Saturday, November 22, 2008
This is indeed a solo operation…….General Manager by day at the eponymous Le Quartier Francais hotel, in Franchhoek who boost one of the Top 50 restaurant of the world by San Pellegrino.....
This is Linda Coltart hand made wine made from grapes grown by Dirkie Morkel on Bellevue Estate in Stellenbosch
The 100 % Petit Verdot spent 30 months in only 2 French oak barrels, 1st fill and 1 2nd fill were made at Stony brook facilities…….so…. Dark pitch black with slight cherry red rim, good brilliance and clarity, typical Petit Verdot colour extraction, austere, with notes of prunes, tar, and tobacco.
Juicy well meshed with the earthy lead pencil minerality, has freshness and savouriness, more rewarding on palate than aromas suggest, medium bodied texture, good length, now until 2013 Bottle in February 2007.
Tasted 20 September 2008
Should anyone be interested in this unusual and rare grape variety on it’s own, please contact Linda Coltart at Le Quartier Francais Hotel.
Thursday, November 20, 2008
I tasted that new release on Friday the 31st October during a South Africa Young Skal Club dinner function at the Cape Malay Restaurant, of The Cellars Hohenort hotel.
As it is part of protocol to taste any wine before service especially for a function to avoid changing a whole set of glasses...........................I duly apply to my Sommelier task of tasting each bottle to be served.....
Well I was amazed by the sheer quality and complexity of that Chardonnay that remind me of the older style of Cape Chardonnay especially those made between 1997 and 2001, ( a style that’s between the buttery character of a Meursault or Chassagne Montrachet in a ripe year added to the fruitiness and concentration evoking grapes grown in sunny and warm condition as well as the opulence of some Californian Chardonnays ) the one in particular was the 1998 Fleur du Cap Chardonnay, in those days I only have about 3 years experience in the hospitality industry, under my belt and still learning the rudiment of the trade and that style was one of my favourite to recommend and sell, whenever I had to recommend an elegant, wooded and buttery chardonnay from the New World......... those days with a salary of approx R 1000 a month, it was passion, hard work and love of the people to provide excellence in service everyday as the main motivation and learning to understand the psychology of wine connoisseurs spending a glamour holiday under the tropical sun.
We have to create the experience, money and earning was never and will never be the main motivation to be a Sommelier, it grows with the experience..........and trust we get from our clientele................
Back to the Rhinofields Chardonnay
The 2007 vintage of Rhinofields Chardonnay were made by Cellar Master Martin Moore and assistant Gunther Kellerman from 100 % Durbanville grown grape, fully ripe grapes were hand harvested in February from trellised and low yielding vineyards of 2 different block picked at between 24 & 26 Balling.
50 % were fermented in stainless steel tank on the lees for 6 month to retain freshness, the other 50 % percent were in Mercurey French oak and Radoux American oak, for 10 month both tight grain, medium toast before blending and bottling, the results....
“Bright straw with slight hint of green tinge, no fizz. Classic Chardonnay aromas of ripe pears,fresh apricots, burnt citrus, and subtle vanilla oak, multi layered complexity.
Good attack and acidity, fresh, leesy with creamy texture, citrus medley and vanilla follow through, very good concentration, medium bodied, oak very well in balance and supportive of the fruit, touch clay minerality adds interest, well made and over deliver on price.
Great restaurant wine, so well made that I listed it immediately.
From 2010 until 2015
This will be a great compliment with pan seared loin of veal with glazed organic spring root vegetables such as carrots & turnips and citrus confit Beurre Blanc emulsion–
Food suggestions by TOMATO CATERING
Nowhere in my wildest dream would I have though 5 years ago when I left my paradise island of Mauritius, http://www.tourism-mauritius.mu/ in the quest to follow my passion for wines, especially Cape wines, http://www.wosa.co.za/ http://www.varietyisinournature.com/ would I this year of 2008 create South Africa’s best national wine list as discerned by no more no less that the great independent panel of Diners Club International, http://www.dinersclub.co.za/ the long an interesting epic South African journey is starting to pay off.
When I started in 2003, at The Cellars Hohenort Hotel http://www.cellars-hohenort.com/ the challenge was to maintain the depth of selections as a fair representative of each regions, district and ward of the Cape.
One of the major contributors to the quality of our extensive wine selections has been the introduction of the blind tasting process in spring 2006.
With over 6000 labels available in the Cape it is impossible to represent all of them and make everyone happy with listing, so using the 100 points scoring system, widely acknowledged by leading world critics as the best system to judge wine blind, as it ensure more fairness to the wine evaluated and gives more clarity as opposed to the compressed 20 point scoring system where as an example how do someone demark the real attribute of the wine from a 16.5 to a 17 points? whereas a 100 point system will gives a very distinct point of reference of either the wine is an 82 or an 85, there it’s a question of either spending an additional R 1000+ on the wrong wine or making the right purchase decision, thereby creating another unique level of service excellence and experience.
The 100 points scoring system is commonly used by major international hotels chain for fair listing in fine dining concept and not be influenced by branding.
The minimum criteria set for listing was and up to now 85 points, rewarding quality that can be comparable to world benchmark, individuality, reflection of terroir where possible, as well as an affinity to complement a broad style of cuisine, with the structure to improve with cellaring. Today we have over 400 Cape wines on our list, and our mission is to be a proud ambassador of Cape Wines to our discerning international guests.
As for freshness, cleanliness and minimal spoilage, screw cap as a means of closure is preferred.
Our wine list is a continuous work in progress, and wine selections are an extremely important aspect to our very exclusive international and local clientele alike, and a major contributor to their overall experience, and I want to personally thank all of you viticulturists and winemakers to supply us with unique wines of integrity, with a multitude spectrum of style, along with one of the best wine prices in the world, keep striving for the very best it is so exciting to be indirectly part of this dynamic industry.
I feel extremely blessed, proud and priviledged to work in South Africa.
Certified Sommelier & Beverage Manager
The Cellars Hohenort Hotel
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
That discovery is Shannon Vineyards http://www.shannonwines.com/ in Elgin, http://www.elginvalley.co.za/ – firstname.lastname@example.org
So the 2007 Merlot is not label as a varietal, though it is 100 % Elgin Merlot but label as Mount Bullet.
My tasting notes read as follows:
2007 Shannon Vineyards Mount Bullet 92 Points
Perfect colour extraction, fragrant, ripe red fruit medley such as plums and dark cherries, earthy with touch of orange peel complexity, lead pencil minerality, juicy, very good acidity lends an outstanding freshness very well intermingle with the ripe and delicate tannins structure, silky and elegant, almost a Pomerol in a ripe year, has everything a Merlot has to be, this is stunning stuff, enjoy now or until 2016.
It’s going to be pricey by Cape standard, but worth every single cents, and this is a must listed for anyone who take South African wines seriously.
Tasted yesterday (18 November 2008), the aromatics of the Pinot have changed beyond recognition, much more contained, oak not as dominant as initially perceived in September, typical Burgundian complexity, with complex notes of ripe maraschino cherries, raspberry, strawberries and hints of truffles and dark mushrooms, impressive, textured, soft and elegant with ripe tannins and just the perfect extraction, the purity and concentration of fruit is mind boggling, and this is another wine from Shannon Vineyards that is just fantastic, WOW.
South African Pinot Noir is reaching another era of perfection, this is a wine that was made in the vineyard, as the purity of fruit can attest, enjoy now until 2015.
This 2008 exhibits a complex gooseberries and tropical fruit medley, even spicy, with excellent purity, bringing along a juicy texture, which is ripe, intense and delicate, the length is further complimented by lots of quartz minerality, which is very rare in the Cape, but seems to be an emerging hallmark of Elgin Valley Sauvignon. Well done.
For now until 2013.
Tasted by Certified Sommelier Miguel Chan
18 November 2008
All these outstanding wines above can be paired by stunning food prepared by Tomato Catering
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
Pale straw with slight yellow peach hue.
Clean, shy, rather austere initially, when warming up, shows slight toasty aromas, freshly baked Golden apple, fine bubbles, burnt citrus medley, yeasty, followed by very good palate weight, yeasty character follows through, adding interest and complexity, structured, with precise acidity, clean, intense, delicate, elegant overall.
With the future release, 2007 harvest with 25 % Reserve wine from the previous vintages most of it matured in wood, expect a more complex, mature and profound Méthode Cap Classique, this is a label to watch closely and should never be left forgotten at any celebration or tasting where quality and benchmark South African wines is the order of the day, keep it up Jean Philippe.
Excellent value, highly recommended, this is a must for any respected wine list
Tasted on 06 October 2008
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
If one and only website I highly recommended for anything about South African wines, is that of Wine of South Africa, WOSA.
Everything you will need to need to know about Wine Regions, District & Wards to producers and contact details is clearly and concisely laid out, in a very simple way, so at a single click go to www.wosa.co.za to discover the rich and unique biodiversity of South African wines.
01 Oct 2008
Diners Club het vanjaar oudergewoonte hul wenwynlyste aangekondig en vir die eerste maal ook die beste Sommelier aangewys. Mortimer Bester from Zachary's by Pezula Resort Hotel en Spa het met hierdie gesogte toekenning huistoe gegaan. Beste landw...
The latest release ( August 2008) shows a vintage label as well as a Wine of Origin Constantia, www.constantiavalley.com
This is made in absolutely tiny quantities +/- 3500 bottles, which I consider as one of the avant garde of bottle fermented or method traditionelle sparkling wine in South Africa.
John Loubser works very traditionally, giving the wine roughly 20 months bottle age on the lees before disgorgement. He also ferments a small proportion of the base wine in barrel, to give a bit of structure.
Fresher and more complex than in previous vintages, minerally driven, light, very fresh on the palate, with profusion of green limes notes. A small proportion of the base wine was wooded, to give weight to an intense crisp structure.
The bubbles are consistent and fine, overall very elegant with very good length well done.
Exceptionally good value by world standard. Buy by the case loads, if you can get hold of.
Great as an aperitif over the festive season, or if you have a proper cellaring facilities, keep it until 2016, for a richer more textured and complex Méthode Cap Classique, enjoy.
SATURDAY WEEKEND ARGUS, The Good Weekend
23 Aug 2008
Cape cartes are tops...
Province rules in Diners Club wine list awards When you come across a wirielist starring boutigue and garagiste cellars it?s not only a pleasure to read but it?s evident that the compiler has gone to great lengths to give patrons an inspired cho...
This 2006 vintage made from 15 + years old Wellington vines, creates distinctive wines demonstrating the versatility and expression Chenin Blanc when grown under the South African Sun.
Pale straw with ripe citrus notes, burnt quince and a combination of stone fruit mélange, oily, rich and fat textured, this is a concentrated and structured wooded chenin with leesy complexity and mid palate. Full phenolic ripeness, very long aftertaste.
Aged in a combination of French and American oak barrels. Recommended with black tiger prawn Thermidor, or grilled crayfish.
This bottle of Chenin was given as a gift by the in laws, thanks Coleen & Gary, it was beautiful.
Californian wines below tasted at Rodwell House in St James, www.rodwellhouse.co.za courtesy of Adam Mason winemaker of Klein Constantia Estate, www.kleinconstantia.com who just returned from a 3 week stint of Californian harvest at legendary Screaming Eagle www.screamingeagle.com in Napa Valley
1 - 2005 Stonestreet Upper Barn Alexander Valley Chardonnay 93+
Bright deep gold, complex, nutty, with tangerine and lime aromas. Fresh, citrus flows through. Intense, crunchy, very good length, impressive mid palate, toasty aftertaste. Big, powerful without loosing focus, precise acidity, the 14.5 alc very well meshed. A beauty. Now until 2023. Only 305 cases made, from grapes grown at 600 meters altitude.
The closest South African wooded Chardonnay would be a style between the intense fruit concentration of Jordan Nine Yards 2006 and the Constantia Uitsig Reserve Chardonnay 2004 for it’s structure and minerality.
2 - 2006 Favio Avarzo Syrah Amador County 95
Bright deep cherry red with slight purple tinge. Fragrant, blueberry, ripe, intense, complex multifaceted, cedary, juicy with very ripe tannins, ripe plum, tobacco.
Intense, concentrated warm finish, impressive the best Syrah I have tasted to date. Only 120 cases made from Amador County fruit. Impressive opulence. Unforgettable.
Anyone aiming at a successful style of world class Syrah with the aimed of wowing either the novice or the experience palate, this is the style to go, you cannot go wrong there, this stuff will sell, irrespective of the price.
3 - 2006 Leviathan 93
This just-released 2006 Leviathan is the follow-up vintage to Screaming Eagle winemaker Andy Erickson's wildly successful premiere 2005 offering that sold out nearly overnight last year. The new 2006 is a blend of prime Napa and Sonoma Cabernet Sauvignon (41%), Merlot (32%), Syrah (21%), and Cabernet Franc (7%) that has been brilliantly woven together by Andy to seamlessly deliver a decadently rich-tasting, feels-like-velvet-on-the-tongue red whose outsized flavors inspired its name: Leviathan!
Andy bottles his precocious monster unfined and unfiltered, thus preserving and amplifying its astonishing intensity of flavor.
Production has edged up from last year's 700 cases to just shy of 1,000 this year, but pent-up demand will see this new edition disappear every bit as rapidly as before.
Bright dark cherry. Fresh, mulberries, earthy, lots of dark ripe fruit, complex with notes of dry chilli, classic aromas, more European feel than Californian richness and opulence, well contained, ripe and textured.
Palate is similarly ripe, intense, spicy and earthy, complex, mouth filling, concentrated, touch bitterness, not distracting. soft tannins. Impressive.
4 - 2005 Stone street Christophers Cabernet Sauvignon 92
Dense, concentrated, almost opaque, slight purple, perfect colour. Fresh, with pronounced lead pencil minerality, earthy, complex blackcurrant medley, dry ripe tannins, has grip. Juicy, savoury and fresh texture, elegant finish.
5 - 2005 Arietta H Block Hudson Vineyards Napa Valley 87+
Good deep ruby-red. Restrained, ripe tomato concentrate aromas, black raspberry, touch acetone and alcoholic. Fresh, ripe, intense, touch bitterness, oaky style. This wine is based on 80% cabernet franc, the highest percentage since Arietta's outstanding 1997 red blend ($150)
6 - Dalla Valle Maya 83+
Dalla Valle Vineyards is a small, family-owned winery that was founded in 1986. The winery and vineyards are located on a plateau 400 feet above the valley floor, in the eastern hills of Oakville, Napa Valley. The combination of perfect sun exposure and the cooling marine influence from the Pacific Ocean make this an ideal site for world class winegrowing. Dalla Valle has reached an admirable level of acceptance in the last decade and produces some of the most sought out Cabernet Sauvignon and proprietary red wine in California. Wines made from Dalla Valle Vineyards are pure unbridled expressions of fruit at its most powerful and concentrated. These wines are of immense stature and richness with well-integrated tannin and acidity, this 2005 is ripe, touch alcohol, earthy, gamey, acetone, ripe intense, grippy tannins oaky and cedary, savoury texture. Cab/Cab franc blend
7 - 2003 Staglin Family Vineyards Estate Cabernet Sauvignon Rutherford Napa Valley 90
This 2003 Staglin Family Vineyard Cabernet reflects this classic vintage. With saturated ruby and hints of black colors, the 2003 Staglin Family Vineyard reveals an intense fragrant, delicate, complex blackcurrants with undertones of intense dried apricot, black tea and hints of tobacco.
Complex mouthfeel, savoury with gamey and earthy notes, elegant and fresh, impressive length and richness. The 15.1 very well meshed and integrated. Ultra perfect ripeness and structure, now with some decanting or until 2023. Small amounts of Petit Verdot and Cabernet Franc in the blend.
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
OM Trophy Wine Show produces 24 gold, 52 silver medals 9 May 2008
The Old Mutual Trophy Wine Show – now in its seventh year - is widely regarded as the country’s most credible wine competition. Judging for the 2008 competition took place at Grande Roche in Paarl from 5 to 8 May when the 9 panelists – including three from overseas - worked their way through the 1 024 submissions. It was announced at the judges' feedback session that the 2008 show produced 24 gold, 52 silver and 242 bronze medals. These medals and the 15 trophy winners (from 15 producers) will be announced on 2 June.
As headline sponsor of the South African Trophy Wine Show, Old Mutual has committed itself to ensuring that the country’s top wines are identified in ideal judging conditions and the results brought to the attention of the South Africa’s wine drinking public. Meticulous attention to detail throughout the judging period ensures that the Trophy Wine Show maintains its reputation as one of the toughest and most rigorous events of its kind in the world.
Public tastings in six major centres
By hosting a series of Masterclass® and Public Tastings in six major centres in South Africa and one in Namibia over a two week period following the announcement of the competition winners in June, Old Mutual fulfils its undertaking to showcase the country's top wines. These are held in Cape Town, Johannesburg, Pretoria, Soweto, Port Elizabeth and Durban – and this year, for the first time, in Windhoek.
Among the many regulations and guidelines applied by the show and implemented by logistics manager Celia Gilloway are that the entries – which must be in market-ready condition – are served entirely unsighted. They are kept in Miele wine storage units so that they can be brought to the judges at optimum service temperature in specially designed Riedel tasting glasses. Judges therefore never see the bottles or any aspect of the packaging, ensuring that their opinion is based on the wine's perceived merits and not its image or reputation. Three panels – each comprising three judges of whom at least one comes to South Africa solely to taste at the show – are directed to produce a consensus driven result.
All the wines remain on the tasting bench until the completion of the judging of a particular class. This enables the jury to back-taste and to compare the evolution of the wine in the glass. The panel's result is then submitted to the scrutiny of the show chairman and, in the case of the gold medal winners, to all their fellow tasters at the Trophy judging which wraps up proceedings. Prior to the announcement of the results the top wines are submitted to an independent laboratory to confirm that the show sample is identical to the wines which will be found in the trade. The judging process and the competition results are monitored and audited by chartered accountants PricewaterhouseCoopers.
2008 show attracts 1024 entries from 230 producers
The 2008 show attracted 1 024 entries from 230 producers: Shiraz 156 (up on 2007); Chardonnay 96 (down on 2007), Cabernet Sauvignon 105, Bordeaux-style Red Blends 114, Sauvignon Blanc 106 (up), Merlot 62, Pinotage 58 and Chenin Blanc 41. This year also saw 40 Museum class entries. The 2007 show saw 968 wines judged (from 231 producers), with 19 trophies awarded to 13 cellars.
The 2008 overseas judges were: Joël Payne, editor of Meininger’s Wine Business International and chief editor and publisher of Gault Millau German Wine Guide; Sam Harrop MW (UK), one of 5 chairmen of the International Wine Challenge and Anthony Rose, wine columnist for The Independent and contributor to Decanter, Wine & Spirit and The World of Fine Wine, amongst others.
The local judges included Angela Lloyd, who has been tasting for the John Platter SA Wine Guide for 22 years, Cathy van Zyl MW, South Africa’s only resident Master of Wine, Chris Williams, winemaker at Meerlust, Christian Eedes, newly appointed editor of WINE magazine, Gary Jordan, proprietor and cellarmaster at Jordan Winery, and James Pietersen former wine buyer for Vineyard Connection and a graduate of the WINE Magazine Michael Fridjhon Tasting Academy. Michael Fridjhon, who has been co-convenor of the show – together with WINE Magazine – since 2002, continued as chairman of the judges.
Associate judges for this year’s show were selected from South Africa’s new generation winemakers, buyers and sommeliers. A different associate judge sat with each panel on each of the medal-judging days of the show. They participated in the tasting and the post-judging discussion, though their scores were not taken into account in the final tally. Their involvement provides an essential training platform for the country’s wine judges of the future.
This year’s associates were Francois Rautenbach of Singita Game Reserves; Tarriro Masayiti, white winemaker at Nederburg; Ginette de Fleuriot CWM, wine buyer at winesense; Roland Peens, manager of Wine Cellar; Eric Botha, wine specialist at Woolworths; Miguel Chan, sommelier of Cellars Hohenhort and Khuselo Mputa, sommelier at Belthazar’s in the Cape Town Waterfront.
Event partners American Express, British Airways Comair, Grande Roche Hotel, Miele and Riedel enjoy naming rights in respect of some of the trophies.
The results of the competition will be announced in Cape Town on 2 June and the road shows will run in the various cities from 3–17 June 2008.
Public tastings will take place in Johannesburg and Cape Town and will showcase the trophy, gold and silver medallists. The Johannesburg tasting is on Friday 6 June at the Hilton Sandton from 18h00–21h00 and Cape Town wine lovers can taste the winners on Thursday 12 June at the Westin Grand Cape Town Arabella Quays (previously the ArabellaSheraton Grand Hotel) from 17h00–20h00. Tickets are available via Computicket or at the door and cost R75 each if purchased by 31 May 2008 and R90 thereafter.
The 2008 results will be available on the website from 15h00 on Monday, 02 June 2008.
Diners Club highly coveted Winelist Awards have benefited both the consumers and the establishments they award, and are highly regarded in the wine industry.Diners Club has played a critical role in maintaining and improving the standards of this award since its inception in the 1980s.Two new categories were introduced this year - the best wine steward award/sommelier and national award for the Best Restaurant Wine list.The Cellars-Hohenort is the first recipient of The Best Wine list in South Africa Award. The Plettenberg and The Cellars-Hohenort were also given Diamond awards for their wine lists. "I am very proud to have received the awards. Our wine list is something special at The Cellars-Hohenort and truly representative of the incredible wines we have in the Cape" says Miguel Chan, Sommelier at The Cellars-Hohenort. Miguel is responsible for the magnificent wine cellar at The Cellars-Hohenort, Hotel which boasts one of South Africa's finest selection of Cape wines, as well as a world's benchmark, with 9000 bottles totalling 520 bins with vintages spanning from 1975 to 2008, without forgetting some of the complete collections of the legendary wines of Constantia Valley, the birthplace of the South African wine industry, 366 years ago.We are the only hotel in the world to boast the complete mythical collection of the famed Vin de Constance, from 1986 made by Klein Constantia Estate.
Posted Jul 13, 2007
The steady composure that comes with self-confidence in the face of competitive situations can only happen when specialized knowledge is buttressed by passion and a love for the subject.
Performing with such grace under pressure lead to success for Miguel Chan, sommelier and beverage manager at The Cellars Hohenort in Constantia who clinched the title as South Africa's first national Jeune Sommelier by the Chaine des Rotisseurs. Chan will represent South Africa at the inaugeral International Jeunes Sommeliers Competition on September 7th in Frankfurt Germany during the German Grand Chapitre.
It will be held concurrently with the Annual Jeunes Commis Rotisseurs Competition. The new Jeune Sommeliers competition, which is open to sommeliers/ wine waiters between the ages of 21 - 32 years, holds special significance for wine professionalism and stands on equal footing with the Jeunes Commiss Competition.
"The seven candicates who entered the first national round were in for a hard time," says Monty Friendship, Echanson of the Chaine des Rotisseurs . Their knowledge of international wines and spirits were put to the test in a gruelling three part evaluation - theory, service and blind tasting. The theory portion is written and lasts for one hour, testing deep knowledge in all areas of wine, wine production, laws, viticulture and vinification as well as spirits, beers, ales, ciders, ports and sherry.
"South Africa is one of only ten countries who will take part in Germany later this year. This is a feather in our cap, as not even France, nor Italy will be taking part in this tough competition," reckons Friendship. Congratulations Miguel!
Wednesday, November 5, 2008
Monday, November 03, 2008 by Kim Maxwell
Wining and dining your way through year-end events and launches can be tiring even to contemplate. Kim Maxwell highlights a few that stood out, and some to watch out for.
With deadlines looming and ever-limited time for private commitments, what makes a launch or new release worthy of three or four hours of concentration and conversation is hard to define. People often tell journalists how "lucky" they are to spend so much of their time wining and dining "for free".
Yet in reality anybody past the stage of a rookie newshound realises that taking on too many events for the sake of staying abreast of developments means even less time to complete those income-generating deadlines. Generally it's about striking a balance between what's newsworthy, new or novel, ensuring an event is easy to attend in terms of timing or location, and hoping that it doesn't drag on.
In the absence of a celebrity claim to fame, having a likeable personality/quality wine/reputable chef makes something more appealing if you're a new winery, restaurant or book trying to be launched.
Curtis Stone, TV chef best known to viewers from 'Surfing the Menu' (featuring two Aussie chefs cooking on scenic coastlines), didn't have that problem last week in Cape Town. He's dishier in person than on screen (where he made People magazine's 'Sexiest Men Alive' list along with George Clooney) with a boyish friendliness too. Curtis was visiting South Africa for a whistle-stop tour of cooking demos and dinners from his current Los Angeles home, and managed to squeeze in Gansbaai shark diving followed by home-cooked lunch with a nearby winemaker.
He'd messed around as a junior kitchen hand in London's Quo Vadis restaurant with a similarly junior Peter Tempelhoff, who now oversees luxury hotel kitchens of The Collection by Liz McGrath properties.
Their six-course dinner was impressive and the chef duo had fun, with Constantia Valley wines donated to match sommelier Miguel Chan's interpretations. The Eagle's Nest Viognier 2006 was a surprise because it wasn't overly wooded or peachy, and Vin de Constance to finish is always a treat. My top choice was Curtis's first course: tiny hand-dived sea scallops with diced avo in a lime-spiked sauce with basil, coriander and coconut milk.
He'd been surprised to hear scallops weren't to be found in South Africa, so Peter placed a pricy order from America's West coast. The Constantia Glen 2008 Sauvignon Blanc wasn't showing as well as WINE Magazine's 10 Sauvignon Blancs did a week earlier (personal favourites at that event being Ghost Corner 2008 and Strandveld Vineyards 2008 for that idiosyncratic Elim / Agulhas sea air-infused mineral character, and Groote Post Woolworths Reserve 2007 for completely different characters on the Darling coastline), which just shows how bottle-ageing benefits some Sauvignons.
An interesting titbit from a table guest was that Curtis and three London nightclub owner mates created an imaginary rock band and fanclub, although none of them played instruments or sang. For a laugh, Curtis booked the friends "gigs" in Ibiza, Greece and Barcelona, planning these boy's holidays to a tee.
The "band" all take turns now at pitching to holiday at Curtis's swanky LA home, because everybody knows celebrity chefs enjoy rock star status. This might explain Curtis's thought process in the naming of his signature 'bump and grind' stainless steel pestle and mortar, which he designed for @home stores (March 2009 release). With a pre-release price indication of R1650, you'll need the expense account of a rock star to justify the purchase.
A few weeks ago Premiére restaurant at the Arabella Western Cape Hotel & Spa launched their first of monthly Wine and Dine dinners, with the menu being paired with offerings by two winemakers. They seemed to think the concept was novel, which it isn't. But having good wineries is always a drawcard, and the elegant wines crafted by Newton Johnson brothers Gordie (wines) and Bevan (marketing) are always a pleasure to sample, while Blaauwklippen's Rolf Zeitvogel provided novelty value for their Red Zinfandel - the red 2005 a glorious example of the variety, the pink-toned White Zin 2007 a little too acidic and strange to be taken seriously with food. Subjective wine choices were also the subject of Michael Olivier's 'Crush!' pocket book released in October, featuring '100 of the author's favourites to drink now'.
With appealing layouts and clever diagrams of macro/meso/micro-terroir differences, it's essentially a consumer-orientated book that's largely wasted on a wine industry crowd. It should be punted in magazines geared at men or women specifically, or at those tourism booths offering guesthouse and wine tour information.
All this complicated eating left a desire for simpler pleasures. Fortunately at The Venue at South Hill winery in Elgin, Gordon Manuel's simpler eating is what you'll find, with an emphasis on locally farmed ingredients. Overberg wines are also on offer - Catherine Marshall sources fruit at James Downes in Elgin, before any eyebrows are raised about her wine inclusion - at affordable prices.
Time your Elgin visit right and you can buy your own delicious sausages, honey, bakes, farm produce and take-aways at the new Elgin Valley Market at Peregrine's Saturday market space, previously held at Rockhaven.
I'm a repeat customer and there's something extremely satisfying about making this country drive where grocery shopping becomes fun. If scenic gardens, country lunches and teas are your thing, why not combine the farmer's market with a drive through at Elgin Open Gardens 2008 on 8 & 9 November from 10h00 - 17h00. A variety of farms open their gardens for a small fee to benefit charity. Visit http://www.elginopengardens.co.za/ or call (021) 848-9146 for a list of participating farms.
Article By: Mike Bampfield-Duggan, Wine Concepts
Fri, 12 Sep 2008 15:07
Miguel Chan, sommelier at The Cellars-Hohenort Hotel in Constantia, was asked to create a four-course luncheon matched with selected wines from the Dornier winery in Stellenbosch.
Miguel is a master at food and wine pairing and each of the courses we had matched the wines perfectly. But, the course that stood out for me as the most perfect in harmony with the food and wine, was the grain fed fillet of beef with mushroom ragout and red wine jus.
The fillet was tender and cooked to perfection having been 'matured' for 15 weeks and it perfectly enhanced the spicy black cherry flavours of the Cabernet Franc!
The smaller percentage of Merlot made its appearance on a softer note but enough to tantalise the flavours of the mushroom.
Dornier is a small winery located in the Stellenbosch area and benefits from the cool False Bay breezes resulting in classic and elegant wines. The magnificent loft-style brick faced winery set at the foot of the Stellenbosch Mountain range has been designed to integrate with the striking surroundings.
Winemaker, JC Steyn, has been given a free hand to create his own expression in the wines he produces under the three labels: The Donatus being the flagship, then the Dornier range, followed by the Cocoa Hill range — all offering excellent quality.
The Dornier Donatus Cabernet Franc/Merlot 2004 shows an excellent dark plumy colour with delicate violet and nutmeg aromas. The palate shows a silky expression of black cherry flavours with fine concentrated tannins on the finish.
Enjoy now or keep for a further four years.
Expect to pay R155.50
To order this wine contact Wine Concepts.