Reporting On The Year That Was

DTW-Xmas

The wine industry is a fickle beast, never particularly stable, seldom predictable, always at the whims of the weather gods and often, victim of seismic shifts in fashion, political power-plays and exchange rates. Despite this, with our amazing team, from the hands that tend the soil, to those running from office to client, Du Toitskloof has managed to have a mostly positive 2013 and is looking forward to a promising new year.

We were fortunate to have had a decent harvest in early-2013. This is the cornerstone of our entire year. A failed harvest can make the following 12-months, waiting for the next income injection, an unpleasant experience indeed. Unlike most industries, one event predetermines the upcoming 12-months.

We have been blessed with a market that has been loyal to our brand. This enables us to bottle our wines in early-Autumn with confidence, knowing that most, if not all, of our cultivars will be sold-out by the time bottling takes place post-harvest in 2014.

Autumn came early, then late. Our rains arrived on schedule around Easter, but then stopped. We became quite concerned when some new vines attempted to bud in late-May. Heat suddenly surged in the late season and leaf-colouring was erratic. Luckily though, the seasons got back on track and in the last week of May, winter begun in earnest. Despite a lengthy hiatus of warmth in July, the remainder of our rainy season from August till late-September was cold and very wet.

We had two significant snow events in August and September. People outside the industry do not often realise how important winter is to us. Significant mountain snow means significant rest for the vines and we all know that great sleep makes for energetic wakefulness; this bodes well for the growing season beyond. Spring came very late, but rapidly; this has reflected in our later-than-normal season. Our Jacaranda’s only concluded flowering in mid-December – in Gauteng, it’s over by early-November.

Spring not only saw new growth on the vines. It saw the second annual Cape Cuisine Cook-off with Muratie Estate. A successful event that grows from year-to-year, bringing two cellars and the who’s who of the culinary arts together in the Cape Winelands. This year’s theme was Cape-Malay cuisine. We look forward to the fresh, new, endemic ideas for the 2014 event to be held at our cellar once more.

Soon thereafter, we announced the inaugural Wine Writer of the Year Award, in conjunction with Standard Bank. It was to have an esteemed panel of judges and outstanding auditing standards, ensuring objectivity and absolute credibility. We wanted to become synonymous with supporting free-thought and fresh ideas in the wine industry, becoming an incubator for our industry’s creative talent.

The culinary developments with our brand didn’t just stop with the Cape Cuisine Cook-off. In late-Spring, the announcement of the year came, Du Toitskloof Wines would become the official sponsor of South Africa’s premier Afrikaans-language cooking competition, Kokkedoor. This would catapult the brand into more Southern African homes than ever before.

To complement this, we needed to think bigger when it came to distribution. If we were to be distributed digitally over satellite throughout DStv’s footprint, to complement this, we needed our bottles to be distributed far-and-wide, from Kalahari to coast. The partnership between Namaqua Distribution and ourselves was born, taking our wines to more corners of the sub-continent than ever before.

In late-November, the first annual Wine Writer of the Year Award went to Tim James. Despite having few entries, the famous names in this arena were represented. Standard Bank recommitted themselves to 2014. It’s certain, given the credibility earned, that the competition will continue to grow and new names will begin to enter in the coming years.

We had quite a scare in November, when a vicious Black Southeaster combined with a cut-off-low to bring the Western Cape some of the heaviest rainfall ever recorded in November. Some regions of our province, like Somerset West, experienced significant damage and some loss of life was even recorded. We were fortunate to come out relatively unscathed, except for some sporadic damage near rivers draining mountains to the south-west. Our harvest seems to have weathered the storm mostly unscathed.

Now as 2013 draws to a close, the summer heats up and the grapes ripen, our 2014 harvest is looking pretty good, despite the ups and downs. Plus, with our new partnerships and sponsorship deals, the new year is looking bright and hopefully, prosperous. We hope we can pass this prosperity on to our producers, our staff and our FairTrade empowerment project, as well as you, by continuing to provide exemplary wines at approachable prices.

Du Toitskloof wishes you and yours a joyous holiday season and a fun-filled new year; may 2014′s challenges bear fruit and may you look back on this coming year in late-2014 with fondness. We look forward to being in your homes’ and at your special occasions’ in 2014 and in many years to come. 

Cooking Show Bonanza

Season 1

Season 1

With the meteoric rise of Gordon Ramsay, came a new trend. Once a place only reserved for the Lady Gaga’s, Orlando Bloom’s and Paris Hilton’s of this world; the rise of the celebrity chef and the popularisation of the culinary arts began. We have transcended the time when a chef school was the preserve of the artistic urban dweller with a well-tuned palate. Cooking has become fashion, cooking has become cool, cooking has become entertainment.

Whilst Gordon Ramsay is famous to some, and infamous to others, as his personality can be magnetic or repulsive, depending on your individual moral code; family-friendly cookertainment options are a plenty. It would seem in South Africa, our options are even more diverse, as Anglophones may be unawares of Kokkedoor as the Afrikaans-speaker may be less inclined to Masterchef.

However, both are proudly based in the province that is undoubtedly South Africa’s capital of the culinary and viticultural arts, the paragon chic country living, the Western Cape. The English-language competition is based in Paarl, ironically, at the point-of-origin of the only Germanic language to have evolved outside of Europe: Afrikaans; lingua franca of Kokkedoor, based some 350km further north-east, in the quaint Great Karoo village of Prince Albert.

Season 1 winners of Kokkedoor

Season 1 winners of Kokkedoor

Du Toitskloof is en route between the two points. This progressive cellar, which has popularised value-for-money wines, has unsurprisingly loosely associated itself with cooking competitions; as witnessed in the guest list for the Cape Cuisine Cook-off, held with Muratie at the end of each winter. This casual association is about to become a full matrimonial pledge.

Du Toitskloof is already in numerous South African homes, particularly in urban centres. Who better to pair with the popularisation of the culinary arts, than them? Last week, the cellar’s management signed a three-year official sponsorship agreement with the good folks of KykNET and Kokkedoor. It is reported as a match made in heaven, as both parties are ideologically singing from the same hymn sheet. Both were as pleased as punch with this marriage; a culinary Brangelina.

Du Toitskloof is the epitome of the Jack-of-all-Trades, who is master of many. The numerous awards testify to this statement. With a range second-to-none, there is a wine to go with a mezze, entrée or dessert challenge. One could only imagine the perfect harmony, of the spicy berry fruit of the Dimension Red with a Karoo lamb challenge, the crisp, tropical-fruit undertones of Sauvignon Blanc with light, mezze eats, or the smooth, sweet, silkiness of Muscadel with dessert.

The distribution timing could not be more perfect, as Du Toitskloof has signed an agreement with Namaqua Distribution to reach more South Africans than ever before. I’m certain many rural KykNET viewers will be relieved, as after watching the show, their craving for the wine will be satisfied by a proximal participating retail outlet, whether in Upington, Utrecht or Umkomaas.

From the latest press release: “The reality show sees amateur and qualified chefs pair in teams cooking a combination of traditional and new recipes in a highly entertaining yet fiercely competitive competition. Filming for the second series started last week in the picturesque Karoo town of Prince Albert.“

The first season already aired on DStv’s KykNET in April 2013 with 13 episodes, with the second season expected to hit Southern African television screens next April. The winning contestant of 20 participants could win a substantial cash prize and cookbook publishing deal.

Du Toitskloof Wines is looking forward to working together with this growing television show over the next three years. They’re also delighted to expand their household reach. It’s hoped the show will make more of South Africa’s populace, Du Toitskloof converts – we promise to make your assimilation a pleasurable one.

The Kokkedoor set in Prince Albert

The Kokkedoor set in Prince Albert

Building a Nation, Plate By Plate

South Africans celebrated National Heritage Day on the 24th of September. In a country with notorious divisions, yet famous for its diversity and ability to overcome differences to create a peaceful, cohesive nation; celebrating a singular South African heritage can be problematic. Can a single tile in a colourful mosaic be singled out to typify the entire artwork? Definitely not!

It has been a constant debate amongst thought-leaders, politicians and even large brands in South Africa; how do you typify ‘being South African, bringing all South Africans together for a common purpose?’ Despite the warm-and-fuzzy anthemesque adverts for certain beer brands, South Africa is not homogeneous and creating the ideal demographic togetherness, with so many varied cultural preferences, is difficult. So, bring on the food!

There are two things South Africans have in common, irrespective of linguistic preference, cultural ancestry, belief system, whom is chosen to love, or melanin content of the dermis: A moth-like affinity for fire and magnetism towards good, hearty food.

If there is any ubiquitous typecast for a South African, it would be burning wood or charcoal and a meaty meal; we don’t do vegetarian with great finesse. Thus, the National Braai (English: non-gas-fire barbeque) Day moniker, synchronous with National Heritage Day, being a pastime we all enjoy. Bring in Muratie Wine Estate and Du Toitskloof Wines and their hosting of the 2nd annual Cape Cuisine Cook-off on 19 September; celebrating Cape and South African heritage through the fruits of our soil and toil of our cooks.

Although a closed event by invitation only, it is a perfect opportunity to show off what our region is made of and showcase its diverse viticultural and gastronomic heritage. Less so a marketing opportunity and more about getting two exemplary wineries together to celebrate food and wine with some healthy competition; this time, to take on a Cape Malay Curry, a dish with Eastern, Western and African roots, reflecting the diversity of our country.

As quoted from the Muratie and Du Toitskloof joint press release:

Celebrity guests included Benny Masekwameng, highly-acclaimed chef and MasterChef SA judge; Arnold Tanzer, chef extraordinaire and Culinary Producer of MasterChef SA; and Cass Abrahams, well-loved foodie and specialist in Cape Malay cuisine. 

Du Toitskloof paired their Cape Malay curry with their 2013 Beaukett, an aromatic blend of muscat de frontignan, chenin blanc and gewürztraminer. This muscat-scented semi-sweet wine holds a combination of tropical fruit flavours with hints of honeysuckle and rose petals. Crisp and invigorating, this vibrant wine ends with a lovely refreshing finish. The 2013 Du Toitskloof Beaukett is also well suited to pairing with piquant cuisine and retails for about R30.

Muratie selected their flagship Laurens Campher 2012, named after the first owner of the farm, to pair with their Cape Malay curry. This aromatic off-dry wine is a seamless blend of four varietals, displaying lively fresh lemon and lime notes from the chenin and sauvignon blanc and fragrant floral hints from the verdelho and viognier. Elegant and complex, its flavours range from honeysuckle, lime marmalade and pineapple to fresh almonds, all wrapped in creamy oak. Zippy acidity runs through the wine until the eminently satisfying, lengthy finish. The fine balance of sugar and acidity makes for a gratifying fresh style. This wine lends itself favourably to spicy cuisine and retails for about R95.

Chefs Elrine Thomson of Du Toitskloof and Kim Melck of Muratie both displayed their culinary expertise, presenting deliciously spiced curries, after which the guests were called upon to cast their votes for the best dish of the day. Muratie was named the ‘2013 winelands cook-off champion’ having taken the vote by a narrow margin. The 2013 Muratie Du Toitskloof ‘winelands cook-off’ was a follow-on from their inaugural 2012 waterblommetjie bredie ‘cook-off’ hosted at Du Toitskloof where the home team took the honours with a one-vote lead. 

Article (1st half) by Andres de Wet

Team Du Toitskloof cooking up a storm in the kitchen...

Team Du Toitskloof cooking up a storm in the kitchen…

Our special guests...

Our special guests…

Muratie's award winning Cape Malay dish

Muratie’s award winning Cape Malay dish

Master-Coup For Winelands

Arnold Tanzer (MasterChef: Food on the Move), Samantha Linsell (MasterChef Food Stylist: Drizzle&Dip), Benny Masekwameng (MasterChef Judge)

Arnold Tanzer (MasterChef: Food on the Move), Samantha Linsell (MasterChef Food Stylist: Drizzle&Dip), Benny Masekwameng (MasterChef Judge)

MasterChef season two began airing on M-NET with great fanfare, being heavily punted by the South African pay-TV broadcaster and well-received by the South African viewing public. What can be said with the greatest conviction is that the production quality of this hit reality TV-series is beyond compare. The food styling, wine presentation, culinary complexity, camera work and post-production mastery have not been seen on this level in local South African productions, until now.

How lucky are we that this reality TV masterpiece takes place at Nederburg in Paarl, a huge coup for the Cape Winelands. We can only hope that international TV-stations will snap up this series from M-NET, to give our region some exposure outside of Africa and DStv’s footprint. The show puts the Cape on show, both scenically and culinarily. Seafood on the West Coast, to traditional Cape-cuisine in the Winelands, Cape Malay in the city’s Bo-Kaap to food on the open fire at Mzoli’s in Gugulethu – it is proudly South African and boastful of the diversity in a mere 150km radius of Cape Town in every possible way.

MasterChef has popularised food and wine. It has turned its creative masters into overnight sensations. We have been fortunate enough to host the friendly, knowledgeable and talented Benny Masekwameng (MasterChef SA judge) at DuToitskloof Cellar, at a culinary competition in August 2012. It has made food and wine “hip and happening” again, taking the passion out of 5-star restaurants and classy wine estates and right into people’s hearts and homes.

I had reservations about the show, prior to season one’s launch in March of 2012. The Australian version of the show is stellar, albeit extremely lengthy, and tops their national viewership rankings. The American version, although boasting Gordon Ramsay, was an epic fail. The U.S. need for speed trumped the format, with the series feeling rushed, one was unable to emotionally attach to the contestants and the challenges and culinary complexity was lackluster to say the least. Not with MasterChef SA however. They opted for a hybrid between the Australian and American versions and their season two, seems to be following the successful former’s format more closely than season one.

The largest reservation was about South African broadcasters’ Johannesburg-centricity. As much as the economic juggernaut has the bulk of local television infrastructure; a culinary, viticulture and fresh-produce capital it is not. Any thought of a culinary contest being held on the Highveld was as absurd as having a mining-entrepreneurship ‘Apprentice’ series set in Cape Town. To my delight, Paarl emerged bright, mountainous and carpeted in vines, on screen; a mere twenty minutes drive from our cellar’s front door.

We hope the start of season two will bolster interest in the Cape Winelands even more, as a scenic culinary and viticulture destination beyond compare. It is hoped it will broaden the scope of people’s perceptions of the region, of being more than just Stellenbosch. When you’re struck by the helicopter-shot panorama of the approach to the MasterChef kitchen, notice the mountains beyond. There lies the gateway to our region, just a few kilometers over the peaks.

Hopefully, our region too, can learn lessons from this show. Popularisation can be positive if it’s done sensitively, fusing the genuineness of what you have to offer with intense public interest. Given that MasterChef is only a mountain range away, here’s to foisting our region into the popular spotlight.

By: Andres de Wet

Debutant DuToitskloof: A Coming of Age

Vintage gift of Hanepoot Jerepigo at the 50th gala dinner

Saturday evening begins with a flurry of excitement. Honoured guests dressed to the nines confidently strut up a red carpet towards two friendly individuals, one handing them a glass a bubbly, the other checking their names off a guest list. As they enter the elegantly decorated foyer, they’re greeting by the soothing, yet contemporary sounds of a French-gypsy-jazz fusion band, Manouche. This is not Los Angeles, even at a push this could be Stellenbosch… but no: This is Rawsonville! A town more synonymous with the “Raw” of its first syllable, than anything else; yet this event is anything but.

DuToitskloof Wines was an unknown entity just over a decade ago. It was nothing more than another bulk producer on that side of the mountain. Being on that side meant the climb was that much more precipitous to gain national acclaim; geography almost suggested you should be forgotten. Something shifted seismically nonetheless over the preceding decade. This red carpet event did not feel foreign to this team, often lauded as the winery most experienced at producing wines of consistent quality that never breaks the bank.

This was not a 50th Anniversary gala event, this was not a sophisticated dinner party or an awards ceremony. This was more of a debutant ball, a coming of age if you wish. DuToitskloof Wines had grown up, was dressed to the hilt in the best fashion and damn, did she look spectacular. She was mature and she was glowing with pride in a way only a self-made success could beam with such confidence.

From all the staff, the invited guests, the members, down to the keynote speaker, company chairman Johan de Wet, all you felt was an air of pride and satisfaction. There was nothing this group was embarrassed about, not a wine they produced they wouldn’t recommend, not an achievement they did not work hard for. Everything this cellar is today was done through pure dedication, taking some serious calculated risks and many a time, being forced to walk the road alone, when other industry insiders said it could never be done.

The cellar’s history was lauded, with founding members being fondly remembered, talk of the days when building facilities cost thousands, not millions of rands. Not a chapter was missed, including the days when the KWV controlled every aspect of wine production, vineyard planting and even wine prices.

After an informative lesson in South Africa’s often difficult wine history, the food was served. Paired meticulously with the best wines DuToitskloof has to offer. The starter of Duck with a ponzu sauce on a bed of egg noodles was simplistic, yet inspired. Paired with the cellar’s Chardonnay/Viognier blend, one could not go wrong. This robust white blend with complex citrus tones and depth was evenly matched by the intense Asian flavours and citrus notes of the ponzu sauce. Neither was overpowered and the combination danced in your mouth to the delight of the taste buds.

Main course refused to be overshadowed. The lamb roll delicately placed atop a potato and pea mash, with a stunning red wine reduction, with two baby carrots contributing a burst of orange on the plate, made the plate a work of art. The only red that could possibly match this was DuToitskloof’s double-gold Michelangelo award winning Dimension. This red- blend is like velvet on the palate. The tannins are already subdued, making this wine ready for enjoying immediately; despite this subtlety in the wine, the ever powerful Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz provided complexity and spiciness, the Merlot, a wonderful soft fruity tone. It was the perfect partner to the flavourful lamb. The red wine reduction and the Dimension seemed to fall in love with each other somewhere between the tip of the tongue and the tummy; the happiest tummy in recent months after the class-act that was the starter and entrée.

Francios Botha, DuToitskloof’s vice-chairman, proceeded to thank all those who made not only this night, but the cellar as a whole a success. A special mention has to go to a talented young woman, Elzaan Geldenhuys, who in her organisation skills and attention to stylistic detail, may be in danger of being snatched up by the Academy Awards organising committee in Los Angeles.

Desert was a to-share chocolate fondue with the most scrumptious and adorable biscotti, shortbread, nougat and fruit selection. It was a fun and interactive way to end the culinary part of the evening. People laughing as the noshed on the sweet delights held precariously between chopsticks, as they savoured the always appealing DuToitskloof Red Muscadel.

Marius Louw, the managing director and Shawn Thomson, lead winemaker, looked as proud as punch. One could only compare the glint in their eyes to what one may have if one’s daughter had just graduated cum laude from Harvard Law. As Johan de Wet stated in his keynote speech, DuToitskloof’s success is in its people. After such an evening of generous hospitality, this is indisputable. These are people who live, work and breathe DuToitskloof. They’re not personnel, members or directors, they’re family; their metaphorical daughter had grown up and what a phenomenal woman she has become.

Our winemaking team proud as punch with recent accolades – celebrating at 50th Anniversary. Left to Right: Jaco le Roux, Willie Stofberg, Alain Cajeux, Chris Geldenhuys, Shawn Thomson

Special Waterblommetjie Edition: The Recipes

Benny Masekwameng (MasterChef judge) enjoying one of the day’s dishes as judging commenced.

To celebrate our successful hosting of the first annual Cape Cuisine event, the Waterblommetjie Competition between Muratie Estate and DuToitkloof Wines on 17 August, we are posting the finalists’ recipes for your enjoyment. Enjoyed by our VIP guests and the media, we trust these recipes can bring some winter warmth to your home, hopefully paired with one of our beautiful wines.

DuToitskloof’s Recipe:

INGREDIENTS

 • 3 kg mutton in large chunks

• 1 chopped onion

• 12 small onions

• 4 cloves of garlic

• 15 small potatoes

• 4 cups chicken stock

• 2 cups Du Toitskloof Chardonnay

• 3 kg waterblommetjies

• 1 cup soy sauce

• Freshly ground black pepper to taste

• A bunch of wild sorrel or lemon juice to taste

METHOD

• Brown the meat in its own fat or use a bit of oil. Remove and brown the small onions until brown and keep aside.

• Braise the chopped onion and garlic and add the meat, wine and stock and place the waterblommetjies and small potatoes on top

• Place the lid on and simmer for about an hour

• Add the rest of the ingredients and simmer for afurther 20 minutes

• Serve with crushed wheat, rice, beetroot salad and baked quince

Muratie’s Recipe:

INGREDIENTS

• 1 kg mutton (a combination of platrib, dikrib and sheeps’ tails)

• 2,5 kg waterblommetjies, cleaned

• 500 g potatoes, peeled and cut into wedges

• 1 onion roughly chopped

• 1 clove of garlic fi nely chopped

• A bunch of wild sorrel, finely chopped

• 250 ml hot water

• 15 ml brown vinegar

• A pinch of grated nutmeg

• Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

• Lemon for serving

METHOD

• Use a heavy bottomed cast iron pot with a lid

• Season the meat with the brown vinegar, salt,pepper and nutmeg

• Braise the meat, onion and garlic in a little water until tender

• Add the waterblommetjies and wild sorrel and place the potatoes on top

• Season with salt, pepper and nutmeg to taste and add the 250 ml hot water

• Cover with the lid and simmer until tender. Keep hot water handy should you need more moisture – don’t let the contents cook dry or turn into a soup.

• Don’t stir the pot during the cooking but only before serving to mix the meat, potatoes and waterblommetjies

• Serve with rice and lemon wedges.

CLEANING THE WATERBLOMMETJIES - Soak the waterblommetjies overnight in salt water and rinse thoroughly. Remove all sand and dirt as well as the harder parts from the flowers and the leaves.

THE MEAT - If using mutton tails, don’t exceed the weight of the meat as specified in the recipe. If using lamb, braising will be much quicker. The success of this stew is the marriage between the fat of the meat and the waterblommetjies