Limited Experience – Chef & Wine Dinner

As today is 2019 nearing an end and 2020 is just 12 hours away, we thought we would organise a wonderful collaboration between Chef Craig Cormack and the wine of Mitre’s Edge winner of the first Malbec Challenge.

Mitre’s Edge is a family owned and run winery on the R44 on the Klapmuts side of Stellenbosch.  You will drive along a winding dirt road banked with vineyards until you reach the brick road.  At the top of the brick road is the residence of the owners Lola and Bernard Nicholls. It is a beautiful Manor which has an underground cellar and beautiful family history.

The home is inhabited by the family and their dogs ranging from wolf hounds to a pug.  https://www.mitres-edge.co.za/  

Lola and Bernard along with the Goose Roasters invite you to enjoy an evening of amazing wines paired with gorgeous food prepared by the Chef and his team.

Malbec Challenge 2019 Awards

On Tuesday December 3rd , the five gold medallists of the 2019 Malbec Challenge were announced at a function at The Wood Mill in Stellenbosch. The winning wines were Mitre’s Edge 2017 (also the top scorer); Blake’s Single Vineyard 2018 (only to be released in 2020); Bizoe Idioglossla 2017; Bellevue 2016 and Neethingshof 2013.

The Challenge judging by a panel of five tasters using the international 100 point system had taken place on November12th. The panel, chaired by Cape Wine Master Christine Rudman, consisted of Anton Swarts, Cape Wine Master and senior winemaker at Spier in Stellenbosch; award-winning wine and food writer Malu Lambert; Nomonde Kubheka ex-KWV winemaker and currently training facilitator for Winetech; and sommelier/wine writer Barry Scholfield.

There were 26 entries, just under half of all the single varietal Malbec bottlings on the market.

When asked what had inspired them to plant Malbec, the answers from the winemakers had a common theme, either for it to be part of the classic 5-variety Bordeaux blend, in the case of Lola Nicholls of Mitre’s Edge and Wilhelm Kritzinger of Bellevue, or because they had visited countries where Malbec is widely grown and were impressed by it.

Andries Blake of Blake Family Wines’ love affair with Malbec started about 10 years ago on a visit to Argentina, while Rikus Neethling of Bizoe remembers  the variety from a trip to Buenos Aires, deciding there and then to include it in their range. Bizoe buys in grapes, which for the winning 2017 vintage came from Swartland and Stellenbosch. De Wet Viljoen’s discovery was in the Cahors in France, where he and his wife went for their honeymoon.

A juicy, soft-skinned variety, Malbec requires care in the vineyard to avoid over-cropping or sunburn damage, and in the cellar quick and careful fermentation to prevent oxidation. The winning wines used either only older oak or a combination of new and used barrels, to showcase the succulent drinkability part of its character.

Plantings are still small, well under 1% of vineyards, and production is limited, except for Bellevue which is also to be found in Woolworths.

The competition has a generous sponsor, RX South Africa, agents of Tonnellerie de Mercurey wine barrels, an internationally respected family-owned specialist business based in France. The oak comes from three different forests, to create a wide range of barrel styles and qualities for international wine cellar requirements, with the stave mill located in Champagne.

Mitre’s Edge’s prize is a free new barrel, size of their choice, while all participants in the competition have been offered a 7.5% discount on barrel purchases for the 2020 season. In addition, funding was provided for the Awards function.

Finally, on a personal note, the Idioglossla part of Bizoe Malbec’s name refers to the language of twins, the 6 year-old boys of Rikus and Estalet Neethling, while Andries Blake has named his second boat Malbec, a name his first boat also carried.

and the sponsors’ are:

and the winner is: Mitre’s Edge for their Malbec 2017

and the Gold Medallists are:

Bellevue Malbec 2016
Bizoe Idioglossla Malbec 2017
Blake’s Single Vineyard Malbec 2018
Neethingshof Malbec 2013

Wilhelm Kritzinger winemaker – Bellevue Estate
Rikus Neethling Winemaker/Owner – Bizoe Wines
Marinda Blake – Blake’s Family Vineyards
De Wet Viljoen – Winemaker Neethlingshof Estate

and the Silver Medallists are:

Sonklip Malbec 2017
Ondine Malbec 2018
Diemersfontein Woolworths Reserve Malbec 2017
Kevin King BBK 2016
Diemersdal Malbec 2017
Benguela Cove Malbec 2017
Stellekaya Malbec 2018
Blake’s Malbec 2018
Neethlingshof Malbec 2018
Vergenoegd Löw Malbec 2015
Diemersfontein Carpe Diem Malbec 2017
Stellekaya Malbec 2017
Le Pommier Jonathan’s Malbec 2018
Perdeberg The Vineyard Collection Malbec 2018
Diemersdal Malbec 2018

Malbec Challenge 2019

The Malbec Challenge Wine Competition 2019

Responding to producer requests, Celia Gilloway of Events by Celia organised a Malbec tasting competition which was judged on November 12th at Mitre’s Edge in Stellenbosch by an experienced panel of five. There were 26 entries out of the 55 single bottlings listed in the 2020 Platter Guide, making it admirably well-subscribed for its first appearance. The winners will be announced at an Awards lunch presided over by Chef Craig Cormack, at The Wood Mill in Stellenbosch on Tuesday December 3rd.

The judging was done blind with no origin or vintage revealed, using the international 100 point system and was overseen by an auditor from Cecil Kilpin & Co. There were five gold medals awarded, which included a clear winner, and 15 silvers. Entries came mainly from Stellenbosch and its wards, and also from Darling, Elgin, Walker Bay, Franschhoek, Paarl, Cape Town/Durbanville, Coastal and Western Cape.

The panel, chaired by Cape Wine Master Christine Rudman, consisted of Anton Swarts, Cape Wine Master and senior winemaker at Spier in Stellenbosch; award-winning wine and food writer Malu Lambert; Nomonde Kubheka ex-KWV and currently training facilitator for Winetech and the Pinotage Youth Development Academy; and sommelier/wine writer Barry Scholfield. There was consensus on the top five wines, and all the other scores fell within a narrow band.

The competition has a generous sponsor, RX South Africa, agents of Tonnellerie de Mercury wine barrels, an internationally respected family-owned specialist business based in France. The oak comes from three different forests, to create a wide range of barrel styles and qualities for international wine cellar requirements, with the stave mill located in Champagne.

The winning Malbec’s producer gets a free new barrel, size of their choice, while all participants in the competition have been offered a 7.5% discount on barrel purchases for the 2020 season. In addition, funding has been provided for the Awards function.

Cabernet Franc Challenge 2019

QUALITY WINES DELIGHT IN THIS YEAR’S CAB FRANC CHALLENGE

The 4th Cabernet Franc Challenge once again highlighted quality wines produced by some of South Africa’s most passionate winemakers.  Showcasing all price classes and styles, the range will suit discerning palates and satisfy every type of wallet.   The awards ceremony took place on 16 April at Franschhoek Estate and regular star performer in this competition, Holden Manz Estate.

The judging panel was once again headed by Cape Wine Master and international wine judge, Christine Rudman who commented; “The panel was in complete agreement that the line-up of wines showed an improvement on last year, an astonishing quality jump on what was already at a high standard, resulting in a record number of Golds being awarded. Of particular note was the lithe elegance, the harmony and balance of the wines, with careful use of oak. Despite showing great presence and being impressively complex and multi-layered, they had enough succulence to make them delicious to drink even young. Yet the vintage class showed just how well they could age.”

The Top 6 wines for this year’s competition are in alphabetical order:  Hillcrest Saartjie Cabernet Franc 2017, Holden Manz Cabernet Franc 2017, Lisha Nelson Cabernet Franc 2017, Mulderbosch Vineyards with their 2015 and 2016 Cabernet Francs and Raats Dolomite Cabernet Franc 2016. 

The Top 6 will be exclusively available from Wine of the Month Club as a mixed pack after the awards are made public.

The Top 3 Blends were Landskroon Cabernet Franc/Merlot 2017, Morgenster Lourens River Valley 2012 and My Wyn Les Grandes Horizontales 2015.  The Vintage Category winner is Ormonde Private Cellar Ondine Cabernet Franc 2014. 

From the 2018 Challenge onwards, the panel selected a Value winner, a wine which offers the best value for money and this year it goes to Bushmanspad Estate Cabernet Franc 2015, which retails at R130 per bottle.

Continuing her summary of this year’s judging experience, Christine said;  “The majority of the wines came from the 2015 and 2016 vintages, both acknowledged as particularly good for red wine. As in previous years, Stellenbosch supplied most of the Golds, just under half, which is understandable as it has the most Cabernet Franc plantings. The rest came from Franschhoek, Paarl, Wellington, Elgin, Darling and Robertson. “

The Top 6 Challenge winners can be tasted at this year’s Cabernet Franc Carnival which takes place at Avontuur Estate on Saturday, 18 May.  Christine Rudman will present three tutored tasting sessions , which must be pre-booked via the Carnival ticket site www.plankton.mobi as only 20 seats are available per session.  For more information about the Carnival and the tasting sessions visit www.cvomarketing.co.za

Gold Medal Winners

Vintage

Dombeya Cabernet Franc 2014 1.5L , Holden Manz Cabernet Franc 2014, Rietvallei JMB Cabernet Franc 2011 1.5L

Cabernet Franc Single Varietal

Anthology Cabernet Franc 2016, Bushmanspad Cabernet Franc 2015, David Finlayson Cabernet Franc 2016, Doolhof Single Vineyard Cabernet Franc 2017, Idiom 900 Series Cabernet Franc 2015, Jordan Cabernet Franc 2015, KWV The Mentors Cabernet Franc 2017, Mitre’s Edge Cabernet Franc 2015, Morgenster Cabernet Franc 2016, My Wyn Cabernet Franc 2016, Raats Family Cabernet Franc 2016, Rainbow’s Edge Cabernet Franc 2017, REBUS Cabernet Franc 2015, Ridgeback Cabernet Franc 2015, Rietvallei JMB Cabernet Franc 2015, The Garajeest Bruce Cabernet Franc 2015, Vrede en Lust Artisan Range Cabernet Franc 2016, Whalehaven Cabernet Franc 2014, Whalehaven Cabernet Franc 2015

Cabernet Franc Led Blends

Landskroon Paul Hugo Red 2017, Mitre’s Edge Blend 2016, REBUS Fanfaronne 2015, Warwick Trilogy 2015

Dave Hughes Tribute Auction Dinners

A few years ago I was asked to organise a tribute for Dave Hughes, it was a pleasure and the response was so huge, that we had three events to celebrate his 79th and 80th birthdays, as well as another dinner just to accommodate those who couldn’t attend the first dinner due being fully booked. We received support from all over the world and the generosity of the industry was amazing as Oom Dave is much loved and respected in the wine and spirit industry. The meal was prepared by the wonderful chefs: Pete Goffe-Wood, Reuben Riffel, Bertus Basson and George Jardine. The auctioneer was the amazing Mike Ratcliffe. The night came to an end with a piper playing some of Dave’s favorite tunes. The venue was Neethlingshof Restaurant.

Dave Hughes needs very little introduction.

Born on 12 June 1938 in what is now Zimbabwe, the veteran South African winemaker, distiller, journalist, author, consultant and judge started his career in 1956 as an apprentice at African Distillers. Successfully filling several positions before moving to South Africa in 1968, when he was appointed operations manager at Stellenbosch Farmers Winery, he subsequently headed up the company’s marketing and consumer relations before going freelance in 1989.

Needless to say, this brief career summary does no justice to the impact Dave has had on the South African wine industry – and in defining South Africa’s role on the world stage – right back to and including the Apartheid years of isolationism. A driving force behind the establishment of the Nederburg Auction in 1974, and a founder of the Cape Wine Academy in 1979, the role he has played in flying the South African flag at international wine education conferences as well as at the International Wine & Spirits Competition, over several decades, is immeasurable.

Dave’s encyclopaedic knowledge and tasting skills are acknowledged worldwide. In 2001 he was invited to join Worshipful Company of Distillers, the first non-resident of Britain to receive this honour since the guild was formed in 1638. In 2002 he was made a Freeman of the City of London, and in 2003 he was named a Keeper of the Quaich by the Scotch Whisky Association.

Of far greater importance to Dave, however, is that he counts many luminaries of the global wine fraternity as friends rather than as mere colleagues.

Married to Lorna, a wine farmer, the former Rhodesian rugby, water polo, hockey and basketball player has completed ten Comrades Marathons and walked the Fish River Canyon, the Camino de Santiago in Spain, and the entire length of the river Spey in Scotland (171km).

While osteoporosis, a hip replacement and 3 minor strokes have slowed him down considerably in recent times, one thing is certain: the South African wine industry would not be where it is today without Dave Hughes.

Without further ado, let us raise our glasses!

A fairytale Scottish wedding in a Cape forest

Cameron & Nicci, 2019

Last year in Feb I was approached by Cameron and Nicci to assist with the organising and decor of their wedding. It was a wonderful experience as they knew exactly what they wanted and we just needed to make it a reality. We started with venue choice and narrowed it down to two, then I compiled a budget and comparison list and De Uijlenes was definitely the best choice.

I have written a short piece about the wedding:

A beautiful Scottish Wedding in the forest in Gansbaai
On 9th January 2019 two beautiful young people were joined in matrimony at the stunning venue De Uijlenes just outside of Gansbaai.
The ceremony took place in the forest on the property and it was absolutely surreal. Sitting under the canopy of branches and leaves the guests enjoyed the beautiful ceremony. 


The handsome young man and his grooms men in their Black Watch tartan kilts stood waiting for the beautiful maidens dressed in stunning green skirts with lace tops and flower crowns followed by the beautiful spellbinding bride who entered the forest accompanied by her father and escorted by a highland piper.
The ceremony went smoothly and the couple said their own vows to each other which were sealed with the exchanging of rings and a kiss. After the couple signed the register, the guests made a guard of honour down the winding path amongst the trees and scattered lavender and popcorn on the newly wedded couple.
Whilst the guests were waiting for the couple to have their photos taken, they were entertained with a few more tunes by the piper. A creaking, under the weight of the food, harvest table was filled with beautiful homemade breads, pates and various other yummy snacks. The liquid refreshments were two interesting cocktails, beers and cooldrinks. All of this was overseen by the friendly staff of the venue. The waiting area was decorated with white bunting and pots with flowers, hanging frames and paper butterflies.


Once the photos were taken, we all made our way to the reception hall. The Hall is quite rustic but very welcoming. It was decorated with penny gum and small succulent plants, white lisianthus, michaelmas daisies and stunning gold vinyl records. Once again the butterflies were featured on the name place cards and in between the flowers and little succulent plants. The stunning three tier chocolate cake decorated with berries was absolutely beautiful, this was placed on the dessert table. On the gift table was a photo of the happy couple cut into a puzzle and messages were written on the back of each piece of puzzle which once again confirms that all the friends and family attending the wedding are part of the puzzle of Cameron and Nicci’s future as a married couple.
Once seated and the glowing couple had taken their seats the MC Iain Meiklejohn welcomed everybody and gave a brief rundown of the order of events. During the course of the reception there were various speeches made by Nicci’s childhood friend and one of the groomsmen as well as Nicci’s dad and Cameron’s dad. There was a lot of laughter and fun during the whole wedding celebration.
The friendly waiters served a small delicious salad followed by the plated main course which was a crumbed chicken breast stuffed with bacon, feta and thyme served with mushroom or cheese sauce, large potato wedges, glazed carrots, butternut and peas. The plates of food were huge and tasty. The service was prompt, friendly and professional.
Dessert was a buffet of delicious peppermint tarts, lemon meringue tarts, chocolate biscuits and brownies as well as slices of the delicious chocolate wedding cake. I really need to find out how they kept the tart crusts so crispy.
The liquid refreshments were a selection of the wines on the tables – ice buckets at request, a local Cap Classique and a cash bar. The bar was well stocked and reasonably priced. Tea and Coffee was also available. At the end of the reception a huge bowl of the groom’s favourite breakfast Fruit Loops was made available to be eaten as a snack.
The elevated dance floor was well used and the curtain of fairy lights on the wall made it stunning. The first dance by the couple was beautiful as was the dancing groomsmen and bridesmaids with their various partners. The mother – son and father – daughter dance was also stunning and quite moving. Cameron did an amazing job of retrieving the garter with his teeth.
After 12am the reception venue was closed but the party and celebrations went on, on the patio with a roaring fire in the fire pit. It was very pleasant with music and croaking frogs in the dam.
The following morning we were all treated to a delicious breakfast of scrambled eggs, roasted tomatoes, mushrooms and bacon as well as a table filled with homemade breads and preserves. Tea, coffee and juice.
As the wedding was in Gansbaai most of the guests stayed over in the accommodation provided. The accommodation was rustic but very clean and comfortable.
The evening before the wedding the guests who supplied their own meat, were treated to a braai and salads. It was very enjoyable and a great way to get to know the guests.
Overall the venue, management and staff were very accommodating, friendly and had a “can do” attitude. The whole two days were well run and I would recommend this venue to any bride looking for a rustic fairy-tale forest venue.
The costs were very reasonable and the quality of food and service was great. If you are looking for venue serving fine dining this is not the venue for you, but if you are looking for good wholesome tasty fayre where your guests are well fed and served in a friendly manner this is definitely the venue.
I wish the lovely couple everything of the very best for their future and thank them for allowing myself and my husband to be part of their stunning wedding.


Photographer Marcelle Wortmann