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!

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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).

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The 5-star wines:

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The wines we drink: Testalonga El Bandito Cortez 2013

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IMG_3511Natural wine making – the process of making wine with as little wine maker influence as possible. Or as Wikipedia calls it “natural wines are wines that are produced without adding or removing anything during winemaking, although some growers add tiny quantities of sulphites at bottling.” South Africa’s number 1 champion for the natural wine making cause is Craig Hawkins from Lammershoek and who owns the brand Testalonga.

We randomly came across the first vintage of Craig Hawkins’ Testalonga El Bandito in 2010 during a drunken night in Riebeek Kasteel. We were smitten with the 2009 El Bandito but had no idea who made it. Coincidentally we had booked an appointment the following day at Lammershoek and promptly discovered that the Lammershoek wine maker is the same guy who made our favourite wine from the night before.  We tasted the Lammershoek range (with a hangover so bad, if it was a human it would’ve been a morbidly obese guy with a five o clock shadow, a sweaty face, a hairy back and a penchant for dressing in latex) and purchased a car boot full of Lammershoek and  Testalonga wine.

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Love your Wine; a love story written by Cathy Marston

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Wine (noun): An alcoholic beverage made from fermented grapes or other fruits. The natural chemical balance of grapes lets them ferment without the addition of sugars, acids, enzymes, water, or other nutrients.

Yawning already?  Reaching for a glass of your favourite wine that your cousin looks at with a raised eyebrow?  Wine is really not that boring!  Just chat to Cathy Marston, glass in hand, for 5 minutes and those grape skin curtains will part revealing the wonders behind the stuff in your glass.  Or…just buy her new book “Love your Wine” – the title really says it all.

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The wines we drink: Mullineux & Leeu Family Single Terroir Wines

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Mullineux: Synonymous with quality wines.  Listen to Chris or Andrea Mullineux talk about their wine you hear words like “balance, sense of harmony and elegance” more than once.  You taste it all, when you drink their wines.  We recently had the privilege to taste the same vintage (2013 for the whites and 2012 for the reds) and the full compliment of their portfolio as they do not release all the single terroir wines every year.

Andrea & Chris Mullineux

Andrea & Chris Mullineux

The white wine range has now been extended to 3: More

The wines we drink: Vondeling Rurale 2013

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We are great fans of Vondeling and their wines.  The wines are excellent value for money and, most importantly, bloody delicious.  Family and friends have forcibly been introduced to their delights over the years and we can happily say they now bring Vondeling to us when visiting (a win-win situation for all concerned).

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Vondeling has just released another winner: Vondeling Rurale 2013 Mèthode Ancestral.  Mèthode Ancestrale was originally produced in the Limoux region of France, as far back as 1531, and is in all likelihood the original method of producing sparkling wine.  The name Rurale is the original name for what was later recognized by the French A.O.C as Mèthode Ancestral. More

Foliage; where every visit is a special occasion

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Foliage (noun): The leaves of a plant or of many plants.  Chef Chris Erasmus’s new venture in Franschhoek is called “Foliage”; a reference to his forest-to-plate philosophy and showcasing his foraging skills.

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The first impression of Foliage is warmth.  The moment you open the front door, a wave of welcome envelopes you; the muted tones of contented guests, an occasional burst of laughter and the ever present comforting kitchen aromas contribute to a feeling of wellbeing even before you’ve even seen the menu. More

The Wines We Drink: Newton Johnson Granum 2012

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On Sunday evening an all too infrequent (these days) excursion to La Mouette in Sea Point. A special occasion justifies a unique wine and up steps the Newton Johnson Granum 2012.

We’ve long been big fans of Newton Johnson’s wines and I’ve made no secret in the past that they are my favourite local producer of Pinot Noir. The main reason for that being that their wines are elegant and relies on purity of fruit, expression of site and not on heavy extraction, very ripe fruit and oak to prop up the wines.

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Riscura’s White Hot Wine Awards is H-O-T

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White Bordeaux style wines will always fall into the “niche” category in South Africa, making them almost invisible to the supermarket crowd and a little intimidating to people starting out their wine exploration journey.  The Christian Eedes and Riscura White Hot Wine Awards (now in its second year) aims to recognise these wines and award the wine makers who keep producing these wines that surely are not at the top of any wine farm accountant’s profitability list.

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This year’s entries were judged by the now familiar panel of  Christian Eedes, Roland Peens and James Pietersen (our very own The Navigator was an associate judge on the panel).  They had the heart breaking task of selecting the top 3 wines from 41 Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon blends submitted.  The Top 3 wines (all awarded 5 stars) are: More

The wines we drink: Hartenberg Tenacity Riesling 2011

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Riesling is one of the noble grape varieties that can produce a vast range of wine styles.  South African wine makers, having only figured out how to separate their Crouchen Blanc from their Rhine Riesling very recently, are now producing a few good examples of the variety.

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Hartenberg Estate in Stellenbosch produces a few Rieslings in different styles that are quite delicious.  The Tenacity Riesling 2011 (only available at the farm) is made in limited quantities (only 935 bottles for the 2011).  The wine is fermented dry, on the lees, for 8 to 12 months in small French barrels.   More

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