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A wheat field near Philadelphia, Swartland, Western Cape

In this Week's MENU

      We’re looking forward to a quiet weekend, just the two of us, relaxing. We’ve had an exceptionally active week and we’ve been trying to ignore bronchitis and a cold. Thank heavens the events we’ve been to have been great fun; it would have been murder if we’d had to attend “duty” functions while managing coughs, wheezes and sneezes. We hope you’ll enjoy seeing our stories about them. This year is ending with some spectacular wine-tasting opportunities which will let you share in some of our action. Please go to our Dates for your Diary below the Wine of the Week on this page, have a look at them and make your booking 

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      We enjoy sharing our experiences with you and are so pleased when you tell us that we’ve given you some pleasure

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      We have been producing MENU for 15 years, in which we have written about many interesting things. You can find them all in the Blog Archive in the right hand column of our blog page and in the Previous MENUs page on our websiteEntering a word in the “Search this Blog” window on the blog site should bring up everything we have ever written which relates

      The announcement of the top 10 South Africa Sauvignon Blancs was held last week at the magnificent Landtscap venue which overlooks the Devon Valley in Stellenbosch. Proudly sponsored by First National Bank, they really pushed the boat out and we had a superb celebration. The early evening views over the valley towards the blue mountains in the distance are exceptional.

      The anticipation of enjoyment when we are invited to the media launch of a newish restaurant which has been open for several months but has not been very vocal while they started up, is always good. When it is on an iconic wine farm only 1 hour from Cape Town, the excitement increases. And when we learned that the chefs involved are some of Cape Town's best, we could not wait to see what was on offer. Chef Craig Cormack runs The Goose Roasters  with his partner Beau du Toit, where they do catering, training, functions, private dining and pop ups at festivals and markets and so much more. This is a new venture for them. Chef Mechell Spann is the chef in residence at Salt. Craig is also an expert on salt, its history and its uses and he had a huge collection of salts on show in the restaurant. He lectures about it worldwide. And you can taste it on the table and in the food.

      For several years we celebrated special events with dinner at Parks, the restaurant operated in a lovely Victorian house at the foot of the hill in Wynberg by Michael Olivier. We didn't know it at first, but it was part of the Zonnestraal Estate, owned at the time by Reg Parker. We'd been told that Mr Parker turned the old house into a restaurant so that he could entertain his friends without having to leave his estate. Most Capetonians have driven through the estate for the last 30 or so years because, when the M3 Blue Route freeway was built, it divided the estate. As this separated the two halves of the farm, a tunnel was built under the freeway to allow access between them. This tunnel has now been transformed into the storage cellar for the farm's wines 

      The annual Veritas Awards, which is the longest running and most prestigious wine and brandy competition in South Africa, dating back to 1991, and is said by Bennie Howard CWM, who was the MC of the evening, to be the "Oscars of the South African Wine World". The Public tasting of Veritas Gold and Double Gold winners was held at the CTICC. There will be a tasting in Johannesburg on Tuesday 23rd October, followed by tastings in other centres. Details of these and other events are in MENU, Dates for your Diary. A full list of the Double Gold, Gold and Silver medal winners can be seen at

      These two large and much loved wine personalities are celebrating their 70th birthdays this month and we were delighted to be invited to join them both to celebrate. Allan Mullins, CWM and Wine Selector for Woolworths, turned 70 on Tuesday this week and Peter Finlayson of Bouchard Finlayson will do so next week on the 24th. The party was held at Bouchard Finlayson wine estate in the Hemel en Aarde Valley last Sunday and was so much fun.

      On the way back from the party and our overnight stay in the Hemel and Aarde, we stopped off at Barton Wine estate, which we have been meaning to visit for a long time; it has been closed on the previous occasions we have tried. It is in the Bot River wine ward, but all is not what it seems. Cellarmaster viticulturist PJ Geyer has now left and owners Annie and Suzie Neill are living in the UK. There is still some Barton wine on the farm to taste and buy, however. The farm has been leased to Villion wines and they are about to renovate the tasting room. We had a very pleasant tasting of Villion wines with Chanel van der Berg and a tasting of the Barton Rosé. The Villion wine is made by Kobie Viljoen, previously winemaker at Gabriëlskloof,


      From the Constance Spry Cookery book with Rosemary Hume. This dish was invented for, and served at, the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in 1953. See it here…

      We have had some superb wines this week but this one stayed in our taste memories. Our pick of Sauvignons Blanc and our favourite Chardonnay have both already been our wine of the week in the past and probably will be again. From Villion Family Wines on Barton Estate in Bot River. R150 a bottle on the farm and very good value for this quality of Shiraz. Made by winemaker and owner of Villion, Kobie Viljoen, until recently winemaker at Gabriëlskloof.

       In MENU Next Edition

      WineMag Chardonnay Report

      Malanot wines at Table Seven

      Stellenbosch Cabernets

      The Week after:

      Caroline's White Wine Review

      Roodeberg Rosé

      Wade Bales Gin and MCC

      Robertson Wine on the River 


      Robertson farms

      Tuesday 23 October. Johannesburg. Veritas Double Gold and Gold public tasting, Bill Gallagher Room, Sandton Convention Centre 17:00 - 20:00.  Cost R170, including tasting glass. Tickets  available from Computicket

      Wednesday 24th October Caroline's White Wine Review at The Table Bay Hotel, V&A Waterfront, Cape Town. 17h00 – 21h00 walk-around format. Cost: R300 p/p includes a crystal tasting glass and a programme. Book at Computicket NOW!

      Friday 26th to Sunday 28th OctoberRobertson Wine on the River

      Saturday 27th to Sunday 28th OctoberThe Wade Bales Cap Classique and Gin Affair at Grand Beach. R350 pp. Book at Quicket

      Saturday 27th to Sunday 28th OctoberElgin Open Gardens

      Sunday 28th October. Groote Post's October Market and Annual Country Run.

      Friday 2nd to Sunday 4th November. Swartland Independent Producers’ Heritage Wine Festival Weekend Package 2018 from Caroline’s. Please e-mail Lieze on to make your booking

      Saturday 3rd to Sunday 4th November. Elgin Open Gardens

      Wednesday 7 November. Durban. Veritas Double Gold and Gold public tasting, Function Room, Deloitte Head Office, Umhlanga 17:00 - 20:00. Cost R110, including tasting glass. Tickets  available from Computicket 

      Saturday 10th to Sunday 11th NovemberBLACC Fest X Langa

      Wednesday 14 November. Port Elizabeth. Veritas Double Gold and Gold public tasting, Wellington Room, Garden Court Kings Beach Hotel, Port Elizabeth. 17:30 for 18:00. R120 - Sit-down tasting of a selection of award-winning wines, including a light snack. Tickets  available from Jacques van der Merwe, cell 083 406 3354

      Knysna. Wine and food lovers in and around Knysna will have the pleasure to enjoy a selection of Veritas Double Gold and Gold award winning wines with the culinary delights of Kilzer's Kitchen, with celebrated chef Albin Kilzer preparing the delectable dishes and Bennie Howard, Vice-Chairman of Veritas, presenting the wines

      Thursday 15 Nov, 18:00: Sit-down tasting, followed by light refreshments. Cost R160.00 pp.

      Friday 16 Nov, 19:00: 4 course menu paired with Veritas-winner wines. Cost R390.00 pp.  

      Venue for both events: Kilzers Kitchen, No 3 + 5 Roos Bolton Crescent, Knysna Heights. Limited seats are available, please book early with Jenny: 082 572 7986 or 

      These countrywide tastings are proudly sponsored by Deloitte

      Friday 23rd November. The Magic of Bubbles, Wine Concepts “Finer Things in Life” International Sparkling Wine & Champagne Affair. Tickets for the Affair cost R500.00 and can be purchased from Wine Concepts stores, online on or at the door on the evening

      Friday 30 November and Saturday 1 DecemberThe fourth Eastern Cape Wine Show. Ticket sales open on 15 October via Computicket and cost R190.00. Early Bird prices, valid for sales until 18 November R160.00. Visit for more information

      We keep talking about rain and the scarcity of water in our blessed, beautiful province. We are still in trouble. This July has seen the lowest July rainfall since 2011. Maybe August will be better... 

      It is not difficult to be careful; just be aware of what you do with water and look after this precious resource. Don't leave the shower running while you soap, use grey water to flush, don't run the dishwasher until it is full..... We're in crisis. Think about it! Your garden will, like ours, become a desert. Sad, but necessary and a minor sacrifice in comparison to queueing at a hose for your daily 25 litre allowance.

      So don't think that it's OK, It's raining, the trouble is that it is not raining enough. The dams are only, on average, just about half full. We need to try harder. It is no use hoping that more rain will come. If it does, it will be a blessing, but the long term forecast still does not encourage optimism. Tapping into aquifers and installing desalination plants will help in the long term, but we must face up to the fact that water will always be a scarce, precious commodity. The world's weather is in trouble. Europe is experiencing temperatures that we are used to here in Africa. It might be normal in Spain, but when we hear stories from chilly Scotland and often icy Norway about temperatures in the 30s.....


      18th October 2018

      We want to use wine barrel staves as the covering of a pergola. If any of our wine maker readers have old barrels which have outlived their original purpose, we’d love to have them. Condition is not important. Please let us know

      We receive a lot of enquiries from people who want to learn more about wineCathy Marston and The Cape Wine Academy both run wine education courses, some very serious and others more geared to fun. You can see details of Cathy’s WSET and other courses here and here and the CWA courses here. Karen Glanfield has taken over the UnWined wine appreciation courses from Cathy. See the details here

      The Hurst Campusan accredited school for people who want to become professional chefs, has a variety of courses. See the details here

      In addition to his Sense of Taste Culinary Arts School, Chef Peter Ayub runs a four module course for keen home cooks at his Maitland complex. Details here

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