogte Pass, since October.Current chef Etienne Bonthuis is retreating into Stellenbosch to start his own Dorp Street venture.

Tokara restaurant will be managed by Wilhelm Kühn, co-owner of Jardine Restaurant in Cape Town (the Bree Street restaurant is dispatching a team to provide hands-on operations).

Carstens made his name at Lynton Hall south of Durban, and was excited to set up a signature restaurant called Nova in Cape Town CBD. Unfortunately investors pulled the plug. Earlier in 2010, Carstens was involved in experimental recipe development at Roots at Homini restaurant outside Johannesburg. He’s been consulting to Chez d’Or in Franschhoek’s Huguenot Street on a temporary basis.

At Tokara Carstens promises “not too much molecular focus” as the restaurant will serve “terroir-focused contemporary cuisine” in an a la carte menu where each plate of food offers the diner a sense of the natural environment and location, while mindful of seasonal ingredients. The tasting menu will be for “more playful stuff”.

Tokara wine estate and restaurant is 40 minutes from Beaumont House.

Kloovenburg wine farm lies on Kasteel Mountain

Posted by peter | Articles | Posted on January 26th, 2011

Owner and winemaker Pieter du Toit has selected the best red grape cultivars for the farm’s exclusive range of red wines, including Shiraz, Merlot, Pinotage and Cabernet Sauvignon. Grapes from low-yield vines with concentrated fruit flavours go into the crisp, barrel-fermented Chardonnay which is also part of the selection on offer.

Kloovenburg Shiraz 2007

A vivid ruby colour reveals itself in a seduction of smoky flavours, exciting spice and dark berries. Perfectly balancing ripe fruit and quality oak, the opulent nose follows through in an elegant palate with beautiful soft tannins and a sultry chocolaty aftertaste.

Now available in Harrods. The only South African wine awarded a 5-star “outstanding” honour amongst 95 other South African Shiraz wines tested – Decanter magazine, March 2005

Earth and respect, climate & cultivars

Kloovenburg stretches along the lower contours of Kasteel (Castle) Mountain, where the north-easterly slopes have proved ideal for the Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon cultivars and the south-westerly and easterly slopes favour Shiraz.

Here the climate is perfectly balanced, with the warm, low-rainfall months tempered by cool afternoon south-westerly breezes blowing in from the Atlantic ocean. Kloovenburg’s mountain-side situation ensures higher winter rainfall than is usual for this area, thus replenishing the water table and reducing the need for summer irrigation. The cold winters allow the vines to rest and build up better reserves.

The soil is mainly Malmesbury shale, with strong loamy soil on the higher ground. The more sandy loam lower down the slopes is supplemented by the area’s rich Hutton soil. This varied selection of soils lends itself to planting proportion of 60% red and 40% white, comprising Shiraz, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinotage, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Chenin Blanc, Colombar, Pinot Noir and Pontac.

Of the farm’s 300 hectares, 130 are under wine grapes, 25 under table grapes and 30 under olives. 20% of the best grapes are reserved for making Kloovenburg’s own wines.

Kloovengerg, in Riebeek Kasteel, is an hour’s drive from Beaumont House, and makes for a really nice day out.

Wine Tips for that last minute meal | Beaumont House

Posted by peter | Articles | Posted on January 26th, 2011

Pedants beware. If the amount of time you spend fussing over which wines to pair with your Christmas dinner equals—or surpasses—the amount of time you spend festooning your house with festive decor, you’ll all too quickly lose sight of the Christmas spirit.

Unlike Thanksgiving, which is defined by its trademark turkey dinner, Christmas isn’t restricted to one main dish in particular. Each family has their own idiosyncratic traditions. For some families, roasted prime rib, herb-crusted turkey or clove-studded ham make for the evening’s victuals. Others adhere to the Italian tradition of Festa dei Sette Pesci—Feast of the Seven Fishes—in which seafood commands the menu. With the array of menu possibilities, one can easily get entrapped in the minutiae of wine pairing. But since Christmas is a time for familial merriment, why get stuffy with such precision?

There are, however, certain prescribed guidelines to help successfully navigate your wine and food marriage. For the most part, a high-caliber wine has the adeptness to pair with any food, so long as the food to wine relationship isn’t extreme. For example, if your Christmas Eve revolves around Festa dei Sette Pesci, you certainly wouldn’t pair the oyster stew you labored over with a burly, tannic Cabernet Sauvignon from Napa Valley, California. Such a pairing would be radical. The delicate oysters simply wouldn’t have a chance against such a juggernaut of a wine. Similarly, you wouldn’t want to pair a delicate, Pinot Grigio with that roasted wild boar of yours. A Pinot Grigio’s subtleness would be mauled by the wild boar’s feral force.

So, it’s best to think in terms of personalities. A delicate person tends to acquaint themselves with other delicate people, just as a vibrant, powerful person consorts with those of similar dispositions. The same can be said of wine and food. To help further facilitate your wine pairing conundrum, compiled below is a list of value-driven wines available in your local Fairfield wine shops, matched with their food friendly counterparts.

But remember, it’s the season of joy, the season of love, the season of peace. So don’t sequester yourself in the kitchen, obsessing over creating the idyllic pairing. Enjoy your family. Enjoy the food. And most of all, drink what you like.

Wines for red meat and game (beef, venison, wild boar, lamb, goose, duck)

2009 Boekenhoutskloof Wolftrap; South Africa; $10.

This Syrah, Mouvedre and Viognier blend lends a supple and concentrated mouthfeel. Flavors of smoked pepper, cured meat, blackberry and cherry are modestly shaded with coffee-oak tones. And at $10, it’s a steal.

2006 Kaesler Avignon G.S.M.; Australia; $26.

Deep ruby. Aromas of dried sugared fruit, blackberry liqueur, violet and leather are nuanced with clove and cinnamon spice. Soft and lythe on the palate, the blend of syrah, grenache and mouvedre glides along with balance and a restrained intensity.

2007 The 75 Wine Co. The Sum; California; $20.

Lush with silky, fine tannins that emerge on the finish. This Cabernet Sauvignon dominant blend exudes loads of blackberry liqueur, cherry, cedar and spiced mocha flavors, which lend great length and depth.

Wines for white meat (turkey, chicken, pork)

2001 Cascina Ballerin Barolo Tre Ciabot; Piedmont, Italy; $35.

With nine years of age, the 2001 Tre Ciabot is in a beautiful stage in its life. It’s poised and supple, yet still exhibiting a youthful vibrancy. Exuding aromas of sour cherry, violet, leather and spiced dried fruit, this sleekly structured red weaves dusty tannins amongst a well-balanced palate, staying fresh with plum and cranberry subtleties.

2008 McKinlay Pinot Noir Willamette Valley; Willamette Valley, Oregon; $20.

Rose potpouri and pretty lychee fruit fuse with ripe cherry and spice cake. Picks up vanilla, almond and berry fruit upon its soft and harmonious palate.

2008 Trimbach Riesling; Alsace, France; $18.

Richly fragrant of spiced fruit cake, quince paste and candied lemon peel with a peep of petrol emerging. Medium-bodied and well-balanced. The zesty acidity stretches into a finish of lemon confit and warm caramel apple with a streak of minerality.

Wines for seafood (oyster stew, lobster, grilled salmon)

2009 William Fevre Chablis Champs Royaux; France; $20.

Flavors of wet stone, acacia flowers and citrus are filled out with apple and apricot. Supple and broad, yet possessing great cut with its acidity.

2009 Licia Albariño; Spain; $15.

Lean and lively; white peach, lemon zest and kiwi fruit make for a wine with plenty of lift and freshness.

Article courtesy of Andrew Hoover

Hands-on Harvest Festival in Robertson – February 2011

Posted by peter | Articles | Posted on January 26th, 2011

The Robertson Wine Valley is proud to host its third Hands-on Harvest festival. This boutique event will take place 25 – 27 February 2011 and offers wine aficionados and budding vintners a chance to experience the magic of harvest for a day – without having to quit their day jobs! .

Guests can look forward to:
* Grape Picking
* Bunch Sorting
* Stomping your own grapes
* Grape vs Wine Tasting
* Harvest Market
* Vineyard Tractor Trips
* Must tasting
* Wine blending experience
* Wine tasting by Horse Cart…. and much more

Groups are small and intimate to ensure that you have the very best hands-on experience and all activities need to be pre-booked by 23 February 2011.

Did you know?

* One barrel of wine equals 1 800 glasses of wine
* A ton of grapes makes about 720 bottles of wine
* One vine produces between 24 and 36 glasses of wine
* Each bottle of wine contains about 1,5kg of grapes
* There are between 35 and 60 clusters of grapes per vine
* One hectare of land is home to between 3 000 and 6 000 vines, and sometimes even up to 10 000

Robertson is about 90 minutes from Beaumont House – well worth the drive, especially if you have a designated driver!

Historical Steenberg produces classic old world wines |Beaumont House

Posted by peter | Articles | Posted on January 16th, 2011

“At the dawning of the Cape, the swans rejoined, feeding in paradise at the foot of the Steenberg Mountains.”

Steenberg, ‘Mountain of Stone’, has a romantic ring, but the original name was even more beautiful: it was called ‘Swaaneweide’ – The Feeding Place of Swans. Whether swans did indeed fly down to drink and swim in the cool clear waters of the farm, or whether the first owner, Catharina Ras, was being nostalgic about her former home in Lubeck, on the Baltic coast of Germany, is hard to tell. Catharina had probably named the farm after what she thought were swans which are not indigenous to South Africa and certainly not Constantia. It is thought that she had mistaken the spur-winged geese for swans as today you will still find a large population of these spur-winged geese at Steenberg.

Catharina Ustings Ras was one of the most daring and controversial figures ever to settle at the Cape. Life was not easy when she arrived, only ten years after Jan van Riebeeck landed, for 1662 was far from being the age of rights for women, and yet this indomitable woman had boarded a sailing ship and made the perilous journey to the furthest tip of Africa. What she found was certainly no land of milk and honey. It was a fierce, wild place with laws to match. Keel haulings, hangings, lashings and brandings were normal occurrences. This being no place for a lone widow of twenty-two, she immediately found herself a second husband, Hans Ras. He was not a particularly eligible catch; he was a soldier and free burger with a penchant for female slaves, but he had a house on the Liesbeek River, which he had bought from Jakob Kluten, founder of the famous Cloete family, whose name has dominated Constantia for more than two hundred years.

Once the wedding knot was tied, Catharina’s life seemed to take on the dramatic overtones, which marked its course from that day forward. Two wagons left the ceremony, with the bride and groom in one and the guests in the other. Lit from within by good Cape wine and overcome, no doubt, by the spirit of the occasion, the drivers decided to race one another back to Rondebosch. While the guests clung fearfully to their seats, praying to Heaven with truly Protestant fervour, the wagons vied for position and as the road was rough and narrow, a collision soon occurred. Enraged at this conduct on his wedding day, the bridegroom jumped down from his seat and soon became entangled in a fight, receiving a knife thrust, which almost proved fatal – the weapon breaking in two between his ribs. He survived this incident and lived to father several children, but came to an unfortunate end when he was killed by a lion some years later. Legend has it that, like Annie Oakley, Catharina courageously fetched a gun, leaped on her horse and gave chase finally shooting the lion herself, but this may well be a case of historical embroidery!

Fate had a good deal more in store for the girl from Lubeck however, for a Hottentot murdered her next husband and his successor was trampled underfoot by an elephant. Seemingly no less endowed with energy than Henry VIII, who surprised all Europe with his impressive total of six wives, Catharina then took unto herself a fifth husband, a hardy German named Matthys Michelse.

In 1682 Catharina Michelse, also known as The Widow Ras, asked Simon van der Stel for a portion of ground at the foot of the Ou Kaapse Weg and he agreed to lease 25 morgen to her. After he became the owner of Groot Constantia in 1685, she asked him for a legal title deed and a mandate was granted to her in 1688 to “cultivate, to plough and to sow and also to possess” the farm below the stone mountain.” According to Baron von Rheede tot Drankenstein, who visited the farm and was served a luncheon of “radishes and freshly baked bread and beautiful cabbages”, Catharina was a fiercely independent woman, “riding bare-back like an Indian and her children resembling Brazilian cannibals!”

In 1695 Frederik Russouw bought the farm. There to witness the deed, were Henning Huising (owner of Meerlust and uncle to Adam Tas) and Hugo Goyes. Russouw, a powerful and wealthy member of the Burger Council and it was he who built the new U-shaped house in 1695. He also made the first wines at Swaaneweide.

As time passed, the Dutch East India Company decreed in 1741 that from May to August each year, Simons Bay would be the official winter port, because “the north west winds in Table Bay had been causing untold damage and loss of life.” Because Swaaneweide was exactly one days’ journey from Table Bay and one days’ journey from Simons Bay, this meant that many travellers would be obliged to overnight at the farm. Christina Diemer (the widow of Frederik Russouw) became the recipient of a highly profitable business of supplying hospitality to travellers and provisions to the fleet. When Christina Diemer died, it was her youngest son, Nicolaas Russouw and his wife Anna Maria Rousselet who inherited the farm. He had received the farm before Christina died and made an agreement to relinquish any further claim on the estate. Nicolaas and his wife had the farm from 1765 to 1801. It was Nicolaas who had the fine new “Holbol” gable built on to the front of the original house, the only one of its kind in the Cape Peninsula.

When Nicolaas died, his son Daniel bought the farm (this was in 1802) from his mother, Maria. Due to difficult times and unfortunate circumstances, he sold it to Johannes Adriaan Louw of Fisantekraal (a brother-in-law) and Frederik Anthon Olthoff. The Deed of Sale is legally phrased and cut and dried and a letter appeared before the Master of the Supreme Court in August 1842, stating firmly that the sale to the two sons-in-law had been legal one of whom was Johannes Adriaan Louw. All Daniel Russouw’s children were paid a cash share and signed acceptance of such a share. However the Russouw blood flowed in the Louw children’s veins. Son of Johannes Adriaan, Nicolaas Louw’s greatest passion was Steenberg. He went straight from school into farming and his three children, Andrew (architect), Jean and Nicolette inherited the property jointly when he died in 1976. Steenberg remained the property of the Louw family until 1990 when it was purchased by J.C.I (Johannesburg Consolidated Investments), and re-developed into the glorious vineyard and hotel it is today.

Graham Beck’s Kangra Group bought Steenberg Hotel and Steenberg Winery in April 2005. Steenberg Hotel is flourishing under its new ownership. An upmarket Spa has been added to the excellent facilities available for guests. A trendy Pool Bar has recently been completed overlooking a large pool in the most perfect setting imaginable. There are plans afoot to educate the public on the incredible heritage of Steenberg. This will no doubt elevate Steenberg to its rightful place in South African history and present day society. Steenberg Hotel and Winery is a proud member of Kangra Holdings.

Steenberg underwent extensive soil and micro-climatic analyses before a complete replanting programme was begun. There are about 62ha under vine of which 70% is white: Sauvignon Blanc (45% of total plantings) and Semillon. The red varieties are Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Pinot Noir and Shiraz. The farm is also one of only a handful in the Cape to have invested in the red Italian variety Nebbiolo.

From an initial 2000 cases, Steenberg Vineyards now produces over 20 000 per annum, with a maximum capacity of ±70 000 cases.

Steenberg can capitalise on its uniqueness due to:

A) Macro-climate: Mild temperature, cool breeze from the sea, reliable winter rainfall, good exposition to sunlight.

B) Meso-climate: Southern-eastern slopes, variety of altitudes ranging from 60m to 160m, proximity to ocean.

C) Micro-climate: Moderate plant growth, canopy management, soil ranging from low vigour to high potential types.

D) Geographic Placement: Close to the city and harbour.

The philosophy is that the “wines are grown in the vineyard and then cared for in the winery”. Special attention was therefore placed in obtaining the very best and latest known clones and matched to the correct soils and slopes.

From the analytical eye of the General Manager John Loubser, the most important ingredients to a superior wine are quality vineyards, climate and gentle human intervention to allow the grape to do what it does naturally. John’s positive and sensitive passion to the wine industry has left its indelible mark on the wines of Steenberg. Working in an environment where the facilities are modern, efficient and the best in the country, allowed John the freedom to express his knowledge through the art of wine making.

A romantic at heart with hedonistic tendencies, John has created wines synonymous of the first owner of Steenberg, Catharina, who developed and worked this land, her essence and strength bearing fruit 320 years later. The wines are classical and reminiscent of the old world, complimenting fine dining while creating the perfect marriage of good food and good wine.

As John so expressively puts it: “I’m influenced by what surrounds me. Smells, flavours, colours, vistas, sounds, experiences, people – anything that tickles my imagination or my senses. The thought of a good wine and food combination makes my mouth salivate. Wine is truly one of the highs when it comes to sensory pleasures and this influences me.”

JD Pretorius was appointed as wine maker at Steenberg Vineyards in June 2009. He embodies the spirit of the new generation of winemakers, and with his fresh approach and infectious enthusiasm, has already greatly contributed to the success of the 2009 harvest. He learnt his trade from accomplished winemakers such as Erica Obermeyer, as well as having spent time at Stone Street in Sonoma.

Farm manager, Johann de Swardt and his staff, tenderly care for the vines, forever sensitive to the whisperings and secrets that the vines unfold.

The icon wines of Steenberg Vineyards are Magna Carta, our white Bordeaux style blend, Sauvignon Blanc, and Semillon. Other wines carrying the Steenberg label are, Shiraz, Merlot, Nebbiolo and Steenberg Brut 1682 Méthode Cap Classique.

Cape Town Convention Centre to be tops by 2020?

Posted by peter | Articles | Posted on January 12th, 2011


The CTICC is so much more than just another convention centre. Set in the heart of the Cape Town city centre, the CTICC is a place where people from all walks of life are brought together, a tangible demonstration of the power of partnership, and an excellent example of the success that can be achieved when public and private enterprises work together towards shared goals.

As one of the top ten tourist destinations in the world, Cape Town is no ordinary city. So it stands to reason that the CTICC would be no ordinary convention centre. And the fact that, in just five short years, it has become widely regarded as one of the leading convention centres in the southern hemisphere bears testimony to this fact.

Thanks to its innovative design with meticulous attention to detail, its comprehensive array of world-class services, five star accommodation facilities, and dedicated staff with a proven passion for service excellence, the CTICC consistently delivers the kind of unforgettable experience that keeps event hosts, and their guests coming back – again and again.

It is the vision of the CTICC to be the best long- haul international convention centre by 2020. While this vision naturally relies on the centre delivering on its financial objectives and contributing significantly to the growth and revenue of tourism in the Western Cape and South Africa, ours is not a vision driven exclusively by commercial considerations.

The successful achievement of our vision is also dependant on our ability to deliver on our promises to all our stakeholders.

So, in becoming the leading convention centre in the Southern Hemisphere, the CTICC will continue to improve on its ability to delight its clients with professional, efficient, value for money venues and services that assist them in achieving their objectives.

Our staff will continue to enjoy every opportunity to develop and grow as people, and further their careers in the directions they desire. In addition the CTICC culture will continue to foster a culture of creativity, teamwork, and superior service delivery.

Ultimately, it is our belief that CTICC will only have achieved its vision when the centre enjoys a reputation as a truly inspirational business. Through our ongoing commitment to innovation, service excellence and environmentally friendly practices, we therefore strive to become true leaders – both in the hospitality and event hosting industries, and in setting the benchmark for successful international business practices.

The CTICC is 15 minutes from Beaumont House.

Chapmans Peak is one of the world’s most spectacular marine drives

Posted by peter | Articles | Posted on January 10th, 2011

Chapman’s Peak Drive

Chapman’s Peak Drive winds it way between Noordhoek and Hout Bay. Situated on the Atlantic Coast, at the south-western tip of South Africa, it is one of the most spectacular marine drives anywhere in the world.

The 9km route, with its 114 curves, skirts the rocky coastline of Chapman’s Peak, the 593m high southerly extension of Constantia Berg. The drive offers stunning 180° views with many areas along the route where you can stop and take in the scenery or sit down for a relaxing picnic.

Chapman’s Peak and the surrounding areas offer local and foreign visitors a myriad of things to do. It also offers business people an alternative and convenient access route between Cape Town and the South Peninsula, saving the commuter up to 20 minutes in peak traffic. In short, it forms the gateway between Cape Town and the South Peninsula.

Initially constructed during the First World War, this 9km route with its 114 curves skirts Chapman Peak, the 593m high southerly extension of Constantia Berg, and follows the rocky coastline to unfold breathtaking views in both directions.

The route starts at the picturesque fishing harbour of Hout Bay (15 minutes from Beaumont House) and the climb winds steeply up to Chapman’s Point, revealing breathtaking views of the sandy bays down below, until the road reaches lower levels again at Noordhoek.

Pinotage – the South African great grape varietal?

Posted by peter | Articles | Posted on January 9th, 2011


We’d all like a grape to call our own. California has Zinfandel; Argentina, Malbec; Napa Valley and Cabernet Sauvignon are so connected that we simply say “Napa Cab” and “New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc” often trips off our tongue like one word. But few New World wine regions have such an intimate relationship with one grape as South Africa and Pinotage.

A love-hate relationship, as it happens. The argument over whether Zinfandel should be declared California’s historic grape is a tempest in a teapot compared to the extremes of affection and disdain that Pinotage receives, even in its native land.

Pinotage is, in fact, a native product of South Africa, developed in 1925 by Abraham Izak Perold, the first professor of Viticulture at the University of Stellenbosch. This alone makes it different from the other examples above, all of which were actually imported from elsewhere and only later became so closely associated with their new home. The Sauvignons are truly international varietals; Malbec is still grown in Cahors, France, as well as serving as a blending grape in many regions; Zinfandel has discovered roots and relatives in southern Italy and Croatia. Pinotage, a cross between Pinot Noir and the more obscure Rhone varietal, Cinsault, was born in South Africa (There the latter grape was called “Hermitage,” giving the new grape the second half of its name). The professor, it seems, hoped to combine the virtues of the two grapes. Pinot Noir is renowned for its aromas and flavors, but can be difficult to grow, whereas Cinsault yields an abundant crop and is cheerfully resistant to disease. Both could learn something from the other.

In some ways the Cinsault dominated: Pinotage is easy to grow and ripens readily. In fact, keeping yields down is a major challenge in making a quality wine from Pinotage (The more grapes per vine, the lower the concentration and quality of the juice). Making quality wine from these ripe grapes is more difficult, and Pinotage rarely displays its Pinot parentage, tending more toward dark fruits, tar, tobacco, and chocolate; in less appealing renditions touches of banana and nail polish have also been noted. The grape also tends toward high tannins and low acids, adding further complications for the winemaker. Given these difficulties, plantings didn’t really get started commercially until the 1960s, and, despite a few successes, acreage dwindle from then until the 90s, and the end of apartheid.

And the end of international boycotts on South African products. Interest in South African wines was high, and Pinotage in particular as it was unique to the country. However, the boycott had not only kept South African wine from going abroad, it had also kept international developments in winemaking from reaching the nation’s producers. South African wines – Pinotage in particular – were variable and unreliable in quality, leaning toward an earthy, high-tannin style that was out of tune with American palates in particular.

Now, after fifteen years of investment and research, many South African wines are living up to the nation’s potential. And Pinotage? Well, it’s still an unpredictable grape, and there are some South African winemakers who won’t touch the stuff. Others, like Kanonkop, had found their own way with the grape before the end of the apartheid – old-fashioned winemaking, with open-top fermenters and the like, resulting in massive wines that can age for decades – and have continued forward that way. Such wines are the most powerful examples of Pinotage: weighty, dark fruit and tar aromas, with heavy tannins. The best will age into elegance without losing their muscularity. The mediocre wines in this style possess the tannins without the fruit concentration; as the former fades with age, the curtain is pulled back on an empty stage of muddy earthiness in lieu of complexity.

More recent winemaking approaches try to capture the fruit aromas without the tannins and muddiness in the first place, perhaps sacrificing intensity in favor of approachability. It can be done, and some of the winemakers liken the results to Zinfandel; I don’t find many similarities myself. The two may share some brambly, dark fruit aromas and a certain weightiness, but Pinotage is bitter where Zinfandel is sweet, and densely heavy where Zin is big and exuberant. These takes on Pinotage also have touches of tar and tobacco that are uncommon in Zinfandel. Nonetheless, this is a more commercially viable style of Pinotage; it’s still big and intense, but it’s more approachable when young and less tiring on the palate.

Other winemakers blend their Pinotage with other varietals – usually of the Bordeaux variety – to fill in the holes where Pinotage is lacking. This gave birth to the “Cape Blend” designation, which many wineries hope will grow into the marketing strength of a varietally-labelled wine. Many of these wines are quite good, but so are the many Bordeaux blends from the Cape, begging the question of whether Pinotage adds to the blend or is just included because the grapes have to be used somewhere.

Again like Zinfandel, Pinotage is sometimes made as a rosé (the dry variety, however), and some of these can be enjoyable. A few South Africans I’ve met rave about sparkling Pinotage, in a similarly pink style. One enthusiast I met went to great lengths to track down cases of this rare stuff, but for my part, I didn’t come across any bubbly Pinotage that I would hope to ever come across again. One of my tasting notes reads simply, “NO NO NO!”

So is Pinotage is too much trouble to deal with? Well, it’s never going to achieve a mass-market, consistent and likeable style the way Merlot or Shiraz have, and that means South African wineries probably shouldn’t use it as their collective spearhead into the U.S. (or other) markets (I’ve written elsewhere that Chenin Blanc may the best choice in this regard; while it may vary in style, at least it can be a good-value, fruit-forward wine in a range of price points.). The grape has its fans nonetheless. Wine drinkers with the same devotion you sometimes see in Petite Syrah lovers here in the U.S., and the individual wineries who have found a way to make Pinotage work for them should be sought out and enjoyed. However, Pinotage will never be just another varietal on the wineshop shelf.

Seek Out:
Kanonkop Pinotage 2003/2004: The name in old-school Pinotage, Kanonkop is universally admired for their success with and dedication to the grape. These are big, full wines, with gobs of dark fruit and serious tannins. While they’re enjoyable now, their real potential lies in the cellar; these are wines for collecting.

Steytler Pinotage 2001 and Steylter Vision 2001 (Cabernet Sauvignon & Pinotage Blend): These are both massively-structured, muscular wines, and work the spice and earth side of the spectrum with aromas of chocolate, tar, tobacco, and spice. The Vision in particular has a long finish; it stands out as a blend where no attempt was made to bury the Pinotage characteristics under the Cabernet.

Vriesenhof “Enthopio” 2000 (70% Pinotage blended with Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and Shiraz): This Pinotage-dominated blend shows a more modern and approachable side, with a clear black cherry center plus tell-tale touches of tar and tobacco. It’s full-bodied and does show some drying tannins; enjoyable now, it could also profit from cellaring for a few years.

Warwick Pinotage 2004 and Three Cape Ladies 2003 (Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Pinotage blend): The Three Cape Ladies exemplifies the Cape Blend style, with lots of dark fruit plus notes of tar and chocolate. Not as massive as many of its peers, instead it’s more elegant and food-friendly. The Pinotage is entirely modern in style, with lots of fruit and spice.

Spice Route Pinotage 2005, Spice Route Flagship Pinotage 2002, and Fairview Pinotage-Viognier 2004: All three of these wines come from Charles Back, who got the jump on his compatriots by scoring a hit in the American market with his popular Goats do Roam series. His wines suit the American palate; all three of these are fruit-forward, full-bodied, and smooth. The first two show touches of oak (American and French, respectively) which helps provide the velvety mouthfeel, and the Pinotage-Viognier shows a touch more earth than the others.

Groot Constantia Pinotage 2004: Although the winery was founded in 1685, this wine shows all the touches of modern Pinotage style: lots of fruit, especially raspberry, plum, and even strawberry, but still full-bodied and well-balanced tannins. Ready to drink.

Delheim Pinotage Rosé 2005: A good example of what Pinotage can do as a rosé, with lots of cherry, strawberry, and watermelon aromas, light-bodied and dry.

Stellenzicht Rhapsody 2004: An unusual blend of Shiraz and Pinotage, with a good combination of red and black fruit, earth, and spice.

Pinotage may have started in South Africa, but there are also plantings in a few other wine regions, most notably New Zealand and California. Keep an eye out for bottlings from Te Awa or J Wine Company if you’re curious to see how Pinotage does away from home.

Article courtesy of Jim Clarke.

The Greenhouse has developed an”Imagination” menu | Beaumont House

Posted by peter | Articles | Posted on January 8th, 2011

Award winning chef Peter Tempelhoff, Executive chef for The Collection by Liz McGrath, has had to create a very special menu for this very special space and as a result sees the introduction of Peter’s new conceptual cuisine.

Over the past few months, this Top 10 kitchen team has been hard at work developing an ‘Imagination’ tasting menu, where every dish is a surprise and is sure to leave an impression. Dishes such as ‘Winter Forage’ and ‘Shellfish on a Beach’ will leave you guessing until they arrive at the table. A freshly polished service team at Liz McGrath’s flagship restaurant makes this a very special dining experience!

The Greenhouse is top drawer and only 10 minutes from Beaumont House.

Bistro Sixteen82 at Steenberg for a wine and food tasting experience

Posted by peter | Articles | Posted on January 6th, 2011

Bistro Sixteen82

Steenberg has raised the bar with an innovative new Bistro-style cellar door restaurant and wine tasting venue unlike any other in the Constantia Valley. Named Bistro 1682 after the year in which Steenberg was first established, the interactive wine and food destination has seen an overwhelming amount of local and foreign guests, since its opening in November 2009. With an ambience that embodies opulent chic, Bistro 1682 seamlessly complements Steenberg’s popular fine dining restaurant, Catharina’s.

A modern and sophisticated daytime restaurant, Bistro1682 has succeeded in the fusion of food and wine in a feast of the senses, incorporating the much-anticipated state-of-the-art Steenberg Winery, Wine Tasting Bar and Tasting Lounge.

Set amidst the vineyards at the foothills of the Steenberg Mountain (Stone Mountain), with spectacular views across the vineyards, Constantia Valley, and with False Bay in the distance, the inviting and visually interactive modern space with eclectic design features an open flow plan. High ceilings and earthy natural textures and colours attribute to a somewhat industrial feel without detracting from the warm, welcoming ambience. A terraced dining area leads to reflective water features and enchanting ‘sensory’ gardens. Surrounding indigenous gardens are brilliantly offset by a floating glass bridge and an intricate labyrinth to complete a multi-sensory wine destination experience that entice visitors to stay, relax and enjoy the wine and cuisine of the Constantia Valley.

Intrepid chef and bistro dining specialist Brad Ball (35), of the River Café and Olympia Café fame, lends his gastronomic savvy to the 70-seater Bistro1682.A unique Raw Bar, featuring counter seating and interesting, healthy and delicious raw cuisine such as sashimi, gravadlax, ceviche, carpaccios, oysters and tartars, where dishes will be freshly prepared on order by designated Chefs. Hard-pressed to contain his excitement at heading up the kitchen at the new restaurant, Brad has made his mark by introducing his own, original interpretation of modern Bistro food by raising the standard of casual dining restaurants and offering excellent value for money.

Bistro sixteen82 is 15 minutes from Beaumont House and really complements a wine tasting at Steenberg!


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