Thursday, October 18, 2018

Tasting Villion wines in Bot River

On the way back from the party and our overnight stay in Hemel and Aarde, we stopped off at Barton Wine estate, which we have been meaning to visit for a long time; it has been closed on the previous occasions we have tried. It is in the Bot River wine ward, but all is not what it seems. Cellarmaster viticulturist PJ Geyer has now left and owners Annie and Suzie Neill are living in the UK. There is still some Barton wine on the farm to taste and buy, however. The farm has been leased to Villion wines and they are about to renovate the tasting room. We had a very pleasant tasting of Villion wines with Chanel van der Berg and a tasting of the Barton Rosé. Their wine is made by Kobie Viljoen, previously winemaker at Gabriëlskloof, and all the grapes are bought in
Just to amuse you, we want you to know that this tasting was truly collaborative. Lynne's palate has been shot by two strong antibiotics (temporary, we hope) and John had a nasty cold, so he couldn't smell much. So words (nose) and music (flavour) are by us both! a first ever; concerto..
The line-up of the wines we tasted. Prices range from R150 to R200 a bottle. A creamy soft and sweet Chenin blanc from 34 year-old Bot River vines; lots of vanilla oak with peaches and naartjies. R190. The 2016 Chardonnay is lightly wooded, with a pretty golden nose, with peaches, sweet on entry with long flavours and gentle wooding. R180. The 2016 Blanc de Atlantic is a blend of 68% Viognier, 22% Chardonnay & 10% Bot River Chenin. Apricots, peaches and cream and soft wood on the nose, sweet and hot on the palate with 14.5% alcohol. Full of orange naartjie and yellow cling peach deliciousness. R170
The very young and fresh, with raspberries on the nose, Barton Rosé, from lightly pressed Pinot Noir is a bargain at R70 a bottle. Tastes of strawberries and cream, good for summer enjoyment. 12.5% alcohol
More of the Villion wines. The Pinot Noir has vanilla oak, rose petals and rich dark berry fruit on the nose. Savoury on the palate, with cooked strawberry and cola tonic. The 2016 Syrah was our favourite wine of the tasting. Savoury from the small amount of Mourvedre added, with violets, spice, dark cherry, and elegance on the big nose. There is also a soupçon of Viognier added and this comes across with the soft sweet fruit, lots of spice, ripe juicy black cherries, some red berries and black pepper and cinnamon which even Lynne could taste. R150. The 2018 Cabernet Sauvignon R200 is classic Cabernet on the nose with cassis berries and green leaves and some violets. Warm cassis and vanilla, raspberry fruit, length, elegance and dark toasted wood on the end
The current tasting room at Barton, due for a revamp soon
The price list

A birthday party for two wine industry veterans, Allan Mullins and Peter Finlayson

These two large and much loved wine personalities are celebrating their 70th birthdays this month and we were delighted to be invited to join them both to celebrate. Allan Mullins, CWM and Wine Selector for Woolworths, turned 70 on Tuesday this week and Peter Finlayson of Bouchard Finlayson will do so next week on the 24th. The party was held at Bouchard Finlayson wine estate in the Hemel en Aarde Valley last Sunday and was so much fun
The party was held inside in the beautifully decorated function room (there was a South Easter blowing) and later we sat and ate at tables on the terrace of the tasting room
Chef Stefan Otto was in charge of braaiing the very fresh and well seasoned yellowtail
The rest of the food was brought by the guests and we had a lovely selection of salads and some canapés. Lynne made a classic from the original recipe by Constance Spry and Rosemary Hume; Coronation Chicken, which was first served in 1953 at Queen Elizabeth's coronation
There were hot Greek pies and macaroni and cheese, garlic bread, a Thai salad with waterblom, caprese salads and much, much more. Hilton Kuck produced superb chocolate mousse cakes for dessert
Quite a few winemaker friends of both, like Neil Ellis, Etienne le Riche, Peter and Ann Ferreira had come to join the party as had many other people in the wine industry
Fun speeches were made, lots of toasts and a reminder by Dr John Grant that when Allan first had his accident at 23 he was not expected to live to 30! So for him to get to 70 is huge. He intends to keep going, he says
Some of the guests, listening to the speeches and looking at the groaning table
and Lynne Sherriff MW travelled from London for the celebration
Here she is with Allan's wife Therese and Allan. We are not sure why she is wearing Dirndl but she looks great and was the life and soul of the party

Peter Finlayson, with his wife Geta, was also having a great time with the mutual gang. It was a very special party

Constantia Royale Sauvignon 2018 launch and Nova Zonnestraal cellar opening

For several years we celebrated special events with dinner at Parks, the restaurant operated in a lovely Victorian house at the foot of the Wynberg hill by Michael Olivier. We didn't know it at first, but it was part of the Zonnestraal Estate, owned at the time by Reg Parker. We'd been told that Mr Parker turned the old house into a restaurant so they he could entertain his friends without having to leave his estate. Most Capetonians have driven through the estate for the last 30 or so years because the M3 Blue Route freeway divided the estate when it was built. As this separated the two halves of the farm, a tunnel was built under the freeway to allow access between them. This tunnel has now been transformed into the storage cellar for the farm's wines and we were invited to the opening
The estate now belongs to Parker descendant Lynn Rowland. The property is part of the original Alphen estate, which dates back to the early 1700s. For many years, it produced table grapes, but the decision was made in 2002 to plant wine grapes: Sauvignon blanc, Merlot and Cabernet sauvignon. The cool Constantia climate is not the best for the Bordeaux reds, but is excellent for Sauvignon blanc and this is now the focus of their wine production. Semillon vines have been planted, but these are still too young for the grapes to be used. A portion of Semillon is used in the Sauvignon blanc to enhance it, but the grapes are bought in at present> Olives and thoroughbred horses are also important in the farm's portfolio
We were welcomed at the entrance to the cellar, next to the vineyard
Roger Burton (seen here with Rose, his wife) is the winemaker. Roger is well-known as consultant winemaker for Tierhoek in the Piekenierskloof area. He joined the Zonnestraal team as Constantia Royale winemaker in 2013. Roger has Constantia roots and a good understanding of the terroir, as he worked under Hermann Kirschbaum at nearby Buitenverwachting in the early part of his career
The 2016 Constantia Royale Sauvignon blanc earned 4½ stars in Platter and was a Top 20 finalist in this year's FNB Sauvignon blanc Top 10 competition. It was our wine of the week last week. The 2018 was there to welcome us at the cellar opening
Nibbles to welcome us: Prawn mousse on slices of cucumber
and an excellent selection of cheeses and breads
with chipolatas and a mustard dip
The guests in front of the cellar door before the official opening
The cellar was being used by the caterers as their kitchen for the event
with cases of wine lining the sides of the tunnel
and tables and chairs for anyone who did not wish to enjoy the beautiful Spring evening air
The view from the cellar to the farmhouse
A view of the young vineyards
and the party
The 2018 Constantia Royale
Lynn Rowland tells the guests about the history and development of the farm
and Roger talks about the vineyards and the wine
The party continued; John left early as Lynne was not well and had stayed at home

2018 Veritas public tasting at the CTICC

The Public tasting of Veritas Gold and Double Gold winners was held at the CTICC. There will be a tasting in Johannesburg on Tuesday 23rd October, followed by tastings in other centres. Details of these and other events are in MENU, Dates for your Diary. A full list of the Double Gold, Gold and Silver medal winners can be seen at http://www.veritas.co.za/awardssearch
Mariette van Huyssteen of Saronsberg was showing their MCC, Provenance Rooi
and 2016 Full Circle Red Blend, all Gold Medal winners 
Simonsig winemaker Michael Malan with their Simonsig Tiara 2015 which received a Gold medal
Spier winemaker Jacques Erasmus pouring for visitors. Spier received 11 Gold medals and two Double Golds
De Wetshof marketing men Johann de Wet and Bennie Stipp checking the results of the Winemag Chardonnay Report which were announced that afternoon. De Wetshof received Gold medals for three Chardonnays and their Pinot noir
Villiera winemaker Nathan Valentine shows their Gold medal winning Munro Brut
Buitenverwachting cellarmaster Brad Paton with Cederberg's naughty Pieter du Toit
Buitenverwachting's 1769 Noble Late Harvest won a Gold Medal
Cederberg Shiraz 2016 was awarded Double Gold
Blaauwklippen winemaker Narina Cloete and Farm Manager Fanie Fourie
Blaauwklippen Zinfandel 2017 won a Gold medal
Tom Mills shows the Ernie Els Proprietor's Cabernet Sauvignon 2015 which won Double Gold 
Bennie Howard and Elsabe Ferreira, organisers of the Veritas Competition and events
Newly weds Bronwen and Guy McDonald
Bennie Howard calls "Time" and the Cape Town show ends
Details of the Johannesburg, Durban, Port Elizabeth and Knysna tastings can be found in the Dates for Your Diary section in MENU

Friday, October 12, 2018

This Week’s MENU. Blaauwklippen Blending Competition, Yonder Hill, Cuccina di Giovanni, Veritas Awards, Vanilla Panna Cotta, Constantia Royale Sauvignon

Evening in the Devon Valley, Stellenbosch. From the terrace at Landtscap

Most of our weeks are busy. This was busier than most. In addition to our usual round of activities, John has been filming a TV commercial, the first time he will appear in any advertising made for the SA market. The product is secret and cannot be revealed until it airs, so please don’t ask. Summer is making its appearance, heralded by the South-Easter and some lovely warm weather, but weather in the Cape is always a bit of a lottery and the true nature of the season is not usually known until the end of November, so don’t put away your winter woollies or your umbrella, you may still need them

Time for the awards, now in its 35th year. Every year Blaauwklippen holds a blending competition for wine clubs. Clubs who enter from all over South Africa, are sent four varietals and asked to make a certain type of blend. This year it was to be a playful but chic blend to enjoy anytime with friends & family, but with enough backbone to be savoured at a special occasion; from Shiraz 2017, Malbec 2017, Petit Verdot 2017 and Merlot 2017. We were welcomed by good snacks…

We visited Yonder Hill in the Helderberg ward of Stellenbosch on Saturday with our wine club. The Cellarmaster here is Abé Beukes. They made room for our large party in their tasting room and we had a wonderful time tasting the wines. They also had laid on a lovely cheese platter for us and we were given gifts of their olive oil from the farm owner Mr Naude has recently sold Olyfberg, always a great oil. A lovely warm welcome…

which is the longest running and most prestigious wine and brandy competition in South Africa, dating back to 1991, and is said by Bennie Howard CWM, who is the MC of the evening, to be the "Oscars of the South African Wine World". It is indeed always a very glamorous, formal black tie affair. The Awards Ceremony this year was held in the Ballroom of the Cape Town International Convention Centre in Cape Town. There is a formal dinner, served with winning wines and, this year, we were very excited to hear that the dishes would be by some of our top chefs. The Gold and Double Gold Medals are presented during dinner and afterwards there is coffee and a selection of winning brandy entries. This year’s awards can be viewed on the Veritas website https://cld.bz/NSgFkua. Our story here...

Fresh berries are coming in and we are loving the quality of the strawberries this year. We had a bad Panna Cotta recently and thought we would give you our easy recipe which never seems to fail. See the whole recipe…

This is from Nova Zonnestraal, a Constantia vineyard which is believed to be one of the oldest in the Cape, but which has only been producing its own wines in the last five years. It is made from the farm’s own Sauvignon blanc, with an addition of 15% Semillon which is bought in, as their own Semillon vines are too young to be harvested. Herbaceous passion fruit and a very light pyrazine hint on the nose and the palate, with crisp varietal acidity, good mineral structure and a long finish. Read on…


12th October 2018

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Recommendations of products and outside events are not solicited or charged for, and are made at the authors’ pleasure. All photographs, recipes and text used in these newsletters and our blogs are © John & Lynne Ford, Adamastor & Bacchus. Our restaurant reviews are usually unsolicited. We prefer to pay for our meals and not be paid in any way by anyone. Whether we are invited or go independently, we don’t feel bad if we say we didn’t like it. Honesty is indeed our best policy. While every effort is made to avoid mistakes, we are human and they do creep in occasionally, for which we apologise. This electronic journal has been sent to you because you have personally subscribed to it or because someone you know has asked us to send it to you or forwarded it to you themselves. Addresses given to us will not be divulged to any person or organisation. We collect them only for our own promotional purposes. If you wish to be added to our mailing list, please click here to send us a message and if you wish to be removed from our mailing list