Saturday, August 17, 2019

This Week’s MENU. Top 10 Pinotage, Kanonkop & Constantia Glen tastings, Elgin Winter Festival, Stew Recipe, Wine of the Week

 Flying off, West Coast cormorants
A Sea Point Sunset
A scramble, that’s our life right now. Many stories to tell and final preparations for boarding an Emirates flight at midday tomorrow. And so another MENU adventure begins. This time we will start in Edinburgh, with the Tattoo being a hugely anticipated treat. Then up to Banff and Rothes at the start of Speyside. Across Scotland and down through the Midlands to Devon and Cornwall before we end our journey in London and some South African owned vineyards in Sussex. We will publish a travelogue on Menu after our return giving comprehensive stories, as we have done after our previous journeys. In the mean time, we will constantly publish snippets in Instagram and Facebook, so please follow our progress there. We plan to do a lot of interesting things in interesting places. Watch as we go and join us on the journey, if only vicariously…

A huge thank you to all our generous readers who have paid a voluntary subscription to MENU into our Paypal account. It works well for readers outside South Africa, but is not great for those of you who would like to pay in Rand. So we have opened a local PayFast account which works in Rand. Thanks are due to all of you who wrote to ask for an alternative payment vehicle. 



We were invited to Meerendal for the ABSA Top 10 Pinotage Finalists Blind Tasting event. Our task was to review 20 wines that the selection panel had judged to the best Pinotages of the year. We were to taste and decide which wines we thought should be on this year’s Top 10 Pinotage list. These wines would then be judged for the awards by the judging panel…


The Top 10 Pinotage Awards lunch was held in the recently inaugurated Olive Press venue at Boschendal last week. Canapés were served on the stoep where all the 20 best rated wines were on the tables for tasting and the winemakers, who were distinguished by white Panama hats, were there to discuss them…


An invitation to taste a range of current and vintage wines at Kanonkop was rapidly accepted. A rare occurrence; we so enjoyed our last tasting there and we were eager to repeat the experience. This was to be followed by a light lunch and that is always a special tradition at Kanonkop…


Our wine club meeting this month was at Constantia Glen with winemaker Justin van Wyk. Welcomed with a glass of RoseMarie and Funa MCC, we began at 6 pm in the Conservatory and it was still light…


We were off to the Elgin Railway Market last Friday night to help them celebrate Winter Wine and Words at the Elgin Market. We are only sorry that we could not stay longer to enjoy the rest of the weekend, but work called. We got there at 6 just as things were beginning…


Nicky and Paul Wallace very kindly put us up in one of their beautiful cottages on Wallovale in Elgin for the night after the Winter Wine Festival on Friday. Icy cold outside, warm and comfortable inside. We were given a warm welcome by Benjie the spaniel…


An invitation to attend the guided tasting of some of this year’s Cape Winemakers Guild Auction wines is something we covet each year and are happy to accept. We managed to time our holiday around this. Held in the ballroom at the Westin Grand Hotel it is always well attended...


While Winter prepares to give way to Spring, it always puts up a struggle and we have been blessed with some real Cape wet winter weather – perfect weather for a rich stew. This one has an interesting addition which gives a little added piquancy…


At a tasting at Constantia Glen we tasted winemaker Justin's van Wyk’s own 2018 Syrah from his Van Wyk Family Wines and were so impressed. The grapes come from cool Elgin and have produced a rich Syrah, with beautiful fruit, elegance, power and incense wood on the nose. On the palate, cherry, berry fruit with depth and purity. Soft and juicy, it then shows some umami flavours, with a hint of white river stone minerality on the end; so interesting, so enjoyable. R260



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Cape Winemakers Guild tastings in Cape Town

An invitation to attend the guided tasting of some of this year’s Cape Winemakers Guild Auction wines is something we covet each year and are happy to accept. We managed to time our holiday around this. Held in the ballroom at the Westin Grand Hotel it is always well attended
The opening speech by Chairman of the CWG, Boela Gerber. He told us that this is the only wine auction world wide where the wine is made specifically for the auction. There are four major wine auctions in Cape Town each year and it is quite competitive. Having tasted these wines, we can say unreservedly that if you are a buyer of wine, whether for your own cellar, or commercially, you want to be here. The standard and quality of the wines this year is exceptional. The Auction will be held on Saturday the 5th of October at Spier Wine Estate. Open to all, contact them at www.capewinemakersguild.com Pre-registration by 18th of September 2019 is essential
Now in its 35th year -the Guild was established in 1982, and the first auction in 1985 to showcase members creativity. The Cape Winemakers Guild auction will have some exciting changes, and some exciting new wines. And this year a new auctioneer, Rick Harvey from Bonham’s has been appointed will be doing duty to the wines and hopefully getting great prices. CWG are very thankful for the support they receive from Sponsors Nedbank who have been in partnership with the Guild for 24 years
Of special mention is the transformative role they take in mentoring a new generation of winemakers through the Cape Winemakers Guild Protégé Programme where they offer three year internships. All the profits of the silent auctions go toward funding this and of course Nedbank also supports this initiative

This year we tasted 33 of the 46 wines in the tasting and later another 12 served informally in the foyer where food was served

Students from Elsenberg and Stellenbosch university do the pouring of the wines as we taste, fast and furiously. Each winemaker introduces his wine and speaks for a minute about it and its making
This is final year Elsenburg student Schalk van Deventer who poured so skilfully for our row
Bearded lads waiting to pour the next bottle of wine
After the tasting huge tables were groaning with canapés. There were scrumptious Chinese dumplings, other hot snacks
and lots of sushi. We need something to soak up the alcohol as many are then going to work or play
at the Public tasting held next door at the CTICC
Oysters go so well with MCC
And how nice to see old friend Tariro Masayiti from Springfontein in Stanford with Håkon Nagelgaard
Later at the Public tasting at the CTICC there was live music, provided by  lovely cellist in a glass bubble
The public tasting is more about tasting wines from previous auction years, with a few previews
Luke Erickson of La Colombe enjoyed the De Morgenzon wines
Tom Mills of Ernie Els wines tasting De Grendel
Charles Hopkins (of De Grendel) pouring some of his nectar
David Nieuwoudt of Cederberg
David and Rita Trafford
Pieter Ferreira had really excited us all by producing the same 2014 MCC but fermented differently this one is classically fermented using a crown cap and the other was fermented under an Agrafe – a cork that is held in place with a staple until disgorging takes place. They were so different, but so good
Pieter and Anne Ferreira
Gary Jordan back from Greece and the UK
Old friend Deon Oliver and a friend with Danie Steytler over Deon’s right shoulder

Tasting current and vintage wines at Kanonkop

An invitation to taste a range of current and vintage wines at Kanonkop was rapidly accepted. A rare occurrence, we so enjoyed our last tasting there and we were eager to repeat the experience. This was to be followed by a light lunch and that is always a special tradition at Kanonkop.
This is a range of the bottle sizes available: from Right to Left: 
30 L – Melchizedek or Midas: equivalent of 40 Standard bottles
15 L – Nebuchadnezzar: equivalent of 20 Standard bottles
12 L – Balthazar or Belshazzar: equivalent of 16 Standard bottles
9 L – Salmanazar: equivalent of 12 Standard bottles
6 L – Methuselah: equivalent of 8 Standard bottles
3 L – Jeroboam or Double Magnum: equivalent of 4 Standard bottles
1.5 L – Magnum: equivalent of 2 Standard bottles
0.75 L – Standard: the common bottle size
A line up of some of the wines we were to taste
In the winery
The tasting sheet. We began with a glass of the Kanonkop Kadette Pinotage Rosé 2019, which has a lovely perfumed nose, red berry fruit and is very refreshing
Emil Joubert PRO gave us a brief history of the farm. Paul Sauer inherited a portion of his mother's farm Uitkyk in 1929 - it was a bare patch of 129 hectares with some orchards. They first grew fruit, but then changed to vines which were deemed more profitable. The estate is now in the care of the fourth generation of owners, currently brothers Johan and Paul Krige. Danie Rousseau planted the first Pinotage vines in 1943. In 1973, 1800 tons were delivered in bulk to Stellenbosch Farmers Winery. Jan Boland Coetzee, the first winemaker, started bottling small quantities of the wines called Springbok Wine and this continued for 12 to 14 years. The bulk wines then went into Chateau Libertas and Oude Libertas. In the 1980s, queues at their stands at wine shows were the longest so, in 1986, they left SFW and went on to make their own Estate Wines. They have never looked back. Beyers Truter, who was the winemaker, began to focus on red wine making and status was built. Their premium brand Paul Sauer was released for the first time in 1981
Current Cellarmaster Abrie Beeslaar was appointed by Beyers Truter in January 2002. The premium wines were selling out every year, so they decided to expand with another brand called Kadette into supermarkets and growth took off. The change of approach allowed them to manage stocks. The Kadette grapes come from Overgaauw and are machine harvested. Production of Kadette wine has reached 1.8 million bottles this year and is growing. Is it a nod to Mouton Rothschild's Cadet which also has superb sales in the same marketplace? 
Site, People, Soil is the motto of Kanonkop
We tasted in the private upstairs tasting room
Erica Crawford of Love Block wines in New Zealand was visiting Cape Town 
We tasted two vintages of the Kanonkop Kadette Cape Blend. The 2017 has good concentrated berry fruit and incense wood, long flavours and coffee wood on the end. The 2010 was similar on the nose with hints of rose and a bit more restrained on the palate. Then two Kanonkop Kadette Pinotages: the 2017 has richness of cherry and ripe berries, fresh fruit, grippy tannins and still youth. The 2013 has smoke, cassis, incense wood, some elegance and lovely fruit and length. A little chalky tannin, but a finish of delicious black cherry fruit
Next two vintages of the Kanonkop Pinotage: 2017 has richness, perfume, cassis, cherry and incense wood. Freshness and grip on the palate with youthful tension, chalk and it is waiting to come to the fore. Spent 19 months in 80% new oak, (98% French). Will be available for laying down at the end of this year, one to keep. The 2010 Kanonkop Pinotage was superb on the nose with rhubarb and raspberry pie notes, dry chalk, and sweet fruit, the wine is in balance with wood, fruit, alcohol and tannin. Lucky if you have some
The 2015 Kanonkop 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon (for release in October this year) has toffee apple on the nose, good cassis and rhubarb. It keeps changing on the nose and palate. Lovely fruit, then grippy tannins overtake. Wood smoke on the end with rose talcum, raspberry and strawberry fruit. It still needs time. One to watch. The Kanonkop 1997 Cabernet Sauvignon has sandalwood, salt, cassis and violets on the attractive nose. Lovely intense cassis fruit, some fruit acidity, soft chalk on the cheek remains, with dark wood on the end. A delight to taste
The Kanonkop 2016 Paul Sauer which was released in July this year, has an interesting nose of wood, perfume, cassis fruit, with spice and guava notes. Good fruit all though the chalky tannins overtake still. Needs time. Our second best wine of the tasting was the Kanonkop 1995 Paul Sauer, a much lauded and awarded wine, deservedly so. Complex nose, incense wood, sandalwood overtones and there is some saline minerality. Juicy cherry and raspberry fruit with great length, with tobacco and good tannins. 15% Cabernet Franc. This wine has years yet to go. 18.5/20 Then came the Kanonkop Black Label Pinotage 2017. Would that all pinotages could reach these heights. Spicy and pretty with incense wood, cherry and marmite, with sophistication and style. Lush sweet cherry, plum, berry fruit, just right. Soft chalky tannins. It sold out in 3 hours. We scored it 19/20. R1850 per bottle from the farm
Thank you Kanonkop, such a great opportunity to taste younger wines with older vintages to see what their potential is. They won't cut corners; they want to make better wine, not more wine. And of the same quality or better every year. The top wines are hand picked, sorted and punch down takes place in open fermentation tanks, then into older barrels. Only Kadette wines have an automatic punch down machine. Riper picking has increased alcohol, so this needs good management. 8 different vineyards from 660 66 year old bush vines. Structure and elegance comes from the South facing vineyards. The Cabernet grows on deconstructed granite and they don't pick overripe as they want the classic flavours, elegance with green pepper and greenness
Our two efficient pourers Diedre Taylor, the Marketing Manager
and Heidi Kritzinger who manages in-house sales
Journalist Fiona MacDonald and Judy Brower of Wine.co.za chatting with owner Johan Krige
Time for lunch and Kanonkop always do their famous snoek braai. This is one huge snoek
Onto the open fire, where is it basted constantly 
On goes the lemony basting liquid, and it takes two to turn each grid over. The fish does not need much time and stays flavourful and moist
A good choice to go with the lunch
Lovely salads and there were sweet potatoes done in the traditional style
Outstanding farm bread and butter and grape jam - very traditional as a starter at a braai meal in South Africa. Thankfully, no pips in the jam
We assembled outside and were able to continue tasting the wines from upstairs
Abrie Beeslaar explaining to Anel Grobler, Alan Mullins and Lynne
Mrs Krige, the master chef! She served us our fish
Lots to enjoy
The sweet farm dog, hoping for dropped morsels
Admiring the wine in the vinoteque on our way out and home

We assemble outside and were able to continue tasting the wines from upstairs
Abrie Beeslaar explaining to Anel Grobbler, Alan Mullins and Lynne
The master chef! She served us our fish
Lots to enjoy

The sweet farm dog, hoping for dropped morsels
Admiring the wine in the vinoteque on our way out and home