Entries tagged with “Chamonix”.


Bouchard Finlayson Galpin Peak 2012 Whale Cottage PortfolioOn Wednesday evening I attended a special tasting of the wines of Bouchard Finlayson, a Boutique Vineyard according to its marketing material,  at the invitation of Janie van der Spuy of FIVE STAR PR.  It was held in the special function room upstairs at Mondiall, with Chef Oliver Cattermole and his team preparing excellent tapas dishes which were paired with the four flights of wines we tasted.

I have to admit that I have not previously stopped at Bouchard Finlayson on the R320 Wine Route in the Hemel-en-Aarde Valley in Hermanus, it being the longest standing wine farm in the area.  I was fortunate to sit next to Peter Finlayson, who has been at the farm for 25 years.  He studied Oenology (Chemistry was a tough subject, but he is grateful for the grounding it gave him for winemaking) at Stellenbosch University, which he followed up with a year at Geisenheim in Germany.    Of his class of nine graduating in 1974, only two have become winemakers.  Peter previously worked at Boschendal.  Only 22 ha of the 125 ha farm is planted to vine, Peter having bought it in 1989 from a farmer Bouchard Finlayson Peter Finlayson Whale Cottage Portfoliowho farmed with ‘mielies, sheep, and baboons‘, Peter said, at a time when the locals said that the valley was only suitable ‘for farming by poor Whites’!  The baboons are still there, he told me with a laugh!   The remainder of the land is covered with fynbos, and Bouchard Finlayson is committed to conserving and adding fynbos, and they joined the Biodiversity and Wine Initiative. Peter was the first winemaker to import Nebbiolo and Sangiovese vines, planting them in 1994.  His real achievement has been with Pinot Noir, known as the ‘Pioneer of Pinot Noir’, and now the whole valley is synonymous with the varietal.    Galpin Peak Pinot Noir is the flagship Bouchard Finlayson wine.   Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc also do exceptionally well in the valley. (more…)

WhaleTalesTourism, Food, and Wine news headlines

*   Wines of South Africa (WOSA) has announced that CapeWine 2015 will be held from 15 – 17 September 2015. (via Twitter)

*   Franschhoek resident Nolan Hoffman has won the 2014 Cape Argus Pick ‘n Pay Momentum Cycle Tour. (Via Twitter)

*   While online accommodation evaluations are much more responsibly handled, about half of travellers feel that a substantial part of accommodation reviews have been ‘manipulated, a Tourism professor told the travel industry at ITB, the international travel  expo which ended in Berlin this weekend.

*   The most child-friendly airports in the world, according to Travel News Weekly,  are Heathrow (number one on the list, and offers children play areas, a quiet room, and a game zone), Zürich (with child minders), Frankfurt (with boarding passes for teddies too!), Munich (with touch screen terminals to explain how an airport works, and German TV series shown), Singapore (with a Butterfly Garden, arcade games, a four storey slide, and internet terminals), and Chicago (with an interactive educational play area).

*   The flagship MCC Villiera Monro Brut 2008 won one of 20 Bacchus Trophies at the 16th Annual Taj Classic Wine Trophy (more…)

Constantia Fresh posterI was invited to the Constantia Fresh Fine Wine and Food Festival held at Buitenverwachting yesterday afternoon. It was a sold out fun event, 44 wine estates (not only from Constantia) presenting their 200 ‘freshest’ and most interesting wines, and chefs (mainly from Constantia) preparing food.

The entrance fee was R400 per person, and included as much wine tasting and food as one liked.  The tables were set out by region, with Constantia having the central stage around a massive oak tree in the middle of the large lawn on which the Festival was held.  It is always interesting to see how the wine estates market themselves in the relatively small space they have.  It was impossible to taste all the wines of all the wine estates represented at the Festival, and it was a pity that one did not receive a leaflet or information about each of the wines and wine estates at the Festival.  The Festival is the concept of wine editor, Platter taster, sommelier, and wine consultant Jörg Pfützner, who is known as a Riesling fan.

The Constantia Fresh Festival was preceded by two events on Friday: Jörg led a themed tasting with the interesting title: ‘If modernity is sexy, is tradition passé?’  This was followed by a four course dinner cooked by Chef Bertus Basson, paired with a total of twelve wines from the Constantia valley, which was held at Klein Constantia.  Yesterday the ‘walkabout tasting‘ allowed attendees to taste to their heart’s content, and to meet wine estate representatives, although most top winemakers were not present due to the harvest being in full swing. On its website, Constantia (more…)

WhaleTalesTourism, Food, and Wine news headlines

*   MasterChef USA is said to have been ‘cooking up a lie’, Chef Gordon Ramsay giving contestants cooking lessons prior to the filming of episodes, according to the revelations on the blog of a former contestant on the show.   The producers responded that each contestant has access to information and to training. ‘Each home cook is given professional training before the challenges to ensure they can cook something decent when they start recording’, it was written.   No such training has been given to MasterChef UK contestants however.

*   Minister of Tourism Marthinus van Schalkwyk has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with his counterpart in Saudi Arabia.  No further details about the agreement are available.

*   The Franschhoek Wine Tram has grown from strength to strength in its first year of operation, having added buses on two routes, and still running the Tram to Grande Provence and (more…)

WhaleTalesTourism, Food, and Wine news headlines

*   Graham Beck Wines has been appointed as the official MCC supplier to Cape Town’s hosting of World Design Capital 2014.

*   Wine writer Sherwin Lao from the Philippines, writing the column ‘Sip by Sip‘ for the Manila Standard Today, visited the Winelands of South Africa twice in 2013, and sings its praises, describing it as ‘a marvel to look at’, having visited Stellenbosch, Franschhoek, and Elgin.  He also wrote about its ‘surreal mountain views, quaint looking towns and unparalled God-given beauty’.   He was one of 14 international judges for the 2013 Michelangelo Wine Awards.

*   The Guardian writer John Brunton visited the Winelands as a guest of SA Tourism, and titled his article ‘South Africa’s Cape top 10 wine route, recommending Stellenbosch, Franschhoek, the Swartland, Tulbagh, and Wellington generally, and Chamonix, Glenwood, Nabygelegen, AA Badenhorst, and Tokara specifically.  He also recommended restaurants Franschhoek Kitchen at Holden Manz (before they lost their Chef Maryna Frederiksen, whom he mentions) , Fyndraai at Solms-Delta, and Readers in Tulbagh.

*   The growing popularity of craft beers in South Africa is highlighted by Voice of America. The popularity of the artisanal (more…)

Ellerman House Corkscrew Whale Cottage PortfolioEllerman House is one of Cape Town’s leading boutique hotels, and has one of the largest private art collections.  Now it has inaugurated a world class Wine Gallery in the basement of its newly opened Villa Two, with a record number of 7500 bottles of wine. Architect Michael Dennett of DV8 Architects created the unique space, which aims to reflect the more than 350 year history of winemaking in South Africa, and to create an environment of learning more about and tasting our wines.   It presents the Ellerman House wine collection as a work of art in itself.

Earlier this week I visited Ellerman House, and friendly guide Heike Gerntholz showed a group of us around the new Villa Two and its Wine Gallery. The 3 bedroom villa costs R50000 per night to rent, with its own butler and chef.  The Wine Gallery can be accessed by the guests in the villa, as well as by the guests in Villa One, and in the main building, via a separate entrance.  Villa Two guests are isolated from any noise made by the users of the Wine Gallery, we were told.

My focus was the Wine Gallery, and a hand-crafted stainless steel spiral staircase takes one down to it.   It is a vast temperature-controlled space, and a number of elements attract one’s attention.   The design of the very large  lights above the tasting table was inspired by wine glasses.  Behind the tasting table is a Ellerman House Terroir Wall Whale Cottage PortfolioTerroir Wall designed by Angus Taylor,  in shades of brown, orange, yellow, and beige, representing the soils of 100 local wine farms, including La Motte and Chamonix, each framed and named.   There is a massive bar counter made from a solid block of granite, with a hematite wall behind it, and a (more…)

Franschhoek Cap Classique and Champagne FestivalOne of Franschhoek’s most popular annual events is the Franschhoek Cap Classique and Champagne Festival, which will be held this coming Saturday and Sunday.  Close to 50 top Champagnes and MCCs (Méthode Cap Classique) will be available to taste, as is food supplied by Franschhoek restaurants.

The theme is ‘Black and White‘, with an emphasis on spots and stripes, and bubbly fans will be enjoying ‘The Magic of Bubbles‘ on what is forecast to be a perfect weather weekend. Not only will MCCs from Franschhoek be on show, but top sparkling wines from other regions  and Champagnes will be too.

Veuve Clicquot winemaker Pierre Casenave will be at the brand’s stand between 12h00 – 13h00 on both days. Other Champagne brands available for tasting are Billecart- Salmon, Champagne Guy Charbaut, Claude Beaufort, Follet-Ramillon, Piper Heidsieck, Thierry Lesne, and Tribaut.

The 40 well-known MCC producers pouring their bubblies are Pierre Jourdan, (more…)

Mullineux Mull9A renamed rhyming Mullineux & Leeu Family Wines has been created with the selling of the shares in the Mullineux Family Vineyards, owned by British business partner Keith Prothero, to Analjit Singh, owner of Leeu International Investments Limited.   The newly named winery may be on the lips of wine lovers when Platter’s announces its 5 star wines and 2014 Winery of the Year later this month, Mullineux having been a close contender for the 2013 Winery of the Year accolade, with three 5 star wines.

Mr Singh is a highly regarded Indian entrepreneur from Delhi, being Chairman of Max India Limited, with business interests in the healthcare and insurance industries, and who has bought three wine farms in Franschhoek since his son brought him to South Africa for the first time in 2010 to attend the World Cup, having fallen in love with the Cape. I had heard of him from MasterChef SA (more…)

La Parada Kitchen with Bull head Whale Cottage PortfolioDespite one of  the worst winters ever experienced by the Cape hospitality industry, most restaurants appear to have survived it. A surprise trend is the number of Mediterranean style restaurants opening, with true Spanish and Italian owners and/or staff. This list of restaurant openings and closings is updated continuously, as we receive new information:

Restaurant Openings

*   The Harbour House group has opened La Parada Spanish Tapas restaurant on Bree Street, with a subterranean bar/nightclub (above).

*      Café Puerto Cabo has opened on Loop Street, a Spanish eatery and men’s clothing shop.

*    The House of Machines has opened on Shortmarket Street, building motorcycles, offering good Evil Twin coffee, and serving very healthy food.

*   Orphanage Cocktail Emporium is opening Orphanage Club upstairs, with 1920’s style music by live performers, later this year.

*   Equus restaurant on the Cavalli stud and wine farm on the R44 has opened. (more…)

Four & 20 Cafe via The Pretty BlogNo significant events have been planned to attract visitors to Cape Town and the Winelands this winter, and it appears to be the worst winter ever experienced by the hospitality industry in the Cape.  A surprise is the number of restaurant changes, as well as the the movement of staff  between restaurants.   Given the poor winter business, many restaurants have taken/are taking generous winter breaks. This list of restaurant openings and closings is updated continuously, as we receive new information:

Restaurant Openings

*    Four & Twenty Café and Pantry has opened in Wynberg

*   The Crypt Jazz Restaurant has opened below St George’s Cathedral.

*   Orphanage Cocktail Emporium is opening Orphanage Club upstairs, with 1920’s style music by live performers, later this year.

*   Cavalli restaurant on the stud farm on the R44 must be opening shortly, as Carl Habel has left the Mount Nelson Hotel as Restaurant Manager and Sommelier to join the restaurant.

*   Shake your Honey is to open in the original Madame Zingara building on Loop Street next year, after renovations commence later this year, according to an iolTravel report.  The ‘vibrant spirit of India’ is to be reflected in the 5-storey building, with a theatre, markets, restaurants, and shops.

*   Burger King has opened its (second) Tygervalley branch. Branches at Cavendish and at Grandwest are to open soon. (more…)