2012 in review

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The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 2,800 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 5 years to get that many views.

Click here to see the complete report.

The Big 5 reasons why people should drink wine!

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Healthy reasons to drink wine.

Healthy reasons to drink wine.

American actor Will Rogers (1879 – 1935) once jokingly commented on the ill effects of drinking wine by saying; “Wine had such ill effects on Noah’s health that it was all he could do to live 950 years. Show me a total abstainer that ever lived that long.”

Is there any truth behind his ironic statement?

We must not, however, confuse the reasons why people drink wine with the benefits of drinking wine. Alcohol, including wine, is being consumed by people for various reasons. It can be related to social, emotional, religious, physical and/or psychological factors.

Some common reasons why people drink wine, include:
Wine can be drunk as an alternative to say water, to quench one’s thirst.
Wine can be used before a meal to improve one’s appetite.
Drinking wine during a meal can enhance and complement the flavour of food.
Wine can be serve to make social gatherings more memorable, and
Wine can be enjoyed to help people unwind and produce a state of euphoria.

Let’s try and put the drinking of wine in a historical perspective. According to Satoshi Kanazawa; “human consumption of alcohol was unintentional, accidental, and haphazard until about 10,000 years ago. The intentional fermentation of fruits and grain to yield ethanol arose only recently in human history. The production of wine, which requires a large amount of grapes, could not have taken place before the advent of agriculture around 8,000 BC and the consequent agricultural surplus. Archeological evidence dates the production of wine to Mesopotamia at about 6,000 BC.”

Every year, numerous medical reports and headlines are being published about the health benefits of drinking wine in moderation. But is drinking wine really healthy? In short, the answer is yes!

Thanks to both its alcohol content and non-alcoholic plant derivatives, wine has been found to reduce both heart disease and some cancers. It can also slow down neurological degenerative disorders like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s Disease. As more studies are being undertaken, wine’s list of benefits is getting more surprising by the day. New findings even dictate that wine taken in moderation can help with weight loss, reduce forgetfulness, boost your immunity and help prevent bone loss.

According to health practitioners the world over, the amount of wine you drink must be taken into account. By drinking more than the medical recommendation, the health benefits are lost and the risk to your health my even rise!

Here’s what’s considered safe and effective:
Men:  300 ml or two glasses of red or white wine per day.
Women: 150 ml or one glass of red or white wine per day.
Now that that is settled, let’s look at the Big 5 Reasons the Modern Health Conscience Consumer Should Drink Wine:

Benefit 1 : Longevity
Maybe Noah’s 950 years is a bit optimistic, but the compound resveratrol, found in red wine, has been shown to increase lifespan in animal studies. A recent Finnish study has shown a 34% lower mortality rate than those that partake of both wine and spirits.

Benefit 2 : A healthy heart
Red wine has been found to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease drastically, thanks to the anti-oxidants, like
procyanidin, it contains. Creina Stockley, Australian Wine Research Institute manager of health and regulatory information, says; “People that drink a moderate amount of wine regularly, particularly with food, have a 30 per cent reduced risk of heart diseases.”

Benefit 3 : Reduce the risk of various cancers
Clinical pharmacologists have found that the phenolic compounds found in wine work by preventing the initiation, progression and growth of cancer cells in the human body. Studies show that moderate wine consumption reduces Lung Cancer by 13%, Prostate Cancer by 50%, Colon Cancer by 45% and has risk-reducing effects on instances of Breast Cancer.

Benefit 4 : Feed the mind
Wine can preserve your memory and therefore drinking wine in moderation does not necessarily spell killed brain cells. Researchers, doing studies on memory retention, found that respondents who drank one glass of wine every day scored much better than those who drank less or not at all. Wine may also reduce your risk of developing certain dementias, such as Alzheimer’s disease.

Benefit 5 : Helps with weight control
Research has found that people drinking wine daily and in moderation have lower body mass than those who drink on occasion only. Moderate wine drinkers have narrower waists and less abdominal fat than people who drink liquor. Alcohol may encourage your body to burn extra calories for as long as 90 minutes after you down a glass.

Now that we have a better understanding of all the health benefits of wine, lets further reward our bodies with some wholesome food!

As a perfect accompaniment to a chilled glass of white wine, and to enjoy as a light lunch, I chose this simple, yet deliciously healthy salad from the land of the “bean-eaters”.

Tuscan Tuna and Cannellini Bean Salad

Lets raise a glass to good health!

Not all wines are created equal!

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By law, wine in South Africa is produced from fresh grapes, and yeast, that can either occur naturally on the grapes or gets introduced to the must. Depending on various other considerations like style, grape quality and the health of the wine, additional additions of acid, sulfur dioxide, wood products, and various fining materials can be added.

Not all wines are created equal! (Johan Botha 2012)

Not all wines are created equal! (Johan Botha 2012)

Why then are not all wines created equal?

On a cellular level all wine in its purist form is a dynamic and ever-changing bio-chemical environment. It is a living and breathing entity!

Why do some wines get embraced, praised and acknowledged with awards on a regular basis?

If we had a simple and easily executable answer to this, all wines would equally bare the embrace of medals and awards. Unfortunately there exist no magic spell, no secret scientific formulae or even an idiot’s guide to producing award winning wines!

What I do know, is that wines receiving accolades regularly are produced by a synergy of many different inputs.

Vineyard monitoring and management, grape selection, site selection, micro climate manipulation, terroir and variety selection, vinification techniques, wine making philosophy, time, passion, patience, fortune, freedom of choice and human restraint all being of equal value to produce an iconic wine. And who knows, maybe more than often, some plain luck!

For this month’s spotlight I have chosen the following multi-awarded wines:

Saronsberg Full Circle 2010
The wine has a deep, dark purple colour with prominent dark fruit, red berry and ripe cherry flavours, followed by seductive spice and violet nuances. The pallet is textured and full-bodied with plush fruit and wild scrub notes, capsuled in silky tannins ending in a long finish.

Awards:
International Wine Challenge 2012 – Silver Medal
Concours Mondial de Bruxelles 2012 – Gold
Sawi Top SA Wines 2012 – Platinum

Lomond Pincushion Single-Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc 2011
The wine has a brilliantly clear colour with green tinges. A delicate aroma of citrus, pineapple and a mix of tropical fruits on the nose is followed by an elegant palate with a fresh acidity that balances out the intense fruit flavours.

Awards:
2012 FNB Sauvignon Blanc Top 10 Wines – Finalist
Old Mutual Trophy Wine Show 2012 – Bronze
International Wine Challenge 2012 – Bronze Medal
Top 100 SA Wines 2012 Status
Michelangelo International Wine Awards 2011 – Silver Medal
Weinwelt – German Magazine June/July 2011 – 89 Points
Decanter 2011 – Gold Award

Teddy Hall Dr Jan Cats Chenin Blanc Reserve 2010
Bright gold with green tinge, tropical fruit salad nose – pineapple and some quince. On the palate the balance is impeccable with grapefruit, vanilla and baked apple flavours. Underlining the wine’s pedigree is an intense finish which lingers long after the mouthful has been swallowed.

Awards:
Wine Spectator rated Teddy Hall Dr Jan Cats Chenin blanc Reserve 2010 91 points
Top 100 SA Wines 2012
Medal winner at the Old Mutual Trophy Wine Show 2012
This wine received 4½ stars Platter’s 2012 wine
The only Chenin blanc gold Medal winner at the Classic Wine Trophy Show 2012,
Awarded top 10 Chenin for the 2012 Chenin Challenge run by the magazine Classic Wine.

Kaapzicht Chenin Blanc 2012
Ripe quince, pineapple and stone fruit, with some interesting savoury undertones. Lightly textured palate, with a hint of sweetness and balancing crunchy acid, results in a brisk finish.

Awards:
Best Value Award winners for 2013
Michelangelo International Wine Awards 2012 – Gold Medal

Rijks Private Cellar Pinotage 2008
This crimson coloured wine has a unique elegant nose of red fruit and cherries, which is reminiscent of a great Pinot Noir. These attractive fruity aromas carry through onto a rich, creamy palate that is finished off with well-balanced refined tannins.

Awards:
Old Mutual Trophy Wine Show 2012 – The Best Pinotage
2012 ABSA Pinotage Top 10 finalist
Double Gold Michelangelo
Trophy winner at International Wine & Spirits Competition for best Pinotage in the world
Trophy at Michelangelo for best Pinotage
Trophy at Old Mutual Trophy Wine Show for best Pinotage
Rated as 1 of the Top 100 wines in SA

Orange River Cellars Ruby Cabernet 2011
Deep, ruby-coloured with pronounced mocha coffee aromas, complemented by almond flavours on the palate.

Awards:
Best Value Award winners for 2013
All six wines entered into the 2012 China Wine Awards won gold medals

Now that we have some excellent wines to drink, what shall we eat?
Tasty and easy to prepare, the following South African recipe is not only ideal for healthy and wholesome cooking, but also the perfect traditional South African dish to accompany our selection of bold and amazing reds:

South African Venison Pie with Red Wine and Rooibos Tea

By enjoying these, and many other, award winning South African wines and our traditional cuisine, you will soon realize that you have ample reason to be proudly South African!

 

 

Video of Norwegian rally driver Petter Solberg crashing his Ford Fiesta into vineyards in Alsace.

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Norwegian rally driver Petter Solberg lost control of his Ford Fiesta RS WRC and plunged into vineyards in Alsace during the Rallye de France event.

Solberg and his co-driver were unhurt in the crash, which happened in the Epfig region, but winemaker Daniel Wolfer’s lush green vines were not so lucky.

Read the full story by Chris Mercer, Decanter.com

 

The charm of South African “old vines”

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After an exhilarating first day at the Cape Wine 2012, Professor Alain Deloire from the Department of Viticulture and Oenology at the University of Stellenbosch, kicked off a fascinating seminar on “A passion for old vines”.

The beautiful and charm of old vines. (Image courtesy of Martin Redmond)

The beautiful and charm of old vines. (Image courtesy of Martin Redmond)

On a academic level an old vine could be defined as an old woody structure consisting of roots, a trunk and arms. The aspect that distinguished it as an old vine however, is the fact that such a vine is “full of memory”.

On a genetic level, the old organs on such a vine, are not only able to annually give birth to new leafs and berries, but miraculously also pass on its “memory” to these new organs.

It is this “memory’ that makes old vines so precious. In a sense, old vines will after years of being cultivated in a specific site, become at home that environment. They will adapt themselves to a specific climate, soil and people. This will then be stored in their “memory”.

European producers and even consumers have been aware of this for centuries and because of this a strong relationship exists between the perceived quality of a wine and the age of the vines. Older vines are simply seen as producing better quality wine and are equally true for both red and white varieties. This quality aspect is founded on the fact that an old vine has an established root system.

The European producers are also in the habit of isolating buds containing the “memory” when and where ever old vines are discovered. This genetic material are then used to transfer the “stored” memory to new vines.

In a country where vineyards are being planted for production “runs” off between 20 and 25 years only, such an approach to old vines asked for a serious mind-shift.

Can this be to tall an order and to big a dilemma for an industry so focused on just keeping the boat afloat on an ever changing global economic ocean?

Back to basics with Sauvignon Blanc

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Maybe if called Surin, Blanc Fumé or even Muscat Silvaner, it would not evoke such an emotional response.

What could be better than a good Sauvignon Blanc?

What could be better than a good Sauvignon Blanc?

But alas, Sauvignon Blanc by any other name is still Sauvignon Blanc and when the word is uttered there are either those who love it and will defend it with a passion or those who hate it!

If it was possible to personify this grape as a vocalist, Sauvignon Blanc would most certainly be Chris Chameleon.
Bold, versatile and thunderous in style, Chris hits even the highest notes with an electric, daring edge.
You can expect nothing less from Sauvignon Blanc.
Sauvignon Blanc is a snappy, zesty grape, full of aromatic personality and apart from the Muscat family; Sauvignon Blanc is the only grape variety that actually tastes like a grape in the finished wine.
From humble beginnings in France, where it was cultivated from the early 18th century and mostly blended with Semillon and Muscadelle, Sauvignon Blanc excelled to become a variety that is today being grown around the world, where it has an unique personality and taste in every region.
Initially only small quantities were planted in South Africa, as from 1920. By 1979 the demand for Sauvignon Blanc exploded and new plantings increased exponentially. By November 2011, 28 771 302 Sauvignon Blanc vines were planted on more than 9 644 hectares.
Although Chardonnay remains the most popular white wine, there is no stopping Sauvignon Blanc’s growing popularity worldwide and this grape represents the most likely challenger to the throne.
For many, Sauvignon Blanc also polarised the term ‘cult wine’, having nothing to do with exclusivity or intellect; to the contrary, its magnetism was based on being the consummate social lubricant acceptable and approachable in price and style to all. Surely this is a good thing, unless you’re a complete and utter wine snob.
Marc Hanes (The Hanes Wine Review, October 2005,) also mention a curious and little known fact about Sauvignon Blanc, “Sauvignon Blanc is a “parent” of Cabernet Sauvignon. The latter has been shown to be the result of a spontaneous field crossing between Sauvignon Blanc and Cabernet Franc (a grape which is used to make red wines) in the 18th century in some unknown vineyard in France’s Bordeaux region where Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc were inter-planted. So, a grape which was used to make white wines is half responsible for the existence of perhaps the world’s most famous grape used to make a red wine. The world is a mysterious and beautiful place.”
Because of its high acidity and crisp, clean taste, Sauvignon Blanc is a great wine to serve with food.
Mostly being in a light- to medium-bodied style, Sauvignon Blanc happily belongs at the beginning of a meal. Its high acidity and crisp style is a match made in heaven for many first courses such as soups, salads, and appetizers.
Sauvignon Blanc also works well with foods that are difficult to pair wine with, like green vegetables and spicy dishes. The herbaceous nature of Sauvignon Blanc pairs perfectly with fresh herbs and its natural acidity enables it to stand up to foods with higher acidity, like goat cheese, tomatoes, and yogurt. Any other wine with less acidity would simply taste flabby with these foods.
Sauvignon Blanc is a seafood wine par excellence! It is best served with shellfish and lighter fish such as sole or cod and also good with acidic Indian dishes and Thai dishes with creamy coconut sauces or even milder aromatic curries.
Tasting Sauvignon Blanc
Look at the Colour
Hold your glass up to the light. Sauvignon blanc is definitely the most well known wine that has hints of green. Sauvignon Blanc colour can vary substantially from brilliantly clear to green-yellow or even golden amber.
Nose the wine 
Swirl the wine in your glass; it will release a range of aromas. Take a fast sniff for a first impression. Smell more deeply and slowly. What do you pick up?
Sauvignon Blanc is very distinctive and one of the easier cultivars to identify by its pronounced and aggressive aroma and bouquet profile.
Varietal (from the grape) Aromas include:
  • Herbaceous: grass, herbs, lemongrass, gooseberry
  • Vegetable: capsicum (sweet peppers), green olive, asparagus, green beans
  • Fruit: grapefruit, lime, lemon, melon, green figs
  • Aggressive: chalky, mineral, “cat pee”

Fermentation and wine processing Bouquet include:

  • Vanilla, sweet wood, butter, cream, oak, smoke, toast, flint

Evaluate the taste

Take a sip and let it rest in your mouth before swallowing. Consider the taste. Does the taste go away quickly or linger? Is it tart or flabby?
With naturally high acidity, Sauvignon Blanc is always tangy, tart, racy, or zesty.
Consider the palate 
Take another sip of wine. Before swallowing, take in a little air. This will activate your senses further. Notice how the wine feels in your mouth. How does the touch affect your tongue and throat as you swallow?
On the future of Sauvignon Blanc, Mike Radcliffe had the following to say; “While Sauvignon Blanc has proved immensely popular with consumers, there has always been a feeling that it is a non-serious variety. You just don’t find many Sauvignons priced £15 and over, whereas for most other varieties, this sort of price ceiling doesn’t exist. For this reason, it’s exciting to see the work being done by Duncan Savage at Cape Point Vineyards. From this cool, maritime spot Duncan has for some years been making one of South Africa’s top Sauvignons. With some oak and a bit of Semillon in the blend, the Cape Point Isliedh is one of the world’s best expressions of Sauvignon, complex and precise and capable of ageing. This is the sort of wine that could see Sauvignon taken much more seriously by the fine wine community.”.

South African Recipes Part 2: Traditional South African Beef Biltong / Tradisionele Beesbiltong

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According to the Webster’s College Dictionary, biltong can be defines as;

“biltong(n.)ˈbɪlˌtɔŋ, -ˌtɒŋ
(in South Africa) strips of lean meat dried in the open air.”

Tasty Slices of South African Beef Biltong

Tasty Slices of South African Beef Biltong

From this definition only one thing is certain an that is that the authors of the  Webster’s Collage Dictionary never had the pleasure of tasting a piece of traditional South African biltong. If they had, they would also have been hooked on the taste like millions of other people from around the globe.

For those of you who does not know what I am talking about please click the following link quickly Biltong – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, and return to make this delicious meaty snack.

First you will need to make the spice mixture:

Biltong Spice Mixture

Biltong Spice Mixture

Traditional South African Bilting Spice Mixture Recipe

Now it is time to prepare the meat:

A Rump roast being used to make Biltong

A Rump roast being used to make Biltong

Traditional South African Beef Biltong Recipe

Traditional South African Beef Biltong

Traditional South African Beef Biltong

Yip, making biltong is that simple!

Enjoy the recipe, please give feedback and remember to follow me on twitter @wynmaker !

Photographic Study: Frozen

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“I miss you like the sun misses the flower. Like the sun misses the flower in the depths of winter. Frozen world your absence has banished me to.”

- A Knights Tale (2001)

Johan Botha: Frozen

Johan Botha: Frozen

This image was created by freezing a flower in a square bowl of water. Once frozen the whole “slab of ice” was removed and the image was taken on an overcast cold winters morning, to prevent thawing. Shot on Fuji Reala 100 ISO film, using a Canon FL 50mm F1.4 lens mounted on an old Canon A1 manual focus camera body.

Photographic Study: The Piano Player

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Pedro Kruger or “Die boytjie van Brackenfell” is probably one of South Africa’s most famous pianists. He made his South African debut being the resident piano player on Kyknet’s hit music series called “Liriekeraai”.

Johan Botha: Pedro Kruger

Johan Botha: Pedro Kruger

I took this promotional image back in the late nineties at a dress rehearsal. My trusted manual focus Canon T90 with a Canon FL 28mm F2.8 lense was tripod mounted. I used a low shutter speed and some fill-in flash to obtain some movement on the image. The film was Kodak Tri-X 400 ISO.

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