Allesverloren to offer Olive Festival visitors a taste of “home made”

Posted by peter | Articles | Posted on April 28th, 2011

On 7 and 8 May the end of a successful harvest in the Swartland will once again be celebrated with wine, food, music and the arts at the Riebeek Valley Olive Festival.

Allesverloren, the oldest wine estate in this region, will be offering visitors to the festival more than enough, safe and free parking on the estate. It will also provide a complimentary shuttle service between the estate and Riebeek Kasteel.

Not only will visitors be able to sample the estate’s renowned port and its selection of red wines, but they can also roam among food and specialist stalls, and taste and buy top wines such Tukulu, Theuniskraal, Le Bonheur and Org de Rac.

The food stalls will be offering a wide range of products, from Mediterranean delicacies and home-made breads to olives and olive oils, country cheeses, biltong and jams. Foodies can also relax at stalls like that of the well-known La Masseria while feasting on hearty Italian country food or buy a satisfying braaivleis platter from Riebeek Kasteel Primary.

Local musicians such as Waldo Lotz, Nadia Louw, Joe Nichol, Desmond Wells, Vos Reyneke, violonist Madel and others will keep you on your feet in the festival tent with their renderings of traditional hits.

All the stalls and entertainment at the function venue will be undercover and weather resistant.

Children are welcome at The Olive Playground where they will be entertained under adult supervision. At R10 an hour per child they have access to the jumping castle, puppet shows, face painting and various other arts and crafts.

Entrance is free. Festivalgoers can visit Allesverloren on Saturday between 10h00 – 19h00 and on Sunday between 10h00 – 17h00.

The Cape’s 2011 Wine Harvest – like sailing a racing yacht!

Posted by peter | Articles | Posted on April 27th, 2011

Encouraged by our sleeping barrels and hibernating vines we winemakers slow down in winter. Like a fireside trance it’s easy to feel cocooned by rain beating on roofs, or falling in great sheets across the Flats and out to a granite grey sea.

Winter would have been a peaceful time for winemakers once – a time for unhurried blending and sleeping in; a time for food like cassoullet and venison potjie.

These days, unfortunately, there’s a gnawing irritation in the back of our minds, keeping the stress levels topped up – it’s that shedfull of wine that needs to be sold; it’s those tanks that need to be bottled before summer arrives.

Sometimes, about halfway through a bottle of red you forget about that shed, and the exchange rate and the overseas agent who refuses to pay you. Then winter feels good and solid like the foundation you can build the rest of your seasons on.

This state fades with the edgy pulse of spring – like the vibrations of a tuning fork struck against an empty stainless steel tank.

Glare arrives. You notice it bouncing off the aeroplane wing as you return home from Russia or China or somewhere equally as challenging.

Subtle changes in wind direction bring new smells like the warm easterly laced with Buchu in the mornings off the Helderberg.

This season there was a real ambivalence to spring. The rejuvenation felt sluggish, because we knew we hadn’t had enough winter rain. We sensed soil moisture was depleted, and the moisture probe readings reflected that.

Between July and October last year the recorded rainfall was 80 mm less than the long-term average figure. This equates to 75% of the long-term average, which means it was a very, very dry winter.

Areas east of Cape Town, especially in the Overberg, were the worst affected. The winter rain seemed to be stopped by Sir Lowry’s Pass. The rain that made it to Grabouw and Elgin all fell there.

Dams in the Overberg just didn’t fill up properly. A similar pattern occurred to a lesser extent north of Wellington, but even in these regions dams were not filled properly and farmers had to go easy on the irrigation, resulting in lower yields for the co-ops.

And things weren’t much better on this side of the mountain. In Stellenbosch the average rainfall was less than the long-term average in every month between July 2010 and February 2011, except October and November; but these increases were generally so small across the Western Cape as to be insignificant.

Before summer fully warmed this season, that new arching sun was already commanding wind off the ocean, ruffling awake the fleshy-green crowns of vineyards and mirroring the wavy sea in swelling hills of wheat. Despite the drier soil everything grew well.

Spring blew in with a strong southeaster. But although it buffeted incessantly for months, it was without the horrendous gusts of 2009 and 2010 that snapped trellis poles or blew bakkies over in Long Street.

And it remained very dry. Nothing significant fell in January and February in Stellenbosch. The weather station at Nietvoorbij records 4.5 mm and 4.4 mm for January and February respectively. This pattern repeated itself across inland areas like Robertson, Breedekloof and further north.

In Elgin, usually an area that enjoys significant rain over the growing season, only 31.5 ml was recorded against a 42 year long-term average of 93.1ml. That is only 33% of the long-term average. So no rot in Elgin this year, and a really great vintage.

However, in Elim 36.3 mm of rain fell in February alone, which explains why the area had to battle fungus and rot this year.

The long days of summer heat coloured the ripening fruit rapidly and totally. Colours across the board in reds are great this year. All the while, the continuous southeaster smashed the swells flat in False Bay. It was an unhappy summer for surfers.

The wind measurement data was significant this season for the amount (or accumulated volume) of wind that blew. December in particular was extremely windy and the volume of wind recorded was significantly greater than long-term averages. Often the wind didn’t die at night during December, which is unusual.

Vineyards planted out of the lee of the wind, in exposed areas were pummelled by the wind causing stress, while those on protected slopes (out of the wind) suffered sunburn and heat damage. But luckily, for many vineyards the worse wind came at the right time not to cause extensive damage at flowering or later after veraison.

Every now and then a baked-earth Berg wind gathered in the Karoo and came rattling over the escarpment smelling of old windmill grease. It sucked the life from vines leaves, beating down surrendering tendrils and depressing me on my vineyard trips.

We all nursed the thirsty soldiers through this summer, dripping life through irrigation pipes. Every now and again, stealing a worrying glance over our shoulder at the puckering dams, the low levels of which we haven’t seen for a few years.

Our traditional January heat wave arrived slightly later than usual and was followed up by a second blast of heat on the 27th of February when the temperature recorded at Nietvoorbij hit 37 degrees celsius.

For some reason (and I am still trying to get my head around this) the heat wave didn’t do what it normally does and force a corresponding spike of sugar accumulation, leaving tannin ripeness lagging.

In fact, a stand out characteristic for all areas has been small, concentrated red berries with wonderfully ripe tannin. Tannin ripeness kept up magnificently. On average we picked our reds (across all varieties) a whole degree lower than in 2010.

On the Helderberg in Stellenbosch Average Maximum Temperatures (AMT) for January and February were 31.3 degrees celsius and 32.25 degrees celsius respectively, pushing up the average temperatures to 24.4 degrees celsius and 25.34 degrees celsius for these two important ripening months.

Similar to the station at Nietvoorbij, this represents average temperatures over 2.5 degrees celsius higher than long-term averages. That’s a really significant number and indicates what we all experienced – a warm, high-tempo vintage.

An interesting detail the maximum average temperature data reveals is that it was warmer on the Helderberg in January and February than in Paarl, Robertson or Breedekloof. This may be because these slopes missed out on the cooling effect of the southeaster this year.

In fact our mountain vineyards in the Breedekloof showed the lowest AMT of all the other inland areas. There were often days when driving from Elim to the Breedekloof that the temperatures increased by around 80 degrees celsius as I passed through Stellenbosch and Paarl, but then dropped again by 50 degrees celsius as I got through the tunnel and onto the alluvial valley floor around Rawsonville.

As usual Elim was a different story altogether. Because of the consistently strong, moist southeasters which blew incessantly this year, Average Maximum Temperatures for January and February were 25.24 degrees celsius and 25.8 degrees celsius respectively, resulting in correspondingly lower average temperatures of 20.9 degrees celsius and 22.18 degrees celsius.

Like other cooler areas (Elgin in particular), the white varieties are brilliant, showing intensity and elegance.

A vine spends about 50% of its energy reaching skywards. If it is continually buffeted by wind, it gets upset and switches from vegetative growth to concentrating on reproductive issues like making the most delicious tasting fruit possible. In the wind it does this with an intensity of purpose that is reflected in the eventual wine.

And now suddenly the pause of autumn, like an intake of breath, pulls you up.

You look at your hands properly for the first time in months and wonder if the purple stains will stay ingrained in the leathery creases this year.

A sea fog from the south saturates the breeze with the smell of seaweed. Overnight it swings rampantly around to the north like it did on Tuesday this week, with teasing grey clouds.

Now the curtain of early evenings promises the relief-soaked applause of Cape rain on roofs again.

Sometimes it feels like seasonal rhythm is all we have left to tie us to life. I guess that’s why it makes sense to eat seasonal fruit and veggies.

Do an experiment this year. After avocado season, try not to eat avos until they arrive again in April next year. It’s a tough call, especially when you want to steal a piece of your kid’s pizza, piled high with avos. But, if you can hold back, the first taste of ripe avo next year will never have tasted so delicious.

Winemaking is not as easy a life as it once may have been. It’s a cut-throat business right now. Wineries are struggling to survive. Salaries don’t reflect the hours and intellect required to make it all work.

But, because our work ties us inextricably to the cycles of seasons, we can’t help feeling extremely privileged to be doing what we do.

We can’t help notice the shadow of autumn, because we’ve got malolactic fermentations to worry about. Our internal rain gauges were continually guessing and adding up the drops of rain as they fell in winter. Then the sexy angst of spring pushed addictive adrenalin through us. The harvest loomed and the days of the 2011 season have unfolded like an adventure.

I think the wines will reflect the wild ride. Those of us who were lucky enough to have a handle on our irrigation, and healthy vineyards to work with, will make some really exciting wines, maybe some of the best this century.

Comments on the harvest by other CWG Members:

Peter Finlayson (28.2.2011)
Timing has been of the essence and this year with Pinot noir being the first grapes to the cellar! My analogy for 2011 is that of sailing a racing yacht in ever changing strong winds and turbulent seas. All manner of tricky weather and opportunistic bugs have been waiting in the wings to upstage this event.

Jeff Grier (7.3.2011)
We had an early start, on the 10th of January, as you would expect in a hot vintage. As usual we celebrated the new vintage with our St. Vincent’s day celebration. Jean Louis Denois our bubbly guru was out from France and great fun was had by all. Some of our staff and guests ended up with a grappa tasting which was instigated by the younger members of our winemaking team.

The harvest has proceeded smoothly albeit at a pace due to the above average temperatures. The conditions have been ideal for the generation of solar energy and our 2011 harvest has been largely powered by free electricity.

Teddy Hall (10.3.2011)
Most grapes in by now. The grapes are healthy with bunches and grapes slightly smaller than average, leading to a bit smaller crop. Rain stayed away during harvesting days making it an easy harvest. The Chenin blanc quality is very good and the reds show sufficient colour at this stage.

Carel Nel
Very good colour on the red wine and Ports with intense rich fruit flavours. The ripening is slower than the last year and riper tannins.

Danie Steytler
The winter of 2010, brought very little rain. June was wet, but July and August rainfall was well below the average. Sufficient cold temperature was experienced. Good rains in November resulted in good canopy growth.

After a below average rainfall during the winter of 2010, we enjoyed a cool summer, with some rain until late November, after which we had strong winds in December and heat waves in January and February.

Moisture reserves in the soil were below average, but the rains in October and November resulted in the growth of good canopies.

A late harvest was expected, but the windy dry conditions of December, together with the heat waves and drought of January and February, brought the harvest forward in the Stellenbosch, Paarl and Malmesbury areas.

This heat wave at the end of January and February, could rob the white wines of flavour and aroma, but it is still too early to see.

The drier conditions could result that the red wines of Stellenbosch, Paarl and Malmesbury, be of exceptional good quality this year, having a lot of concentration of flavour and colour, due to the smaller berries of the fruit.

Ripening tempo is slow this year and there is less pressure on us winemakers to bring this smaller crop in, and we have more time to do more effort, to make better wine.

Winemakers and viticulturists are satisfied with the quality of the grapes that have been crushed so far.

Grapes are generally healthy with good analyses, and at this stage the quality of red cultivars in particular appears to be excellent.

After two small harvests in the Stellenbosch, Paarl and Malmesbury areas, there was a lot of reserves built up in the vines, and the farmers were optimistic that the 2011 harvest would be a good one, but we received no periodic rains in December until March, and the harvest seems to be disappointingly small due to not much moisture reserves in the soil.

2011 Harvest Report
April 2011 by Bruce Jack, Cape Winemakers Guild

Pol Roger to be served at William and Kate’s Wedding

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

As the world’s media goes gaga with reports of Friday’s royal wedding, the importance for South Africa’s wine farmers cannot be underestimated. For when Wills ascends the throne, he will be the largest vineyard owner in the world.

The New Statesman reported in March that Willy’s grandma QEII is the largest landowner in the world with 6.6 billion acres out of a global tally of 37 billion. For she literally owns the world’s second largest country Australia (if you include Australian parts of Antarctica) and third largest (Canada) and the fabulous vineyards of New Zealand and southern England.

If it wasn’t for HF Verwoerd, she’d also own SA and its vineyards and thus be not only seigneur of the largest vineyard spread, but also the best. What a brand opportunity: Colonial Wines, a vineyard on which the sun never sets. Cecil John Rhodes would have been proud. Some possible brands: Imperial Icon, Britannia Blend, English Elegance.

For while Nicole Kidman’s family may think they own the Aussie outback, as the New Statesman points out “the Kidmans cannot ‘own’ land in Australia; only the Queen does so there. What the Kidmans possess is a mixture of specific Crown leases for fixed periods of time and freehold leases for indefinite periods.” It’s the same story in Canada and New Zealand. QEII is queen of 32 countries and owns the largest land empire in history.

The news, vouchsafed by Decanter magazine, that Pol Roger is to be served at the nuptials is a kick in the teeth of English fizz makers of the scale of Jacob Zuma serving Moët at his inauguration and Thabo Mbeki being an unofficial brand ambassador for Johnnie Walker during his tenure in the top job. But at least Jacob doesn’t drink, while Wills has been known to sink a few with his mates.

Article by Neil Pendock

Klein Constantia goes back to cork closures | Beaumont House

Posted by peter | Articles | Posted on April 25th, 2011

Top South African vineyard Klein Constantia has decided to go back to using natural cork for its premier wine Perdeblokke Sauvignon Blanc – because of fears of the wine developing sulphide characters under screwcap.

The Perdeblokke Sauvignon Blanc spends almost 10 months on the lees before bottling – and a further 10 months in bottle before release.

Adam Mason, Klein Constantia’s head winemaker said: “With this style of maturation, there is a higher risk of developing sulphide characters, which – in my opinion – is exacerbated even further under screw cap.

“However, I have not experienced this problem since using cork as a closure. We originally switched to screw cap because of the unacceptably high failure rate of cork back then. But over the last few years I have seen a marked improvement in cork’s performance, so feel the low risk of cork failure more than compensates for the inevitable development of slightly reduced characters in this wine when closed under screw cap.”

Commenting on this important development for fine white wines, Carlos de Jesus, head of communications for cork supplier Amorim, said: “Recent product development now enables us to offer the very best in performance and customer quality expectation. And research by Bordeaux University proves just how well today’s natural cork stoppers seal white wines, as well as red, and also how vital the micro-oxygen transfer is to maturing a wine.”

“In addition, being 100% natural, recyclable and biodegradable, cork closures play a key role in a winery’s sustainability credentials.”

Written by Gemma McKenna

Vriesenhof 2010 Chardonnay has a smooth and creamy mouth feel

Posted by peter | Articles | Posted on April 22nd, 2011

 

At Vriesenhof, the art of winemaking is a fascinating journey that begins in the vineyards and ends with the enjoyment that accompanies a raised glass. Follow this journey and you will most certainly pause for reflection in the solitude of the Vriesenhof cellars. Here, traditional wood maturation methods combine effortlessly with modern fermentation processes. Add to this an ageing process that takes place in a setting disturbed only by the patient ticking of the clock and the artistry of the winemaker at work and you’ll soon understand why Vriesenhof consistently delivers wines of true Stellenbosch origin.

‘One’s footsteps must be in the soil,
you must understand the soil,
the plant and the climate.’
Jan ‘Boland’ Coetzee

The Chardonnay 2010

The wine reveals a citrus and lime nose with a chalky minerality and a hint of gooseberries. The wine shows crisp minerality with fresh lime and lemon notes on the palate. This elegant wine has a smooth and slightly creamy mouth feel and a complexity of fruit that lingers on the crisp finish.

This wine was tasted at the recent TvM wine event held at Auslese, with food pairings prepared by Harald Bresselschmidt. It is somewhat softer than the ’08 due to the use of second and third fill barrels – but no less enjoyable!

Dombeya’s attention to detail in the Vineyard delivers results

Posted by peter | Articles | Posted on April 21st, 2011

Why Dombeya?

Dombeya Wines are created in the very heart of Stellenbosch, the spiritual home of South African wine. Our hand crafted wines reflect the passion we have for this region and are a faithful representation of the place where they were born.

The Dombeya tree is native to South Africa, with extraordinarily beautiful flowers that bring South Africa’s spring season to life . Dombeya trees are dotted around our vineyards, their cycle of regeneration and renewal a fitting symbol of modern day South Africa.

Dombeya is a part of a country that is evolving and changing, each year growing into its new, dynamic, modern identity.

Winemaking

The wines of Dombeya are made by Rianie Strydom, one of South Africa’s most celebrated winemakers. Since commencing winemaking duties at Dombeya in 2005, her wines have won numerous awards and gold medals, including a Veritas Awards Double-Gold Medal in 2007 for the 2005 Boulder Road Shiraz.

Here is a short video which shows their attention to detail in making sure the vines deliver the best possible fruit!

The Top 100 South African Wines? Probably not!

Posted by peter | Articles | Posted on April 20th, 2011

Top 100 SA wines? Well, not quite

The latest competition for South African wines – and perhaps the most widely unwelcomed in the media in advance, for right and wrong reasons – announced its results at a function on 19 April. One hundred wines had been chosen out of a just-about respectable 390 valid entries. They are presented without any internal hierarchy – just an alphabetical list (from Aaldering to Zorgvliet; see the full list below), with no scores attached. That is, the judges’ task was to elimate just under three out of each four bottles.

Looking positively at it all (and I’m afraid I’m always a competition sceptic, and more convinced by the problems), the 100 winners are mostly good wines, though there are a few that one wonders about – but there always are anomalies in such competitions. Personally, I think it much more sensible to offer a bank of winners like this, rather than parcelling out medals and rankings, which just tend, too often, to point to the problem of odd judgements. And certainly most of the winning producers will prefer this system. (The also-ran wines are always carefully catered for by organisers, who never mention them – this competition abides by that universal bit of organiser cynicism: don’t reveal the losers, it makes producers unhappy!)

And, going by what various judges have told me, Top 100 was clearly a well-organised and happy event. Panel chair Tim Atkin is quoted as saying that “Top 100 SA wines is one of the most exciting projects I have ever been involved with, setting new standards of professionalism and integrity for the Cape wine industry” (which is surely somewhat excessive, and grossly unfair to, for example, the Trophy Wine Show – but I should think he’ll be invited back next year, wouldn’t you?).

On the basis of what it has produced in its inaugural year, I should also think owner/organiser Robin von Holdt will be well satisfied, and feel entitled to expect a better entry next year.

Presumably some of the strange inclusions in the Top 100 list are because of the fairly small number of entries, but some of the inclusions and presumed exclusions are odd. Not a single Pinot Noir, though nine were apparently entered, and would presumably have included those of Bouchard Finlayson and Paul Cluver. The idea that those wines are not superior to some of the actual winners is baffling, even if you don’t think SA pinots are that great (but are our merlots that great? – not the Creation and Slaley ones, in my opinion, which are on the list, and which I tasted at the launch function).

And (also presumably), Steenberg would have entered the esteemed Steenberg Sauvignon Blanc Reserve, if not the Magna Carta – but it was the pretty modest Steenberg HMS Rattlesnake which the judges chose.

Top-performing producers were Saronsberg and Cederberg; between them they apparently produce one tenth of the top 100 wines in the country.

Incidentally, an overview of the winners shows a pretty equal distribution between white and red: 46 white (plus seven bubblies and dessert wines) versus 43 red (plus four ports). The white triumph is more marked, however, when you learn from the statistics supplied in the book that there were vastly more red than white table wines entered – 222 as opposed to 143!

Of the whites, chenin was the easy leader, which is nice, followed by sauvignon and then chardonnay. The reds were led pretty equally by cabernet sauvignon, shiraz, and Bordeaux-style blends.

So to the real problems

The main problem is what the main problem was always going to be: the name of the competition, and the words that appear on the cover of the book. They come nowhere near expressing the truth. Which is a polite way of saying it’s a lie: these are by a very long distance not the top 100 South African wines. Just to list the most obvious absentees, it is nonsense to call your book this, when the non-appearances include Ataraxia, Boekenhoutskloof, Chamonix, De Toren, De Trafford, Eagles’ Nest, Haskell, Kanonkop, Meerlust, Morgenster, Sadie, Vergelegen and Waterford – a list which could be augmented by at least as many again famous names.

The list of a Top 100 that Angela Lloyd drew up for Grape from the votes of nine industry professionals recently (see here) is obviously not definitive by any means, but it does provide a useful measure for comparison. Of the ten wines that ALL nine Grape panellists voted for, only three are represented here. Of the producers in Angela’s list, 48 (by my rough count) did NOT enter this competition, while just 23 did.

Is it a problem that wines of the two South African winemaker-judges came through? And that all the winemakers on Robin von Holdt’s absurdly named “Wine Industry Executive” were also represented amongst the winners? Perhaps it is a problem for the “professionalism and integrity” that so enthused Tim Atkin – and I say that in sincere confidence that the winemakers didn’t judge their own wines, and that Tim’s chairing and integrity would have been beyond reproach. But in the absence of any mention on the website or the press release of any independent auditors, it is going to make some eyebrows rise. (I will follow up the question of an independent audit as soon as possible.)

The book

The book-of-the-show will apparently only be available in the first week of May. At R149, it’s something of a disappointment, in fact. Apart from nice maps, a fragment of industry information, some background stuff about the competition itself, and a little this and that, it is devoted to presenting the winning 100 wines. Two pages for each (the book is about as wide as Platter, but a little taller, and thinner), including a picture of the label, and some widely-spaced information about the winery and the wine, to accompany the judges’ and winemaker’s comments about the wine. But a trifle oddly, amongst the welter of information, the acidity and residual sugar levels of the wines (important info for geeks!) is absent.

I most enjoyed, I’m afraid, the statistics and logistics about the competition – from the number of entries that were “declined” (15 of them – why? something else to follow up), to the number of water biscuits consumed (3600). Fascinatingly there were only 40 faulty wines, of which corked wine counted for 23; only four had brett, which is cheering. But none at all, apparently, showed the notorious burnt rubber, which, given that Tim Atkin and Sam Harrop were involved – both famous accusers of South African wine being full of that nasty character – is extraordinary. If we didn’t have Tim’s assurance about the integrity of the whole business, I’d have thought it was a bit of a misrepresentation!

The winners of the Top 100 SA Wines competition

  • Aaldering Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot 2007
  • Allèe Bleue Isabeau 2010
  • Anwilka 2008
  • Badenhorst Family Wines Red 2007
  • Bergsig Estate Cape LBV 2000
  • Bon Courage Jacques Bruére Brut Blanc de Blancs 2007
  • Boschendal Cecil John Reserve Shiraz 2008
  • Boschendal Reserve Collection Chardonnay 2009
  • Bosman Family Vineyards Optenhorst Chenin Blanc 2009
  • Bosman Family Vineyards Pinotage 2009
  • Bouchard Finlayson Kaaimansgat Limited Edition Chardonnay 2009
  • Cape Point Vineyards Isliedh 2009
  • Cape Point Vineyards Isliedh 2010
  • Cederberg Blanc de Blancs Brut 2006
  • Cederberg Sauvignon Blanc 2010
  • Cederberg Shiraz 2008
  • Constantia Uitsig Brut 2007
  • Creation Merlot 2009
  • Creation Syrah Grenache 2009
  • David Nieuwoudt Ghost Corner Sauvignon Blanc 2010 (Cederberg)
  • David Nieuwoudt Ghost Corner Semillon 2009 (Cederberg)
  • De Grendel Rubaiyat 2007
  • De Krans Cape Tawny Port NV
  • De Krans Cape Vintage Reserve Port 2008
  • De Morgenzon Chen Blanc 2007
  • Diemersdal Eight Rows Sauvignon Blanc 2010
  • Diemersdal Single Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc 2010
  • Dornier Wines Donatus Red 2007
  • Edgebaston Cabernet Sauvignon 2008
  • Flagstone Dark HorseShiraz 2007
  • Flagstone Treaty Tree Reserve 2010
  • Glenelly Grand Vin de Glenelly 2007
  • Glenelly Lady May 2008
  • Graham Beck Pheasants’ Run Sauvignon Blanc 2010
  • Graham Beck Bowed Head Chenin Blanc 2009
  • Graham Beck The Ridge Syrah 2006
  • Groot Constantia Shiraz 2008
  • Hamilton Russell Chardonnay 2010
  • Hawksmoor at Matjieskuil Saint Alfege’s 2008
  • Hermanuspietersfontein Nr. 5 Sauvignon Blanc 2009
  • Jordan Chardonnay 2009
  • Jordan Chenin Blanc 2009
  • Ken Forrester Reserve Chenin Blanc 2010
  • Klein Constantia Cabernet Sauvignon 2008
  • Klein Constantia Vin de Constance 2006
  • L’Avenir Grand Vin Chenin Blanc 2008
  • La Motte Pierneef Shiraz Viognier 2008
  • Le Riche Cabernet Reserve 2007
  • Longridge Chardonnay 2008
  • Miles Mossop Wines Saskia 2009
  • Mulderbosch Barrel Fermented Chardonnay 2007
  • Mvemve Raats de Compostella 2007
  • Nick & Forti’s Shiraz 2006 (Saronsberg)
  • Nick & Forti’s Viognier 2008 (Saronsberg)
  • Neethlingshof Estate The Owl Post 2009
  • Oldenburg Vineyards Cabernet Franc 2008
  • Oldenburg Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon 2008
  • Oldenburg Vineyards Syrah 2008
  • Overgaauw Cape Vintage Port 1998
  • Paul Cluver Chardonnay 2009
  • Paul Cluver Noble Late Harvest Riesling 2010
  • Paul Cluver Sauvignon Blanc 2010
  • Quoin Rock Nicobar 2009
  • Quoin Rock Oculus 2007
  • Raka Biography Shiraz 2008
  • Rickety Bridge The Bridge 2008 (Cabernet Sauvignon)
  • Rijk’s Private Cellar Chenin Blanc Reserve 2007
  • Rijk’s Private Cellar Pinotage Reserve 2007
  • Rijk’s Private Cellar Touch of Oak Chenin Blanc 2009
  • Rustenberg John X Merriman 2008
  • Rustenberg Peter Barlow 2007
  • Saronsberg Full Circle 2008
  • Saronsberg Provenance Rooi 2009
  • Saronsberg Shiraz 2008
  • Saxenburg Private Collection Shiraz 2006
  • Simonsig Chenin Avec Chêne 2009
  • Simonsig Cuvée Royale 2005 Brut
  • Simonsig Frans Malan 2005
  • Simonsig Pinotage Redhill 2007
  • Slaley Merlot 2006
  • Spier Private Collection Chenin Blanc 2009
  • Stark-Condè Wines Three Pines Cabernet Sauvignon 2008
  • Steenberg HMS Rattlesnake Sauvignon Blanc 2010
  • Steenberg Vineyards Semillon 2010
  • Stellenrust 46 Chenin Blanc 2010
  • Sumaridge Wines Maritimus 2009
  • Teddy Hall Wines Blanc de Blancs 2005 Brut
  • Teddy Hall Wines Chenin Blanc Reserve 2009
  • The Bernard Series Old Vine Chenin Blanc 2009 (DGB)
  • The Bernard Series Whole Bunch Grenache/Viognier 2010 (DGB)
  • Tokara Director’s Reserve Red 2007
  • Tokara Director’s Reserve White 2009
  • Tormentoso Old Vine Chenin Blanc 2010 (MAN Vintners)
  • Tormentoso Syrah & Mourvedre 2009 (MAN Vintners)
  • Uva Mira Red Blend 2006
  • Vondeling Babiana 2008
  • Vuurberg Wines White 2010
  • Webersburg Cabernet Sauvignon 2004
  • Zorgvliet Five-Thirty-Five 2010 (Sauvignon Blanc)
  • Zorgvliet Sauvignon Blanc 2010

Article written by by Tim James on 19 April, 2011

Riesling losing its way in South African Viticulture?

Posted by peter | Articles | Posted on April 19th, 2011

The fortunes of Riesling, the grape of nobility and finesse, are going from strength to strength in its “home country” of Germany, but there are signs it may be losing its way a little in South Africa, where its identity is becoming unfocused despite some very strong support from classic winemakers.

Riesling’s aromatic subtlety, racy acidity and gracious ageing potential, ought to make it a stand-out varietal, but wine makers in South Africa are reducing their cultivation of the grape, even though the grape is easily vinified into a number of styles and the wine has the appeal of being an unusual varietal locally.

The decline in the grape is doubly ironic, since German Rieslings are gaining the kind of renown normally associated with classic French styles.

Its also ironic since Riesling has a strong, core following among some of the most accomplished wine makers in South Africa, and has a devoted following among a faithful group of local wine drinkers.
Many wine makers consider Riesling to be a great alternative to Sauvignon Blanc, unwooded Chardonnay or even Pinot Grigio providing something a bit unconventional for wine drinkers who have become slightly jaded with the “regular” tastes and varietals.

Some of the makers of the “gentil aromatique” are De Wetshof, Klein Constantia, Nederburg, Ross Gower, Thelema and Fairview who make dry Rhine or Weisser Riesling locally. The makers of off-dry, semi sweet or sweet Riesling include Rietvallei, Woolworths (from Villiera), Villiera, Paul Cluver, Jordan, Buitenverwachting, Deetlefs, Hartenberg. Some Rhine/Weisser Riesling producers change their style from vintage to vintage.

The key taste of Riesling is described as “aromatic”, and it’s that spicy freshness combined with satisfying fruit which varies from limy to dried apricots that makes the grape so popular among sophisticated wine makers and drinkers.

It’s increasingly becoming clear that the varietal can last for much longer than was previously thought. Wine authority Jancis Robinson declared a few months ago that “Good German Riesling should and can be kept as long as red Bordeaux”.

Last year at the world’s largest trade fair for Riesling wines in Germany, the VDP Weinboerse, 270 Grosse and Erste Gewaechse from the 2009 Riesling vintage were presented. Excellent Riesling vintages of this decade are 2007, 2008 and 2009.

In South Africa it does not seem as though the grape presents the same potential, although this might be because it just is not planted as widely. It is also quickly dropping off the list of wines produced, and old vines being uprooted in favour of noble red varietals as well as familiar white varitials.

Riesling in South Africa
18 April 2011 by Kristina B, Wild Yeasts Wine Club

Culturally Appropriate Tasting Notes – or CATs for short!

Posted by peter | Articles | Posted on April 18th, 2011

Neil Pendock wonders why SA tasting notes are still stuffed full of inappropriate metaphors and similes. When did you last smell a tinderbox, eat a capsicum or use a toothpick fashioned from cassia wood? Time to follow the Chinese lead and embrace CATs (Culturally Appropriate Tasting-notes).

Simon Tam, recently appointed Christie’s Man in Hong Kong, is a new broom sweeping clean. His first housework chore is to give inappropriate adjectives used to describe wines destined for Chinese cellars, the flick. As he told Decanter magazine “many western descriptors – such as blackberry and blackcurrant, or concepts such as ‘forest floor’ – are so uncommon in China as to be meaningless.”

So “honey and toast” are to be replaced by sugar cane juice while “Jin-Mao tea, also known as Golden Hair, a rare tea with scents of undergrowth, mushroom, truffle, wax, honey, vanilla and tobacco notes” is a godsend for chatting about claret in Chinese. Likewise earthy notes, often a euphemism for slight cork taint, will be replaced by Chinese herbal soup.

But this is far from a find-and-replace exercise in MS-Word, for Simon wants to substitute the atomist philosophy of wine deconstruction with a more synthetic approach. Buddha rather than Derrida. “The idea will not be to highlight individual components, single flavours, in a wine but to take a more holistic approach, to talk about the integration of flavour. We are going to use the whole of the vast Chinese culinary repertoire.”

Although Jancis Robinson, advisor to the cellars of QEII, waves a red flag of caution. As she noted in the How to Spend it supplement of the Weekend Financial Times earlier this month, in the case of Lafite (top of the snob pops in the PRC) the “very dry, almost austere, racy, elegant style must be difficult for newcomers to wine and torture to drink with most of the food served in China.”

Nevertheless, Simon’s translation exercise is urgently needed in SA as most tasting notes read like a slow day in the home counties, full of received pronunciation and inappropriate metaphors, especially to the Kwaito-tuned ears of Sipho and Sibongile. Time to reclaim the winespeak thesaurus from the arthritic hands of pundits in Kenilworth and Parktown, now well past their sell-by dates. Besides, SA has a rich palette of appropriate flavour descriptors, from peppadews to suurvygies with bokkoms and biltong in between Heck Simba Chips (the ones that roar with flavour) even ran a competition last year to discover the lekkerest SA flavours. The winners were Walkie Talkie Chicken, Vetkoek & Polony, Snoek & Atchar and Masala Steak Gatsby, coming to a café near you, soon. For far too long, culturally inappropriate tasting notes have been a barrier to wine drinking for timid punters.

Another wrinkle on the oumensgesigte of traditional winespeak is highlighted by David J. Duman in the Huffington Post: language is a living thing and descriptors change over time. Take the famous Wine Aroma Wheel developed by Professor Ann C. Noble at UC Davis in California in the 80s. David comments “because the Wheel is so much a product of the 1980s California wine world, it’s about as useful for describing the aromas of wine in 2011 as a 1958 World Atlas is for naming countries in Africa or Eastern Europe. For instance, the Wheel has none of the now common mineral or saline descriptors used to describe the white wines of Galicia or the Adriatic and the tropical fruit category lists pineapple, banana and melon, but not guava or papaya. The list of now oft-used descriptors missing from the Wheel goes on: tarragon, graphite, pear, gooseberry, lime.

The descriptors missing tend to be the ones commonly used to describe un-oaked/non-malolactic white wines and lighter bodied red wines, styles not commonly available, discussed or analyzed when the Wheel was developed, but now some of the most rapidly proliferating wine styles available.”

With winespeak competitions the flavour of the month (the SA Wine Writers Award is being judged at the minute while Leopard’s Leap have a 60 word conservation back label competition running on LitNet) perhaps a progressive brand like Obikwa or Two Oceans will step up to the palate and sponsor a CAT. For Culturally Appropriate Tasting-notes are the first step to expanding the wine drinking sisterhood, and that can’t be a bad thing.

Article written by Neil Pendock

David Higgs resigns as Head Chef at Rust en Vrede

Posted by peter | Articles | Posted on April 15th, 2011

David Higgs has resigned as head-chef of Rust en Vrede Restaurant to take up a business offer in Johannesburg.

Since starting the restaurant on Rust en Vrede Wine Estate in 2007 with proprietor Jean Engelbrecht, Higgs and his team have developed the restaurant into one of South Africa’s leading restaurants, garnering various accolades in the process. Higgs will be running the restaurant until the winter break commences on 18 June. John Shuttleworth, currently sous chef at Rust en Vrede, will replace Higgs as head-chef when the restaurant reopens on 19 July.

“David will always be known as the chef who established one of the winelands’ finest restaurants as well giving the Rust en Vrede brand an added dimension of excellence,” says Engelbrecht. “I would like to thank him for his invaluable contribution and wish him well on his new career path where I am sure he will achieve the same degree of success he did at Rust en Vrede.

“Together with David, I have decided to appoint John as the new head-chef as his experience will ensure that our innovative and original cuisine, commitment to service excellence and sourcing of the finest produce will continue to remain at the heart of the Rust en Vrede offering.”

Higgs said his tenure at Rust en Vrede offered him the opportunity to realise his full potential as a restaurant chef. “As part of a fantastic team, I am proud to say that Rust en Vrede helped push winelands dining to a new level, and I have no doubt that Jean, John and the rest of the team will continue doing so,” he says. “Moving to Johannesburg from this environment is not an easy decision. However, the opportunity of being involved on a greater strategic business level within the food industry is one I feel compelled to pursue.”

Johannesburgers are in for some real treats in the near future. David will be dearly missed and we wish him all the best for the future. Good thing mountains can’t be bought and shipped to another province. Johannesburg might have gained a extraordinary talented new chef, but Cape Town still has the Table.

We shall have to wait and see how John does stepping into David’s extra large shoes! Good luck for the future, David.

 

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