Snoek: Classic Fish of the Cape

Snoek is not so much a fish as it is a Cape cultural phenomenon. When the large shoals comprising thousands of these lean, torpedo-shaped marine creatures begin to run around the West and South Coast of the Western Cape, there is a buzz in the air. A tangible energy and, for a while, joy and blessing, and that feeling of achievement by the fishermen who set-off on their boats, the mornings dark and kelpy, to catch the snoek. For them it is a livelihood, and a good seasonal one when the snoek shoals run thick and long, as they have done over the past three weeks. And continue to do so.

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Pinot Noir Concert becomes a Symphony

One of the many wine events stalled by the current C-crisis was the annual Chefs’ Lunch hosted by De Wetshof Estate. The De Wet family shares the opinion that the chef community plays a profound role in promoting the wine industry, and therefore deserves all the acknowledgement it can get from those producing el vino. Thus, since 2011 De Wetshof has annually hosted a dining and wining event for between 30 and 40 chefs. It selects a different restaurant for each occasion, and it is just a kick-back, eat-and-drink affair, usually turning into an early-evening party.

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De Wetshof Bateleur and the Blue Blood of Burgundy

Napoleon ordered his troops to salute the vineyards of Chambertin whenever they passed – such was his reverence for the patch of Burgundian soil that delivered his favourite wine. I get the same urge when stopping at a specific rocky lay of land on the De Wetshof Estate in Robertson and seeing that piece of earth where the gnarled Chardonnay vines stand used for creating the estate’s Bateleur Chardonnay.

And let’s face it, in these claustrophobic times of shut-down, anything named after a magnificent free-flying eagle has a particular allure.

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Harvest Time: It’s a Wonderful World

Harvest time in the winelands thrusts emotions to the fore, memories of pain and feelings of joy and wonder. Admiration and respect, mucho. This time of year also has me convinced that the bringing in of the grapes, the crush and the seeing of new wines on their way, this is what forges the vocation and skill of a winemaker. Every harvest past and that of now and of each following year, combined into a knotted string or collection of notches, this determines a winemaker’s destiny, will define the legacy they leave behind.

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The Thrill of Un-wooded Chardonnay

I remember being put down by the late great Graham Beck whilst my admitting an appreciation for the crisp, steely wines of Chablis. “Waste of good Chardonnay, is Chablis,” said Graham, gruffly, while lifting the tumbler of Dimple Haig to his broad mouth, ice chiming in the crystal. “In Chardonnay it’s a case of no wood, no good. A waste of time.”

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Summer-wine and the living is Breezy

While there is more than enough action on the South African wine scene in terms of things new, alternative, fresh and different, it is the tried-and-trusted, classical stuff we do best. On the red wine side, this be the royal wine that is Cabernet Sauvignon which has always delivered and will always deliver the finest local reds. And when it comes to white grape varieties, South African Chardonnay is now recognised as the best in the so-called New World with many international critics reckoning the best Chardonnays outside of Burgundy – Ground Zero for this grape – are indeed from our land down south.

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Jay McInerney Speech at Celebration of Chardonnay

The sixth De Wetshof Celebration of Chardonnay was held last week on De Wetshof Estate in Robertson. Now one of the world’s leading Chardonnay events, this year’s occasion was addressed by American novelist and wine writer Jay McInerney. Herewith his complete speech on Chardonnay, terroir, Marilyn Monroe and Cape wine quality.

 Chardonnay is the great chameleon of viticulture, or to put it in a slightly less flattering light, more than a bit of a trollop. It’s the world’s most famous and beloved white wine grape. It’s a superstar, beloved of drinkers and growers, famous all over the world. But it’s also an enigma wrapped in a mystery.   

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Bright Whites, Big Celebration

You are not the kind of guy who normally finds himself drinking four glasses of Chardonnay at 10.30 on a week-day morning. But here you are, seated in a crowd of people who, like you, have made the journey to De Wetshof in Robertson to partake in a collection of the Burgundian Jesus Juice.

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