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A bee in the rosemary flowers

In this Week's MENU

      We are celebrating some lovely rainy weather, which was put into context by an image on Instagram showing the week’s forecast in the south of England with not a cloud in sight. We are not swimming yet, but the Western Cape dam levels are now at an average level of just over 40%, with Theewaterskloof, our most important reservoir, having reached 29% from being almost empty in early April. From water to wine, the wine tasting season continues. There have been some lovely highlights, both at the small Morvino trade tasting and at the Public Tasting of the Old Mutual Trophy winners at the CTICC. We continue our Spanish narrative, this week telling you about our time in Granada and Valdepeñas. So click on the links below and read the stories

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      This small and rather classy Pop Up tasting of the products of some of Morvino's smaller clients was "to take away the noise" of the big farms and let the trade see how good these smaller brands are. It certainly worked for us. We were very impressed

      There were all the Trophy wines to taste, then the Gold Medals, and the Silvers. But there is never enough time to taste that many wines.  Where do you start? Well, after lots of hellos and hugs and congratulations, with the Trophy wines of course. The wines are laid out alphabetically around the room, so this entails a lot of dotting about. And we started with the 2011 Laborie Blanc de Blanc which won the Trophy for the best Méthode Cap Classique and has always been right at the top of our list of favourite Blancs de Blanc

      More Castles in Spain this week as our journey continued from Cordoba to Granada through beautiful countryside. We needed to stop for lunch and it was this castle that drew us to the small town of Alcaudete in the province of Jaen. We stopped in this flower meadow high above the town for the best view
      John wanted us to stop in Valdepeñas in Spain to taste some of their wines, this being one of the largest wine growing areas in the country. It was an adventure, but we were not successful in tasting any wine. They have not yet discovered wine tourism; you can buy wine at the wineries (well priced) but not taste any before you buy. There was no AirBnB or Booking.com accommodation available for the night we needed, but Lynne did find a roadside motel in Santa Cruz de Modela on Hotels.com (we like them because you rack up a free night for every 10 bookings you make). We had stopped there for petrol and then discovered that it was where we would be spending the night. However, this place did not initially look very salubrious. And it was right on the side of the busy motorway. You enter through the truckers' American style diner, as there is no m/hotel reception and you have to wait while the dismissive manageress serves the customers

      It’s Waterblom season at the moment with the dams filling up. We bought a pack of nice plump waterblomme this weekend and Lynne made this easy Bredie. It’s spicy, but not too hot. Don’t cook all of them at once, you want different textures. Open the recipe....

      The Bernard Series 2017 Whole Bunch Roussanne. Made by Niel Groenewald before he left to become the Head Winemaker at Distell

      Roussanne is certainly capturing our attention at the moment. This white wine was much discussed and enjoyed at the Old Mutual Trophy wine tasting last week by other wine makers and trade. Suddenly the SA plantings are becoming noticed. It certainly captivated Lynne with its floral notes and hints of herbs and tea. Its depth and length with hints of tropical fruit, peach and a little honey on this dry wine made it something to explore and enjoy now, as it has the freshness of youth. It has the legs to indicate that it will reward being kept for a few years. A white wine that should be on restaurant menus as it is very versatile

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      We keep talking about rain and the scarcity of water in our blessed, beautiful province. We are still at a crisis point. The City Council published an interactive map on the web, from which one can look at one's own neighbourhood and see which houses are being careful and which are not or are just using water as if there were no crisis. We have neighbours who still have lovely green lawns and they show up on the map as problem users. Please be careful. We caught a neighbour hosing down her steps; water running down the pavement past our house like a river. She didn't see the problem, said that the restrictions would only be effective next month....

      It is not difficult, 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 dams are still, on average, only a little more than a quarter 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 forecast still does not encourage optimism

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      15th June 2018

      We are planning 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. 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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