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47 blogs found

What's new?,
December 2020
Since South Africa’s Wine of Origin system was introduced in 1973, vineyards have spread way beyond the traditional Western Cape. These, sometimes far-flung, new vineyards have required demarcation and Wine of Origin names.
A toast!,
December 2020
A month or two shy of 2021 – and the year which sees the 50th anniversary of the first bottling of Simonsig’s Kaapse Vonkel – the 2015 vintage of this bubbly won Johan Malan bragging rights to the Diners Club Winemaker of the Year title. Fitting that in the year in which Cap Classique was the Diners Club category that this sparkling wine, the one which launched it all, should be celebrated!
Beat the Bully,
November 2020
Hot on the heels of gender-based violence comes the endemic issue of school bullying. In fact international research shows that male bullies at school are twice as likely to turn to bullying their girlfriends and spouses in later years. Additionally, statistics also show that child bullies usually have experienced violence in the home between adults.
Veteran journalist, Len Maseko shines a spotlight on why the City of Gold is an important trade route for South African wine.
With her wild curls contained under a bucket hat, fresh-faced Kiara Scott looks every bit of her 28-years. That is to say youthful, and full of energy. She’s speaking to me from her lab at Brookdale wine estate in Paarl, mystifying formulas are scribbled on the white board behind her.
Beyond Fruit,
October 2020
Consumers love to taste fruit in wines; it instils confidence in the authenticity of the variety/ties on the label. Winemakers and yeast producers have gone to great lengths to ensure the grape’s fruit is enhanced in the wine, usually aided by cold fermentation in stainless steel. Delicious young, the wines are often one-dimensional, that joyous fruit soon fading.
Positively critical,
October 2020
Ever noticed how an idea will bounce around in your head – and before you know it, whatever that thought is keeps coming at you from various angles.
Rascallion Wines, the Stellenbosch based wine brand, has announced their sponsorship of Dignity Dreams, which provides comfort and menstrual health education to young women and girls from disadvantaged and at-risk communities in South Africa.
For the past few years, thousands of international music-lovers have descended upon the Cloof Wine Estate in Darling for the Rocking the Daisies Music festival.
34-year-old Lindile ‘Lindi’ Ndzaba sits waiting for me in Clarke’s in Cape Town. He’s wearing a black baseball cap tilted up, emblazoned with his brand’s identity, Khayelitsha’s Finest Wine (KFW). He’s just finished his shift at Frankie Fenner Meat Merchants in Gardens, where he’s the front-of-house manager.
Niche is nice,
September 2020
In the live Instagram presentation of his South Africa 2020 Special Report, Tim Atkin spoke approvingly of the greater varietal diversification in the South African wine spectrum, many of them niche rather than mainstream.
Making that statement 20 years ago would have evoked guffaws of laughter and hearty thigh slapping; at the very least a light tittering of sympathy and a disbelieving head shake. Chenin Blanc was just not sexy enough. Nowadays it’s so hot and titillating it should come with an adult XXX-rating!
“Impoverished communities are confronted by various threats: illness, disability, safety, hunger and many others. If we can provide a daily meal to these people, we have at least taken care of that aspect, which means they can focus on the rest,” says Rollo Gabb, Managing Director of Journey’s End Wines, and now also of The Journey’s End Foundation, the latest community project from this Somerset West-based winery initiated largely as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic and the resultant unemployment.
Prior to 1994, Heritage Day, September 24 was observed as Shaka Day, primarily in Kwa-Zulu Natal.
It’s my first restaurant visit in 100 days. A Cape storm lashes at the glass doors of Chef’s Warehouse on Bree. Inside Ewan Mackenzie twists a knife around the wax capsule of his Costa del Swart Viura Vonkelwyn 2019, that’s right a bottle of sparkling wine with a wax seal. “I do it to annoy people,” he says characteristically deadpan. “But honestly if you are into bubbly and don’t have a hatchet on your person…”
As the world knows, at the start of Covid-19 lockdown, South Africa took a particularly draconian step by banning the sale of alcohol. In effect, there have been limited or no alcohol sales from midnight on 26th March to midnight 17th August 2020.
Thoughts are like vine tendrils in an animated movie. A little green shoot struggles through grains of sand and initially slowly, but ever faster, gains momentum and strength, climbing and gaining purchase, winding itself ever upwards toward the light.
Visibility is life,
August 2020
Rural roads in the Cape Winelands can be treacherous on early winter mornings for pedestrians and motorists alike. Farm roads are typically poorly lit, with faded markings and no pavements, so motorists often have to swerve for pedestrians who suddenly appear in their headlights without warning. Sometimes these encounters end in tragic accidents, often in the death. Children on their way to school are most at risk as they trundle along in haphazard groups, often stepping out onto the road and into the path of an on-coming car.
According to Fortune, the four months prior to July 2020 proved to be fortuitous for the trade of Sauvignon Blanc in the United States. Incidentally, the four months prior to July 2020 have highlighted the lateral routes between South Africa and its wine export markets, such as the United States.
The Hemel-en-Aarde may get all the attention, but its neighbour, just over an Overberg hill, Tesselaarsdal has a far more interesting and further-reaching history. The small town was once a large farm called Hartebeestrivier. That was until East India settler Johannes Jacobus Tesselaar (who the town is now named for) came along; upon his death in 1810 he divided the farm into pockets and bequeathed the different sections to freed slaves. Many direct descendants of the original landowners still live in Tesselaarsdal today, including Berene Sauls—who is making her own history by purchasing a plot of land in the region of her ancestors, on which she’ll be planting pinot noir and chardonnay.
Protégé progress,
July 2020
The Cape Winemakers’ Guild launched its Protégé programme in 2006. Since the start of this three-year internship initiative, designed to cultivate the next generation of award-winning winemakers and viticulturists and promote transformation, 24 protégés have participated in and graduated (10 are still in the programme). The majority are now working in the industry with some even developing their own label.
The South African wine industry still has the ability to surprise.
Jacques Lombard is the first blind person to successfully complete the Cape Wine Academy Diploma Course, and is currently studying to be a Cape Wine Master, a massive achievement and, as far as can be ascertained, a first in the world.
As South Africa commemorates Youth Day in June, we consider 16 Young People who are making waves in the wine industry.
Bernhard Bredell digs his hands into the soil of the Granietsteen Chenin Blanc block, planted in 1968. “This is an old trick; if there is life in the soil it should smell like spice—can you smell the coriander, nutmeg?” He asks proffering the crumbling earth, shot through with clover, lupin and mustard flowers. “When there is no cover crop it just smells neutral, like water. An absence of life.”
#SpectacularSouthAfrica in June celebrates Chenin Blanc, the variety where, while plantings have decreased, quality and image have risen immeasurably since the mid-1990s.
Tourism is “a nice little earner” for the United Kingdom and one of the biggest drawcards is anything to do with the Monarchy. Kings, Queens, Princes and Princesses are so anachronistic nowadays that there is a fascination with the relics of history: Buckingham Palace, Windsor Castle, the Tower of London, the Crown Jewels are all thronged with eager tourists. One attraction combines pageantry, martial music and precision: the changing of the guard.
The Headstart Trust was formed to stimulate social upliftment in the Napier community and it is still doing just that albeit in a different form.
You don’t have to be in South Africa to be besotted with South African wine.
In a tiny town in the Overberg, Baardskeerdersbos, there’s a tiny spider that creeps into your bedroom at night to steal your beard. Or so the legend goes. This spider is fondly known by the town’s nickname, B-Bos. On this rugged slice of coastal land, small pockets of sauvignon and semillon grow, licked salty by the wind from their perch on the edge of the world. It’s here winemaker and owner of BLANKbottle; Pieter Walser went story and grape hunting, his spidey sense tingling that he would find both.
It’s quite something to be the envy of most people in my street right now. Why? I have a wine cellar with wine in it. Under South Africa’s Covid-19 lockdown rules, alcohol sales have been banned since 26th March. Those without cellars find stocks are running low, if not already run out.
Funny how things stick with you. I recall studying sociology as a journalism student in Durban in the 80s and the famous quote from Canadian philosopher and teacher Marshall McLuhan embedded itself in my memory: “the medium is the message”.
The picturesque village of Kylemore is tucked away in the mountains between Stellenbosch and Franschhoek. A significant proportion of its inhabitants work on the surrounding wine farms but work is seasonal so unemployment is high and resources are scarce.
South African wineries have taught us that you should not waste a good crisis, nor a good strain of yeast.
“I knew from when I was in primary school that I wanted to work in the wine industry,” shares 28-year-old, Wade Sander. Wade is an associate winemaker at Mullineux & Leeu Family Wines; he’s talking to me from the Leeu Passant cellar in Franschhoek, over 100 kilometres away from my home in Noordhoek, where I sit with an open screen. This is our industry’s new normal in the wake of the Covid-19 crisis; flooded with online tastings and virtual interviews. Wade is currently racking tanks, after the 2020 harvest was allowed to continue by the government. There are just three of them in the cellar.
South Africa’s Integrity and Sustainability seal was introduced in 2010. Among the requirements to qualify is that the wine has been produced sustainably, in an earth-friendly manner. Most people probably view this as what goes on in the vineyards and cellar.
Around the turn of the millennium, Mulderbosch was a South African wine farm at the height of its powers. Its Sauvignon Blanc was one of the country’s most sought after and the label was one of the pioneers of the fledgling Chenin Blanc renaissance with its Steen op Hout.
South Africans have their own special words cobbled together from their local languages and natural cultural expressions, sometimes referred to as “Saffa slang”.
Five reasons why Compagniesdrift makes the case for doing good business…
The many lives of Madame. When Madame May-Eliane de Lencquesaing, matriarch and founder of Glenelly Estate in Stellenbosch, won the Lifetime Achievement Award at International Wine Challenge (IWC) Awards 2017—they should have given her a few trophies for all of the lifetimes she’s lived. Born into one Bordeaux's oldest wine families, the Miailhe, Lady May as she’s fondly known, has lived through World War 2, has been an army wife in Kansas; and at the age of 78, bought a fruit farm in Stellenbosch and starting planting vines on the slopes of the Simonsberg.
February 2020
South Africa is slowly increasing varietal diversity in its vineyards; climate change, site suitability and personal preference all drive choice. Even with thorough prior research, introduction of a new variety is always a step into the unknown. Will it grow well, be true to type and, above all, will consumers buy it?
February 2020
Say the word ‘fraternity’ and a common association (based on typical American movie depictions) would be of a college student organisation: delta gamma kappa what-what... And they would be predominantly negative associations from publicity given to these American student bodies – male and female – about initiation rituals, hazing, exclusion, privilege and a whole lot more.
Can YOU buy canned wine?,
February 2020
uncanny /ʌnˈkani/ adjective strange or mysterious, especially in an unsettling way.
The Constantia Wine Route plays host to sumptuous views, food, wine and travel experiences even when a British reality show is not being filmed along its mountain slopes.
It’s one of those blazing Stellenbosch days. The heat hangs like a curtain, switching in and out amongst the historic oaks, their centuries of growth offering relief in the form of dappled shade. The City of Oaks, or Eikestad as it’s known is one of South Africa’s oldest towns, Cape Dutch architecture reigns supreme, old vines are rooted deep, and the two most important winemaker breeding grounds are here, Elsenburg and Stellenbosch University.
January 2020
The temperature dial is turned up, grapes are ripening, cellars are already a tangle of pipes, whirring crushers and clunking presses; winemakers are getting used to late nights and early mornings, periods of hectic activity and sleepy boredom. Everyone has their own way of dealing with harvest time, music is often the answer.
Meza (17) has just completed Grade 11. She and her younger sister and brother have been a part of the Zolani Youth Choir for almost 2 years now. “My family really loves music,” says this lithe young woman with swinging braids and an infectious smile.