March 2015

Posted on 17 February 2015 by David Biggs


Solms Delta Rosé , Chenin Blanc and Shiraz

04/03/2015: Solms Delta gets a new look.
The Solms Delta wine estate in the Franschhoek valley has established a unique personality, linking its brand firmly with the past – the history of slavery, country music and “lekker wyn,” which is unpretentious wine made for pure casual enjoyment.
Three of the farm’s wines have now been released under an eye-catching label design, complete with a drawing of a “blik khitaar” to denote the music of the farm, and a book and  pen to represent education and hope.
The trio consists of a charming rosé made from Grenache and a splash of Cinsault, a Chenin Blanc and a Shiraz (packaged, rather surprisingly under a green label).
The 2014 Chenin Blanc (formerly known as Vastrap) greets you with fresh wafts of green apple and tropical fruit and is appealingly soft on the palate. There’s just enough acidity there to keep it fresh without being searing. The ripe fruit flavours linger on and on. A charming wine. At about R55 a bottle it’s the sort of wine to open and enjoy without pretension or fuss.
The pretty , salmon pink rosé from the 2014 vintage, is a far more serious wine than the label suggests. It was previously called “lekkerwyn,” and it is indeed just that. Lekker.
With an alcohol content of 12,5% it’s perfect for lunch-time drinking. The flavours are concentrated fruit – red plum, raspberry, a suggestion of strawberry, all with an underlying earthiness. I’d like to taste this with a roast duck or seared tuna. Maybe it would go well with sushi too. It’s worth a try.
On to the 2013 Shiraz, always a favourite of mine.
This one has some masculine aromas of licorice, oak vanilla, a hint of tobacco and some warming ripe plum layers. It slips down like velvet and would be an ideal accompaniment to an Italian meaty dish, or even a juicy barbecued boerewors.
I think it’s good value at around R60 a bottle.

Watch out for the new labels when you’re next in your wine store. They really are different –jolly and festive and somehow exactly right for the South African lifestyle.

Le Bonheur Chardonnay 2014

18/02/2015: There was a time, not so long ago when Chardonnay dipped in popularity, mostly due to the American habit of serious over-wooding. Our winemakers followed suit and lost a lot of customers. The “ABC” band (Anything but Chardonnay) had a large following.
That’s history now and Cape winemakers are producing some really excellent Chardonnays worthy of our attention.
Le Bonheur’s 2014 vintage is one of these.
The wine greets you with the clean aroma of lemon zest and white  peaches, followed by a whole fruit salad of summer flavours – lime, peach, spices, subtle vanilla – all served up in a smooth, silky mouth-feel. It has been given a light touch of oak for added complexity, but that’s kept well in rein and firmly in the background.
It may seem light and frivolous at first sip, but there’s a charming depth here that’s worth exploring.
This is a wine to serve with a delicately flavoured seafood or poultry dish. I’d like to match it with a crispy roast duck.

 Baleia Bay Sauvignon Blanc 2014

10/02/2015: This super Sauvignon Blanc comes from the Joubert family’s winery near Vermaaklikheid, close to the sea, and the marine influence is evident in it.
Maybe it was just auto-suggestion,  but I was reminded of fresh salt –laden breezes and the smell of the ocean.
Then came the typical Sauvignon Blanc aromas of fresh cut grass, green apples, gooseberries and a lively lemon zest – a fruit salad of flavours, indeed.
The finish is dry and still a wee bit tannic and I believe it needs another two years to reach its peak.
If you can wait that long, serve it with turkey or duck (maybe at Christmas 2016) or a roast leg of pork.


Le Bonheur Sauvignon Blanc 2014.

05/02/2015: Le Bonheur means happiness and what a happy surprise it is to discover a Sauvignon Blanc that isn’t searingly acid! Obviously made from grapes picked at full ripeness, this delightful wine has some subtle tropical fruit flavours, a suggestion of lemon/lime piquancy and a long, juicy finish that invites a second sip. The acidity is there to hold it all together, but it is so understated you actually have to look for it.
Sauvignon Blanc is usually suggested as an accompaniment to sea food dishes and this one will do that with aplomb. I’d prefer to drink it on its own, relaxing on the patio on a warm summer evening. That would give me the opportunity of experiencing all the subtle layers of flavour without competition from elsewhere.

The Dry Land Collection 2012 St Joseph’s Legacy, from Perdeberg

02/02/2015: It seems grapes must struggle and suffer to produce the best wine.
Dry land vineyards have to survive on natural irrigation; ie rain, for their moisture. Irrigate the vines and you get fat, plump berries that contain a great deal of water and you’re likely to end up with a thinnish wine.
Unlike their irrigated neighbours, dry land grapes contain little water and all the flavour and colour is concentrated in, and just next to the skin.
The juice is usually packed with flavour and sugar and tannins.
All this can be tasted in this red blend from Perdeberg.
Made from Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot and Mourvedre it has a complex, rich character packed with dark chocolate, pepper, biltong and spices. There are suggestions of dark cherries and vanilla too.
The bright, but manageable tannins suggest to me that this is a wine to lay down for a couple more years before it reaches its full potential.
I’d serve it with a juicy rare steak or a meaty Italian pasta dish.
Definitely a special occasion drink.

Klaasenbosch Cabernet Sauvignon 2012

21/01/2015: Cabernet Sauvignon is reputed to the be King of the Reds, with Chardonnay as queen of the white wine kingdom.
Sometimes this is true. Not always.
Klaasenbosch’s 2012 Cab certainly has aspirations of royalty.
Actually, I’m rather sorry I opened my bottle when I did. I think it will grow in stature during the next three or four years.
Nonetheless, it’s a great wine even now. This is a Christmas pudding sort of wine, absolutely bulging with dark berry flavours – rich, ripe mulberries, black cherries and berry jam. There’s a pleasing hint of pecan nuts on the palate, too.
It has a lovely velvety texture, soft tannins and a slightly savoury aftertaste.
I’d recommend this as an accompaniment to a meaty Italian dish, or with a juicy rare fillet steak.
Of course, there’s no problem with drinking it on its own (as I did). As I sipped and  savoured, the level of the bottle dropped quite dramatically. Sometimes a wine tastes even better the next day and I managed to leave half the bottle for the following lunch-time.
Great stuff! I think that little extra air made it even better.

Grand Provence Pinot Noir 2013
06/01/2015: Pinot Noir is an interesting grape variety and some winemakers claim it’s a “bugger to work with.” It may lack the gravitas of the Bordeaux varieties, but Pinot repays a little concentrated attention.
The 2013 Grande Provence Pinot Noir arrives quietly on the palate. At first it may seem a little thin and acidic, but after a few seconds other characteristics emerge shyly. There’s some delicate berry fruit there, a nice earthiness and some understated spice. You find yourself taking a another sip, and another, simply to make sure you really did taste that fleeting hint of cinnamon — are was it cloves? Let’s take another sip.
I think this is a wine that will compliment almost any subtly flavoured food, from poultry to seafood.
But more than that, it’s a wine to pour, sit back and savour while listening to some good music — Beethoven rather than Bach, I’d say.


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Tavern of the Seas

Tavern of the Seas readers often ask for details of past issues. To make things easier (and to amuse you… or make you think) past columns will now appear here, roughly two days after they are first printed in the Cape Argus. Thanks to Independent Newspapers for allowing us to do this.

  • Slowly starting to see the treacle trot everywhere

    March 6, 2015 at 6:13 am by David Biggs

    (Published: 4th March 2015)
    An old friend who now lives in America came back to the Cape for a nostalgic holiday recently and after a few days enjoying the city he remarked to me: “I see Cape Town people are still doing the Treacle Trot.”
    I must have looked a bit mystified, because he explained: “There’s a particular way of walking in the Cape. We used to call it the Treacle Trot. It is mostly seen in shop assistants and waiters, although it has spread to pedestrians now, I see.
    “To perfect the Cape Treacle Trot you have to imagine the whole world is covered, knee-deep in thick treacle or syrup. This makes it very hard to move fast. You have to unstick one foot from the syrup, move it forward and then unstick the other foot and move it.” He described a typical encounter with a waitress in a treacle-filled restaurant.
    “You seat yourself at a table and after a while you see this waitress wading slowly toward you, one sticky pace at a time. By the time she reaches your table she’s too exhausted to speak, so she just puts down the menu and stands, panting slightly. ‘What kind of muffins do you have today?’ you ask her and she sighs and says, ‘I’ll go and ask in the kitchen.’
    “Then the manages to re-orient herself in the treacle so she faces the kitchen, and wades away slowly. The Treacle Trot is fine if you have all morning to spare and are not very hungry. If you’re ravenously hungry, bring a sandwich with you to tide you over until your food has been waded to you.”
    I thought he was joking at first, then I began to notice treacle trotters everywhere. In a treacle-filled road in Muizenberg three large women were treacle-trotting in the middle of the road, backs to the traffic. I tried to overtake them , but they were rather traditionally built and occupied the whole lane.
    I tooted gently to warn them I was behind them and they oozed to a gradual standstill, swung round as fast as the syrup would allow, focused on my car and then began the long wade to the sidewalk.
    Traffic had built up behind me, but I noticed all the drivers were very patient. They obviously knew about the Treacle Trot and made allowances for it.
    Many years ago there was a popular American dance step called the cake walk. Everybody was doing it.
    Maybe we could commercialise the Cape Treacle Trot. Commission composers to write appropriate, very, very slow music and hold a Treacle Trot competition called something like Strictly Come Trotting.
    Imagine an annual Treacle Trot Carnival with a procession along Adderley Street starting early on Monday morning and ending at sunset on Friday.
    The possibilities are endless.
    Perhaps I should wade down to the tourism offices and suggest it.

    Continue Reading
  • The game of life is about more than just winning

    March 5, 2015 at 6:42 am by David Biggs

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  • It wouldn’t hurt to return to an era of full houses

    March 4, 2015 at 4:48 am by David Biggs

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  • Cuddle hormone seen as new hangover cure –you feel sexy and ready to party.

    March 3, 2015 at 6:33 am by David Biggs

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     Have 93 more links to previous articles please

    Nederburg 2013 Interviews David Biggs