Entries tagged with “Neil Pendock”.
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Mon 13 May 2013
The organisers of the 7th Franschhoek Literary Festival have attracted negative attention to the 2013 event, taking place this weekend, before it has even started, with the announcement last week that no South African wine writer was good enough to win this year’s South African Wine Writers Award, sponsored by Boekenhoutskloof’s Porcupine Ridge to the value of R25000.
Organised by Franschhoek Wine Valley Tourism (FWV), the media release to announce this slap-in-the-face news to all local wine writers did not offer any further explanation. What is not known is which wine writers entered the competition and why the judges John Maytham of radio station Cape Talk and occasional wine writer himself; BBC radio producer and author Duncan Minshull, with no apparent wine writing experience or wine knowledge; and Canadian VINES editor Christopher Waters did not find any of the entries to be of a high enough standard. The winner and first runner-up were to have been announced at Essence (hardy known for its winelist!) on Friday, as part of the Franschhoek Literary Festival. In its fifth year of the Award, past winners are Joannne Gibson, Norman McFarlane, and Tim James (who won twice). The Award recognises technical quality and literary quality, the Franschhoek Wine Valley said in its media release when calling for entries, having to do a reminder call, possibly due to too few or too poor quality entries received. Oddly the media release regarding the outcome of the judging appears to have been removed from the FWV website, and has not been sent by the PR agency of FWV, Smart Communication and Events, nor by its CEO Jenny Prinsloo, nor by the publicist Claire Richards for the Franschhoek Literary Festival, when requested! This may be due to the amusement with which wine whiner Neil Pendock has written about this state of affairs (e.g. ‘SA wine writers; From Bad to Bizarre’), the only wine writer who appears to have commented about the poor quality wine writing, as judged by the Franschhoek Literary Festival judging panel! Pendock cheekily suggested a course in wine writing for the Literary Festival after this fiasco!
The programme for this year’s Literary Festival is disappointing in terms of the quality and stature of the Festival, given the great authors who were invited in the past. Part of the reason could be that other Book and Literary Festivals have sprung up in Cape Town and in Knysna, since the successful Literary Festival was first conceived in Franschhoek. The organising committee too may be to blame, having become rather arrogant, as we noted last year when we provided feedback to Literary Festival Director Jenny Hobbs, which she responded to with a curt ‘noted‘, unlike previous years, when she welcomed and discussed feedback. Leaking information to her infamous daughter Jane-Anne Hobbs about a Blogging workshop proposal for the Festival we had discussed with Hobbs snr, and mocked on the now defunct Twitter abuse account by Sonia Cabano, further demonstrated the lack of ethics of the Hobbs mother and daughter. No surprise is the inclusion of Hobbs jnr on the Festival programme! Nepotistically Hobbs snr’s brother David Walters features in the Literary Festival programme too, with a ceramics exhibition ‘Words on Pots’ at his gallery! Noseweek editor Martin Welz has managed to organise the first ever Franschhoek Literary Festival side event, with a weekend workshop at the Protea Hotel addressed by ‘activist experts’ Richard Young on the arms deal, David Klatzow on criminal prosecutions, Shaheen Moolla on the destruction of our marine life, and Mariette Liefferink on acid mine drainage and radioactive fallout.
Going through the programme to plan my attendance, I found little to excite me on this year’s programme. Twitter has one session dedicated to the fast-growing 140 character communication form, with past speaker and Woolworths’ social media practitioner Sam Wilson (8550 followers), writer/editor Julian Rademeyer (3500 followers), and Business Report columnist Ann Crotty (6 followers and still has an ‘egg’ profile picture, demonstrating what a newbie she is at Twitter!). Blogging still is not recognised as a writing form by the Literary Festival organisers. Alexander McCall-Smith probably is the biggest name the Literary Festival offers, but its media sponsor the Sunday Times is offering Capetonians an opportunity to hear him speak in Cape Town later this week! Award-winning writers on the programme are Lauren Beukes, Christopher Hope, and Antjie Krog, with Jane Raphaely, Finula Dowling, Marguerite Poland, Hermann Giliomee, Tony Leon, and Melanie Verwoerd also being well-known.
Every year Christopher Duigan runs the Autumn Music Festival alongside the Franschhoek Literary Festival, and performs ‘Literary Liszt’ on Friday at 19h30, two Schubert-dedicated concerts on Saturday and on Sunday morning, and a free ‘Voices for Africa’ performance on Saturday evening, all performed in the Dutch Reformed church on the main road.
Despite the disappointing programme this year we are grateful to the organisers for putting on the event, and for most Franschhoek accommodation establishments and restaurants already being fully booked weeks ahead of this coming weekend. Attendees of the Literary Festival do not only enjoy attending the sessions, but also like interacting with each other at guest house breakfasts, and at coffee shops and restaurants in Franschhoek. Booking in advance is advised, as a number of sessions are sold out already. Excellent weather is forecast for the weekend.
Franschhoek Literary Festival, 17 - 19 May. www.flf.co.za Twitter: @FranLitFest R60 per one hour session. www.webtickets.co.za
POSTSCRIPT 13/5: We have received the following statement, written by organisers Jenny Hobbs and Sheenagh Tyler and sent by Claire Richards, the Franschhoek Literary Festival PR consultant, to explain the lack of a 2013 South African Wine Writers Award:
‘STATEMENT ON THE WINE WRITER’S PRIZE
The FLF wishes to clarify a few points around the 2013 Wine Writer’s Prize, which was not awarded this year.
· The prize is funded by the Franschhoek Literary Festival and presented by the CEO of Franschhoek Wine Valley.
· The independent judges for 2013 were John Maytham (South Africa), Christopher Hope (a South African who lives in France) and Christopher Waters (Canada).
· 20 submissions were sent to the judges after the deadline was extended.
· In 2012 there were 23 submissions. Several wine writers declined to submit entries this year, feeling that they had nothing suitable to offer.
· Submissions are sent to the judges anonymously. Two in Afrikaans were judged as such by John Maytham and Christopher Hope and translated for Christopher Waters.
· No payment is involved. The judges are thanked for their work with the offer of a case of South African wine.
· Their unanimous decision this year was that not one of the entries lived up to the expected literary and technical qualities of wine writing.
· The FLF is funded by Porcupine Ridge Wines and the Sunday Times, neither of which groups has any say in the judges’ decision, and ticket sales.
· A discussion will be held by the organisers and their advisers after the FLF about the parameters for the prize in future years.
· We warmly thank those wine writers who made positive suggestions in this regard and welcome further suggestions from wine writers.
· Contact details of more South African wine writers to add to our mailing list would also be very welcome.
Jenny Hobbs, FLF Director & Sheenagh Tyler, FLF Manager’
POSTSCRIPT 17/5: There appears to be confusion between the sponsor Porcupine Ridge and the Literary Festival organisers about the hashtag for the Festival. It has been confirmed that it is #FLF13. Porcupine Ridge appears to have printed all its marketing material for the Festival as #FLF2013! A much larger problem to befall the Festival is that one of its lead speakers Anthony Horowitz has withdrawn from the Festival in the very last minute! Franschhoek felt very commercialised today, with a massive bottle of Porcupine Ridge and many Sunday Times banners outside the town hall, the marketing effort of its two sponsors!
POSTSCRIPT 17/5: Sadly the Christopher Duigan ‘Literary Liszt’ concert in the Dutch Reformed Church this evening clashed with a wannabee Cat Stevens singing outside the church at the Night Market!
POSTSCRIPT 17/5: Neil Pendock has written another attack against the Franschhoek Literary Festival and its Director Jenny Hobbs , for insinuating that no local wine writer is good enough to win the prize. He suggests that each of the twenty entrants should sue the Franschhoek Literary Festival for the prize money of R25000, a total of R500000! What is ironic is that the Sunday Times is the media sponsor of the Franschhoek Literary Festival, yet its irreverent wine whiner Pendock is disparaging the Festival on the blog which belongs to the newspaper!
POSTSCRIPT 18/5: The Franschhoek Literary Festival is in further trouble - a documentary ‘Truth be told’, which Noseweek was to flight in a fringe event to the Festival this weekend, was stopped after the SABC lawyers served papers on its producer Sylvia Vollenhoven, who was to speak about her battle to get the documentary flighted. Earlier this year Vollenhoven flighted the documentary to a number of Noseweek reader groups in the dungeons of the Baxter!
POSTSCRIPT 19/5: Wine writer and PRO Emile Joubert has written an Open Letter to the organisers of the Wine Writers’ Award!
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage
Thu 18 Apr 2013
A long overdue visit to Bistrot Bizerca in its new location in Heritage Square was a surprise, both as it clearly is popular even on a rainy weekday evening, and because it does not live up to the expectations of a Bistro, despite having been recognised as Cape Town’s and South Africa’s Best Bistro on a number of occasions by Eat Out.
Eat Out itself appears uncertain as to whether Bizerca is a Bistro or a restaurant, having included the restaurant on its Top 20 Restaurant Finalist list in past years, as well as awarded it the Best Bistro Award as a stand-alone award on at least two occasions. Wikipedia offers the following definition: “A bistro (/ˈbiːstrəʊ/), sometimes spelled bistrot, is, in its original Parisian incarnation, a small restaurant serving moderately priced simple meals in a modest setting. Bistros are defined mostly by the foods they serve. French home-style cooking with robust earthy dishes, and slow-cooked foods like cassoulet, a bean stew, are typical”. This is echoed in Larousse Gastronomique, simply describing it as ‘a bar or small restaurant’. On the basis of these definitions, it is clear that Bizerca is not a Bistro, not being small, not having or being a bar, not serving much ‘French home-style cooking’ nor ‘moderately priced‘ dishes.
Bizerca (as it called itself when it first opened) opened in a most unattractive difficult-to-find motor car showroom-type building near SARS six years ago, and moved to its new attractively renovated home in the space previously occupied by Gourmet Burger on Shortmarket Street, which was closed down with sister restaurant Caveau by the bank in October. We went to the old location twice, the first time charmed by the fantastic service from co-owner Cyrillia, with her husband Chef Laurent Deslandes in the kitchen. Both were absent on a next visit, and the rude manager switched us off from returning. We were delighted to hear that he was not part of the move across to the new venue.
The restaurant can seat 60 inside and 60 in the courtyard. Tables are placed very close together, but on the cold evening it gave a very cosy atmosphere, but also made the room almost unbearably hot. The colour scheme appears to be black and white, judging by the mix of chairs, the light box on the centre passage ceiling, the winelist cover, contrasted with grey painted walls, raw brick work on some walls, white lampshades, white napery, and then a surprise orange pepper on each table. A surprise is the coloured design of the menu cover, and the strong green tops the waitresses wear and the strong pink of the waiters’ tops, not matching the black and white theme. Tables have white table cloths with a sheet of paper over them in Mediterranean style, and white material serviettes have an embroidered butterfly, which again does not match the almost pop-art decor theme. Cutlery is by Arthur Krupp, but is too small for some of the plates, sliding onto the base of the plate. Coarse salt and ground black pepper are in little jars with lids. Unimpressive bread rolls are brought to the table in a wire basket.
One is handed a scruffy looking menu with the winelist to follow, each with a plastic cover, and well-worn loose typed pages inside. The menu contains a welcome from Laurent and Cyrilla and an explanation of the name of their restaurant, followed by a selection of their signature dishes, including oysters with a Cape gooseberry dressing (four for R72, 6 for R105); I had the ‘duo of patés and rillettes‘, odd using the paté plural as it was one piece, with cornichon (gherkin) and pickled pear with an abundance of rocket, the pear probably being the best part of this starter, the rillettes being very salty (R65); raw Norwegian salmon salad with goat’s cheese, and a soy ginger and echalote (shallot) dressing, available in three portion sizes (R75, R125, R150), and a Chalmar beef tartare served with pommes gaufrette (crispy fried potato wafers). The signature main courses are Karoo lamb stew with sauteed vegetables and gremolata (chopped parsley, grated lemon rind, and garlic mix), costing R135; the braised veal shoulder served with carrots and asparagus, prune chutney, and a very generous broth of rosemary jus (R145) was my main course, the chutney being the most tasty part of the dish, the veal being very bland. Desserts (R50 - R60) offered were the apple tart and fine caramel ice cream (on the menu since the beginning), which requires a 45 minute preparation time, best ordered with one’s other dishes; a granny smith apple sorbet with Calvados; and a delicious and striking Valrhona soft centre chocolate pudding, a white chocolate crème brûlée (usually a caramelised custard and tasted as such, but described on the menu as containing white chocolate), and a raspberry sorbet; and a cheese platter. The Deluxe cappuccino was excellent.
A blackboard contains a greater selection of dishes and probably is designed to give more of a Bistro feel. The starters cost around R75, and were an organic tomato salad with fiore de latte and gazpacho sorbet; caramelised sweetbreads with porcini, parmesan, and a fennel sauce; a duo of yellowtail, avocado, wasabi, ginger and a papaya salad; braised oxtail stuffed brioche, pickled cucumber, green salsa, and bordelaise sauce; and a good lentil and duck minestrone a la Bizerca with confit duck alumet (described by the waiter as a puff pastry, but not found via Google or in Larousse Gastronomique), but was sans rice or pasta. My son’s main course of grilled beef fillet with fresh porcini, brussel sprout croquettes, broccollini, and bercy sauce (a shallot wine sauce) was the best choice of our table of three, but pricey at R175. Other main course options were a port pepper beef cheek, served with spätzle (the waiter forgot to bring it to the table), rhubarb chutney, and mixed organic carrots (R145); duo of springbok shank and impala loin served with sweet potato puree, spinach, roast plum, and a cognac sauce (R185); and a panfried fillet of kabeljou, potato gnocchi, green beans, broad beans, cherry tomatoes, and a tarragon sauce (R145). The only dessert on the board was a praline cheese cake with confit figs.
The wine list contains a number of options of local as well as some French wines. BYO costs R50 for wines and R80 for sparkling wine, and is restricted to one bottle per table. Tacky is the hand changed vintages on the winelist. Champagnes offered are Taittinger Brut (R100 per glass and R595 per bottle) and the Rosé (R129/R775), Billecart Salmon Rose (R1420), Taittinger Comptes de Champagne Blanc 2000 (R1996) and its 2004 Rosé (R3753). Villiera Brut (R45/R180), and its Rosé (R47/R190), as well as Silverthorn Cap Classique Jewel Box (R72/R365) are also offered. Shiraz options include a 2010 Andreas (R235), 2008 Tamboerskloof (R230), 2009 Zevensorg (R150), and 2010 Vins D’Orrance Cuvee Ameena (R300). French white wines range from R210 for Tavel Le Viognier to R622 for De Ladoucette Pouilly Fume; French red wines are available from R325 for Guigal Cote du Rhone to R 710 for Andre Perret St Joseph.
I am sure that it would have been a different experience had Cyrilla been at the restaurant (she seems to be there in the day and very early evening in the main). The front of house lady just ticked us off her list on arrival and showed us the table, and came at the end to check that we had enjoyed our meal, organising the bill. There was no one to check on our well-being at any stage of the evening, the waiters not even requesting feedback. Another waiter (not assigned to our table) wanted to remove a plate but did not ask, just gesticulating with a hand movement, and then left the plates on the table anyway. A lucky touch was having Thepo as our waiter, who remembered me from Cafe Extrablatt when I had done their review, having left them to return to Bizerca. If the customers of Bizerca are a reflection of the restaurant’s popularity and standing, then the presence of Chef Rudi Liebenberg from Planet Restaurant and winemaker Bruwer Raats on the same evening endorse this. Wine whiner Neil Pendock likes it too, as does Mariette du Toit-Helmbold, who appears to like splashing her seemingly generous Cape Town Tourism CEO entertainment allowance on lunches with friends!
Overall, it is hard to see how Bistrot Bizerca can have been awarded the Best Bistro Award, given that it is not a Bistro, nor how it has made the Eat Out Top 20 Restaurant Finalist list, not offering anything extraordinary in terms of its cuisine nor service! It is a cosy comfortable expensive comfort food restaurant, that uses some French terms to give it a French feel. As its PR consultant Ian Manley wrote: ‘The Bistrot Bizerca space is quintessentially Cape Town with the added advantage of Chef Laurent’s French cuisine!’
Bistrot Bizerca, Heritage Square, 98 Shortmarket Street, Cape Town. Tel (021) 423-8888. www.bizerca.com Twitter: @BizercaBistro Monday - Friday lunch and dinner, Monday - Saturday dinner. Bookings only.
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage
Tue 29 Jan 2013
The call last week by the Black Workers’ Agricultural Sector Union (BAWUSA) for consumers in the United Kingdom to boycott South African wines and fruit reminds one of apartheid days, when now-British MP Peter Hain was vocal about boycotting South African products in our dark days prior to the change in our government in 1994. Such a boycott could only worsen the situation for the half a million South African farmworkers, and is counterproductive to negotiating an increase in the minimum farmworker wage, and in the improvement in the general well-being of the farm workers.
The trade union federation COSATU is led by its Western Cape secretary Tony Ehrenreich, a known trouble maker and loud mouth who has regularly put his foot into his mouth in attempting to destroy our tourism industry, and is now focusing on destroying our wine and fruit (including apples and grapes) export business. Ehrenreich is a City of Cape Town ANC councillor, and one wonders why he does not do his day job for Cape Town, regularly having been seen in the past two months in De Doorns, the epicentre of the farmworker unrest, and why the City does not censure him. He and his trade union federation mates had to concede defeat, when the workers asked for the strike and unrest to be called off last week, as the workers were running short of money, not being paid for their days off whilst striking! Many say that the unrest was instigated by the ANC to make the Western Cape ungovernable, the province being in the political hands of the opposition Democratic Alliance!
Sensationalist The Guardian has led British newspapers in pushing for the boycott, and even ran an opinion poll about the topic, 59% of the poll voters supporting such a boycott, reported The South African.
Su Birch, CEO of Wines of South Africa (WOSA), wrote an open letter to the newspaper: ‘The coverage unfairly targets the South African wine industry and has the potential to do unimaginable damage to an industry that is working hard, through its support of the Wine and Agricultural Industry Ethical Association (WIETA), and also Fairtrade, to ensure the ethical treatment of workers‘. Ms Birch highlighted that the strikes were not connected to the wine industry, but to the fruit farming industry. She also reminded the readers of the newspaper that South Africa is the ‘largest producer of Fairtrade wines in the world‘, and that the WIETA initiatives are making ‘real, tangible progress that puts South Africa at the forefront of ethical, social sustainability‘. WOSA-antagonist Neil Pendock could not help but take a swipe at WOSA about the poll, yet admitted that he had voted against the boycott!
It is too early to tell what damage, if any, The Guardian poll and resultant publicity for the farmworkers’ cause will generate, and whether it will impact on wine and fruit exports, at a time when South African wine producers are facing tough times in generating sales in the UK!
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter:@WhaleCottage
Tue 8 Jan 2013
It was Tweets by Delaire Graff Chef Christiaan Campbell about Café Blanc de Noir at new Brenaissance wine estate that attracted attention to the new eatery in the Devon Valley in Stellenbosch, which opened just over a month ago, and it had been on my list of restaurants to visit when I received an invitation to visit last Thursday from Nicolette Waterford, the new Public Relations consultant for the wine and stud estate. Brenaissance is like no other wine estate. lt does not have any historical buildings, it is not owned by a known winemaker, it has no heritage nor history,and it does not follow the industry way of doing things, and therefore the owners say: ‘Expect the Unexpected’‘ at Brenaissance.
Owners Hayley and Tom Breytenbach have worked in the finance and property development fields, and initially met at a gym, their paths crossing a year later again. Tom moved down to the Cape, and wanted to realise his dream of owning a wine farm. Shown a property in a reasonably more affordable Devon Valley three years ago, the agent showed him a very run down 116 ha Highmead, which was a bulk producer of grapes sold to wine estates on 35 ha, with 14 varieties of plums produced on another 35 ha, and sold to Tesco. At that time its owner had been caught in a pyramid scheme, and was close to sequestration. Although originally interested in a property across the road, Tom was moved by the owner’s plight, and made him an offer to pay his creditors within 24 hours, then bought the property, and made the original owner his farm manager.
Tom and Hayley did their homework, tasting wines at the majority of wine estates in the broader Stellenbosch area, observing the inconsistency in the quality of the wines made on the wine estates, and noted that the passion a winemaker has for a varietal comes through in the quality of the wine. They also observed the speed at which many wine tastings are conducted, five wines offered for tasting in about ten minutes. They initially appointed a respected consultant viticulturist, but differing opinions led them to part ways, and Tom has done as much studying as he can, doing a Cape Wine Academy course, studying via You Tube, has been a garagiste, and asks questions of experts on the internet, being surprised at how generous winemakers from around the world have been in answering his questions, but found his local colleagues to be less sharing. Tom is a Pisces, and said proudly that he does not take ‘no’ for an answer from anyone! This led Tom to focus on growing the best quality grapes on his estate - he does not buy in any - and then finding the best available winemaker for each of his varietals, entrusting four different winemakers to make his wines at their respective wine estates. Another unusual aspect of the Brenaissance wines is that the varietal is not indicated on the front of the bottle, but is indicated at the back, the Breytenbachs wanting to build stand-alone sub brands, modelling their thinking on Boekenhoutskloof’s The Chocolate Block. The varietals grown on Brenaissance are Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Shiraz, Malbec, Petit Verdot, Cabernet Franc, Chardonnay, and Sauvignon Blanc. Adding the plums to the farming mix has allowed the staff to be employed full-time throughout the year. From 14h00 to 18h00 the temperature drops by 4 to 9° C on their farm, bringing structure to the fruit, Tom said. Most vines are 7 - 12 years old, but the Merlot vines are 22 years old already. Each wine price ends with an ‘8′, signalling luck for the Chinese. Brenaissance offers an open phone advisory service, whereby one can call Tom for a wine and food pairing suggestion. The customer club is called the ‘Blacklist’, and offers a discount on purchases, with free delivery throughout South Africa, and regular information. They will focus their marketing on connecting with wine clubs, to build on their members’ enthusiasm and infectious sharing of wine information and experiences.
Tom and Hayley love black and white and this has driven the interior design, the name of their restaurant, their own dress and that of the staff, the colours of their cars, and everything that they do, including the labels for their wines. In the range of seven Brenaissance wines, two are estate wines (Lady H and Lord T) with white labels, only available for purchase at Brenaissance, while the rest are wines that are to be distributed throughout the country, these bottles carrying the Brenaissance brand name, with the pay-off line ‘New Beginnings’, reflecting their reinvention of the wine estate that they bought. Hayley is a doodler when on the phone, and she has designed all the wine labels, and written all the clever back label copy. Tom is a planner and thinker, and does all his strategizing with spider diagrams. They wanted to create a different and interactive winetasting experience for their customers, and represented their seven wines in such a spidergram, which they encourage their customers to take home, and to share with others. Tom and Hayley are in the tasting room and restaurant most of the time, and help explain the wines to their customers. In a succinct way, they have summarised the key aspects of each of their wines, describing the taste of each, suggesting ideal food pairings, and highlighting the character and personality of each:
* Lady H is named in honour of Hayley, and is one of the two estate wines, with a white label. It is their Sauvignon Blanc 2011, made by Jasper Raats at Longridge. It is complex and fruity, appealing to all around a table. It is cost-effective for functions. Cost R68.
* Knight of White is the name selected for the ‘Liquid Gold’ Chadonnay 2010, this varietal doing well in the Devon Valley, being 90 meters above sea level, planted North - South on the wine estate, giving the vines consistent cooling in the afternoon. It is wooded, having spent ten months in oak, giving it balance, with some acidity and some minerality. It has notes of butterscotch, with a salty aftertaste. It pairs well with curry. It is also made by Longridge’s Jasper Raats. Cost is R 128.
* Lord T is a red blend non-vintage, but the exact ‘composition’ is a secret, containing four varietals and five vintages, Tom having done the final blend. Only 6700 bottles have been made, and only is sold at Brenaissance. The price is R78.
* Jack of Diamonds is the name of the Shiraz 2009, and this was offered with a small dish of biltong. It is deep, dark, and bold, with tannin structure, a good mouthfeel, and is smooth. Ladies like this wine in particular, Tom said. It costs R158. It is made by Suzaan Coetzee of nearby Clos Malverne. The back label describes the wine as ‘ Our medallion stallion’.
* Queen of Hearts is the name of the Merlot 2010, which is paired with Valrhona chocolate, which Tom referred to as ‘she‘. The wine costs R138. The back label refers to the wine as having had a ‘mid-vine crisis’, having been ‘nipped & tucked, nurtured & pampered to produce a re-born lady bursting with energy, style and wisdom…’.
* King of Clubs is the name of the Cabernet Sauvignon 2009, which Neil Pendock described as being head and shoulders above the rest of the industry, Tom shared. It costs R228, and is made by Nico Grobler of Eikendal. It has notes of eucalyptus and mint, and is big and bold, the ‘Deep Heat of wine’, Tom quipped. Only 2500 bottles produced.
* Full House is a Red Blend 2010, and is popular amongst the ‘Black Diamonds’ of Johannesburg, Tom said. It is a Bordeaux blend, with balance, offering notes of crushed figs, mint, chocolate, with a violet rose finish, and consists of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and a splash of Petit Verdot. It is their most complex wine, and costs R168. It won a silver at the Michelangelo awards. All the components of this wine have been assembled by Tom.
In just five months Tom and Hayley finished building Café Blanc de Noir, the wedding chapel, the wedding/events venue hosting up to 250 guests, with a boardroom added, a bridal suite as well as eight guest rooms, and a parking area. The couple was hands on, Hayley doing the architectural drawings, and both overseeing the contractors. They created three dams, with a filtration system, reeding up the river, and transformed from marshland. A water canal runs along the property, which one crosses via a bridge from the parking area to get to the restaurant and winetasting room, which is a long rectangular flat-roof building in black stained wood, with white umbrellas outside, and white light fittings inside. Outside one is greeted by a sculpture called ‘Renaissance’ (made by the same artist Toby Megaw that made the lady at the entrance to La Motte as well). Tom and Hayley are planning to build an art collection, and have already commissioned Greg Lourens to create a ‘Tribes’ series, to represent our country’s diversity. Hayley has used mirrors extensively, and the whole kitchen wall is mirrored, making the space look twice as big. Over the festive season they were contacted by a bride who had been let down in the last minute by her venue, and with two hours notice they took on her wedding with a party of 70. Hayley planted a ‘Feature Vineyard’ near the wedding venue, representing all the wine estate’s varietals. There is a bell hung in an arch, an innovative use of an umbrella stand.
Breakfasts were originally offered, but have been discontinued, as the demand for dinner is greater. Tom and Hayley decided to focus on pizzas, as they love eating them, and to move away from the fine dining offer of most restaurants on wine estates. They encourage their customers to eat the pizza with their left hand, leaving the right hand free to hold the wine glass. Pizzas are served in a square, cut into rectangles, (‘we don’t cut corners’, they say), on wooden branded Cafe Blanc de Noir boards. Herbs are still bought in daily, but they have started planting their own. Given Tom’s high finance background, it was a surprise when he prayed to bless our meal. All the pizza bases are thin, and are rosemary-infused, as they had discovered in a pizzeria in Florence. We shared three pizzas amongst five of us: biltong, sweet fig, Danish feta, avocado, and mixed greens, topped with a balsamic drizzle (my favourite); a cajun chicken with chorizo, red onion, mushrooms, mixed greens and chilli infused oil; and an aged Parma ham, garlic rosa tomatoes, avocado, mixed greens, Parmesan shavings, and pesto olive oil, all costing R75. There is also a caramelised onion, olive and feta option, a margherita, and a ‘hole some option’, with a centre removed and replaced with salad. We also shared a fresh oak smoked salmon trout salad (R70). For dessert there is a limited choice of carrot cake, meringue, and a delicious non-chocolate Florentine. The cappuccino was excellent, made as requested. The wines are sold at tasting room prices per bottle as well as by glass (except for the King of Clubs, which is available by bottle only), at R20 - R45 per glass. Stellenbrau craft beer made close by is sold as well, at R20 for 340ml, and R25 for 500ml.
Brenaissance has become an impressive ‘gateway’ to the Devon Valley, and no doubt will grow in stature as Tom and Hayley Breytenbach grow their offering, with new wine varieties added (there is talk of a Blanc de Noir, to be called the ‘Ace of Spades‘, and a sparkling wine), they grow their own herbs for the restaurant, and they become a sought after wedding and event destination. As if they do not have a big enough portfolio already, they have just brought in the first Kenyan Boran cattle, a small but hardy breed. Everything which Tom and Hayley do at Brenaissance they do with passion for their land and project, and not because they have to make money out of it!
Disclosure: The media pack included a bottle each of the Queen of Hearts, Jack of Diamonds, and Full House
Café Blanc de Noir, Brenaissance Wine and Stud Estate, Devon Valley, Stellenbosch. Tel 0828574289 www.brennaissance.co.za Twitter: @BrennaissanceSA Wednesday - Saturday 11h00 - 22h00, Sunday 11h00 - 17h00.
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage
Tue 13 Nov 2012
Cape Town Tourism has the mandate to market Cape Town as a tourist destination. One wonders why its Communications and PR Manager Skye Grove did the PR for the ‘100 Women 100 Wines’ event held at the Table Bay Hotel on Saturday, when the event was not organised by Cape Town Tourism, and was a commercial venture which received sponsorship from Ultra Liquors!
Last year the event with the same name was criticised by the wine industry for its lack of credibility, for its sighted evaluation of the wines, even though sighted wine judging critic Neil Pendock was the co-organiser then too, for being ‘frivolous, patronising, and a joke’, and for its zero tourism impact. We asked then already why Cape Town Tourism had paid R20000 to the organisers of the event, which had no tourism benefit, having been heavily focused on attracting ‘Black Diamonds’ from Johannesburg. Last year the event was held over two days at the V&A Hotel, Tops at Spar being the main sponsor, and the 100 ladies were spoilt with dinner, lunches, and overnight accommodation.
One wonders then why Cape Town Tourism is the only ’sponsor’ to have supported the event again, Tops at Spar, the airline, Destiny magazine, and the V&A Hotel having withdrawn their support. Ultra Liquors paid R120000 to sponsor the event this year, and Cape Town Tourism CEO Mariette du Toit-Helmbold wrote that her organisation did not pay a sponsorship fee this year. What she did not reveal was that Grove was ‘managing the communications and publicity aspects of the event’, according to Clare McKeon- McLoughlin’s blogpost on Spill blog, at no compensation to Cape Town Tourism, in what would have been Cape Town Tourism time, one would assume! The event was not held in low season, which is what the industry was crying out for in winter. Mark Norrish, MD of Ultra Liquors, when warned about the organisers’ reputation, said that he had the McLoughlins and Pendock firmly under control, and that they had to follow his instructions. His financial contribution must have been far reduced to that received last year, as the event was only run over half a day, with no meals, there being only one mention on Twitter of canapés served at the event.
As there was no airline sponsor for the event this year, most attendees were from Cape Town, with a handful from other areas such as Stellenbosch, Somerset West, and Elgin. Once again one wonders why Cape Town Tourism was involved in an event which was largely attended by Capetonians, not making Marketing sense at all! Mrs Helmbold showed that she had no idea what her organisation was sponsoring, welcoming Capetonians to Cape Town on Twitter: “100 Women 100 Wines is the world’s first wine competition judged by women for women. Welcome to ladies! “! Mrs Helmbold’s knowledge of wine terminology in the Cape Town Tourism media release is also embarrassingly poor: “100 Women 100 Wines is a welcome addition to Cape Town’s event landscape. It’s becoming a regular on the Cape Town calendar and is now an annual event that brings together women from different cultural backgrounds and demographic groups in order to celebrate the Cape’s great vine (sic) offerings at an unusual, fun-filled affair”.
While Ultra Liquors has grown its Social Media presence, it must be bitterly disappointed by the low Twitter coverage of the event, and the low Twitter following most attendees had, many having fewer than 10 Followers, with just four having more than 1000 Followers, @NatalieRoos with her close to 5000 Followers only Tweeting twice during the event. #CapeTownTourism was only Tweeted once! No media representatives attended the event this year, and there has been no post-event media coverage.
The publicity for the event did not indicate how the 100 wines were chosen for the event (in Tweets during the event there was regular reference to 350 wines, but this is not explained). The 100 wines were divided into categories, including ‘The Boss is Coming’, Sunny Day Wine’, After a Long Day at Work’, ‘Long Lunch’, and ‘Best Braai Wine’!
The wine industry paid scant attention to the event on Twitter. Calling the attendees ‘judges’ of the ‘Ultra Liquors 100 Women 100 Wines competition’, not selected on the basis of wine knowledge, is an insult to serious and professional wine competitions.
Surely Cape Town Tourism does not have a budget in time and money to support events of friends? Surely its job is to attract tourists to Cape Town? This sets a precedent and means that, in fairness to all event organisers in Cape Town, Cape Town Tourism should do the marketing for every event that is hosted in Cape Town for free! Cape Town Tourism received scant acknowledgement by the attendees for its role in the event, a marketing failure in itself for the tourism body.
POSTSCRIPT 16/11: Writing a comment on the Spill blog, Michael Olivier shows how out of touch he is, by commenting as follows: “So – when we having 100 wines, 100 boys? This is a good thing you are doing for the wine industry”. The wine industry has scarcely reacted to the wine event, it having no credibility!
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter:@WhaleCottage
Wed 31 Oct 2012
Franschhoek has shown the wine industry that it is a serious wine destination, winning the Platter’s 2013 Winery of the Year a second year running, the accolade going to Cape Chamonix wine estate, and its winemaker Gottfried Mocke. The Mullineux Family Wines of Riebeeck Kasteel also performed excellently.
Publisher Andrew McDowall announced that the blood orange colour of Platter’s South African Wines 2013 is ‘West Coast Sunset‘ this year. Published for the 33rd time, the publication has started a ‘relationship’ with and has become ‘engaged’ to Diner’s Club, the credit card brand appearing on the wine guide cover for the first time. McDowall hinted that a ‘marriage’ may follow! For the new Guide, 900 wine estates and 7300 wines were evaluated, 54 of the wineries being new. The largest number of 5 stars was awarded ever, to 62 wines. The theme of the publication this year is ‘Backstories’, showcasing the dreams, passions, challenges, and successes of the wines featured in the Guide.
Michael Fridjhon opened the proceedings, and spoke about his first involvement with the Guide 30 years ago, when it was owned by Erica and John Platter, who had just moved to Delaire at that time. He shared that Erica Platter was very strict, and a word such as ‘mouthfeel’ was banned by the tasters. He said that 30 years later, ‘the guidelines for the tasters have become far more rigorous, but that the editors are gentler’. Fridjhon was congratulated for having been announced as the International Wine Columnist of the Year 2012 in the Louis Roederer International Wine Writers’ Awards.
The motivation for choosing Cape Chamonix as the 2013 Platter Winery of the Year, in addition to winning four 5 Star Platter Awards for its Greywacke 2010 Pinotage, Pinot Noir Reserve 2011, Chardonnay Reserve 2011, and White Blend Reserve 2011, is ‘Kaizen’, Platter’s editor Philip van Zyl said, the process of continuous improvement, and the seamless integration of viticulture and winemaking by the same team. This has made Cape Chamonix one of the top wine growers in the country, he said. Winemaker Gottfried Mocke has worked at Cape Chamonix for eleven years, and proudly shared the honour with his assistant winemaker Emul Ross, who has worked with him for just over a year.
The husband and wife team of Chris and Andrea Mullineux did well last year, and repeated its performance this year, winning three five star Platter awards for its Mullineux Family Syrah 2010, Straw Wine 2011, and Schist 2010, and was recognised for Red Wine of the Year for its Syrah. Nederburg (Ingenuity 2011, Winemaster’s Reserve Noble Late Harvest 2011, Sauvignon Blanc-Semillon Private Bin D252 2012) and Fairview (La Beryl Blanc 2011, Nurok 2011, Jakkalsfontein 2009) also received three five stars each.
The White Wine of the Year went to Paul Cluver Noble Late Harvest 2011. Superquaffer of the Year, selected out of 12 candidates in a 2,5 - 3 Platter star band and costing R 50 - R70 a bottle for reds and R40 - R60 for whites, was selected as the Muratie Melck Shiraz Cabernet Sauvignon 2011. Three of the Platter’s winners could not be present, being stranded in America due to Hurricane Sandy: Ken Forrester, Pieter Ferreira, and Kathy Jordan.
The 5 star Platter 2013 wines are the following (first time 5 star recipients marked with an asterisk):
Von Ortloff Quintessence 2008*
Delaire Graff Laurence Graff Reserve 2009
Cape Chamonix Greywacke 2010
Cape Chamonix Reserve 2011
Newton Johnson Family Vineyards 2011
Boschendal Cecil John Reserve 2010
Cederberg CWG Auction Reserve Teen die Hoog 2010*
Delheim Vera Cruz 2009
Fable Bobbejaan 2010
Fairview Jakkalsfontein 2009
Mullineux Family Schist 2010
Mullineux Family Syrah 2010
Raka Biography 2010
Simonsig Merindol Syrah 2010
Dalla Cia Wine & Spirit Company Giorgio 2007*
Fleur du Cap Lazlo 2008
Keets First Verse 2010*
Ken Forrester The Gypsy 2009
La Motte Pierneef Shiraz-Viognier 2010
Mvemve Raats MR De Compostella 2009*
Nico van der Merwe Mas Nicolas Cape 2007
Sadie Family Columella 2010
Boschendal Reserve 2011
Cape Chamonix Reserve 2011
Hamilton Russell 2011
Jordan CWG Auction Reserve 2011
Jordan Nine Yards 2011
Alheit Cartology 2011*
Beaumont Hope Marguerite 2011
DeMorgenzon Reserve 2010
Jean Daneel Signature 2011
KWV Cathedral Cellar 2011
Sadie Family Skurfberg 2011
Spice Route 2011
Fryer’s Cove 2011*
Graham Beck Pheasant’s Run 2012
Tokara Walker Bay 2012
AA Badenhorst Family 2010*
Cape Chamonix Reserve 2011
Cape Point CWG Auction Reserve 2011
David Aristargos 2011
Fairview Nurok 2011
Flagstone Treaty Tree Reserve 2010
Miles Mossop Saskia 2011
Nederburg Ingenuity 2011
Nederberg Sauvignon Blanc-Semillon Private Bin D252 2012
Nitida Coronata Integration 2011*
Tokara Director’s Reserve 2011
Méthode Cap Classique
Bon Courage Jacques Bruére Brut Reserve 2008*
Villiera Monro Brut 2007
Dessert Wine Unfortified
Fairview La Beryl Blanc 2011
Fleur du Cap Noble Late Harvest 2011
Mullineux Family Straw Wine 2011
Nederburg Winemaster’s Reserve Noble Late Harvest 2011
Paul Cluver Noble Late Harvest 2011
De Krans The Last Cape Vintage Reserve Port 2010
Catering was by the Vineyard Hotel, and one of the waiters said that each of their canapés was planned to be paired with a wine varietal. An unusual combination was the strawberry Turkish delight dessert.
It would appear that Franschhoek’s reputation as the best wine destination in South Africa will receive another boost on Saturday, when it is likely that Marc Kent of Boekenhoutskloof will be announced as the 2012 Diner’s Club Winemaker of the Year, judging by the posters on lamp posts throughout the village, announcing that ‘Franschhoek home to the Diner’s Club Winemaker of the Year 2012‘, without mentioning his name. Kent is the only finalist from Franschhoek. Discussing this with Christian Eedes at the Platter function, he expressed his disappointment, in saying that it takes the ceremony out of the award evening if the result is known up front.
POSTSCRIPT 31/10: This blogpost received an honourable mention from Neil Pendock on the Times Live blog today, quoting our last paragraph about the Diner’s Club Winemaker of the Year Award in full. The question he raised is how Boekenhoutskloof managed to not receive any 5 stars from Platter yesterday, yet was named Winery of the Year 2012, and how anyone could know the results of the Diner’s Club Winemaker of the Year 2012 accolade, as the wines were tasted blind! We have heard that the Diner’s Club awards function will be held in Franschhoek, and the poster headline may have referred to this, yet that would make the wording misleading.
POSTSCRIPT 3/11: The Diner’s Club Winemaker of the Year posters in Franschhoek were certainly misleading. Razvan Macici, Cellar Master of Nederburg, has been named Diner’s Club Winemaker of the Year 2012. Interesting is the Tweet from Llewellyn Lambert, who attended the event, that finalist Marc Kent of Boekenhoutskloof did not attend the Awards dinner.
Platter’s Wines of South Africa 2013. Available at book stores, retailers, and wine estates from mid-November. R169.95. www.wineonaplatter.com www.sawinesonline.co.uk Twitter: @WineonaPlatter
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage
Mon 1 Oct 2012
Two magnificent events took place in what could be called Wine Week last week, CapeWine 2012 and the Nederburg Wine Auction running back to back, bringing the world’s leading wine writers, buyers, sommeliers and wine lovers to Cape Town and the Winelands. For an industry prone to criticism and politics, there was all-round applause and recognition for the hard work that Wines of South Africa (WOSA) put into organising CapeWine 2012, in making this what some called the best wine show ever held in the world!
Even the ever WOSA-critical Neil Pendock, who had begged to be invited to the opening CapeWine 2012 Green Tie Event when he was understandably left off the invitation list initially, was meek and mild in his reporting during the week, and no salvos have been fired at WOSA this past week, which is a tremendous achievement in itself, the reason for his boring repetitive attacks on WOSA not being understood by most.
German wine writer Mario Scheuermann is known as a critical writer, and wrote about the German media group’s disastrous SAA journey to CapeWine 2012, but he has waxed lyrical about his week-long visit to Cape Town and the Winelands, which included dinner at The Round House; lunch at Waterkloof; taking a leaf out of Mike Veseth’s Nederburg Wine Auction keynote address emphasising the importance of Braais in marketing South African wines, a braai was prepared by Eat Out Top 19 Restaurant Finalist George Jardine at Jordan, which he described as ‘the best Braai I ever had in my life’; a show at another Eat Out Top 19 Restaurant Finalist Bertus Basson’s AmaZink; wine tasting at Glenelly; visits to sustainable organic and biodynamic wine estates Backsberg, Avondale, and Reyneke; visits to Babylonstoren and to Leopard’s Leap; lunch at Pierneef à La Motte; and a meal at new Green Point located Café Dijon. He highlighted the following wines/wine estates on his Facebook page: David, Paradisum, De Toren Fusion V, Philippi, Hamilton Russell Chardonnay, Mulderbosch Sauvignon Blanc, Allee Bleue Isabeau, Springfield’s Méthode Ancienne Cabernet Sauvignon and their Wild Yeast Chardonnay, and Rickety Bridge’s The Foundation Stone. Scheuermann Tweeted about the power of Social Media as follows:“Cape Wine 2012 is the first big wine fair in the world driven and powered by social media”. The cherry of praise for our country’s wine industry was the following Tweet: ‘After this 3 days of Cape Wine 2012 we must clearly say: South Africa is today the most interesting wine country in the world’!
Scheuermann’s German writing colleagues Michael Pleitgen and Angelika Deutsch have been equally complimentary, while Eckhard Supp complained about the long queues for food at the Cape Town International Convention Centre, and the meagre snacks served at a function on 25 September, consisting of a few pieces of sushi and dim sum, not enough to soak up all the wines tasted, he wrote. The complaint about the Convention Centre food was echoed by a number of attendees at CapeWine 2012, and was the only criticism of the event.
Locally, Melvyn Minnaar described CapeWine 2012 on Grape as a ‘jolly good wine show’, which left him feeling ‘pretty upbeat about the local wine industry’. He praised the ‘experience, talent and adventurous dynamic out there in the winelands’. Even greater praise went to WOSA: if they ‘can organise such a fine event, we can clearly trust the team to take the business into the world’. And the final accolade: ‘Feedback from visiting journalists and agents - many who know the business pretty well - confirmed my own impression that this was a jolly smart event. Viva SA wine’!
British freelance and award-winning wine writer Rebecca Gibb praised the quality of the wines she tasted during CapeWine 2012, writing ‘I’ve been really impressed with the quality across the board’, and she highlighted our country’s Cabernet Sauvignons, and the Oldenburg 2009 in particular. She also praised the Sauvignon Blanc-Semillon blends, and Tokara Director’s Reserve 2011 in particular. The Swartland also received praise, and The Sadie Family Palladius 2010 in particular. Other wines on her ‘top 10 wines of Cape Wine 2012‘ list are Cartology 2011, The Sadie Family Pofadder Cinsaut 2011, Glenelly Lady May 2009, Mullineux Syrah 2010, Vergelegen GVB 2005, Miko Chardonnay 2009, and Porseleinberg Shiraz 2010. She did criticise the reaction to her question about the future of Pinotage in a seminar, which waxed lyrical about Pinotage’s past rather than address its image problem and export decline.
Swedish wine writer Erica Landin described South Africa as ‘flippin’ heaven on earth’ on her blog and asked why so much of South African wine sold in Sweden is bulk wine going into ‘Bag-in-Box’. She enjoyed the Shiraz and oaked Chenin Blancs in particular. British Master of Wine writer, broadcaster and judge Sarah Jane Evans described CapeWine 2012 as ‘Best ever!‘, and Tweeted a photograph of Cartology, referring to it as ‘a wine that got everyone talking’. Swedish blogger Anders Öhman Tweeted ‘The WOSA organisation at #capewine2012 is amazing. So many guests, bags, places, buses, tours and parties. Running flawless’. Dutch wine dealer and writer Lars Daniëls Tweeted: ‘Grote complimenten aan WOSA en in bijzonder Sara Chanell voor geweldige beurs en programma!’. Award-winning UK wine blogger Jamie Goode attended the Chenin Blanc Association’s ‘Cape Chenin Unveiled’ seminar and lunch at Nobu at the One & Only Cape Town the day before CapeWine 2012 started. He posted a number of blogposts during his stay, and no doubt there will be more. He is a great supporter of our wine industry: “Cape Wine 2012 has been brilliant. I have discovered some very exciting new wines, caught up with some cool people (and made new friends)”. He braved the crowds to attend the Hermanus Whale Festival over the weekend.
Tyler Colman, an award-winning American blogger writing as Dr Vino, praised the Western Cape, as a ’stunningly gorgeous region that has exciting local vintners as well as an international flair’. He raved about the calibre of wine VIP’s he had bumped into in Stellenbosch prior to CapeWine 2012, including Charles Banks, Bruno Prats, and Hubert de Bouard.
WOSA’s media release praised itself in hosting its ‘best ever’ international trade exhibition, the sixth in its history, quoting its Chairman Johann Krige. The number of producers attending had increased by 15% since the last CapeWine 2008, and had the highest number of delegates ever, and especially from Asia, Eastern Europe, and other countries in Africa. This makes CapeWine the ‘most successful international wine business show in the Southern Hemisphere’. This praise was echoed by Amorim Cork CEO Antonio Amorim of Portugal, who described the event as ‘one of the finest wine industry events in the world‘. The South African quality wines, and its leadership in eco-sustainability and energy efficiency, has been recognised internationally, added Krige. Kuseni Dlamini opened the CapeWine Business Seminar, and focused on South Africa’s poor infrastructure in getting to African countries, some only reachable via Europe. If there was more investment in innovation and product quality, South Africa could become the world’s top wine producing country in the world, he said. The provincial Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Gerrit van Rensburg, said that 3600 wine farms have 100000 hectares of vines in the Western Cape, reported the Cape Argus.
The CapeWine 2012 website provides a break down of the show’s 3000 visitors: 588 South African trade, 464 international trade, 317 importers, 140 South African media, 106 wine educators, 80 international media, 32 MW, 31 international sommeliers/chefs, 12 hosted press buyers, and 12 press media. The balance of attendees was ‘unclassified’.
The Nederburg Wine Auction held this past weekend was attended by some of the international CapeWine 2012 guests, but was mainly a local affair. It raised close to R 4,7 million, down by 30% relative to 2011. Forty percent of wine sales went to international buyers, and wine buyers from African countries and Mauritius represented 22% of sales. One third of the sales went to local supermarket groups, led by Tops at Spar. Buyers played it safe, by buying ‘mainstream varieties’ such as Cabernet Sauvignon, and avoiding lesser-known cultivars. The star of the Auction was the case of Chateau Libertas, with 12 vintages ranging between 1959 - 1970 selling for R16000, in the year which celebrates the brand’s 80th anniversary.
There can be no doubt that CapeWine 2012 rejuvenated the local wine industry, created new challenges, identified new upcoming wine and winemaker stars, created new connections, and attracted heaps of praise for WOSA’s flawless organisation of showcasing our country’s prime wines! Vindaba, held at the same time as CapeWine 2012 in an open space opposite the wine exhibition venue, was an unfortunate failure, in what was an excellent wine week.
POSTSCRIPT 7/10: Mario Scheuermann has documented his impressions of CapeWine 2012, on his blog The Drink Tank.
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage
Sun 30 Sep 2012
On Monday evening I rubbed shoulders with Mike Veseth, a wine economist from the USA he said, and keynote speaker at the Nederburg Auction yesterday. We were sharing a table at the Wines of South Africa (WOSA) Green Tie Event to celebrate the opening of CapeWine 2012. His address to the elite of the wine industry at the Nederburg Wine Auction must have made WOSA proud of its ‘Cape Wine Braai Masters‘ book, regularly slated by Neil Pendock, in recommending to the South African wine industry to ‘make every day National Braai Day - they will toast your success with your own wonderful wine’, and so win the ‘Wine Wars‘ in the USA.
Veseth based his talk on the book he published last year, entitled ‘Wine Wars’, and reflected on how to apply its principles to the marketing of South African wines in the USA. ‘Terroirism’, according to Veseth, or ’somewhereness’, creating a link to time and place, is the key to a successful wine industry, and selling wine in the USA.
Veseth showered praise on South African wines, yet said that the ‘Wine War’ for our local wines will not be an easy one in the USA, calling for strategy and tactics, and some luck, as one goes into the marketing battle, given that the USA market is ‘crowded, intensely competitive, and structurally difficult to penetrate’, in part due to globalisation.
To market South African wine successfully in the USA the wine brands need to connect personally with wine influencers. Marketing the wines as ‘South African‘ will not be successful. Each varietal must be marketed against others in the category. Wine labels should be the arsenal of the wine marketer, and not country of origin. Pushing a ’signature varietal‘ like Pinotage or Chenin Blanc for the country is like a ‘one note samba’, Veseth said.
New well-to-do wine American drinkers, which Veseth calls ‘Millennials’, have an open book on South African wines, and ‘are not just buying a wine, they are building an identity’. Their brand purchases are lifestyle related. To reach them, a marketing communication mix of story-telling, social media, and ‘first person wine experiences’ by the wine farms and their American distributors, with WOSA ’shaping perceptions’, is recommended. It is in this context that Veseth recommended the Braai as a cultural marketing weapon, reflecting our country’s culture, and helping to create the connectedness to the consumer. The Braai is part of South Africa’s food culture, but also is a reflection of South African’s ‘generosity and hospitality’, a braai invitation ‘opening your heart and your hearth to them’. An ‘Afrocentric winelands braai’, says Veseth, ‘can be a gateway to a fuller appreciation of South African culture and lifestyle and to the diverse wines that have evolved along with it’!
Making every day National Braai Day is the way to win the Wine Wars in the USA, Veseth concluded!
POSTSCRIPT 2/10: At the recent Chenin Blanc Association ‘Cape Chenin Unveiled’ seminar, Ken Forrester asked Allan Mullins of Woolworths why the retailer’s 8-page Heritage Day Sunday Times ‘Everyday is Braai Day at Woolies’ insert did not contain a single bottle of wine. Mr Mullins was very diplomatic in his reply, saying that he would have a word with his Marketing department. He did not appear to be happy with this state of affairs.
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage
Mon 24 Sep 2012
The world’s leading winelovers, wine experts, wine traders, sommeliers, and wine journalists have started arriving in Cape Town for the three day Cape Wine 2012, being held at the Cape Town International Convention Centre from tomorrow until Thursday, and Vindaba running alongside it.
More than 5000 wines from 300 wine estates are on show at CapeWine 2012, and more than 30 international wine journalists are expected to attend, having a tourism benefit for Cape Town and the Western Cape. Delegates are attending from Europe, the UK, the USA, other African countries, South America, China, and Japan. For the first time SA Tourism, in conjunction with WOSA (Wines of South Africa), have organised Vindaba, an exhibition of wine tourism products in the Western Cape.
CapeWine 2012 is held every two years, but was not held in 2010 due to the soccer World Cup, and is one of the largest marketing events organised by WOSA. For the first time WOSA has gone green to reflect ‘the South African wine industry’s environmental consciousness’. This includes booking guests into hotels within walking distance of the convention centre; only recycled paper will be used for printing, if printing is required at all; the stands are made from recycled boards; most stands will not use electricity, but rather LED lighting; all bottles, corks, and screw caps will be recycled; no bottled water will be available; cork supplier Amorim will create a lounge made from recycled cork; media information will be made available in bamboo memory sticks; VIP bags have been made from recycled advertising banners; lanyards have been made from ’sunbaked paper’; all fish served at the Green Tie event will be SASSI certified, and all eats will be made from local produce; the ‘green ties’ which allow entry to the event have been made from discarded plastic; solar lighting will be used for the Green Tie event; furniture for the Green Tie party has been made from recycled wooden pallets, and will be donated to a crèche afterwards; the plates at the Green Tie party are those from CapeWine 2008, and the cutlery is made from bamboo.
CapeWine 2012 will reflect the development of our local wine industry in wine growing, wine making, and wine marketing since South African wines were opened to international trade almost 20 years ago. Tastings, seminars, workshops, and a Producer’s Soapbox will focus on changes in wine styles, reaction to climate change, the management of scarce natural resources, and the protection of old vines.
Su Birch, CEO of WOSA, said that interest in CapeWine 2012 was growing, as ‘South Africa has distinguished itself both in terms of quality and pioneering programmes to promote eco-sustainability. This has earned global recognition for the country on both fronts, from the market and environmentalists, particularly in recent years’. Mrs Birch added that CapeWIne has a solid reputation as a trade exhibition.
The organisation of the first ever Vindaba has been driven by SA Tourism, having sponsored the exhibition, and is project managed by Susannah Holz. SA Tourism has identified that wine tourism is ‘one of the fastest-growing and most lucrative sectors of the global tourism market‘, says Marthinus van Schalkwyk, Minister of Tourism. Wine tourism can make an important contribution to the country’s economy, the Minister said. International as well as local media focusing on wine, travel and lifestyle are expected to attend. The objective is to increase the income of wine tourism, only $41 per capita in our Winelands, compared to $188 in Napa Valley in the USA. Seminars at Vindaba will focus on gastro-tourism, and tailor-made wine tours to the 17 wine routes in the Western Cape will expose the international visitors to the diversity and quality of their offerings. The eco-friendly green focus of the Vindaba exhibition reflects that of CapeWine 2012. The Vindaba exhibition organisation has not been without controversy, SA Tourism having been blamed for not being proactive enough in spreading international media across the different wine routes, having instead allowed them to choose where they want to visit, meaning that the majority have opted for Stellenbosch and Franschhoek. Lesser-known wine routes, such as those in Paarl and Wellington, will therefore remain exactly that!
Tonight WOSA is hosting a ‘Green Tie Event‘ for the opening of CapeWine 2012, and even this function is going green, in that invitees have been asked to park at the Cullinan Hotel, and will be bused in collectively or will be guided by a ‘Green Guide’ in walking to the function venue in the V&A Waterfront. The evening promises a ’sampling of our finest wines, paired with the freshest and most delicious local cuisine, and accompanied by a showcase of local music, song and dance‘. The wine week will be concluded with the prestigious Nederburg Auction, which takes place on the Paarl wine estate on Saturday.
CapeWine 2012: 25 - 27 September, 10h00 - 17h00, Cape Town International Convention Centre. www.capewine2012.co.za
Vindaba: 24 - 27 September, 10h00 - 17h00, Cape Town International Convention Centre. www.vindaba.com
POSTSCRIPT 24/9: This evening about 720 guests, of which about 50% were international wine writers, sommeliers, wine buyers, and wine trade, attended the ‘Green Tie Event’ for the opening of CapeWine 2012. Initially one heard more ‘American’ than local English spoken! The Who’s Who of the wine industry attended. Met German wine writers Mario Scheuermann (a Facebook friend) and Eckhard Supp, and Mike Veseth, the guest speaker at the Nederburg Auction on Saturday. Neil Pendock, who received a late invitation from WOSA to attend the event, was the most spruced up we have seen in years, having had a hair cut today in honour of the event, it would seem! The green theme of CapeWine 2012 was carried through in the event, with lighting made from recycled milk cartons. Excellent wines were served. Even the food was ‘green’ and locally sourced. The salmon cream on cucumber canapes were excellent. The calibre and quantity of international wine visitors in Cape Town and the Winelands is an exceptional wine tourism marketing opportunity for our country.
POSTSCRIPT 26/9: Yesterday I visited CapeWine 2012, and was impressed with the best looking exhibition in the Cape Town International Convention Centre. More than 300 wine estates have pulled out all the stops to package and present their wines to the top level local and international attendees. The highlight was tasting a preview of the new Delaire Graff Laurence Graff Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2009, not yet labelled, an icon wine made in honour of the owner of the wine estate, its GM Johann Laubser said. It will be the first South African wine to sell at $200 a bottle.
The Botanica Wines’ label design, reflecting the brand name, impressed once again, and the Chenin Blanc is likely to do well at Platter this year, its owner-winemaker Ginny Povall hinted. The label designs come from botanical drawings by Mary Delany, seen by Ginny at the Yale Centre for British Art. One of the largest stands was that for Fairview, which focused attention on its Fairview, La Capra, Goats do Roam, and Spice Route labels, as well as on its Fairtrade connection.
POSTSCRIPT 26/9: Vindaba, the first wine tourism showcase, is very disappointing, not having any of the design quality or professional look of CapeWine 2012, with few visitors. Its location in an open space at which the banqueting is normally done is not ideal. The Wine Routes are not collectively branded, and it is not clear as to where they start and end. Some of the Wine Routes had individual products alongside them too. All are manned by very friendly staff, and include Wellington Tourism, the KWV Sensorium (a first in pairing art works with wines), Franschhoek Tourism, Spier, Elegantly Elgin, Mellesat (in Paarl, now famous due to the write up by Neil Pendock in the Sunday Times on Sunday), Neil Grant representing the South African Sommeliers Association and manning a stand of white blends, the Cape Whale Coast sharing with Hermanus Wines, Grande Roche, Durbanville Wine Valley, Cape Town Tourism, Solms-Delta, Laborie, and more. Creation was running the Cape Whale Coast/Hermanus Wines stand, but this is rotated over the three day exhibition. By yesterday afternoon the Cape Town Tourism brochure bags had already run out, and no attempt had been made to supplement them.
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage
Fri 10 Aug 2012
The Sweet Service Award goes to the Twelve Apostles Hotel and its GM Horst Frehse, for their invitation to attend ‘Horst’s Table of Friendship’ lunch at Azure restaurant last month, prepared by Chef Henrico Grobbelaar and his team, a regular lunch hosted by the hotel to reconnect with their GM, and to allow a mix of hospitality persons to meet others. The starter was a whipped goat’s cheese paired with Glen Carlou Pinot Noir 2010; the main course was springbok loin, paired with Bouchard Finlayson Hannibal 2009; and a dessert of chocolate moelleux was paired with Waterford Heatherleigh NV. Not only was the food, wine, and company a delight, but it was a perfect sunny winter’s day too.
The Sour Service Award goes to increasingly unkempt wine hack Neil Pendock, who wrote a shocking post on the Sunday Times blog on the eve (pardon the pun) of Women’s Day, degrading women generally, and those in the wine industry specifically, not acknowledging their winemaking skills, and is in extremely poor taste. No medium should be abused as a platform to vent female-hatred, especially relating to the public holiday that salutes the sacrifices and successes of women. Pendock does not appear to receive the same standing and space in the newspaper as he once did, and the Sunday Times should disassociate itself from such smut, apologise to all women, and delete the blogpost!
The WhaleTales Sweet & Sour Service Awards are presented every Friday on the WhaleTales blog. Nominations for the Sweet and Sour Service Awards can be sent to Chris von Ulmenstein at email@example.com. Past winners of the Sweet and Sour Service Awards can be read on the Friday posts of this blog, and in theWhaleTalesnewsletters on the www.whalecottage.com website.