Entries tagged with “MCC”.
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Thursday 12th December 2013 - Posted by Chris von Ulmenstein
I had been eagerly anticipating the opening of the Cavalli Estate on the R44 between Stellenbosch and Somerset West, its majestic entrance having been completed about two years ago, and having heard a number of times that Chef Henrico Grobbelaar would be heading up the restaurant. Its Equus Tasting Room, Gallery, Boutique, and Restaurant opened a month ago, and with its 54 thoroughbred saddle horses, and vine plantation, makes up the Cavalli Estate. It must be the largest Winelands tourism offering in terms of size and facilities offered.
Horses dominate everything at Cavalli, the Italian name for the animal, and the racehorse stud was developed while the Equus centre was being built. The stud is the main reason for the estate’s existence, and one passes the large stable building as one drives to Equus, with fynbos evident in the landscaped gardens. I had been invited to be shown around by mother and daughter Gundel and Annette Sogor from Gordon’s Bay, who had been to the tasting room before, but had not yet eaten at Equus. Arriving separately, we each shared how unprofessional the welcome at the security entrance as well as at the parking had been, and owner’s daughter Lauren Smith made quick work in having the problem addressed and the outsourced security men replaced.
The Equus building is vast, and consists of a massive art gallery, a boutique, (more…)
Tuesday 3rd December 2013 - Posted by Chris von Ulmenstein
Tourism, Food, and Wine news headlines
* The Airports Company of South Africa (ACSA) is planning to extend the runway at Cape Town International, to allow larger aircraft and more planes to land.
* About one fifth of accommodation bookings in the USA will be last minute, same day ones next year, made via smartphone or tablet.
* While European traveller numbers are showing a small 2% growth, the fact that they are taking more shorter and shorter distance holidays rather than long haul ones is worrying for tourism to South Africa.
* hotel.info has beaten TripAdvisor, British Airways, Expedia and booking.com in being named most popular travel and leisure website of the year.
* Cybercellar has sold a 24% share of its business to (more…)
Saturday 26th October 2013 - Posted by Chris von Ulmenstein
On Thursday evening 800 art lovers descended onto The Lookout in the V&A Waterfront for the opening of the first ever Cape Town Art Fair, the largest mega art exhibition ever held in Cape Town under one roof, with 40 galleries exhibiting 800 works of arts of 130 top artists. It was an excellent platform to enjoy the art of food, of visual art, and of wine art!
In a clever display design, the art galleries were given one, two, or three panels to display their artists’ work. While most pieces were described, I did not see prices, giving the exhibition a classy feel. It was more about meeting the gallery owners and representatives and connecting with them, based on the style of art they were exhibiting. Some of the galleries, auctioneers, and artists at the Cape Town Art Fair include Strijdom van der Merwe, with an exhibit at the entrance to The Lookout and having recently created an impressive exhibit in honour of Nelson Mandela outside the Stellenbosch Town Hall; Strauss & Co; The AVA Gallery; holden manz collection; Whatiftheworld Gallery; Frank Joubert Art Centre; Stephan Welz & Co; Erdmann (more…)
Saturday 12th October 2013 - Posted by Chris von Ulmenstein
While the weather was not very co-operative in offering Cape Town a sunny summer’s day yesterday, it was a fun and friendly tasting of 21 wines for the Chenin Blanc Association Summer Showcase of fresh and fruity Chenin Blancs at the Cape Grace hotel.
Twice a year the roughly 50 Chenin Blanc producers meet to showcase their two styles of wine, rich and ripe in winter, and fresh and fruity in summer. The functions are kept small, with an almost equal number of winemakers and writers invited, allowing a quality interaction between the media and wine representatives. The producers have a passion for Chenin Blanc, which is the largest wine varietal produced in our country at about 18%, yet is not yet well known locally and even less so internationally. Through the work of the Association, the standing of Chenin Blanc is improving, and its benefits of offering value and being an excellent food wine are increasingly becoming known.
In the absence of Chenin Blanc Association Chairman Ken Forrester, described as ‘resident winemaker in the USA’, and Vice Chairman Jeff Grier, who had just arrived for his harvest in France, the most charming Bosman Family Vineyards winemaker Corlea Fourie led the tasting of the wines. She represented Chenin Blanc to me – blonde, soft, sweet, understated, and gentle, yet tough when she needs to be! She fed back that 30 Chenins had been made available for tasting at ‘The Beautiful South‘ wine tasting of South African, Chilean, and Argentinian wines in London last month. Each producer had submitted their Chenin Blanc(s) to be evaluated by (more…)
Thursday 15th August 2013 - Posted by Chris von Ulmenstein
Tourism, Food, and Wine news headlines
* The Michelangelo International Wine Awards has introduced a new Platinum medal tier, and two Trophies, for best MCC, and for best ‘mocha style’ Pinotage!
* Depressing reading is the report about University of Stellenbosch Professor Trevor Britz’s study about the quality (or lack of) our country’s rivers, including the Eerste and Plankenbrug Rivers in Stellenbosch, which can significantly affect their use for agricultural irrigation.
* Spar is partnering with Shell in setting up Spar Express retail stores at selected petrol stations on a trial basis, in Gauteng, following in the footsteps of BP/Pick ‘n Pay, (more…)
Monday 12th August 2013 - Posted by Chris von Ulmenstein
On Saturday I was introduced to De Brasserie in Strand by Annette Beller-Sogor, whom I had met at an art exhibition recently and who lives in Gordon’s Bay. She raved about the excellence of the restaurant, and mentioned that it is owned by the Belgian wine family Van Almenkerk from Elgin. We found an unexpected European haven in a most unlikely town!
It was the most beautiful clear day, with the snow capped mountains of Somerset West visible from Beach Road. False Bay looked flat and one could even see Cape Point, the raised former Kaapzicht restaurant offering an excellent view. The restaurant exterior looks very modern from outside, but the restaurant name could be difficult to read, being partially blocked by beams. In smaller type size it states ‘Est 2012 by Almenkerk’, which one cannot read from the road. Having booked last minute, we were seated at the bar counter first, but were promised a table as soon as one became available.
De Brasserie is Joep van Almenkerk, who is a most amazing host, friendly, attractive, charming, attentive, and he makes one feel that he knew what was happening at each table, and that he made every (more…)
Tuesday 16th July 2013 - Posted by Chris von Ulmenstein
Yesterday we visited the Anthonij Rupert Tasting Room, one of two tasting rooms at Anthonij Rupert Wines, which previously belonged to Graham Beck Wines, and was bought by Johan Rupert from L’Ormarins next door, to enhance his access to water. Anthonij Rupert Wines has five wine brands, and 25 sub-brands, the largest range in Franschhoek, to our knowledge. Our invitation via PR consultancy Smart Communications & Events was to see the new tasting room and to try their new High Tea.
It was a grey wintry day, and the lit fire in the lounge was welcome and made the room cosy. Hospitality Manager Gidi Caetano, whom we know from her days as Manager of Salt Restaurant at the Ambassador Hotel, and then as GM of the previous French Toast Wine & Tapas Bar, explained the tasting room and company structure to us while we enjoyed the treats from the three tier High Tea stand, which consisted of scones, cream and jam, chocolate cupcakes, and candied orange and gooseberry tarts, prepared by Chef HW Pieterse and his team, beautifully decorated with rose buds, lavender, and pansies. We were served The Wellness Group teas, with its tea leaves in muslin bags. A range of flavours is available. One can book the High Tea with 24 hour notice, and organise a tea party to celebrate a special birthday, anniversary, stork tea, or just a special spoiling. The High Tea will usually include smoked salmon blinis, and cucumber, dill and horseradish sandwiches too. The treats offered change regularly, and could also include orange infused koeksisters, mini chocolate and hazelnut mousse pots, chocolate salami, and red berry tarts. Gidi told us about the herb garden growing alongside the manor house, with 32 medicinal (for educational use) and cooking herbs, the latter used in the food preparation on the estate. It was started from scratch a year ago.
Monday 8th July 2013 - Posted by Chris von Ulmenstein
On Tuesday last week a gathering of wine writers was spoilt with an invitation to taste the portfolio of seven Graham Beck Wines MCCs at The Westin Cape Town, followed by a sparkling lunch in the hotel’s Executive Club, pairing the MCCs and delectable dishes prepared by Chef Johann Breedt and his team.
Pieter ‘Bubbles’ Ferreira is synonymous with Graham Beck’s MCCs, having started with the company at its inception 24 years ago. He quickly earned the nickname ‘Bubbles‘, given to him by wine writer Melvyn Minnaar, and now wears the ‘branded’ shirt with his name on it! He truly is a bubbly character, and the passion for his seven MCCs comes to the fore when he speaks about them. The pay-off line for the MCC range has been ‘In Pursuit of the Perfect Bubble’, and is printed on the marketing collateral, representing Pieter’s quest to make the ultimate MCC. The brand has received outstanding international publicity as being the preferred sparkling wine of royals (served at the wedding of Swedish Princess Madeleine) and politicians such as the Obamas, who drank it on the eve of the President’s inauguration, and with President Zuma when the Obamas visited Pretoria ten days ago. In June Michelle Obama was spoilt with the bubbly, being on the menu for her lunch with Bono in his home town of Dalkey in Ireland. It was served at the inauguration of former President Nelson Mandela too. Prince Harry toasted his Sentebale Trust with Graham Beck earlier this year. Given the publicity, which was achieved without paying a cent for it, and the brand being the preference of such sterling customers, the pay-off line used now for the MCCs is ‘Graham Beck: The Crown of Celebration’. A crown has been added to the Graham Beck logo for the MCC range, looking as if it has always been there. (more…)
Sunday 23rd June 2013 - Posted by Chris von Ulmenstein
Graham Beck’s Méthode Cap Classique (MCC) has made headline news in the past ten days, when it appeared on the menu of a lunch hosted by Bono for American First Lady Michelle Obama, as well as on the menu of the wedding celebration dinner of Princess Madeleine and her husband Chris O’Neill, putting Graham Beck’s MCCs on a par with French champagnes in celebrating celebrity occasions! (more…)
Monday 22nd April 2013 - Posted by Chris von Ulmenstein
I would not have known about Sage restaurant at Chabivin Champagne and MCC House on the Blaauwklippen Road in Stellenbosch had I not received an e-mail from its Chef Jan Kruger, alerting me to their move to their new home. The restaurant also manages the tasting of the Chabivin Methode Cap Classique (MCC) wines, and its imported French champagne Guy Charbaut range, a sparkling pairing.
I arrived on a chilly and grey autumn day, but chose to sit outside to enjoy the peaceful garden with a view onto the Helderberg mountains. The garden is surrounded by bluegums, and has as its centrepiece a most unusual wire ‘tree’ which has bottles attached to it. Bistro style chairs at wooden tables reinforce the Bistro nature of this eatery, being a small restaurant with a MCC and champagne bar, its modest prices, and its French style cuisine. The restaurant is named after sage, one of the oldest culinary and medicinal herbs.
I met the owner Alison Cronje and Chef Jan in the lounge section inside the restaurant, with three comfy couches and a massive fireplace for the cold winter to come. They moved Sage to Chabivin a month ago, having experienced some problems from the authorities with their previous venue at Sweetwell Farm, which belongs to Alison’s husband Hendrik, who has been running a piggery at the R44 smallholding for 27 years, and supplies Sage with pork and beef. The predecessor to Sage at Sweetwell Farm was Nice, which was run by the very nice Anne and her late husband Chef Chris de Jager. To accommodate Sage, the Chabivin tasting room was transformed into a restaurant, and sommelier Justin does the Chabivin MCC and Guy Charbaut champagne tasting at the tables of their Sage guests, to bring out the pairing between the Sage dishes and the sparkling wines and champagnes. Justin was once a construction worker, became a barrista at the previous Sage, and completed his sommelier course at the Cape Wine Academy last year. Chef Jan started his cooking career at a kibbutz after school, returning to Johannesburg to work at Ile de France with Chef Marc Guebert (he now owns Le Souffle), who taught Jan to cook in the French style, and the importance of sauces. In the Cape he worked at 96 Winery Road and Eatwell in Stellenbosch, before joining Sage three years ago. I liked Chef Jan’s explanation of the restaurant operating seven days a week, saying that he did not want to confuse his diners in having to remember on which days they are open, a problem diners face with most restaurants! His policy is to offer ‘quality finer dining‘. He will be starting a vegetable and herb garden at Chabivin. Currently he sources from Wild Peacock, Nouvelle Mushrooms, and Steve the Magic Man. While the menu is changed regularly, some standards are never removed, so that the diners referred by others will get to try the favourite dishes.
The restaurant interior is painted purple, perhaps a colour symbolising sage. A parrot in a cage and dried flowers in the lounge section jarred in what could become a popular restaurant, given its excellent cuisine, and MCCs and champagnes. The restaurant seats 45 inside and 30 outside. Tables are laid with table cloths and material serviettes inside, while there are no tablecloths outside.
Bread is brought to the table in a woven basket, both unexciting. The menus and the winelist are typed on cream paper, and laminated. The Breakfast menu sounds delicious, with dishes costing R60 – R70, and including rosti, egg and bacon; a poached Frankfurter and eggs; Eggs Benedict; and Français Pain Grillé, with smoked bacon, avocado and honey. The A3 lunch menu is sectioned as ‘start…’, ‘inspired’, and ‘end…‘. Starters cost R45 – R55, and include ostrich carpaccio, Tunisian pork on bruschetta, Cape Malay curried yellowtail, and crumbed calamari. None of the main courses cost more than R120, and a mix of fish, meat, and vegetarian dishes are offered. Two pork dishes are available, the meat coming from Sweetwell Farm. The tender pale pink pork fillet I ordered was delicious, made so by the unusual brandy, cream and raisin sauce in which it was poached, topped with pea shoots, and I requested a spoon to finish every last drop. The shoestring fries were not fully cooked and were too strongly drizzled with truffle oil for my taste. Pork belly is served with a sundried tomato cream served with basil pesto couscous, which sounds delicious too. Other main courses are seared tuna, lamb burger on brioche, kingklip, chicken, duck, and rib eye steak. The apple flan dessert was made with the lightest pastry and sliced apples, dusted with castor sugar and sprinkled with almond flakes, was served with an unusual basil ice cream. Being a cold day, the ice cream could have been replaced with cream, to make the flan the hero, as the basil was fighting with it. Crème brûlée, chocolate fondant, meringue, and a cheese board are other dessert options, costing R50.
The Chabivin vines were planted two years ago. The estate currently buys in grapes locally, and its sister Guy Charbaut champagnes are made from grapes from three farms in France. Guy Charbaut’s sister Brigitte and her husband Jean-Pierre Abiven are the local owners, and the name of the wine estate came from an amalgamation of the two surnames. The prices of the Chabivin MCC and Guy Charbaut champagnes are the same in the restaurant as they are for sales via the Tasting room, a commendable pricing policy. Most of the wines are available per glass too. The Chabivin bubbles ‘linger for longer’, Chef Jan said. There are three Chabivin MCCs: The Mademoiselle Megane NV is made from 100% Chardonnay grapes, is bottle fermented, matured for 48 months, has a light sweet taste, and costs R30/R120. The Jean-Michel 2008 costs R35/R150, and is made from equal quantities of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, on the lees for 48 months. The Acléméé Semillon 2005 is unusual in being made from Semillon grapes only, and is bottle fermented and matured before degorgement for 72 months (R45/R210). There are five Guy Charbaut champagnes: Selection Brut NV is made from Pinot Meunier, Pinot Noir, and Chardonnay, lying on the lees for 36 months (R60/R380); Rose Premier Cru NV is 100% Pinot Noir lying on the lees for 36 months (R70/R410); Blanc de Blancs Premier Cru NV is 100% Chardonnay, and is aged on yeast for 48 months (R70/R440); Millesime 2000 Premier Cru, with 67% Pinot Noir and 34% Chardonnay, is left on the yeast for 48 months (R80/R500); and Memory 1998 Premier Cru is made from 100% hand selected Chardonnay grapes (R1000). The Blanc de Blancs and Millesime are available in a 375 ml bottle too, costing about R200, and as magnums. Commendable is that ‘Chabivin friendly‘ wines from the neighbourhood are also offered on the wine list, including Meinert, Guardian Peak, Ernie Els, Peter Falke, and Waterford Estate. Winemaker Hendrik Snyman came to say hello. He has worked for the family business since 2007, first in France, and now locally.
Sage is well hidden, creating peaceful country bliss with heavenly French-influenced cuisine and a good MCC and champagne range at affordable prices. I will go back to Sage, as Chef Jan is clearly a talented saucier!
POSTSCRIPT 25/4: We received this refreshing e-mail from Chef Jan in response to our blogpost about sage: ‘I just want to say A HUGE THANK YOU for the wonderful article you wrote & posted on Whale Cottage Blog. I saw it Tuesday morning and I was blown away by the in-depth writing and analysis. It was a true pleasure to have met you and I hope we cross paths in the continuous future. Thank you for honest comments; both the critical and the complimentary. Kind Regards. Jan Kruger. Sage Restaurant’
Disclosure: Chef Jan refused to accept payment for my meal and the MCC tasting.
Sage Restaurant, Chabivin Champagne and MCC House, Blaauwklippen Road, Stellenbosch. Tel (021) 880-1643. Sage Facebook page www.chabivin.co.za Twitter:@Chabivin No Twitter page for Sage. Breakfast and Lunch Mondays – Sundays, dinner by appointment.
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage