The wines we drink: Sutherland Rosé 2014

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Following on from our Grenache post of last week, here’s the first of our Grenache reviews.  A rosé nogal. I know most of you will wonder why we bother. Rosé isn’t sexy. Rosé is a kugel drink. I hear it is best consumed at 11 o clock in the morning after a heavy session with your personal trainer whilst your husband is swindling some elderly person out of money. Money that he uses to pay for your botox and bleach (hair and teeth) habit. The truth is we don’t drink enough rosé. It is refreshing, it is easy to consume and it often beats the myriad one dimensional entry level Sauvignon Blancs on the market that we drink to have something refreshing. Cheap Sauvignon Blanc isn’t just beaten in the flavour stakes. Also on value and interest.

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On competitions…and men

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Us humans sure are a competitive lot.  We’ve had to be; out-evolving the Neanderthals, getting rid of those pesky mammals who were a threat to Homo Sapiens – all competition.

We just cannot help ourselves; researchers may soon find a link between dopamine release and winning, the way we are going.  As much as we love winning, we hate losing; think back 2 weeks ago to that horrible loss the Springboks suffered at the hands of the Irish…now think about the win against England – see?

Sport is an easy way of explaining competition:  You are usually pitting apples against apples and pears against pears.  When you lose a race against Usain Bolt it’s because the guy ran faster than you (and looked better than you while doing it, but that’s another story).  Competitive sport was probably invented for the simple reason of competition, once the necessity part of say, running a mile to send a message, was a moot point.


We are also a blood thirsty lot; you cannot really see the difference between the thousands cheering a gladiator in the Colosseum and the way Social Media drools over every salacious detail of awards ceremonies of some sort (same thing, just less blood in modern times). More

The wines we drink: Grenache

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As described in the preceding article – we spent last weekend geeking up on wine at The Swartland Revolution. The first weekend in November has become synonymous with tasting, drinking and discussing wine in Riebeek Kasteel and there is inevitably a discovery or comment made that changes our perception of wine. It also changes our buying patterns and therefore what we consume at home and with friends.


This year was a particularly good year for geekery. The international wines on show were absolutely mind blowing: the highlight being the tasting of the amazing Chateau Rayas from Chateauneuf du Pape. Made from 100% Grenache (strange for CdP as 13 varieties are allowed) we subsequently found out that we can’t afford it, nor can we get it even if we could. The Rayas along with Chateau Musar from Lebanon were standouts. But the weekend’s aha moment came during the tasting of Craig Hawkins’ and David Sadie’s wines on the Saturday morning. More

Swartland Revolution 2014: An introspective retrospective


This was going to be our last Swartland Revolution; for the foreseeable future.  It was time to give it a rest, 5 years in a row is long enough…

The Swartland Revolution has grown from the first event in 2010, where just over a 100 wine geeks & wine enthusiasts were awkwardly milling about on the Royal Hotel’s lawns & the Swartland Independent was launched.  It has evolved into a beast, with more than 450 attendees, entire roads being closed and marquee tents erected all over Riebeek Kasteel.  The Revolution has taken on a life of its own, rolling onwards, sweeping us up in the excitement that is WINE.


Ticket prices was a big topic beforehand and on Friday afternoon (2011 tickets were R1,750 and 2014’s R2,450).  Quite a few people asked outright whether I thought the event was still “value for money”.  My reply: No.  “No” because we are not attending to get a bargain, we attend the Swartland Revolution to learn, taste wines that we could never afford to buy on our own or physically have access to. More

You think you know the Swartland Revolution?

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You know 3 different routes from Cape Town to Riebeek Kasteel and the staff at the Royal know your G & T order even before you speak?  Here is the very first Swartland Revolution Quiz – leave your answers in the comment section below.  Winner has the dubious honour of buying us first round of drinks on the Royal’s stoep.

During what year's Revolution did this poster grace the airwaves?

During what year’s Revolution did this poster grace the airwaves?

 OK, that was an easy one – let’s get a little bit more technical.  Or not… More

The wines we drink: Paserene Chardonnay

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Martin Smith’s day job is being the winemaker at Vilafonté.  After hours he has been working on his own wine making project, called Paserene.

Some history on the man:  After finishing high school in Worcester, Martin set out on his wine journey.  He worked at Amorim Cork in Portugal, returned to South Africa and studied at Elsenburg .  His internship was served under Jan Boland Coetzee at Vriesenhof.


Martin had a romantic vision of cruising through the USA driving his Ford F250 truck with his girlfriend and a dog.  This dream was cut short when his first Napa harvest lead to a full-time position as viticulturist at Cosentino Winery.  He stayed there for 5 years before accepting a position Caldwell Winery before moving to Newton Winery in 2007 as their winemaker. More

Franschhoek AGP; finding common ground in wine

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The focus of wine wine making seems to have shifted from technique to terroir.  We’ve seen a greater recognition of the provenance of the grapes rather than the technologically advanced wine cellar.  This is not saying that technology is not good; it has allowed producers to now “see” the difference between wines grown in different regions; there’s science behind everything.



Christian Eedes & Craig McNaught

A new approach (in South African terms) to define a regional identity has also been formalised in Franschhoek under the auspices of the new Franschhoek Appellation Grand Prestige (AGP).  The Franschhoek AGP is the brainchild of founding members Craig McNaught of Stony Brook Vineyards, Clayton Reabow of Môreson Wine Farm and Rob Armstrong of Haut Espoir. As producers they recognise the need to provide the consumer with an identification system which effectively communicates regional typicity while encouraging quality Franschhoek wine offerings.  The idea is that with this identification system, consumers who love the wines produced in Franschhoek will be able to identify wine made only from grapes grown in the valley, and make an informed purchasing decision. More

Celebration of Chardonnay

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Every 2 years the folks at De Wetshof Estate in Robertson pays homage to Chardonnay and the producers who make this top-notch tipple.  Danie de Wet’s obsession with Chardonnay no doubt started when Jan Boland Coetzee sent him illegal cuttings of the Beaune Clone CY9 concealed in a box of chocolates.  The rest, as they say, is history.


This year’s Celebration focused on regionality in South Africa and 2 wines from each of the main 8 Chardonnay producing areas were selected for us to taste; focusing on the site the grapes are grown.  We tasted Chardonnay from:


Franschhoek Country House & Villas and Monneaux Restaurant

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My love affair with Franschhoek Country House & Villas and their on-site restaurant Monneaux, started in the late 90’s.  A client took me to dinner at Monneaux on a horrible winter’s night: Howling wind, driving rain and the Helshoogte Pass between me and a warm bed.  It was worth it – I have been regaling The Navigator with tales of that incredible dinner for more than 5 years!



An invitation from the friendly folks at Franschhoek Country House & Villas put that incredible memory to the test…  We did choose the windiest day of the year to be swept into the cocoon of the Country House but hey, they cannot control everything. More

Christian Eedes Chardonnay Report 2014: Top 10

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We love Chardonnay; so what can be better than spending a Friday afternoon sampling the Top 10 Chardonnays in SA?  The fourth annual Christian Eedes Chardonnay Report sponsored by Sanlam Wealth was released on Friday.  Chosen (again) by a panel of expert tasters (Christian Eedes, Roland Peens & James Pietersen) from 60 wines (all invited entries).


The 5-star wines:


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