Entries tagged with “Val de Vie”.


WhaleTalesTourism, Food, and Wine news headlines

 *  Cape Town’s hosting of World Design Capital 2014 has benefited only a few Capetonians, says mega-moaner ANC City Councillor Tony Ehrenreich, while Grant Haskin, African Christian Democratic Party caucus leader, agrees.  Mayoral Committee member for Tourism, Events, and Marketing Garreth Bloor disputes this, many of the 450 design projects initiated this year having a longer-term legacy.  The City of Cape Town is spending R40 million on the project this year. 

*   Despite there being no cases of Ebola in South Africa, some tour groups from Asia have cancelled their trips to our country, for fear of the West Africa cases spreading to our country.

*   Artist Aleta Michaletos from Pretoria will exhibit 32 of her works at De Oude Drostdy, the home of (more…)

WhaleTalesTourism, Food, and Wine news headlines

*   The International Air Transport Association (IATA) is encouraging its members to use IT to improve the customer experience, saying that airlines ‘fly people and cargo, not planes‘. Consistency of customer experience is not yet satisfactory for airlines, with little differentiation. Customers would like to use IT to check in online, tag luggage themselves, board themselves, and collect bags themselves, an IATA survey found last year.  IATA’s goal is that 80% of passengers have a ‘self-service suite based on industry standards‘ available to them by 2020.

*   PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) is not known as a Tourism consultancy, so its prediction about our country’s tourism future is a surprise.  Its report presents growth of 4% in international tourists 2013, far lower than the 10% growth in 2012.  Growth is said to be solid and good, but ‘not fantastic growth‘.  Almost three quarters of international visitors to our country are from Africa, the report confirms.  Nigeria would become the leading source market for our country, the PwC study predicts.  The Guest House category is the fastest growing in respect of room availability.  South Africa’s strength is that it attracts leisure as well as business travelers.

*   France must be feeling the tourism pinch, having announced plans to become more welcoming to tourists, English speaking ones in particular.   The country hopes to increase tourist numbers to 100 million, (more…)

Cape Wine Auction collage of picturesThe AfrAsia Bank Cape Wine Auction 2014 is an inaugural exclusive, almost elitist, charity event which aims to raise monies which are to be used for educational purposes in the Winelands.   It takes place at Delaire Graff Estate over lunch today, with 250 guests, half of whom are likely to travel from overseas to the Cape especially for the auction.

With an aura of a by-invitation-only attendance, Auction organiser Mike Ratcliffe of Warwick Wines invited 30 Auction Ambassadors to assist him in spreading the word about the event, to assist in raising lots for the auction, and to invite guests as bidders to the event. Ambassadors include May de Lencquesaing of Glenelly, Wendy Appelbaum of De Morgenzon, Hein Koegelenberg of La Motte, Rose and Michael Jordaan of Bartinney, Delaire Graff, Charles Banks of Mulderbosch, Paul Cluver, Jeremy Ord and Kevin Arnold of Waterford, Chris and Andrea Mullieneux and their partner ‘Anlajit’ (sic) Singh, Zelma Long and Dr Phil Freese of Vilafonte, the Buys family of Vrede en Lust, Francois Pienaar, Eben Sadie, Ryk Neethling, Jean Engelbrecht, Ken Forrester, Anthonij Rupert Wines, Lanzerac Estate, Anthony and Olive Hamilton Russell, and Giorgio and George Dalla Cia.  One wonders why so many of the country’s top winemakers have not been involved in the Auction, the list of Auction Ambassadors clearly concentrated in Stellenbosch. Missing from the list, one would think, is Babylonstoren, Backsberg, Boekenhoutskloof, and a winery or two from the Constantia, Paarl, Wellington, Robertson, Tulbagh, and Durbanville Wine (more…)

WhaleTalesTourism, Food, and Wine news headlines

*   Mango is tightening up its credit card procedures, to prevent fraud, by demanding that tickets bought by credit card are verified with the actual card.  If the card is not with the passenger, he/she may not board.

*   ESKOM started load-shedding around the country today, without prior warning, the rain in Johannesburg allegedly wetting the coal and therefore affecting its supply!  The Cape has not been spared, with electricity cuts in Somerset West, Claremont, Durbanville, Tokai, Kenilworth, Parow, Elsies River, Wellington, and Hout Bay this morning, followed by Sea Point, Camps Bay, and many other Cape Town suburbs later in the day.  Our international visitors (other than those from other African countries) are shocked! (via Twitter)

*   Chef Chris Erasmus will leave Pierneef à La Motte in June, to open his own restaurant with his wife in Franschhoek in September.

*   The Bols Bartending World Champion Rusty Cerven chose Cape Town as one of his four world cities to visit, with Sydney, Tokyo, and Rio de Janeiro, as part of his prize when he beat 3000 bartenders from 66 countries.  In Cape Town he demonstrated (more…)

WhaleTalesTourism, Food, and Wine news headline

*   Tuk-tuks operating in Cape Town are doing so illegally, even if they are offering the service for free, and passengers travelling in them will not be covered by insurance as a result.  The City of Cape Town’s Mayoral Committee Member for Transport, Councillor Brett Herron, confirmed that only one tuk-tuk operating in Cape Town has been licensed.

*   Interesting is the effect of the shut-down of the non-essential services by the American government on tourists as well as on American citizens.

*   The City of Cape Town is to erect warning signs about rip currents on its beaches.

*   Woolworths Chairman Simon Susman writes in its latest annual report that South Africa’s growth is lagging that of other emerging (more…)

WhaleTalesTourism, Food, and Wine news headlines

*   Perfect China has bought the cellar and wine farm of Val de Vie for use by Perfect Wines of South Africa, in which it has a 51% stake (with Leopard’s Leap), reports Bloomberg, the first purchase of a local wine estate by a Chinese company.  Close to 3 million bottles of the company’s L’Huguenot wine were exported to the Asian country in 2011 and 2012, representing about 25 percent of all South African wine exports to China.  The cellar and maturation capacity are to be increased.

*   More storms, including hail, have hit the wine regions of France, especially the Génissac region last week, in which 30 – 100% of the crops were destroyed, reports Wine Spectator.

*   USA wine blogger Joe Roberts, writing 1WineDude, will be the keynote speaker at the Nederburg Auction, an interesting reflection of the growing influence of wine bloggers!

*   Interesting news is that Minister of Tourism Marthinus van Schalkwyk has promulgated draft legislation to have one united set of legislation relating to tourism nationally, (more…)

Yesterday Franschhoek Wine Valley and the Vignerons de Franschhoek producing Méthode Cap Classique (MCC) sparkling wines hosted a preview of twelve of their sixteen MCC producers and products, in the beautiful setting of the Le Verger restaurant at the Le Franschhoek Hotel.

The Franschhoek MCC Route will be officially launched early in 2013, we were told by new Vignerons Chairman Irene Waller, winemaker and GM at La Bri.  A full size map will be designed, for visitors to Franschhoek to use on their visits for MCC tastings. Ms Waller highlighted that the first MCC was made in Franschhoek by Achim von Arnim 32 years ago, while he was working at Boschendal, before he made his Pierre Jourdan sparkling wines in the French style on his own wine estate Haute Cabrière a few years later.  Ms Waller also explained that the Vignerons de Franschhoek has three geographical boundaries, being Backsberg on the R45, Val de Vie, and Boschendal on the road to Stellenbosch, potentially confusing to consumers wine writer Angela Lloyd felt, in not reflecting the Franschhoek Wine of Origin demarcation.

Divided into Blanc de Blancs, Bruts, and Rosés, each of the twelve winemakers addressed the writers attending the MCC Preview, and highlighted how their bubbly is made, its price, and other special product and production details.

Blanc de Blancs

*   Dieu Donné Methodé Cap Classique 2010 is made from Franschhoek vines, as  a fresh easy drinking sparkling wine for the increasing number of weddings being hosted on the estate. 100% Chardonnay.  Creamy, fresh apple, and lemon, with biscuity richness. 24 months on the lees.  Whole bunch pressed, fermented in French oak. Hand riddling and degorging. 8000 bottles produced.  R140 per bottle.

*   Pierre Jourdan Blanc de Blancs NV was presented by the youngest von Arnim family member Tamo, its Brand Ambassador.  In 1982 Achim von Arnim bought Cabrière, and in 1986 the first MCC was made, a blend of Chardonnay from De Wetshof (Danie de Wet and Achim von Arnim studying together at Geisenheim) and Pinot Noir at that time.  Now it is produced from 100% Chardonnay, 40% matured in French oak for 4 – 5 months, which brings out vanilla.  It is a perfect welcome drink, pairs well with a variety of foods, and is a perfect palate cleanser.  Tamo shared that his sister-in-law Christiane is launching new Pierre Jourdan labels soon.

*   Môreson Solitaire Blanc de Blancs NV is made by winemaker Clayton Reabow, whole bunch pressing being an important aspect of the production, he said, as is the ‘Cuvee juice’, being the first 250 litres per ton. All their production is non-vintage, keeping a reserve of four previous vintages. No fermentation or food additives make it the ‘cleanest bubbly’. 18 months on the lees. R89.

Brut

*   L’Omarins Brut Classique 2008 is made by Dawie Botha, its 2008 produced MCC not yet released, it being its first public tasting.  The bottle is label-less, embossed with JR (for Jean Roi, the first L’Omarins owner, and not Johan Rupert, we were told). Blend of 60% Chardonnay from Elandskloof and 40% Pinot Noir from Stellenbosch. 48 months on the lees, 4 months on cork. To be released in January 2013.  R100.

*   Colmant Cap Classique Brut Reserve NV owner JP Colmant (left) works with Nicolas Follet of Oenosense Consulting, a French winery consultant now based in Franschhoek.  The MCC is one of three produced by Colmant, the others being a Pinot Noir and Chardonnay blend, and a Brut Chardonnay Rosé.  Grapes come from nine vineyards in Robertson, Elgin, Franschhoek, Somerset West, and Stellenbosch.  42000 bottles per year.  Focus on fruit and freshness.  No malolactic fermentation.  Also endorses use of reserve wines of previous years, using 10% from previous vintage.  R130.

*   Plaisir de Merle Grand Brut 2010 is made by Neil Bester, and he explained that the Marketing department had recommended the development of a MCC, given the increasing number of weddings held at the wine estate.  The Chardonnay grapes come from the farm, while Pinot Noir comes from Stellenbosch currently, but will be available on the farm from next year.  Blend of 63% Pinot Noir, 37% Chardonnay.  Malolactic fermentation, 24 months on the lees. 12000 bottles, of which 4000 have been released. R140 – R150.

*   Backsberg Sparkling Brut 2008 is a blend of 40% Pinot Noir and 60% Chardonnay, and is hand riddled, said its marketing executive Alana Ridley.  It is made by winemaker Guillaume Nell.  Whole bunch pressed. R110.

*   La Motte MCC 2009 was presented by Edmund Terblanche, from grapes sourced from its own farm exclusively, a need that was stimulated by its restaurant Pierneef à La Motte. The Pinot Noir vines were planted in 1985 and the Chardonnay in the ‘Nineties.  60% Chardonnay, 40% Pinot Noir, the blend proportion changing every year. Edmund said originally they had little knowledge of MCC-making, but learnt as they went along, experimenting with oaking. 25 months on the lees. Won Best MCC in the Terroir Awards in last two years. 3000 bottles.  R200.

*   Stony Brook The Lyle 2007 is now made by Craig McNaught, a fresh MCC blend of 55% Chardonnay and 45% Pinot Noir.  All grapes are from their farm.  450 cases produced. 50 months on the lees. Brioche flavours. R115.

Rosé

*   Rickety Bridge Brut Rosé 2010 is made by Wynand Grobler, a blend of 50% Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.  Wynand joked and said he wanted to make a MCC, because he saw Achim von Arnim do the Sabrage and kiss the young ladies!  His MCC uses 10% of their Reserve wine, and is Wine of Origin Franschoek. Hand harvested. Fresh acidity, uses signe method, 3500 bottles. R115.

*   Boschendal Grand Pavillon Brut Rosé NV was presented by JC Bekker, but is made by Lizelle Gerber, saying that women winemakers are better at making MCCs.  Strawberries on nose, and cream on the palate. No barrels, no malolactic fermentation. 24 months on the lees. The back label has all the MCC terminology, JC said.

*   Morena Brut Rosé was presented by raconteur Nick Davies from Franschhoek Pass Winery, the highest vineyard in Franschhoek.  They do a ‘green harvest’, and then 3 staged pickings. Half the grapes from own vineyard, balance from Stellenbosch, Robertson and Franschhoek.  Zesty, fresh. No malolactic fermentation. 24 months on the lees. Blend of 60% Chardonnay and 40% Pinot Noir.  Nick has just returned from Champagne, and said that the international trend is to a fresher style, and that the target market is 25 – 40 year old females.  R100

La Bri will release its first MCC in 2014.  My Wyn, La Petite Ferme, Topiary, Noble Hill, and Cape Chamonix are also MCC producers on the new Franschhoek Cap Classique Route, but did not attend the presentation.

Le Franschhoek Hotel Chef Oliver Cattermole created a delicious feast of salmon dishes, an ideal pairing with the MCCs, and had prepared the salmon in various styles: Salmon and soy lollypops, Salmon California rolls with ginger and wasabi, Salmon marbles with rooibos and liquorice, Beetroot fermented salmon with mustard croissant, Salmon croquettes, Salmon pastrami on rye, Blackened salmon with “bloody orange” and vanilla mayo, and Sugar cured salmon and pain de épice sandwich.

The launch of the Franschhoek Cap Classique Route is a clever way of repackaging the Franschhoek wine estates, and will be an attraction to locals and tourists visiting what is now the most exciting wine region in South Africa, given that it is the home of the Platter Winery of the Year 2012 (Boekenhoutskloof) and 2013 (Cape Chamonix). MCC lovers can enjoy the Franschhoek MCCs, as well as those from other regions, at the Franschhoek Cap Classique and Champagne Festival from 30 November – 2 December.

MCC (with Chardonnay) consumption is expected to increase, with a greater focus on natural and eco-friendly wines, Woolworths’ Allan Mullins was told when he asked a question about wine trends at our lunch table, making the Franschhoek Cap Classique Route on trend!  It was unanimous at our table that the Colmant Brut Reserve was the best MCC tasted.

Disclosure: We received a bottle of MCC of our choice from the selection still available, ours being the La Motte MCC, with our media pack.

Franschhoek Cap Classique Route, Franschhoek Wine Valley.  Tel (021) 876-2861. www.franschhoek.org.za

Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage

A Hermanus restaurant space with one of the most beautiful views must be the new La Pentola (The Saucepan), previously the home of Mediterrea and Grilleria, on Marine Drive close to the Marine Hotel. Lunch yesterday, to celebrate the 16th anniversary of Whale Cottage Hermanus with our Manager Carole, was made all the more special with a school of dolphins escorting whales across the majestic Walker Bay, which La Pentola looks on to.

Carole had been to the restaurant before, having met Chef Shane Sauvage when he was at La Vierge restaurant on the Hermanus Wine Route. La Pentola opened a few months ago when Grilleria vacated the premises. Chef Shane also owns a restaurant with the same name in Pretoria, which he opened in 1995 and is now run by his sister.  Chef Shane told us that his father is of French origin and his mother came from Seychelles, yet he does not speak French.  He worked at Italian restaurants before opening his own restaurant, and this inspired the love for Italian cooking, and hence the Italian name of his restaurant.  Chef Shane impressed by being on the floor regularly, chatting to his clients, and hugging those he knows. He is proud that he started as a ‘bus boy’, fetching plates, to being the owner of two restaurants today.  He talks about the ‘fusion cuisine’ which his restaurants prepare, being French, Italian and Mediterranean dishes made with South African produce.  The website emphasises that Chef Shane uses real butter, cream and fresh herbs, as well as olive oil, and that no MSG and artificial flavourings are used in their cooking!  Only grain-fed beef, duck, and chicken is sourced.  The dietary requirements of lactose intolerant and diabetic clients are catered for.

Chef Shane has already published two cookbooks: ‘The Edge of Fusion’, and ‘InFusion’, the latter book winning him a Gourmand World Cook Book Award in 2009. He proudly brought his books to the table to show us, and they are are available for sale in the restaurant.   ‘InFusion’ focused on the ‘infusion of South African produce, liquor and lifestyle’, says its introduction, and contains Forewords written by Good Food & Wine Show owner Christine Cashmore and restaurant reviewer Victor Strugo, with beautiful food photography by Sarie Pretorius.  Chef Shane is described by Strugo to stand for FRESH: Fruit, Real, Emotions, Seasons, Herbs.  Alcohol is used in the preparation of most dishes.

The restaurant has wooden tables without tablecloths, and the chairs are covered in tan mock leather, the walls are painted in yellow/gold and tan, covered with an odd collection of paintings. The windows can open and are stack-able, allowing one to enjoy a superb unobstructed sea view over the bay, an ideal location for photography of the visiting whales.  A new lounge-style seating area has been added in one corner of the restaurant. The tables have material serviettes, but an ordinary salt cellar and a cheap black pepper grinder.  The menu and winelist are covered in black plastic, and both disappointed in their presentation, the menu just being a typed list of items with a hand-correction, and the winelist containing diagrams of the wine districts and regions, and of the Aroma Wheel, which probably were copied from coloured sources, but lose their impact in black and white.

The menu has ten starters, and Carole enjoyed her Mussels Provencal (R48), a hearty portion served with muffin-shaped rolls containing mushrooms, capers and oregano.  Every menu item is described in detail in terms of all of its ingredients, and how the dish is prepared, rarely seen on menus.  Outback Crocodile and Springbok Carpaccio are the two most expensive starters, at R60.  Other interesting sounding starters are Angel snails (‘Spanish snails wrapped in bacon, pan fried with red onion, black pepper, butter, steamed in chardonnay, bound with cream and flavoured with origanum‘, the menu describes), Basil and port livers, and Afro Parisian pastry (smoked salmon, apple, served with phyllo pastry parcel filled with brie and mango pickle). Chardonnay fig and honey and African mampoer sorbets cost R10 each, and can be ordered as palate cleansers.  The main courses range in price from R85 for Santorini Chicken to R 165 for seafood fillet (fillet steak with seafood, tawny port and basil and cream sauce) and Mozambican Prawns (served with a beer cream sauce).  I enjoyed the kingklip prepared with red onion and tomato, basted in butter, served with ‘cream rice’ dusted with parmesan cheese, carrots and beans (R120), less complex than many of the other dishes in its ingredient combination.  I was impressed that it came with a fish knife, seldom offered.  Other main courses include a fillet flamed with 10 year old KWV brandy and served with Dijon mustard and green Madagascan cream sauce (R145), and Crocodile pastry (crocodile tail in curry cream sauce wrapped in phyllo pastry, R125).  Pasta dishes are made from Overberg flour and Locke Stone farm organic eggs.  Impressive is that the children’s dishes are healthy steak, fish and chicken, served with potato croquettes and vegetables (R45 – R50).

Desserts are affordable, none exceeding R50 (Strawberry Flambé with Belgium chocolate ice cream).  Carole loved the Crème Brûlee, a deep rich yellow colour, served with a strawberry sorbet, while I had the chocolate terrine served with cream, with an excellent cappuccino. Chef Shane sent two glasses of coffee liqueur to the table, but I declined, having to drive back to Cape Town.

The winelist states that BYO costs R30, explains the Aroma Wheel, and identifies the wine districts and regions in South Africa. Most wines offered are from Hermanus.  Bollinger is offered at R1200, Van Loveren Christina NV costs R220, Goedverwacht Crane Rosé Brut R130, and Bonnievale NV R120. Few wines by the glass are offered, costing about R45.  Vintages span more than one year, to save on reprinting the winelist, one would suspect.  Three Shiraz wines are available: Reyneke Organic ’2009/10′ (R140), Val de Vie ‘2008/9‘ (R360), and Porcupine Ridge ’2011/2012‘ costs R135.

Chef Shane’s menu is interesting, most dishes unusual.  His willingness to connect with his clients on the floor is a strength few chefs bother with.  The presentation of the menu and winelist could be improved, to match the food, and the fantastic view offered in the restaurant.  Service was not perfect, but our waiter was friendly.  The website seems overwritten in its accolades.  The most impressive part of our visit was the understanding by Chef Shane when we had to rush back to the guest house to check in guests just after we had ordered our food.  Our order was placed on hold and our table was kept for us until we returned.

La Pentola, first floor, 87 Marine Drive, Hermanus.  Tel (028) 313-1685. www.lapentola.co.za. Tuesday – Sunday lunch and dinner.

Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage

The Bastille Festival is Franschhoek’s largest event, in its ability to attract visitors to the French Huguenot village, with 3000 visitors per day expected to enjoy the best of its foods and wines.  This year the Bastille Food and Wine Marquee has a new location and is bigger than ever before.  French wines will form part of the Bastille Festival for the first time this year, the Festival celebrating the Storming of the Bastille on 14 July 1789, this coming weekend on 14 and 15 July.

The Bastille marquee of 1300 m² has been erected in its new location in the parking area between the church and town hall, with its entrance off the main road, connecting the centre of the Festival with the other fun activities on the main road, which significantly competed with the marquee wine and food tastings last year.  The Le Franschhoek hotel’s Dish restaurant (selling quiche, French flag fudge, and French chantilly meringues), Haute Cabriere (Moules Belle Rose), Reuben’s (serving Beef Bourguignon and wok-fried squid and chorizo), Allee Bleue (salmon and smoked chicken baguettes), Backsberg (lamb ciabatta), Bread & Wine (porchetta sandwiches), Cotage Fromage (veal and foie gras burger), French Connection (steak rolls), Le Quartier Français (Bunny Chow, chocolate brownies), Mont Rochelle (Boerewors rolls, chicken wraps), Allora (shawarmas), Solms-Delta (Cape barbeque), Val de Vie (vol au vent), and Wild Peacock (oysters), and other local restaurants and wine estates will be selling their foods and offering their wines to taste in the marquee, at the cost of R150, which includes a tasting glass and a booklet of wine tasting coupons.

For the first time a VIP marquee will be available at the higher entrance fee of R395, which will allow one to rub shoulders and exchange tasting notes with the following 10 winemakers and their wines from the Rhône-Alpes region in France:

  • Gilles Barge, Domaine Barge (Cote Rotie, Condrieu)
  • Jean Luc Monteillet, Domaine De Montine (Grignan Les Adhemar, Cotes Du Rhone, Vinsobres)
  • Gilles Verzier, Vignobles Verzier, Chanteperdrix (Cote Rotie, Condrieu, Saint Joseph)
  • Nadia Fayolle, Domaine Des Martinelles (Crozes Hermitage, Hermitage)
  • Yves Cuilleron, Cave Cuilleron (Cote Rotie, Condrieu)
  • André Mercier, Vignerons Ardechois (Vins D’ Ardeche, Cotes Du Rhone, Cotes Du Vivarais -photograph)
  • Dominique Courbis, (St Joseph, Cornas)
  • Yann Chave, Domaine Yann Chave (Crozes Hermitage, Hermitage)
  • Pierre Mollier, Mas De Bagnols (Ardeche, Cotes Du Vivarais)
  • Laurent Vial, Domaine Du Colombier (Crozes Hermitage, Hermitage)

Two wine tastings of these winemakers’ wines, with the best of Franschhoek wines too, will also be held, at Grande Provence on Saturday and Sunday 14 and 15 July at 9h00, at the cost of R395, which includes the entrance ticket to the Bastille Marquee too.

Many wine estates will also host French inspired activities at their farms. Grande Provence, for example, will host an art exhibition focused on Le Monde front covers. For lunch it will serve Vichyssoise soup (R45), Boeuf Bourguignon (R90), Moules Marinière (R55), and a selection of French cheeses. At dinner guests will be offered a French inspired 3 course meal at R320 per person.

The main road will see many of the  restaurants and shops, decorated in blue, white, and red in keeping with the theme, offering food, beer, and wines for sale from their shop exteriors. Reuben’s, for example, will sell white truffle infused bean cassoulet soup, French onion soup, Puglia cheeses, Lynx wines, Jimmy Jagga ciders from KWV, Peroni draught, Jack Daniels, Boschendal sparkling wines, Deluxe coffee, and fresh fruit and vegetables outside its restaurant.

Alongside the fun food and wine events, the largest and longest running boules competition, the Waiter’s Race, Franschhoek minstrel parade from Solms-Delta, fencing, barrel-rolling, a farmer’s market, a craft market, children’s activities, and a French food market will be held over the weekend too, reports The Month. In addition, there will be 10 km, 25km, and 55 km mountain bike trails on Sunday 15 July, as well as a 12 km Salomon Bastille Day Trial Run on Saturday 14 July, from the Drakenstein Prison to Franschhoek, to commemorate freedom, the prison being the ‘home’ of Mr Nelson Mandela towards the end of his incarceration, and the prison he was released from in 1992, when it was still called Victor Verster. On Friday 13 July James Stewart will perform at a pre-Bastille Festival dinner with a French theme at La Petite Ferme.

Bring your berets and full purses, dress in the French colours, and enjoy two fun-filled days in Franschhoek, focused on its good foods and wines.  Book early, as the Saturday marquee entrance number is capped, and was sold out prior to the event last year.

Bastille Festival, Huguenot Road, Franschhoek. 14 and 15 July, 12h00 – 17h00. www.webtickets.co.za. Tel (021) 876-2861

Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage

Surprisingly few Capetonians attended the Cape Town International Jazz Festival this past weekend, and one gets the feeling that the organisers tend to market the event to non-Capetonians, which may be a very good thing for tourism.  It is disappointing that the Jazz Festival is not expanded, both in terms of the size of the venues, as well as the number of days over which it is hosted, the event of the past weekend clearly not being long enough, the Weekend Argus reporting that the tickets had sold out two months prior to the event.

It is estimated that 34000 jazz fans attended the Festival, some being from overseas, including other parts of Africa, and many from other parts of South Africa, judging by the large number of non-Cape Town number-plated cars driving in the city centre.  Traffic was hectic near the Cape Town International Convention Centre on Friday afternoon, long before the start of the performances, and organisers were quoted as saying that the Centre’s capacity, limited at 17000, would necessitate a large venue in future. Festival Operations Manager Billy Domingo said that they could have printed a million more tickets, and would have sold them all!  One wonders why the organisers do not stretch the Festival over more days, to benefit the hospitality industry, its effect being low key for accommodation establishments in Camps Bay, for example. Guests from Germany staying at Whale Cottage Camps Bay had read about the Jazz Festival in their guide book, and were most disappointed that they were unable to book tickets on arrival in Cape Town.

Last year the Cape Town International Jazz Festival generated just short of R500 million for the Western Cape economy, and created 2700 jobs.  Attendance has more than doubled over the 13 year history of the Jazz Festival.

It is embarrassing to read the media statements by Michael Bagraim, President of the Cape Town Chamber of Commerce, who described March as a ‘second Christmas for Cape Town, and I believe it is getting bigger year on year’.  If we compare our Whale Cottage Camps Bay occupancy for February (89%) and March (74%), it is clear that Mr Bagraim’s descriptor should apply to February and not March.  The March occupancy is on a par with that of March 2010, well up on the poor 60% last year, but still far below the 2007 – 2009 period of 94% plus.  The Cape Town Carnival had a minimal hospitality benefit, and the Argus Cycle Tour had fewer out-of-town participants, with few Camps Bay guest houses fully booked for that weekend. Only one of our Whale Cottage Camps Bay rooms was taken by guests attending the International Jazz Festival.  Mr Bagraim seems to be poorly briefed for media statements, most being irresponsible, and embarrassing for our tourism industry in hitting such false notes!

In hosting ‘Black Diamond’ guests from Johannesburg for the International Jazz Festival, who had not pre-booked but had called from the airport for a room, the cultural differences across two spectrums of South Africa were evident.  At breakfast, for example, which we allowed them to eat as late as at midday, they expressed their disappointment that we serve a standard Continental and English breakfast. They were expecting gravy and baked beans with their eggs.  They shared the room with a third visitor, not booked, and were surprised that they had to pay for him too. SA Tourism may have to embark on an educational campaign, to explain to accommodation establishments the breakfast and other expectations of the ‘New Horizon’s Families’, as they call this market segment, while accommodation establishment do’s and don’ts should be communicated to prospective domestic tourists too.

What was noticeable is how many events were scheduled for this past weekend, including the Cape Town International Jazz Festival, the Toffie Pop Festival, rugby matches, Franschhoek Summer Wines, and a massive Kfm KDay concert at Val de Vie. One wonders why all these events were hosted on the same weekend, instead of being stretched out over the whole month of March.

Given that the Cape Town International Jazz Festival is based in Cape Town, one would like to encourage the organisers to market the festival to locals too, and for them to keep an allocation of tickets for tourists who happen to be in the city at the time of the Festival, to allow them to experience this top event. We would love to see the Cape Town International Jazz Festival to run over a long weekend in future, such as the one coming up at the end of April.

POSTSCRIPT 2/4: The Times asked today if headline act Lauren Hill, who was a last minute stand in for Jill Scott, could be ‘over the hill?’, receiving negative publicity, half the audience at her Klippies concert walking out due to poor sound and ‘erratic vocals’.  ESP Afrika Jazz Festival Organiser Rashid Lombard blamed Hill’s management for wanting to manage the sound themselves.

POSTSCRIPT 8/4: The Times reported that the Cape Town International Jazz Festival is not expected ‘to break even financially’, despite its record attendance. The cost of hosting the Festival is R35 million, with R7 million coming from the Department of Arts and Culture.  The newspaper also quotes Rashid Lombard as saying that the planned expansion of the Cape Town International Convention Centre will double the size of the Festival, and to reach 470000 by 2018, a commendable if not daunting target!  Lombard hopes to see the Jazz Festival can be structured like the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, ‘for which all hotels, restaurants and the host city, and all structures of government, get together and contribute the event’s success’.

Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter:@WhaleCottage