Looking back on 2019

As 2019 draws to a close it is time to look back and reflect on the past year, and we certainly had a lot to celebrate! South Africa became Rugby World Champions for the third time when Siya Kolisi lifted the Rugby World Cup in Japan and Zozibini Tunzi became the third South African woman to be crowned Miss Universe. At Simonsig our Redhill Pinotage claimed the trophy for one of South Africa’s Top 10 Pinotage’s for the seventh time. Our maiden vintage of our Kaapse Vonkel Satin Nectar Rosé won the inaugural Trophy for the best Cap Classique in the Demi Sec style. And, to top it off, we had our best ever showing at the Veritas Awards; winning 4 Double Gold and 3 Gold medals! Our dams were also full for the first time since 2014.

There were some less happy moments too, starting on 1 January when a flare ignited the Betty’s Bay Fire which burned for two weeks.

Introducing the Banghoek 2016

Throughout the world, stories are the threads that link the past to the present, connecting us to one another and to our heritage. These legends are woven together and create the tapestry of our history, rich and varied, both perfect and blemished. This is true for every continent, country, town and community, with each thread contributing to the magnificence of the end product.

Delaire Graff Estate continues to be a source of superb contributions to the vivid heritage of the Stellenbosch region. This week, the Estate unveils its latest gem – a tribute to the region of Banghoek and its deep history, following an exceptional year for Cabernet Franc wines in 2016. The Banghoek 2016 is a love letter to its namesake, showcasing a delicate mélange of history, structure, aroma, tannin and flavour of poised distinction.

The Evolution of Haute Cabrière

25 years since the von Arnim family launched the iconic Haute Cabrière cellar, the winery has transformed into a world-class space for visitors to immerse themselves in the culture established by proprietor Achim von Arnim. The newly renovated space makes Haute Cabrière the ultimate belle femme of the Franschhoek Valley.

The renovation journey was aimed at building on the past 25 years, and setting the scene for the next. “The project has been about honouring the legacy of our heritage; while celebrating the beauty of evolution. Even though the wines and the destination are ever changing, it will never lose its essence,” says Takuan von Arnim, Director of Wine and 2nd generation Cellar Master.

“Every element of the project was ultimately designed to allow and inspire our guests to create and celebrate their own beautiful food and wine experiences,” continues von Arnim.

Vin de Constance over four decades

South African wine writer Malu Lambert happened to be in London when her country’s most famous wine was displayed in all its glory. We asked her for a report.

Vin de Constance is living history. It’s South Africa’s most fêted wine, and it has been for centuries. In the early 19th century, Constantia’s sweet wines were all the rage in the European courts. Nobility was said to prefer it over the likes of Yquem and Tokaji.

But unlike these two famous sweet wines, Vin de Constance isn’t botrytised. Termed a natural sweet wine, it is made from pale-skinned Muscat de Frontignan grapes left on the vine to dessicate until almost raisined. The must is fermented partly in tank and partly in barrel, then the wine is matured in oak, without fortification.

Vin de Constance is described as ‘a recreation of the legendary Constantia sweet wine made in the 18th and 19th centuries'.

Diemersdal Releases Third Vintage of Unique “Frozen” Sauvignon Blanc

One of South Africa’s most unique and awarded Sauvignon Blanc wines, the Winter Ferment from Diemersdal Estate in Durbanville, has seen the release of its third vintage. This wine, made from grapes harvested in February 2019, undergoes fermentation in the South African winter months after the freshly crushed juice was frozen for four months to give the wine a uniquely expressive fruit profile.

Since the first vintage of Winter Ferment in 2017 the wine has won numerous accolades, including spots in the FNB Top 10 Sauvignon Blanc Competition and the Sauvignon Blanc Trophy at the National Young Wine Show.

In a quest for optimum tropical fruit expression in Sauvignon Blanc, Thys Louw, owner-winemaker at Diemersdal, released the first Winter Ferment in 2017. The wine is made by freezing the grape must to -20°C soon after the grapes were harvested in February. The frozen must is thawed in June, inoculated and allowed to ferment as per normal.

De Wetshof News Winter 2019, Cape Vintner Classification

A wine farm in winter might not show the verdant rows of vineyards or the blooming wildflowers and trees one finds in late spring and summer. But this time of year has a beauty of its own, a dramatic one where the vines are leafless and bare, showing their knuckled scions and shoots reaching for the skies like eerie thin fingers.

The air is crisp and cold and the light sharply clear as it opens up the vineyards to the eye of the beholder. There is a peacefulness. After their energy-sapping growing-season, the spent vines have shed their leaves and are now in a state of dormancy. Resting to recuperate. Mustering the energy and power that will be required when the first birdsong and warm breeze of spring awakens them, heralding the start of another period of growth. Then the vines will be fresh with the urge to ripen grapes for the next harvest.

As far as activities on the farm goes, this is the time to prune. The workers are out in the vineyards with their secateurs busy with the art of pruning, something as old as viticulture itself.

Diemersdal’s Famous Eight Rows Sauvignon Blanc Welcomes New Vintage

Diemersdal Estate, the well-known Sauvignon Blanc producer in Durbanville which has been in the Louw family for six generations, has just released the 2019 vintage of its Eight Rows Sauvignon Blanc, one of South Africa’s best-known and most awarded wines made from this variety.

The origins of the Eight Rows goes back to 2005 when Thys Louw arrived as wine-maker on the family farm after his studies as well as having completed internships at various other Cape estate’s. His father Tienie, however, initially restricted Thys’s ambitions by permitting him to only make wines from eight rows of one Sauvignon Blanc vineyard to see whether Thys was up to the task.

The rest is history: the wine proved to be of superb quality from the start, and today is still made by Thys from the same eight rows as that first vintage in which he had to prove himself. Although today Thys is fully in-charge of Diemersdal, responsible for wine-making, viticulture and managing the estate’s 200ha of vineyards.

Ken Forrester and his renowned Wines celebrate 25 years in Gauteng…

I have known Ken Forrester from the years he was a restaurateur in Johannesburg some time back. Who could ever forget his Duck & Cherry Pie? Fortunately, it is still to be found on the menu at 96 Winery Road which Ken owns with his brother Alan. Put it on your bucket list it you have not been there. As Michelin would say, well worth the drive. You can stop off at Ken Forrester Wines for a tasting on the way.

Since moving to the Cape more than 25 years as Ken and his Ken Forrester Wines have added immensely to the rich tapestry that is Stellenbosch Wine and indeed to Stellenbosch itself. Ken has championed Chenin Blanc and Red Rhône blends with massive success and the wines have iconic status around the world. His motor number plate is CHENIN WP.

Ken Forrester takes to the streets of Gauteng, inviting Jozi and Pretoria friends of wine to their very special 25-Year Celebratory Tasting Series, hosted by Mr.Chenin himself, on 21st and 22nd August respectively.

De Grendel Rubaiyat 2015, when Dianne Bibby’s Red Wine Beef Stew with Potato Gratin is a perfect match…

De Grendel Rubaiyat is named for the collection of quatrains from Omar Khayyam, the 11th Century Persian poet and astronomer. A fine red blend, using grape varieties originally from Bordeaux, which the late Sir David Graaff requested founding winemaker Charles Hopkins to make as an extension of this fine Estate’s wine range. And what a success it has been.

2015 is currently regarded as the finest vintage of the century and as part of the worst drought in living memory and the weather leading up to the harvest still produced excellent concentrated fruit and high colour berries.

The grapes for the blend are 70% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Petit Verdot, 4% Merlot and 1% Cabernet Franc. The Cabernet Sauvignon comes from vineyards in Firgrove which are 6 km from False Bay, source of cooling summer breezes which allow for slower ripening, thus greater flavour. The remaining grapes grow on De Grendel, itself only 7 km from Table Bay and the cold Benguela current.