Entries tagged with “Hamilton-Russell”.


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

*   The price of petrol will increase by 38 cents a litre on 1 January, taking the new petrol price to R13,20 at the coast, reports the Weekend Argus.

*   According to eTV News (another) new (national) liquor law will force all bars to offer free condoms and free drinking water!   A bartender interviewed said that he did not see it as his job to offer sex education!  In a related article, Hotel & Restaurant writes that other guidelines applicable to accommodation establishments and restaurants that are contained in the draft liquor legislation are that the minimum drinking age may be upped to 21 years; that condoms supplied for free must be tested for efficacy; that pregnant women may not be served alcohol; the street outside the establishments must be kept clean and no loitering outside is allowed!;  women with long fingernails and sharp objects such as nail files and scissors may not be allowed in on-consumption premises!;  and any noise linked to the establishment selling alcohol must remain inside the establishment.

*   Global digital agency Critical Mass has been appointed by SA Tourism to develop a campaign which will attract more UK tourists to South Africa, something that has been in decline in the past three summer seasons!

*   The next Stellenbosch Street Soiree will be held on 15 January, from 18h00 – 20h00, in the lower part of Church Street.  The cost (more…)

Springfontein Eats interior 2 Whale Cottage PortfolioIt was restaurant reviewer and now Platter’s  South African Wines 2014 publisher JP Rossouw who told me about Springfontein Eats outside Stanford, asking me at the launch of the wine guide whether I had already eaten there.  Having spent the past weekend in Hermanus, I drove to the restaurant on Saturday, finding a culinary oasis, with former 1 star Michelin Chef Jürgen Schneider preparing a lunch feast justSpringfontein Eats Chef Juergen Schneider Whale Cottage Portfolio for me!

I had booked for lunch and was the only patron in the restaurant, despite it being a long weekend.  The restaurant opened two months ago. Springfontein was bought by Jürgen and Susanne Schneider as well as by Johst and Jen Weber in 1994, then a cattle farm. The farm had belonged to David Trafford’s father in law, and it was suggested to them that the abundance of water, the terroir, the limestone soil, the nearby ocean location, the difference in daytime and nighttime temperatures, and the slope on the farm, would be ideal for wine production, which advice they followed and they started planting vines eleven years ago.   They were laughed at initially, being ridiculed for the ‘vinegar’ that they would be producing, but they have proven their critics wrong!   Springfontein is the oldest wine farm in Stanford.  They sold their grapes to Hamilton Russell and to Rupert & Rothschild initially, until they started making their own wines 7 – 8 years ago.

The road to Springfontein is not the easiest to find in Stanford, one driving down Stanford’s main road, and then turning left into Moore Road, and carrying on straight, the road becoming a gravel one and taking one to Springfontein 5 km along.  The road signs are tiny, not brown tourism ones, as I had expected.  Gravel roads are not my favourite, due to a childhood experience of a car accident on such a road, but the condition of the road was reasonable.

Three cottages on the farm have been transformed into guest accommodation, and the Springfontein Winery wine cellar was built.  The old homestead was transformed into Springfontein Eats restaurant, the most recent of the facilities on the wine estate to open.  I asked Chef Jürgen why he would leave a lucrative and successful Michelin star graded restaurant Strahlenberger Hof in Schriesheim they have run for 18 years,  (more…)

Cape Vintner ClassificationA new association of independent wine estates belonging to industry heavy weights was launched at Ellerman House in its new Wine Gallery yesterday. Cape Vintner Classification (CVC) aims to build our country’s reputation as a producer of world class wines, and to ‘promote the Cape’s distinctive site specific wines‘, according to a report in fin24.

The association’s mouthful of a name, which does not seem customer driven, has a logo which includes the date 1659, the first year of wine production in the Cape, and creates an identity and logo look similar to the VOC (Vereenigde Oost-Indische Companje, or Dutch East India Company).

The association was formed by Johann Rupert, owner of Anthonij Rupert Wines, L’Ormarins, and Rupert & Rothschild, all in Franschhoek, which wants to introduce an accreditation system which gives wine buyers confidence in the integrity of the wine and its origin. It is said to be an association of individuals rather than of wine estates.

Rupert is critical of bulk wine exports and the damaging effect it has on our country’s wine reputation, and about some members of WIETA, the agricultural ethical trade initiative of South Africa.  The standards set for CVC will be higher than those of WIETA and Fairtrade.

Membership costs R16000 a year, and a minimum membership requirement is (more…)

WhaleTalesTourism, Food, and Wine news headlines

*   Brangelina’s Miravel Rosé is the first pink wine to have made the Wine Spectator Top 100 exciting wines list.  This year South Africa’s Hamilton Russell Chardonnay 2012,  Ashbourne Sandstone 2008 (also made by Hamilton Russell), and AA Badenhorst Family 2009 are also on the Top 100 list.

*   Hartenberg is hosting its annual Riesling Rocks Festival on 25 January, with our country’s best Rieslings available to taste, paired with gourmet deli food. Hartenberg winemaker Carl Schultz is regarded as one of the best local Riesling winemakers.  Tickets cost R120. (received via media release via Smart Communications & Events)

*   Indaba will run over only three days next year, from 10 – 12 May, SA Tourism giving the ‘stagnant’ trade show in Durban a makeover with changes being implemented over the next two years.  The focus will be to meet and engage, rather than man large stands.  SA Tourism Chief Marketing Officer Jan Hutton will meet with the tourism industry in Durban and Cape Town next week, to share her plans for Indaba 2014.

*   Tony Romer-Lee is said to be leaving the McGrath Collection at the end (more…)

WhaleTalesTourism, Food, and Wine news headlines

*   Passengers want comfort when flying, and are prepared to pay more to secure this comfort on long haul flights.

*   Wilhelm Pienaar, Nederburg winemaker, led a tasting of the 56Hundred range at the residence of the South African High Commissioner to Kenya last week, oddly with entertainment by dancers from Botswana!

*   Kfm’s Breakfast Show with Ryan O’Connor and his team is broadcasting from The Rubens at The Palace Hotel in London, sister hotel to the Twelve Apostles, The Oyster Box, and Bushmans Kloof Wilderness Reserve,  all belonging to the Red Carnation group,  until Wednesday. (received via FIVE STAR PR)

*   The Beachhouse Red 2010 is the only South African wine in the ‘Wine Pick of the Week‘ in the Vancouver Sun.

*   South African born but London-based Chef Petrus Madutlela is a member of (more…)

Platter's South African Wine Guide 2014 'Aquamarine' EditionIt was a boisterous Diners Club Platter’s South African Wines 2014 ‘prize-giving’ last night, with a record 80 wines receiving the much-desired 5 star accolade, selected blind-tasted from double the number of 5-star finalists.  It was an evening that honoured publisher Andrew McDowall, and saw new publisher JP Rossouw in action for the first time.

A number of records were set last night, with the largest number of wines evaluated ever, at 7434, there being 49 new entries, and close to 900 producers of wine in the Guide.  After an absence, brandy and sherry-style wines were awarded again.

On arrival, sipping Klein Constantia MCC, a number of well-known winemakers and estate owners were visible, giving one a taste of some of the 5 star winners, including last year’s Winery of the Year winner Gottfried Mocke of Cape Chamonix, Mike Ratcliffe of Warwick, Razvan Macici of Nederburg, Anthony Hamilton Russell, Johann Laubser of Delaire Graff, and Ginny Povall of Botanica.    We commented that it was wonderful to see so many women winemakers amongst the top 5 star recipients!  Once we were allowed to enter the venue at the Vineyard Hotel, the wines were displayed in groups, for one to taste and to see the 5 star winners by their presence.

David Hughes sang the praises of Andrew, and his direct involvement with 29 of the 34 Platter’s Wine Guides.  He described Andrew as a man ‘massive in character’, who has a nickname ‘Grunter‘, who got himself smuggled into a Nederburg Wine Auction via the boot of a car when he did not receive an invitation, who fell onto a cannon at the bottom of the steps of the Mount Nelson when he slid down the bannister at his 40th birthday party, a man one can trust when he gives you his word, ‘and a hell of a good guy‘, warning JP that he has big boots to fill in taking over from Andrew.  There was roaring applause for Andrew.

Andrew looked well, and his dry humour was on full form, saying thatPlatter's Andrew McDowall Whale Cottage Portfolio the romance with Diners Club last year had led to marriage during the year.  He was full of praise for his ‘young, strong and virile’ successor JP.  He was proud that the edition was printed locally and not in Singapore.  He revealed the ‘Walker Bay blue’ cover, saying that they had considered calling it ‘Pendock sea sick’, which brought the house down!  He praised editor Philip van Zyl as the ‘most ethical man’, which led to applause from the floor. The 80 5 star winners include 7 brandies, up from 62 last year.  I asked Andrew what he would be doing with his time, and he said he wasn’t sure, but getting better at bridge is one of his goals. (more…)

WOSA Sommelier Cup Will Predhomme Whale Cottage PortfolioYesterday I spent a most entertaining afternoon at the Grande Roche hotel in Paarl, to observe the last phase of the Wines of South Africa (WOSA) Sommelier World Cup competition, the announcement and evaluation of the Top 3, and the awarding of the prize to the winning sommelier Will Predhomme.

The invited guests were the twelve finalists for the Sommelier World Cup, media representatives from the USA (I sat next to Rebecca Canan from the Terroirist Blog), Sweden, and Belgium, local writers, the local and international sommelier judges, and WOSA staff from its international offices as well as from its head office in Stellenbosch.   After a welcome glass of wine, we sat down for lunch at Bosman’s, and it was clear to see why this (more…)