Opinion, Rants, and Stories, Wine Reviews

A Thelema Cabernet Vertical and Notes on Greeness


Last week saw some rather good wines find their way down my gullet. The first few of those was at a vertical tasting of Thelema’s Cabernet Sauvignon and single vineyard Cab, The Mint. At a time when the idea of ‘greeness’ is on many a South African wine anorak’s tongue, I hoped it would prove an informative tasting, as the latter wine prides itself on its minty note.

[This post got away from me. I feel I am not well-suited to the digital age of short pithy SEO optimized posts. If you want just my thoughts on the Thelema wines feel free to skip down to the bottom. First though, a little introduction to greeness in wines] Continue reading “A Thelema Cabernet Vertical and Notes on Greeness”

Drunk, Visited

Listing fees are not always evil.

You all know  – and some of you agree with  – how much I dislike restaurants charging listing fees. Well, I had a chat with a restaurateur the other evening who gave me the most convincing argument for charging the fees yet. Although it wasn’t the argument that convinced me as much as how he implemented it.

He charges R1000 (in stock) for a guaranteed listing for a year. He says that he takes the savings he makes here and puts it into good glassware and low mark ups. He prints his menus once a month so that they are up to date and clean (Ahem, take note Caveau). Every wine on the list (about 40 wines) is served by the glass, and he is willing to offer you a taste of each wine before you purchase it at no extra charge. 

It is not the most mind blowing wine list in the city but all the wines are of good  quality – dependable wines like the Thelema Mountain Red and Hartenberg Riesling, smart value picks like the Bosman Family Vineyards Chenin Blanc, and consistent performers like the Raats Original. For each glass of wine you buy you receive a 1/3 of a bottle. The price for a bottle is the same as three glasses.

I believe that both the wine farm (for the listing and the way the wines are treated) and the customers (good glassware and prices) benefit from this listing fee.

I still hate the R5000 per wine fees some places charge. They can still stick those up their arses. Greedy shits. But when I feel I have benefited from the fee, and can’t see how the farm has been affected negatively then it is a hard thing to argue against.

So hats coats and ties off to Societi Bistro. If other restaurants served wines in the manner and at the price Societi does, there would be a lot less griping and a lot more drinking. The food is also excellent with their Mushroom Risotto being a city bowl institution. And (I am  going to tell you this on the condition you don’t take my favourite chair) they have the best place to hunker down on a cold winter’s evening: The Snug Bar. I like to lounge in a leather wing-backed chair reading something foreign, as a fires crackles away warming my toes whilst the big glass of Thelema warms my heart. So please frequent this establishment; drink and be merry, but stay the hell out of my chair.

So in summation: take thisgsteffeywingbackchairburgundy


Add a little


Coupled with a good dose of:


Finish with a healthy chunk of:


And you are on your way to being a better, happier person.


Caveau, (non) wines and a lithping waitress

Had dinner last night with some friends, marketing guru and gentleman Lord Chris Rawlinson and a friend of his who I can’t mention because of his close relationship with a magical Ginger. No wait, I could mention his name just not that the Ginger was breaking up with Emma Watson. I don’t know, all very confusing.

Anyway, we dined at the Heritage Square Caveau after a few glasses of wine at Societi Bistro. He-who-shall-not-named is out from England and I was introducing him to some local wines. We started with some Sauvignon Blanc, the Klein Constantia 2009 from the KC range, which is a lovely entry level wine to introduce someone to Constantia Sauvignon Blanc. The Oak Valley 2009 was another excellent cool climate Sauvignon Blanc, this showed a tight minerality which let it stand out from the Klein Constantia. We went on to taste the Raats Original Chenin Blanc 2009 which I love, typical Chenin with guavas, melons, pears and a refreshing acidity. Then we had a quick glass of the Thelema Mountain Red 2008 which is one of my top good-value-go-to-reds. It’ll hardly dent your wallet, offers good fruit flavours and is off the charts on the quaff-O-meter. The Pom was impressed. Off to Caveau.

All was going well until our waitress at Caveau opened her mouth, and I’m not talking about her lisp. This is what happened:

I was casually paging through the wine list when I could sense something behind me, it was our waitress – who was hovering like a fly above a turd – looking over my shoulder. This annoys me. I turned and looked at her, “Yes?” She stared at me for a second and then realised why she was hovering, “Have you dethided what you’re drinking?”

“No, I am still reading through the list, thank you.” Hover hover hover. “I’ll call you when I’ve decided,” I said through a grimace.

She wandered off only to return a few minutes later to resume her hovering. I gave in and ordered a bottle of the Warwick ‘Professor Black’ 2009 and the Grangehurst Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot 2001.

Now I have had problems with Caveau’s wine list in the past. Once it took me four choices before I found a wine that was in stock (that was about two months ago) and I noticed that the list looked worryingly similar. The wine arrived and lo and behold it was a 2002 and not the 2001 I ordered. I asked the waitress to check if there was any 2001 left. There wasn’t. I was a trifle annoyed as I make sure our wine list (Mama Africa) is up to date, and we do not sell ourselves as a ‘wine bar’. I told the waitress, in a pleasant calm voice, that it is pretty unacceptable for their wine list to be that out of touch with the reality of their cellar. “The ownerth waiting for the end of the month when priceth go up to change the litht,” was her reply.

That was the most piss poor excuse for not keeping a wine list up to date I had heard, until I told her it was a terrible excuse that is. Because after explaining, much slower now, that this is just laziness as the list has been like this for some time, she prattled off this wonder: “Well you’re not the one who hath to keep re-printing the lithth are you?”

I will not abbreviate here. What. The. Fuck.

I, with eyebrow raised and tone hardened, explained that I am indeed the person who reprints a wine list when vintages change or a wine comes off. Not thinking to ask where I work to maybe calm the situation down a tad she simply looked at me and said, “Well your wine lith ith probably not ath extenthive ath ourth.”

I told her that her job as a waitress was not to argue but to nod and smile, take our orders, bring our wine and not to hover. I then kakked out the manager who took my email address and promised to follow up. We shall just have to wait and see if that happens.

The dinner was OK. To start I had spicy Cob strips that were decent but I wouldn’t recommend them. There was one fillet on the table and two sirloins . Mine was cooked properly and had good flavour, but for R140 it was a little over priced. The Warwick which I normally enjoy didn’t show as well as normal, probably because of the excellent Oak Valley we had earlier in the evening. The Grangehurst was a little disappointing, I have had their straight Cab 2001 which was excellent. This one had all the right flavours and the tannins had mellowed with age, but it just didn’t follow through. It started of so well, still a nice touch of acidity, and then the tobacco, dark sour cherry and pencil shavings spread over the palate at which point I thought it would go on and on lingering in the mouth. No such luck. I guess you could compare it to a guy who, all excited and enamoured, begins to pull into a woman and then sees an adams apple protruding. He would pull up short just like the Grangehurst did.

I won’t be going back to Caveau any time soon. It really is not rocket science to keep a wine list up to date, and as a restaurant that prides itself on their wine selection this is really unacceptable. And when a smartass lisping waitress tries to argue with her customers, well then you’ve got as much chance of me coming back for seconds as I would to a woman who gives me crabs.