The wines we drink: Testalonga El Bandito

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Craig Hawkins is probably the bravest man in the South African wine industry; sticking to his guns and wine making philosophy, going where the grapes take him and adding as little as possible.  He admits to making a few mistakes, but he is learning from every one, it makes him understand the vineyards better and it makes him a better winemaker.

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We recently had the pleasure of tasting his current releases at the fabulous Chalk & Cork in Kloof Street (go support them, please – they have a decent wine list and serve a mean cup of coffee).  We tasted the following wines: More

Tapas at Chefs Warehouse

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We’ve never mentioned Chef’s Warehouse on these pages; what do you say about your local “go-to” place?  Situated just around the corner from our office, we’ve spent a good few hours browsing the kitchen equipment and cook book selection (and we may have spent a good few Rands there, as well).

Being “locals” we never visit when it gets too full, so we’ve never had the opportunity to sit down and enjoy the full compliment of tapas on offer at the Canteen as they are understandably, very popular.  What a menu it is!  Eight delicious tapas dishes for R320 (more than enough for 2 people sharing).  My calculator tells me that is R20 per person per dish!

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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.

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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

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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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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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: Mulderbosch Single Vineyard Series Chenin Blanc

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Single vineyard wines are interesting creatures.  It is a reflection of the best wine a winemaker can produce from a single site; it’s not about making the best wine from a specific variety or showing off your prowess as winemaker.  This makes for unique stuff in the bottle.

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Mulderbosch has released a Single Vineyard Series Chenin Blanc to showcase 3 single vineyards and maintained the same winemaking practice for each (free run juice, neutral barriques for fermentation and spontaneous ferment, 10 months’ maturation in barrel). More

Sunday brunch at The House of Machines

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Sunday mornings in the city always leave me slightly depressed; probably because it’s the day before Monday but also because there are so few places to go – nothing worthwhile is open.  No markets, no funky coffee shops; only a few restaurants here and there.

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The wines we drink: Magna Carta 2011

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In five days from today it will be exactly 799 years since the signing of the Magna Carta – The Great Charter of the Liberties of England by King John. The document served as the first ever attempt to limit the power of the monarch, the forerunner of the modern day constitution.

 IMG_0685Almost 10 000 km away and centuries later Steenberg Wine Estate came up with their own great charter. The Steenberg Magna Carta was first released from 2007 vintage grapes to huge acclaim. A blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon, the wine set a new benchmark for South African Bordeaux style white blends at the time.  Last week we attended the Magna Carta Roadshow – Steenberg taking the 2011 vintage around the country with a series of lunches.

The style of the wine has definitely changed. Where the 2007 was quite green and austere, the 2011 is more approachable – it is less linear, the barrel fermented Semillon gives it a creamy note and for me it is definitely easier than any of the other vintages at the same age. That said, don’t expect an easy ride – the wine is complex, has serious weight and breadth and is not for everyone at R525 a bottle at the cellar. You won’t regret buying and cellaring some. The wine will go for quite some time. More

Christian Eedes Cabernet Sauvignon Report 2014

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The third annual Christian Eedes Cabernet Sauvignon Report, presented by Sanlam Private Investments (SPI), has seen a hierarchy of quality among local wines in the category start to emerge. Wineries such as Rickety Bridge, Thelema and Waterford have shown admirable consistency in the Top Ten over the years, and overall, the category is looking strong. Bear in mind that this is not a talent spotting competition; entries are per invitation only.  This report aims to establish a recognised benchmark for the second most planted grape variety in South Africa.

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Christian Eedes, James Pietersen & Wynand Grobler from Rickety Bridge

The Top 10 Cabernet Sauvignons were revealed at a gathering at Burrata at the Biscuit Mill in Woodstock on Thursday, 22 May 2014. A total of 60 wines were tasted and judged by a panel that was led by Christian Eedes and included renowned tasters Roland Peens and James Pietersen from Wine Cellar. More

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