An autumn evening view from Meerendal’s original Pinotage vineyard, over Durbanville to the mountains

Without any effort on our part, the main focus this week is Pinotage. We have always believed that it shows at its best with some age, not always an advantage when the average bottle is consumed within a short time after it left the shop. We had the opportunity to taste some great vintages and tell about them here, and about some others, much younger and designed for earlier consumption. Our Wine of the Week is one of these

It’s the holiday season in South Africa, with this long weekend being followed by public holidays on April 27th and May 1st, so many of you will have taken the opportunity for a holiday which is extended by adding the official holidays to your leave. And then, a day off for the election on May 8th... We wish you all well for this period; drink wisely and drive safely. To all who celebrate the religious holidays, we wish you a Happy Easter and Passover

An invitation from Bennie Howard CWM to join him and his colleagues at a celebration of Meerendal's 50 years of making Pinotage just had to be accepted. And yes, we did get to taste this 1969 vintage and others. It was a fantastic evening…

Our visit to World Travel Market Exhibition at the CTICC had to be on the last day, Friday, as we were busy on the preceding two days. It was quite quiet when we arrived mid morning. Sadly the free tote bags had all gone by then so we had to manage handling any information we were given. Made life quite difficult…

We were invited to attend this year’s Pinotage and Biltong Festival at Perdeberg winery and went on Sunday. We travelled through a huge rainstorm, but the weather when we got there was good and we were able to sit outside to eat some lunch. Because of the bad weather expected, they moved the stands inside the barrel cellar this year. Not needed on Sunday, but Saturday, we were told, was wet…

Something easy to make for the holidays if you are having guests, 

500g small squid rings and tentacles (Cut up larger rings into bite sized pieces) – 500ml milk – 1 egg – 210ml ice cold sparkling or soda water – 1/2 t salt – 25g corn flour – 75g flour – 4 ice cubes – 2t chilli flakes or 1 to 2 (depending on your taste) finely chopped fresh red chillies, seeds removed – approx 500ml canola oil for frying – good sushi mayonnaise or Hellman’s diluted with a little milk to make it more runny

Soak the squid in milk for at least an hour (this tenderises it), then drain and pat really dry. Heat the oil in a wok or a wide deep pan to 370°C. Do not leave the oil alone. Mix the water with the egg and then stir in the flour, salt and chilli flakes and ice cubes. Quickly mix up the batter; it does not have to be smooth. Immediately toss the squid into the batter a spoonful at a time to coat well and then deep fry for just a couple of minutes until it is really crisp and beginning to turn golden. Drain on kitchen paper and keep warm in the oven while you cook the rest. Then serve with the mayonnaise drizzled over it. You can also drizzle over a sweet chilli sauce

We tasted this at the Pinotage and Biltong Festival last weekend. This lovely wine is perfumed with roses and dark berries, incense wood, showing the Pinot Noir parent of Pinotage. On the palate, plums, mulberry, raspberry, black cherry fruit, very juicy, layered fruit, good supportive wood, some vanilla, with a hint of salt and crisp tannins. Then it mellows into long, soft, full flavours, very satisfying, with dark fruit remaining on the palate. The Cinsault parent shows there

We had a glass at home later with some dark chocolate and it is such a good match. Chefs and Sommeliers, do try this, we don’t think we have had a better red wine with chocolate. Good value at R83 on-line and Pick n Pay have it on special at the moment, but do check that the vintage is the same

We want to use wine barrel staves as the covering of a pergola which we wish to build on our deck, which has no protection from the sun. If any of our wine maker readers have old barrels which have outlived their original purpose, or even loose staves from old barrels, we’d love to have them. Condition is not important, we just need the staves. Please let us know

We keep talking about rain and the scarcity of water in our blessed, beautiful province. We are still in trouble. 2018 has seen the lowest rainfall of any year since 2010. We measured a total of 477mm for the year, which compares poorly with a "normal" annual average of 600mm

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 may, 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. We are planting succulents and other water-wise plants which will tolerate the conditions and still give us pleasure

So don't think that it's OK if it's raining; the trouble is that it is not raining enough. The dams are only, on average, not sufficiently 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 in the Western Cape. The world's weather is in trouble. Europe is experiencing temperatures that we are used to here in Africa. Vineyards are being planted in England. It might be normal in Spain, but when we hear stories from chilly Scotland and often icy Norway about temperatures in the 30s.....

18th April 2019

All verbal content and photographs used in this site are © John & Lynne Ford, Adamastor and Bacchus, unless otherwise specified

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