Beat the recession with best value wines


The 2008 Best Value Wine Show which is hosted by Grand West Casino this year, takes place in the Market Hall, Entertainment Centre on Tuesday 2 December form 17h00 -21h00

The show once again offers Capetonians the opportunity to taste and purchase around seventy value-for-money wines from twenty South African wineries under one roof. All wines included in the 2009 Best Value Booklet have been tasted and rated by Wine’s independent panel and costs less than R60 per bottle. Prices start at R18.

“Many of the wines on offer at the show are available on supermarket shelves, but one rarely has the opportunity to taste them at point of purchase. This show offers the wines for tasting by the winemakers or representatives from the wineries themselves and thanks to Grand West’s efficient staff, the wines can be ordered, paid for at cellar door prices and taken home directly from the show,” says Cobie van Oort, one of the organisors.

An exciting culinary addition to this year’s show is the creation of an informal bistro restaurant inside the venue where visitors can enjoy a light meal at a reasonable price whilst waiting for their order to be made up. Alternatively the upmarket Quarterdeck restaurant in the main casino building, a short walk away offers Best Value Wine Show ticket holders a special on their lavish buffet of only R99 per person, for that night only! (Usual price R130 pp)
The cost per ticket is R60 per person, which includes the entrance fee, a tasting glass, a copy of the Best Value Wine Guide 2009 and an order form with all participating wines and prices.

Tickets are limited and bookings are essential. Contact Björn van Oort of CVO Marketing at (021) 981-0216 or send an email to to book. Tickets are also for sale at the Quarterdeck Restaurant in the Casino complex

Visitors are welcome to come sample the Kumkani Chardonnay Viognier 2007 with is lemon, peach, honeysuckle and vanilla aromas. Other brands from the company of wine peopleTM will also be showcased.


The perfect present


The eternal question looms: What is the ideal, universal gift for hosts, friends, business associates, service workers and, not least, the family physician?

I’d submit that – barring such obvious exceptions as Alcoholics Anonymous members or hardshell teetotalers – it’s hard to top a gift of wine. Wine is broadly available and widely enjoyed. It comes in a convenient size package and commands a range of prices all the way from the budget level to wretched excess, offering you something at every price point depending on your desire to impress.

When you’re looking for a wine gift that’s a perfect match for your recipient, though, there’s one little gotcha: Fine wine comes in almost infinite variety of style, flavour and price, and individuals’ tastes vary. A truly thoughtful giver may want to make an effort to find out what particular wines the recipient prefers: Red, white or pink? Bone-dry, just a touch of sugar or outright sweet? Bubbles or not? So many decisions! An easy alternative might be to stick with the most popular regions and grape varieties in an appropriate price range, figuring that you can’t go far wrong with the wines that fly off the shelves.

Here are a few specific suggestions aimed at making your wine-gifting experience a happy one for you and the person who opens your surprise package.

Sure, you can pick up a cheap jug of mass-market wine at a neighbourhood liquor store, but your city’s better wine shops will likely offer you a broad selection of wine types and prices, and you can rely on the staff to give you savvy advice.

Small wine shops are typically run by the owner; some large fine-wine shops seek to hire floor staff who can competently answer questions.

If you’re shy about asking for help, or find yourself in a warehouse-size store with no one to assist you, check out the popular wine regions and grapes and check the price tags to find something in your range. Red wine? The movie Sideways made Pinot Noir immensely popular, and Pinot is also the grape of French Burgundy, arguably one of the world’s great wines (and priced to match). Merlot is widely popular (despite being badly dissed in that same wine-country comedy) because it’s usually made as a fruity red wine with a mellow character. If you want a white, you can rarely go wrong with popular Chardonnay or a crisp Sauvignon Blanc.

Just about everybody loves Champagne and similar sparkling wines, and the sound of a popping cork lets the world know that it’s party time. Genuine Champagne, the real thing from France, is pricey, ranging from R300 or so right up to the three-figure range. But it’s uniformly good, and when you’re looking for a more upscale gift, it’s hard to beat as a sure-fire pleaser. If you want bubbles without breaking the budget, there are some more wallet-friendly Méthode Cap Classiques such as the Kumkani Infiniti which also make great gifts.

Dessert wines are rich, sweet and sumptuous; many of them also tend to be strong, many of them (like Port, Sherry and Madeira) “fortified” to 20 percent alcohol or so with a splash of brandy added to the sweet wine. There’s a wide range of dessert wines, from those mentioned to wines made from overripe, late-harvested grapes.

Things get a little more complicated if you’re seeking a spare-no-expense wine gift for someone you really want to impress. With the exception of Champagne, most “collectible” wines require years of maturing in a wine cellar under controlled temperature conditions before they’re ready to enjoy. Unless you know your recipient has a wine cellar and knows how to use it, it may be best to bypass this niche.

Most wine comes in a standard 750 ml bottle. But for a particularly spectacular gift, seek out a magnum (double the size of a standard bottle) or even such rarities as a Jeroboam (3 litres or four bottles), and on up to the man-size Nebuchadnezzar (15 litres or 20 regular-size bottles in one). At the other end of the scale, how about a gift basket with a half-dozen “half-bottles,” the undersize 375 ml bottle that’s just enough when you’re drinking abstemiously or having dinner with a partner who doesn’t do wine.

There’s a huge range of options, and once you solve the basics, this is a great advantage: There’s something for just about everyone at just about any price. Happy holidays, and bottoms up!


Top tips for serving tipple


Wine enhances the flavour of the food, makes the table look nice and can liven up a meal. But many people find it confusing. There are too many choices, it requires a special tool to open, and there’s the whole culture around wine supposedly dictating what goes with which food and what’s cool to drink.

Here’s a quick primer on how to incorporate wine into your holidays without hassles and embarrassment, and what basic items you need to present your drink perfectly.

The No. 1 rule is drink what you think tastes good, and have a couple of other offerings available that others might like. Your palate is about as individual as your fingerprints. What you like, someone else might avoid and vice versa, but that doesn’t mean the wine is bad. So serve a couple of wines and keep your bases covered.

Secondly, serve it in decent glasses. The shape of the glass really can affect the taste of a wine. It has to do with how the bowl of the glass channels the aroma – which is a big component of taste – to your nose. This is what wine lovers refer to when they are talking about the bouquet of a wine. Use a clear glass so you can see the wine. It’s worth the second or two to raise the stem toward light and just take a moment to appreciate the color.

Next, get a good corkscrew. A flimsy old corkscrew can be a hassle and an embarrassment. Corkscrews are really not expensive and, ideally, you should have more than one in your home.

Now all you need is wine. I recommend a Merlot or a Bordeaux blend like Kumkani Cabernet Sauvignon / Merlot. This is a well-balanced wine with a blackcurrant and ripe berry fruit nose. This medium-bodied wine will be enjoyed by most red wine lovers as it has a soft tannin structure.

Source: LA Times Blogs

South Africa is becoming a New World wine force


Wines from Old World countries like France, Italy and Spain and New World wines from California seem to always garner most of the experts’ accolades. The majority absolutely deserve these high ratings, but there are many outstanding wines from other parts of the New World.

South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, Argentina and Chile are producing fabulous wines. In many cases, their prices are well below those of their European and California counterparts.

Over the past three years combined, these New World countries have accounted for 22 percent of the wines on Wine Spectator’s top 100 list. In 2006, 25 percent of the top 100 came from these countries.

South Africans have been making wine for many years. Over the past few years, they are getting recognised for making some quality wines.

They plant more white grapes than red. Much of the white produced is Chenin Blanc. They also have been making some very good Sauvignon Blanc.

Their top red varietals are Shiraz (Syrah), Cabernet Sauvignon and their creation Pinotage, a cross between Pinot Noir and Cinsaut. Pinotage used to be hard to find, but is starting to pop up more regularly at wine shops.

On international wine markets South African brands are doing exceptionally well. Leading South African wine producer, the company of wine people™, has announced an increase of 21.9% in sales of their flagship brand Arniston Bay. This is largely driven by the success of its revolutionary, environmentally friendly packaging format, the Arniston Bay pouch.

Wine of South Africa’s UK market manager, Jo Mason, said it is satisfying to see South Africa performing so well in one of its most established export markets. “South Africa enjoys an enviable image in the minds of UK consumers and the quality and value for money the country offers are clearly having an effect. The more established South African brands have been successful this year.

Source: Ventura County Star

Silver lining for the company of wine people at the India Wine Challenge


The company of wine peopleTM delivered sterling results at the India Wine Challenge: its newly launched Arniston Bay Reserve Sauvignon Blanc 2008 and Kumkani Sauvignon Blanc 2007 were both awarded silver medals.

The Kumkani Chardonnay Viognier 2007 received a bronze medal while the Arniston Bay Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot 2008, Arniston Bay Reserve Shiraz 2007 and Kumkani Shiraz 2005 all got the Seal of Approval.

The Arniston Bay Reserve Sauvignon Blanc 2008 also clinched a gold medal at the recent prestigious Veritas Awards – South Africa’s longest running wine competition – and winged it onto the 2009 South African Airways On Board Wine List. Top quality grapes, sourced throughout the Western Cape, were used to create this premium wine. Consumers are subsequently rewarded with cut grass and green pea aromas, typical Sauvignon Blanc character on the palate, crisp acidity and a good finish.

The Kumkani Sauvignon Blanc 2007 – which won a silver medal at the AWC Vienna International Wine Challenge – has expressive fresh aromas of ripe figs, green peppers and Cape gooseberry. With a rich mid-palate and a long finish, this wine was made to be enjoyed with food.

Brand and business development manager at the company of wine peopleTM, Mark Lester, said: “It’s always encouraging to see our wines perform so well, especially on the international stage and considering such a respected panel. The endorsement expressed by these distinguished panelists can only motivate the winemaking team, who ultimately should take credit for creating these great wines, to reach new heights. Our superb achievement highlights our depth as a quality South African wine producer, and I’m confident that ultimately our performance will contribute to a greater presence for the category as a whole in the exciting Indian market.”

More than 500 wines from across the globe were entered into the India Wine Challenge 2008, currently in its second year and the country’s only major independent wine competition. A panel of 14 distinguished judges such as founder of the London International Wine Challenge and IFE Chairman Robert Joseph, president of the Indian Wine Academy Subhash Arora, and sommelier Magandeep Singh were amongst the panelists.

Celebrating with wine


The month before the festive season tends to be the busiest period on the social calendar thanks to numerous year-end functions, and visits from friends and family. We’ll leave you to decide on the eat-some-morish menus and music, but here’s a few tips when choosing wine for the silly season.

In order to make a good recommendation for type and quantity of wine, I usually have a number of questions; I ask about budget, what type of food is being served, how many persons, are the majority of guests wine drinkers or not, how long is the event, is it mainly standing or sitting, what time of day is the event.

After a number of experiments with large and small events, I am beginning to realise that the bigger the guest list for the party, the fewer wine choices you should have unless wine is the primary focus of the event. Now I typically suggest four wines; a fruity light-bodied and a full-bodied white wine and a light-bodied and a full-bodied red wine.

If there are a lot of new wine drinkers expected I usually throw an off dry white wine or blush in the mix. Persons come to mix and mingle and most are not too concerned about what wine is in their glasses as long as it tastes good, so don’t break the bank for fancy wine; on the flip side don’t go with the cheapest product on the market either.

Examples of light to medium-bodied crisp, dry white wines are: Chenin Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon and blends containing these cultivars. These wines are all usually food-friendly.
RECOMMENDED WINES: The Arniston Bay Chenin Blanc Chardonnay is masterfully blended with pineapple and melon flavours on the nose. The Arniston Bay Sauvignon Blanc Semillon is a dry white wine with melon, citrus and peach tones and is delicious served with seafood dishes.

Full-bodied whites: Chardonnay and Viognier. Other great white wine choices include some off dry and aromatic wines such as Gewurztraminer, Torrontes and Reisling.
RECOMMENDED WINE: The Arniston Bay Chardonnay which was partially fermented with oak chips to give a mini blockbuster wine with a crème brulée finish.

Medium-bodied reds to choose from are: Pinot Noir, Merlot, some blends.
RECOMMENDED WINE: The Arniston Bay Merlot which was partially aged in French oak barrels for eight months, and has a dark cherry and plum nose with a spicy palate.

Medium to full-bodied reds would include Bordeaux blends, Shiraz and blends, Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, Pinotage.
RECOMMENDED WINE: The Arniston Bay Reserve Shiraz has a rich fruit character with nice bubblegum notes and velvety tannins. Good weight and length, and is heavenly when paired with succulent roast beef or venison carpaccio.

How much wine to purchase?
Standing guests tend to consume more wine than when they are sitting, so factor four glasses per guest for a typical stand-around cocktail party lasting three to four hours in the evening. One regular 750ml bottle of wine can comfortably pour five to six glasses. If wine is the only drink, then buying one bottle per guest is recommended, with 2:1 red/white ratio. Of course this all depends on your target audience. The earlier the event the less people will consume – unless you’re having a beach or pool party.

Other Home Entertainment tips:

PREPARE FOR SPONTANEOUS EVENTS: Keep a mixed case of inexpensive favourite wines on hand, as well as a couple of bottles of the ever popular Merlot, Chardonnay and a bottle of champagne in the fridge. You’ll always be ready for drop-in guests or spur-of-the-moment celebrations.

CHILLING WINE QUICKLY: Your guests are arriving in 10 minutes and you forgot to chill the white. Sound familiar? Relax and, most importantly, resist the urge to throw the bottle in the freezer. The fastest way to chill a white is to submerge it in an ice bucket filled with a mixture of ice and cold water.

REMEMBER: A white that’s “too chilled” won’t be able to exhibit its full flavour and bouquet; and a red that’s too warm won’t show its full potential. A handy rule of thumb is to take whites out of the ice bucket a half-hour before serving, and place reds in the refrigerator for a half-hour before serving.

CHOOSING WINE GLASSES: Glasses vary in size and shape to enhance the aroma of a particular wine. Start with a set of all-purpose glasses for white and one for red, they must be tulip or pear-shaped; wide bottom, narrow top. Since champagne requires a tall narrow glass so that bubbles stay perky for as long as possible, you’ll want a nice set of flutes as well.
When filling a glass with white or red, stop just below half-full. Leaving room in the glass allows a wine to release its aromas and “open up”. Champagne flutes should be filled two-thirds of the way up.

TO DECANT OR NOT TO DECANT: Do you have an older (10 years or more), or a young full-bodied red on hand? Then yes! Break out your gorgeous decanter and go to it. Decanting separates unpleasant sediment from older wines, and aerates them. Big, younger reds simply benefit from having the opportunity to breathe (decanters, like red wine glasses, have a much larger opening than the slim neck of the wine bottle, giving oxygen easier access to the wine).

Some wines will benefit from an hour or so in the decanter before being served, while others can slowly be enjoyed right away. Either way, you’ll notice a progressive deepening of both aroma and taste as the wine opens up over the course of your gathering.

Cheers! Now go forth and try a few new wines.

Source: Jamaica Observer

Russia is probably the most exciting new wine market


Never mind the oligarchs. Russia is probably the most exciting new wine market to emerge in the past five years. Why? Because a growing slice of ordinary middle class Russian society has developed a taste for quality wine, according to Wine Intelligence’s Russian Wine Market Landscape report, published on 14 November 2008.
Based on a groundbreaking consumer survey of Russian drinkers of imported wine, and containing both the latest sales data and information about routes to market, this report provides an unprecedented insight into a rapidly growing wine market on the doorstep of Europe.

Unlike in the emerging Asian markets – to which Russia is often compared – people in this country are familiar with wine and are used to drinking it at the table with food. Wine was actually a popular choice during the Soviet era, and today Russians treat imported wine, especially from traditional European winemaking areas such as France, as a product with an important cultural value.

However Russia’s modern wine market is still relatively immature and has suffered two serious crises in the past 10 years, the financial crash of 1998 and the 2006 wine tax crisis – and as we enter the final weeks of 2008, the threat of a global economic downturn may yet precipitate another crisis in the wine industry.

Moscow is fundamental to the success of any aspiring wine producer, representing at least two thirds of all wine sales. It is followed by St. Petersburg, and a handful of other key population centres. With its Vinitrac® Russia study, Wine Intelligence has been among the first to survey real consumer behaviour in Moscow and St. Petersburg, and the results of this groundbreaking consumer research are contained in the report.

While the global financial crisis may dampen some demand in the short term, the long term picture for wine in Russia is very encouraging. Wine Intelligence predicts that the Russian wine drinking population will more than double by 2020, which gives an opportunity for further sales and consumption growth. The challenge for the wine trade is to sustain this increase, as well as to educate a relatively unsophisticated market.

Earlier this year, Arniston Bay and Kumkani expanded their global footprint and entered this strategically important market despite complicated export procedures. A diverse variety of wine from these award-winning brands will be sold at major retailers in Russia.

 Business development manager, Mark Lester, said early indications are that Arniston Bay and Kumkani wines have a promising future in the Russian market. “Traditionally, Russian palates have leant towards European-styled wines as a result of historic influences on consumption patterns. However as the footprint widens for Russian businessmen and leisure travelers to countries beyond European shores, increased exposure to New World wine producing countries and their wines are bound to have an influence on their buying decisions back home. Simultaneously, the current growth in the number of New World brands appearing on local shelves in Russia along with improved access to disposable income will further contribute to interest creation and increased demand for these wines.”