A Good Year

A Good Year: November 2013

Thursday, 28 November 2013

Franschhoek MCC Festival & South African Blog Awards

For those who don't know, this weekend is the fabulous Franschhoek Cap Classique & Champagne Festival.  Taking place on the lawns of the Huguenot Monument at the foot of the Franschhoek pass, you could not ask for a more spectacular setting!

Image Courtesy of Susan Chrichton-Stuart Photography

The girls and I had some pre-ceremony wedding photographs there and it is beautiful.

But this weekend, the champagne (and MCC) will be flowing, with delicious food on offer, best dressed competitions and live entertainment.

So if you haven't yet got your tickets, head over to www.webtickets.co.za and get cracking.  There are a host of local MCC producers as well as genuine French Champagne makers who will all have their varietals available for tasting.  Tickets cost R200 and will give you entrance to the festival, a complimentary tasting glass and tasting coupons.  Don't forget to dress in your black and white, stripes and polka dots!

Being a newish blogger, this is the first time I can actually enter the South African blog awards.

I love posting my pictures and chatting about the beautiful Winelands we have around here.  So if you enjoy reading this blog as much as I enjoy posting, click on the voting badge on the right and give me a vote :).

Public voting starts on 2 December 2013 and lasts until 13 December 2013.

Head over to the SA Blog Awards website and check out some of the other awesome blogs in the other categories too.  Happy voting!

Have a lovely weekend!


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Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Dornier Wine Estate

We popped into Dornier the other day for a casual Sunday afternoon.  A friend works in the tasting room and so we said we would come and visit.  The drive there on Blaauwklippen road is beautiful and there are a few other noteworthy farms along the way.  I have never been to Dornier before and was quite impressed.  They have moved the wine tasting area closer to the restaurant, although I do think that it is a waste of a beautiful building on the other side of the grass.  But nonetheless, closer to the restaurant does make it more social, festive and relaxing.  

The restaurant at Dornier is Bodega and is housed in the old barn.  With the wine tasting lounge in one of the rooms, you can even do a tasting with your lunch.  There is a pretty cool playground for the kids, just far enough from the tables that you can still see them, but they are not bothering other patrons who don't have kids :).  We were just there for the wine tasting, but ordered an ice-cream cone anyway because they looked so delicious.  

I tasted a few of the wines, but the boys decided to just order a bottle.  They get over the tasting and want to just sit and relax with a good bottle.  They did taste the Cocoa Hill Savignon Blanc and the Cocoa Hill Chenin Blanc and settled with the Chenin for the afternoon.  Delicious pineapple and peach flavours and very fresh on a sunny afternoon.  The Sav B was also really good, just more of your guava and tropical fruit flavours.  I tasted the Cocoa Hill Rosé, made purely from Merlot grapes, it has a nice dry-ness to it so it is not too sweet and delicious strawberry flavours, another lovely summer wine.
Cocoa Hill is the entry level wine range at Dornier and named as they say by the "Pirate" who originally landed in Table Bay and found his way to this corner of the valley.  He planted vineyards after declaring the soil to be so dark, rich and lovely just like cocoa and perfect for vines.  If nothing else, its a cool story!

The Dornier Donatus White is a Chenin Blanc (86%) and Semillon blend which won bronze at the Decanter World Wine Awards and has a 91 on that points system the Americans tend to use - which is a pretty high score!  The wine has spent 6 months in French oak which you can immediately pick up on the nose and gives it a slight Chardonnay-ness to it, but being a predominantly Chenin it is still quite light.  It is very smooth and creamy on the palate and surprisingly light with very subtle pear and peach flavours - lovely.
White wines were clearly the order of the day it looks like, but I managed to sneak in a taste of the flagship red Dornier Donatus Red a blend of Cab Sav, Malbec and Cab Franc.  Delicious! A slightly heavier wine, but still somehow easy on the palate.  Loads of berries and subtle mocha as well as some tannins in their too.  One can certainly appreciate the 4.5 star John Platter rating! 

Delicious wines all round!  Even the entry level range was great quality.

We had a superb afternoon and will definitely be back, it is well worth a visit especially for a leisurely weekend lunch.

Blaauwklippen Road, Stellenbosch
Tel: +27 21 880 0557
33°59'31 S; 18°52'15 E

Wine Tasting Daily 10h00 - 17h00
Restaurant Lunch Daily & Tapas 16h00 - 18h00


Thursday, 21 November 2013

No.6 Restaurant Opening at Welbedacht Estate

The other night we were invited to the opening of the revamped No.6 restaurant at Welbedacht Estate (Schalk Burger & Sons) in Wellington.

It was the perfect summer evening for an outside affair in the courtyard between the wine tasting area and the restaurant.  They have now extended the tables of the restaurant outside into the courtyard so you can enjoy their delicious food and wine whilst admiring the stunning view. 

The new chef has previously worked in Spain and thus brings a Mediterranean flair to the menu.  Lamb burgers, spanakopitas, calamari and more delicious mini versions of the menu were served to us as the sun went down.  And later some delicious profiteroles and blueberry spring rolls came out!

We were welcomed with a delicious glass of Mon René Champagne (named after the only daughter on the farm).  Bubbles always get the evening off to a good start, and were thoroughly enjoyed while Tiaan welcomed everybody, introduced the new restaurant Chef and staff, and explained the origin of the No.6 name.

No. 6 is Schalk's rugby jersey/position (Springboks & Province) and the one in which he won the "International Player of the Year" award in 2004.  Tiaan also played in the same number growing up and Schalk senior apparently began his career in the No.6 jersey too, before moving positions.  So it runs in the family!

The No.6 wine is also named after the above and is a blend of 6 different grape varieties namely, Syrah, Petit Verdot, Malbec, Mourvedre, Pinotage and Viognier all of the 2006 vintage. Only a limited quantity of this wine has been produced.

The Meerkat range of wines is apparently named after Africa's most gregarious animal (and the only one with the same name in Afrikaans & English), hence the "Gregarious people" mentioned in the restaurant slogan.  Overall, they really have tried to create a relaxed environment of good food and wine.

A number of the Meerkat and Welbedacht wines were available on the opening night.  I enjoyed a glass of the Welbedacht Sauvignon Blanc which, with it's grassy notes has lovely lemongrass and gooseberry flavours.  My other half chose the Welbedacht Chardonnay which had lovely apricot and honey flavours, not too heavy either.
We switched later to red and the Welbedacht Merlot was delicious, very berry, but with some dark chocolate and cloves in the mix there, it was definitely a favourite - I heard a few people requesting "more of that one".  I had a sip of the Welbedacht Pinotage too, but that wasn't my favourite, personally, it was a little acidic somehow.

They have some great pizza specials at the moment and the setting is really beautiful.  Open from Wednesdays - Sundays for both Lunch and Dinner.  Pop in when you are next in the area.

Oakdene Road, Wellington.  Continue through Wellington on the R44 and follow the signs.
Tel: +27 21 873 1877

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Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Annandale Wines


Our Spitmaster friend was working at Annandale Wine Farm the other night and invited us to come along for the festivities.  An evening of food, wine and entertainment.  This particular evening's menu included pork necks on the spit - amazing, delicious - wow!  
The entertainment was a band, a comedian and some old school guys chatting about rugby and stuff.  Some folk were on the edge of their seats, but I've had a lot of rugby this year and tuned out a little.  The comedian was hilarious and the band was pretty fun with a whole Country music vibe going on.  All in all, a lovely evening under the stars, out in the winelands, delicious food, great wine, live entertainment and fantastic company!  
Check out Annandale's website to find out when their next event is.

Annandale farm is the oldest farm in the Helderberg Valley and both the manor house and cellar built in the 1700's remain on the estate today.  It is a smaller, quaint and unassuming wine farm with a homely (bit dusty, probably a few spiders) cellar where you can do tastings.  The wines are of a high standard and most reds have been well aged in barrels before being bottled.  
The owner and winemaker "Oom" Hempies du Toit is an ex Sprinbok rugby player and fifth generation Huguenot winemaker.  He actually grew up on the Alto Wine Estate and him and his father won many awards for the Alto Cab Savs as well as the Alto Rouge blend for which the farm is so well known.   
If you get the chance to meet him when you are next there for a tasting you will see the passion and pride he has for his work and wines. 

We started the evening with a bottle of the Annandale Cavalier 2004For only R100, it was really really great!  A Bordeaux style blend with rich, dark fruits and a Cab Sav earthiness.  Full bodied and intense, but beautifully soft and smoothed over time after having spent eight years in French barrels.  A lovely start to the evening with some cheese, potbrood and fig preserves. 

Between acts we were sitting in the quaint cellar which boasts a Sprinkbok blazer, a few Magnum Alto Rouge bottles and really feels like someone's personal cellar in their home.  While there, Oom Hempies opened a bottle of their Annandale - CVP Port for us to try, a dark fruit port with Christmas pudding fruit and spice flavours.  Very enjoyable.

Later on the evening we were lucky enough to enjoy a bottle of the Royal Chalbert Merlot 2005.  Being a family friend of Princess Charlene of Monaco, Oom Hempies was asked if he would supply some of the wine for the Royal wedding.  The name of the wine obviously coming from "Charlene" and "Albert" and the vintage being significant to the year in which the couple started dating (although they only went public in 2006).  Hempies chose stock, which had not yet been bottled but had spent 6 years in French Oak, to produce this wine.  Only 1,000 bottles were made.  
The wine is really good!  Typical rich berry flavours of a Merlot, smoothed out and softened gracefully with time.  The wine was available for purchase at the Oyster Box Hotel in Umhlanga Rocks (the venue of the second wedding reception in South African) and obviously at Annandale wine farm, but I am not sure where else you can currently buy it. 

Great evening in the winelands!

Annandale Road, Stellenbosch
Tel:  +27 21 881 3560 

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Thursday, 14 November 2013

This weekend...

 - With so much happening this weekend and the spectacular weather we have had lately, you absolutely cannot stay indoors!

Just ignore the rain forecast, it should all be gone by Saturday :)

Tonight the Six Senses evening of food and wine experiences at Waterkloof kicks off the Helderberg Wine FestivalTheir state of the art buildings and spectacular view are the perfect setting for an evening of delighting the senses.  Friday night has movies under the stars at Blaauwklippen and the rest of the weekend is filled with activities, entertainment, food and wine at all the participating wine estates.

If Helderberg is a little too far and Southern Suburbs is more your neck of the woods, there is an awesome Rosé Spring Celebration happening in Constantia, across three different estates.  
Or even the Villiera Summer Festival happening on the Paarl / Klapmuts side of the winelands which looks to be a great family day out.

Just a little further out, in Wellington, the Bosman Annual Release Celebration is happening.  An understated, chic country event showcasing the estate's new wine releases together with food and wine pairing stations under the oak trees and some live music.

Saturday morning is the Winelands Marathon and Half Marathon through Stellenbosch and its surrounds.  I think the entries for these two are closed, but you can always pop down on the morning and do the 5km.  A great way to start the weekend, so you can sit back and enjoy all the food and wine tastings you have earned.  We'll see you on the road.

Delvera also have some Full Moon Hikes happening this weekend.  It might be a good idea to give them a call first in case the weather causes trouble.

So, what are your plans for the weekend?


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Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Wine with dinner - Windmeul 'The Legend'

Another award winning wine from one of our favourite Co-ops - Windmeul's The Legend 2010.  A gold at the 2013 Michelangelo awards and 4.5 stars in the John Platter guide.

We were actually looking for some more of the delicious Cape Blend, but it was all sold out.  So we settled for a couple of The Legend bottles.  Named after Theuns Briers who was a former Windmeul Cellar Director and Springbok rugby player.

This wine is a classic Cabernet Sauvignon based Bordeaux Blend.  A full bodied, strong wine with delicious blackberry and Cab Sav earthy, cedar wood flavours.  Went down like a treat, everybody thoroughly enjoyed it and agreed the awards are well deserved.

Together with some Saturday evening rugby and a family dinner - fantastic!  See you at the next market, 7 December, to stock up on this and of course some of the other award winners like the 2013 Chenin Blanc (Veritas Double Gold 2013). 

 A delicious red velvet cake to wash it all down at the end.  The November issue of the Taste Magazine, celebrating 10 years of the publication, had the most beautiful cakes adorning the pages.  I've been trying out a few of them and this time (celebrating my sister's birthday as well - in her absence) was their Red Velvet Cake.  Not as pretty as the magazine, but just as delicious!

R44 off the N1 towards Wellington.  About 15km on the left-hand side.
Tel: +27 21 869 8043
Latitude:-33.671667  Longitude: 18.910278

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Thursday, 7 November 2013

Mont Rochelle


Most of the Franschhoek farms are closer to town or up on the hills which look down over the town and towards Helshoogte and Cape Town.  This is one of the first farms we've been to on the opposite side of the valley and the view is just as spectacular if not better!

You can access Mont Rochelle from Franschhoek main road, just past the Pick n Pay, but we drove along the La Provence road which was a little more bumpy and scenic.  Another beautiful setting and very good wines.

For those of us who have not yet been to France, the tasting room and Country Kitchen restaurant are exactly what you would picture an aged old winery in the French countryside to look like.  Sitting inside tasting wine, while admiring the view through the doorway surrounded by stained glass.
Their tasting room is actually open 7 days a week and until 7pm, which makes this a great spot for an alternative after work drink.

There is also a beautiful hotel on the other side of the farm which houses the excellent Mange Tout restaurant.

We just popped in for the wine tasting on a leisurely Sunday afternoon.

While the cellar dates back close on 150 years, it was previously used as a fruit packing shed.  It was only in 1994 when the first vineyards were planted and in 2001 when it was purchased by Rwanda born Telecommunications Mogul Miko Rwayitare, making it the first black owned wine farm in South Africa.

For obvious reason their flagship wine is named MIKO.  This wine is a  barrel fermented CHARDONNAY (a favourite of its namesake) and is only produced from the very best grapes, the wine will in fact not be produced in a year where the grapes are not their absolute best.  The wine is barrel fermented in Hungarian oak (I have only ever heard of French or American), which apparently adds more vanilla and honey flavours.  The wine is excellent!!  It is as smooth as soft, slightly melted butter and has a perfect balance of soft apricot and nut flavours.

Mont Rochelle prides itself in their traditional wine making methods and as such most of the wines are barrel fermented for up to two year and then spend a further 4 to 6 years in the bottle before they are available for purchasing.  The try and keep a French style to their wines.  On the tasting list, the youngest wine we tasted was a 2008 vintage.   Superb wines!  We have become so used to drinking young (excellent) wines which are made to drink now or within three years at most, that we have almost forgotten the beauty and elegance of a proper, sometimes old school, aged wine.  The reds, almost brown in colour, have stronger fumes on the nose but a smoothness and deep red earth flavour that is simply wonderful!  No tannins and very heavy legs.

We tasted the Rosé 2011 which is 80% Shiraz, 20% Viognier and as a result, not sweet at all, slightly spicy from the Shiraz.  A little bland I thought, but different with that distinct Viognier vanilla essence finish.

Onto the reds...

ARTEMIS 2008 - Cab, Merlot, Shiraz, Mouvedre blend.  Spicy cherry and fruitcake flavours with a very smooth finish.  Bring on Christmas!
MERLOT 2006 - EXCELLENT!  Quite brown in colour and you can taste the age.  If a wine can be beautiful and elegant, this one is standing out on the red carpet.  We took a bottle home, apparently it can age for another three or four years - we'll see how long it lasts on the rack.
CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2007 - Almost the colour of coca-cola.  Black currant flavours, typical Cab Sav earthiness but better, soft, and really really smooth. 
SYRAH 2007 - Mint, pepper and violets with a meatiness to it.  Strong and subtle in one glass - delicious!

It has been a while since we've had genuine old school, aged wines and these were thoroughly enjoyed!  Perhaps not everyone's cup of tea as their age tends to tone down the rich fruity flavours, but I would certainly like to add a few more of these to my wine rack.

Dassenberg Road, Franschhoek
Tel: +27 21 876 2770 
Lat 33 55 05.14 Lon 19 06 31.80


Monday, 4 November 2013

TSIBA Trail Run - Landtscap & Carinus Family Vineyards

 What a spectacular weekend of weather we had here in the Cape!

We forced ourselves out of bed on Saturday morning to join the TSIBA Trail Run at Landtscap.  I didn't see the part about them starting at 7:30 now that summer has arrived, so we were a little late and missed the start - but ran the route anyway and it was absolutely 100% worth getting up for and a fantastic way to start a Saturday!

We ran through vineyards and orchards, passed a few walkers with their dogs and had a mammoth climb to the finish at the end.  But relaxing on the grass at the finish had the most incredible 270 degree view spanning from the Paarl mountain right across Stellenbosch Valley to False Bay.  Amazing!  

Landtscap is an absolutely beautiful venue if you are looking for one.  Very simple inside and maximising on the spectacular valley views.

The next TSIBA run is on 7 December at Groot Constantia Wine Estate.  The TSIBA Overberg series also has a run on 23rd November at Gabrielskloof Estate.

Even though there are vineyards and orchards, Landtscap itself is just a venue.  But as most TSIBA runs are on winefarms with a few tastings available, there was the CARINUS FAMILY VINEYARDS CHENIN BLANC available for tasting at the finish.
As far as I understand, this is the only wine made by the Carinus Family.  They have been grape (wine) farming for many years, but always sold their grapes to other winemakers.  In 2010 they decided to keep some of the best for themselves and produce their own superior quality white wine.  The result - a beautifully fruity Chenin Blanc with a lingering aftertaste. 
It is made from hand picked grapes grown in the Swartland and with it's fun label it is perfect for any occasion.  It looks like at the moment you will need to contact them on their Facebook account to purchase some wine, otherwise I have seen it available on Yuppie Chef.  Yes, this awesome online kitchen store now stocks wine too - fantastic!

Spectacular start to a lovely weekend!  What did you get up to?

Devonvale, Stellenbosch - entrance from Bottelary Road (M23).
Tel: +27 21 865 2736 / +27 81 048 1188

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Friday, 1 November 2013

Wine with dinner - Brampton & Rickety Bridge


It was supposed to be a progressive dinner - drinks and a starter, move on to the next place for mains and a final stop for dessert.  It didn't quite work out as planned, but it was an awesome evening anyway!

We started the evening at Brampton Wine Studio in Stellenbosch.  Brampton in fact do not have their own farm or vineyards, the brand was bought from Rustenberg a few years back and the wines are apparently now made by Boschendal Wine Estate.  
The wine studio in Stellenbosch serves as it's tasting room.  A unique concept and brilliant idea.  The studio is bright and fun with chalk on the tables encouraging a bit of artwork after a glass or two and has a great atmosphere - we were there on a random Tuesday evening and it was packed!  I booked a table (some poor guys had to move... but they knew it was reserved), but even if it's full there are a few bars or even just standing and being a part of the buzz is good enough.  Last rounds are at about 7:30, but they stay open until about 8:30 - A great spot for a pre-dinner drink.  I had a glass of BUBBLY which was DELICIOUS!!  Lightly pink in colour and soft as anything.... mmmm!  We got a bottle of the BRAMPTON SAUVIGNON BLANC which was really good, sweeter passion fruit and pineapple flavours, but lovely.
The garlic fries - our "starter" - were scrumptious!

Dinner was at Cafe des Arts in Franschhoek, a small unassuming homely restaurant just off the Main Road.  We chose the RICKETY BRIDGE SAUVIGNON BLANC thinking it would go well with the fish dish.  We opted for the Rickety over the other options because it was a reserve.  Unfortunately there were no descriptions on the wine menu and we realised within the first sip that it is obviously a wooded Sav B, making it quite a bit heavier than what we were expecting to enjoy with our fish.  Personally I wouldn't choose it again, it was complimented very well by the fish and the duck dishes, but I wouldn't drink a glass by itself.  It borders on Chardonnay flavours with the rich wood flavours, if paired well it will be lovely!

The food was amazing!!  The blackboard menu changes all the time, but the kabeljou pasta was the best fish I have ever tasted, melted in your mouth fish with beautiful flavours.  And the duck with the ginger and orange sauce was also fantastic.

Last stop - the Caltex for an ice-cream!

I think I quite like the idea of progressive dinner date nights...

11 Church Street, Stellenbosch
Tel: +27 21 883 9097
7 Reservoir Street, Franschhoek (behind the FNB)
Tel: +27 21 876 2952

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