My winning wine week

Monday: See “Night swimming deserves a Chenin”

Tuesday: Champagne tasting at WINE. After the panel had their swivel, sniff and swigs forty-plus bottles are left half-full behind the screen. It’s a sin to waste them and some of us decide to have our own “tasting” in the offices. Now this being the real deal and not just a couple of misinformed plebs’ experience of bubbles, we could not really leave anything untouched I leave with a bottle of Gosset in hand and despite a few regrets about finishing it the next morning, resolve to take take two the next time.

Wednesday: Hiding behind big designer glasses and trying to be unobtrusive, the ex-Minister of Intelligence phones me (really). “Hi, this is Ronnie”. “Ronnie who?” “Ronnie Kasrils…” My head spins – stop the world, I’m getting off.

Thursday: The results of the 2009 WINE magazine TOPS at SPAR Sauvignon Blanc Top 10 competition are revealed during a chatty luncheon at Bread & Wine on Mreson in Franschhoek. I make it my mission to find my favourite wine of the lot and am finally undecided between the limey Tokara Elgin 2007 and the herbaceous Graham Beck Pheasant’s Run 2008. It was intensive work and I am left exhausted. I snooze in Boss Lady’s car on the drive back…

Friday morning: I rush to be on time for my first workshop in the “Stellenbosch University Certificate Course in Wine Evaluation”. I am relieved to find the workshop informative and well-structured. I am also rather pleased that they gave me 18 bottles of wine to taste and evaluate

Friday afternoon: Awaiting weekend whilst a delivery services truck blairs Usher-type of boom-boom music outside. Oh, for a glass of one of yesterday’s Sauvignons…

In case you still don’t know, the full results of the Sauvignon Blanc Top 10 competition are up on this website, as are details of the wines to feature in our 2009 Best Value Wine Guide for cheap-skates like me.

Also check out the November issue on all news stands on Monday!

Night swimming deserves a Chenin

Following a bottle of Brampton Chenin Blanc 2007 on the rocks somewhere between Clifton 1st and 2nd beach, my GMF joined me for a moonlight dip in one of the tidal pools. My first dip of the season – and the weather and water felt fine. It was fun in the moment but this morning both of us are facing the consequences of irrational behaviour. I am avoiding making eye contact with my editor today, but he can tell

I also attended the Academy Awards of the wine world, the Veritas Awards in the CTICC on Saturday evening. It was a boring black tie affair, but luckily there were some good wines on the table – I hogged the Aan de Doorns Pinotage 2007. With its distinct aromas of freshly baked banana bread it managed to get a silver medal. Not bad for a co-op from Worcester, I thought. Felt suave sipping it, but this morning I found out that it retails for only R24 ex-cellar!

Duimpie Bayly, chairman of the awards, added some sparkle to the night, with his unfazed broken English with gems like “I would like to thank everyone teenwoordig” and “also the Minister of Landbou, Cobus Dowry”.

Stellenbosch dominated the awards with most of the gold and double gold medals being awarded to wineries in this district (see full results at Apparently all the more significant because as was remarked earlier that night “this is the one award ceremony where money can’t buy you a medal” go figure.

So what did I learn form my wine experiences this weekend? If you go to a black tie affair, go with a fun partner (as I did), and if you have to drink on the rocks, do it the el cheapo way (I paid R30 for the Chenin), and if the next day is a Monday DO phone in with gastroenteritis

Mountainous expectations

Ok. So this was my SMS to a jealous friend the night before: “Guess where I am dining tomorrow night? TABLE MOUNTAIN! Yes, I know… (smiley face)”

Yesterday I kept checking the weather and had said jealous friend phoning the airport for updated weather reports.

“Is it going to rain? Are there going to be some clouds on the mountain?”

Not sure. Not sure.

At 16:00, Boss Lady (aka editor’s wife) says the event is happening.

I rush to my flat, charge my camera’s battery, speed off to the cable car station to meet Boss Lady, and up we go – along with about a hundred or more others. So much for exclusivity.

Following the crowd, we get to the newly renovated and what is now known as Table Mountain Caf. Inside, the crowd mingles in a haphazard fashion, hovering around dishes stacked with finger foods. Durbanville Hills is the wine of the night, being one of the Distell ranges offered at the highest caf in Cape Town but hardly representative of the variety of wines that the Cape (and South Africa for that matter) has on offer. I mean, it’s important stuff, this being a tourist hotspot and all

The caf or canteen (seems the organisers could not decide on the right term) has a new menu: it is now halaal and offers pizzas and sushi. All prepared in a kitchen which is situated at the bottom cable car. Also, you will be enjoying your salmon roses from biodegradable dishes – a nice green touch.

I did not linger inside too long, but fortunately you don’t need much publicity when you are situated on top of a revered mountain.

At least Boss Lady got a Table Mountain Caf mug