Thursday 13 December 2018

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Colmant Cap Classique & Champagne celebrates its first decade

2006 was the year NASA launched its New Horizons space probe mission to Pluto. It was also the year in which conservationist Steve Irwin fatally tangled with a sting ray, violent protests were sparked by satirical cartoons published in a Danish publication and Google snapped up YouTube for $1.65 billion.

Meanwhile, in Franschhoek, Belgian couple Jean-Phillipe (JP) and Isabelle Colmant undertook the first harvest at the smallholding they relocated to in 2002.

Explore Boschendal – with Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth

Explore Boschendal by carriage with Queen Elizabeth and Queen Victoria

Boschendal offers all that you’d expect of a wine estate – restaurants, wine tasting, picnics – and then some!  Also on offer are half and whole day spa treatments, walking and mountain bike excursions (on 30 km of new trails), fly fishing – and horse riding.  It can be stated quite categorically here that if ever there was an enthusiastic team it is that which now runs the equestrian activities.

The equestrian team is headed by Hans Mbalula and his brother Petrus.  Hans was formerly a barman at Boschendal’s deli/Werf restaurant/picnics), but on hearing Boschendal’s CEO discussing the pros and cons of riding and related activities on the estate he immediately volunteered to give up bartending and to run this new initiative.

It transpired that he had, in fact, been raised on a Free State farm and as a boy had ridden regularly before and after school to carry out a variety of farm duties such as cattle and sheep herding.  He had, too, it was discovered, learned early on how to win the confidence and calm down a wild horse so that within a few days (often in fact within one day) he could saddle and ride it without any of the bronco busting histrionics of the Wild West’s cowboys.  He had also learned how to put horses into harness to pull a cart or a plough, again using a minimum of force and a maximum of coaxing.

Boschendal now has 13 horses, including a few Shetland ponies, the majority of which are massive Shire horses, Friesians, Clydesdales and Percherons, all of them giants of the horsey world – they grow to 16 hands or more.  Being immensely strong, they are capable of carrying a 100 kg or 110 kg rider in armchair comfort.  Surprisingly, however, they are also quite exceptionally gentle so that, despite their size, they can be and sometimes are ridden by quite small children.  A few lucky riders are offered the opportunity to mount these massive horses, but most of Boschendal’s outrides are done with well-trained smaller horses.

Today the Boschendal horses can be hired for outrides and these usually take the visitor into unspoilt conservation fynbos territory where waterbuck and eland have been introduced by Boschendal’s owners.  For those prepared to rise early Boschendal offers a breakfast ride in its extensive conservation territory with delicious eggs, bacon and mushrooms cooked over an open fire.  The rides can last up to three hours and afford the visitor a total escape from the overcrowded mechanised world.

Shire horses are, however, at their most impressive when they are acting as draught animals.  Their huge size make it possible for them easily to pull carts, the weight of which would bring lesser horses, even fully trained hackneys, to their knees.

At Boschendal the management now offers visitors one-hour cart rides almost daily. The carriage can take a small number of adults and a larger number of children.  Passengers sit on a beautifully restored 19th-century landau and this gives them a tranquil lovely way to see the estate and to watch these big horses working so willingly.  The foremost carriage pair are black Friesian mares.  They are sisters and are named Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth.  Their names are appropriate because they exude a patrician, almost regal ambience, as if aware that they are several cuts above today’s typical livery stable animals.

Booking is essential for a carriage ride, but, as Samantha Lundie, wife of the CEO of Boschendal who is closely involved with this operation, has said, “An overnight visit to Boschendal these days is incomplete without a carriage ride – it somehow epitomises all that the estate stands for.”

horses@boschendal.co.za | 021 870 4211

Petite and Pretty

Sarah Eichler, Miss Petite South Africa 2018

Sarah Ruth Eichler (8) who lives outside Franschhoek on the R301 was recently crowned Miss Petite South Africa 2018 in Pretoria. In May next year she is invited to attend the Little Miss Universe pageant in Turkey.

This is how it happened. Last year Sarah was selected to represent the Western Cape as a Mr & Miss Junior South Africa 2018 finalist. She was one of nine 7 to 8 year olds from around the country in the Miss Petite age group. At the pageant the contestants were judged in different categories: casual wear, evening wear and interviews, and for fun there was also a themed wear round for which the organisers chose ‘Futuristic Sci-Fi’ as a theme this year. Sarah went as a futuristic ballerina.

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!

Klein Handjies Preschool on the up and up

Klein Handjies graduation 2016

“Change the first five years and you can change anything.”

History, says Lynette Carolissen, principal of the Klein Handjies Preschool at Boschendal, may well show that the decision by Boschendal’s new owners to support this preschool was the most beneficial of all the changes and improvements that they have brought about since taking over the estate in 2012.

The school is an initiative by the Franschhoek estates Solms-Delta and Boschendal.  It moved to its new buildings on the Boschendal estate a few months ago and here its numbers have been augmented by children from the Boschendal community.

Lynette has been a nursery school teacher for most of her life but, she says, the Klein Handjies Preschool, which currently has 51 children aged from three months to five years, is far and away the best she has ever been involved with. She says there are six main reasons for this.

These are:

·         It is set in a clean, calm, beautiful farm environment well away from the big towns and cities which can have negative, harmful influences on young children.

·         It has sufficient staff (seven in all) and this means that great attention can be paid to the individual.

·         It has spacious and adequate floor areas in beautifully refurbished cottages, the quality of which is appreciated not only by the children but by the parents and staff.

·         It is well equipped with books, art materials, educational toys (which are regularly changed and updated), stationery, a playground with its own vegetable garden (maintained by the older children) and a jungle gym.

·         It feeds its children throughout the day with breakfasts, morning teas, lunches and afternoon snacks.  What is more, the food is healthy and nutritious, most of it emanating from Boschendal’s farms and much of it also prepared in Boschendal’s Werf Restaurant.

·         Most importantly, it makes full use of Preschool for Africa’s Play with a Purpose Programme.  The Play with a Purpose systems and educational kits were introduced in 1991, were developed in South Africa and are widely considered to be ground-breaking in child development initiatives. The programme is based on a neuro-scientific framework and behaviour-based theories originally developed by Professor James Heckman, who won a Nobel Prize for his work in this field. He was able to show that the economic return on investment in Early Childhood Development (ECD) was up to 17 times greater than the same investment in high school education. Prof Heckman’s findings have validated the Play With A Purpose approach, showing that the human brain develops and learns more in the first five years of the child’s existence than at any later stage.  If, therefore, children are exposed to interesting, stimulating activities at this stage their chances of coping with later educational demands, even under very difficult conditions such as overcrowding, will be much improved.

“Play With A Purpose programmes were introduced to Gauteng some 25 years ago by Robin Wieland, who still heads up the Preschool for Africa programme, but Klein Handjies is the first school in the Western Cape to buy into their educative methods.  This exciting change has come about because Preschool for Africa is represented in the Western Cape by Colleen Harvett, a very experienced nursery school owner and principal who, when not running her own school, devotes most of her spare time to promoting Play With A Purpose programmes in the Western Cape – and it was she who talked to Boschendal CEO Rob Lundie, who, she says, very quickly grasped the value and the concepts of Play With A Purpose.

“What makes the Play With A Purpose programme so revolutionary,” says Harvett, “is that previously too little thought was given in farm schools of this kind to stimulating and developing the minds of our youngest children.  If the preschool was comfortable and the children were looked after and kept amused that was often thought sufficient.  It is only quite recently that it has been understood that these initial years of a child’s life are crucial to its later ability to learn and adapt.”

In 2017 Klein Handjies will more than double its current intake and former farm cottages on the school site are being renovated to make this possible.

“This means,” says Harvett, “that it will in time be able to take on pupils up to Grades 1 and 2 – and later possibly they will be able to go even further.  It is likely that this school will set new standards for farm education in the Boland and will find many imitators.”

www.boschendal.com | 021 870 4200 (Rob Lundie)

Creative eating at GlenWood

GlenWood's Tasting Palette

Conjuring up a new concept in a crowded field takes some doing.  After a languid lunch at the GlenWood tasting room in early December I have to say “By Jove, I believe they’ve done it!”

GlenWood’s Fine Wine and Food Experience is indeed a fresh take on food and wine pairing.

This is how it works: On arrival, each guest is presented with tastes of six of the estate’s award-winning wines together with a ‘tasting palette’ featuring tastes of six carefully prepared matching dishes. A knowledgeable waiter/tasting room assistant is on hand to explain more about the wines and matching dishes.  Once guests have tried all six pairings they get to choose one of them for their main course along with a glass of the matching wine, or one of the others if they’ve hit upon their own favourite pairing during the tasting.

On my visit the following pairings were on offer: Sauvignon Semillon 2016 with Smoked Salmon Trout, Shiraz Vigneron’s Selection 2016 with a ‘Rugby Snack’ (You’ll have to go there yourself to find out what that is!), Chardonnay Unoaked 2017 with Ceviche, Chardonnay Grand Duc 2015 with Chicken Legs, Merlot 2016 with Chicken Caesar Salad and Syrah Grand Duc 2014 with Rump Steak.  End your meal with a taste of Noblesse Grand Duc – GlenWood’s maiden noble late harvest.

GlenWood’s wines never fail to impress and certainly live up to the estate’s mantra of Simple, Natural, Quality. While it’s their Chardonnays that tend to steal the limelight – and bucket loads of awards – I have to say that I consider their Sauvignon Blanc Semillon a revelation.  Franschhoek isn’t prime Sauvignon Blanc territory, but at GlenWood it benefits from the cooler temperatures of the Robertsvlei Valley.  The addition of Semillon – an iconic Franschhoek cultivar – results in a wine that balances frivolity and class and makes its way straight into my list of top 5 summer wines.  The Platter’s Wine Guide judges loved the 2015 vintage so much they awarded it five stars in their 2016 guide. The current (2016) vintage claimed four stars in addition to being rated 90 out of 100 points by Winemag.co.za, winning Gold at the SA Women’s Wine Awards and Double Gold at Vitis Vinefera 2017. To top it all off it’s budget-friendly too!

The Tasting Palette can be enjoyed indoors in the tasting room, or outside on the terrace.  Take my word for it though; the terrace is where you want to be on a hot summer’s day.  Shade, pond, views… need I say more?

The price of the Fine Wine and Food Experience Price including Tasting Palette, main course and glass of wine is R395 per person.  As GlenWood only seats 20 guests at a time (fantastic, as you’ll never feel crowded) booking is advised. A vegetarian alternative is offered, but booking is essential for this option.

tastingroom@glenwoodvineyards.co.za | 021 876 2044

New Chaîne des Rôtisseurs member

Chef Nicolene Barrow received a certificate of appreciation from Allison Rutowitz, Head of the Ambassador Programme of the Chaîne des Rôtisseurs, after they held their year-end function at the Orangerie Restaurant.

Nicolene Barrow, executive chef of Le Lude Estate’s Orangerie Restaurant, is one of the latest members of the international gastronomic society La Confrérie de la Chaîne des Rôtisseurs. Membership of this prestigious society is by invitation only.

Nicolene, who trained as a chef in Europe, plied her trade at the renowned Le Gavroche Restaurant in London before setting up the Orangerie Restaurant at Le Lude.  Here she presents French cuisine with a contemporary twist, combining “the purist, disciplined approach of the European masters with a hint of individual, modern creativity” to create dishes that look as good as they taste.

“It is not only a huge honour to be invited to become a member, the local chapter also held its year-end function at the Orangerie Restaurant”, says Nicolene “that made it an even bigger honour for me. It is always nice when one’s peers recognise your efforts.”

La Confrérie de la Chaîne des Rôtisseurs was founded in Paris in 1950. It is based on the traditions and practices of the old French royal guild of goose roasters.

Since its rebirth, the society brings together professional and non-professional members from around the world who share in the “spirit” of the society and who appreciate and enjoy wine and fine dining. The international headquarters (Siège Mondial) remains in Paris.

The organization is represented by its 24000 members in 80 countries around the world. In South Africa there are six regional chapters (called bailliages).

2018 Standard Bank Chenin Blanc Top 10 Challenge

When the results of the 2018 Standard Bank Chenin Blanc Top 10 Challenge were announced Leopard’s Leap Family Vineyards were delighted to learn that their Culinaria Chenin Blanc made the Top 10 for the third year in a row.

“Chenin has come of age,” said chairman of the Chenin Blanc Association, Ken Forrester. “No longer just a niche grape loved by of the wine fraternity, it is acquiring a mainstream following.  More and more people are believing in it, buying it, drinking it and talking about it,” he said referring to the record number of entries in this year’s challenge, the growth in sales of Chenin Blanc this year, and the global reach of a recent social media campaign.

“The versatility of Chenin, its diversity of wine styles and its great food-friendliness, all point towards its rising acceptance among local consumers.  This is in line with the growing international interest in the grape, increasingly seen abroad as South Africa’s calling card.”

The challenge drew 113 wooded and 46 unwooded entries, all tasted blind by the five-member panel, with 27 wines shortlisted for the final top ten line-up.

Cathy van Zyl MW, the chairman of the judges, said that the winning wines were largely sourced from older vineyards. “While one of the winners comes from 12-year old vines, the others come from vines that are older than 27 years. Indeed, the oldest vineyard in the line-up is 65-years old.”

Fruit for the winning wines was sourced from as far afield as the Cederberg, Stellenbosch including Bottelary and Faure, Darling, Elgin, Durbanville, the Swartland, specifically Voor-Paardeberg, Perdeberg, Malmesbury, Tygerberg, Slanghoek, Wellington and Bot River.

UK wine consultant Simon Field MW, a specialist on wines from the Loire in France, where Chenin originates and the only foreign judge on the panel, was impressed with the line-up of what he called very polished, palatable and professional wines and their multiplicity of expression.  “A definitively South African Chenin style was apparent to me – riper, more fruit-forward and floral, with qualities of nectarine and other yellow fruit, some beeswax and honey. The whole experience gave me a fascinating new perspective on Chenin.”

Pointing to the availability of Chenin excellence at accessible prices, Willie du Plessis, Standard Bank SA’s executive head of business banking for the Western Cape, noted that the average price of the top 10 wines was R200. “These world-class wines offer outstanding value, with winners retailing at R70, R90, R120 before rising to the highest price of R375.”

He confirmed a prize of R25 000 for each of the winning wines. The money would need “to reinforce economic and social benefits in the workplace”, in accordance with the conditions of the challenge.  “We believe the honour of making it onto the Top Ten list should extend to the workers as well as the brand owners.”

The winning wines (listed alphabetically) are: Cederberg Private Cellar Five Generations Chenin Blanc 2016, DeMorgenzon Reserve Chenin Blanc 2017, Jean Daneel Wines Signature Chenin Blanc 2016 (debut), Leopard’s Leap Culinaria Chenin Blanc 2016, Mulderbosch Vineyards Chenin Blanc Steen op Hout 2017 (debut), Slanghoek Wynkelder Legends Barrel Fermented Chenin Blanc 2016 (debut), Spier Wines 21 Gables Chenin Blanc 2017, Stellenrust ‘53’ Barrel Fermented Chenin Blanc 2017, Wellington Wines La Cave Chenin Blanc 2016 (debut) and Wildekrans Barrel Select Chenin Blanc Reserve 2017 (debut).

Test: Editorial Desk | Image: Supplied

www.leopardsleap.co.za | 021 876 8002

New uniforms for FHS first netball team

Amy Kleinhans (left) and Alrishka Macaskill (right) with the FHS first netball team in their new uniforms.

Franschhoek High School’s first netball team is going into the netball season with brand new uniforms thanks to the generosity of Terbodore Coffee Roasters and a little help from local resident Amy Kleinhans.

Amy’s housekeeper, whose daughter plays for the team, approached her to help find a sponsor for new uniforms as their old ones were in a dire state. Amy approached Michael Macaskill and the team at Terbodore Coffee Roasters and they immediately came on board as the anchor sponsor for the new uniforms.

On 24 April the team and their coach met with Amy and Alrishka Macaskill to enjoy a coffee at the Big Dog Café and to show off their new uniforms. Their coach says the new uniforms are motivating the team to do well this season.

New Head Chef at Lust Bistro & Bakery

Award-winning restaurant, LUST Bistro & Bakery, has announced the appointment of Johan van Schalkwyk as new Head Chef. Upholding a high cooking standard, the new chef’s aim is to focus on fresh and organic produce.

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