NOVEMBER 2009

Bookings have picked up, and Whale Cottage Camps Bay is having a successful month, and occupancy should be 90 % for November, not far below that of previous years. In Hermanus and Franschhoek occupancy appears to be vastly down, in a month that is usually one of the two best months of the year. Plettenberg Bay is also quieter, yet close to sold out between mid-December to mid- January.

The FIFA World Cup Final Draw takes place in Cape Town on 4 December, and it will give the country, and especially Cape Town, a first taste of what this massive soccer event is all about. The effect is already evident, with the first week of December close to sold out at Whale Cottage Camps Bay, in a period that is usually quiet.

November is always an exciting month, as the Prudential Eat Out Top 10 restaurants are announced. We attended the glamorous awards evening last night, and salute the worthy restaurant winners. See the story below.

We are always excited when guests choose one of our Whale Cottages for their wedding ceremony. Heike and Theo Plueck chose Whale Cottage Hermanus for their small and intimate marriage, and our manager Carole was their wedding witness. Despite unseasonal weather, the Pluecks enjoyed their wedding and honeymoon: "Es war einfach wunderschoen. Carole und ihre Maedels waren super nett und haben uns einen wunderschoenen Hochzeitstag bereitet".


 Whale Cottage Plettenberg Bay

We proudly celebrate the 2nd anniversary of Whale Cottage Plettenberg Bay, our state of the art guest house that set a new benchmark for décor and interior design for the Whale Cottage Portfolio.

Whale Cottage is one of 19 million Twitter users, and loving this medium! We invite our readers to follow us on Twitter, or to become a fan on Facebook.

Chris von Ulmenstein
Owner, Whale Cottage Portfolio


IN THIS MONTH'S NEWSLETTER
Prudential Eat Out Top 10 winners cause a stir!
200 days to FIFA kick-off!
Cape Town remains tops in Africa
Wine guides for the trade and for the people!

Sweet & Sour Service Awards




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Eat Out
 

PRUDENTIAL EAT OUT TOP 10 WINNERS CAUSE A STIR!

 

  

The past year has been a tough one for the restaurant industry, as it has been for businesses in most of the world. Many restaurateurs complain about November not being a good month for them.

The credit crunch became very real in Cape Town earlier this year when a great restaurant such as The Showroom, owned by previous Top 10 chef Bruce Robertson, went into liquidation. Other restaurant closures included Madame Zingara, Geisha Wok, the Sundance Coffee chain, a Melissa’s branch in Green Point, Donatella’s, Bouillabaisse in Cape Town, Café Delmar in Camps Bay, and Crepe Suzette. As recently as last week Bruce Robertson closed The Quarter, his small gourmet bunny-chow shop below the New Space Theatre – he will keep the space for special client dinners and presentations.

Yet, in the past two months, as if the restaurateurs had an inside track on an economy that has shaken off the recession, new restaurants opened in Cape Town and the winelands, one after the other. The first to open was Portofino, housed in the space previously that of The Showroom, quickly causing a stir due to the publication of controversial e-mail correspondence. Never has a restaurant made itself so well-known in so short a time.

Other interesting new restaurants that opened recently are a new Reubens in Robertson, The Duchess of Wisbeach and La Boheme in Sea Point, L’Aperitivo, Camils’ Restaurant (owned by Camil and Ingrid Haas, previously owners of Crepe Suzette and Bouillabaisse in Cape Town), Vanilla and Cru Café in the new grand Cape Quarter, Crepe et Cidre and the Station Pub in Franschhoek, Hermanos in Hermanus, Bombay Bicycle Club (a new project of ex-Madame Zingara “ringmaster” Richard Griffin), the Restaurant at wine estate Clos Malverne, Beefcakes, Doppio Zero in Green Point, Café Chic in Gardens, and the Freedom Hill Country Restaurant between Paarl and Franschhoek. The new restaurant at Waterkloof wine estate in Somerset West opens next month, and promises to be excellent. Warwick wine estate launches its gourmet picnics, under the guidance of Chef Bruce Robertson next month too. Top 10 chef Bertus Basson of Overture has introduced La Pique nique, at the Hidden Valley wine estate.

Allee Bleue wine estate outside Franschhoek is constantly coming up with new ideas, and now offers a gourmet picnic, a new menu in its beautiful new winetasting room, a beer garden with a special menu, and occasional High Tea, as well as sushi and wine pairing. The management of Klein Genot, the Franschhoek wine estate, has taken over Genot restaurant, with a new menu, utilizing Baia in the V&A Waterfront as its model but at lower prices, thereby offering the largest choice of fish dishes in Franschhoek. Ginja, a previous Top 10 restaurant, has moved from its previous shabby location off Buitengracht Street to the previous Nova/Relish location at the start of New Church Street. Bukhara, Cape Town’s top Indian restaurant, has re-opened in Burg Street, after a fire necessitated a long renovation.

The Prudential Eat Out Top 10 restaurant list can make, or break, restaurants, and so the tension in the Westin Grand was high when the Top 10 countdown began last night. Eat Out editor Abigail Donnelly indicated that the choice for this year’s Top 10 was very tough, and clarified that a chef owning more than one restaurant (e.g. Reuben Riffel) could be eligible for an award, as could a chef who will spend more time away from his namesake restaurant (Jardine), at his new Country Restaurant at Jordan winery. In recent years a Top 20 list is announced a few months prior to the November highlight, and this year the new players on this list were The Round House in Camps Bay (who bravely stated at their inception that they want to be the best restaurant in Africa, and who are very Big Brother – read why here), the Green House in the Cellars Hohenhort restaurant, and Carne.

The winners of the 2010 Prudential Eat Out Top 10 are as follows:

1.   La Colombe
2.   Restaurant Mosaic
3.   Rust en Vrede Restaurant
4.   Terroir
5.   The Roundhouse
6.   The Restaurant at Grande Provence
7.   The Green House at the Cellars
8.   Roots
9.   9th Avenue Bistro
10. Tasting Room at Le Quartier Français & Overture

The tension, excitement and shock was felt by all in the Westin Grand last night, when the winners were announced. The first surprise of the evening was that Abigail Donnelly, the editor of Eat Out magazine, had created two new Awards categories, in which only she had a say in the winners. The Best Country Kitchen Award went to a perennial favourite - Marianna's in Stanford - while, very surprisingly, the other new category was Best Bistro, which was won by Bizerca Bistro in Cape Town, a top 20 Award finalist. This made it clear that Bizerca would not make the Top 10 Eat Out Awards list for 2010. Many heads were shaking, and it sounded as if Bizerca had won a consolation prize.

The next shock was that the 10th place winner was a jointly placed Tasting Room at Le Quartier Francais and Overture, once again sounding as if the judges could not decide which of the two restaurants to drop into 11th position, making both these restaurants joint 10th winners, and thus creating a Eat Out Top 11 Restaurants Awards this year! The list also created a stir in that Jardine fell out of the top list completely (from number 2 last year), as did Hartford House.

La Colombe, 9th Avenue Bistro, Mosaic, Terroir, The Tasting Room, Roots and Overture were also on the Top 10 list last year. Cape Town and the winelands retains its reputation as the gourmet centre of South Africa, 3 awards going to Stellenbosch, 2 to Franschhoek, and 3 to Cape Town. Chantel Dartnall of Mosaic in Pretoria won the Chef of the Year award.

  

Established restaurants revisited by WhaleTales recently were Bosmans, Delaire Graff, and Seafood at The Marine, and all received critical comment about not being as perfect as they should be.

The 2010 edition of Rossouw’s Restaurants, an independent restaurant guide that judges restaurants informally from 1 - 3 stars, was launched earlier this month. The biggest shock in the guide was the exclusion of Le Quartier Francais’ Tasting Room in the 3-star restaurant category, it being designated as “bubbling under” by the author JP Rossouw. Other “bubbling under” restaurants include Terroir, a long-standing Eat Out Top 10 restaurant, new restaurant The Roundhouse, Belthazar in the V&A Waterfront, The Greenhouse at the Cellars Hohenhort, and Mosaic. In total 14 restaurants were awarded 3-stars by Rossouw, of which eight are in the Cape Town and Winelands areas: Aubergine, Bizerca, Jardine, Joostenberg Bistro (a surprise!), La Colombe, Overture, Reuben’s, and Rust en Vrede. The remaining 3-star winners are Ile de Pain and Zachary’s in Knysna, Mariana’s in Stanford, Ritrovo in Pretoria, and The Butcher Shop & Grill and Thomas Maxwell Bistro in Johannesburg. Rossouw defines a 3-star restaurant as one that “shines in its price point and offers a truly special food experience…. it’s the all-round feeling of pleasure that’s created by a lovely space, warm hospitality, good service, and crackerjack food. Track record is also important : three star restaurants should consistently deliver on their promise”.

A new coffee table book, called “Franschhoek Food” and written by Myrna Robbins, was launched in Franschhoek earlier this month. Focusing on top Franschhoek restaurants, including Reubens, Haute Cabriere, Grande Provence, Bouillabaisse, La Residence, Genot and Dieu Donne, a number of recipes of each restaurant are included in the book. Each dish also has wine pairing suggestions.

200 days to FIFA kick-off!

 

200 DAYS TO FIFA KICK-OFF!

 

  

Cape Town is in a frenzy to beautify itself before the world's media and the FIFA big brass come to Cape Town for the FIFA Final Draw on 4 December, which will be held in the Cape Town International Convention Centre. Roadworks are hastily being completed, to make Cape Town look at its best for the very important event in the FIFA 2010 World Cup programme. For the first time, the driving and advertising exclusion zone has been announced, simply through an ad in the newspaper, outlining the 'Final Draw Controlled Access and Exclusion Zones'. The block of streets between Ross Street, 2 streets parallel to Buitengracht Street in Green Point/De Waterkant and Parliament Street, and Buitensingel Street/N1/N2 entrances to Buitengracht Street, now has restrictions placed upon it until 12 December, in terms of the City of Cape Town's 2010 By-law. No advertising linked to the World Cup may appear in this zone in the period specified, without formal FIFA permission, and businesses may also not "change their normal business operation without approval from the City of Cape Town", says the ad! The ad warns that access into the zone on 4 December may be restricted.

On the day of the Final Draw, a public viewing area will be established at the top of Long Street, and restaurants in the area are stocking up on supplies for thirsty soccer fans, fearing lack of access for deliveries on the big day. It is expected that 20 000 visitors will attend the Final Draw party in Long Street. A section of Long Street will be cordoned off on 3 December already, reports the Cape Argus. The FIFA Final Draw will randomly select which teams play against each other in which locations, influencing where the teams are based during the World Cup period, and is the precursor to accommodation bookings and other arrangements for the big soccer event. FIFA President Sepp Blatter is also expected to announce the location of the Fan Fest venues for 2010.

The 32 teams that have qualified for the 2010 World Cup are: Portugal, France (a controversial match, for which a replay is being demanded by the Irish), Slovenia, Greece, Algeria, Uruguay, Japan, the Netherlands, North Korea, Australia, South Korea, the USA, Brazil, Ghana, England, Paraguay, Spain, Denmark, Ivory Coast, Chile, Germany, Italy, Mexico, Serbia, Argentina, Switzerland, Honduras, Slovakia, Nigeria, Cameroon, New Zealand and South Africa. The Japanese team is setting up its base camp at Fancourt in George, while the German team is said to be considering Val de Vie, between Paarl and Franschhoek.

The new Cape Town Stadium has been completed and handed over by the building contractors to the City of Cape Town, reports the Cape Argus. The R 4,5 billion stadium has had all its seats installed, the grass pitch has been grown from seeds planted 3 weeks ago, the outer facade has been recleaned and painted after the storms earlier this month dirtied some of the exterior, and the signage erected, all in time for the roofwetting party.

The stadium allows spectators a good view onto the pitch. Spectators will not be more than 190 meters away from the soccer action. Two special VIP boxes are contained in the stadium - one for FIFA President Sepp Blatter, and the other one is speculated to be for President Jacob Zuma. Three events will be held at the Cape Town Stadium in the first half of next year, to test it before the 2010 World Cup.

Despite sales of 650 000 World Cup tickets in total to date, few of them have been sold to African soccer fans, with the exception of those in South Africa, report the Cape Times and Cape Argus. South Africans (350 000) have bought just more than half of all the World Cup tickets, followed by soccer fans from the USA (86 000), the UK (50 000), and Germany (25 000). Addressing Parliament earlier this month, World Cup Local Organising Committee CEO Danny Jordaan speculated that soccer fans from Africa were waiting for their teams to qualify before they bought tickets. Jordaan said that he was disappointed that ticket sales from South Africa’s closest neighbours were still poor. Local Organising Committee’s Irvin Khoza said that he wanted more South Africans to buy tickets, and a marketing campaign to achieve this will be launched after the FIFA Final Draw. He said that rumours that the special South African low-priced tickets, at R 140, had been sold out, were incorrect.

Jordaan confirmed that vuvuzelas would be welcomed at the soccer matches, but should they land on the pitch, they would be banned immediately – ‘it should be used as a friendly, welcoming instrument , not as a weapon or missile’. During the 2010 World Cup, the Global Icons Expo-Tainment Experience will take place at the Cape Town International Convention Centre, for the duration of the World Cup, reports Southern African Tourism Update. The expo sees 24 countries exhibiting, a different country every day, reflecting that country’s “sights, sounds and flavours in one global village.

The Waterfront is set to become a soccer village during the 2010 World Cup, reports the Cape Argus. Open areas in the Waterfront will become hospitality and match-viewing areas, while the Victoria Wharf shopping centre will be decorated with ‘larger-than-life’ soccer balls, interactive games and other World Cup memorabilia, according the V & A ’s newly appointed 2010 Commercial Director, John Elliot. Elliot comes to Cape Town from Australia, having been involved in the Sydney Olympics, the World Cup in Germany, and a number of Commonwealth Game and rugby world cup events. He is planning to make the Waterfront a “football environment with a lot of football content”. “It must be a safe and fun experience for all visitors. We expect a large contingent of fans, tourists and locals, and strive to make their visit to the V & A unforgettable”. He is working with FIFA sponsors Coca Cola, Sony and Adidas on an activity plan for the soccer tournament. Top soccer stars have been booked for promotional appearances. The Waterfront expects 100 000 visitors per day, and even more at the time of the semi-final.

The World Cup soccer fans coming to South Africa next year will unfortunately be the target of overpricing of car rental, hotel accommodation and air transport, according to a number of travel industry players interviewed by Travel News Weekly. Tour operators and travel agents complain about the “2010 rip-off”, and many have been quoted double the normal accommodation rate by hotels. Showing their greedy side, the hotels are also cutting the commission percentage they are offering agents, given that they expect to be fully booked. “It is great for those making the money, but in the long run, it is going to reflect badly on South Africa” said an agent. Others have decided to not be part of the ‘rip-off brigade’, and Dorienne Levitt of African Stay said as follows: “I have decided to not be part of that and am only dealing with providers who offer reasonable prices. I will try my hardest not to use vendors who are acting without integrity, during 2010 and thereafter”. In addition the conditions set by hotels with minimum stays of 8 - 30 days are too stringent, agents say. The Travel News Weekly article also quotes Brett Dungan, the national CEO of FEDHASA, as saying that his organisation would not “associate with nor support hotels that were not affiliated to MATCH and were “ripping off” clients. The reason why we have been working so closely with MATCH is to eradicate the issue of price gouging”. But it is MATCH that is ripping soccer fans off, by adding 30 % commission on all its contracted accommodation rates! Whale Cottage has been widely quoted on its views about the MATCH rip-off, and refuses to sign up with them as a result! Transport costs too have soared, with car rental prices doubling from the already high 2009 Confederations Cup rates levels. Avis says it will increase its rates by 15 - 20 %, justifying this on the basis of “the expected demand and additional work required”!

Airfares for 2010 too are a rip-off, for both incoming and outgoing flights, and for domestic travel, that is if any tickets can be found to be available. Most airlines have not released their seats for the World Cup period. Domestic flight tickets are likely to cost double the normal fare, reports the Weekend Argus, at about R 3 800 for a return airfare between Johannesburg and Cape Town on SAA, and at R 5 300 on BA/Comair. International flight prices are set to triple, the airlines milking a money-making opportunity after many years of tough trading. Coach companies too have imposed “crippling conditions”, agents say.

The company that organised Live Aid 1985 and Live Earth 2007 has been appointed by FIFA to organise a rock concert in the Orlando Stadium on the day before the start of the 2010 World Cup, i.e. on 10 June. Emmy Award-winning producer Kevin Wall and his company Control Room will produce the Official Kick-Off Celebration Concert, a 3-hour event featuring major international and African pop stars, together with special appearances by past and present football stars. The show will be broadcast around the world, and is expected to be the biggest entertainment event ever to be hosted in Africa. All proceeds after expenses will go to the FIFA 2010 World Cup “20 centers for 2010″ campaign, reports BizCommunity.com. No details have been announced as to the stars that have been invited to perform. The concert organizer wants the concert to be an African music concert in the first instance. Beyonce, Jay-Z, and the Black Eyed Peas are some of the stars that will be invited, reported The Times.

The Western Cape province and the BBC have signed a deal, which allows the BBC to set up its broadcasting headquarters on top of the Somerset Hospital close to the new Cape Town stadium, and adjacent to the V & A Waterfront, reports the Cape Times. A special glass top roof will be constructed on top of the hospital building, allowing the BBC to broadcast the 2010 World Cup from Cape Town with a view of Table Mountain, and of the Cape Town Stadium. Soccer star Gary Lineker will be the BBC’s host for the soccer event. The studio will not interfere with the operation of the hospital.

Cape Town remains tops in Africa

 

CAPE TOWN REMAINS TOPS IN AFRICA

 
  

Cape Town undoubtedly is Africa’s favourite city, winning accolade after accolade for its beauty and friendliness. Cape Town has been voted as the second favourite holiday city in the world by more than 19 000 UK Guardian and Observer readers. The Mother City ranked 7th last year, and has made a fantastic leap to follow Sydney, as the favourite overseas city, into second place. New York, San Francisco and Berlin followed as 3rd, 4th and 5th favourite overseas cities. The full list of awards can be read here.

Cape Town has been chosen as the top incentive destination in the world and is included in the UK Conferences and Incentives magazine 2009 Hot List. Readers of the magazine had to vote for their favourite incentive destinations. “It is clear that our excellent value for money, creative and growing incentive industry and the warm hospitality of our people contribute towards Cape Town as a long haul destination being a hot and attractive proposition to the UK incentive buyers” said Calvyn Gilfellan, CEO of Cape Town Routes Unlimited. In December next year 500 incentive buyers will attend the Society of Incentive Travel Executives international conference in Cape Town, the first time that the conference will be held in Africa. It is estimated to generate R 6 million for the local economy.

Cape Town has been voted the 8th best city in the world by Conde Nast Traveller readers, behind New York, Paris, Rome, Sydney, Barcelona, Venice and San Francisco. South Africa has been voted the 8th favourite country in the world by the Conde Nast Traveller readers, after Italy, New Zealand, Turkey, Australia, France, Egypt and the USA. The main attraction to South Africa as a holiday destination is its variety of attractions.

In the Leisure Hotels in the Middle East, Africa and Indian Ocean Island category, South African properties did exceptionally well, with Bushman’s Kloof near Clanwilliam having been voted 3rd best Leisure Hotel, followed by the Twelve Apostles Hotel in Camps Bay in 4th place, Singita in 10th place, Ulusaba Private Game Reserve (which belongs to Sir Richard Branson) in 16th place, and Sabi Sabi in 19th place. The Pezula Spa in Knysna won the top vote for Spa in an overseas country, while the Sanctuary Spa at the Twelve Apostles Hotel was voted 11th best spa in the same category.

The first ever meeting of Tourism Ministers from around the world will be hosted by and held in South Africa in February, reports Engineering News. The Minister of Tourism Marthinus van Schalkwyk announced that the G20 of Tourism Ministers will meet from 22 - 24 February. The theme of the G20 meeting will be “Travel and Tourism: stimuli for G20 economies”. He stated that this country’s tourism industry had better withstood the global economic crisis, compared to such sectors as construction, real estate and car manufacturing. He announced that in 2008 South Africa had received 9,5 million arrivals, a 5,5 % increase compared to the year before. The global tourism growth average has been 2 % for the same period. The 2009 tourism growth may be under pressure, the Minister said, and therefore a co-ordinated international response to the tourism downturn was needed. The Minister also announced that South Africa has been elected to the executive council of the United Nations World Tourism Organisation. The Organisation recognises the role that tourism plays in creating jobs - 75 million worldwide - and is an important generator of small and medium businesses. Linked to the G20 meeting of Tourism Ministers, South Africa will also host the United Nations World Tourism Organisation/South Africa Summit on Tourism, Sport and Mega-events, from 24 - 26 February next year, in Sandton. It will help South Africa to plan for the 2010 FIFA World Cup.

Peter Bacon, former Sun International CEO, and current Chairman of Cape Town Routes Unlimited, has been appointed as Chairman of the Tourism Grading Council of South Africa Awards Committee, and as a Board member of South African Tourism, reports The Citizen. The Awards Committee of the Tourism Grading Council evaluates the stars awarded to accommodation establishments, not just for new establishments, but also for the annual renewal. The Minister of Tourism, Marthinus van Schalkwyk, lauded the appointments of Bacon, and the role he can play. Bacon appears to be a very low-key operator, not having made any public statements since he took over the chairmanship of controversial Cape Town Routes Unlimited two years ago. He is perhaps more publicly known as the husband of Anneline Kriel, a former Miss World.

The new Departures Terminal at Cape Town International opened two weeks ago. Built at a cost of R 1,6 billion, the 200 meter-long terminal will have a common check-in area for departing domestic and international passengers, with 120 check-in and 20 self-service check-in desks. Security screening is centralised, and 5 new airbridges have been built. A R 103 million automatic baggage sorting system has been built, and 30 shops and restaurants will cater for passengers’ needs. The second parkade, with an additional 4 000 parking bays, will open in phases from December onwards. A new consolidated car-rental facility will open in February, and in March the road upgrade is expected to be completed.

The Department of Tourism has awarded 29 South African beaches blue flag status, up from 19 beaches last year, reports Southern African Tourism Update. Six of the beaches are in Cape Town (Camps Bay, Big Bay in Blouberg, Muizenberg, Clifton, Mnandi beach, and Strandfontein) and sixteen beaches are in other areas of the Western Cape, meaning that more than half of the blue flag beaches are in the Western Cape. Blue flag beaches in the rest of the Western Cape are MacDougall’s Bay in Port Nolloth, Bikini beach in Gordon’s Bay, Hawston and Grotto beaches in Hermanus, Yzerfontein beach, Kleinmond beach, Lappiesbaai beach in Stilbaai, Santos beach in Mossel Bay, Robberg beach in Plettenberg Bay and Dolphin beach in Jeffrey’s Bay. Municipalities have seen the benefits to tourism in their areas of being awarded blue-flag beach status, ensuring that the beaches in their areas are clean, safe and well-managed. South Africa is one of 38 countries participating in the Blue Flag programme. The full list of South African Blue Flag beaches is available here.

The Cape Quarter extension on the block of Somerset/Napier/Dixon/Jarvis Roads in De Waterkant in Cape Town will become a focal point of Cape Town entertainment, and of decor and design shopping. It also will be on the route of 2010 World Cup soccer fans walking to the new Cape Town Stadium from the city center transport and parking hub. It opened in October. The new extension has been developed on a far larger and grander scale, with 10 000 sq. meters of retail space and 8 700 sq. meters of office space, reports the Weekend Argus. Deloitte’s has taken 5 000 sq. meters of office space. Impressively a modern building has been built against the facades of beautiful historic buildings which are erstwhile industrial buildings and warehouses, on Somerset Road, which have been spruced up and repainted. The center offers 1 000 parking bays, an important requirement due to the shortage of parking in De Waterkant in general. Currently parking is free of charge.

Restaurants in the Cape Quarter include Cru Café, Voila, Vanilla, Kuzina - Greekooking, LAZARI, BICCCS (Bread, Ice Cream, Cakes, Coffee, Croissants, Sandwiches) and Andiamo Espresso. The star of the centre at the moment is the most amazing Spar Gourmet Food Store at the entrance, with 1 600 sq. meters. Furniture and decor shops to open include Gonsenhauser’s Fine Rugs, Victorian Bathrooms, Bank’s Kitchen Boutique, EuroCasa, Pierre Cronje, and homeware shops. It will have a Hilton Spa, a gym, hairdresser, a range of 15 fashion shops, 4 arts and curio shops, a Tops liquor store, and a pet shop.

Wine guides for the trade and for the people!
 

WINE GUIDES FOR THE TRADE AND FOR THE PEOPLE!

 
  

Within a week of each other, Platters and a new The People’s Guide to wines have been launched. Platter’s, South Africa’s most used wine guide has celebrated its 30th anniversary with the launch of its 2010 edition. The Platter’s South African Wines 2010 edition evaluated 6 000 wines, and 41 of these were rated as 5-star, the highest number of top rated wines ever selected. This year the 5-star wines were selected for the first time by means of a blind tasting from a short-list of 105 top wines. At the launch last week, the Winery of the Year Award went to Sadie Family Wines. The winery’s Palladius 2008 won the Platter’s White Wine of the Year accolade. Sadie Family Wines was one of the first estates to explore winemaking in the Swartland, and “continues to set the benchmark and to retain its status as a true Cape icon”, said editor Philip van Zyl. Villiera Wines’ 2009 Chenin Blanc won the Superquaffer of the Year award. The 2010 Platter’s lists 6 000 wines, and 800 wineries and brands, of which 50 are new ones, together with information on what to do, where to sleep and where to eat in the Winelands. The focus is on 2010, and the events to be hosted by the wineries during the 2010 World Cup are listed in the wine directory. As sustainability is the central challenge for the wine industry, Platter’s has launched an electronic version of its directory via Apple iPhone and iPod Touch, in conjunction with Wine-Oh! Also, the company is up-grading its web presence, and will run courses for wine farmers on online wine marketing with e-business company Britefire and the University of Stellenbosch Business School. The 2011 edition of Platter’s will focus on wine estates’ sustainability, it was announced at the launch.

For the first time, a wine guide has been published that is aimed at the consumer rather than the wine producer or retail trade. "The People's Guide" has been written by Michael Olivier and Neil Pendock, both acknowledged as being knowledgeable about wines. The book aims at making wine-buying "easy, fun and innovative". It contains tasting notes of 561 wines, selected from 1 200 wines representing the Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Methode Cap Classique, Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz, Merlot and Pinotage varieties. Relevant information is provided for each wine, including its "flavour profile", what one can expect to pay, which foods to serve the wine with, and other quirky facts. The authors say that the wine guide "....clearly, objectively and honestly provides the wine lover with the information he or she wants to know. And despite all the hot air surrounding wine, the whims of the customer are simple: what wine tastes good and how much does it cost." They also pride themselves on having made their selection on the basis of blind wine-tasting, as opposed to the (unnamed) Platter's wine guide, which has not chosen its 5-star wines by means of blind tastings in the past. Wine ratings on the basis of blind/sighted tastings are a very controversial issue at the moment, and are a hobby-horse for co-author Neil Pendock specifically.

Franschhoek cheeses and wines are paired by Franschhoek Cellar, at special cheese and wine pairing sessions which can be booked in advance. Franschhoek Cellar has six varieties it pairs with six Truckles cheeses made in Franschhoek. For example, the Franschhoek Cellar Statue de Femme Sauvignon Blanc is paired with the Truckles goat milk cheese, the Baker Station Syrah is paired with the Truckles Gorgonzola, The Chenin Blanc with Truckles Gruyere, the Chardonnay with Truckles Camembert, and the Merlot with extra mature Truckles Boerenkaas.

The Hermanus Hemel & Aarde Valley has some of the country’s best wines, and its Pinot Noir and Chardonnays are legend. The growing number of wine producers in this fertile valley at the entrance to Hermanus have formed the Hemel en Aarde Winegrowers’ Association, a blend of the Hemel-en -Aarde Valley, Upper Hemel-en-Aarde Valley and Hemel-en-Aarde Ridge wine wards in the Walker Bay Wine District. A new Hermanus Wine Route has been created. The wine estates in the new Association are Hamilton Russell Vineyards, Southern Right, Ashbourne, Bouchard Finlayson, Vrede, La Vierge, Sumaridge, Newton Johnson, Lelienfontein, Pearly Gates, Southend, Tokara - Siberia Vineyards, Hemel-en-Aarde Country Retreat, Deja Vu, Hemelzicht, Klein Hemel, Spookfontein, Ataraxia, Babylon Farm Vineyards, Creation, Mount Babylon, Jakob’s Vineyards, and Domaine des Dieux. The area’s wines are strongly influenced by the close proximity to the ocean.

Sweet & Sour Service Awards

 

SWEET & SOUR SERVICE AWARDS

 
  

The Sweet & Sour Service Awards are presented weekly, every Friday, on the Whale Cottage Portfolio WhaleTales blog www.whalecottage.com/blog. Nominations for a Sweet Service or a Sour Service Award are welcomed from WhaleTales readers. Please send an e-mail to info@whalecottage.com.

The Sweet Service Award winners in the past eight weeks are the following:

The Hall Collection, for generously offering leftovers from a lunch at no cost … read more

Andiamo Espresso, at the entrance of the new Cape Quarter, who did not charge a customer for a wrong flavour of ice cream served read more
Oyo at the V & A Hotel, for a wonderful crayfish lunch read more
Haute Cabriere, for hosting the guest house owners in Franschhoek read more
Plaisir de Merle, for excellent service during the Franschhoek Uncorked weekend ... read more
The Greek Fisherman, for their invitation to Camps Bay guest house owners ... read more
Allee Bleue, for their outstanding gourmet picnic which they offered to a class of French students at the Alliance Francaise ... read more
Belthezar, at the V&A Waterfront, for their friendliness to a regular customer … read more

The Sour Service Awards in the last two months went to the following:

ID Solutions, for the worst possible service relating to the purchase of an office chair ... read more
Milky Lane in Cavendish Square, for not serving an apple pancake, as they had run out of apples read more
The Minister of Police and his department, for excessive expenditure on accommodation and food in five star hotels read more
Rocketseed, a second Sour Award for a misleading call made by a salesperson read more
Chamonix in Franschhoek, for advertising one of the greatest attractions of Franschhoek Uncorked, a French market, but did not offer it … read more
The V&A Waterfront, for its 6-week long airconditioning replacement project, creating oven-like temperatures in shops, restaurants and cinemas read more
The Roadworks everywhere, especially between Franschhoek and Stellenbosch, around Somerset West, and on the N1 and N2 … read more
Robben Island, which closed its operation over a long weekend, for ferry spare parts to be flown in from Germany to fix a technical fault ... read more
 
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