Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Media introduction to the Paarl Ommiberg Festival

We were up very early to catch the bus in the Waterfront which took us to Mellasat.
Our driver, Leon, ferried us safely from the V&A Waterfront to each of the destinations we visited in Paarl and then back again
We were welcomed by owner Stephen Richardson, the new President of the Paarl Wine Route
Mellasat's range of wines
Mellasat has an interesting collection of ancient wines in the cellar. Some could be worth trying....
All the media were given nice straw hats, which we wore all day. We were very thankful for them in the heat
Lance Nash of Black Pearl Winery and Emma Borg of Painted Wolf joined us to tell us what they will be doing at the Ommiberg festival. Check out the programme here 
We all enjoyed a glass of Cathedral Cellars MCC 2009 
while listening to the programme
Lance Nash, Stephen Richardson, Annelize Stroebel, Paarl Councillor Thys Smit and Emma Borg
Then a canapé breakfast buffet was served...
....before we went into the cellar with Stephen to taste the new wines which have just gone into barrel to ferment. First were two different barrels of the unusual white pinotage they make, then a wild yeast chardonnay. If you attend the festival, you too will be able to taste these wines from this farm and many others, together with a zwiebelküchen (onion tart). This is an old German tradition called “Federweiss”. This is free and will go on as long as the stock of onion tart lasts.
Emma Borg, PRO Charmaine Baird and Annelize Stroebel
Stephen shows us the barrels of new wine
and then, using a wine thief, pours us all a small portion to taste. As you can see the wine is cloudy with yeast. Do not swallow this fermenting wine or you will burp for hours afterwards. Taste and spit and see if you can determine what it will become when it has finished the process
Then it was back on the bus and the groups of media were split up and sent to different wine farms. Our destination, together with Maryna Strachan and PR person Charmaine Baird, was Rhebokskloof, owned by the Laker Family
where we were welcomed by Anton du Toit, their Marketing and Sales Manager, and Rochelle Kotzé, who runs Public Relations and Marketing at Paarl Media
Rhebokskloof caters for lots of functions and this long room is used for corporate blending experiences - our next activity
We split into two teams, Maryna and Charmaine Baird vs the two Fords. Our instruction was to take the 4 different Shirazes and make a friendly and easy drinking blend of them. A wine similar to this will be made by the winemaker and be on sale at the festival.
Rhebokskloof's new label is just acid etched onto their bottles, with a paper label on the back
We take this seriously and got down to blending. We all made two blends, Maryna and Charmaine, working together. John and I love doing this so much we decided to work separately and make our own two blends.
Then the six blends were judged by the winemaker Rolanie  Lotz and Consulting wine maker Francois Naude. They liked two blends which were very different and the winning blend was made by Maryna and Charmaine. Well done
Lots of tasting and discussing went on
While we waited with bated breath. If you want to do this with a group, your wine club or as a corporate function, please contact the farm
Then it was on to Red Table restaurant at Nederburg,
where we all gathered for lunch on the terrace. They really need to try harder
and refreshed ourselves with a delicious bottle or two of Nederburg’s The Anchorman 2012 Chenin Blanc
The lovely manor house in dappled shade
and back on the bus to go to the enormous winemaking facilities of KWV in the centre of Paarl. 
These old casks have always a been a feature of the cellar
but now are overtaken by a forest of huge stainless steel tanks containing millions of litres of wine
The Mentors winemaker Izelle van Blerk tells us about the harvest and the many places the grapes are coming in from. You can see the trucks queuing in the background.
This is where the grapes are downloaded into the crushers
Inside it is damp and cool and smells wonderfully of fresh grape juice and yeast
Each tank has its vital information slip
Cathedral cellars indeed
We tasted several of the young fermenting wines here too, guided by winemaker Kobus van der Merwe
Gathered round a barrel
Grapes being tipped into the cellars
These grapes are a very fine Cabernet Franc destined for The Mentors range which were given a very careful and gentle de-stemming and then hand triage was done on the separate berries. With such specialised treatment as this, you know they will be able to produce a very fine wine.
We taste the Sir Lowry’s Pass Malbec from the tank. Dark purple in colour, deep and fruity with some sharp acids, all good characteristics at this stage.. Also a Darling pinotage which had that rusty nail character present in many pinotages.
There is still wine aging in this huge cask! 1997 Cathedral Cellar Cabernet Sauvignon
Norman McFarlane sees if he can move it. Norman, there is weight lifting and then there is this...
Another huge cask still in use for a Dry Hanepoot from 1999
Our final stop was the lovely Laborie 
with its Harvest restaurant, where we had some of their great MCC and some great snacks while we heard more about the coming festival
Several of us finally needed to sit down
KWV Marketing manager Jeff Gradwell with Anel Grobler and Kalinka Lombard
Jeff Gradwell with Matthew Gordon, Executive Chef of Harvest, the very good restaurant on Laborie
Muggins left the Nikon's battery on its charger, so all these photographs were taken on his Nokia Lumia 920
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© John & Lynne Ford, Adamastor & Bacchus 2014
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