Chenin Blanc Tasting

The workhorse that became a racehorse! Chenin Blanc, widely planted as the workhorse grape for brandy production and dry white wine – is now the trendiest kid on the block! Come and taste some of South Africa´s top Chenin benchmarked against the worlds best. Join Chair and Vice Chair, Barry Schofield and Spencer Fondaumiere alongside guest speaker Bruwer Raats on 20 May 2019 at SASA’s second benchmark series tasting.

Email info@sommeliers.org.za to RSVP

Image result for chenin blanc grape

Platter 5 Star Tasting One Year On

Ever wondered how well a five star white stands up to the test of time? How well a five star red integrates with an extra year in bottle? Or will that shy and reserved delicate wine open up with a year of rest?

Join SASA board member Barry Scholfield for a very rare and  special tasting showcasing a third of all the Platters 2018 Five Star Wines. Sourced, cellared and kept back for this very special occasion.

Event details:

Wednesday 12 December 2018 @ 18:00
Somm HQ
Unit 3b
The Woodmill Lifestyle Centre
Stellenbosch

R250 Members
R500 Non Members

RSVP to: info@sommeliers.org.za

Originally published in winemag.co.za.

The first Cape winery to offer a wine made solely from cabernet franc was Landskroon, it seems, with a 1983. The grape had been grown in a small way through much of the 20th century and became much more important from the 1980s, with the rise of the Bordeaux-style red blend where it is a widely used component of greater or lesser significance. A few other producers joined Landskroon with varietal versions, but even by the end of the century there were fewer than ten made. Expansion since then has been pretty spectacular, and the current Platter’s Guide lists something over 70 cab franc wines, reflecting the grape’s success in a range of conditions. In terms of hectares planted, the variety is still under one percent of the total, but this is double what it was at the turn of the century.

In France, there’s little Bordeaux made solely from cab franc (it contributes about 50% to famous Château Cheval Blanc), where, as in South Africa, it’s overshadowed by its progeny, cabernet sauvignon (sauvignon blanc is the other parent). But in parts of the Loire Valley it’s a different story, and in that cooler zone it tends to make a relatively light, earlier-maturing, more modestly oaked, fresher varietal wine than red Bordeaux – a style increasingly appreciated as the wine-drinking world thinks again about heavier, grander styles.

LVL
Lukas van Loggerenberg of Van Loggerenberg Wines.

That turn is happening in South Africa too, including with cab franc, and the shift was the focus of a tasting organised in Cape Town by sommelier and general wine-man Higgo Jacobs for SASA, the Somelliers Association of South Africa – sommeliers tend to love the lighter, fresher style of reds, for their great compatibility with food. Higgo worked with the notably well-informed Lukas van Loggerenberg in compiling the tasting – Lukas is the Cape’s great champion of what we could call Loire-style cab francs, and his Breton (named for a Loire synonym for the grape) has received much acclaim in the few years that it’s been made.

At the tasting, held at the Test Kitchen, we blind-tasted four flights of three wines, one in each flight being a foreigner. The first, Domaine de la Semellerie 2016 from Chinon on the Loire set the tone: a fairly simple, but beguiling wine, with red, raspberry-toned fruit, a leafy, herbal element – common in cab franc and part of its freshness – and a modest but informing tannic structure. It was not hard, in fact, to pick out the two locals in this flight – a little more extracted and ripely sweet-fruited: De Kleine Wijn Koop Knapse Kerel 2016 (herbal & floral notes predominating and quite fresh), and Waterkloof Circumstance Cabernet Franc 2015 (bigger, very grippy, darker cherry fruit, some meatiness).

The Van Loggerenberg Breton was in the next flight, following a very good Loire: Domaine Des Roches Neuves Saumur Champigny La Marginale 2013. Incidentally, this wine confirmed a point that Higgo had made – that Loire wines are not by any means always light and modest; many are getting riper and more powerful. What they do have to offer generally, however, is an acidity that complements riper fruit and allows the wine to retain freshness and elegance. Breton 2017 also fitted well into this pattern, however, more than any other local cab franc, being floral, a touch leafy, and fresh, refined and light – just a little sweetness hinting at its Stellenbosch origins. It deserves time in bottle. Hannay Cabernet Franc 2016, from Elgin, was appealing but more awkward, bigger, bolder and more extracted, with a little new oak showing.

It was starting to emerge more clearly what we should be looking for in this lighter style of cab franc: as Lukas suggested, a balance of the herbal, pyrazene note with ripeness of mostly red fruit. A purity of fruit, of course, unmuddied by excessive oak; finesse, definition and texture. These are the qualities that endear this style to sommeliers, as it does go refreshingly well with a range of foods.

The first of the two locals in the next flight was from the producer probably most associated with the variety in the Cape, Raats. The Dolomite 2016 was very fine, arguably more Bordeaux-like in structure, with plenty of tannin and power. The same applies to Eikendal’s Infused by Earth 2017 – also very youthful (some toasty oak evident), needing time for the tannins to integrate.

And then a few more yet-to-be-released Cape wines: Hermanuspietersfontein Swartskaap 2016: rich and fruity, deep, dry and serious, but fresh and pure. Gabriëlskloof Landscape Series Cab Franc 2017 is, to my palate, the best of the three that Peter-Allan Finlayson has bottled; it’s classically leafy (despite its ripeness and 14.2% alcohol), with a velvet, finely textured softness over a firm structure.

The tasting finished with a Chilean wine that came as a bit of a surprise even to Higgo, to whom it had been warmly recommended: Garage Wine Co Pirque Vineyard Cabernet Franc 2015. Very plush, fruity and showy, though well structured; about as far as one could get from the unpretentious charm of the Chinon, the first wine of the tasting. In that sense it served to remind us again that it’s not easy or even desirable to make generalisations about cab franc: it’s a grape variety and not a brand. The great thing in South Africa now is that with the Van Loggerenberg Breton we’ve got a benchmark of a style that hadn’t been seen and tasted here. Already it seems to be having an effect, encouraging more restraint and lightness in other cab francs. As for terroir – well, we must watch and taste and see where cab franc will do well, do best. I’ll venture just one guess: it won’t be the Swartland.

~Tim James

  • Tim James is one of South Africa’s leading wine commentators, contributing to various local and international wine publications. He is a taster (and associate editor) for Platter’s. His book Wines of South Africa – Tradition and Revolution appeared in 2013.

SASA Level 2 Examination – Johannesburg

Johannesburg – 29 October 2018

Venue to be confirmed

The examination covers theory, blind tasting and practical dining room work. The examination may include subjects not covered in the SASA Foundational Sommellerie Course and will change from time to time. The candidate is required to showcase the knowledge and expertise that is to be expected from a professional sommelier, and must successfully pass all three sections in order to be awarded the title of SASA Sommelier. It is recommended that the candidate has a theoretical level of understanding in line with WSET Level 3, the Cape Wine Academy Diploma or the Court of Master Sommeliers Certified Sommelier. The SASA Sommelier examination is open to all SASA members to sit without any prerequisites, under the condition that the member has, in his/her own opinion, accumulated enough experience to attempt the examination.

Please email info@sommeliers.org.za for further information.

SASA Level 2 Examination – Cape Town

Cape Town – 22 October 2018

Venue to be confirmed

The examination covers theory, blind tasting and practical dining room work. The examination may include subjects not covered in the SASA Foundational Sommellerie Course and will change from time to time. The candidate is required to showcase the knowledge and expertise that is to be expected from a professional sommelier, and must successfully pass all three sections in order to be awarded the title of SASA Sommelier. It is recommended that the candidate has a theoretical level of understanding in line with WSET Level 3, the Cape Wine Academy Diploma or the Court of Master Sommeliers Certified Sommelier. The SASA Sommelier examination is open to all SASA members to sit without any prerequisites, under the condition that the member has, in his/her own opinion, accumulated enough experience to attempt the examination.

Please email info@sommeliers.org.za for further information.

Biodynamic viticulture: A hands on experience

Put on your hiking shoes and join SASA for a morning in the vineyards with Johan Reyneke, proprietor of Reyneke Wines in Stellenbosch.

Johan is one of a handful of winemakers who manages his vineyards according to the biodynamic principles of Rudolf Steiner. Come see how these principles are applied in a South African setting and get an understanding as to why so many of the world’s top producers are moving to this management strategy.

Cost: Member R 100
Non- Member R 250

SASA Tasting

Many local sommeliers are bottling their own hand-selected offerings. Join SASA board member, Tinashe Nyamudoka, as we explore some of these bottles created by sommeliers past and present.

Cost: R150 members, R300 non-members

Chairman’s Speech – L’Avenir Gala Dinner

Rootstock Session Gala Dinner Speach

In an article published in Business Day and Winemag online platforms in February this year Michael Fridjon asks the question: “Is the SA Sommelier movement losing momentum?”

Michael actually follows on with content in the article that compliments individual and industry efforts and takes a welcome and justified stab (and not for the first time) at distributorcontrolled wine lists, loss of creativity through listing fees and restaurant owners unwillingness to hand the control of their wine programs over to educated, well imbursed wine professionals; I.E. Sommeliers.

We are grateful when someone of Michael’s calibre brings our profession to his audience, and I personally thought that the article mostly had valid points.

But that question in the title line caught my (and I’m sure many others’) attention.

I believe that the answer to this question is NO

If SASA was a wine, it would be like a very young Chenin made from young vines. It’s planted in a promising site and it’s being received well by the industry, but it’s still getting used to its environment, trying to get its roots in deeper (in sometimes hostile soils), and therefore hasn’t reached its full potential.

We have achieved lots in recent years. I would like to share some of these successes:

Our SASA courses are now well established, offering mentorship and certification for sommeliers and wine stewards across 3 different levels. Two recognised academies in the form of SOMM and the Sommelier Academy are licenced to offer SASA courses to students. Made possible by funding from the NDT, the Sommelier Academy has embarked on a project to train and qualify 300 junior sommeliers over the next 3 years.

We are now a full member of the Association de La Sommelier International (ASI). This allows us to compete on the international stage and also offer internationally recognised sommelier certification in SA. I am on a sub-committee of the ASI. We are working towards establishing a regional African chapter in the ASI, and we are shortlisted to host a large ASI event in Cape Town in the nearby future.

We have recently staged 2 very successful competitions for young sommeliers working in SA. The Moët & Chandon / SASA Best Young Sommelier of South Africa (won by Wikus Human, who will compete in SA’s Best Sommelier competition this year); and the Gaggenau Sommelier Awards (won by Joakim Blackadder who is off to Beijing to compete with other winners). Both these competitions are confirmed to continue in the future.

In September this year, we will stage the Best Sommelier of South Africa competition for the second time. The winner will represent us in Antwerp next year in the world championships. Most will recall our success with Gareth Ferreira’s performance at the previous showing in 2016.

We will once again be involved at Cape Wine, including an exciting official calendar event in collaboration with the Chenin Blanc association.

We now employ 2 part time people devoted to driving SASA’s goals and tasks

A PR company to drive further awareness of the association and increase membership has been hired

We are already seeing an increase in membership, also with the help of an improved new website. Watch this space for more interactive online improvements and payment portal

And, of course, our well attended monthly tastings offer education and networking for our

growing membership base

If you had told the founding members back in 2010 when this thing started around a dinner table in Neil Grant’s house that the sommelier fraternity would have achieved all of this in 8 years, I don’t think any of us would have betted on that as an outcome. We didn’t set up for failure of course, but we just wanted to get something going as a platform.

The SASA Board members are custodians of this organisation. Not owners. Not beneficiaries. It is a member driven organisation. I am the only founding member still remaining on the board after 8 years. This shows that SASA gets in new energy and direction on a regular basis. Some of the founding members and previous board members are here tonight.

At some point they may come back to the board and at some point we will entirely hand over this custodianship to the next generation of SA sommeliers. Such is the workings of an NPO and a democratic organisation. It is a group effort.

You can all be very proud of your organisation. I certainly am.

I would like to, once again, encourage all members of all membership types to get involved, make suggestions, make yourselves available, and keep us moving forward.

Thank you to all our sponsors for tonight:

L’Avenir, Stir Food, Gavin Withers Photography, Stellies Beer, Geometric Gin, DowningsandDurr Bottling

Thank you to the wine producers for the wonderful wines sponsored for tonight:

Almenkerk, De Wetshof, Klein Constantia, KWV,Nederburg,Negrar,Vilafonte,Wine Cellar (Drappier),L’Ormarins, Bouchard Finlayson, Creation, Fable andMulderbosch

Thank you to SASA Vice-President, David Clark

Thank you to Event Organiser, Elsa Fourie

Notes to editor: SASA (or the South African Sommelier Association) is an organisation established in 2011 as a not for profit organisation with the goal to further the profession of sommeliers, set standards for excellence in the service of wine and other beverages in the South African hospitality industry, promote the professional interests of our members, and to be a platform for a fraternity of sommeliers to interact with each other and connect with international somms.

We are a membership driven organisation. We do not receive grants from government or from any other industry bodies. We do not receive any corporate sponsorships other than the membership fees for businesses, which is a fixed annual rate for all. We hold bi-annual AGM’s where we elect the executive, or board members from our membership base. The board (including the chairpersons) do not receive any remuneration for our efforts and time put in. We do invoice for services rendered when we stage events / organise competitions / teach courses. This is usually well below industry related rates.

~ Higgo Jacobs