Tag Archives: organic grapes

Elgin Ridge and Platter’s Wine Guide

The 2013 Platter’s Guide recently made its debut on the market, just in time for Christmas, and we must say that we are very pleased. The new edition brings an added bout of excitement for us, in addition to our inclusion in the guide; Elgin Ridge was also featured in the Platter’s 2013 photo gallery.

Elgin Ridge DucksThe photo gallery forms part of a new section of the Platter’s Guide that features the tales of some of South Africa’s top wineries. The stories highlight the passions and preoccupations, the dreams, challenges and successes of these wineries. We are thrilled to have the story of how Elgin Ridge came to fruition included; another step in “living the dream”.

We had a wonderful time with photographer, Teddy Sambu and Athol Moult. Teddy is the first chosen Imara Lightwarrior for the Imara Trust and under the mentorship of renowned photographer Athol Moult, will gain valuable experience. Teddy is from Khayelitsha and after the death of his mother, Teddy started taking photographs of children playing football on the N2 motorway, using whatever equipment he could get his hands on. With limited education, photography was his chosen means of expression. As a chosen Imara Lightwarrior, Teddy has the opportunity to progress to a first class professional photographer. Teddy can be contacted by Linkedin.

Athol Moult is a prominent Cape Town artist and photographer and has regular solo exhibitions. His work is represented in public and private collections in South African and abroad. Athol can be contacted at his web site Athol Moult.

Here are a few behind the scenes images from the day

Teddy and Athol   Teddy hard at work

Marion and Brian   Athol hard at work

For the full story find us on page 248 of the guide.

Elegantly Elgin Wine Route launches

Elegantly Elgin LogoWine estates of the Elgin Valley are fortifying their strengths as they prepare to launch an official wine route on the 6th – 7th  October. The wine route aptly named, Elegantly Elgin, will provide the opportunity for visitors and  wine lovers to regularly experience the superior and complex structured wines synonymous with this district.

With a wealth of medals and acclaimed awards from  local and international wine fraternities behind them,  the Elgin Valley wine producers have entered the final straight in forming an official Wine Route. The route is set to take flight through a concept called “Open Wine Weekends”, where once a month sixteen wine estates will open their cellar doors to wine lovers to fully experience all the Elgin wine has to offer. Cellars will be creating an experiential weekend around wine during these open wine weekends with a focus on specific varietals each month. The estates will run normal operations for the remaining part of the month.

Monthly Themed campaigns:

6 -7 October: Flagship Wines – Celebration of Cool Climate Wines
3 -4 November and 10 – 11 November: A Sauvignon Blanc Celebration
open for 2 weekends to coincide with Open Gardens
1 -2 December: A Chardonnay Celebration
5-6 January: Elegantly Elgin Whites (aromatic blends)

Elgin Wine Week End bannerDuring  Varietal themed months –  i.e.  In November the theme will be Sauvignon Blanc wines from the area, we will highlight the best  cellar doors to visit for consumers who are specifically looking for superior Sauvignon Blanc wines in that month. All wineries will have their full range available for tastings, as the varietal themed month is an added benefit to our visitor experience.

The members range from our famous historic estates, frequently publicised, to a growing number of new estates, who together have all contributed towards strengthening Elgin’s offering and placed us firmly on the wine route map. The Sixteen Estates are in alphabetical order: Almenkerk ; Arumdale ; Elgin Ridge; Elgin Vintners; Hannay & Catherine Marshall Wines; Highlands Road Wines, Iona Vineyards; Lothian Wines; Mofam Wines ;Oak Valley Wines; Oude Molen Brandy Distillery; Paul Cluver Wines; Shannon Vineyards; Spioenkop Wine; South Hill Wines; Winters Drift

The Elgin Wine Weekend is the perfect way to experience wines of the valley  and discover why this region  is fast becoming a most celebrated wine-producing area of the Cape.  Here, acclaimed vines benefit from diverse soils and cool maritime breezes which ensure perfect conditions for slow ripening. This allows the grapes to develop their intense flavours, great natural acidity, complexity and strong core of elegance. The wines are predominantly fruity and Sauvignon Blanc, Rhine Riesling, Pinot Noir and Shiraz fare particularly well in this region.

We invite you to join us and enjoy the hospitality as the estates display the fruits of their labour. It is a celebration of the distinctive flavours from the district. Come and enjoy the classic expressions of Elgin Wine.

For more detailed  information on the open wine weekends please log onto www.elginwine.co.za
Come and meet the people behind the wines of Elgin and drink in our passion.

Establishing the ELEGANTLY ELGIN WINE ROUTE as a designation for wine lovers.

Founding Members, in alphabetical order, Almenkerk ; Arumdale ; Elgin Ridge ;Elgin Vintners; Hannay & Catherine Marshall Wines; Highlands Road Wines, Iona Vineyards; Lothian Wines; Mofam Wines ;Oak Valley Wines; Oude Molen Brandy Distillery; Paul Cluver Wines; Shannon Vineyards; Spioenkop Wine; South Hill Wines; Winters Drift

Event Details:
Event Name: Elegantly Elgin Wine Route Launch Weekend
Date: 06 – 07 October 2012
Varietal Focus for month of October: Flagship Wines a celebration of Cool Climate wines
Time: 10h00 – 17h00
Venue: 16 Wine estates located on the Elegantly Elgin Map.

Event Name: Elegantly Elgin Open Wine Weekend
Date: 03– 04 November  and the 10- 11 November 2012
Varietal Focus for month of November: A Sauvignon Blanc Celebration
Time: 10h00 – 17h00
Venue: 16 Wine estates located on the Elegantly Elgin Map.

Event Name: Elegantly Elgin Open Wine Weekend
Date: 01 – 02  December 2012
Varietal Focus for month of December: Chardonnay Celebration
Time: 10h00 – 17h00
Venue: 16 Wine estates located on the Elegantly Elgin Map.

Event Name: Elegantly Elgin Wine Route Launch Weekend
Date: 05 – 06 January 2013
Varietal Focus for month of January: New Year celebration of Elegantly Elgin Whites (Aromatic blends)
Time: 10h00 – 17h00
Venue: 16 Wine estates located on the Elegantly Elgin Map.

Elgin Ridge at Chardon d’Or – Glasgow

Original article by Joe McGuire on The Glaswegian

Joe writes

I ALWAYS like dealing with family companies.

There’s something reassuring knowing that a business isn’t just a faceless corporation, but has a human face behind it. I find it doubly reassuring when an individual has such faith in their product that they’ll put their name to it.

In the case of West Regent street restaurant Chardon d’Or, owner and chef Brian Maule has the confidence to stick his name above the door. It’s a confidence that’s completely justified.

I visited last Friday night, the day after Maule, who trained under culinary masters the Roux brothers, took home Chef of the Year at the CIS Awards, an auspicious omen for my review.

Walking in to Chardon d’Or we were immediately greeted by the maitre de who ushered my friend and I to our window table. From there I could survey the entire room, an airy and open space, tastefully decorated and with bluesy jazz playing softly in the background. It made for easy listening as I selected a bottle.

The restaurant enjoys a reputation for fine wines, and holds regular tasting nights. Perusing the extensive wine menu it was clear to see this reputation is well merited. I chose a bottle of South African sauvignon blanc, Elgin Ridge 282 (£36) which was the finest I’ve had.

Reading the menu I was faced with the only unpleasant part of the evening-choosing just one starter and main. While waiting on our starters a foie gras amuse bouche whet our appetites nicely and promised excellence to come.

To kick things off I chose the pan friend crevetts with chorizo, red pepper compote, and sauce aioli (£10.50). Presented so beautifully I felt a tad guilty about eating it, the unusual combination of king prawns and chorizo was an absolute winner.

My friend chose the goats cheese which was served with a beetroot salad, walnuts and caramelised apple (£8.95) and she reported that it was “divine”.

Next up I chose the roast cod fillet with broccoli puree and grilled leeks, topped with a black olive tapenade (£24). This was an absolute triumph, the fish cooked to perfection and frankly I could’ve happily eaten a whole bowl of the tapenade alone (a puree of olives, anchovies, capers and olive oil). Now I’m not a fussy eater but I’ve never been a broccoli fan; It’s testament to Maule’s training that he could actually make me want more of them, and the grilled leeks where exceptional.

My companion opted for the breast of duck with spinach and tips of asparagus (£23.50). I got a sliver of this myself and it was top notch, the meat succulent and juicy. My friend said her only regret at ordering it was my poor japery of diving under the table when I asked what she ordered.

To round things off I had the homemade ice cream and sorbets selection (£8.95) , with vanilla, pistachio, watermelon and orange the order of the day, all delicious.

My friend thought she ordered the oranges marinated in grenadine, and orange curd with macaroons (£8.50) but what arrived was in fact an artwork-an incredibly tasty artwork admittedly.

A very nice touch is the fact that Maule came out and talked to the table who were finished, sharing a few words with all.

I love that philosophy that because it’s his name on the door, it’s him in the kitchen and on the floor.

He told me that not a single dish leaves the kitchen without his approval and from the excellence on display Friday evening, it’s clear that this diligence has paid off.

Address: 176 West Regent Street  Phone: 248 3801 Web: www.brianmaule.com

Where goodness translates into good wine

This article originally appeared on www.wine.co.za and has been read 1393 times

When asked why he was mulching with egg shells, my fathers’ favourite saying was this: “everything goes back to nature”. This might be a little too simplistic a view of organic farming, but true in this context.

Marion Smith with her beloved organic Sauvignon blanc vines
Marion Smith with her beloved organic Sauvignon blanc vines

What you put back into the ground, you get back out and he wanted to place as much goodness back into the soil as possible. We used mulch with ground egg shells, ash from the fire, grass, leaves and food waste. The point of the legendary compost heap at the bottom of the garden wasn’t just to provide entertainment for us as children and the odd assortment of vegetables that grew from the occasional seeds which found their way onto the heap – it was to provide an incredible natural source of nutrients, earthworms and structure to the soil of our garden.

The menagerie of geese, ducks and chickens we kept would be on egg duty, snail patrol and for the occasional sport of chasing the cat and small child (me) around the garden. Weeds were simply pulled out using child labour (me again) instead of using weed killer.

Snails (if they weren’t eaten by the ducks, chickens or geese) met their untimely demise in a tin of brine – the same with other insects. Spiders that managed to find their way into our home were gently invited out by my father, inside a glass bottle. The point of my whimsical meanderings was that we tried to make sure that we would rarely use chemicals in our garden to provide what we termed ‘easy gardening’.

Elgin Ridge organic vinesNow ‘easy gardening’ and wine-making have a great deal in common, except on a grander scale because there is a commercial and financial gain to be made. It isn’t growing a crop of tomatoes to sell at the village market it is large scale business involving greater production levels, processing, supply chain and financial risk. Chemicals have to be used to keep pests at bay, soil has to be treated to provide as much nutritional value as possible for the vines, the yield per hectare has to be able make financial sense where your commodity is sold per ton and spoilage greatly reduces that gain. The cosmetic factor of having animals, birds, bees and butterflies, is by the way side on a large-scale commercial farm and certainly not as important as the financial gain of the product. Or is it?

The answer is simple if you look at what my father used to say: “what you place into the ground, you get back out”. Now much the same with can be said regarding the use of harmful chemicals: if you put these into the soil, ultimately your soil becomes tainted with undesirable contents, the soil could become barren – in constant need of additional nutrients and attention – and eventually the soil stops providing the rich nutritious food it once did. The birds, butterflies and insects all push off for pastures better, not just greener.

According to WOSA, a total of 101 016 hectares of vines are planted in the Cape wine lands and other regions, farmed by more than 3600 farmers. Give or take a couple of numbers as the year progresses. However out the 101 016 000 hectares, only 0.8% (approx 125 hectares) was ‘Certified Organic’ as of 2010 according to Monty Waldin’s Biodynamic Wine Guide 2011.

Surely I ask, with the increasing consumer demand for traceability, ethical and holistic practices in food production and in turn healthier eating and drinking, why only so few fully registered? The answer rests in the effort and desire for farms to become organic.

Josef Lazarus of Lazanou Organic Vineyards’ superb quote in the Spring edition of Winestyle 2011, “I find it quite amusing that organic producers have to be certified to farm in the most natural way possible”, sums up the frustration some farmers feel at the process of becoming organic. The time, effort and cost sometimes are simply far too great for some producers.

There are also a great many producers who are adhering to organic practices but the volume of paperwork is outstandingly large. The other side of the coin is that many farms claim to be organic, riding on the wave of ‘organic production’ but hide behind the excuse of ‘too busy to do the paperwork to get certified’. In reality, these farms use chemicals that are banned from certified organic viticulture.

Pinot noir grapes on Elgin Ridge
Pinot noir grapes on Elgin Ridge

On a recent visit to the Elgin Valley, I had the enormous pleasure of visiting Elgin Ridge – the only Certified Organic vineyard in the Elgin Valley. Four hectares of Sauvignon blanc, Semillon, Chardonnay and Pinot noir are grown on the sloping property overlooking the valley. Acclaimed viticulturist Kevin Watt was on board from the start of planting to provide advice and valuable knowledge to owners Marion and Brian Smith.

Elgin Ridge has international accreditation like the majority of South African organic grape and wine producers. Under EU regulations, the vines have had to produce grapes grown in organic conditions for at least three years. Products that are only certified as organic can be used on the vines and soil, for example guano from Namibia and Seagrow.

Owner Marion Smith explained why she wanted to farm organically: “Having sold our successful IT business in London we decided it was time to pursue a dream we had always nurtured: to make outstanding wines in small quantities that reflected our passion. We searched most of the wine growing regions in Europe, but eventually concluded the Elgin Valley in South Africa was the ideal place to realise this dream. The small farm we purchased was run down but showed great potential, and we planted our first vines in 2007. The objective from the beginning was to be organic, and as the farm had been fallow for many years, suited this objective perfectly.

At Elgin Ridge, our focus is on farming the land organically, in a way that is sustainable and ensures the wines truly represent the land itself. With quality grapes, there is less to do in the cellar, and our winemaking philosophy of ‘minimal intervention’ – carried out by winemaker, Niels Verburg – allows a natural approach throughout, from vine to bottle.

Our vines are on land 282 metres above sea level that was and still is completely untouched by chemicals. We recycle our farm vegetation and make our own compost to ensure our vines are truly natural, aided only with approved organic materials. We like to celebrate our grapes as they are, so leave the responsibility of pest control to some smaller but equally important members of the team: our beloved ducks. These are hatched on our farm and trained to eat pests daily.”

Dorper sheep, Peking ducks and chickens are used to keep the vineyard in check. Snails get eaten by the ducks and chickens, the sheep mow the grass in the vineyards and apple orchard.

The trainee snail patrol ducklingsThe ducks and chickens also provide a source of free range eggs which are for sale (along with Marions’ delicious homemade chutney), in the tasting room adorned with the original prints by gonzo artist Ralph Steadman. (More of his prints and work can be viewed at www.ralphsteadman.com)

The two wines available are the 282 Sauvignon Blanc 2011 and 282 Chardonnay 2010 which both reflect the wine making style of Niels Verburg: “minimal intervention” and the quality of the vineyard: “a good vineyard will produce good wine”.

The Sauvignon Blanc 2011 was classic crisp Golden Delicious apple tartness, pear and grapefruit with undertones of green herby characters. Big juicy fruit flavours with green melon on the palate.

The Chardonnay 2010 (unwooded) is light and quaffable with notes of nectarines, white peaches and pears, fruit blossom and a little spice on the nose and palate. This is the maiden vintage of Chardonnay produced on the farm, so I am looking forward to seeing how it will develop on 2011 and 2012.

Sold and served only through restaurants and from the Elgin Ridge Tasting Room, these wines are gracing the wine lists and top sommelier recommendations in South Africa and the UK. From the Taj Hotel, Test Kitchen, Sotana in Cape Town to Marcus Wareing at The Berkely, The Glasshouse Restaurant, and Searcys in London.

I really enjoyed both wines and also the story behind Marion and Brians’ desire to farm originally. I left the farm with a smile on my face, arms laden Marions’ apple and cranberry chutney and with freshly laid duck and chicken eggs tucked in their boxes for the journey back to Cape Town. I also felt good knowing I was supporting a producer that was doing good by the earth and adhering to the formula: good soil = good vines = good wines.

This article first appeared on Pauline’s blog and has been republished here with her permission.

BLOG POST BY Pauline Nash – 6 MARCH 2012