Friday, December 24, 2010

Cape South Coast New Wine Region approved

Cape South Coast Region

Newly demarcated and approved region 10th of November 2010, bringing the number to 5 now, the other 4 being Breede River Valley, Klein Karoo, Coastal Region and Olifants River.

Cape South Coast have now 5 district namely Cape Agulhas,Overberg, Plettenberg Bay, Swellendam and Walker Bay.

2 new wards have been added making the total to now to 14 and the 2 new wards are Herbertsdale and Stillbaai East.

The following wards remain unchanged

Elim (Cape Agulhas)
Elgin,Greyton,Klein River,Theewater (Overberg)
Buffeljags, Stormsvlei (Swellendam)
Bot River,Upper Hemel-en-Aarde Valley,Hemel-en-Aarde Ridge,Hemel-en-Aarde Valley,Sunday's Glen (Walker Bay)

Another affirmation of the right direction SAWIS is taking in mapping the various unique terroir of South Africa, when will they cancelled Wine of Western Cape origin or Coastal Region Origin? It can only be positive, beneficial as well as a unique selling point to South Africa.

Laborie Merlot & Cabernet Sauvignon Western Cape Blend 2008 72 points

Laborie Merlot & Cabernet Sauvignon Western Cape Blend 2008 72 points

Clear, bright cherry red with brown rim! high Pyrazine and peppery! faint hints of red fruits, herbaceous, lean structure with thin palate!, now until 2013

Solms Astor Langarm Western Cape red Blends 2007 - 76 Points

Solms Astor Langarm Western Cape red Blends 2007 - 76 Points

n Western Cape Blend 2007 Clear, bright cherry red with tea leaf note, crunchy earthy fruit, disjointed acidity, probably acidified, fruit fading, high alcohol on aftertaste, now until 2013.
Blend of Pinotage, Touriga Nacionale, Tannat, Cabernet Sauvignon, Grenache & Primitivo/Zinfandel.

Mont du Toit Les Coteaux Paarl 2004 74+ Points

Mont du Toit Les Coteaux Paarl 2004 74+ Points

Reductive, with peppery tea leaf note, earthy complexity, elegant mouthfeels, juicy fruit, however slight bitterness on aftertaste distract, now until 2014

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Mont du Toit Paarl 2003 78+ Points

Mont du Toit Paarl 2003 78+ Points

Clear, russet brown hue, showing age, high alcohol, earthy and ripe, saturated ripe fruit, has texture and stuffing,now until 2015

Meerendal Estate Durbanville Shiraz 2005 85+ Points

Meerendal Estate Durbanville Shiraz 2005 85+ Points

Medium clear, bright, russet/mahogany red with slight brown rim, indicating age, high concentration, high viscosity, no evidence of gas or sediment.

Clean with medium plus intensity, dark mulberry, currant, hints of cassis, earthy loamy soil, smoky paprika, spicy cloves, cinnamon and dusted black pepper.
With aeration reveals complex Darjeeling tea leaf and violets note. Fragrant oak mostly American.

Dry, medium plus acidity, medium plus tannin, high alcohol, flavours follows through, with new flavours of leather and sour cherries, medium plus lenght, medium plus complexity, crunchy style, more Syrah than Shiraz, savoury black olives note & game follows through the aftertaste.

Knowing the track record of Meerendal Estate Shiraz, this 2005 vintage have the structure to last until 2018+, though drinking well now at 14 degrees celsius with a beef steak Cantonese style with onions, fresh chilli in soya sauce and steam jasmine rice

A personal thank you and compliments of the seasons to all the followers of my blog

A personal thank you and compliments of the season to all the followers of my blog.

Miguel Chan Wine Journal today averages 1500+ hits a month with good regularity and feedback received from all over have been re-assuring and encouraging, wish I have more time to post more article and newly tasted release wines, perhaps one day!

Wishing all of you a Merry Christmas and Happy New year 2011

Miguel Chan
Certified Sommelier

A personal thank and Compliments of the seasons to my Twitter Followers

All a personal thank to my Twitter followers who now have reached 849 and growing daily, you can looked forward to more relevant and updates wine tweet n 2011, keep spreading the word for @capewinereview

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year 2011

Klein Constantia Wine Estate Blog

Klein Constantia Wine Estate in Constantia, one of the legendary and top notch Cape producer, now have a blog and it's very cool, invite anyone to browse through, cheers

Pinotage Article update in Latest Decanter Magazine

A must read very good article on Pinotage written by Christian Eedes in the latest Decanter Magazine, November edition

Why South African Chenin Blanc are World Class wednesday 26 January 2011

Why South African Chenin Blanc are World Class an evening of fun and discovery of Chenin Blanc, Gamay Noir and Verdelho paired with a 4 course dinner by Executive Chef Jade Sullaphen at Quills Restaurant Intercontinental OR Tambo Airport on wednesday 26 January 2011.

Tasting and wine pairings will be presented by Miguel Chan

R 250PP

Bookings on 0119615400 or

why South African Chenin Blanc are World class 28 January 2011

Why South African Chenin Blanc are World class an evening of fun and discovery of Chenin Blanc, Gamay Noir & Verdelho paired with a 4 course dinner by Chef Amina Lebelo at Atrium Restaurant Intercontinental Sandton Towers on Friday 28 January 2011.

R 250pp

Tasting and wine pairing dinner will be presented by Miguel Chan

Bookings 0117805642 or

Sauvignon Blanc Top 10 tasting at Sandton Sun

WINE Magazine Sauvignon Blanc Top 10 Public Tasting Wednesday 19 January 2011 @ 1830 Sandton Sun Hotel, Johannesburg.

The line up will include:

5 Stars & Double Gold Veritas

Anura Coastal Region Blend Unfiltered Reserve 2010

4 and half stars

Cederberg 2010 (Silver Veritas 2010)
De Grendel Durbanville Koetshuis 2010 (Double Gold Veritas 2010)
First Sighting Elim 2009
Grahan Beck Coastal Region Blend Pheasants Run 2009 (Gold Veritas 2009 & 2010)
Grahan Beck Coastal Region Blend Pheasants Run 2010 (Gold Veritas 2010) Coastal Region Blend 2010 (Double Gold Veritas 2010)
Strandveld Elim 2010

4 Stars

Darling Bush Vines 2010
Groote Post Darling Reserve 2009

Bookings through 0860100203 or

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Cathedral Cellar Triptych Coastal Region Red Blend 2007 77 Points

Cathedral Cellar Triptych Coastal Region Red Blend 2007 77 Points

Ripe oaky style, slight varnishy note, rubber character evident, grainy graphite note on soft and elegant tannin structure, savoury, but oak not integrated after 3 years! Oaky aftertaste follows through, now until 2015.

Strandveld Elim Pinot Noir 2009 - Release July 2011

Strandveld Elim Pinot Noir 2009 - Release July 2011

Any serious Pinot Noir fundi should not missed and must looked out to the first "reserve" range of Strandveld Elim Pinot Noir 2009 vintage!
More to follow in July 2011

Welmoed Stellenbosch Chenin Blanc 2010 86 Points

Welmoed Stellenbosch Chenin Blanc 2010 86 Points

Clear, bright pale straw with slight green reflection, medium concentration, medium viscosity, no evidence of gas (common occurrence in young Cape Sauvignon Blanc to boost mouth feels) or sediment.

Clean with medium plus intensity, ripe note of “Washington red apples”, bright lemon, guava, white peach and just ripe Asian pears, layers of complexity with subtle but delicately persistent note of farm style honey, creamy vanilla, lightly wooded, probably French oak with a soupcon of botrytis.

Dry with intense note of pears and just ripe guava as new flavours, medium plus acidity, medium alcohol, medium plus complexity, medium plus length, viscous, creamy and rather concentrated mouth feels, very good example of a great value Stellenbosch Chenin Blanc crammed with personality.

Served now at 9 degrees Celsius with steam Cantonese inspired pork, Shittake & dried cuttlefish dumplings, ‘Niuk Yen” style or can be cellared until 2015 under the right cellaring conditions.

Welmoed Chenin Blanc is widely available at around R 30 a bottle and is a style between the Kleine Zalze Bush Vine Chenin Blanc and Simonsig Chenin Blanc

Vina Temprana Old Vines Tempranillo Joven* Campo de Borja Denominacione de Origen 2009 85 points

Vina Temprana Old Vines Tempranillo Joven* Campo de Borja Denominacione de Origen 2009 85 points

Made by Bodegas Aragonesas SA Fuendejalon from over 40 years old Tempranillo vines and available at Checkers Hyper Sandton City at an unbelievable price of R 24.99 per bottle!

Clear, bright, ruby red with purple rim, medium plus concentration, medium viscosity, no evidence of gas or sediment.

Clean with medium plus intensity of ripe plums, dark cherries, fragrant dried strawberry petal and almonds, complex earthy note, delicately wooded, most probably large old barrels.

Dry, medium acidity, low plus tannin, medium alcohol (13.5 ABV) with concentrated and juicy new flavours of bright plum fruit and just ripe cherries and lingering fresh cherry pip note, touch sappy might suggest some whole bunch included in the fermentation.

This is a fantastic value Old Vines Tempranillo, true to it’s origin and certainly over delivers on price, cause wait a second, if Spain can send a perfectly made wine at R 24.99 retail, South African producers better watch out, especially with the last 2 years tendency to increase price, with no apparent justification.

It is seal with crews cap, could you believe it, even Spain going the screw cap way!

*Joven = Spanish for young

About Campo de Borja

Promising wine area surrounding the town of Borja in the Aragon region, one of Spain 17 autonomous region, North East of Spain, known for producing full bodied red wines, sharing the Ebro river with it’s illustrious neighbour in the North West, Rioja.

Modern winemaking, technology and huge investment since late 90’s, have revolutionized the style.

Bravo to Checkers Hyper Sandton City, to have brought this wine into the country.

Served at 14 degrees Celsius with toast and French style Saucisson / Salami from Feinschmecker finest quality Charcuterie, without a doubt South Africa finest cold meats specialist

Miguel Chan Note on his tasting and rating procedures

Miguel Chan Note on his tasting and rating procedures

I do not verify any other rating prior to reviewing a wine sample, should mine be higher or lower than any good and well respected South African or International judge(s), wine writer, I leave it up to my growing (daily) loyal followers who read my buzz, blog, tweet or Face Book page to arrive at their own conclusion of either they agree with me or not, as I will always respect my peers, as there is no right or wrong in wine tasting, the only plausible answer to their review will be either a lack of experience in international benchmark, or over zealous confidence that cannot be substantiated.

Hence the need to constantly taste wines of the world and monitor their evolution if any!

I am convinced in today’s modern society of information freedom and overload, the New South Africa, have it’s place for honesty and integrity!

Wine enjoyment is about sharing of accurate information as truthfully as it gets, and there is no personal interest whatsoever and most important of all no time for politics or personal vendetta!, towards wine writers or producers, life is too short to waste unproductively!

The more South Africans drinking better quality wines as well as better value label not inflated by Marketing nonsense or brands appeal (Branding in wines is irrelevant and best left for Coco Cola, at least they can get the consistency right! Year on year!), especially the emerging African market*, who is extremely adventurous and certainly represent the future of South African wine drinker, the better it will be in establishing a sound domestic wine culture and will make the life of a good Sommelier easier on the floor!

*The emerging African wine market/clientele as it is seen in Johannesburg today is certainly the future of the South African wine industry, they are adventurous and are not as difficult as the majority of conservative South Africans from other major metropolitan cities, demanding yes but within reasonable request, willing to spend on the right recommendations, they are clear in their needs and are willing to experiment and learn, and they frequent and support the restaurant & bar business with far more regularity and consistency than any international visitors visiting South Africa for the last 16 / 17 years and I urge wine producers to engage, like very few have done so far instead of wasting their time in Asia, America or Europe as after all African population in South Africa is over 40 million, potential new customers!! Able to drink up the lake of unsold wine which is roughly under 200 million litres surplus as of now! And keep the economy going!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Riebeek Cellars Swartland Collection Shiraz 2009 86 Points

Riebeek Cellars Swartland Collection Shiraz 2009 86 points

Medium clear, bright cherry plum red with slight blueberry hue rim, medium concentration,medium viscosity, no evidence of gas or sediment.

Clean with medium plus intensity notes of dark ripe plums, dried cranberries, preserved maraschino cherries in kirsch, spicy & smoky, multilayered and complex with floral jasmine & rosemary, could there be a soupcon of Viognier in??

Dry with medium plus alcohol (more perceptible on palate than nose) medium plus acidity (possibly acidified) and medium plus finish, new flavours of sour cherries and savoury calamata black olives and medley of Mediterrannean herb such as Oregano, Marjoram and some Rosemary, medium lenght and complexity, crunchy fresh elegant style more Syrah than Shiraz.

Served at 14 degrees Celsius with a mild topside beef cut & potato chunks curry, steamed Basmati rice and crunchy cabbage,carrots & lettuce salad on the side, now until 2016

Nederburg The Winemaster's Reserve Baronne 2009 80+ Points

Nederburg The Winemaster's Reserve Baronne 2009 80+ Points

Clear, bright, ruby cherry red with slight watery rim, medium plus concentration, medium plus viscosity, no evidence of gas or sediment.

Clean with medium plus intensity, dark red cherries, cassis and hints of tinned plum tomatoes, peppery with dark earthy notes, very oaky style, possibly a combination of French / American / Eastern European oak, barrel and oak chips as it is quite dusty cedary in appearance, spicy smoky note, dark cocoa.

Dry to off dry (+/- 3 gram Residual Sugar),medium plus alcohol, low tannin, medium plus acidity (possibly acidified), medium lenght and medium complexity with new flavours of juicy plum / prunes.

Served at 14 degrees celsius with BBQ beef and speck sausages, now until 2014.

Western Cape blend of Cabernet Sauvignon & Shiraz, no proportion given, very much a South Australian generic blend in profile.

Bottle tasted was purchased at Checkers Hyper Fourways ar R 29.99

Friday, December 17, 2010

Ataraxia Western Cape Chardonnay 2007 - Revisited

Ataraxia Western Cape Chardonnay 2007 - Revisited

Ataraxia Chardonnay 2007 was a 5 stars in 2009 Platter Wine Guide and was pleased to discover a few bottles hidden in the depth of the Sandton Sun cellar, mixed with Ataraxia Sauvignon Blanc 2008!

A minimalist non-interventionist Chardonnay handcrafted from fruit sourced by Kevin Grant from extreme, radical and individual parcels scattered throughout the Cape wine lands, 10 months upbringing in French oak of which 30 % was new, completed it’s journey to the bottle

Since the maiden release of the 2005 vintage, Ataraxia Chardonnay have captivated fans all over the world and have graced some of the finest fine dining destination.

Ataraxia is a smartly made moderate climate Chardonnay (South Africa is not a cool climate viticulture! No debate here!) bridging opulent New World aromatic with a palate weight, elegance as well as soupcon of minerality akind to a cross of Premier Cru Chablis and Puligny Montrachet profile.

Ataraxia wines are wines to be supported and have it’s rightful place on any well respected wine lists, however my only constructive criticism is it needs to get a sense of place, as at present all vintages have been Wine of Origin Western Cape, which makes it hard to explain to customers who know very little about Cape wines, but are demanding on the provenance as well as terroir where the vines are grown, hopefully as Kevin Grant vines mature on his Hemel en Aarde plot we should see some more site specific wines.

The 2007 is an age worthy Western Cape blend Chardonnay that will peak around 2013.

All vintages have an average rating of between 89 – 91+

Pongratz Methode Cap Classique Chardonnay / Pinot Noir NV 83 Points

Pongratz Methode Cap Classique Chardonnay / Pinot Noir NV 83 Points

Clear, bright, pale straw, low plus concentration, low plus viscosity, evidence of gas with rather coarse bubbles, no sediment.

Clean, low plus intensity with notes of green pears, white peach and faint hints of yellow lemon skin, no minerality, with slight brush of oak / older wood, very little autolysis character.

Dry to off dry, low plus acidity, low plus alcohol with flavours of green pears and lime follows through, new notes of nutty flavour, medium length and medium complexity.

Served at 8 degrees Celsius, now until 2014, perfect with home made breakfast or sunday lunch light fares.

About Pongratz from a wine lists perspectives

Pongratz carries a strong branding and as a sparkling wine falls in the Fast Moving Consumer Goods.

Technically it is perfect as a bottle fermented sparkling wine, clinically clean and will make any informal, casual and home enjoyment special, however, it does not have it’s p[laced on a well respected hotel wine lists as the wine is too bland, lacking of depth, personality as well as sense of place missing, as it is a Western Cape blend by origin, though made in Stellenbosch.

Sense of place and terroir is so important when selling / pairing wine in a restaurant environment, furthermore the acidity is on the low side which will make pairings with fine food tricky.

This reviewed bottle was tasted blind alonside 2 other MCC Brut and was purchased at Checkers Hyper Fourways this December 2010 at R 68.99.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Buitenverwachting Husseys Vlei Constantia Chardonnay 2005 revisited 95 Points

Buitenverwachting Husseys Vlei Constantia Chardonnay 2005 revisited 95 Points

Had a bottle recently, my last one! and it is impressive to note the wine have not only get better but it seems to have stop it's ageing track and confidently idling!...............wandering what's next! still so full of energy, has taken just a slight nutty complexity with the so elusive match stick complexity, so Burgundian half way Puligny have way Beaune with soupcon of Montrachet charm....!Multilayered, striking with focus acidity along with a fine mineral thread,lends ultra charm and captivating complexity, WOW this Single vineyard offering, is certainly a testament of one of the finest South African Chardonnay ever made, well done Hermann Kirschbaum & Brad Paton.

Another testament of South African wines greatness, the world have yet to see the full potential of this amazing wine country, we only scratching the surface!

KWV Roodeberg Western Cape Red Blend 2007 69+ Points

KWV Roodeberg Western Cape Red Blend 2007 69+ Points

Mahogany hue, with russet brown edge, herbaceous with prominent tomato leaf note, dusty tea leaf complexity, chocolate dust and rusty iron note, acidity not integrated, possibly acidified, drying tannin, lean fruit structure, now until 2013

Solms Wijn de Caab Hiervandaan Western Cape blend 2006 73 Points

Solms Wijn de Caab Hiervandaan Western Cape blend 2006 73 Points

Ripe, fragrant dusty oak, prominent Shiraz fruit and seductive Viognier note, floral farewell, somewhat lean in structure, thinness rather than elegant!

Blend of Shiraz, Carignan, Mourvedre, Grenache Noir and Viognier. Now until 2013

Saturday, December 11, 2010

2005 Avontuur Baccarat Stellenbosch Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot & Cabernet Franc blend 74+ points

2005 Avontuur Baccarat Stellenbosch Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot & Cabernet Franc blend 74+ points

Clear, bright, russet hue, clean, medium plus intensity with complex note of cassis, currant and fragrant new French oak, high alcohol not integrated, drying tannins, over extracted, rather hard on finish, now until 2014

2005 Bayede Classique Stellenbosch Cabernet Franc & Cabernet Sauvignon 68+ points

2005 Bayede Classique Stellenbosch Cabernet Franc & Cabernet Sauvignon 68+ points

Ripe, stewed prunes, earthy, oak not too clean, certainly old barrel, drying tannin, acidity out of tune, VA perceptible, lean and austere, now until 2013

2006 Uva Mira Stellenbosch Merlot & Cabernet Sauvignon 71 points

2006 Uva Mira Stellenbosch Merlot & Cabernet Sauvignon 71 points

Ripe, marmite note chocolatey, high extract with hard tannin not integrated, hollow mid palate, even with aeration did not improve much, now until 2013

2007 Wildekrans Walker Bay Cabernet Franc Merlot 66 points

2007 Wildekrans Walker Bay Cabernet Franc Merlot 66 points

Reductive with rubbery note, sea shells note, rather atypical Bordeaux style blend, bitter texture due to overextraction, short aftertaste, now until 2013

Friday, December 10, 2010

Abingdon Estate Single Vineyard Kwa Zulu Natal Midlands Viognier 80 points

Abingdon Estate Single Vineyard Kwa Zulu Natal Midlands Viognier 80 points

Clear, bright, pale straw hue, low concentration low plus viscosity, some gas evident.

Clean, medium plus intensity with notes of canned yellow peach, white peaches, lychee, delicate jasmine and hints of lime, Italian style aromatic, brush of oak?

Dry, low plus acidity, medium alcohol, some Viognier tannin evident on back palate, elegant with juicy stone fruit, texture far more interesting than nose suggest, well made with palate weight with broad mouth feels, honeyed? Aftertaste, now until 2013.

Served at 11 degrees Celsius with grilled peach, seasonal crunchy greens leaves, Mange tout and lightly tea smoked quail salad

Abingdon Wine Estate Kwazulu Natal Midlands Single Vineyards Syrah 2008 77 Points

Abingdon Estate Single Vineyard Kwa Zulu Natal Midlands Syrah 2008 77 Point

Clear day bright, cherry red with slight mahogany rim, medium concentration, medium viscosity, no evidence of gas, but there is some tartaric crystal as deposit.

Clean, austere, faint hints of dark red fruits such as blackcurrants, currants and cedar wood, tobacco and cedary texture, oak not fully integrated, too much.

Dry, low plus acidity, low plus tannin, medium alcohol, fresh and light bodied (better served chilled), Vin de Pays style, no evident Syrah character, low plus finish, now until 2013

Served chilled at 10 degrees Celsius with country pork saucisson sec and crusty baguette

Abingdon Wine Estate Kwazulu Natal Midlands Cabernet Sauvignon 2008 80 Points

Abingdon Estate Kwa Zulu Natal Midlands first Estate winery

Abingdon Estate, may claim the unofficial status of the highest vineyard in South Africa at approximately 1100 metres above sea level (Cederberg is the highest vineyard at 1069 metres in the Western Cape)

Owned by Ian and Jane Smorthwaite, the wine estate is situated in the picturesque Midlands area of Kwa Zulu Natal, one of South Africa’s newest Geographical Wine Units (The other one being the Eastern Cape GU, that’s for another day discussion!)

Abingdon is certified as an Estate producer using only Kwa Zulu Natal grown grapes.

From their just over 2 ha of vineyards, they produce quite a broad range from Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Sauvignon Blanc, Viognier to Chardonnay.

To sum it up, Abingdon Wine Estate indeed shows potential for good quality clean wine, UN showy in style with fine attributes to be paired with food and as the vines ages, there should be more complex drops being made, Ian & Jane should be applauded for their effort and be daring enough to grow grape in a summer rainfall area.

Hereunder my initial impression of the previous vintage, the wines was tasted blind alongside Western Cape wines, group in the same category.

Abingdon Estate Kwazulu Natal Midlands Cabernet Sauvignon 2008 80 Points

Clear, day bright, cherry hue, medium concentration, medium viscosity, no evidence of gas or sediment.

Clean, low plus intensity, Cabernet austerity evident, with aeration reveals notes of cherry, just ripe plum, hints of tobacco and earthy note.

Dry, fresh with medium acid, medium plus tannin, medium alcohol, Old World restraint, balance but touch over extracted, results of young fruits macerated for too long! Delicate savoury black olives and dried lavender notes, good depth, medium finish, fine restraint, now until 2014

Served at 14 degrees Celsius with a grilled beef flank, lightly season with a rocket salad in light balsamic dressing

Thursday, December 9, 2010



The Hemel en Aarde Ridge ward is indeed a very exciting new wine area, producing (so far)elegant minerally driven moderate climate style white and red, one has to taste with Jean Claude Martin at Creation to understand the passion and drive to make some of the very best wines not only in the valley but in South Africa, with international benchmark or at Mount Babylon's with Johan Holtzhauzen and try his Methode Cap Classique Shiraz Rose, these are food friendly wines.

Seven Springs is one of the latest to join that very special area, I will review their maiden vintage 2010 Sauvignon Blanc within the next 2 weeks and will report on my findings!

In the meantime learn more from the words of Seven Springs owner Tim Pearson.

“We are situated 3kms down the road from Creation (just past the Tolbos apple farm) on the same side as Creation.

We are just out of the Hemel en Aarde Ridge ward and just out of the Walker Bay area. This does not bother me as it does not matter where we are, as long as our wines are of a high quality.

Please have a look at our Flickr photos below, it will give you an idea of the layout of our vineyard on north and south facing slopes.

Our wines will be made from Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Syrah.

We hope to build a winery and tasting room in 2011

Passionate about wine, I had long dreamt about owning my own vineyard, this is story of my dream becoming a reality.

For a number of years our family holidays had been taken in Europe and South Africa where my enthusiasm for great wine and knowledge of complexities of production grew. In 1993 I had the opportunity to visit the London International Wine & Spirits Fair and I was truly hooked.

In 1994 I worked for six months in South Africa and although back in the UK was lucky enough to make contact with two of South Africa’s leading winemakers, Beyers Truter from Beyerskloof in Stellenbosch and Danie de Wet from De Wetshof Estate in Robertson.

In 2005, during a return visit to South Africa to celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary, my wife, Vaughan, and I explored the possibility of buying a small wine farm or some land which could be brought into production as vineyard.

During the trip we looked at land near Stellenbosch with a local agent but due to the cost of the land felt my dream would stay just that, a dream. However during our visit we travelled through much of the Cape wine lands and drove on to Hermanus where we visited Hamilton Russell Vineyards and Bouchard Finlayson in the picturesque Hemel en Aarde (Heaven on Earth) Valley.

It was at this point that Vaughan said “if we are going to buy anywhere, this area would be the perfect place”. The challenge was now to find suitable land in this truly beautiful valley, where top class wines were being produced, but land would be extremely hard to come by.

Returning to the UK and my job as Managing Director of my cleaning company, Goldcrest Cleaning Ltd, I set about using the internet to search for any suitable land in the area. To my absolute amazement, in December 2005, I discovered some land for sale 10 minutes drive down the valley from the Sumaridge Winery.

After contacting the sellers, father and son farmers, Brian and James Davison, and receiving several reports on the suitability of the soil for wine grape production, Vaughan and I decided to travel back to the Cape in January 2006.

During the visit we made the decision to buy a portion of the land available (called Vrede which in Afrikaans means Peace) and purchased 12 hectares of north and south facing land, suitable for the production of red and white grape varieties.

Much viticultural advice was sought regarding the choice of planting and eventually we settled on Pinot Noir and Syrah for the red varieties and Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc for the whites.

July 2007 saw our first 2 hectares of Syrah planted on north facing slopes and 1.87 hectares of Chardonnay on the south facing slopes.

Later in that year 1.9 hectares of mature Blue Gum (Eucalyptus) trees on the edge of the land were grubbed up to make way for planting Sauvignon Blanc grapes, although time is required for the soil to recover and improved for optimum vine growing.

During July and early August of 2008 we planted 3.41 hectares of Pinot Noir on north facing slopes (the reason for not planting Pinot Noir in 2007 was that KWV, our rootstock supplier, did not have suitable clones of the variety in stock.

These had to be ordered and then grafted onto the correct rootstock for planting in 2008).

The very best virus free rootstock has been used in all plantings.

2008 also saw the planting of 200 Frantoio olive trees, from the Morgenster olive farm, around the perimeter of the vineyard area to allow future production of a single variety olive oil.

2009 saw the planted vines mature with a view to a test harvest in 2010. The final parcel of land will be planted with Sauvignon Blanc in 2010 and our first true harvest will be in February and March of 2011 with launch into the market likely later that year.

Over time our vineyard will produce in the region of 50-60,000 bottles and bringing it to market will no doubt be our biggest challenge.

It was in the latter part of this year that we established our branding with Marcel de Quervain (

Marcel was responsible for creating the branding for the iconic Innocent range of products in the UK.

January of 2010 saw the appointment of Riana van der Merwe as our winemaker. 25 year old Riana comes highly recommended to us by our friend Guillaume Nell, winemaker at Backsberg.

Our first harvest started on Thursday the 11th of February with the picking of our Chardonnay grapes, the quality looks excellent.

Our Sauvignon Blanc (from grapes grown by Peter, our vineyard manager, on his family vineyard next to ours, will be picked in the last week of February and our Syrah 2 weeks later.

We will produce approximately 9,000 bottles from our first harvest as we are limiting grape quantity and concentrating on quality fruit.

This will also allow our young vines to develop fully. Riana will make Seven Springs first vintage at the award winning Iona Vineyards in Elgin.

Our website ( was launched on the 16th February 2010 as was the Seven Springs Vineyard Facebook site and the 7SpringsWine Twitter.

Our first grapes, Sauvignon Blanc, were hand picked on the 22nd of February 2010 followed by the Chardonnay a week later and our Syrah in early March.

All of our vines were harvested at optimum fruit ripeness and the grapes were then fermented in stainless steel tanks.

Our Sauvignon Blanc remained in the tank whilst our Chardonnay and Syrah were transferred to French oak barrels.

We have used second and third fill barriques to gently ‘marry’ with our wine, allowing our fruit to express itself with the oak providing a supporting role.

The style we are looking for with our Chardonnay and Syrah is ultimately one of delicate balance between fruit and oak.

Sauvignon Blanc has now been planted in a 1 hectare site on the highest, and coolest, point of our south facing slopes.

The vines were planted in June 2010 below the watchful eye and slopes of Shaws Mountain

Our Sauvignon Blanc from the 2010 vintage was bottled on the 6th of August (4,400 bottles) and then labelled on the 11th of October. The wine will be sold in South Africa and the UK.

Our Chardonnay and Syrah are snug in their French oak barrels with the Chardonnay being bottled early 2011 and the Syrah later in the year.

Our winemaker Riana is spending the 2010 harvest (September to the end of November) in Oregon, USA, at Adelsheim Vineyard.

This will give Riana great exposure to some of the best Pinot Noirs produced in the USA, helping her to understand the complexities of this variety.

Our first small production of Pinot Noir could now be as early as 2011 as our young vines seem to be of an excellent quality.

November 2010 saw our wines going on sale in South Africa at Cybercellar ( and the Wine Village in Hermanus ( and our first restaurant listing in South Africa with 24 bottles going to the acclaimed 96 Winery Road restaurant in the Cape winelands near Somerset West.

2,400 bottles also landed at Tilbury docks, London, on Monday the 8th, ready to launch into the UK market.

We have also had superb feedback on the quality of our wine from wine writers in South Africa.

Everyone in South Africa who has tasted our wine so far has given it a big thumbs up. I am so proud of Riana our young winemaker."

Tim Pearson

The fruit-bomb resistance

The fruit-bomb resistance

Thread created by Geoff Kruth of the Guild of Sommeliers

A good article from Jordan. I thought this little table was interesting:

Hopefully this may start inspiring South African viticulturist and winemakers alike to start getting out of their stigma of long hang time and their quest to optimal physiological ripeness, as over 90 %still do not get it high alcohol, low acid acid wine is challenging to pair with foods!

Alcohol percentages for the past six vintages of Kutch’s pinot noir:

2005: 16.3%
2006: 15.3%
2007: 14.1%
2008: 13.9%
2009: 13.2%
2010: 12.8%

Platter South African Wine Guide 2011, 5 Star Award - Rijk's Shiraz 2005

Platter South African Wine Guide 2011, 5 Star Award - Rijk's Shiraz 2005

Winemaker Pierre Wahl was most pleased at receiving 5 stars
for his Rijk's Shiraz 2005 vintage.

Platter's Wine Guide is regarded as the most respected and most authoritative guide to South African wine.

In an interview Pierre commented “Our 2004 vintage received 4.5 stars, and now our latest release 2005 vintage was awarded 5 stars".

It was also the oldest vintage - 2005 – wine to receive
5 stars.

This confirms that the elegance, finesse, concentration of fruit and consistency in our older vintage wines are much appreciated by wine enthusiasts locally and internationally.

The wine was described as “a world class benchmark Shiraz”, and “an ambassador for South African Shiraz”.

All Rijk's Private Cellar current vintages received 4, 4½ or 5 Stars

Shiraz 2005
Pinotage touch of oak 2009
Pinotage 2006
Pinotage Reserve 2007
Bravado 2003
Chardonnay Reserve 2007
Chenin Blanc touch of oak 2009
Chenin Blanc 2008
Chenin Blanc Reserve 2007
Fascination 2008



The 2009 vintage of Allesverloren Shiraz has been awarded gold and voted best bottled red wine of 2010 by 35 Swedish wine writers at the annual Alt Om Vin wine awards in Sweden.

This follows last month’s (November) news that Allesverloren earned Sweden’s highest wine honour with Danie Malan, fifth-generation Swartland winemaker and owner of Allesverloren, chosen as International Producer of the Year in an annual competition held under the auspices of Alt Om Mat, one of Sweden’s foremost lifestyle magazines.

Intense ruby red in colour and showing an abundance of ripe berry and cigar box aromas with a background of oak spice, Allesverloren Shiraz 2009 is a rich and full-bodied wine with a good tannic structure and ripe fruit flavours.


Kind regards

Marlise Potgieter
De Kock Communications (DKC)
Tel: +27 21 422 2690
Fax/Faks: +27 86 610 5388
Cell/Sel: +27 72 562 5307

Novel whites and roses for spring

I now write the wine articles for Status Quo Estate Living Magazine, a high profile quarterly publications, looked out for my first article "Novel whites and roses for spring".

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

2009 Paul Cluver Estate Elgin Riesling 90 Points

2009 Paul Cluver Estate Elgin Riesling 90 Points

Clear, day bright, pale straw with medium concentration, medium viscosity, no evidence of gas or sediment.

Clean, medium intensity with notes of lime, melon, pineapple and hay straw.
Dry to off dry, medium acidity, medium alcohol, new flavours of zesty green lime, medium bodied, fresh and elegant with some minerality note, now until 2018.

Arguably South Africa finest Riesling.

Served at 10 degrees celsius with a grilled yellowfin tuna loin served rare with raw juliennes of shredded roots vegetables, sesame oil & honey dressing.

PS: 2010 just release

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Breaking up with Pinot Noir

Though sharing this with you, "breaking up with Pinot Noir" published on the Guild of Sommeliers Website discussion forum, simply hilarious and so much sense!

The letter was written by W. Blake Gray and appeared in his blog The Gray Market. Pinot Noir responds...

Dear Pinot Noir:

I'm writing to tell you that I'm breaking up with you.

I still love you, and I'll probably always love you. But you've changed since we met, and I can't ignore it anymore.

It's not only because you've gained weight, although I won't deny that's a big factor. It's not just you who you hurt by hanging out in the vineyard way longer than you should, getting bloated with sugar and alcohol. You're also hurting me. If you respected me, you would work harder to keep your lean, sexy shape. But you don't respect me. You think I'll be there for you no matter how ripe you get. Well, I won't.

But that's not the only reason.

You're sleeping with Syrah. Don't try to deny it. I smell it on your breath and taste it in your kiss. You're lying down with Syrah, sharing your fluids, and then you come to my table and expect me to adore you anyway. Like I said, you don't respect me anymore.

Even if I could forgive you for sleeping around, you're not the same grape I fell in love with. I'll never forget the nights we shared, the laughter, the sensuous wet kisses. Sometimes you frustrated me with your mercurial nature, but I think that just made me love you more.

If I'm honest, I think travel ruined you. I know I'm a hypocrite because I love to travel and I was happy to have you with me. But I don't like what travel has done to you. I know it's selfish of me to expect you to always be the perky little grape with a French accent who loved food as much as I do. Oh, how I thrilled to discover how you brightened up with steak tartare, and the way you dug into lightly grilled salmon.

I admit I encouraged you to come to California and spend more time with me. And New Zealand. And Tasmania. And Hungary. And Italy.

Somewhere along the way, though, I think you lost touch with who you are. I think what went wrong is that you met Cabernet -- maybe in Yarra Valley, maybe in Carneros, and you wanted to be just like him. But that's not you, my dear. At least, it shouldn't be.

I'm not going to go all Mel Gibson here. As I said, I'll always love you. If you feel the same way, maybe we can work out a friends-with-benefits arrangement. But I'm afraid I have to ask you to move most of your things out of my cellar.

In case you're wondering, I'm not leaving you for somebody else. Sure, I'm seeing a lot of Riesling and Sauvignon Blanc these days. But it's not the kind of relationship you and I shared. It's summer, and we're in the same restaurants together. It's just a coincidence.

It's not about them; it's about you.

Take care of yourself. And please, try to get back into shape.

Sadly but with love always,

South Africa's Top 10 restaurant of 2010

Sunday, November 28, 2010

EAT OUT TOP 10 2010

It was a night of anxious anticipation and unexpected surprises at the2010 Eat Out Awards when the judges named the country's Top 10 restaurants from the list of 20 nominees.

Announced by Eat Out editor Abigail Donnelly in the order of their ranking, the Top 10 restaurants of 2010 are:

1. Rust en Vrede Restaurant
2. The Tasting Room at Le Quartier Fran├žais
3. Jordan Restaurant
4. Bosman's
5. DW Eleven-13
6. Terroir
7. Aubergine
8. Roots
9. Overture
10. Hartford House

The most significant shift on the podium is David Higgs's Rust en Vrede Restaurant, which went from last year's third place to being named Eat Out's Restaurant of the year.

Other noticeable moves are The Tasting Room, which moved from last year's joint 10th place to 2nd place, andOverture, which got bumped up to 9th on the list.

Surprising comebacks include Aubergine, which received the Top 10 accolade in 2007, Bosman's, last featured on 2005's list, and Hartford House, lauded with a place in 2008.

Brand-new restaurants to make the grade are George Jardine's Jordan Restaurant and Marthinus Ferreira's Johannesburg restaurant DW Eleven-13.

Platter 5-stars for two Cape Winemakers Guild Auction wines

Platter 5-stars for two Cape Winemakers Guild Auction wines

30 November 2010 by Cape Winemakers Guild

Two rare wines crafted exclusively for the 2010 Nedbank Cape Winemakers Guild Auction, have been given the "high five" by the 2011 Platter's South African Wine Guide.

This year's Guild Platter 5-star wines, Le Riche Cabernet Sauvignon Auction Reserve 2007 and the acclaimed white blend, Steenberg Vineyards The Magus 2009, are amongst the 19 Platter 5-star wines crafted by members of the Cape Winemakers Guild listed in the 2011 guide.

Etienne le Riche, legendary Cabernet Sauvignon specialist and founder member of the Cape Winemakers Guild, hand chosen the grapes personally from one of his prime vineyard sites for his 5-star wine which spent 24 months in new French Oak barrels. He describes the wine as vibrant with fresh, ripe cherry fruitiness and well integrated classic spiciness. The "classy" palate is full and rich, supported by a firm yet fine tannin structure ending in a long finish. This wine fetched on average R3 500 a case of six at the Guild auction.

John Loubser's renowned white blend of Sauvignon blanc and Semillon was fermented separately in old French oak barrels to capture maximum fruit whilst lees contact for eight weeks enhanced the mouth-feel. Wild and herbaceous with piercing mineral notes, this wine is a true reflection of cool terroir and will age wonderfully with careful cellaring. Its full, vibrant palate with hints of passion fruit and tangerine is elegantly balanced by subtle smokiness. Steenberg Vineyards The Magus 2009 went under the hammer at an average price of R1 400 a case of six at the Guild Auction.

Kaapzicht Estate Shines as a South African Star

Kaapzicht Estate Shines as a South African Star

26 November 2010 by Kaapzicht Estate

Hot of the press: In the December 2010 issue of the international Decanter magazine the Kaapzicht Steytler Pinotage 2007 is rated as the top Pinotage.

The same wine was also one of this year's Absa Top 10 Pinotage winners (Kaapzicht's fifth Top 10 winner), received 4½ stars in the 2011 Platter's Wine Guide that was launched last week and was chosen as Best Pinotage from the Stellenbosch district at the 2010 SA Terroir Wine Awards.

Kaapzicht Estate in the Bottelary ward near Stellenbosch in 2010 really stood out as one of South Africa's and the orld's top producers of the highest quality red wines, due to top ranking by various panels locally and internationally.

Another highly praised wine this year was the Kaapzicht Steytler Vision 2006 with the Old Mutual Trophy Wine Show award for the Best Pinotage Blend as well as the International Trophy for Best Non-Bordeaux blend at Tri-Nations, where the top wines of Australia, New Zealand and South Africa were compared with each other.

In addition, the Kaapzicht Steytler Vision 2007 received a Gold Medal at the Veritas Awards and at Mundus Vini in Germany, while it was also chosen as the national Top Red Blend at the SA Terroir Wine Awards. The Kaapzicht Merlot 2007 also impressed various panels with a Double Gold Veritas award, rated as the Top Merlot by both the Wine-of- the-Month-Club and WINE magazine, as well as the national Top Merlot at the SA Terroir Wine Awards.

The 2007 vintage obviously produced fine wines at Kaapzicht Estate's prime terroir on the Bottelary Hills, which is fully utilized by the father and son team Danie Steytler SR. and Danie Steytler JR.

Their new baby, the Bordeaux blend Steytler Pentagon was launched last year and the first vintage of this red blend, the Steytler Pentagon 2006, received 4 Stars in WINE Magazine as well as 4½ Stars in the Platter?s Wine Guide, while the newly released 2007 vintage was awarded a Veritas Gold Medal and also received 4½ stars in the Platter?s Wine Guide.

In the 2011 Platter's Wine Guide five of Kaapzicht's red wines received 4½ stars and five received 4 stars, in other words ten wines received four stars or more.

"Bottelary Hills is a prime winegrowing terroir for red wine. The northwestern slopes have the perfect combination of direct sunlight and cool prevailing sea breezes from False Bay and Atlantic Ocean. The hills on our estate are situated only 20 km from the coast of False Bay. The medium potential weathered granite soils and dry land vineyards produce low yields of 4 to 8 tons per hectare, thus creating small berries with concentrated flavours," says Danie Steytler, cellar master and co-owner of this family wine estate.

About Kaapzicht Wine Estate

Since the first vintage was bottled in 1984, Kaapzicht has become highly respected for their good value for money, quality range of wines, having earned a multitude of local and international awards. For 3 generations the Steytler Family has been running their 190 hectare large estate hands-on: Brothers Danie and George being the winemaker and viticulturist and their wives being in charge of marketing and finances, as well hiring out a venue and a self-catering cottage.

This beautiful estate in the Bottelary Hills celebrated its 60th anniversary as a family farm in 2006. In this film you will meet Danie Steytler - winemaker at Kaapzicht and member of the prestigious Cape Winemakers Guild.

Kaapzicht Wine Estate
+27 21 906-1620
+27 21 906-1622

Van Ryn's claims its sixth top international brandy title

Van Ryn's claims its sixth top international brandy title

26 November 2010 by Van Ryn's Distillery

Van Ryn's distillery close to Stellenbosch has just earned its third consecutive Best Brandy trophy at the 2010 International Spirits Challenge in London. This time, the honours for producing the world's best brandy went to the 15 Year Old Fine Cask Reserve.

Said Neil Mathieson, competition category chairman for cognac, armagnac and brandy entries: "Awarding the Best Brandy Trophy was a very hard choice this year, given the excellence of the products submitted and the very high marks they achieved. In the end the decision to award the trophy to Van Ryns 15 Year Old was made in recognition of its great length, subtlety and depth of flavour."

Mathieson, who is a world authority on international brandies and other grape-based spirits, and the founder and managing director of Eaux de Vie, a specialist spirits importer, based in the UK, believes South African brandies are becoming the standard-bearer for quality aged brandied produced outside the AOC regions of France.

In 2008 and 2009, it was the Van Ryn's 12 Year Old Distillers Reserve that was voted the best by the panel of ISC spirits specialists.

Van Ryn's has also brought home the Worldwide Best Brandy trophy from the International Wine & Spirit Competition (IWSC) three times, making it a total of six times that the distillery has been judged to produce the best.

Adele Ankiewicz, global marketing manager for Van Ryn's said: "These results demonstrate a remarkable consistency of performance and are a reflection of South African brandy excellence. The Van Ryn's Brandy Collection is an international quality leader, setting the benchmark for the finest brandies in the world. It deftly combines exuberant, generous fruitiness with elegance and finesse and offers an exciting taste profile for spirits connoisseurs."

This year's ISC Best Brandy winner was voted the best in its class at the IWSC and won a gold medal.