Food Chefs and memories

My day has been made. My bell rang, donned on my mask and went to the gate in my fluffy Woolies pjs and slippers to receive my lockdown order of his latest book Mile 8 from David Higgs the funds of which are going towards paying his staff at his restaurant during lockdown. I am bowled over and when I saw the message inside, David, you made my day. The DHL guys were so friendly too.

My secret love when working at WINE magazine was working on the Eat Beat columns sourcing photos etc and on Top 100 Restaurant Guide with the wonderful Jos Baker who is now 83 and later DINE with Justine Drake and Anna Trapido.

I loved getting to know the chefs and organising the awards lunches in Cape Town and Pretoria or Johannesburg.
These lunches went on forever having so many chefs in one room. I had the honour to meet amazing people some of whom I feel I can count as friends.

I cried when I heard of the passing of young Bruce Robertson, Francke Zlomke & Bruno and Lannice Snyman, the whole culinary fraternity went into mourning, I have rejoiced when I have seen chefs being awarded accolades and become angry when chefs are berated in the media or on social media. I have had the honour to see how hard they work and their passion they put into serving us, their guests in their pride and joys.

I have been treated to some most amazing meals that will always be in my memories. Those phone calls from the likes of David and many others inviting myself and hubby to dinner in their new restaurant for nothing in return as I am not a journalist, I was and hopefully still am the person in the background organising and ensuring the events ran smoothly.

My memories of many meals enjoyed at the Grande Roche and the evening Francke made me a very special truffle soup because I don’t eat sweet breads. The meals at Meerendal and Rust en Vrede when David was there. The amazing meals at Awards lunches at Overture by Bertus Basson, the many gorgeous meals at Reubens by Riffel Reuben, Aubergine (Harald Bresselschmidt), Mount Nelson (Rudi Liebenberg), One.Waterfront (Bruce Robertson), Westcliffe Jhb, Le Canard (Madame Appelbaum), Den Anker (Rejeanne Vlietman & Doekle Vlietman), Cassis, Quartier Francaise (Margot Janse), Oude Welgemoed (David Grier), The Greenhouse (Peter Tempelhoff), Catharina’s (Garth Almazan ), Bread & Wine (Neil & Tina Jewell) La Colombe (Franck Dangereux & Luke Dale Roberts), Au Jardin and Joosteberg Bistro (Christophe and Susan deHosse) and the list goes on. The way my colleague and I were welcomed by Fortunato Mazzone in Pretoria and were even treated to join him and his family for Sunday lunch the day before the awards lunch. This is what makes our chefs so special. The day I called Peter Goffe-Wood and asked him if he could cook for me at Dave Hughes Tribute dinner and how he, Reuben, George and Bertus who generously cooked delicious courses at no charge. The other chefs who came on board for the other Dave Hughes dinners, Colin Archibald Maclean, Vanie Padayachee, David Mac Donald, Brendan Stein and Lulu Oosthuizen and Garth Johnson all these chefs gave their time and talent free of charge to assist me in raising funds for such an iconic man. Sadly I cannot find a photo of the chefs at Dave’s 80th Birthday. Never forgetting Neethlingsof Estate and Allan Ware and his team.

Just had to mention the day I contacted Pete Goffe-Wood and David Higgs just before Christmas and asked them to send a video message to a little girl I know who was spending Christmas in hospital. She had watched them on TV. There was no hesitation – they took time out of their busy lives and filmed beautiful messages which was sent to her. Thank you guys.

When the call for food for the needy came, all these wonderful people stepped up to the plate and started feeding the nation.

Please support these wonderful people by purchasing their take away meals and when the lockdown is lifted please support their restaurants. Give them wonderful reviews so that when the tourists return to our shores they will support them too.

Thank you for the memories past and future.

These are our celebrities – our wonderful chefs in the kitchens of some world class kitchens dotted all over South Africa and abroad.


The 5th Cabernet Franc Challenge impressed with 52 entries (the same number as in 2019), with many wines entered by previous participants and a few new wineries who took the plunge this year. Winners were announced in the Top 6 Category, the Blends Category and the Vintage Category.  A Best Value Winner was also again selected by the organisors.  Thirty-Six additional Gold medals were awarded across all categories as well.

The Top 6 winners (in alphabetical order) are:  Anthology Cabernet Franc 2017, David Finlayson Camino Africana Cabernet Franc 2017, High Constantia Cabernet Franc 2012, Rainbow’s End Limited Release Cabernet Franc 2018, Rietvallei JMB Cabernet Franc 2016 and Whalehaven Cabernet Franc 2015

Cape Wine Master and head of the judging panel since the start of the competition,  Christine Rudman commented about the geographical spread of entries; “Once again Stellenbosch, with the most plantings, dominated, but Franschhoek and Paarl had a significant number of entries. The rest came from Robertson, Darling, Elgin, Bot River, Constantia, Cape Town/Durbanville, Wellington and Coastal. Of the 31 producers represented, 13 entered more than one wine, showing a growing Cabernet Franc specialisation.”

The vintage winner for this year is My Wyn Cabernet Franc 2012 from Franschhoek, which was supported by excellent Gold Medal entrants in this category. The panel was particularly impressed by the 6 older wines (vintages 2012 – 2015), proving just how well Cabernet Franc with good credentials can age. The wines were delicious, in perfect drinking condition, yet still had a cellaring future.

Three winners emerged in the Blends Category. They are Landskroon Paul Hugo Red 2018, Morgenster Lourens River Valley 2011 and Warwick Trilogy 2016.  The Best Value Award was given to Ondine Cabernet Franc 2015 by Darling stalwart Ormonde Vineyards, which retails at R115 per bottle.

The judging panel was made up of Christine Rudman, Lizette Tolken, Greg Mutambe, Fiona McDonald and Malu Lambert.  Christine explains a bit more about the judging procedure: “Judging out of 100, the panellists were given no origin or vintage information, except being told the category – older wines, blends, main entries. The only discussion permitted was after the tasting, where general comments were asked for.”

“In the main judging category, the panel looked for attributes that define the variety, giving it uniquely its own personality. There were fewer herbaceous notes across the range than in 2019, a reflection of the vintages, mainly 2017, with some 2018 and 2016. The best wines had balance, elegance, suppleness and complexity, showing layers of fruit and tertiary perfumes and flavours,” she commented.

The judging took place at Cab Franc Carnival 2020 sponsor and venue host Vrede en Lust Estate in Simondium on Tuesday, 17 March.  The results were independently audited and verified by Cecil Kilpin & Co. The Top 6 can be tasted in two tutored tasting sessions at this year’s Cab Franc Carnival, which takes place at Vrede en Lust Estate on Saturday, 22 August from 11h00-16h00. Tickets for the event and the intimate tutored tasting sessions can be purchased from


Anthology Cabernet Franc 2017

David Finlayson Camino Africana Cabernet Franc 2017

High Constantia Cabernet Franc 2012

Rainbow’s End Limited Release Cabernet Franc 2018

Rietvallei JMB Cabernet Franc 2016

Whalehaven Cabernet Franc 2015


My Wyn Cabernet Franc 2012


Landskroon Paul Hugo Red 2018

Morgenster Lourens River Valley 2011

Warwick Trilogy 2016


Ondine Cabernet Franc 2015


Chamonix Cabernet Franc 2016

Druk My Niet Cabernet Franc 2014

High Constantia Cabernet Franc 2015

Hillcrest Saartjie Single Vineyard Cabernet Franc 2018

Jordan Cabernet Franc 2018

Journey’s End V5 Cabernet Franc 2017

Kleinhoekkloof Cabernet Franc 2016

KWV The Mentors Cabernet Franc 2017

KWV The Mentors Cabernet Franc 2018

Leipzig Cabernet Franc 2019

Linton Park Louis Fourie Reserve Cabernet Franc 2017

Lisha Nelson Cabernet Franc 2018

Mitre’s Edge Cabernet Franc 2017

Mont du Toit Les Coteaux Cabernet Franc 2017

Môreson Cabernet Franc 2017

Morgenster Cabernet Franc 2018

My Wyn Cabernet Franc 2016

Raats Dolomite Cabernet Franc 2017

Raats Dolomite Cabernet Franc 2018

Raats Family Cabernet Franc 2016

Raats Family Cabernet Franc 2017

Rainbow’s End Cabernet Franc 2017

Rainbow’s End Cabernet Franc 2018

Ridgeback Cabernet Franc 2016

Ridgeback Cabernet Franc 2017

Vrede en Lust Artisan Range Cabernet Franc 2016

Whalehaven Cabernet Franc 2014

Wildekrans Reserve Barrel Select Cabernet Franc 2018


Holden Manz Reserve Cabernet Franc 2015

Rietvallei JMB Cabernet Franc 2014

Whalehaven Cabernet Franc 2013


Chamonix Troika 2017

Landskroon Cabernet Franc Merlot 2018

My Wyn Les Grandes Horizontales 2016

Raats Jasper Red Blend 2017

Ridgeback Journey 2017

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.  

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


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 as only 20 seats are available per session.  For more information about the Carnival and the tasting sessions visit

Gold Medal Winners


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