Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Circumstance by Waterkloof Sauvignon Blanc 2013 90 Points

One of the most intriguing wine I have tasted this year, usually with Sauvignon, being an aromatic variety it is easy to benchmark, even with the use of oak, in this particular case I evaluated both bottle at different times and over a couple of days until fully oxydize to fully understand the intrinsic of this rather subtle and unshowy bottle, bearing in mind Waterkloof is a biodynamic producer in transition, hence their fruit will showcase a unique profile versus conventionally farmed vineyards!

Individuality is the key word here, with a restraint akind to a cross of white Graves and Pouilly Fume, bright lemony texture, racy, fresh and vibrant, in fact it is a wine that benefits from aeration/decanting to fully express it’s true colors, seek it out, it is super table and food friendly, a gracious lady indeed!

This is a conservative scoring and drink period (2017+) since I had never had previous vintages of this particular bottling, may as well rate higher when revisited in a few years.

Alcohol: moderate plus | 13.5%abv

Origin: Stellenbosch

Notes: lemon| pear | greengage | verbena | white pepper

Ideal drinking occasions: winter time

Serve with: seared yellowfin tuna with chick peas salad

Drink: now until 2017+

Fleur du Cap Merlot & Cabernet Sauvignon embrace winter palates

Fleur du Cap Merlot

Issued by: GC Communications                       On behalf of: Cape Legends

Stock up your winter wine arsenal with Fleur du Cap Bergkelder Selection Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon for a cosy fireside quaffer and a perfect companion for hearty winter comfort food.

Crafted from the pick of the crop in the Western Cape’s finest vineyards, this well-known range offers quality wines that are true to their varietal character and have a close affinity to nature.   

“The newly released 2012 vintages of both our Bergkelder Selection Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon are packed with elegant berry fruit flavours supported by gentle tannins that leave you with a wonderful ultra-smooth finish,” says Wim Truter who is responsible for Fleur du Cap red wines and works closely with cellarmaster Andrea Freeborough and viticulturist Bennie Liebenberg, crafting wines as nature intended, following the style inherent in the grapes themselves.  

“Because the quality and character of every wine starts in the vineyards, we are in the enviable position to source the best grapes from a diverse range of vineyard sites and micro climates throughout the Western Cape, each imparting special qualities to our wines,” adds Wim.

Adventurous food lovers who enjoy everything from spicy Mediterranean to full-flavoured duck or guinea fowl dishes, will delight in the Bergkelder Selection Merlot 2012. This ruby red, full-bodied wine teems with vibrant cherry, plum and prune aromas that follow through onto a velvety soft, mouth filling palate. 

Fleur du Cap Cabernet Sauvignon

On the other hand, the well balanced Bergkelder Selection Cabernet Sauvignon 2012, which is best enjoyed withhearty stews and strong-flavoured cheeses, has a subtle bouquet of ripe berries and cherries underlined by elegant oak spices, whilst clean, soft fruit and delicate oak nuances play on the tongue. 

Fleur du Cap Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot are available at leading wine outlets country-wide or the Fleur du Cap cellar door at Die Bergkelder in Stellenbosch from around R75 per bottle. For more information visit, join the Fleur du Cap community on Facebook or follow them on Twitter @FleurduCapWines.

Elgin Cool Wine and Country Festival

Issued by: Younique Concepts on behalf of: Elgin Wine Valley
Escape to the natural splendour of the Elgin Wine Valley on Saturday 3 May 2014. Delight in its picturesque, mountainous backdrop, merely an hour away from the bustling city and experience the selection of prestigious wine estates on offer. This day of festivities is one to be enjoyed by the whole family, with each featured wine estate providing a unique encounter with the tastes, rich culture and heritage of the Elgin wine route.

Upholding its commitment to the South African agricultural sector and wine industry, Nedbank remains the proud sponsor of the ‘Elgin Cool Wine and Country Festival’ for the second year in succession, along with new sponsor, Orchard Suppliers. 

The festival commences from 09h30 in the morning, with a starting session of wine tasting, followed by a pre-booked lunch session from 11h30 to 14h30 at an estate of your choice. Wine tasting and tours continue late into the afternoon with the entire festival coming to a close at 17h00. A simple day pass is also available and may be purchased for R50 at any participating wine farm on the day of the festival. Throughout the day, festival goers can rapture in the live entertainment, activities and outdoor games, arts and crafts, and relax in the tranquillity of the Elgin Valley landscape.

The ‘Elgin Cool Wine and Country Festival’ would be nothing without its selection of exquisite wines where a distinct taste experience is provided by each participating wine estate. Throughout the day, wine tasting and tours are on offer to guests, with the opportunity to meet owners and winemakers, with several estates offering tutored tastings and a chance for guests to blend their own wine. The well anticipated lunch session of the festival presents festival goers with an assortment of delectable dishes from which to choose. Lunches range from relaxed picnics within estate gardens to buffet options and intimate 4 course gourmet feasts. 

Prices range from R55 to R500 per person and advanced booking is essential to secure limited places on a first come first serve basis. The ‘Elgin Cool Wine and Country Festival’ is enhanced by its vibrant musical ambiance, with several estates featuring live performing artists and bands. Festival goers can listen to the likes of Giaan Groen, indie rock band, ‘The Coast’, acoustic rock n’ roller, Stefan Dixon, the Rivertones Bob Marley Tribute Band and a unique Bag Pipe performance. 

For arts and crafts enthusiasts, select wine estates feature art galleries and sculpture gardens, live pottery demonstrations and a Country Market provides arts and crafts available for purchase. Festival goers might also enjoy a leisurely game of French Boules or Croquet in beautiful estate gardens. As the day remains an endeavour for the entire family, ‘The Elgin Cool Wine and Country Festival’ also provides child friendly facilities. Children can amuse themselves in playgrounds, on jungle gyms and jumping castles, enjoy face painting, pony rides and participate in grape stomping and juice making competitions. With 17 prestigious wine estates on offer; each presenting their own unique encounter with the delectable tastes, sights and sounds of the Elgin Valley, it is no surprise that the ‘Elgin Cool Wine and Country Festival’ is an experience not to be missed!

For further information and step by step instructions for booking lunch in advance, visit The closing date for all lunch bookings is at 09h00 on the 2 May 2014. The festival supports and encourages the use of designated drivers and the responsible use of alcohol.

*    Time - The day is divided into three sessions:
*    Morning: 09h30 to 11h30  (open format)
*    Lunch: 11h30 to 14h30 (bookings required for lunch)
*   Afternoon: 14h30 to 17h00 (open format)
*  Morning session is open for tastings, lunch is pre-booked and paid for, and afternoon session is open for tastings.
*  Bookings done through the Elgin Valley Wine Guild Website (
*  Visitors select the lunch destination and offering they would like to book for lunch and number of places required.

*    Website -

*    Twitter -

More trendy J.C. Le Roux accessories in the fabulous Le Good Life Collection

Issued by: GC Communications on behalf of: The House of J.C. Le Roux
Complete your Le Good Life Collection of trendy limited edition accessories when you buy a bottle of your favourite J.C. Le Roux  Méthode Cap Classique or sparkling wine at leading stores during May.

Bubbly lovers shopping for J.C. Le Roux at Pick n Pay Hyper stores, will be rewarded with a stylish tote bag for every bottle purchased, while stocks last. Designed with fashionistas in mind, these glamorous tote bags are the perfect accessory if you want to look fabulous and stay ahead of the curve while shopping, running errands, going to work or just socialising with friends. 

Shoprite and Checkers LiquorShop have also embraced the Le Good Life Collection. Buy any J.C. Le Roux Cap Classique or sparkling wine at selected stores and you will be rewarded with a handy and ever-so-stylish designer pouch. Ideal for your makeup, pens or your supply of sweet treats for a mid-morning energy boost, this nifty pouch is the answer to every girl’s needs. So hurry before they are all snatched up! 

The chic Le Good Life Collection gifts are available exclusively at Pick n Pay Hyper stores country-wide and Shoprite and Checkers LiquorShop during the month of May or while stocks last.

For more information visit, find them on Facebook or follow @LeGoodLife on Twitter.

Waterkloof Estate warms up with a hearty Winter Platter

Issued by: Random Hat Communications                      On behalf of: Waterkloof Estate
Comforting tastes to elevate winter wine tasting experience ‘in the sky’

Waterkloof, the impressive cellar ‘in the sky’ outside Somerset West,  celebrated for its award-winning architecture, elegant wines and omnipresent views, puts a lid on the blues with a Winter Platter that adds comfort to its wine tasting experience on cold, rainy days.

From May until the end of October, this spectacular Winelands destination will sizzle with cosy gatherings by the crackling fire in its wine tasting lounge, where visitors can warm up to hearty taste sensations and elegant wines. There a grand two meter diameter open fireplace – surrounded by plush seating – sets the scene for relaxed wine tastings enjoyed with this tantalising Winter Platter.

Available at R130 per person, this delicious platter of homegrown goodness features all kinds of nom noms such as homemade meat terrine, the estate’s own organic olives, sourdough bread and a trio of cheeses which includes Waterkloof’s naturally matured Healey’s Cheddar – crowned SA’s finest Round Cheddar at the prestigious 2013 South African Dairy Championships.

Cocooned in a contemporary glass and concrete sphere, Waterkloof’s tasting room is situated inside its 120-seater fine dining restaurant, in a glass house on the slope of the Schapenberg, overlooking the farm and False Bay that has such an influence over its amphitheatre of vineyards. The tasting area with its over scaled, picture like views of the farm and nature in progress, allows visitors to be at the centre of the farm, celebrating the culmination of winemaking and tasting.

Waterkloof’s elegant wines can be tasted at the estate seven day a week. A standard tasting costs R30 per person for a flight of six wines from Waterkloof’s False Bay and Peacock Ridge collections, or R40 for a premium tasting of the estates exclusive Circle of Life and Circumstance wines. The Waterkloof Winter Platter is on offer at the tasting lounge from 10h00 till 17h00.

For more information contact Waterkloof Estate at Tel: 021 858 1292; email or visit

Waterkloof Estate is located outside Somerset West on the M9 Sir Lowry’s Pass Village Road.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Copperlake India Pale Ale 89 Points

Dark copper with slight hazy hue with fine sediments, perfumed, toasty, caramel, orange peel, spicy cloves, rich and more dense than their English Ale, though there are a lot of similarity aromatic wise.
The bitterness derived predominantly from hops are far more noticeable, lending a bright bitter kick which will lend this as a great foil for charry meat, alternatively prefect pre drinks to wet the appetite, charming offering, watch out the alcohol of 6% abv, as this is dangerously drinkable

Purchase at TOPS Pineslopes

Copperlake English Ale 89 Points

Dark gold with coppery hue, fragrant with citrus notes, barley, orange blossom and coriander spice, fruity layers, delicately rich, lighter than their America IPA, refreshing, perfect with a ham sandwich, or to quench a thirst anytime of the day.

Purchase at TOPS Pineslopes

Monday, April 28, 2014

Alvi’s Drift Cabernet Sauvignon 2011 76 Points

Delicate in profile with some varietal notes, fresh, fruit fading, subtle oaking, drink soon
Bottle purchase at Spar Pineslopes

Alcohol: moderate plus | 13.5% abv

Origin: Worcester

Notes: blackcurrant| plums | blueberries | earthy | spicy

Ideal drinking occasions: winter time

Serve with: Beef burger with blue cheese

Drink: now until 2015

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Mythos Hellenic Beer 86 Points

Another interesting finds, a beer from Greece, more lager like, on the lighter side, fruity, refreshing with delicate hops note, yeasty, perfect with hake curry, available from Liquor City Broadacres

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Seven Springs Vineyards Unoaked Chardonnay 2012 90+ Points

Following their maiden Chardonnay vintage in 2011 (89+ Points), 2012 follows suit albeit in a slightly fuller, riper style with an extra 0.5% alcohol, without compromising freshness and delicacy, more a reflections of the vintage warmer growing conditions and winemaker Riana van der Merwe, growing confidence and knowhow of the vineyard she is working with, confirms it’s potential being on the right track to be one of the very best South African Chardonnay made in a "Chablis" style.

Delicately fragrant, confident subtlety, citrus medley, ripe stone fruits, slight nutty and white cheese note, layered, great purity and precision.

“Drier” than 2011, structured with good fruit integration, juicy and tangy, lively, bright mid palate, table friendly, again a saline farewell, could this be from the site? drinking very well now. Justifiably warrant an extra points over 2011, a boutique producer to take note of….

Alcohol: moderate plus | 13.5%abv

Origin: Overberg

Notes: lemon| apple | nectarines | blanch almonds | sea shell

Ideal drinking occasions: winter time lunch

Serve with: pan fried Cape Salmon with leek fondant with toasted quinoa salad

Drink: now until 2018

Medici Ermete Lambrusco Rosso Secco NV 87 Points

I always relate to Lambrusco as being foxy in profile, I have it on various wine lists in our Italian theme venues and it’s more for fun and discovery than anything else and most of the time get use in tasting pairing menu, as it’s a style that does have an affinity with some regional Italian cuisine, it has it’s place on a wine lists, locally! 
Lambrusco is made from Lambrusco grape!

This particular bottle was at home in my wine rack for the last 4 years and every time I look at it, I never had the courage to pull it out, even when friends were around for a bite,……but it always intrigue me, that change yesterday, it has to be drunk eventually…. chilled it and shared it with John Fraser, editor of ZA Confidential and Mike Schussler, director of Economist, after another fun and lively podcast recording of Die Vine Intervention for….. ZA Confidential.

Well it’s has shed it’s primary fruitiness, firmly in secondary phase, not to dissimilar to a Pinot in character, the wine was in perfect nick, fresh and elegant, light, dry as the label suggest, and served chilled it was just perfect, moreish, you keep going back to the glass!

Alcohol: perfect | 10.5%abv

Origin: Emilia Romagna | Italy

Notes: cherries | preserved strawberries | mushroom | earthy |spicy

Ideal drinking occasions: lunchtime

Serve with: traditional calzone

Drink: now 

Welde Jahr Gangs Bier Mit Sudafrikanischem Hopfen 1.5 L 87 Points

Unusual German beer, bottle in magnum and seal with a conglomerate cork, like a bottle of sparkling wine, another oddity is the hops use was South African, from Outeniqua! 
Malty and slightly cloudy offering, fairly rich showing proudly it’s 6.7% abv, pairs will with tempura prawn Californian rolls, with the wasabi giving a pleasant lift, good combination. Seek it out.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Oneiric Sauvignon Blanc 2010 92+ Points

For a relatively new producer in Elgin, Oneiric is certainly making waves, in a very positive way, as previously reviewed, I believe their Cabernet Sauvignon have all the hallmarks to be amogst South Africa’s best, we just need to see upcoming vintages how they fared and if they will maintain the very high standards, here is another revelations, this is an outstanding Sauvignon, and since I reviewed all samples blind, I was convinced this was a 2013 vintage, to my surprise this is a 4+ years old wine, which shows no sign of wrinkles, yes I have tasted numerous Sauvignon from Elgin, from established producers in the valley, but none have shown such concentration and purity and stamina as pristinely preserved, at this age, wow, seek it out it is super table friendly, a true pur sang
Alcohol: ideal | 12.5%abv

Origin: Elgin

Notes: lime | figs | passion fruit | blackcurrant leaf |spicy

Ideal drinking occasions: Anytime

Serve with: cheese board

Drink: now until 2016+

Thursday, April 24, 2014


Nederburg Wine Farms, owned by Distell, has sold its vine plant improvement facility on the farm Ernita near Wellington. It has been bought by Bosman Adama (Pty) Limited, owners of family-run nursery, Lelienfontein Vine Growers. The purchase sum has not been disclosed.

The sale, says Distell's head of wine and grape buying, Erhard Wolf, will allow the Nederburg farming operation to focus on its core wine-growing activities.

Lelienfontein Vine Growers, also in Wellington, has taken over Ernita's gene pool and biological assets and is renting and maintaining the existing plant improvement facilities on the farm. It is also taking up all the facility's long-term plant material supply contracts. The five staff members involved are being retained by the new owners.

Bosman Adama, headed by MD Petrus Bosman, is structured as a BEE enterprise. Its vine-growing arm, established in 1947, is run by the Bosman family, master grafters and vine growers since 1888.

Ernita's plant improvement facility was established in 1974 to address the significant shortage of quality vine plant material at the time. In the intervening years it has produced a significant gene pool of noble cultivar clones, giving the six farms within the Nederburg Wine Farms grouping, and also the operation's supplier growers, access to top-quality vines and plant material of newer cultivars.

Wolf explained that following the restructuring and liberalisation of the wine industry at the end of the 20th century, a far wider availability of new clones of mainstream and newer varieties had emerged. Consequently, the need for Nederburg to generate material for its own use had fallen away.

"With the plant improvement facility now in the expert hands of specialists at Lelienfontein Vine Growers, we can direct all our resources to vineyard management and ongoing research into improved viticultural protocols," he said.  "The impressive skills base of the new owners, coupled with the expertise of the team joining them, gives us every confidence in maintaining access to excellent quality vine material and also exclusive access to strategic cultivars."

Nederburg will use Ernita as a production farm and to research viticultural techniques for application across the Distell Group.

Lelienfontein Vine Growers manager, Jannie Bosman said he was excited to tap into Ernita's capacity, technology and access to the latest technology. The operation would be using Ernita for maintaining and developing its own gene pool and service agreements with leading table and raisin grape industry role players.

"The deal places us in an ideal position to proactively fast-track sought-after vine grape plant material for the benefit of our customers and the wine, table grape and raisin sectors of the industry. "

Conrad Vlok of Strandveld Vineyards inducted into Commanderie de Bordeaux

Issued by: GC Communications on behalf of: Strandveld Vineyards
Conrad Vlok, winemaker of Strandveld Vineyards, Africa’s southernmost winery, has added another exciting chapter in his decade at the farm with his induction into the Commanderie de Bordeaux en Afrique de Sud. This South African chapter of the worldwide Commanderie unites wine lovers with a passion for Bordeaux.

His induction is another milestone in his journey of discovery crafting cool climate wines in this exciting young wine appellation. It is in this extraordinary wine ward that Conrad and his winemaking team create both the First Sighting and Strandveld wines with a rich heritage rooted in the unique Elim terroir.

Conrad’s Strandveld Adamastor, a coveted Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc blend, is a fine example of an exceptional Bordeaux style white wine. The 2010 vintage received a gold medal at the Old Mutual Trophy Wine Show, whilst its 2009 predecessor earned five stars in Platter’s South African Wine Guide.

This acclaimed, classic Bordeaux blend is full and creamy on the palate with a combination of roasted oak flavours and a dry minerality on the aftertaste.

“As a winemaker, I enjoy making this Bordeaux style white wine because it has the same complexity and excellent ageing potential of a Bordeaux style red. It is a softer wine and can even be enjoyed in winter when people usually drink red wine,” says Conrad.

Strandveld Vineyards is well known for exceptional Sauvignon Blanc, as endorsed by the highly regarded UK Master of Wine Jancis Robinson: “The decidedly cool Elim, near Cape Agulhas, is clearly capable of making notably fine Sauvignon Blanc.”

Conrad’s winemaking philosophy is that winemaking starts first and foremost in the vineyard and that good grapes are needed to make great wine. “Attention to detail is key. Don’t mess up in the cellar; stay focused until the wine is in the bottle and on the table.”

The Commanderie de Bordeaux was established in 1952 and includes chapters reaching from New York to Hong Kong. The South African chapter was established in 2011. For more information, visit
  • Dedicated to bio-diversity and the conservation of the lush surroundings, Strandveld Vineyards offers a picturesque setting with an abundance of birdlife and plants, the perfect escape for wine and nature lovers to experience a serene getaway from the city's hustle and bustle. The farm is open for wine tastings in the historic tasting room and offers the experience to extend your stay in one of the welcoming guest cottages. Phone Tel: +27 (0)28 482 1906 or send email to Visit, Facebook or follow @Strandveld on Twitter. The GPS coordinates are 34 ° 39 ' 592 " S; 19 ° 47 ' 268 " E.

Dazzle mom with luxurious J.C. Le Roux Mother’s Day gift pack

J.C. Le Roux Mother's Day Gift Pack
Sunday, 11 May 2014
Issued by: GC Communications On behalf of: The House of J.C. Le Roux

Make this Mother’s Day a glamorous affair and treat your mom with a dazzling special edition La Valleé Rosé gift pack from The House of J.C. Le Roux, available exclusively at leading Pick n Pay stores nationwide.

This stunning, palate friendly Méthode Cap Classique, ensconced in a beautifully designed gift pack specially for Mother’s Day, is crafted according to the time-honoured French method in true champagne style. With its beautiful salmon blush, this elegant off-dry Cap Classique is a perfect fit for any stylish occasion boasting light, yeasty tones and powerful fruit flavours.  

While J.C. Le Roux La Vallée Rosé, crafted predominantly from Pinot Noir grapes, is a luxurious indulgence on its own, you can spoil your mom even further by pairing this exquisite stunner with a sweet nougat or Turkish delight treat. It will make her feel like the star she is and add a taste of Le Good Life to her special day.

The alluring J.C. Le Roux La Vallée Rosé gift pack is available exclusively at selected Pick n Pay stores during the month of May or while stocks last. A limited number is also available at The House of J.C. Le Roux in Stellenbosch at the cellar door price of R85.

For more information on The House of J.C. Le Roux and its uplifting Cap Classiques, visit, or follow @LeGoodLife on Twitter.

Blue Mauritius Gold Rum 83 Points

Mauritius have a long history in producing rums, growing up on the island, up until 11 years ago (2003) as far as I can remember the majority if not the total production of was based on the distillation of molasses (Industrial Rum) rather than sugar cane juice (Agricultural Rum) , which is two distinct categories where the one produced from juice are far more superior, nuanced and elegant.
Most of the production back then was white rum from molasses, your typical engine cleaner! Good with Coke or fruit juice for the brave one, relatively cheap, two tots and you are in heaven, but watch the next day!!!
It is good to see in recent years the emergence of more refined rum, in large part contributed by more and more being produced from sugar cane juice distillation rather than molasses, perhaps due to the falling sugar cane / sugar industry, and not benefitting preferential prices from the UK and Europe, hence the guys have to re-invent their source of income!
Still it puzzle me why Mauritius has taken so long, in fact decades, considering neighbouring Reunion Island have a long history of producing agricultural rum! Which is amongst the best in the world alongside the top Caribbean drops.
Earlier this year I was sent a bottle of Blue Mauritius Gold, currently available in South Africa via VDP Prestige Distributors and Liquidity, it is a fancy heavy bottle with a price tag to support!
Amber gold in color, bright, fruity, lots of dried dark fruits, spicy, alcohol is not integrated though, for what can be expected from a “Gold / aged” offerings, with a prominent coffee undertones, vanillin, it’s kind of a disjointed offering closer to being confected in profile as tasting it side by side with “aged” rum from around the world, it shows an element of being adorned with too much make up, i.e your slutty type of spirits, the palate was another revelation it was sweet and partially viscous! Unusual.
A sweetness derived from residual sugar rather than oak sweetness, like American oak, in fact there is a lot of similarity of it being a cross of Bourbon spirits as there is some charry elements as well as the sweetness akind to Frangelico liqueurs, I am puzzle.
I think the guys crafting this rum are trying way too hard, it is a kind of luxury “Rhum arranger”, which cost peanuts! but the packaging give the impression of luxury!
I had a look at their website, initially, not much relevant information available, regarding productions, ageing, barrels used, besides their awards, so I am not sure if this is an agricultural rum or a molasses based rum, however I am more inclined to believe there might be a large portion of molasses distillate, because of the unintegrated alcohol and the high RS have been used to masked the faults, however we all know sugar in booze make them sells, so they might get lucky in selling this product to the uninitiated, but then again rum market at the top end, is compressed, and no more than 3% of the market share, and declining of all alcohol combined
I know I am not doing my contacts in Mauritius a favor with this review, it's all about selling potential and market acceptance, but we have to call an apple an apple, in a world where transparency is crucial, especially more so in the beverage industry and when playing at a certain price points, where the market potential is significantly reduced, it has to show and reflect the aim, concept and terroir as well as the upbringing / ageing one can expect, it is highly possible the color has been corrected with caramel, as the sucrosity on the texture is a give away, but I might be wrong.
Nevertheless it is a product to discover or keep on your bar shelves, for a taste of island sunshine or mixed with bitters and crushed ice for a soothing after meal drink.

Alcohol: normal | 43 %abv
Origin: Mauritius

Notes: vanilla | raisin | prune | dates | coffee| spicy

Ideal drinking occasions: digestif best served with dessert

Serve with: flambee banana with bourbon vanilla ice cream or crepe Suzette

Drink: now 

The Cape's top 20 wineries of 2014

Eben Sadie of Sadie Family Wines
23 APR 2014 13:51 TIM JAMES

Article is courtesy of Mail & Guardian, compiled by Tim James.

"I was asked by Tim James, to contribute, alongside the lists of other judges below, however and regrettably due to being away travelling and work commitments, I did not managed to submit my lists within the due dates, an apology note was sent to Tim, yesterday.

This is a very good and details exercise, showcasing South Africa’s top and most consistent wineries, helps greatly with buying decisions and brand power, extremely valuable on a wine lists to ensure good stock movement". MC

As the reputation of Cape wines grow over the years, a panel of 29 has selected its top 20 winemakers from the celebrated region.

The 20 years since South Africa's first democratic elections have been momentous for the country's wine industry. Over the years, Cape wine has benefited hugely from a new international respectability – and a new curiosity. Marvellously, something not short of a revolution was to follow.
More than one international commentator now speaks of the South African wine industry as the most exciting in the world – or at least the southern hemisphere. It's a happy coincidence that the winery, which topped this poll of 29 local and international wine professionals, was built by a man who qualified as a winemaker in that significant year of 1994. What's more, among Eben Sadie's fellow graduates are two other winemakers featuring in this list of the top 20 South African wine producers – Marc Kent of Boekenhoutskloof and Chris Williams of Meerlust. This is a good year.
In 2001, the first of these polls were conducted. The dynamism of Cape wine means that it has been worth repeating the exercise frequently – the last wine list I created was two years ago, also first reported in the Mail & Guardian (April 2012). 
As to the nature of that change, well, this poll is hardly a scientific exercise, admittedly, but as an indication of the standing of Cape wine producers in the marketplace, in critical opinion and in sheer buzz, it is revelatory. All sorts of statistics jump out – one of the most significant being that, of 2001's list, just seven wineries still feature in 2014.  
Of 2001's Top Five category, which is always treated as a separate list, three of the producers no longer appear. Not even in the Top 20; they are Neil Ellis, Rustenberg and Veenwouden. Most of the wineries in this year's list did exist in 2001 – though some were very youthful – but Eben Sadie's first wine (Columella 2000) had not yet been released, and second-placed Mullineux was still seven years away from birth.

Change continues; the wine revolution progresses. There were four brand new entries this year – Cederberg, Delaire Graff, Badenhorst and Reynecke ?– and one re-entry – De Trafford, which was there in 2001 but later had not appeared on the list. The 29-strong panel voted for a total of 84 wineries, but only 46 of them got three or more votes. 
The panel comprises of seven leading sommeliers, six retailers, 11 local and five foreign critics and journalists.
A particularly interesting aspect of the results is how geographically diverse quality is revealed as being. True, Stellenbosch got nine of the 20 slots, but that's in accordance with the region's size. Swartland, where there are a fraction of the number of wineries, got three (including the top-two spot), and Franschhoek and the Hemel-en-Aarde got two slots each. Constantia, Cape Point, Elgin and Cederberg are also represented. 
A full list of the voters and further details of the results can be found on

1. Sadie Family Wines. Eben Sadie, an emblematic figure of the Cape's wine revolution, has been making his red Columella and white Palladius blends since the early years of the century. Local and international acclaim brought fame to the whole Swartland area, initiating its great renaissance. Then came Sadie's widely-inspiring Old Vineyard Series, confirming his vision, insight and energy.
2. Mullineux Family Wines. Young Chris Mullineux and his American wife Andrea are based in the little town of Riebeek-Kasteel, buying grapes, especially Shiraz and Chenin Blanc, from Swartland vineyards. They soared onto the Top 20 list in 2012 at number 10, and this year made another record leap: they are just squeezed out of the top spot by their good friend and near-neighbour.

3. Kanonkop, in Stellenbosch, is the longest-established winery in the Top 5 - and the only winery to have been there every time since the first poll in 2001. No other producer in the list has such an impressive track record of great wines ?– especially the Paul Sauer blend, made since 1981, but also Pinotage and Cabernet Sauvignon.
4. Boekenhoutskloof was in the 2001 Top 20 category, but has grown in size and is renown under the continued direction of cellar master Marc Kent. Based at the organic home-farm in Franschhoek,  it also draws grapes from far and near. 
5. Chamonix started revealing the vinous potential of its Franschhoek mountainside soils after Gottfried Mocke arrived in 2001 to look after vineyards and cellars with his flair and insight. Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc have always done well here; now a handful of reds, especially Pinot Noir, join them amongst the country's best – and there's not a dud in sight.
6. Paul Cluver Estate makes mostly white wines off the extensive, pioneering Elgin domaine, but the Pinot Noir is equally fine.
7. Newton Johnson is one of this year's big climbers. This quintessential family farm in the Hemel-en-Aarde near Hermanus is most famous for its Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.
8. Cape Point Vineyards, lashed by cool sea-winds near Noordhoek on the Peninsula, has seen winemaker Duncan Savage establish an enviable reputation for its white wines.
9. Hamilton Russell Vineyards, pioneer of winemaking in the Hemel-en-Aarde Valley, is still famous for its Pinot Noir and Chardonnay – the latter widely regarded as the country's finest.
10. Vergelegen is one of Stellenbosch's great historic and contemporary showplaces, with André van Rensburg continuing to produce a range of red and white wines to match.
11. Tokara, high on the Helshoogte Pass just outside Stellenbosch, makes superb, elegant wines from there (as well as Agulhas and Elgin) under Miles Mossop's deft direction.
12. Thelema is Tokara's neighbour but longer established (since 1983), with cellar master Gyles Webb amongst the pioneers of modern winemaking in the Cape. 
13. Jordan has a large range of wines (modest to grand) from its sizeable Stellenbosch estate, run in masterly style by husband-and-wife winemaking team Gary and Kathy Jordan.
14. Cederberg is the highest new entry, as its mountainous vineyards are among the Cape's loftiest, though David Nieuwoudt also makes a fine range from vineyards near Cape Agulhas.
15. Delaire Graff – third and oldest of the Helshoogte wineries in the region – arrives to trumpet its reinvigoration since its purchase a decade back by British diamantaire Laurence Graff. 
16. AA Badenhorst Family becomes the third Swartland winery in the Top 20, marking the great success of Adi Badenhorst's mighty labours on the run-down farm the family acquired in 2006.
17. Klein Constantia represents the Constantia Valley here, as well as the prestige particularly (though not solely) of its famous, historically relevant sweet wine, Vin de Constance.
18. Meerlust is one of Stellenbosch's great old estates, owned by the Myburghs since 1757, it's fine winemaking tradition re-energised for the past decade by winemaker Chris Williams. 
19. Reyneke, one of few biodynamic wineries in the Cape, has its organic Stellenbosch vineyards cared for by "vine-hugger" Johan Reyneke, and its elegant wines crafted by the brilliant Rudiger Gretschel.
20. De Trafford returns after a brief absence, with David Trafford's big, ripe but well-balanced Stellenbosch wines as commanding as ever.


Hansi Joakim Blackadder
Gareth Ferreira
Neil Grant
Higgo Jacobs
James Pietersen
Joerg Pfuetzner
Francois Rautenbach

Carrie Adams
Carolyn Barton
Mark Norrish
Roland Peens
Caroline Rillema
Local writers and critics
Michael Crossley
Christian Eedes
Michael Fridjhon
Edo Heyns
Tim James
Angela Lloyd
Melvyn Minnaar
Cathy Marston
Maggie Mostert
Ingrid Motteux
Christine Rudman
Cathy van Zyl

International writers and critics
Tim Atkin
Tom Cannavan
Jamie Goode
Neal Martin
Anthony Rose