Friday, May 25, 2012

KWV crowned king at the 2012 Muskadel awards

KWV Winemaker Johann Fourie and Izele Van Blerk with their Three Platinum medals at the Muskadel South Africa Awards

Front l to r: Henri Swiegers (Badsberg/Muskadel SA chairperson), Margaux Nel (Boplaas),        Izele van Blerk (KWV), Johann Fourie (KWV), Andrè Scriven (Rooiberg).

KWV was crowned king at the 10th Muskadel SA awards ceremony held last night, 24 May, at Noop Restaurant, Paarl and sponsored by Enartis SA.

Out of 22 entries, KWV had received the only three Platinum Awards. Their three winning Muscats are KWV White Muscadel 2005, Classic Red Muscadel, as well as their 1930 Red Muscadel which had received a special mention.

“The Awards came at a very good time. For the past two years, we are reliving our heritage by bottling older, fortified wines in our cellar that we want to share with the public. Three Platinum awards are a good sign that the future can deliver good pruducts, “says Johann Fourie, KWV winemaker.

The Breede River Valley proved their worth as Muscadel region with five golden medals; the crown princes being Nuy Wine Cellar 2010 White Muscadel, Badsberg 2011 Red Muscadel, Slanghoek Cellar 2011 Red Muscadel, De Wet Wine Cellar 2010 Red Muscadel and Rooiberg Wine Cellar 2009 Red Muscadel

“A Muscadel vine prefers dry, warm weather conditions, with enough water to irrigate the vineyards proficiently. This results in high sugar content and acidic pH levels that are the key to a successful Muscadel. The Breede River Valley producers are very committed and always strive to deliver the best quality product.” Henri Swiegers, chairperson of Muskadel SA and winemaker in the Breede River Valley on the success of this area.

Other gold medal winners are Boplaas in the Klein Karoo with their 2011 Muscadel and Namaqua Wines Red Muscadel

Tasted blindly, the wines are judged and scored according to a tried and tested points system.

The uniqueness of the packaging also plays a role in points allocated and often denotes the difference between Gold and Platinum awards.

Consumers can identify winning Muscats by their Gold or Platinum Muskadel SA stickers.

“I think this year’s entries were better than ever before. The Muscats have a good complexity and depth in flavour. I would have liked to see a bigger difference in packaging, but even that is improving over the years,” says Dave Biggs, respected judge and wine fundi, about this year’s entries.

Murray Giggins, CEO and General Manager of the sponsor, Enartis SA, believes that Muscadel producers are important customers of Enartis SA. “Whilst Muscadel as a variety and style may not enjoy the same attention as the noble varietals of table wine styles, it is still an important area in winemaking.

We believe that the efforts made by the association in promoting this wine style need to be applauded and as such Enartis is committed to supporting the winemakers who keep this style of wine alive. Enartis in not only a speciality supplier of ingredients but a partner in the process to ensure that the winemaker has the best tools to guarantee an exceptional, hopefully award winning, outcome – as we like to say: ‘from harvest to bottle, side by side with you, always’.”

For more information contact Henri Swieger at 082 829 6010

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Fleur du Cap wins Trophy for best SA Red Bordeaux Varietal in London

Cellarmaster Andrea Freeborough

Viticulturist Bennie Liebenberg

Winemaker Justin Corrans 

Fleur du Cap Unfiltered Cabernet Sauvignon 2010 has been crowned best South African Red Bordeaux Varietal over £10 in London after winning the Regional Trophy at the 2012 Decanter World Wine Awards

A worthy successor to the award winning 2009 vintage, which clinched a gold medal at the Decanter World Wine Awards last year, the Fleur du Cap Unfiltered Cabernet Sauvignon 2010 is crafted at Die Bergkelder by winemaker Justin Corrans and cellarmaster Andrea Freeborough.

Made in the classic, full-bodied Bordeaux style from three prized Stellenbosch vineyard blocks nurtured by viticulturist Bennie Liebenberg, this Cabernet Sauvignon is Andrea’s favourite of the Fleur du Cap Unfiltered wines. It is complex, with eloquent hints of fruit cake, subtle nuances of mocha and spicy oak aromas. Concentrated plum and blackberry fruit follow through on the palate complemented by balanced, integrated oak flavours. With its firm and grippy tannins, giving a velvety texture that lingers on the finish, the longevity of this wine is ensured.  

The results of the 2012 Decanter World Wine Awards were announced at the London Trade Fair. Already in its 9th year, the Decanter judges tasted a total of 14 119 wines making 2012 the largest ever for this prestigious competition.

 The award winning Fleur du Cap Unfiltered Cabernet Sauvignon 2010 will be released later this year. For more information visit or join the Fleur du Cap Facebook community.

Spring Day

1st and 2nd September 2012

Booked out 1st and 2nd September 2012 in your calendar today, for a one of a kind, fun, wine festival in Johannesburg, more details to follow on this blog!

Faustino Rivero Ulecia Silver Label Rioja Reserva 2006 86+ Points

Clear, bright, garnet with slight brown rim indicating evolution / age, medium plus concentration and medium plus viscosity.

Clean, medium plus intensity, delicately ripe cherries, dark plums, crushed strawberries,sour cherries, very good purity of fruit,starting to gain / developed earthy, forest floor, tertiary character, subtle spicy oaking lending tobacco and cedar wood.

Dry with medium plus acidity, medium plus firm but ripe tannins, linear structure, medium alcohol (13), delicate red fruit, follows through, savoury, delicate, earthy note, fruit still vibrant for a 2006, medium lenght and medium complexity

An absolute bargain for R 49 a bottle at Checkers Hyper Fourways, it shows good typicity of the Rioja DOC and even more so the Reserva style, though should be noted, nowhere close to some of the very top Rioja, nevertheless a very honest bottling. Now until 2017.

Like I have mentioned recently on Twitter, Checkers introduction of International wines in their stores, should be applauded, and at a very good price, if not mistaken all under R 90 per bottle, with a whole section and display dedicated, it will have a profound impact on wine education, appreciation of consumers at large in South Africa and they have been very clever to introduce Internationally recognisable labels, that have either prove themselves through consistency or other high profile awards, and this is a great change to the usual suspect of the over crowded shelves of all other major retail chain with Cabernet Sauvignon, Chenin Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc, etc, how much more can one drink of these everyday, choices is what makes wine appreciation and discovery exciting, especially when at least 9 other countries wine producce are now being offered.


Is your dad one of a kind? Does he stand out from the crowd, whether through his success in business, because of a gentle heart or his sense of style? Share the bold taste of Islay with him this Father’s Day and make sure he knows that, like the whisky, ordinary he is not.

Black Bottle, the only blended Scotch whisky to include all the renowned single malts from the Isle of Islay balanced by the finest Highland, Lowland and Speyside malt and grain whiskies, is one of the most unique whiskies around as there are very few, if any, that come close in terms of style. The whisky has been praised by critics and whisky-lovers across the world, and over the years it has secured a cult following for its unique taste.

Black Bottle’s unique taste owes its character and heart to the innovation and skill of Gordon Graham, its original master blender. A tea merchant, Graham’s ability to blend tea soon moved to the blending of whiskies in the late 19th century. This particular blend, which he marketed in opaque black bottles imported from Germany, in time became the whisky of choice of the locals of Aberdeen. The outbreak of the First World War in 1914 forced the company to source new bottles and since that date Black Bottle has been packaged in a green glass bottle, retaining the distinctive pot-still shape.

Black Bottle is available, with or without a gift tube, from leading liquor outlets at around R200 per bottle.


Manor House Fairtrade Shiraz Mourvedre

Nederburg has won three trophies at the 2012 Decanter World Wine Awards across three different tiers, demonstrating again its ability to perform at top level throughout the range. It has also won three golds at the International Wine Challenge (IWC). 

The results of both were announced at the London International Wine Fair, visited by delegates from all over the world. 

The 2008 Private Bin Edelkeur won the Decanter trophy for the best South African sweet wine retailing for over £10, while the 2010 Manor House Shiraz/Mourvèdre won the Decanter trophy for best South African red Rhône varietal retailing for over £10.  

The 2010 Winemaster’s Reserve Noble Late Harvest took both the Decanter trophy for best South African sweet wine selling for under £10 and an IWC gold medal. The botrytis wine also carries a Platter’s South African Wine Guide five-star rating.

The two other IWC golds went to the 2008 and 2009 vintages of Private Bin Eminence.
Private Bin wines are sold exclusively on the Nederburg Auction.

Nederburg also came home with four Decanter silvers. These went to the 2010 Ingenuity White (a Platter’s five-star wine), as well as to the 2009 and 2007 vintages of Private Bin Edelkeur and the 2010 Winemaster’s Reserve Merlot.

Amongst the eight IWC silver medallists were the 2010 Manor House Shiraz/Mourvèdre and the 2008 II Centuries Cabernet Sauvignon. All other IWC silvers were for Private Bin wines.
Earlier this month, Nederburg won a Syrah du Monde silver medal for the 2009 Private Bin R121 Shiraz.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

South African wines Regional trophy at Decanter World Wine Awards 2012

South African Single-Varietal Red over £10

Bellingham The Bernard Series, Bush Vine Coastal Region Pinotage 2010

South African Pinot Noir over £10

Chamonix Franschhoek Pinot Noir Reserve 2010

South African Red Bordeaux Varietal over £10

Fleur Du Cap Stellenbosch Cabernet Sauvignon Unfiltered 2010

South African Chardonnay over £10

Jordan Nine Yards Stellenbosch Chardonnay 2010

South African Red Rhône Varietals over £10

Nederburg Manor House, Darling Shiraz Mourvedre 2010

South African Sweet over £10

Nederburg Private Bin Paarl Edelkeur 2008

South African Sweet under £10

Nederburg Winemaker's Reserve Western Cape Noble Late Harvest 2010

South African Red Blend over £10

Spice Route Swartland Chakalaka 2009

South African Chenin Blanc over £10

Spier 21 Gables Coastal Region Chenin Blanc 2010

South African Sparkling over £10

Villiera Monro Stellenbosch Brut 2007

South African wines Gold at Decanter World Wine Awards 2012

Almenkerk Wine Estate Elgin Chardonnay 2011

Bouchard Finlayson Kaaimansgat Limited Edition Overberg Chardonnay 2010

Cirrus Stellenbosch Syrah 2009

Diemersfontein Carpe Diem Wellington Pinotage 2010

Eikendal Stellenbosch Merlot 2009

Ernie Els Stellenbosch Merlot 2010

Ernie Els Proprietor's Stellenbosch Syrah 2010

Kasteelberg Swartland Shiraz 2010

KWV Cathedral Cellar Western Cape Chenin Blanc 2011

KWV The Mentors Coastal Region Orchestra 2010

Namaqua Spencer Bay Western Cape Pinotage 2010

Paul Cluver Elgin Chardonnay 2010

Saronsberg Provenance Coastal Region Shiraz 2010

Waterkloof Stellenbosch Circle of Life 2010

Zonnebloem A Place in the Sun Stellenbosch Shiraz 2011

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Fleur du Cap wines express a terroir symphony

Bennie Liebenberg  - Viticulturist

Fleur du Cap Winemaking team

Resolute to harness the full potential of the unique biodiversity and micro climates of the Cape Floral Kingdom, Fleur du Cap draws on a wide variety of meticulously selected terroirs spanning four Western Cape wine growing regions and seven districts for its distinctive Unfiltered and Bergkelder Selection wines.

Enjoying the enviable position of literally taking the pick of the crop when it comes to sourcing grapes, the exploration and development for more than a decade of new wine growing areas within the Western Cape has been a major driving force of the Fleur du Cap winemaking team headed by Andrea Freeborough at Die Bergkelder.

The ideal conditions for viticulture and rich diversity of soils, climates and landscapes provide the winemaking team with a wide selection of building blocks and the opportunity to harness the full potential of nature’s bounty. “My philosophy on good wine growing is pretty simple: Find a balance in the vineyards that are situated on excellent terroir and ensure proper vineyard management by controlling the crop through proper pruning techniques, canopy management and irrigation.

This is the basis of a good harvest of quality grapes needed for the making of our wines,” says Bennie Liebenberg, who has been the viticulturist at Die Bergkelder, the home of Fleur du Cap wines, since 2000.

As viticulturist Bennie plays an integral role in the winemaking process, working side by side with carefully selected grape producers by providing technical assistance and ensuring that the highest standards are maintained to produce the finest quality grapes.

Fleur du Cap has full Biodiversity and Wine Initiative (BWI) accreditation and all affiliated grape producers follow strict Integrated Production of Wine (IPW) guidelines, the industry’s handbook for sustainable farming.

Through careful selection, the Fleur du Cap winemaking team has identified some of the prized regions within the Western Cape that deliver true expressions of their unique terroir. By matching the distinctive characterists unique to particular varietals in the diverse regions, Fleur du Cap wines are multi faceted expressions of the varietal flavour spectrum, with wines that treat the nose to a wide gamut of aromas and tempt the palate with layers of added complexity.

To achieve the desired flavour dimensions for Fleur du Cap’s Sauvignon Blanc, the winemaking team draws its grapes from vineyard blocks in Stellenbosch, Elgin, Darling, Lutzville and Cape Agulhas. While the Stellenbosch grapes provide tropical notes such as gooseberries and passion fruit flavours, Elgin, Darling and Lutzville deliver a range of grassy notes, displaying green pepper and asparagus. Cape Agulhas offers a beautiful minerality that adds to the fullness and richness of the Sauvignon Blanc.

To garner this symphony of aromas and flavours for Fleur du Cap’s Chardonnay, the winemaking team looks to Robertson for strong orange blossom flavours, Stellenbosch to lend rich nectarine and apricot flavours and Elgin for delicate lemmon and lime flavours.

The complexity and elegance of Fleur du Cap‘s Merlot is derived from vineyards in Cape Agulhas known for red berry fruit flavours and Stellenbosch for dark berry fruit flavours.

For Fleur du Cap’s full-bodied Cabernet Sauvignon the team works with a medley of grapes from Botriver in Walker Bay known for their concentrated dark berry flavours and Stellenbosch for plum fruit flavours. For more information on Fleur du Cap wines, visit, or


The Hill&Dale range, which is produced in the Stellenzicht cellars outside Stellenbosch, is being expanded by the addition of two new wines, a 2012 Pinot Grigio and a 2011 Shiraz.

The range, of which the first wines were launched about a decade ago, has seen its popularity consistently growing not only locally but also in overseas markets despite the present adverse economic conditions.
Lize-Marie Gradwell, marketing manager of Cape Legends which markets the Hill&Dale range, said the choice of cultivars for the new wines was very much determined by market demand. “Shiraz has gained enormous popularity and is now the red varietal most planted at the Cape after Cabernet Sauvignon.

It was a logical choice, also given the proven success of the range’s existing Cab/Shiraz blend. “Pinot Grigio was also chosen to meet growing local demand for this varietal which is very much in vogue today, especially in the UK.
Although its local popularity is of very recent origin, the vineyard from which the grapes for our wine were sourced was planted 30 years ago and is now at its peak.” 
The range, named for the Hillandale farm which forms part of Stellenzicht, is made by Guy Webber of Stellenzicht Vineyards who has gained an enviable reputation for his innovative approach to winemaking. The grapes for all the wines – there are six in addition to the two new ones – are sourced from a number of high-quality vineyards all in the Stellenbosch area.      
Guy said the wines in the range, which are accessible in both price and taste profile, are intended for early and easy enjoyment. “They are made in a modern, New-World style but with each nevertheless clearly articulating its place of origin. I try to express in them the unique terroir of Stellenbosch in a way which is both classic and contemporary.
Stellenzicht has over the years become particularly known for its Shiraz and Guy shows the same deftness in shaping the latest addition to the Hill&Dale range as in his much prized Syrah, saying he tried to balance the sweetness of the fruit with some spicy oak flavours imparted during the 11 months the wine spent in wood.
He is very pleased with the freshness and vibrancy of the Pinot Grigio, a mutation of Pinot Noir. “It is an uncomplicated wine but nevertheless very satisfying whether sipping it on its own or enjoying it with a wide range of every-day home-cooked meals. “The Shiraz offers the same versatility,” Guy said, “eminently drinkable on its own and at the same time ideal with red meat dishes, pastas and winter stews.”
The new Hill&Dale Shiraz is expected to retail for about R52 per bottle and the Pinot Grigio for R39.


If your proudly South African dad is in your opinion the most deserving of something extraordinary for father’s day this year, then treat him to a bottle of Bain’s Cape Mountain Whisky.

It’s South Africa’s first 100% single grain whisky and no stranger to the limelight at international competitions.

At the 2011 International Wine and Spirits Competition, judges praised the whisky for its “excellent, clean, lively entry into the mouth with sweet grain firmness and beautiful balance.” Inspired by the Bain’s Kloof Pass and its natural beauty, Bain’s Cape Mountain Whisky is crafted from the finest South African grain.

It is South Africa’s first single grain whisky and its double-maturation imparts flavour and complexity, resulting in an exceptionally smooth and distinctive whisky.

Crafted by master distiller Andy Watts, the whisky shows an exceptional interaction between spirit and wood to produce a mix of toffee, floral and vanilla aromas and flavours with a hint of spice softened by sweet undertones.

The result is a warm and extended mouthfeel with an exceptionally smooth finish. Bain’s Cape Mountain Whisky is distilled and matured at The James Sedgwick Distillery which dates back to 1886 and is situated near the foothills of the Bain’s Kloof Pass in Wellington, in the heart of the Boland.

The whisky pays tribute to Andrew Geddes Bain the pioneering pass builder who was the mastermind behind the Bain’s Kloof Pass which connected Wellington to the interior in the mid-1850s. Bain’s Cape Mountain Whisky is available from leading liquor outlets and retails for around R200 per 750ml bottle.



Place in the Sun, the warm-hearted brand of varietal wines with bold, generous flavours, is beaming with the news of its first international accolades. The Fairtrade-accredited range, made from top quality Stellenbosch grapes, has debuted at the London International Wine Fair, with the announcement of two 2012 Decanter World Wine Awards medals. The 2011 Shiraz has earned gold and the 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon, silver.

Grape growers are paid a premium for the fruit harvested for Place in the Sun that goes towards social development. Currently, premiums are funding early learning projects; tuition and school uniforms at schools of choice amongst farm workers; stepped up sporting activities; and most recently, vegetable gardens to improve nutrition amongst local communities.

“I can’t stop smiling,” says cellar master Deon Boshoff. “Everything about the brand is so optimistic – the way we make it, the fact that it is accelerating community upliftment and now this affirmation. For the workers who grow and tend the grapes for these wines, it’s a wonderful recognition. I’m glad our cellar team could make them proud.”

The Decanter World Wine Awards, now in their ninth year, were judged by 56 Masters of Wine and 11 Master Sommeliers, as part of a 200-strong team of critics and tasters, all experts in their regions.

This year over 14 000 wines were submitted for consideration.

Place in the Sun reds sell for around R45 a bottle, while the Sauvignon blanc sells for around R35.

DATE MAY 22, 2012




TESSA DE KOCK/MARLISE POTGIETER, DKC (021) 422 2690 or 082 579 2358

Lazanou Organic Vineyards Wellington Viognier 2011 86 Points

Clear, day bright, pale straw with yellow green reflections towards the rim, medium concentration and medium plus viscosity.

Clean, medium plus intensity, lifted aromatics true to New World Viogniers, stony fruits such as ripe apricot, nectarines, citrus segment, orange peel, talc powder, jasmine flower, some granite / sandy minerals, subtly oaked with hints of light toast, very well defined.

Dry with brush of residual sugar, medium plus acidity, broad creamy texture, hints of tannin on back palate, medium plus alcohol (13.5), well integrated, juicy, perfect ripeness, full style yet vibrant and juicy, honeyed, toasty mid palate with hints of caramel, textured, medium plus complexity and medium lenght, now until 2019.

A must try, only 135 cases produced of the 2011 vintage, from 100% Organic grown Viognier certified

Raka Klein River Quinary 2006 85+ Points

Clear, bright, garnet with brown hue towards rime, indicates evolution, medium plus concentration and medium plus viscosity.

Clean, showing maturity with tertiary character, high pyrazine dominant with leafy Cabernet herbaceous note, then ripe blackcurrant, blueberries in spirits, cassis, minty iron balsamic note, peppery, earthy, generously oaked, lending cigar box, sandalwood, lead pencil and crayon shavings.

Dry with medium plus acidity, structured mouthfeels, palate structured actually feels fresher and younger than nose may otherwise suggest, juicy with none of the leafy / high pyrazine initially perceived, savory, ripe medium tannins, the high alcohol (14%) is fully integrated, rich and full, showing fine maturity, harmonious, persistent long lenght, drinking beautifully now with fruit to hold up to 2017.

Blend of 63% Cabernet Sauvignon, 13% Cabernet Franc, 9% Merlot, 8% Malbec and 7% Petit Verdot, 100% Klein River ward wine of origin (Cape South Coast)

High praise for Hartenberg Chardonnay in USA’s Wine Enthusiast

Hartenberg Estate’s Chardonnay 2009 has hit the high notes in the USA ,scoring 90 points, with rave reviews from Wine Enthusiast, one of the world’s most influential magazines devoted exclusively to wine and spirits.

“Rich and round but not overdone, with a nice brightness to the apple, clementine and white peach aromas and flavour,” is how the publication describes this balanced Chardonnay with its well-integrated flavour components that work together in harmony to close on a brisk citrus-rind finish.

With such a prestigious endorsement, this wine, crafted by winemaker Carl Schultz who has just completed his 19th vintage at Hartenberg Estate, is a guaranteed show stopper at any dinner party. Pair it with delicate, yet flavoursome dishes such as creamy lemon risotto, refreshing sashimi or rich, crispy fish cakes to bring out its luscious flavours.

The prized Hartenberg Chardonnay 2009 is available at find dining restaurants and boutique wine shops country-wide and sells at the cellar door for R78 per bottle.

Hartenberg Estate is situated on the Bottelary Road off the R304 to Stellenbosch. Open 6 days a week from May till November and 7 days a week from December to April for tastings, picnic lunches and wetland walks, but cellar tours are by appointment only. Contact Tel: (+27)21-8652541, Email: or visit

High scores for Constantia Glen in Wine Enthusiast in the USA

Constantia Glen, the magnificently appointed boutique wine estate known for exceptional cool climate reds, has scored 90 points and more for two of its prized Bordeaux style blends in the New York based Wine Enthusiast, one of the world’s most influential magazines devoted exclusively to wine and spirits.

With a rating of 91 points for the elegant Constantia Glen Five 2008 and 90 points for the eminently approachable Constantia Glen Three 2008, both wines are included in the magazine’s Excellent category.

Wine Enthusiast describes the newly released Constantia Glen Five 2008 as a stunning Bordeaux-style blend that opens with ripe aromas of black fruits laced with a serious liquorice and spice streak that shows staying power: “The seductive mouthfeel boasts a slightly creamy texture with mouthfilling tannins. The palate is loaded with mulled boysenberry. Hints of tobacco, mocha and sweet spice all linger on the long close.”

Constantia Glen Three 2008 is described as “a great value”, noting that this Merlot-dominant blend, with splashes of Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc exudes ripe aromas and flavours of rich dark fruit and berries jazzed up with layers of cigar tobacco, leather, savoury herbs and tree bark: “Concentrated and mouthfilling, with a velvety texture, it’s a well-balanced wine with fine, but persistent tannins and a lengthy finish.” 

Wine Enthusiast is the world’s largest periodical devoted exclusively to wine and spirits with a comprehensive database of 118 026 wine ratings and reviews reflecting the depth, breadth and variety in the USA market.

Constantia Glen Five 2008 and Constantia Glen Three 2008 are available at fine dining restaurants and boutique wine shops, selling at the cellar door for R245 and R150 a bottle respectively.

Constantia Glen is open daily from 10h00 till 17h00 on week days and from 10h00 till 16h00 on Saturdays and Sundays. Look out for the Constantia Glen signs towards the top of Constantia Main road. Call 021-795 5639, e-mail  or for further information. The GPS co-ordinates are S 34º 0’39.6” E 18º 24’30.6”.

Monday, May 21, 2012

KWV The Mentors Paarl Grenache Blanc 2011 94 Points

Clear, day bright, pale white, medium concentration and medium plus viscosity

Clean, medium plus intensity, fleshy stony fruit such as nectacots and white peaches, lots of mineralite, actually shows more than the 2010, granite, matchstick complexity, oak is present, still integrating, light toast, baked pastries, subtle vanilla, multilayered

Dry with medium plus acidity, medium plus alcohol (13.5), textured, juicy, stone fruit follows through with impressive freshness reminescent of freshly squeeze green lime, the oak is totally integrated on the palate/texture, persistent with a racy concentration, high complexity, long lenght.

This is possibly one of the sexiest white wine produce in South Africa to date, and by far the finest Grenache Blanc, linear profile, the natural is out of this world, considering the grapes are grown in hot climate Paarl, a pH of 2.97, indeed very rare in SA.

A perfect example of vine and terroir harmony, this wine will age at glacial pace, will reward the most stern and patient fundis, yet, it is perfectly match at this stage with a variety of cheeses made from goat milk, e.g Gouda style, Blue vein, ash, etc etc. Food wine par excellence.

From now, however will be better from 2018, yet will keep until 2023+, expect like any Grenache Blanc, produce anywhere in the world for it to go through shut down phase during it's evolution, it's one of the mystery of this variety.

Vineyard planted in granite soils in the heart of Paarl, yielding 8t/ha, harvested middle February.
No malolactic, 6 months in 15% second fill and 85% in third fill.

Total production of 10,000 bottles

Chateau de Pibarnon Bandol 2005 95 Points

Clear, day bright, cherry red with slight garnet towards the rim, medium concentration and medium plus viscosity.

Clean, high intensity, dark cherries, red plums, spicy, gamey profile, cedary and complex leather, earthy, mineral, subtle oaking.

Dry with medium plus acidity, medium plus alcohol, medium plus tannins, broad shoulders with delicate red fruits follows through, long lenght, high complexity.

This is classic Pibarnon, in a very good year, thrilling and captivating, yet so embryonic, best revisited around 2017, may be kept if cellared properly until 2023+.

At less than R 300 per bottle, might sound expensive now, but in 10 years time, this will look absurdly cheap and great value, yet will continue to reward the senses.
Highly intellectual wine.

KWV The Mentors Western Cape Sauvignon Blanc 2011 91 Points

Clear, bright, pale straw with medium plus concentration and medium viscosity.

Clean, high intensity, greengage, ripe gooseberry, green pineapple, peppery, bursting with minerals, honey, celery salt, talc, brush of oxidative oak.

Dry, high acidity, crunchy, lemony freshness, mineral core, spicy chives, pure, linear, firm texture, will reveals more layers of complexity when the 14% Semillon component will fully merge, +/- 5 years, excellent purity, medium plus complexity, long lenght

Though label as Western Cape origin, the majority of the fruit is sourced from a high lying vineyard in Bottelary Hills, ward, Stellenbosch, with a yields of 8.5 t/ha, harvested in February.

15% fermented in 500L, 2nd and 3rd fill, barrels for approximately 1 month.

Total production of 2700 L

Chateau de Pibarnon Bandol 2004 90+ Points

Clear, day  bright, ruby red with slight rim evolution, hints of garnet, medium plus concentration and medium plus viscosity.

Clean, medium plus intensity, ripe dark fruit, plums, dark cherries, cranberry, almonds milk, earthy, mineral, spicy, delicate oaking.

Dry with medium plus acidity, fresh and elegant, medium bodied, medium plus tannins, gamey, subtle tannins still integrating, impressive purity of fruit, medium plus lenght and high complexity.
Now with some prior aeration, until 2022+

KWV The Mentors Western Cape Semillon 2011 93 Points

Clear, day bright, pale green, medium concentration, medium plus viscosity.

Clean, pungent green lime, Thai lime leaf, Granny smith apples, green custard apple, bursting with sandy minerals, brush of oak, delicate orange blossom complexity, impressive purity, complex and layered.

Dry, firm, high acidity, linear profile, medium plus alcohol (13.5%) crunchy green custard apple, minerals follows through, spicy, powerful mid palate, brush of honey, need time to reveal full potential, racy profile, so much energy, seamless purity, long lenght and persistent complexity.

High proportion of the Semillon come a sea facing, 300 metres altitude vineyard in Vredendal ward, part of Olifants River Valley District and the other sourced was from a Stellenbosch vineyards, with a yield of 8.5 t/ha, harvested in March.

Only 30% of the blend was in 500L, 2nd and 3rd fill barrels for only 6 weeks, with a total production of 2500 bottles.

With a pH of 3.03 and an acidity of 6.47, best revisited around spring 2015, but will be better from 2022+ until 2030, if cellared properly.

Chateau de Pibarnon Bandol 2003 88 Points

Clear, day bright, cherry red with slight garnet rim, medium concentration and medium plus viscosity.

Clean, medium plus intensity, stony red fruits, ripe dark cherries, plums, cassis, spicy earthy note, stony minerals,garrigue, delicate oaking, complex and layered, slight minty character.

Dry with medium acidity, fresh and elegant, pure, delicate extraction, finely structured, full bodied, medium plus tannins, gamey, spicy note, juicy, high alcohol noticeable, chest warming, medium plus lenght and medium plus complexity, now until 2018.

Not a bad effort for such a canicular vintage, most important of all they managed to retain freshness.

KWV The Mentors Elgin Chardonnay 2011 92+ Points

Clear, day bright, pale green with slight yellow reflections, medium concentration and medium viscosity.

Clean, high intensity, delicately ripe green lemon, yellow citrus, juicy melon, peaches, leesy complexity, quartz minerals, impressive purity, very subtle spicy oak, hints of toast.
Puligny like aromatic complexity.

Dry, round, delicate creamy texture, medium plus acidity, fine minerals, nutty medium alcohol, fresh, elegant, impressive purity of fruit, uncluttered by oak, crunchy lemony zest, medium alcohol (13%) textured mid palate well supported by the leesy texture, medium plus lenght and long finish.

Though approachable, this has stamina and almost gave an impression of being still embryonic as far as the structure is concerned, and will benefit from at least 4 years bottle maturation to reveals a more nutty and baked citrus side, the acidity will keep this wine for a while, best from 2016 until 2019+

From 2 Elgin vineyards, with a yield of 7 t/ha, harvested in March, barrel fermented, of which 70% were indigenous yeast,only 20 % was allowed to undergo partial malo, 9 months in French oak, of which 50% were new, 30% second fill and 20% third fill.

Total production of 5300 bottles

2000 Chateau de Pibarnon Bandol 92 Points

Clear, bright, slightly more evolved in color that the 1999, cherry red / garnet with slight brown rim, medium plus concentration and medium plus viscosity.

Clean, medium plus intensity, austere with delicate red fruits, slightly more opened than the 1999, in terms of primary fruits, freshness, delicate earthy note, dark mushrooms, brush of game, dried meat, subtle oaking.

Dry with medium plus acidity, fresh, full bodied, savoury black olives note, medium tannins, subtle, more integrated, elegant profile, almondy note, medium plus lenght and medium plus complexity, now until 2020.

KWV The Mentors Stellenbosch Pinotage 2010 88 Points

Medium clear, ruby red with purple rim, medium concentration, medium plus viscosity.

Clean, aromatic perfume, high intensity of ripe plums, strawberry jam and red fruits of the forest, dark earth note, stony, preserved meat, animal note, almonds pips, excellent purity of fruit, delicate mocha and ganache note.

Dry with medium acidity, lots of dark cherry fruit on texture, fresh, elegant, softly extracted red berries, savory, alcohol though high (14) are totally integrated, ripe medium tannin grip, juicy, medium plus lenght, long complexity.

Pinotage sourced from 2 wards of Stellenbosch, namely Simonsberg and Bottelary Hills, with low yields of 5.5 t/ha, harvested in february.

16 months in a combination of 300 litre barrels of which 70% were new and 85% is French oak and 15% American oak.

Total production of 5000 bottles

Now until 2020+

1999 Chateau de Pibarnon Bandol 91+ Points

Clear, bright, dark cherry red with slight garnet rim, medium plus concentration and high viscosity.

Clean, more austere that the 1998, almost reductive, stony red fruit pips, cherries, leathery, gamey, more animal, robust side of Mourvedre, could it be a drier vintage?
Earthy, mineral, black olives, delicate oaking, impressive purity of fruit, menthol freshness, crunchy!

Dry, medium plus acidity, high tannins, sturdy, full bodied, yet delicate palate restraint, fresh and vibrant, need time, a sleeper, impressive structure, medium plus lenght, high complexity.

Now until 2022+

KWV The Mentors Coastal Region Canvas 2010 90 Points

Medium clear, bright, ruby red with purple rim, medium plus concentration, high viscosity.

Clean, high intensity, lifted  and complex red fruits layers, dark plums, black currants, cherries, spicy paprika profile, stone fruits pips, subtle oaking, some seaweed complexity, hints of smoke, complex and layered, the aromatics reveals a subtle cross between Spanish reds from Campo de Borja region and a Chateauneuf du Pape!

Dry with medium plus acidity, fresh, elegant with firm ripe medium plus tannin, savoury, with sour cherry and plums note lending freshness, spicy texture, with medium plus alcohol, earthy complexity, hints of graphite.

Need time for all components to fully merge.

Complex and original blend of 7 varieties, namely 71% Shiraz, 15% Grenache Noir, 5% Carignan, 4% Mourvedre, 2% Tempranillo, 2% Cinsaut and 1% Viognier, harvested in March, sourced from 3 districts, namely Stellenbosch, Paarl and Swartland, with vineyard yields between 4 to 8 t/ha.

Upbringing of 16 months in 50% new French oak barrels, a combination of 300 and 500 litres.

Total production of 2826 bottles

From 2014 until 2019

1998 Chateau de Pibarnon Bandol 90 Points

Medium clear, bright, some sediment, garnet with slight brown rim, medium plus concentration, medium plus viscosity, showing age / evolution.

Clean, vinous, medium plus intensity, dark red fruits in spirits, dark cherries, plums, fruit still fresh and primary to some extent, yet starting to developed gamey, leathery note, cedar wood, vanilla, integrated oaking.

Dry with medium plus acidity, high tannins, but well meshed, ripe and full bodied, long lenght and high complexity, drinking well now yet have stamina until +/- 2020.

KWV The Mentors Western Cape Orchestra 2010 93 Points

Medium clear, bright, ruby red with purple rim, medium plus concentration, high viscosity.

Clean, high intensity, perfume, lifted ripe blackcurrant, cassis liqueur and blueberries, stony almost gravelly, very Medoc /    St Estephe like, toasty vanilla, hints of leather, iron complexity, subtle toast, cedar, tobacco/cedar.

Dry, with medium plus acidity, fresh and lively, so much energy for a Bordeaux style blends, yet impressive purity, oak is supportive, integrated with the delicate and juicy savory red fruits medley, ripe medium tannin, crunchy, very long lenght and elegant.

Another Tour de Force by Richard Rowe, and KWV, this follows onto the stellar 2009, Orchestra in it's short history, is arguably one of SA and New World very top Bordeaux style blends, and over delivers on its price point.

Sexy bottle to have on a wine list, drinking well now, yet have the stamina to last up to 2024+.

Total production 10000 bottles.

A blend of 47% Cabernet Sauvignon, 22% Cabernet Franc, 17% Merlot, 9% Petit Verdot and 5% Malbec, fruit sourced from 3 vineyards, Stellenbosch, Paarl and Bot River, with a yield between 5 to 8 tons depending on variety.

Harvested in April, the upbringing was for 16 months on new French oak barrels.

Chateau de Pibarnon Vertical

I had the pleasure of working with Chateau de Pibarnon Bandol at the beginning of my career whilst still in Mauritius and personally believe Chateau de Pibarnon is the finest Bandol.

I was pleased to hear that it is now available in South Africa, through Great Domaines and at less than R 300 per bottle, it is an absolute bargain for a wine of such pedigree.

A magnificent Vin de Garde, the most serious and splendid red wine of provence, made from a high percentage of Mourvèdre grape, easy to appreciate in youth, but have always found them to be more exciting at around 6 years from vintage, they ages effortlessly for 10-15+ years.

This now famous Bandol property located near the coast east of Marseille and Cassis, was purchased by Henri de St. Victor and his family in 1978.

Planted on steep terraced slopes known as "Restanques" who is basically low-dry stone walls, build piece by piece, on the northern edge of the appellation, with the Massif de la Sante-Baume in the backgroud.

Chateau de Pibarnon is known for its dark purple-black wines that have both concentration  of plums, cassis, sweet herbs, violets, vanilla and spicy cinnamon, yet always elegant.

Both Henri de Saint Victor and his son are passionate wine makers.

Chateau de Pibarnon frequently comes out on top in comparative tastings of not only Bandol, but when pitch against top Bordeaux as well.

The Chateau overlook an amphitheatre of vines and has a spectacular panorama of the sea.

So to understand Bandol a little better:


Making wine for more than 2600 years
Romans arrived in 125 BC

Grape variety

Minimum 50% Mourvedre + no more than 15% in  total or 10% individually of Syrah and Carignan
Other grapes are Grenache Noir and Cinsaut


Nearly 3000 hours of sun exposure
Mild rainy winters, spread over a limited number of days
Mild spring, can be humid
Hot summers
Sunny autumn


South facing terraces,  known as Restanques
1500ha of vineyards for the whole appellation divided into 8 communes.
Most vineyards are on hillside as well as plains
Natural Amphitheatre for Chateau de Pibarnon


Flinty, silicon, limestone soils


Hand harvest only
No Chaptalisation
Slow natural stabilization
Careful selection through blind tasting, in June of the first year following harvest


Minimum 5000 vines hectare
Spur pruning, two buds spurs on the trunk
Green harvest in june, keeping between 5 to 6 bunches per vine, policy of "one vine, one bottle"
40 hl/acre


Minimum 18 months upbringing in cask

Consistent producers

Chateau de Pibarnon
Domaines Tempier
Chateau Ste Anne (Organic)
Chateau la Rouviere
Chateau Pradeaux
Chateau Vannieres

South African suggestions

Though Mourvedre plantings have increased in recent years, the majority are being used in Rhone style blends, the most consistent straight Mourvedre producer in the Cape is Beaumont Wines from Bot River, who have produce stellar examples for the last 15 years or so, with impressive longevity, a must try at around R165 per bottle.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

KWV The Mentors Coastal Region Shiraz 2010 92+ Points

Medium clear, bright, ruby red with purple rim, medium plus concentration and high viscosity.

Clean, high intensity, lifted perfume aromatics, first impression one could mistake this to a very good St Joseph,from a reputable producer, ripe dark plums, sour cherries, thrilling complexity, spicy peppery core, rosemary, floral lavender, dried thyme, black olives, stony minerals, goose bumps aromatics and complexity, camphor note.

Dry with medium acidity (5.8 TA / 3.52 pH), fresh and lively, racy profile for a South African Shiraz, actually more Syrah than Shiraz on texture, linear, medium plus crunchy ripe tannins, delicately ripe fruits follows through, perfect extraction, savoury.

The alcohol is very high (15%), but seamlessly integrated, this is excting stuff and will lend to a multitude of pairings possibilities, especially full flavoured dried aged meat and powerful sauce, gorgeous now, yet will reveal greater complexity with time.

This is South African Shiraz taken to a new level, produced from 2 low yielding high altitude dry land vineyards in Darling and Stellenbosch, (hence the Coastal Region classification) cropping 4t/ha, harvested in March.

25% fermented as whole berries, 100% natural ferment, 18 months in a combination of 85% French oak and 15% American oak of which 70% was new.

Total production of 4000 bottles.

From now, yet should reach well into 2022+, for those patient enough.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Fattoria Monticino Rosso Albana di Romagna DOCG Passito 2007 88 Points

Clear, day bright, copper gold with yellow reflections on rim, medium plus concentration and high viscosity.

Clean, medium plus intensity, dried orange peel, raisin, dried straw complexity, honey, citrus peel, custard, burnt sugar / caramel and hints of cream, old wood influence.

Sweet, rich, honeyed note, low plus acidity but fresh, elegant extraction, medium bodied, barley / cereal complexity, mdeium plus alcohol (13.5%), medium plus lenght and medium plus complexity.

It's great to see a Passito finally available in South Africa, a sweet wine made by the process of Albana grape bunch dessication, in the Emilia Romagna region.

Initially it was very slow to take off, in the dessert wines by the glass offerings but since introducing a complementary tasting with cheese course or equally rich dessert such as Tiramisu, the uptake has been very good since then and customers love it, sometimes all it takes is a free tasting to a customer and you have made a friend and convert.

A great addition to any wine lists.

KWV Classic Collection Western Cape Tawny Dessert Wine 93 Points

Clear, bright, bronze with garnet rim, medium plus concentration, high viscosity.

Clean, high intensity, showing maturity of a tawny with captivating notes of tamarind, raisin, prune, nutty complexity, earthy, dried strawberry,oxidative large old wood influence,  tobacco ash, complex and layered.

Sweet yet fresh and well offset by medium plus acidity, mature note follows though, as it would be expected the alcohol is high for this style of wine (17.5%), but seamlessly integrated, actually the alcohol is lower than most local fortified style wine, medium plus persistent lenght and complexity.

An average of 8 to 10 years, impressive value considering the trade price of under R 70, perfect candidate for "Port style" by the glass, at this time of the year, winter have arrived, great on it's own, as an aperitifs with salty nuts, or simply at the end of a meal with blue vein cheese platter or mild chocolate base dessert.

Under EU law, South Africa is not allowed to use the word Port anymore, since the beginning of 2012 on fortified wines made in similar style, however under agreement with EU, South Africa is still allowed to use the denomination of Ruby, Tawny, Vintage and LBV, with the adjoining "Cape" prefix at the beginning.

Nevertheless, South Africa have always been very strong in producing very high quality "Port style" wines over decades, and is amongst of the world's best secret, fortified wines.

The major Douro red varieties, use in Port production are the base material for the local productions.

Master Class with Stacey Lee Chan

An Evening with SMEG and NOMU

Friday, May 18, 2012


Winter means hearty meals and time spent in front of the fireplace. Add great company and a glass of the 2006 Monis Vintage Port and you have the perfect evening in.

This delicious wine is superb when enjoyed on its own but pairs equally well with a variety of cheeses and green-fig preserve or desserts such as chocolate truffles, gateaux, ice creams and fruits soaked in fortified wine.  It also makes a versatile addition to sauces and reductions and will add a delicious depth of flavour to many winter food recipes.

A blend of the classic port varietals Touriga Naçional, Sousão and Tinta Roritz, it is an elegant wine with excellent aging potential. It has wonderful ripe, red-berry aromas, followed by whiffs of dark cherry and chocolate, bramble and ripe plum. On the palate the wine unfolds slowly with a rich but relatively dry flavour of berry, finishing with great balance and marked by supple tannins.

The 2006 Monis Vintage Port is available at leading liquor outlets and retails for about R80.

NOTE: From the next vintage onwards Monis Vintage Port will change its name to comply with EU regulations restricting the use of the name Port. However the current vintage still carries the name Port.

KWV The Mentors Elgin Viognier 2011 91 Points

2011 vintage shows a change of ward origin, with Viognier now being sourced from Elgin district, vs 2009 who was Paarl, a clear indication of the commitment of KWV winemaking team, lead by Richard Rowe, in their quest to sourced some of South Africa's finest fruit from moderate climate areas.

Clear, day bright, pale with slight green rim, some co2, medium concentration and medium viscosity.

Clean, medium plus intensity, stone fruits such as white peaches, just ripe apricot, papaya, pebbles, celery salt, hints of nougat and honey, jasmine, sweet spices such as cardamon and fenugreek, subtly oaked (60% for 8 months in second and third fill French Oak barrels, combination of 300 and 500 litre barrels) with brush of cedar wood, complex and layered.

Dry with brush of residual sugar (3.5g/l), yet feels crisp, medium plus acidity (6.82g/l), fresh, (very good pH of 3.06, here once again, hallmarks of recents vintages of KWV Wines across the ranges) elegant, juicy, Moirs lime jelly note,  salty minerals, a certain firmess, good fruit concentration (8t/ha), medium plus alcohol (13.5%), long lenght, athletic, linear style for a South African Viognier, very well balanced, medium plus complexity, long lenght.Good typicity.

Total production of 2800 bottles,  minuscule indeed, but worth every single drops! Now until 2020+

Paired with duck dishes, either it be a duck liver pate, duck confit or a pan seared rare duck breast with 5 spices, it's going to rock the senses!

Comte Lafond Sancerre 2009 92+ Points

Clear, bright, pale straw with yellow reflections on rim medium concentration and medium viscosity.

Clean, medium plus intensity, yellow lemon, lime zest, stone fruits such as white peach,screaming of chalky minerals, flint, papaya milk, delicate, hints of white flowers, precise aromatic profile, subtle Sauvignon note.

Dry with high acidity, fresh, linear, juicy and crisp, low plus alcohol (12.5%) broad texture, racy, spicy peppery note, flinty minerals follows through, elegant, long persistent finish, high complexity. So much energy, now until 2021.

KWV The Mentors Paarl Viognier 2009 90 Points

Clear, day bright, pale gold with yellow refelctions, medium plus concentration, medium plus viscosity.

Clean,high intensity, fruit glace such as melon, pineapples, ripe nectarines, stony minerals lurking behind the fruit concentration, toasty complexity, yet subtle, smoky matchstick, honeycomb, complex and layered.

Dry with some residual sugar, plush, intense juicy structure, citrus zest, grapefruit segment, pithy, nutty complexity, yet fresh with medium plus acidity, full bodied with some high alcohol(14%), but well integrated,long lenght and complexity
Up to 2018

Thursday, May 17, 2012

The Wines and Wine Country of South Africa

Below is an article that was forwarded to me by one of the readers of my blog in the United States, Jerry Sinkovec, the article was published last month on World and

A great experience from a tourist visiting the wine lands of South Africa and it's merits.

"Last October I spent two weeks in South Africa and I was blown away by the Constantia whites. All the wines were really outstanding in the 45 wineries I visited. Never had one mediocre wine. The following was just published at World and I".

Jerry Sinkovec

"It had been twenty years this year since I last set foot in South Africa. I was away for too long.

I first visited the country in 1986 and spent a little over a week of the two months there in the wine country of Stellenbosch and Paarl, and no one ever mentioned the Constantia (Con-Stan-she-ah) area just north of Cape Town.

I was very impressed by the fine wines they were producing.

At that time, the United States and a few other countries had sanctions against South Africa because of apartheid, so we never saw any of their wines in the United States. Yet, they were producing some outstanding wines that were winning awards all over Europe. A lot of the wine country looked like the Napa area or Anderson Valley area in Mendocino County in California. The only way you knew you were in a place other than the U.S. was because of the Dutch Style of architecture that was used on the wine country buildings, and of course the English that was spoken with an Afrikaans or British accent.

I knew things were going to be different before I ever landed in South Africa.

The South African Airways cabin crew were all native South Africans.

As I looked through Sawubona, the new SAA in-flight magazine, I noticed the CEO of the airline was a native South African woman, and there were several other articles about other native woman who were managing large corporations in the country. None of this ever existed on my four earlier trips. But the real surprise came when dinner was being served. As they began to offer soda, beer and wine prior to dinner, I asked for a nice Riesling that I knew the country produced. As the steward looked through all the white wine bottles all he could say was Chardonnay time and time again. I finally said, "OK, I'll take a Chardonnay." That is my least favorite American white wine.

I feel they are too woody, too dry, and too acidic. So many of them are so woody that I feel only a termite could love them. If I want the taste of wood in my mouth, I'll put a toothpick in it. After I poured the wine into the glass, I gave it a couple of swirls to bring the full nose out of it. I was surprised by the floral and tropical fruit aromas coming from the wine.

When I took my first taste of the wine, I was astounded by the fresh fruit flavors I was experiencing. I was really bowled over by the fact I was tasting the true fruit of the grapes, and the affect of the sun, wind, moisture and soil had on them, and nothing else. The wine was from the Welbedacht Wine Estate from the Wellington area and was a 2010 unwooded Chardonnay.

It was then that I realized that this was going to be a wine experience like no other. The food was delicious and consisted of a very nice salad with a creamy dressing and the main entrée I picked was a seafood medley with pasta that was outstanding.

The wine country has gone through some dramatic changes and production has doubled since I was last there. The wineries are no longer wineries; they are resorts in varying sizes with different amenities and activities. Some of them are like a small city that will have homes for the workers in the fields and in the production areas. The wine industry has been very dynamic and is growing rapidly It is also a good part of the tourist industry as many Europeans come to South Africa just to taste and visit the various wineries, just like we go to California.

Some of the things you'll find at different wineries are contemporary art galleries, golf courses, cricket fields, equestrian facilities, wildlife farms, extensive floral gardens, extensive native plant gardens, winery museums, native and local art galleries, winery estate national landmarks, Eagle Rehabilitation Facilities and Cheetah Outreach Programs.

The one I enjoyed most is the Franschhoek Motor Museum at the Anthonij Rupert Winery There you could see cars you never heard of like a 1909 Le Zebre Tipe-Type or a 1911 Lorraine Dietrich (which sounds more like a movie star name) or a 1928 Type 358 Bugatti. There was a full size version for the father and a smaller version for the son. The car that really caught my attention was the 1935 Cord 810 Convertible in a bright red. It would look at home on the highways of today just as well as some of the retro style cars they are building today.

The very first vine cuttings came from France in 1655 and the first wine produced by Jan van Riebeeck was in 1659. In 1685 the Constantia Wine Estate was established on over 1,800 acres. It was the start of the new world wine making.

Over many years the estate has been broken up and there are five major wineries and two smaller ones that now operate on what was once the Constantia Estate or a part of it.

I spent my first night at Constantia Uitsig (eight-zig), which was once a part of that estate. After being able to sleep in the horizontal position for the first time in a few days, I awoke bursting with energy. After a delicious breakfast of eggs, toast and breakfast sausages somewhat like bockwurst but with honey as well and then a delightful light pastry and strong coffee I was ready for whatever the day had to offer. In the process of getting ready for the five wineries I was going to be visiting this first day I ran into Francois Theunissen who is the marketing director for the Constantia Uitsig winery, hotel and its three restaurants.

When he found out my reason for being there he invited me to that evenings 2011 Vintners Annual Dinner, something I was totally unaware of. He also advised me not to overdo any lunch I was having. It was going to be hard following his last recommendation.

My first winery visit was to Klein Constantia, just down the road from where I was staying. It also was part of the original estate as were the three others I visited that day. The front of the main building was typical Dutch style architecture and as I stepped through the main entrance I found myself in the lobby area with the reception desk directly in front of me. What was so unique was that if I proceeded to my left front I would be in the production area where all the steel tanks are. If I went to my right front I had access to the wine fields. If I went to my right rear I could descend into the barrel storage area which is underground. To my left rear there was winery art on display. It was a very well tough out area.

In a few minutes Adam Mason, the winemaker appeared and gave me a tour of all the interior facilities. We then headed out to the vineyards' in his four wheel drive truck. The vineyards and the countryside were lush and green and as we got higher you could even see the ocean in the distance. He mentioned he'd take me to the highest point on the property where they have established a new vineyard. I could see where we were headed and I thought the road was a little challenging. It was getting stepper and steeper and I was beginning to feel like an astronaut getting ready for liftoff as most of my weight was in the seatback.

We were about 100 yards short of our destination when the wheels started spinning on the still moist ground and grass from the morning dew. We cautiously got out of the truck as neither of us wanted to become a high speed missile headed towards the valley bottom. There were spectacular views in every direction and it was well worth the effort. It was so beautiful.

Back at the winery a table had been set up with the wines I was going to be sampling along with water, some breads and crackers and some cheese. Adam explained each of the wines we sampled and I was astonished by the full rich flavors of the fruit in the white wines.

We started with a Chardonnay that had tropical fruit taste and similar nose with a little flower as well. It was unwooded. It was similar to the wine I had on the flight. I was finding it hard to believe how much I enjoyed these wines compared to what I experienced in the states. The second white was an unwooded Sauvignon Blanc and it had a flowery nose and a taste of asparagus, fruit and a little green taste. Then we tried a wooded Chardonnay.

They only wood about 20% to 30% of the wine in that batch and only for two or three months. That seems to be what most of the other wineries are doing as well. You still get the great fruit taste of the grapes and the finish is a little more polished, but you don't have any wood taste. We did a few more whites and then a flight of the reds. All the wines were delightful, and made a real impression on me.

Constantia has the best climate and the perfect conditions to produce some of the world's best white wines, and the wineries focus on those wines. Yet, the reds they produce are winning awards in Europe and other areas as well. One of their wines proved highly desirable to a very famous person, Napoleon Bonaparte. Once Napoleon had been shipped off to St. Helena to live in exile, he was still treated well by the British since he was once an Emperor. Every month the British had a case of Constantia Natural Sweet Wine shipped to him, so he could continue to enjoy some of the things he was used to having as Emperor. That wine is still being produced and bottled in the same style bottle that was shipped to Napoleon.

After touring Groot (Large) Constantia and doing a wine tasting there I headed further down the road to Buitenverwachting (Beyond Expectation) There I met Hermann Kirschbaum, Cellar Master and Winemaker. We were going to sample the wines with lunch, which is the way I prefer to do it, but you can only do that once or twice a day if your able to do it with dinner as well. I ordered a light fish dish to go with the wines we'd sample, but it also included a soup, salad and dessert.

We tried five wines, a Buiten Blanc 2011, that was a full bodied Sauvignon Blanc based blend that offers a variation of fruit characters including ripe gooseberry, green peppers, green melon and hints of tropical fruit.

A Chardonnay 2010, it was a wooded, full-bodied and rich Chardonnay offering a powerful citrus and steely backbone. Classic toasty and butterscotch-like characters with mineral undertones. Good balance of oak followed with abundant fruit. A Sauvignon Blanc 2011, the wine had a pale lemon yellow color and a bouquet reminiscent of green figs with hints of gooseberries and an intrusion of green peppers. The wine is dry, full bodied and has a long lingering finish. A Husseys Vlei Sauvignon Blanc 2011, the wine had a pale lemon yellow color and a bouquet reminiscent of green peppers combined with herbaceous aromas. The wine is dry, full bodied and has a long lingering finish. A '1769' Vintage 2010, this classical Constantia Dessert wine offered a ripe apricot, melon, almond and apple like characters. All the wines and lunch were truly outstanding.

I had one more stop to make that day at a new winery called "Steenburg" It's a very contemporary looking structure and even more so once I stepped into the restaurant and wine tasting area. It looked like you just stepped into a high end restaurant you'd expect to see in New York City. It was very classy and yet had a very warm feel to it with great vistas out of the glass walls on one side. The wines here were outstanding as all the places I visited earlier. It's a place I would highly recommend someone visit if they ever decide to visit the wine country here and play golf.

That evening, I headed over to the restaurant for the Vintners Dinner. About eighty to one hundred people paid $65.00 (390.00 rand) to attend this function and it was a full house. There were eight people at this table and four of them were also with the media in South Africa.

Each of the five major wineries in Constantia were going to be presenting their newest offering in a premium Bordeaux style white wine blend. Each winemaker gave a brief talk prior to the wine and matching gourmand dish of the five course meal was served. The best way to describe the food and wine at this grand dinner is to tell you about the chef and restaurant it was held in. Head Chef, Clayton Bell, and his restaurant at Constantia Uitsig has been ranked number one in Africa for over a dozen years and has been ranked number twelve in the world. Need I say more? The food and wines were truly outstanding. The dishes were not only works of art in presentation, but artfully composed with exciting flavors that mingled well with each other and with the wines. It was truly a moveable feast.

Over the week end, I spent some time sightseeing in the Constantia area and doing a little shopping. It was truly a beautiful area that had lush verdant valleys and plains with dark rugged and jagged peaks poking up through the green. I noticed all the flowering plants seemed to have richer and brighter colors than anywhere I'd ever been. As we know, man had his start in Africa, but he had to have been born in Constantia because of the natural beauty. It's the Garden of Eden. It is this lushness from the sea breezes that makes this one of the world's finest white wine growing regions.

Late Sunday, I headed over to the Laibach Winery www.laibachwines.comwhich was going to be my base camp for the remainder of my two week wine tour. It is one of the few organic wineries in the area and is lovingly cared for by a great couple who truly love what they are doing, and it shows.

They have a string of eight very large and contemporary rooms that also offer a large LCD TV a small cooking area. At the far end of the room were glass sliding doors that opened up to a deck overlooking a small lake and a swimming pool off to the left below the main lodge. The sunsets ever night beyond the lake were pretty intense. There were always a few small bottles of their white and red wines in the room to sample or have with a small snack. With the large lunches and sampling the wines before, after and with lunch every day, I never felt there was a need to have dinner.

Over the course of the time I was there I visited over forty different wineries and each of them offered another unique experience in the great wines they are producing in South Africa. Every day there was a surprise of one sort or another Tokara Winery that was nestled in a narrow little valley.

Thys Lombard told me he got tired of the rush and hassle of the investment business in New York City and decided to use his more creative talents in developing great wines. And he is doing just that. Every winery I visited, I sampled anywhere from six to ten or twelve wines. And I have to tell you, out of all the wines I sampled, there was not one wine I would have considered marginal or poor. It was a daunting task, and I had to be careful not to over enjoy any of the wines as I was driving myself through the countryside were everyone drives on the wrong side of the road.

I was very surprised one evening when I received a phone call from one of the wineries I was going to be visiting in a few days. It was from David and Susan Sonnenberg, the owners of the Diemersfontein Winery in the Wellington area. Instead of visiting their winery on the scheduled day, they suggested that I come the day before and do the wine tasting with them at dinner that night, then spend the night and attend Pinotage On Tap the following day and spend the night there as well, so I wouldn't have to drive home after the party.
It was an offer I couldn't refuse.

The next few days was more of the same, sampling some of the most interesting and tasteful white and red wines I've had to opportunity to experience in the last few years. The red wines were more like the red wines you'd find in other parts of the world, true to the accepted style of the grape. But even today, I'm still amazed at how great and yet different the white wines are from South Africa than what we normally have here in the states. They are truly outstanding and the quality is second to none. There is a small winery in the states that produces some outstanding white wines: the Husch Winery in California.

There are over 7000 different wines in South Africa, and I've only scratched the surface.

Friday rolled around and after my last tasting I headed for Wellington and dinner at the Diemersfontein Country Estate with David and Susan. As I headed up the stairs of the estate house I could see the elegantly set table on the veranda. After I got settled in, in one of the thirty guest rooms, I went out and met my hosts.

David filled me in on the history of the estate and winery and his families involvement starting in the 1940's. Once a few other guests arrived we sat down to a grand dinner and wine tasting. There was nothing left to be desired. The food and wines were excellent and rather than describe them here you can see their descriptions on their web site, as you can with all the wineries visited. Tomorrow is the day I want to relate to you.

I've been to outdoor wine tastings in California, New Mexico and other areas, but this isn't a tasting, it's a celebration of a wine. Pinotage. It's a wine with a sordid history of failures and false starts, and finally a celebration of the long struggle.

David has created something unique, first in a wine, then in an event. Pinotage On Tap is an annual event that David holds on the estate grounds each year starting ten years ago. This year it attracted over 2000 fans for a full day of friends, fun, food and wine. The wine has a cult following. For about $35.00 to $40.00, depending on the exchange rate, you gain entrance to the event and you receive a shopping bag of goodies. It includes a wine glass along with information, other memorabilia, and tickets for food during the day and a front seat to some great entertainment. Several steps from where you pick up your goodies is the first barrel of Pinotage where your glass is filled. Throughout the grounds are spread eight barrels of Pinotage, each holding about 250 liters each and one barrel of white wine for those other people. By the end of the day they were all empty which meant about one liter of wine per person was consumed and not one incident of intoxication.

As people continued to stream in, several employees started moving through the crowds with large plates of finger food that was delicious. Every time you saw one of them they would have a different item for tasting to enjoy with the wine. Yes, the wine. What is it about this wine that has so many people flocking to an event like this.

In April 2007, Neil Pendock christened it "The People's Pinotage" after his consumer survey in the South African Sunday Times found that it was the "overwhelming favourite" of all pinotages. Since then, the people have spoken again by voting it "The Best Red Wine on Show" at Winex in Cape Town and Johannesburg in 2008/9/10.

David says," Since we first developed this Pinotage in 2001, as a new and original style, it has taken wine lovers throughout the world by storm! It is praised for its easy accessibility, uniqueness, wonderful rich coffee, smoky overtones on the nose - and yet the preservation of voluptuous fruit on the palate, along with cinnamon and chocolaty notes on the palate. It is vivacious, versatile and velvety.

Makes you sit up and smile at the company you are with. It can be paired with a range of different foods - from curries, to game meats, to dark chocolate desserts. It appeals to new drinkers who have not previously been red wine enthusiasts - they find it an easy introduction to the world of red wine - a true midwife to drinking pleasure." I could not have said it any better.

There was an African marimba band in front of the Estate House, a guitarist and singer under one of the large tents containing food and beer vendors and eventually the large stage came alive with the African beat of the main entertainment group. It was mostly traditional African music and the rhythm got the crowd of a thousand in front of the group pulsing and moving with the music.

In your bag of goodies were three tickets for food.
One got you a bowl of delicious pasta, another was a bowl of chili with meat and beans with rice and the last was a bowl of chicken and rice with a great sauce. You could also buy some grilled sausages if you were still hungry.

A real big event happened in one of the buildings not far from the stage at 2:30PM. They opened the doors to the room with a three by eight foot table with a chocolate fountain at each end and the table buried in strawberries and some marshmallows several inches deep. You had to be careful—it was like a shark feeding frenzy in there. There was an older gentlemen whose job it was to keep the chocolate fountains flowing and the table filled deep with strawberries. He was a very busy man and I wondered if he was up to the task. I worried he could get trampled or have a heart attack, but apparently he survived the ordeal.

What a fun day of great entertainment, food, friends and wine that was always filled with new experiences. After a dazzling sunset the crowds started to disperse to the chartered buses and autos for the trip home. The next morning after another grand breakfast, I thanked my hosts and headed back to my lodging at the Laibach Winery.

The next week was filled with more wine tours and wine tastings that never failed to amaze me with their delightful flavors of fruit, melons, and citrus. The wines of South Africa are basically an undiscovered commodity for most of the United States, but they are available on the east coast, Florida, Texas and to a lesser degree on the west coast. If you look closely you'll also find the wines in areas like Nevada and Illinois, but it is a hunt. If you go, it'll become one of your most memorable trips of your life. I didn't want to leave.


Most of the wineries I visited are importing into the United States.

To find out who to contact go to the winery web site and find the list of agents for the United States. Most of them are on the east coast, Florida, Texas and a few on the west coast. They may sell to you directly or advise you of where it can be purchased. My only regret is that I couldn't write about every winery I visited.

To do so, would require this to be a book. They all deserved to be mentioned as all the wines were truly outstanding. If you or a group are interesting in making a trip to the South African wine country, I'd be happy to assist you. If you go, you'll want to make sure you get a GPS unit with your car to get you to where you're going rapidly. They do things differently over there and it's actually a better way to navigate. You just put in the longitude and latitude of your destination and your off. It's faster and easier to input than our method of state, city, street name and number. You normally only have to change four or five digits.

You might also pick up a cell phone as the U.S. phone won't work over there. You would get your GPS unit and telephone in the terminal prior to getting you rental auto. There are usually one or two vendors at each airport. I'd also advise you to get a copy of Platter's book of South African Wines for 2012 which just came out. All the wineries are listed in the book along with descriptions, maps and the GPS coordinates that make it easy and fast to get there.