Thursday 22 February 2018

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Finalists announced for the 2017 Diners Club Winemaker and Young Winemaker of the Year Awards

2017 Diners Club Winemaker of the Year Finalists: Left to right: Niël Groenewald (Bellingham), Christiaan Groenewald (New Cape Wines), Clayton Reabow (Môreson), André Scriven (Rooiberg), De Wet Viljoen (Neethlingshof)

The finalists for the Diners Club Winemaker and Young Winemaker of the Year awards have been announced. Five winemakers have been shortlisted to compete for the prestigious Winemaker of the Year award, while four will vie for the Young Winemaker of the Year title.

Diners Club introduced the Winemaker of the Year award in 1981 to encourage local winemakers to raise the standard of wines produced in South Africa. 17 years later the Young Winemaker of the Year award was introduced to encourage winemakers under the age of 30 to develop their skills, express their individuality, and add to the future prestige of South African wines internationally. These awards, focusing on quality and recognition of excellence, are regarded as the country’s most prestigious and well-respected wine industry competition.

The competition is open to all in the South African wine industry at no cost and consequently this affords all winemakers a shot at the sought-after titles. While other awards focus on just the wine, the Diners Club Winemaker and Young Winemaker of the Year awards celebrate the skills and talent of the vintners. The awards are presented to the winemakers who produce a wine that the judging panel considers to be the best in a specified class. The categories for 2017 are Pinotage single varietal wines for Winemaker of the Year, and White Wines for Young Winemaker of the Year. As in previous years, a few winemakers have been shortlisted for more than one submission.

The field was narrowed down to the nine finalists through rigorous judging over two days by a team of wine gurus, including renowned international judge, William Predhomme.  All the judges agree that it will be a close race for the top prize, a clear indication that the finalist wines are outstanding. Judges examined each wine evaluating appearance, aroma, taste, aftertaste and overall impression.

The 2017 Diners Club Winemaker and Young Winemaker of the Year finalists are:

Winemaker of the Year category: Pinotage

·         André Scriven – Rooiberg Pinotage Reserve 2016

·         Christiaan Groenewald – New Cape Wines – Arendskloof Pinotage 2015 and Eagles Cliff Pinotage 2017

·         Clayton Reabow – Môreson Widowmaker Pinotage 2015

·         De Wet Viljoen – Neethlingshof Pinotage 2016

·         Niël Groenewald – Bellingham Homestead Pinotage 2016

Young Winemaker of the Year category: White Wines

·         Charl Schoeman – Simonsig Roussanne 2016 and Roussanne Marsanne 2016

·         Murray Barlow – Rustenberg Stellenbosch Chardonnay 2016

·         Philip Viljoen – Bon Courage Chardonnay Unwooded 2017 and Noble Late Harvest 2016 (Weisser Riesling/Gewürztraminer)

·         Wade Roger-Lund – Jordan Blanc de Blancs Méthode Cap Classique 2015

The 2017 Diners Club Winemaker of the Year judges

·         William Predhomme

·         Carrie Adams

·         Debi Van Flymen

·         James Pietersen

·         Michael Crossley

·         Nomonde Kubheka

·         Ntsiki Biyela

The winners of both the Winemaker and the Young Winemaker of the Year awards will be announced at a black-tie gala dinner at La Residence Hotel in Franschhoek on 25 November 2017. The winning Winemaker receives R50 000 and the Young Winemaker R25 000. Both winemakers also receive two return air tickets on Delta Airlines to any wine producing region in the USA.

Boschendal bubbles sparkle at the 2017 IWSC

Boschendal Grand Cuvée Brut

There’s nothing better than bubbly to toast a special moment; that satisfying ‘pop’ immediately signifies a joyous occasion or achievement. No doubt, Boschendal will be ‘popping’ its own Boschendal Grande Cuvée Brut 2013 to celebrate the vintage’s win of a sought-after gold at the 2017 International Wine and Spirit Competition (IWSC).

The estate’s acclaimed white wine and MCC maker, Lizelle Gerber, says the accolade means a great deal, “The IWSC is a renowned competition that sets the benchmark for premium vintages around the world so it’s a great honour to win this esteemed award.”

She says it has taken years to perfect the Grande Cuvée Brut 2013, which forms part of Boschendal’s world-class bottle fermented Méthode Cap Classique selection. The MCCs embody vibrancy and depth due to an intensive crafting process which begins already in the vineyard.

Crafted from classic varieties in the time honoured traditional method (Méthode Champenois),The MCCs have extended lees contact that results in a balanced, full and creamy mouth feel with elegant minerality and a seamless finish.

When savouring the award-winning Boschendal Grande Cuvée Brut, Gerber says there’ll be notes of fresh green apple and hints of citrus supported by discreet almond biscotti and brioche – accents typical to the classic bottle-fermented wine style. She suggests the vintage pairs beautifully with good quality smoked salmon or a cream cheese and chive breakfast.

Boschendal’s MCC’s have also been receiving other accolades of late. Some of these include the Jean Le Long Prestige Cuvee 2007 which achieved Top 100 and Double Platinum status in the National Wine Challenge / Top 100 SA Wines, the premier fine-wine only event in SA in late April. The Jean Le Long Prestige Cuvèe Blanc de Blanc 2007, known as the “prestige cuvee” in Boschendal’s Méthode Cap Classique range, received Gold at the Old Mutual Trophy Wine Show earlier this year.

Staying on the gold streak, the Boschendal Brut NV was announced this week as having won Gold at the Six Nations Wine Challenge 2017. The Six Nations Wine Challenge is a Global Wine Events Platform delivering a rare & exclusive opportunity to all participating wine estates, media & partners by identifying, recognising & show-casing to both trade and consumers the very best of the best ‘NEW WORLD WINES’ & promoting their outstanding quality, diversity & richness annually.

www.boschendal.com

A (relatively) rare sighting

The Cape Leopard Trust team show off their new t-shirts at Leopard's Leap Family Vineyards.

Spotting a leopard in the wild is a rare and special experience. A sighting apparently almost as rare is to find the entire Cape Leopard Trust (CLT) team in one place! On Thursday, 14 September, this rare occurrence actually happened, when the ten members of the Cape Leopard Trust team met at Leopard’s Leap Family Vineyards. The venue was particularly appropriate, as Leopard’s Leap is one of the Trust’s main sponsors.

The reason for this unusual gathering was to bring together the usually widely-dispersed research, education and administrative teams for a group photo, and to showcase the new t-shirt range. It was also a valuable opportunity for a catch up in person rather than via Skype, and a chance to welcome the newest team member, Ismail Wambi to the fold.  The stylish, new t-shirts are part of a new merchandise range that will shortly be available for sale on the CLT website as part of a green gifting campaign.

The Cape Leopard Trust is an active predator conservation working group with projects in Cape Town, the Boland and the Cederberg. It uses research and environmental education as a tool for empowering conservation, finding solutions to human-wildlife conflict. Since its inception in 2004 it has become an authority on predator conservation not only in the Cape, but also nationally.

www.capeleopard.org.za

Sidwell Yarrow: New La Petite Ferme chef

New La Petite Ferme Chef, Sidwell Yarrow

La Petite Ferme is a Cape Winelands tourism institution. With accommodation, a restaurant and boutique winery it has been offering many a seasoned traveller the complete winelands experience. The secret behind La Petite Ferme’s many successful years is the ability to re-invent itself and keep delivering a relevant and high quality product to each visitor while still keeping its welcoming and heart-warming hospitality at the core.

Where the big dogs are

The interior of the Big Dog Cafe shows off industrial materials.

As I walk through the glass doors of the café on a wintry July morning, droplets pattering on the paved walkway, I feel as though I have strolled into something very, very special.  On entering I am greeted by the dark, alluring scent of freshly ground coffee beans, with wisps of vanilla silking through the air.  At the counter to my left a barista is bustling, working magic.  Water droplets condense on a carafe with lemon water.  The smell of something decadent from the kitchen.  In the garden a willow tree blows listlessly in the wind.  But inside, it is warm, welcoming and friendly. Michael, the owner, is even more so.

Roll out the barrels!

Barrel rolling champions Marchelle Johnson and Keanu Rhode in action at the DSTV Franschhoek Bastille Festival.

The DStv Franschhoek Bastille Festival on 15 and 16 July, was Franschhoek’s 24th Bastille Festival. On the Saturday the weather was wet and wintery and although the village stalls were poorly patronised, rain did not stop play at the marquee.

Rickety Bridge’s Foundation Stone Range

This experimental craft range, which winemaker Wynand Grobler particularly enjoys making, is adorned with a creative, eye-catching label reflecting Wynand’s innovative approach to the three wines. The blends are constantly evolving, being tweaked by Wynand every year. Although they say you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, the intricate label, designed by the talented Fanakalo team, may make you wonder at what’s within. Chances are that you’ll like what you find!

Boschendal white wine best in SA

Boschendal’s Appellation Series – Elgin 2015 Chardonnay has been awarded the Best Elgin Chardonnay Trophy, Best Chardonnay Trophy and ultimately the Best White Wine of South Africa Trophy at the 2017 International Wine Challenge (IWC).  Additionally, Boschendal was awarded Gold for its Elgin Pinot Noir 2015 at the IWC and to add to these impressive awards – it was also announced that Boschendal has garnered Gold at the prestigious Decanter World Wine Awards (DWWA) for its Boschendal Elgin Sauvignon Blanc 2016 and Boschendal 1685 Shiraz 2015.

La Petite Colombe set to open soon

La Petite Colombe promises a surprise or two...

As one era ends another commences.  With The Tasting Room at Le Quartier Français having closed recently La Petite Colombe will take its place from 1 August.  La Petite Colombe is a new partnership between the Leeu Collection and the proprietor chefs of La Colombe, Scot Kirton (Eat Out Chef of the Year 2015) and James Gaag.

Thumbs up for Tracey’s Hoedown

Hoedown host, Tracey Kirsten, with members of the Uncorked band.

Tracey’s Hoedown on 13 May was a sell-out success. Generous Franschhoekers and their friends took up all the seats at the fund-raising barn dance held to raise funds for the Franschhoek Theatre. This theatre will open in the renovated and re-purposed Centenary Library of Franschhoek High School and will serve as a multi-purpose venue, including movie screenings and day conferences, while also housing the school archive. 

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