Celebrating older South African Wines

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By a happy coincidence, our Sunday “church” wine tasting theme fit in perfectly with Heritage Day celebrations:  Older South African Wines.  The question was: Do they age?  The answer?  YES.



Sunday dawned with bright blue skies & a sense of trepidation…would the wines show well? The 1999 Simonsig Kaapse Vonkel (disgorged Aug 2016) initially displayed a bit of funkiness expected from a 17 year-old but opened up to generous, savoury palate that was light yet rich.



KWV Roodeberg 1977 survived one of the worst vintages in SA’s history to grace our glasses with perfume, hints of shoe polish & celery salt. The Rustenberg “Gold” 1986 (60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Cabernet Franc, 20% Merlot) at 12.16% abv showed vibrant colour with a bit of liquorise and a hint green pepper (still). An abundance of fruit from the 30-year old.


Batonage explores Bordeaux 2009

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We recently had the good fortune to recently attend a tasting of Bordeaux’s 2009 vintage: A ripe, generous and warm vintage.  Some of the highlights:


The Chateau Doisy-Daëne is set to become a favourite in our cellar with its gorgeous nettle and blackcurrant nose.  The name Doisy-Daëne was inspired by an owner in the late 1800’s, Jacques Emmanuel Daëne, who took the vineyards name of Doisy and used his name to come up what he considered to be the correct representation on the chateau.  The 16.3 hectare vineyard, situated close to Chateau Climens, has a terroir that consists of red sand, clay and limestone soil.  The vineyards are planted to 80% Semillon and 20% Sauvignon Blanc.  Denis Dubourdieu also owns Clos Floridene in the Graves appellation, and aside from his work in Bordeaux, he is involved with several projects in different regions in the world; one of his most interesting ventures is in the Stellenbosch region of South Africa with 4 G Wines in a partnership with Girogio Dalla Cia.


The wines we drink: Le Lude MCC

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In an era where so many producers view bubbly as a “cash cow” and a must-have because they host celebratory events and “people demand it”, it is refreshing to come across a man who makes bubbly because he has a passion for it.  We have far too many MCC’s on the market in South Africa that are made as an after thought with minimum time on the lees and maximum bank account returns.



Paul Gerber not only has a passion for champagne/sparkling wine, he is busy with his Masters’ Degree in a part of the whole process (gas exchange)!  It was a pleasure to spend a day in his company, geeking out on wine at the Le Lude Estate in Franschhoek.  We were certainly privileged to get a sneak peek before the launch of these special wines. More

The wines we drink: Cork vs Screw cap

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There are pros and cons to any wine closure; some are based in scientific fact, others are based on consumer perception.  We decided to put together a tasting to compare the effect of the 2 closures on the ageing and thus the taste of the wine.  In a nutshell:  What closure has the wine tasting better after time in the bottle?


To kick proceedings off, we tasted the lovely non vintage rosé MCC from Le Lude:  Second fermentation under crown cap vs under cork (secured with an agrafe).  The wines were clearly different, with the wine under crown cap showing more fruit, especially strawberry.  The wine under cork was richer, broader and showed clear brioche character.  Fascinating stuff, when you  know that both wines were identical when bottled.

Panel choice:  standard crown cap 4 – 7 cork 2nd ferment.


The wines we drink: Naudé Old Vines Range.

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We have written about our regard for the Naudé White before but the Board of Directors and Ian Naudé at Adoro Wines are not resting on their laurels; they have just released the new range of wines made from old vines.



The Alchemy Best Burger Competition – the Batonage entry

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The KnowItALL Burger – a classic style burger but with local knowledge


Note the hand crafted mustard and tomato sauce in the background. And of course, the Alchemy White.

It’s official!  Our entry has bene selected as a finalist in the competition – come & taste it at Hartenberg Wine Estate on 24 September.  More details here.


The story:


The places we eat, drink and stay at: Steenberg

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The Red Wine Romp held at Catharina’s Restaurant at Steenberg was the perfect occasion to revisit one of our favourite hotels and wine farms.  The concept was simple:  Celebrate the great red wines of the Constantia area, paired with a veritable winter feast prepared by Chef Garth Almazan and his team and the outstanding service and warm hospitality one always experiences at Catharina’s.




The places we eat at: Pot Luck Club

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We first visited the Pot Luck Club a few years ago in its original incarnation adjacent to the Test Kitchen.  We have on occasion visited the Pot Luck Club at the new location at the top floor of the old Silo building and have always enjoyed our meal(s).


Our recent visit was no exception; we were yet again impressed by the excellent service, delicious food and the sheer energy of the space.  The menu has evolved (entirely expected from an establishment with such a reputation and capabilities) and is now divided into sections listing the primary taste (sweet, salty and so forth). More

The places we stay at: Bonne Esperance Studio Apartments

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We regularly visit Stellenbosch and more often than not wine is involved, leaving us with the dilemma of finding accommodation that is unfortunately, due to the popularity of the town, prohibitively expensive.  We found Bonne Esperance Studio Apartments on exactly such an occasion: A visit to the popular De Warenmarkt.


We have a severe aversion to guest houses and prefer to self-cater and these guys tick all the boxes:  The amenities are modern and everything is in working order, you have enough space and privacy and best of it all: It is affordable (rates start at R700 per person sharing).  Did I mention the free wi-fi that actually works? More

The places we eat at: The Dining Room

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Being encouraged to bring your own wine to a restaurant is already a huge PLUS in our eyes, so when friends invited us to join them at The Dining Room we jumped at the opportunity.


The Dining Room is the brain child of Karen Dudley (The Kitchen in Woodstock) and was primarily a venue for private functions.  The Dining Room is now open to the public on Tuesday and Thursday evenings for a set 3-course meal.


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