the south african dream
Meet the Aaldering team • The story behind Lady M Leaders of top gastronomy about Aaldering Wines • Precision viticulture Devon Valley: Stellenbosch’ best terroir No. 1 | 2015
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2 | The South African Dream
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Aaldering Vineyards & Wines
Aaldering leads the way Meet the team The Aaldering way: behind the cellar doors Devon Valley terroir About French oak, coopers, and wine barrels The story behind Aalderingʼs Lady M One single grape, four different wines Aaldering Lodges: a luxury escape Aaldering’s exclusive estate wine dinner Just talking wine Tasting notes
The story on international Dutch Aaldering Winesʼ entrance into the high-end aviation catering industry Experience Staverden A taste of Aaldering wines in the Dutch Caribbean Delaire Graff Estate: glamorous luxury in Stellenbosch De Librije: 3 star Michelin magic
Hole in one
Ernie Els: living and loving golf Arabella Golf Club: a golferʼs delight
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First class train journey: from the Mother City to the Purple City
Typically South Africa
When Spring has sprung in the Cape Biltong
Iconic Places of Interest
Table Mountain: beacon of hope 54 A snippet of history: the arrival of the Europeans 56
Wine & dine
Welcome to our wonderful world of wine and to the first issue of our magazine. Long before Aaldering Vineyards & Wines opened its doors, we had the idea to explore the wine business and to make wine. Not just good wine, but great wine. The first step was finding the best terroir. We investigated opportunities in France and later in Spain. There, we discovered that the best land for grape farming was inaccessible for foreigners like us. This left us with a problem: a great terroir is an essential ingredient of great wine. Eventually we found the perfect spot just outside Stellenbosch which offered the conditions we were looking for, including great soil, lots of sunshine, a natural water reserve, and a great location blessed with a cool evening sea breeze. Situated in Devon Valley, just outside South Africaʼs wine capital Stellenbosch, our vineyard is a dream come true, our South African dream. Over the past years, a lot of time, energy and money have been invested in fine-tuning our vineyards. We planted new vines for white varietal wines and built a state-of-the-art wine-making facility, equipped with the best machinery imaginable. Last but not least, we put together a knowledgeable team of skilled staff members to make our beloved wines. Three years after we pressed the first grapes in 2007, our first wine made its debut. Our portfolio has since grown to eight varieties, with a limited production of 120,000 bottles per year. Our yield per hectare is approximately 6,000 bottles. Local sales have grown over the years and so have our exports: we are currently shipping our wines to 33 countries worldwide. This says a lot about the quality of our wines, which is improving all the time. Credit goes to our Viticulturist, who takes care of our vineyards, and our Winemaker in the cellar. Thanks to their efforts, we have been awarded with fantastic accolades, which makes us very proud. Apart from making great wines, it is our priority to manage our family business to the very best of our ability, with a strong focus on environmental sustainability and social responsibility. Our employees and the environment are after all at the core of our venture. In our magazineʼs first issue, weʼd like to introduce you to our vineyards, our team, the beautiful and diverse flavours of South Africa and the great people we do business with. We wish you a warm welcome in our world of wines.
Margot Janse: worldʼs most famous female chef 58
Face to face
Cees van Casteren: Master of Wine
Marianne and Fons Aaldering 61
© 2015 Aaldering Vineyards & Wines, www.aaldering.co.za Realisation: MW media – Marjolein Westerterp, email@example.com Photographs: Peter Boshuijzen, Patrick Siemons Fotografie, Christine le Roux, Riehan Bakkes, Danie Nel Art direction & design: 8-13 Grafisch Ontwerpers – Marjan Peters, www.8-13.nl Print: Printsupport4U With thanks to: Miriam Mannak, Janine Smink, Guillaume Nell, Daphne van Breda, Jet van den Toorn, Simone van Heiningen Would you wish to contact us: mail to firstname.lastname@example.org The South African Dream | 5
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leads the way...
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eet the Guillaume Nell – Winemaker and General Manager Based in: South Africa Vintage: 1978 I would describe myself as: reserved and focused, and of course the best winemaker Aaldering could wish for Aaldering to me means: delivering quality through integrity, and reaching as many people around the world as I possibly can My favourite Aaldering wine: Pinotage (2012) I tasted wine for the first time: when I was 14 years old. I am a South African, you know! We start from a young age I am reaching for the stars at Aaldering: by improving quality across the board, from the vineyards to what is in the bottle, and ensuring that we are noticed by our competitors
Fons Aaldering – Co-founder and owner Based in: the Netherlands Words that describe me: energetic, quality goals, today will be better than yesterday, supporting people that live in poverty Aaldering to me means: pleasure, improving quality, creating a smile on the faces of our customers My favourite Aaldering wine: Lady M I tasted wine for the first time: when I was 13 years old. I immediately knew it was my destiny We are reaching for the stars at Aaldering: now! Watch us, Platter! Marianne Aaldering – Co-founder and owner Based in: the Netherlands My motto: think twice before following my husband’s lead Aaldering to me means: a South African dream My favourite Aaldering wine: Pinotage Blanc I tasted wine for the first time: when I was 18 years old We are reaching for the stars at Aaldering: all the time!
Jaco Parson – Assistant Winemaker Based in: South Africa Vintage: 1978 I would describe myself as: hard-working and passionate about my work. I want to always do better Aaldering to me means: a brand that can and will reach for the stars! My favourite Aaldering wine: Lady M (2014) I tasted wine for the first time: when I was 20 years old I am reaching for the stars at Aaldering: by learning new skills and improving my wine knowledge
William Mukondwa – Lodge Manager Based in: South Africa Vintage: 1984 I would describe myself as: open-minded, considerate, hard-working, a team player, and down to earth Aaldering to me means: it is part of my family I am happy when: I see that my guests are happy. I will always go the extra mile to make sure they are satisfied
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Robert Barry – Tractor driver and farm maintenance man Based in: South Africa Vintage: 1954 I would describe myself as: hard-working, loyal, extremely patient, and observing. Very skilled in all vineyard-related tasks Aaldering to me means: a lot of job satisfaction because of my involvement in the vineyards. I am responsible for most vineyard-related tasks. I really enjoy excelling in my work I am happy when: I am doing my work successfully, thereby satisfying the needs of Aaldering. Quality always comes first
Lindie Smith – Sales manager (Africa) Based in: South Africa Vintage: 1975 I would describe myself as: a control freak and perfectionist with a passion for people and life Aaldering to me means: premium quality with a sophisticated style, whilst maintaining family values and respecting the environment My favourite Aaldering wine: Aaldering Cabernet Sauvignon-Merlot (2011) I tasted wine for the first time: when I was a small child, but it was just a sip. We usually had wine at Sunday lunch. I really fell in love with wine when I visited Rioja I am reaching for the stars at Aaldering: by respecting our brand, our clients, the environment, and our people at all times
Aaldering Wine Estate and Luxury Lodges Daphne van Breda – Personal assistant and communications officer Based in: the Netherlands Vintage: 1969 I would describe myself as: a people’s person, eager to learn, a bon vivant (this is where Aaldering comes in) Aaldering to me means: my first exposure to high-quality wines, and the start of learning more about this industry. Aaldering has introduced me to this industry through graphic design and communication skills My favourite Aaldering wine: Pinotage Blanc I tasted wine for the first time: when I was 16 years old, at a friend’s party. It was just for fun. Tasting and appreciation came a little later I am reaching for the stars at Aaldering: by being very creative in my job and developing my knowledge of wine – with a strong focus on Aaldering of course
Msasa Mhone – General worker Based in: South Africa Vintage: 1970 I would describe myself as: a happy, quiet person who enjoys the good company of friends and family Aaldering to me means: learning new skills and improving my knowledge. I also enjoy farm life in a rural environment I am happy when: I am in Malawi, visiting my friends and family, or fishing on Lake Malawi and selling my catch on the market
Janine Smink – Global marketing and sales manager Based in: the Netherlands Vintage: 1982 I would describe myself as: bright and cheerful, but only after 10 am :) Aaldering to me means: the elegant future of South Africa's wine industry My favourite Aaldering wine: Pinotage – always a treat I tasted wine for the first time: when I was 16. I became truly interested after buying my first wine book eight years later, when I started to compare wines. This led to my first job in the wine industry a year later. I consider myself very lucky to be working in the wine business I am reaching for the stars at Aaldering: by being on this rollercoaster ride around the world of gastronomy and wine; one which allows me to get a new wine brand out there. Hello world, here we are!
Nelly Mhone – Housekeeper Based in: South Africa Vintage: 1980 Colleagues about Nelly: she is a soft-spoken, warm-hearted person and a mother of two lovely daughters. She truly takes pride in her job and is always ready to help out with a friendly smile
Johnna Zeng – Sales manager (Asia) Based in: Xiamen, China Vintage: 1986 I would describe myself as: motivated, cheerful, optimistic, understanding, gentle and friendly Aaldering to me means: a beautifully elegant and cherished “giftˮ. Everyone deserves to know and love our wines My favourite Aaldering wine: Pinotage Blanc I tasted wine for the first time: when I was 19 years old, after reading my university admission letter. Celebrating life is done best with a glass of wine I am reaching for the stars at Aaldering: by reaching more customers in Asia through great strategies and impressive presentations on our beautiful wines. I can't wait to see Aaldering winning Asia over!
Femke Pengel – Sales manager (the Netherlands) Based in: the Netherlands Vintage: 1978 I would describe myself as: a very proactive and commercially oriented person, as well as being creative and passionate. My colleagues enjoy hearing my bizarre and funny stories Aaldering to me means: a warm and friendly working environment with an enthusiastic drive to become successful locally and internationally. I love working for a driven company, which is what Aaldering is My favourite Aaldering wine: Sauvignon Blanc (aperitif), followed by a glass of Cabernet Sauvignon-Merlot I tasted wine for the first time: when I was 17 I am reaching for the stars at Aaldering: by putting Aaldering on the Dutch map and ensuring that each and every restaurant, wine merchant, and wine aficionado knows about our wines. Because Aaldering is simply the best!
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The Aaldering way:
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state-of-the-art winery was commissioned in 2011, and this has allowed for the next step in the pursuit of making perfect wines to take place. The world is Aalderingʼs oyster as far as components for world class-wines go. The approach to winemaking is one of traditionalism and minimal intervention, using new technologies where it matters most. Please, join us for a tour behind the cellar doors. The process of harvesting During the weeks before the grapes are harvested, the berries are constantly monitored in terms of colour production, sugar content, acidity levels, and ripeness of the tannins. In the last days leading up to the harvest, tasting becomes a crucial activity. This is the time when the winemaker tastes the grapes on a daily basis, to ensure he doesnʼt miss the critical point at which the fruits have to be taken off the vines. The perfect balance between tannin structure, acidity and flavours is critical, hence why the grapes need to be carefully and continuously monitored. Hand harvesting usually starts very early in the morning, long before sunrise. This is the coolest time of the day, and helps preserving the grapesʼ flavours, whilst keeping them in good condition until they reach the cellar. Temperatures in the Cape can climb to 40°C in summer − when the harvest takes place −, and therefore everything must be done to prevent the grapes from becoming too warm.
Aaldering Vineyards & Wines is situated in the beautiful Devon Valley ward, in the heart of the Stellenbosch region. This area is known as the wine capital of South Africa, firstly because of the sheer number of wineries, and secondly because of its soils, climate, and biodiversity. These are second to none in South Africa when it comes to wine production. Fons and Marianne Aaldering identified this regionʼs potential in their search for a premium wine property, with the potential to produce world-class wines. And so it all started.
As soon as the grapes have reached the cellar, they are transferred to the cooling room, which has the capacity to store 10 tons of fruit. They will stay there until the desired temperature is reached. Therefore, there is no time pressure to process the grapes. After that the grapes are loaded onto a conveyor system, where whole bunches and leaves are sorted. The destemmer and crusher separate the fruit from the bunch. From here, the grapes are sorted by hand, and by using a vibrating sorting system. As a result, only berries with a perfect integrity make it through to the tanks (red wines) or the press (white wines). Fermentation kinetic White grapes are moved through into a pneumatic press. This press features state-of-the-art press technology, which ensures that a high yield of free-run top grade juice is extracted. White wines are then fermented in stainless steel tanks. However, a 35 percent portion of Chardonnay goes into hundred percent French oak (300 Liter) barrels. Aaldering currently employs about 35 percent spontaneous fermentation (wild ferment) and 65 percent inoculated yeast fermentation. This phase is all about the fermentation kinetic and profiles that the spontaneous fermentations give to the wines. Watch this space, because in the future fermentations may only be conducted spontaneously. The Aaldering red wines are fermented in specially designed stainless steel tanks: shorter and wider for increased surface area and skin-to-juice ratio. Each tank is fitted with its own irrigation system, which allows for effortless pump-overs, and even punch-downs if necessary. It is important to keep the grape skin cap wet throughout the whole process of fermentation. Elegance and freshness Aaldering aims for elegance and freshness, with a sense of place. It is important to Fons and Marianne Aaldering that people are able to enjoy a bottle of Aaldering wine, and feel the passion, commitment and sense of place it exudes. Once the barrel ageing is complete (22-24 months depending on wine), the focus is on the blending of the wines. A very important step in producing the ultimate wine: the content of each and every barrel is tasted. Any barrel that doesnʼt fit the blend profile, is declassified. This is to ensure a premium quality. After the blends are crafted, the wines are bottled on the property. Aaldering outsources this to professionals, who come to the estate. From there, the wines are aged in bottle up to one year, and are then labelled and transported to the (overseas) markets of the partners.
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Guillaume’s philosophy is that great wine is the manifestation of carefully managed vineyards and that wine should clearly communicate the context of the grapes > Sustainable entrepreneurship The focus on sustainability in both the vineyards and winery has been rewarded with IPW (Integrated Production of Wine) status and the induction into the EnviroWines Group, which acknowledges those producers who perform admirably in their IPW audits. Aaldering is currently one of only 10 wineries inducted into this group. The focus on producing premium wines, whilst nurturing and taking care of the environment and the land, epitomizes the ʼAaldering wayʼ. Meet the Winemaker The man who is in charge of this whole process is Guillaume Nell, Winemaker and General Manager. Young and ambitious, he is one of the worldʼs leading new generation of winemakers. Guillaumeʼs passion for wine was born at a young age when his father, who had access to the world of wine through the aviation industry, taught his son that wine is something that can be an everyday enjoyment, not just one reserved for special occasions. The now 37-year old Guillaume cherishes a great love for nature and biodiversity, which played a big role in his decision to study B.Sc. Agriculture (Oenology & Viticulture). After qualifying at Stellenbosch University as a winemaker and viticulturist, he crafted his first vintage as a student (2000) at the world renowned Kanonkop Wine Estate, under the guidance of Beyers Truter (currently the owner of Beyerskloof Wine Estate). With this, he gained some great Pinotage experience, particularly to start his career with. In 2001, Guillaume was appointed as Assistant Winemaker at Amani, also in Stellenbosch. Shortly afterwards, he had the opportunity to travel and work vintages in some of the finest wine regions in the world, including Fattoria Terreno in Chianti Classico, in Tuscany. Here Guillaume worked with Federico Staderini, a former Winemaker for Antinori and who is now consulting for some of the most well known estates in Italy and other parts of Europe. Tuscany was followed by a harvest at St. Halletts in the Barossa Valley in South Australia, where some of the best new world Shiraz is made. His next harvest was at Chateau Montelena Winery in California, famous for their Chardonnay. This wine has won the blind tasting against top Burgundies in 1976, which is referred to as the ʼJudgement of Parisʼ. This story was 12 | The South African Dream
captured in the classic Hollywood/Napa Valley production Bottle Shock. In December 2002, Guillaume was appointed as Winemaker and Viticulturist at Muratie Wine Estate in Stellenbosch, before moving on to the Winery of Good Hope in October 2005. It goes without saying that he has a certain endurance running through his ʼoutdoorsyʼ veins. That is why, during South Africaʼs off-season, Guillaume worked another vintage at Maison Alain Paret in the Rhone Valley. In October 2007 he moved on and became Winemaker at Backsberg Estate Cellars in Paarl, where he made some ground breaking changes on reducing the wineryʼs carbon footprint on the environment. In June 2012 Guillaume joined the Cavalli team as Winemaker and Viticulturist, which he did until September 2014. That was when he was appointed as Winemaker and General Manager at Aaldering Vineyards & Wines. Man with a mission When asking Guillaume about his priorities at Aaldering, his answer is short and to the point: “My first priority is to improve the quality of the grapes through precision viticulture. Secondly, I want to farm the vineyards in such a way that we will become more sustainable every season. Thirdly, I want to make sure that the quality that I get from the vineyards translates into the cellar and all the way to the bottle. Therefore, my staff needs to be educated and has to become part of that vision. They must feel that they can contribute. We want to look after them so that there is a sense of family and responsibility towards each other and our product.” Striving to understand the terroir up to the tiniest details and to manage every vineyard according to what it needs, Guillaumeʼs philosophy is that great wine is the manifestation of carefully managed vineyards and that wine should clearly communicate the context of the grapes. The use of oak and other winemaking practices should only be tools to augment the naturally occurring attributes of the wines and their delicate personalities. His expertise will take the wines of Aaldering Vineyards & Wines to the next level, where they can and will reach for the stars. •
Guillaume Nell, Aaldering始s Winemaker and General Manager
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Much has been said about the fabulous quality of the Aaldering wines. Besides the art of winemaking, much of this is a direct result of the extraordinary terroir in Devon Valley, says Winemaker Guillaume Nell. aldering Vineyards & Wines is situated in Devon Valley, a ward that was demarcated in 1997 and forms part of the Stellenbosch wine lands. This valley is located 20km north of False Bay and a mere 3km northwest of the heart of Stellenbosch. The valley runs from north to south, and has the Veldwachtersrivier (Shepherds River) cutting through it, which at some point joins the Eersterivier (Eerste River). Best soils The 22-hectare property on Devon Valley始s eastern slopes comprises 19 hectares of vineyards, which were planted in a horse shoe formation on what could be described as some of the best Hutton and Clovelly soils (high pH, decomposed granite) in the Stellenbosch region. The farm始s location in the valley is dominated by different aspects, which lend themselves to a great microclimate diversity. 14 | The South African Dream
The Shiraz is planted on the warmer slopes that are facing north to west, whilst the rest (Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Pinotage and Cabernet Sauvignon) are facing south to southwest. Merlot is well-protected against wind and drought and is situated on the lowest part of the property, where there is more subsoil moisture and less direct afternoon sunlight. The temperature difference between the Sauvignon Blanc and Shiraz topsoil can differ as much as 5 degrees on a hot summer始s day. Therefore the specific site of each vineyard has a tremendous impact on the style of the wine. Microclimates From where Sauvignon Blanc has been planted, the Atlantic Ocean is clearly visible. These vines are exposed to the cooling effect of the Southeaster, the wind which prevails during the
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terroir hot summer months. This wind cools down the grapes, which results in an optimal production of aromas during the ripening period, whilst reducing diseases. It also assists in more sustainable farming practices. The cultivation of Pinotage in that regard is quite similar to the Sauvignon Blanc, and therefore these grapes produce characteristics associated with cooler sites. These traits include Pinot Noir-like aromas, for example raspberry and red currant, and more refined tannins. The warmer north-westerly slopes assist the Shiraz vines to produce full-bodied wines with great cellaring potential. These grapes show dark fruit characteristics, with a silky and well-structured wine as the end result. The merits of each site are taken into account and all vineyards are farmed accordingly. Modern technology At Aaldering, we are taking it a step further by using technology to assist us in understanding our terroir and to implement precision viticulture. Soil moisture probes were installed in all our vineyards. These allow us to take water and temperature readings every 30 minutes. This is done at seven different
depths, with the objective of finding out exactly how much water is left during the season. Furthermore we use a pressure bomb to measure the water stress levels at individual vines. Every variety is different and this pressure bomb tells us under how much water stress our vines are. This prevents us from over or under irrigating. Knowing the water stress levels at the vines allows us to optimise the concentration and quality of our grapes, without negatively impacting our vineyards. In the meantime, we are saving our precious water. All vineyards are monitored by satellite images, enabling us to learn from the past and monitor the vines continuously. As a result, we pick up irregularities straight away, after which we can address them immediately. Before our next harvest, we will introduce drones to take Near-Infrared photographs of our vineyards. This is to detect areas that are under stress. The images will help us find out which vines are under-performing, and allow us to harvest grapes from different pockets at different times to get uniformity, optimal ripeness and of course quality. We can not wait to see and taste the results of all this in our elegant winesâ€Ś â€˘ The South African Dream | 15
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French oak, coopers, and wine barrels Like there are many types of wines on the market, there are many types of barrels – made by different coopers and of different types of wood. At Aaldering Vineyards & Wines, only four coopers are accepted. Winemaker Guillaume Nell shares his thoughts.
hen selecting barrels for your wine, there are a couple of things that are vitally important: your relationship with the barrelʼs maker or cooper, his track record and the grain of the wood. 1) Your relationship with the cooper: you need to be able to trust the maker of your barrels, as only the best quality wood is good enough for your precious wines. I have a longstanding relationship with my coopers, and as such they know what I need. This is important: for every type of wine I need a different type of barrel. The worst thing you can do as a winemaker is continuously changing your coopers as this will result in inconsistency in quality and style. The barrelʼs wood influences your wine, which has to be of a constant quality. By building a good relationship with your cooper and working together closely, you allow yourself to procure the best barrels for your wines each and every time. 2) The grain of the wood: if the woodʼs grain is too coarse, the extraction is too aggressive. When itʼs too fine, the wine might not benefit optimally from the wood. I prefer using well-seasoned barrels with a tight grain. This means that the wood has had plenty of time in the seasoning yard, a process during which the wooden staves are left outside, allowing the rain to draw out the bitter components. A well-seasoned barrel results in more ripe tannins being
extracted into the wine. This is important as our wines are aged for 24 months on average. Well-seasoned barrels also give greater levels of finesse and complexity. What is interesting to know is that the wood on the treeʼs sunny side tends to have a wider grain. The wood on the treeʼs shady side tends to have a tighter grain. This means that selecting wood based on the location of the forest is not enough when choosing your barrels. 3) Your cooperʼs track record: consistency is of great importance. I canʼt afford inconsistency. I therefore need to know that the quality of my barrels is where it should be, at all times. At Aaldering Vineyards & Wines we only use French oak, coming from four different coopers: Boutes barrels give wine a great structure and a wonderful mouthfeel. The extraction is slow and the tannins are refined. Boutes form the core of my annual barrel selection. Sylvain barrels result in spiciness and intriguing aromas. Wines from these barrels are a perfect fit with wines from Boutes when blended. Taransaud barrels give wine a good structure and length, with a “tightnessʼʼ that keeps the wine together. Seguin Moreau barrels give wine a richness and elegance while rounding them off beautifully. •
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Lady M is a Pinotage in its purest form, made in honour of Aalderingʼs co-owner Marianne Aaldering. We spoke to Lady M and asked her about the story behind this wine.
nce upon a time... in 2012, we had organised a fantastic dinner in our new wine cellar. The pièce de résistance for our fifty guests was a cheese platter paired with a glass of wine, straight from the stainless steel tank. As the winemaker presented his wine, it was clear that everyone loved it,” says Marianne, recalling how the Lady M (100% Pinotage) came into being. “It was indeed a lovely wine, one which should in fact have been put into wooden barrels the next week or so to mature for another 24 months, as per our standard. I however loved it so much that I suggested we bottle it straight away. The wine had the character of a Beaujolais, a Fleurie, with a bright purple colour, not too heavy, and with a lovely flavour which allowed for the wine to be served chilled. That was my idea: to add a summer red wine to the already existing varietals. And from its introduction it has been a great success.” And then it was just a matter of choosing a name? Marianne explains that Aaldering Vineyards & Wines already had a Pinotage, which meant that this red summer creation required a new name. “At a party in the Netherlands Fons announced the name Lady M. This was a huge compliment,” Marianne says. “Shortly after, I turned 65. For this special occasion, I had invited 65 lady friends. During the celebration, Fons handed me the first bottle of Lady M, with the newly designed label. It was a very special present, and a huge sur18 | The South African Dream
The story behind Aalderingʼs
prise. Well, it was supposed to be a surprise, but I had already accidentally seen the label… I pretended to be surprised, as everyone had worked so hard to finish everything on time. So here you go, that is the story of Lady M.” Please, tell us about the taste of this wine? Marianne: “Fons always says: this wine is just like you. It is fresh, beautiful and elegant. I like it for all these reasons and I enjoy it when it is served chilled to around 18°C. The perfect temperature for me to enjoy this wine with its abundance of flavours.” What do you think is the optimal food pairing for the Lady M? Lady M lends itself perfectly as a food companion, says Marianne, adding that the options are numerous: charcuterie, red meat cuts and Thai food to mention but a few examples. “Also in China, Lady M is a huge success. It goes very well with the Asian cuisine. The wine is really popular in the Netherlands too, where the concept of a summery red wine has really taken off.” •
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ne single grape,
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four different wines Pinotage is South Africaʼs signature red grape, and the variety Aaldering uses to produce four different wines: the Pinotage, Lady M, Pinotage Blanc and Pinotage Rosé. Letʼs dive into the fascinating world of our Pinotage, shall we? inotage (Vitis vinifera) is a grape variety that was created in South Africa in 1925 by Abraham Izak Perold, the first Professor of Viticulture at the University of Stellenbosch. Peroldʼs objective was to combine the best characteristics and qualities of the robust Hermitage variety, which is the South African name for Cinsaut, and Pinot Noir. This latter grape makes very elegant wines, but can be difficult to grow. Perold planted four seeds from his cross in the garden of his official residence at Welgevallen Experimental Farm and then forgot about them. After leaving the university for a job at the KWV co-operative in 1927, the garden became neglected. Not too long afterwards, a university team was sent over to tidy up the grounds. That is when Charlie Niehaus walked by. Knowing about the seedlings, the young lecturer rescued the plants from the cleaners and moved them to Elsenburg Agricultural College, which at the time was headed by CJ Theron. Fast forward. In 1935, Theron grafted the vines onto newly established Richter 99 and Richter 57 rootstock at Welgevallen, and showed them to Perold. The vine that was doing best, was selected for propagation and christened Pinotage, an amalgamation of Pinot and Hermitage. Thatʼs where it all started.
skins wet and cool, whilst extracting colour and structure. This is done until the fermentation process is finished. The juice is then separated from the skins and drained into a stainless steel tank. A few days later, the wine is pumped into barrels, where it spends 24 months before being bottled.
Aalderingʼs Pinotage Pinotage grapes rely extensively on the winemakerʼs skills and style of winemaking and have the potential to produce deep coloured, fruity wines that are drinkable early on as well as with age. At Aaldering, Pinotage grapes are treated with great respect. It starts with a careful selection process in the vineyards to ensure that only the best grapes make it to the cellar. Inferior fruit is cut out in the months leading up to harvest. Whatʼs left is the result of very precise viticulture.
4) Aaldering Estate Pinotage Blanc The grapes remain in the cool room overnight until their temperature has dropped to close to 5°C. No destemming or crushing takes place, with whole bunches going straight into the press. The juice is pressed out extremely gently, to limit any colour release from the skins. After that, the juice is cooled down, with temperatures being kept below 10°C. This is when the sediment starts to settle. When that process is completed, the juice is racked after which the fermentation process starts. The Pinotage Blanc is fermented between 12 and 14°C to preserve the wineʼs lovely aromatics. The wine stays on the lees for a couple of months and is then prepared for bottling. •
Different processes lead to different results 1) Aaldering Pinotage (wooded) No crushing of grapes takes place, only destemming. The berries are sorted over a shaker table to remove all unwanted plant material. They are then cooled down to temperatures ranging between 10°C and 14°C before going into the tank for cold soaking. This takes place for a period of two to four days to extract the grapesʼ lovely fruit-driven flavours without extracting out excessive tannins, which could result in bitterness. Fermentation is activated by raising the temperature, after which the juice is circulated two to four times daily to keep the
2) Aaldering Estate Lady M Whilst fermenting, the wine is handled very carefully and will only get two pump-overs per day. It is then racked from the skins, after which the remaining juices are gently pressed out. Our Lady M doesnʼt go into barrels, but matures in stainless steel tanks. 3) Aaldering Estate Pinotage Rosé After destemming, the grapes are cooled to a temperature below 10°C and immediately pumped into the press before fermentation. Draining the juice starts straight away, with the last remaining juice being pressed out at a very low pressure to achieve a light salmon colour. The sediment then starts to settle, after which it is separated from the sediment. Fermentation is activated, keeping the temperature between 12 and 14°C. The wine is prepared for bottling a few months later.
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aldering a luxury escape 22 | The South African Dream
Aaldering Vineyards & Wines |
Lodges: Come and stay with us, says the invite for a luxury escape at Aaldering Vineyards & Wines. The new five-star lodges on the property are a must-visit for those who are after the finer things in life. Since I am one of those people, I do not hesitate: I am off to the picturesque Devon Valley for the ultimate Aaldering Experience.
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“ W elcome at Aaldering. We hope your stay will be memorable,” says lodge manager William with a friendly smile
t all starts with two black arches and welcoming flags, fluttering in the wind. A dirt road takes me along vineyards, a dam, and cow-dotted fields to my destination. I spot a Giant Kingfisher on a branch, staring at the dam’s surface. Appearing in the distance is the impressive modern black building comprising the cellar and tasting room, a true eye-catcher. The buildingʼs walls are painted black – a daring move considering the fact that most wine estates in the Cape are white. A statement amidst the shadows of the old oak trees. Behind the glass door, I am welcomed by lodge manager William Mukondwa. “Welcome at Aaldering. We hope your stay will be memorable,” he says with a big smile before guiding me to the tasting room. The fire is lit in an open fire place, and crystal glasses and the stylish Aaldering bottles are on display. The black labels – with embossed emblems and subtle leaves – are applied to the bottles by hand and ooze class and allure. “A glass of wine?” William asks kindly. Silently, I add “my dear”. From the spacious tasting room, there are sweeping views over Devon Valley. The room is decorated by Marianne Aaldering, and is a tribute to South Africaʼs rich culture and history. 24 | The South African Dream
Behind me is the estateʼs ultramodern wine cellar with its shimmering stainless steel tanks. This is where Winemaker Guillaume Nell will show me around tomorrow. A barrel tasting is on the agenda. I’m already looking forward to it, knowing it will be special to taste and discover wines whose flavours still have to develop, under the guidance of this passionate wine professional. Spending the night on the wine estate In December 2013 Fons en Marianne Aaldering opened the doors of the five-star luxury lodges on their wine estate. The contrast between the black, ultra-modern manor house and the classically white, thatched Cape Dutch-style lodge is striking. The estate’s modern and invigorating style of wine making is offset in the lodges by mementos of the Cape’s Dutch colonial history. The décor of the lodges is an intriguing amalgamation of old and new, from antiques to modern-day gadgets. The suites are equipped with iPads, wi-fi, plasma televisions, Nespresso machines, and a state-of-the-art hifi system. There is a pillow menu, an in-room spa treatment facility, and a laundry service >
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26 | The South African Dream
The décor of the three lodges is an intriguing amalgamation between old and new, from classic antiques to modern-day gadgets >
too. And last but not least: all three suites have their own lounge, bedroom, bathroom, kitchen and terrace, boasting endless views over the vineyards and Devon Valley. Part of the Aaldering Experience and waiting for you in your suite are three complimentary bottles of wine: the Pinotage, Lady M, and Pinotage Blanc. Aaldering is after all, about wine. When evening falls and silence descends over the vineyards, it is time to enjoy a lavish dinner at one of the many stunning restaurants in Stellenbosch. Upon your return, your fireplace will be lit, presenting you with the perfect opportunity to end the day with one last glass of wine. Then it is time to get comfortable and drift off in your cushion-scattered kingsize bed and sink-in duvet. The next day, I am enjoying breakfast in the tasting room. Whilst the friendly William is tending to the fire, I am chatting to winemaker Guillaume. It’s a wonderful experience to meet and talk to this artist about wine, the vineyards, and what it is like to work at a boutique winery. His openness is a reflection of Aaldering's hospitality and accessibility, as well as the estate's quest for quality, from the lodge to the wines.
and more popular among local and foreign travellers. Although the lodges have been in business for less than two years, they already rank second on TripAdvisorʼs Speciality Lodging in Stellenbosch category. And they have also been awarded the TripAdvisorʼs Certificate of Excellence, which is only given to accommodations that offer consistent quality and service. And last but not least, Booking.com has awarded them a 9.6 score, complimenting them on the peaceful surroundings, the beautiful views from the private decks, and the wonderful South African sunsets. But now it is time to leave. My newly washed car waits under the carport, shining and shimmering in the sun. William has come to see me off, as usual with a bright smile. I can look back on what has been an unforgettable Aaldering Experience. •
Compliments galore Similar to everything else Fons and Marianne have done, the Aaldering luxury lodges are a success, and becoming more The South African Dream | 27
he story on
28 | The South African Dream
Customer Experiences |
international Dutch Wim Spelt, Director Product Management at KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, shares his thoughts on the wonderful world of Inflight Services.
hat does the Inflight Services department do? “We are responsible for how our 9,000 cabin crew members operate, and for everything on board that is not ‘nailed down’. Think of blankets, pillows, trolleys, glassware, food and beverages. Together, these should lead to the perfect combination of hospitality and quality. Everything must fit the picture: the food, the seat, the wine, the friendly flight attendant. I always say that we bring a sense of pleasure aboard our flights, to around 28 million customers a year.” Could you tell us how? “A Dutch touch is important to KLM, as this differentiates us from other airlines. We refer to ourselves as an international Dutch airline, and this is underlined by using Dutch products. This varies from amenity kits by Viktor & Rolf, crockery designed by Marcel Wanders, to meals created by Dutch chefs, such as Sergio Herman, Margot Janse, and Jonnie Boer in our World Business Class. Aaldering wines are another good example: they tell an impressive story about how a Dutch wine farmer and his wife took up the challenge of going to South Africa and producing beautiful wines. For us, Aaldering personifies quality. And quality is the number one aspect when it comes to our selection of products.” How do you select your wines? “Wine is very important to KLM, and has been so for years. We have a wine panel, with a combined experience of at least a hundred years. People like Hubrecht Duijker, Ronald de Groot and Harold Hamersma, the true stalwarts among Dutch wine connoisseurs. They know what works on board and what doesn’t. Our panel blind tastes wines on a monthly basis. The pre-selection is about finding wines of origin, for instance Sauvignon Blancs from New Zealand, Chardonnays from Burgundy, and South African Pinotages. And preferably wines with a story. We currently serve Aaldering’s complex Pinotage and fruity Lady M, but we have also served their Chardonnay. Not a typical South African grape, but we simply loved this wine. In our Business Class section, we serve a minimum of two different whites, full and fresh, and two different reds, one complex and the other fruity. Sometimes, we have a third
wine on offer: an aromatic white and a peppery red. We go through approximately 380,000 bottles a year.” Those are big numbers. “And you can add another 100,000 bottles of Champagne in Business Class, and 5,5 million small wine bottles in Economy.” Do you take wine-food pairings into consideration? “Definitely. We employ food specialists, and we have a wine connoisseur with a degree in wine on our wine panel who is also a flight attendant. She advises on which wines suit the menu. Our menus change every three months, but our relationships with our chefs are long-standing. The enthusiasm and passion of major chefs such as Margot, Sergio and Jonnie, and of the beautiful wineries we work with, guarantee the best combinations in our restaurant in the sky. And don’t forget the excellent cooperation with our Dutch meal supplier, Marfo.” On the subject of storytelling: are you also responsible for KLM’s famous Delft Blue houses? “Yes, we are very proud of this unique concept. It provides passengers with a great insight into Dutch architecture. I think the houses are the only in-flight items collected across the globe. The number of Delft Blue houses corresponds with the age of KLM. We are turning 96 on 7th October, 2015, and that is when we will release house number 96. The first month after its release, all Business Class passengers will receive one. After that, we will hand them out randomly. But, you only get a house when you fly with us. We want it to remain exclusive.” It sounds like you have a world-class job with a world-class company. “Without a doubt. I am dealing with lots of different cultures and working with some of the greatest designers, chefs, and wines. We bring a lot of knowledge, skills, and passion on board. In addition to this position, I am also a senior purser. I will regularly travel in uniform, to see how passengers rate our products, and whether we have made the right choices. I am not just looking at the hardware, but also at whether our staff is able to make one plus one equal three.” • The South African Dream | 29
| Customer Experiences
aldering Winesʼ entrance into the high-end aviation catering industry Fons and Marianne Aaldering are no strangers to the travel and food industry. After all, they founded Marfo and Delta Dailyfood. Having a soft spot for anything related to the aviation sector, Aaldering Vineyards & Wines has established itself on First and Business Class wine lists of various airlines. These include American Airlines (First Class), Asiana Airlines (First Class), and KLM Royal Dutch Airlines (Business Class).
Sauvignon Blanc in the sky with Asiana Airlines Competing with the world’s finest wines that are served in the sky, Fons and Marianne Aaldering were delighted to hear that the Aaldering Sauvignon Blanc (2013) was awarded second place for the best white wine by First Class airlines worldwide in the Global Traveler ‘Wines on the Wing’ competition. For the third year running, South Korea’s Asiana Airlines is serving Aaldering Estate Sauvignon Blanc on board. The wine attracted the juryʼs attention because of its elegance and purity.
Aaldering Cab-Merlot airborne in American Airlinesʼ First Class cabin American Airlines and its wine procurement partner Intervine have selected the classic Aaldering Cabernet Sauvignon-Merlot blend (2011) barrel-aged for 25 months for its First Class service on international flights, airborne as per July 2015. American Airlines’ highly qualified wine committee, led by wine consultant and airline specialist Ken Chase, selected Aaldering and other prestigious sumptuous wines for their on-board wine list.
The Aalderings really enjoy being back in the airline catering industry, and they hope to increase their footprint in this business ‘bottle by bottle’, so to speak. 30 | The South African Dream
Customer Experiences |
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With just fifty-two inhabitants, Staverden in the Netherlands is the smallest city in the Benelux – perhaps even in the world. However, apart from its humble size, Staverden is first and foremost renowned for its grande ambiance.
ituated in the heart of the Netherlands, Staverden – which in essence is an estate with city rights – comprises a majestic castle embraced by a moat and rolling lawns, of which the latter are home to a handful of white peacocks. There is also a sprawling vegetable garden, an ancient coach house, and a beautiful restaurant surrounded by two lavishly-appointed al fresco areas. Brasserie Staverden is one of the best spots in the Netherlands to enjoy a great glass of fine wine. In that respect, the Brasserie and Aaldering Wines are a match made in heaven, say owners Katherine Haklander-Timmers and Ingrid Kok. Itʼs all about exclusivity It has been six years since Brasserie Staverden opened its doors, and in that relatively short period, its al fresco areas have been rated amongst the best in the Netherlands. Here, 32 | The South African Dream
everything – from the Brasserieʼs elaborate menu to the beautiful surrounding gardens – is about indulging and relaxing. Staverden has also become a popular wedding and corporate team building location. The recent introduction of the wines of Aaldering Vineyards & Wines has only enhanced this. Katherine Haklander-Timmers: “The Aaldering wines are all about enjoying and indulging. We regard the wines as an extraordinary local product and we are very proud that we have partnered up exclusively with this Dutch-owned yet proudly South African wine estate.” Could you tell us more about your partnership with aldering? A Katherine: “We are constantly looking for unique partners, particularly companies that share our philosophy when it comes to quality. Aaldering is such a company. Their wines are a perfect match for us, in terms of quality and exclusivity.” What is so special about the Aaldering wines? Katherine: “We have been enthusiastic about them since their introduction, and so have our clients. Their responses have been very positive. Even the fact that we had to slightly increase the prices of our wines doesnʼt seem to deter them. We have served over 5,000 bottles this year already. This proves that people are willing to pay more for quality. Partnering with Aaldering was a great decision.”
Ingrid: “It was exciting and a bit stressful to change our wine list, and in a way to make our offering more exclusive. Aaldering is after all a young venture.” Katherine: “We undoubtedly made the right decision. We now have guests asking to buy a bottle from us after dinner, to enjoy at home. That really underlines the quality of the Aaldering wines. This is an extraordinary compliment.” How did you introduce the Aaldering wines? Katherine: “Firstly, we organised a wine tasting for our team, to introduce them to the eight different wines to help guests make a choice. We also invested in printed promotional material for our tables, and there is the beautiful Aaldering coffee table book. ʻOur South African Dreamʼ tells the story of the Aaldering Wine Estate & Luxury Lodges. It is available for guests to browse through, should they want more information. A few books have actually disappeared. I guess it is something people want to have at home.” Ingrid: “We are also organising food & wine tastings for our guests on a regular basis, to give them the opportunity to get to know more about the wines and the Aaldering Vineyards & Wines.” What are your future plans? Katherine: “We would like to open an Aaldering Wine Bar at the castle, to treat true wine connoisseurs to exquisite wines
in an equally exquisite setting.” Ingrid: “We are also playing with the idea of organising live jazz afternoons on Sundays, as well as exclusive tastings for a limited audience. These and other ideas match our fine wines-good food aspirations.” Which of the Aaldering wines is your favourite? Both: “We love the Pinotage.” • www.beleefstaverden.nl
“ T he Aaldering wines are all about enjoying and indulging. We regard the wines as an extraordinary local product”
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Brandsimex has been a leading distributor of beer, wines, spirits, and non-alcoholic beverage brands in the Dutch Caribbean for the past decade. Headquartered on the beautiful island of Curacao, the companyʼs ethos is characterised by employing a diverse workforce and recruiting the best talent. Its aim is to foster long-lasting relationships with its partners. Aaldering is one of them.
A taste of
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randsimex and Aaldering joined forces in 2011, a partnership which has resulted in the introduction of the estateʼs wine creations to the Dutch Caribbean. These premium wines, with their “Dutch Heritage”, are a perfect addition to the companyʼs portfolio. As a result, the Aaldering name has made its way onto wine lists of various upmarket restaurants across the Dutch Caribbean. So far, the feedback regarding uniqueness, flavour and palate intensity has been extremely positive: the estateʼs wines have become a distinguished food-pairing companion, and are popular among those who enjoy a glass of fine wine. Baoase Luxury Resort Because of Brandsimexʼs continuous focus on quality, the company is discerning when it comes to choosing restaurants, bars, hotels, and other ventures to work with. One of its
aldering in the
Customer Experiences | long-standing Curacao-based partners is the Baoase Culinary Beach Restaurant. Perched on the banks of a private lagoon, the restaurant forms part of the Baoase Luxury Resort. This boutique retreat, which is inspired by the mystique of Southeast Asia, comprises 23 luxuriously appointed suites and villas, all with high ceilings and hard wooden floors, and commanding sweeping views over the pristine turquoise Caribbean waters and the resortʼs lush tropical gardens. Baoase boasts influences from Southeast Asia, from its Bali-imported furniture to the Buddha statues and carefully selected antique accessories. The uniqueness and the omnipresent luxurious atmosphere is meticulously combined with impeccable service. This, and more, makes Baoase Luxury Resort the ideal romantic and luxurious hide-away. It is this ambiance which executive chef René Klop has successfully managed to integrate into his culinary lineup; creations which have turned Baoase Culinary Beach
estaurant into one of Curacaoʼs finest dining hotspots. HavR ing worked in various Michelin-starred restaurants in Belgium and the Netherlands, René spends his days treating his guests to dishes that will exceed their expectations. The breathtaking view of the resortʼs private lagoon is the proverbial icing on the cake. The Chefʼs choice surprise menu, which features five courses, is very popular among Baoaseʼs guests. When putting together this menu, René has worked closely with Brandsimex to select the right wines. After various tasting sessions, the decision was made in favour of the wines produced at Aaldering Vineyards & Wines. This decision has also been well received by Baoaseʼs guests and because of this perfect combination, there is a constant stream of guests from the resort and outside to the Baoase Culinary Beach Restaurant looking for a treat. •
wines Dutch Caribbean
For more information about Brandsimex and the Baoase Culinary Beach Restaurant: www.brandsimex.com and www.baoase.com
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| Customer Experiences
elaire Graff Estate: Delaire Graff Estate, which used to be owned by South African wine author John Platter, is situated high on the Helshoogte Pas and in between the wine capitals Stellenbosch and Franschhoek. The estate is renowned for its beautiful vistas and state-of-the-art setting. n 2003, Delaire was sold to Swiss diamond magnate Laurence Graff, who turned it into a contemporary sanctuary for the modern traveller. The estate boasts a luxury lodge, spa, and a modern tasting room as well as a state-of-the-art wine cellar and two restaurants. The view from the Graff Restaurant is the estateʼs unique selling point, and Indochine restaurant is renowned for its Southeast Asian cuisine. We are being taken for a tour around this paradise and it is absolute bliss: luxury 2.0, to coin a phrase. A new élan As the winding road takes us from Helshoogte Pas to the top of the hill, we are met by a man of steel with his arms open and raised to the sky. I am not reading a gesture of hopeless36 | The South African Dream
ness, but one of triumph: welcome to my paradise and its extraordinary views. We canʼt emphasise it enough: Delaireʼs terrace invites you to have long and sumptuous lunches lasting well into the afternoon, enjoying the finest wines, and being embraced by surprisingly tasteful and spectacular surroundings. Grande ambiance Amidst burning garden torches and water features, we enter the culinary heart of Delaire Graff Estate. The wine lounge, the Graff Diamonds Salon – the first of its kind in South Africa – and the 100% Capri boutique are situated to our right. This small speciality shop features only the best creations by Italian designer Antonino Aiello. His luxury wear and garments are
glamorous luxury in Stellenbosch characterised by simplicity and elegance. To our left is the wine cellar, which is mysteriously lit up. A water feature leads us to the beautifully situated Graff Restaurant and adjacent terrace, which is decorated with eclectic art made by, among others, the young, internationally renowned South African artist Lionel Smit. The restaurant with its contemporary Mediterranean cuisine was voted third in TripAdvisor’s Travellers’ Favourite Fine Dining Restaurants in South Africa: ‘Excellent dining with the best mountain scenery in South Africa’. Indochine, Delaire’s acclaimed restaurant with its Asian-inspired menu, is located a bit higher up the hill. Besides the breathtaking views, we are completely taken by the birds of the light ornament, which encompasses pretty much Indochineʼs entire ceiling. Did we already mention that this place is absolutely stunning?
Delaire Graff and Aaldering Wines Delaire Graff, in its quest to provide only the very best of the very best, has decided to include the Aaldering Pinotage and Aaldering Cabernet Sauvignon-Merlot on the Indochine wine list. Johann Laubser, General Manager of Delaire Graff: “I have just tasted both wines and feel that they are both beautifully made and are impressive contemporary wines. They are perfect companions for Indochineʼs culinary sensations and most certainly deserve their listing. They add stature to the Indochine offering.” Aaldering Vineyards & Wines and Delaire Graff have come together in their respective quest for ultimate quality, offering all the best the good life has to offer. • www.delaire.co.za
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Customer Experiences |
3 star Michelin magic The Netherlands boasts just two restaurants with three prestigious Michelin Stars. De Librije, owned by Jonnie and Thérèse Boer, is one of them. Their wine list features the wines of Aaldering Vineyards & Wines. All the more reason to visit the Dutch Valhalla of pure taste. e meet the gastronomical couple, who transform everything they touch into quality, at the Chef’s Table in their famous De Librije restaurant in the heart of Zwolle. Housed in what used to be a women’s prison, the location is stunning and suits the 3D experience the couple wants to offer their guests. Extraordinary art adorns the long, narrow hallway that leads past the original cell doors towards the lounge and glass-covered courtyard, where the (inter) nationally acclaimed restaurant and kitchen are situated. De Librije has become an emporium, with a hotel, kitchen-studio, and a shop selling their cookbooks, herbs, wines, and crockery. In addition, Jonnie and Thérèse play an advisory role at the Librije’s Zusje restaurant (“Librije’s Little Sister”) in Amsterdam, where chef Sidney Schutte received two Michelin Stars within half a year of opening. Michelin Stars Three Michelin Stars are awarded to restaurants with an ‘exceptional cuisine and impeccable service’. The first time De Librije was awarded this prestigious accolade, was in 2004. Their cuisine is based on pure ingredients from their own gardens and greenhouse, and from local suppliers. Jonnie Boer is responsible for perfection on the plates, whilst Thérèse, sommelier and hostess, takes care of intriguing food-wine pairings. Nature is the common theme running
through all their culinary creations. Jonnie shows us a plate filled with pebbles and sprigs of watercress sprouting from a bit of soil, in the middle of which a dish will be served. “An experiment.” What distinguishes you, earning you those three Stars? Jonnie: “Our food-wine pairings have definitely contributed. And as long as 25 years ago, we started sourcing local produce. At the time, that was unusual, every restaurant was serving French cuisine. Our local approach and produce from the wild really made us stand out. It led to our first Star, even though back then our restaurant was fairly chaotic, with rattan chairs and even the odd tear in a table cloth. We didn’t have any money to spend on décor, our art was on your plate! The fact that we immediately received a Star, created an upturn in the Netherlands. You didn’t have to be ultrachic after all.” A Star is earned in the herb garden these days, it seems. Jonnie: “That is so true. Twenty years ago, we started our own vegetable garden and greenhouse, where we now grow 80 percent of what serve. Today, everyone seems to have a vegetable garden, but I like that.” Wines play a key role in your famous food-wine pairings. Why did you opt for the wines produced by Aaldering Vineyards & Wines? Thérèse: “I find their quality truly fantastic. Their wines tell you that Aaldering goes for quality, and has invested and continues to invest in achieving this. Their wines are full of flavour, pure and elegant, really good. I have known their wines from the very beginning, and I have noticed the grapes gain more and more substance. And they know how to create the perfect balance in their wines. That is a sign of class. Since 2009, we have our own wine, Kus van Thérèse (“Thérèse’s Kiss”), produced at Wijngoed Gelders Laren, a small Dutch vineyard. So I know what it takes to make wines
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as beautiful as Aaldering’s. Their presentation is also perfect, it all looks so sophisticated, that is great. I admire the fact they keep investing in quality. Take the new lodge, which really is a dream of mine too. The combination of producing beautiful wines, running a luxurious lodge, and serving great food.” Jonnie (to Thérèse): “You have to make a Kus van Thérèse with Fons Aaldering, two fantastic Dutch winemakers teaming up...” Which Aaldering food-wine pairing is your favourite? Thérèse: “I prefer the Sauvignon Blanc and the Pinotage. We rarely drink Pinotage, but the Aaldering Pinotage is really good. But we also use their Cabernet Sauvignon-Merlot a lot. We have a beautiful dish of raw langoustines, ‘cooked’ in kombucha. The elegant freshness of Aaldering’s Sauvignon Blanc is a perfect match for the dish’s acidity, and contributes to a remarkable balance of flavours. Aaldering’s Cabernet Sauvignon-Merlot, with the powerful character and elegance of the Cabernet and the refinement of the Merlot, is served with our pigeon. Very elegant and refined, a perfect match.” How do you compose these pairings? Thérèse: “Our menu changes with the seasons. And I taste accordingly. I always try to find the more exclusive wines. Generally speaking, the dish comes first. Once that is perfect, we will start tasting the appropriate wines. Developing a dish is a process that may take two weeks, or even three months. It is all about serving our guests the perfect food-wine pairing.”
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Who cooks at home? Thérèse: “Well, not me. Generally, we and our two kids will eat something prepared by the kitchen staff. And occasionally, if he feels like it, Jonnie will cook.” Jonnie: “Occasionally? At least once a week. Sole for instance, with a salad. We rarely eat potatoes or bread. They make me tired. My new belief is in deacidification. I have heard that if you do that after your fiftieth, you will live up to ten years longer. That’s also why I drink kombucha and I even like it. Our guests always receive a welcoming drink made with ingredients from the ditch: wild angelica, water mint, meadowsweet and kombucha.” And that seems to be where the storytelling element comes in. How do you explain these pairings? Jonnie: “People come here for a great experience, not to be lectured. But if they are interested, I will show them a lot, even in the kitchen.” Thérèse: “Storytelling is an important component of the 3D experience. Many guests like it when we tell them how we work. Our presentation is very open, and we enjoy the interaction too.” On a scale of 1 to 10, where are you in terms of realizing your dreams? Jonnie: “With regards to the restaurant, probably close to a 10. Especially given the kind of restaurant we have created. If only because of the location, that is a great experience. We have brought lots of nature inside. We currently even have
Farmer’s pigeon, kohlrabi and hazelnuts
butterflies flying around. They came in by accident, but do add a little extra. We also grow jasmine indoors, and there is a pollard willow and nasturtium. We are really happy with our conservatory. But we do not want to rest on our laurels. We always want to move forward.” What would that next step be? Jonnie: “A good example: We have published three books over the past years. Puur (“Pure”), Puurder (“Purer”) and Puurst (“Purest”), which was awarded World’s Best Cookbook by a Chef. Today, everyone uses the word pure, but it really fits our approach to life, and where we want to go. We are getting ever and ever closer to the truth. My dishes too keep getting purer. At most of the three-Star restaurants, the kitchen stays at the same level. They have achieved what they wanted, and that is that. I want to go beyond that. I can’t stand still.” Thérèse: “That would be boring for me, too. Culinary speaking, we are ambassadors of the Netherlands and in my opinion that means you can’t stand still. And also, everywhere around you, things are developing. You continually have to be innovative.” Whom would you love to cook a meal for? Jonnie: “We have cooked for all the world leaders when they were in the Netherlands in 2013. So we did that. I would love to cook for Rutger Hauer, the famous Dutch actor. A forgotten legend in the Netherlands.” Thérèse: “For King Willem-Alexander and Queen Máxima. We have been their guests, at their annual High Performers Lunch.
Langoustines, slow-cooked in kombucha with bumbu, an Indonesian concentrated spice mixture
So, they have already cooked for us! But they promised to come eat at De Librije.” What restaurants inspire you, if any? Jonnie: “For inspiration, I would really like to go to Japan, to see how they work with ingredients and products. In my opinion, their cuisine is the best in the world. But to be inspired… I don’t really want to be inspired, at least not by other Michelin Star restaurants. I have been impressed by a very simple restaurant in San Francisco. That’s where I thought: ‘Wow, this is really good. I want this on my menu.’ It was a tartare on fried bread. The way it was prepared was amazing. I will however always give it my own personal twist.” Thérèse: “Going out for dinner always gets our adrenalin levels up. We then cannot wait to go back to work.” What would your last supper be? Thérèse: “Jonnie will never stop cooking.” Jonnie (after thinking for some time): “A perfect calf's liver, with garlic and a bit of bacon and a lovely sherry sauce.” Thérèse: “He can make me veal kidneys. He is so good at it…” • www.librije.com
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| Hole in one
rnie Els: living and loving golf
Personal background Ernie, one of the world's best golfers, started his professional career in 1989. Since then, he has won no less than seventy tournaments, including the US Open (1994 and 1997) and the British Open (2002 and 2012) as well as two World Golf Championships and seven World Matchplay titles. As a young man Ernie (1969) excelled in various sports, including cricket, rugby, and tennis – a sportsman to the core. At the age of 16, he discovered golf, which soon became his new love. A mere four years later, his career as a professional golfer took off, and he started winning one tournament after the other. One of the high points of Ernie's life was his meeting with Nelson Mandela in 1994. The story goes that Madiba, until his death in 2013, was the first person to call Ernie after every victory. Children and charity Whilst playing golf tournaments around the world, the Big Easy met Liezl, whom he married in 1998. Their daughter Samantha was born shortly afterwards, followed by Ben. “There are phases every child goes through: crawling at nine months, walking at twelve months, talking, and so on,” Els recalls. “Our son made us wonder: why isn’t he crawling? Why isn't he walking? Why isn't he looking me in the eye? Small things like that. That was because he was autistic.” The diagnosis had a huge effect on the family. One in 88 children has autism, but there is still a lot to be found out about the disorder. As a result, the Elses moved to Florida in the United States. Here, Ernie started the Els for Autism Foundation, followed by the Centre of Excellence in 2014. The facility provides a uniquely designed, on-site educational programme for 300 patients aged between 3 and 21 and suffering from autism. It combines critical elements such as 42 | The South African Dream
South Africa has a rich golfing culture and one name immediately comes to mind: Theodore Ernest (Ernie) Els. His height (1.91m) and his smooth effortless swing earned him the nickname ‘The Big Easy’.
early intervention, the transition to adulthood, and the medical side of things. At its heart, the centre has a multifaceted global outreach programme that combines the best educational and therapeutic practices available by employing international autism experts. Moreover, the centre caters for patients and their families. In South Africa Ernie has been involved in all sorts of charities, including assisting children from disadvantaged areas to develop their golf playing talent. What Els(e)? Except for being a talented golfer and a devoted father, Ernie is a successful entrepreneur. He owns the Big Easy Restaurant chain, which has branches in Stellenbosch – where the wine list features the Aaldering wines and where Els loves to have a glass of wine – and in Durban and Dubai. South Africa's favourite golfer has also become an established name in the world of golf course design. Ernie Els Design offers a full range of course design services, which have proved to be quite popular: up until now, Ernie has realised over a dozen golf courses all over the world and various South African golf courses, including the Els Club in Herold's Bay, Nondela in Drakensberg, and Highland Gate in Dullstroom. There are ten more golf courses in the pipeline and we are pretty sure these are not the last ones on his list either. If you are a golf player, make sure that his courses are on your bucket list! • www.ernieels.com
Hole in one |
rabella Golf Club: a golfer始s delight
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Some 10km outside Hermanus − South Africaʼs whale watching capital − and in the heart of the Kogelberg Biosphere, lies the Arabella Golf Club. This prestigious and picturesque golf estate, surrounded by the Bot River Lagoon and Rooisand Nature Reserve, is known as one of South Africa's best golf courses. Let’s do a round, shall we?
hen talking about Arabella, the plethora of accolades it has won over the past years should get a mention. As a result, this 18-hole par-72 Championship Course, which was designed by South African golf course architect Peter Matkovich, has been consistently ranked among South Africaʼs top ten golf courses. One of the highlights is the 8th hole, which has been described as one of the most beautiful par-5 holes in the country. The 18th hole, in turn, is known as the finest finishing hole in South Africa. From the day Arabella opened its doors in 1999, countless professionals and celebrities have enjoyed a round of golf, including South African star players Ernie Els and Gary Player. The course The Arabella Golf Course, perched as it is on the edge of the Bot River Lagoon, is surrounded by wetlands that are home to a multitude of water birds. If you are lucky, youʼll spot a Blue Crane, South Africaʼs national bird as well as the clubʼs symbol. The Flamingos too, are frequent guests. And if you are very, very lucky, you might catch a glimpse of South Africa’s only herd of wild horses that roam the area. When Peter Matkovich started designing the Arabella Golf Course, he had nothing at his disposal but stony farmland, dotted with hundreds of alien invasive trees. It took a great deal of effort to turn this inaccessible and inhospitable terrain into the golf course it is today. Comprising world-class putting greens, pristine turfs, tricky
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Hole in one |
“O ne of the most visually appealing courses I have ever played” sand traps, and challenging water hazards, Arabella is a true favourite among local and international golfers. The fact that the clubʼs golf carts are equipped with GPS navigation devices is an added bonus. The clubhouse of course is world-class, and so is the warm-up facility adjacent to the course, which provides practice balls free of charge. Signature holes The courseʼs 8th and 18th holes are considered to be Arabellaʼs signature holes. There are plenty of reasons why. Hole number 8 is a par-5 that plays down a steep hill to a well-protected area, cut out into the lagoon. On the left, a long bunker that protects the hole's final 100 yards is followed by a small green, which forms a mini-peninsula in the lagoon. The view from above alone is reason enough to visit Arabella. The hole is surrounded by the scenic beauty of the Western
Cape, with its indigenous fynbos, the rugged Kogelberg ountains, and of course the lagoon itself. M The finishing 18th hole gives you the opportunity to absorb the region's splendid bird life whilst obtaining high scores when you keep to the left of the fairway. The long bunker, which runs along this hole, is there to protect the fragile ecosystem of the Bot River Lagoon. It is true what they say: when designing this course, Peter Matkovich really seems to have listened to his surroundings. We would like to invite you to take up the challenge and savour a wonderfully sporty day out, only a scenic one-hour drive from Aaldering Luxury Lodges. • www.arabellagolfclub.co.za
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46 | The South African Dream
from the Mother City to the Purple City
The Pride of Africa is the steam-powered dream of Rohan Vos, the founder of Rovos Rail. With his venture, which he started in 1989, he created one of the most luxurious train trips in the Southern Hemisphere. We travelled from Cape Town, the Mother City, to South Africa's purple city, Pretoria. Life is a train, get on board – Khaled Hosseini in The Kite Runner
ur adventure starts just below the foothills of Table Mountain. South Africaʼs most famous landmark is often adorned with thin dripping cloud formations, the so-called tablecloth. Just a bit further away, the kelp forests are gently rocking in the Atlantic waves, as white veils of foam fan out over the golden beaches and granite boulders. It is still early when we are taken into a stylish room that has a distinct colonial feel, leaving behind the cityʼs hustle and bustle. A small string orchestra plays classical music as waiters bring around glasses of Cap Classique and trays of canapés. One by one, the passengersʼ names are called out; the seventy chosen ones who will embark on one of the most luxurious train journeys in the Southern Hemisphere. We will spend three days together on The Pride of Africa, making a 1600km trip which will cut across wine lands, the rugged mountains of the Hex River Valley, and the Karooʼs thirsty landscape. Via South Africaʼs diamond capital Kimberley and Johannesburg, we will finally disembark in Pretoria.
A steamy dream Rohan Vos, founder and owner of Rovos Rail, has spent the past decades restoring train carriages from the early 1930s, in a successful attempt to bring back to life the atmosphere and romance of the Victorian era. The panelled carriages are pulled by steam, diesel or electrical locomotives. Besides luxuriously appointed sleeper coaches, all with ensuite bathrooms, the train has two lavish restaurant carriages where passengers can enjoy a scrumptious dinner, accompanied by a glass of fine wine. Then there is the observation carriage, the place to meet fellow travellers, enjoy an aperitif, and dream away as the ever-changing landscape flashes by. Lush vineyards From Cape Town, the Pride of Africa snakes it way through green, lush Cape wine valleys. In between the mountains, first shrouded by mist and then soaked in sunshine, we travel past architectural gems like Paarl, Stellenbosch – home to Aaldering Vineyards & Wines – and Franschhoek. Here some of the best wines from the “New World” are made. A bit >
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W e decide to submerge ourselves in the romance and ambiance of a time long gone, a golden era full of the magic and mystique of Africa as it was enjoyed by train travellers of yesteryear > further on the blossoming fruit trees of the Breede Rivier can be seen, and the wild mountainous landscape of the Hex River mountain pass. Soon, the rough and rugged landscape becomes flatter, emptier, and more vast: we have arrived in the Karoo, a semi-desert where mountains rise up from the desolate plains like ancient dinosaurs. Whilst on the observation coach, we meet a very special couple. Both are well into their seventies. She is flamboyant, sporting large sunglasses and a red hat. He is rather frail and has an aristocratic bearing. They point at the baboons, playing in a mountain stream. “We used to drive from Johannesburg to Cape Town in our sports car,” she says. “With my scarf fluttering in the wind, we were overcome by the sensation of freedom, and of course by the beauty of this infinite land.” Romance of a bygone era In the afternoon, we stop in Matjiesfontein, a small Karoo town with 300 inhabitants. After disembarking, we make our way to the hop-on-hop-off bus for a 10-minute tour of the town, the shortest bus ride in South Africa. As the tour progresses, the driver treats us to some interesting facts about what used to be the regional headquarters of the Anglo-Boer War. When the conflict came to an end, Matjiesfontein was soon forgotten. In the 1970s however, it was purchased by a wealthy family, and restored to its former glory. Echo of the past The sun has gone down, leaving the sky glowing like embers. The silence is almost audible, something which is amplified by the empty landscape. We decide to submerge ourselves in the romance and ambiance of a time long gone, a golden era full of the magic and mystique of Africa as it was enjoyed by train travellers of yesteryear. Our fine-dining experience on board is graced with scrumptious dishes and some of South Africaʼs most exclusive wines. Our table is set with beautiful linen, silver cutlery, and crockery made of the finest china. Whilst evening wear is not de rigueur, dressing up is appreciated as it enhances the experience. After dinner, we are rocked to sleep by the train.
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Diamond rush The following day, the Pride of Africa stops in Kimberley, home to one of the most beautiful train stations in Africa. This particular city is in fact one of South Africaʼs best kept secrets, its history closely connected to the diamond industry. The Big Hole resulted in a diamond rush in the 19th century, turning Kimberley into one of the most prestigious settlements at the time. After a diamond excursion, we are welcomed back on board, again with a glass of bubbly. We could easily get used to this combination of indulging, learning about the country, and travelling. The purple city Pretoria, situated in the fertile Apies River valley, started out as the farm of Andries Pretorius, one of the key players of the Anglo-Boer War. Shortly after his death, this spot was chosen as a suitable location for the capital of the South African Republic and in 1855 Pretoria was founded. The most impressive structure in Pretoria is without a doubt the Union Buildings on Meintjieskop. From this hill in Pretoriaʼs city centre, the view over the city is breathtaking. This is particularly the case in October and November, when thousands of jacaranda trees are in bloom, covering the city with a deep purple haze. Our Rovos Rail destination ends in Capital Park, once a sleepy train station. As the locomotive comes to a standstill, we consider ourselves lucky to have experienced this journey on one of the worldʼs most amazing train travels. • www.rovos.com
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hen spring has
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Typically South Africa |
sprung in the Cape Every year between August and September the exquisite Postberg section of the West Coast National Park opens its doors to the public, treating them to one of the greatest natural flower spectacles on earth.
racefully and gratefully, millions of wildflowers in all shapes and sizes are bending their tiny heads towards the sun, allowing the breeze to take away and disperse their seeds. Flying freely in the air before landing in the soil, it will only be a matter of time before they produce new flowers. Every year, the area is covered by an endless multi-coloured floral carpet. Contrasting with the blue, cloud-scattered skies, it is a sight for sore eyes indeed. How to enjoy The Postberg section of the West Coast National Park, which is located a scenic coastal drive north of Cape Town, is only open during the parkʼs peak flower season, which lasts from August to September. The ʼshowʼ starts in the Mother City already, with thousands of daisies lining the R27 leading to Langebaan and the park, raising their heads towards the sun. The fynbos-covered plains and sandy dunes of the West Coast National Park, which is flanked by the Atlantic Ocean, are among the Capeʼs true gems. Every year, this region is knitting itself back together, seed by seed, stitch by stitch, flower by flower. Leaving large outcrops of weathered granite boulders behind, the dirt road leads us along the foothills of the Postberg and the edge of the lagoon. The ever-changing views are breathtaking. As we are making our way through the park, we are treated to multi-coloured daisy carpets, pristine beaches, and secluded bays. Whilst the region is often windswept, the Weather Gods seem to be smiling down on us today. > The South African Dream | 51
E very year, the area will be covered by never-ending multi-coloured floral carpets as far as the eye can see > South African cuisine At the heart of the West Coast National Park lies the sparkly turquoise Langebaan Lagoon, an internationally acclaimed Ramsar-listed birdersʼ hotspot. Apart from a multitude of bird species, the lagoon is home to bobbing yachts and of course the famous houseboats of Kraalbaai. If you want to linger we advise you to pull over at Geelbek, which features an exquisite restaurant. A national monument, this marvellous Cape Dutch structure was renovated three times since it was built in 1744. The restaurant's menu boasts West Coast dishes and other South African treats, and stimulates all the senses thanks to its beautiful setting. Imagine observing Weaver Birds building their intricate nests, with Flamingos fishing in the background while indulging in a glass of fine South African wine! Geelbek Restaurant only stocks the best regional wines, and its wine list was awarded a Gold Award. A bit of wildlife as well Apart from the flowers and the stunning scenery, the West Coast National Park is home to a variety of animals, including leopard tortoises, ostriches, gemsbok, springbok and bontebok. But there is more: as we sit down to a glass of glorious Aaldering wine, we spot five tiny bat-eared foxes with their 52 | The South African Dream
large Mickey Mouse ears, taking a peek at us through the swaying grass before shooting off. Meeting these fluffy-tailed, usually nocturnal African foxes is an unexpected bonus. www.sanparks.co.za/parks/west_coast/ and www.geelbek.co.za More flower hotspots ± The Kogelberg Biosphere Reserve on the south coast is another important flower hotspot worth visiting. Whilst it is magnificent all year round, the best time to visit is during spring (August – September). ± If you donʼt have a lot of time and if you are not a hiker, then the Harold Porter National Botanical Garden near Bettyʼs Bay is a good option. This landmark encapsulates the diversity and splendour of the Capeʼs coastal and mountain fynbos. www.capenature.co.za/reserves/kogelberg-nature-reserve/ and www.sanbi.org/gardens/harold-porter ± Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens in Cape Town is a must-see for flower fanatics, as they are rated one of the best botanic gardens in the world. www.sanbi.org/gardens/kirstenbosch ± Sanbona Wildlife Reserve offers a magical combination of wildlife and floral splendour. This five-star private game reserve near Montagu is the place to visit for exquisite game drives; the best way to enjoy the natural beauty of this area. www.sanbona.com •
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able Mountain: Nelson Mandela once referred to Table Mountain as the beacon of hope. Four years ago, South Africaʼs most prominent landmark was voted one of the New7Wonders of Nature.
Wonder of nature The global campaign to elect the worldʼs most beautiful natural sites, known as the New7Wonders initiative, was the brainchild of the Swiss New7Wonders Foundation. Its first selection round resulted in the nomination of over 400 natural sites around the world, from waterfalls and rivers to mountain ranges and forests. Besides Table Mountain (1085 m), the South African entry list featured Cape of Good Hope, the Kruger National Park, and the Vredefort Crater. Only Table Mountain made it: on 11 November 2011 the mountain with its characteristic flat summit was voted one of the worldʼs most beautiful natural wonders. Support of three icons Three South African icons, all Nobel Laureates, supported the Table Mountainʼs entry: former presidents Nelson Mandela and F.W. de Klerk, and Archbishop Desmond Tutu. It was during the opening of Table Mountain National Park in 1998 that Nelson Mandela referred to Cape Townʼs most famous mountain as a beacon of hope. ‘During the many
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Iconic places of interest |
beacon of hope years of incarceration on Robben Island, we often looked across Table Bay at the magnificent silhouette of Table Mountain. To us on Robben Island, Table Mountain was a beacon of hope. It represented the mainland, to which we would one day return.’ Just over a decade later, during the event that kickstarted the Vote for Table Mountain campaign, Mandelaʼs predecessor F.W. de Klerk explained how Table Mountain was more than a defining visual icon of Cape Town and South Africa. The mountain, he said, was ‘the backdrop to the unfolding of South African history’. Desmond Tutu concurred and added that he finally understood the essence of the mountain. “When God created all thatʼs there, he said ‘I think I’ve got to do something special here’. And so he produced this fantastic gateway in the South – Table Mountain, our mountain! What a wonder!” Magical floral kingdom One of Table Mountainʼs biggest assets, apart from its flat top, is undoubtedly its biodiversity. The mountain is home to
not only the richest, but also the smallest floral kingdom in the world – comprising 1500 plant species including fynbos and proteas, South Africaʼs national flower. An interesting detail is that Table Mountain is the product of six million years of erosion and shifts in the earthʼs crusts, and that it is the only place on earth after which a constellation (Mensa, which means table) was named. From Table Mountain, one has a fantastic view over Cape Town and Robben Island. The summit can be reached on foot, for instance via the Hoerikwaggo hiking trail, or by cable car. When you have arrived at the top, why not pick a cosy spot, pour yourself a delicious glass of Aaldering wine (donʼt forget your corkscrew and some glasses!), and enjoy the never-ending vistas – until the infamous layer of clouds presents itself. When the ‘tablecloth’ appears, youʼll know that it is time to pack up, and finish your bottle at Aaldering Luxury Lodges. •
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| Iconic places of interest
snippet of history: the arrival of the Europeans
Before the first Europeans set foot in the Cape, the region was inhabited by the San and the Khoikhoi. Letʼs have a look at this famous chapter in South Africaʼs history, which starts in the area surrounding the magical Table Mountain. etʼs be honest, the Dutch werenʼt the first Europeans to arrive in the spot where Cape Town would be built. That was the Portuguese Captain Antonio Saldanha, who set foot in the Cape in 1503. The Khoikhoi, the Capeʼs indigenous population, resisted these armed strangers in their impressive ships and after a while the Portuguese got fed up with the hostilities, and sailed on. A century and a half later, the Dutch arrived, with the first permanent residents being survivors of the Haerlem. The ship had sunk in Table Bay in 1648. A year later, the men – who survived thanks to the fertile lands and the presence of fresh water – were rescued by another Dutch ship and taken back to Holland. Based on their experiences, the Dutch East India Company (VOC) decided to establish a refreshment station in the Cape, with the purpose of providing vessels sailing between Europe Left: Charles Bell: The arrival of Jan van Riebeeck in the Cape Below: Anonymous: The NoordNieuwland in Table Bay, 1762
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and the Far East with fruit, vegetables, and brandy, to combat scurvy. Shipʼs doctor Jan van Riebeeck was put in charge of this exciting assignment. He arrived on 6 April 1652 with three ships, the Drammedaris, the Reijger, and the Goede Hoop. Vegetable gardens were soon laid out, right where the Company Gardens can be found now. Situated in the very heart of Cape Town, this lush oasis features indigenous flowers and trees and is open to the public. In 2014, the authorities decided to revive the Dutch chapter of the Gardensʼ history by planting a vegetable garden, with produce from days gone by. The Cape of Good Hope, once feared by most sailors for its unreliable winds and treacherous currents, is located a few miles to the south of Cape Town. It was the Portuguese explorer Bartolomeu Dias who referred to it as Cabo das Tormentas (Cape of Storms). Over the past centuries, countless ships have perished in the vicinity of this landmark. In the years between the wrecking of the Haerlem in 1648 and 1795, the year the VOC was disbanded, no less than twelve Dutch ships perished and more than 1000 crew members were drowned. In our magazineʼs next issue: South Africaʼs very first wines.
Typically South African |
iltong Itʼs a great treat, one that goes perfectly with a glass of Aaldering wine: biltong, the South African equivalent of American beef jerky.
lose your eyes and imagine the refreshment station of the Dutch East India Company (VOC). Back in the days it was the place in Africa to stock up on fruit, vegetables, fresh water, brandy, and meat. Because meat had a limited shelf-life, the Dutch decided to develop a way to preserve it. This curing and drying process resulted in what we now know as biltong. Whatʼs in a name? The name biltong might sound a bit strange, until one has a closer look
at the Afrikaans language. The word ʻtongʼ translates as ʻribbonʼ, and ʻbilʼ as ʻhind legʼ, for instance of a cow, kudu, springbok or even an ostrich. Voilà. To this day, biltong is made of 20-centimetre strips of an animalʼs hind leg which are cured in a mix of coriander seeds, chilli flakes, salt, and vinegar – and then dried for up to 24 hours. The spicy marinade gives the meat a unique flavour and texture. • In our next issue: Rooibos, South Africaʼs very own tea.
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argot Janse: worldʼs most
The Tasting Room at Le Quartier Français in Franschhoek is the stage for Netherlands-born Margot Janse, the world’s most famous female chef, and continually ranks amongst the best restaurants in the world. It is a colourful, warm and attractive bath for the culinary connoisseur to dive into.
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A fairy tale career After finishing secondary school, Margot went to drama school in Maastricht, in the south of the Netherlands. As one of the youngest students, she didn’t make it past the first year, to her great disappointment. Too young. The end of a dream. But then how did a young girl from the Netherlands become South Africa’s best female chef? Her life story reads like a fairy tale, and starts with a one-way ticket into the great wide world, together with her South African boyfriend. “He was a journalist, I had borrowed a camera and started taking photographs for his articles. We were there, in 1990, when Nelson Mandela and the ANC freedom fighters were welcomed in Lusaka by the African leaders and the world press. You could almost touch him. It was absolute euphoria.” They move to Johannesburg where Margot meets acclaimed
Wine & Dine – Iconic restaurants |
Preserved lime and onion crisps
famous female chef chef Ciro Molinaro: “Cooking had always been my passion and he took me on, for a trial period. I seized the opportunity with both hands. I worked double shifts, I studied at home, I just wanted to learn, learn, learn.” After that, things happen pretty quickly. Margot moves to Cape Town, works in a prestigious restaurant, does internships and is then approached by Le Quartier Français. Chef’s secret Every night, the Tasting Room at Le Quartier Français is fully booked, making reservations well in advance is a must. Everybody wants to sample the exciting flavours and combinations Margot conjures up in an 8-course surprise Tasting Menu, best described as a journey of taste. “For me, it is all about energy, dedication, and passion. And
taste. The more you cook, the more you are able to fine tune your sense of taste. I am basically cooking in my mind. That is where flavours and dishes meet. With sweet goes sour, and crispy is complemented by soft. Mere sweetness hurts my throat. I am looking for a creative and intuitive way of cooking, using whatever is on offer that season. My indigenous herb garden allows me to add even more of a real African dimension to my dishes. For example, I like to use buchu, a herb only found in South Africa. To me, it is a flavour that suits this country. Most of the ingredients I use are sourced locally, including lovely cheeses, fruit and free range meat.” The décor Margot’s beautiful dishes are accompanied by a variety of wines, which she has handpicked herself. And with the dishes
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Snow globe with num num and rice crispies
Pepe Charlot bouche affinee, fermented turnip, linseed cracker and smoked honey
“I have no signature dish. South Africa is my signature” > come stories. “It’s easy for me to put something nice on a plate, but a dish needs to have depth, a soul. These stories help you find out more about the people, the country, and the culture.” The adventurous food and wine journey takes place against the colourful and warm décor, designed by Margot’s brother, Herbert. “I have tried to reflect upon, and was inspired by Margot’s extraordinary food,” he says. “I wanted to create a welcoming, warm and non-intimidating atmosphere. An ambiance to emphasize her unexpected flavours. I used eye-catchers like candy wrappers from Paris, antique fairy lights, a rope sculpture and a glowing fish, mixed with South African contemporary art.”
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Meeting Aaldering Margot travels a lot, as a guest chef. Last year, she was in her country of birth, cooking at the Rijks, the restaurant of the newly renovated Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam. There she presented some of her favourite dishes, infused with indigenous herbs she had brought with her from South Africa, paired with the wines featuring the Rijks restaurant wine list. During this event, Margot got to know the Aaldering team and their wines. A perfect Dutch-South Africa fusion. To be continued. • www.lqf.co.za
Face to face |
Cees van Casteren -
aster of Wine
There are only 340 Masters of Wine in the world, two of whom are from the Netherlands. Since 2012, Cees van Casteren MW is one of them. So, let’s talk wine.
The road towards the prestigious title of Master of Wine (MW) is long and paved with hurdles, as Cees van Casteren found out, from the moment he started his study programme at the London Institute of Masters of Wine. The entry requirements are strict, the exam and dissertation ‘notoriously difficult’. Please take us along on your Master of Wine journey. “The MW is a self-directed study programme, with an annual one-week course on site and several course days in London, in preparation of the famous exam. Depending on the progress you have made during the initial stage, you may sit > The South African Dream | 61
| Face to face
the examination by the end of the second year. For some however, it may take another three or four years before they can try their hand. The clock starts ticking after that first exam. If three attempts are not enough for you to pass both your Theory and Practical Examination, it’s over and out. If you pass either the Theory or the tasting examination, there is only a limited timeframe in which to pass the other. Many students don’t make it to the finish line. Life as an MW graduate may be wonderful, that of an MW student is rather limited. Your whole life revolves around passing an exam, which at times seems unattainable. British wine writer Jancis Robinson once said that ‘doing the MW Exam is a bit as I imagine climbing Everest: great when it’s over’. My Dutch colleague René van Heusden also drew a parallel with sports: ‘When you start with the Master of Wine, keep in mind that it is like a triathlon, an Elfstedentocht (the Dutch 120-mile speedskating race) followed by cycling up a mountain of the most difficult category, and swimming across the English Channel on the home straight.’ Maybe that is why there are more astronauts than MWs? In any case, there must be something wrong with you in order to voluntarily write three essays a day for an entire week, under time pressure and only 45 minutes after you have had to blind taste twelve wines in the morning, again under time pressure. And having answered fifteen pages of questions about those wines. I mean, after tasting twelve wines it is difficult enough to stand up straight, never mind writing scientific essays about malolactic fermentation or the impact of exchange rates on the wine business.” The fact that Cees can make light of it now, is because he passed his exams in 2009, which enabled him to start with the third phase of the MW − his dissertation. What did you choose as your subject? “Whether Chenin Blanc should be considered South Africa’s ‘signature variety’. There are many arguments in favour, and a few against. For instance, Chenin is the Cape’s most planted grape. And you’ll find it in any wine region in South Africa, cool or warm. The oldest vines are often Chenin Blanc, as it was one of the three varieties Jan van Riebeeck brought with him in 1652. Then again, Chenin Blanc – because of its high yield – has, for a long time, been used to produce everyday plonk. As a result, it doesn’t have a very good reputation in export markets such as the Netherlands and the United Kingdom. Because of that image, I decided to vote against. But year by year, Chenins from the Cape continue to improve, and I’m sure it is just a matter of time before the grape will be acknowledged as a signature variety.” Is tasting a natural talent? “Not at all. Tasting is a matter of practice. It does help though when it is your passion, otherwise tasting at MW level may become a very difficult task.” What is your tasting ritual? “First, I check out the wines’ appearance, then I smell them. Smell is my most reliable sense. It captures ninety percent of
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the wine for me. Even with the wine in my mouth, that retronasal aspect is pivotal. Your taste buds change as you get older, but your sense of smell remains stable. I will then taste the wine. The acidity, residual sugar, tannin, mouthfeel and concentration are particularly important.” Having a cold is a disaster? “Yes. You literally won’t taste a thing.” Are you a morning taster? “Of course, tasting is something I do in the morning, just like all professionals. I do have breakfast, but I won’t drink coffee before tasting.” When did you have your first glass of wine? “I come from a catholic background and once, when I was an altar boy, I secretly tried some of Christ’s haemoglobin.” The Netherlands is not known as a wine country. Doesn’t that put you at a disadvantage? “Many people think the French, Italians, and Spanish are natural born wine tasters. The fascinating thing is that they do know everything about making wine, and a lot about wines from their own region, but very little about foreign wines as they are not available in these classic winemaking countries. Because there is hardly any wine produced in the Netherlands and thus we have to import the wines from the world, we need to know about them. This in contrast to the French who only drink their own wines.” Why did you want to excel in wine? “During my 14 years at DSM − an international chemical company −, I spent four years in New Jersey, working in the perfume industry (Ha! Hence the nose, ed.). At a networking function, I met Michael Aaron of Sherry Lehmann, New York’s leading wine merchant. He offered me a job in New York’s wine trade, on the condition that I would become a Master of Wine. I had never even heard of it, but thought to myself: why not?! My first application to the Institute in 1994 didn’t work out. They recommended I first get five years practical experience, and then try again. A polite rejection! Although disappointed, I now knew this was something I really wanted. The MW then became kind of my purpose in life.” Eventually, you were accepted. “Once back in the Netherlands, in 1996, I first went for my Wine Certificate, and then enjoyed studying vinology at the Wine Academy. I also started to write part-time. In 1999, I applied once again and was accepted.” What does a Master of Wine do? “I do three things: consultancy, training, and publishing. As a consultant, I advise globally, but I specialize in export coaching. I do so mainly in developing countries, like Bolivia and Peru, on behalf of CBI, the Center for the Promotion of Imports from developing countries, which is part of the Dutch
“ M any students don’t make it to the finish line. Maybe that is why there are more astronauts than MWs in the world”
Department of Foreign Affairs. And I publish a lot. The tally currently stands at ten books and about 500 articles. And sometimes I get special requests, for instance from Fons Aaldering. He knows I am an Ambassadeur du Champagne, and he asked me to find him a champagne that would suit Aaldering Wines, to complete their range.” What do you think of Aaldering Vineyards & Wines? “I am always impressed by people who commit themselves to the world of wine. It is an incredibly difficult business to succeed in. Fons and Marianne Aaldering have a clear goal, and I think that is the only way. They want their wines to be among South Africa’s very best. They are not only the owners, but also the faces and tireless ambassadors of their venture. To me, Fons is the Freddy Heineken of wine. If the owner is committed, you will see the staff improving and gaining pride, and the company becomes a family. Within a short period of time, Aaldering has become recognized as a high-quality producer. I know for sure they will not rest until Aaldering becomes ‘Winery of the Year’.”
complexity. It is naturally balanced, has a great fraîcheur and length, and lots of juice concentration. It doesn’t taste like the old style Pinotage at all. And that is perhaps the biggest compliment you can give a Pinotage. Making a good Pinotage is an art. It requires a winemaker who knows what is going on in the vineyards, not just in the cellar. Because a wine is made in the vineyard.” What is your favourite wine country? “Chile has a lot of potential in my opinion, but South Africa is my favourite. I am constantly impressed by the fantastic quality they produce. And the country has so much to offer, with its scenic beauty, wildlife, and incredibly friendly people, in whom I sometimes recognize our Dutch genes.” Last but not least: screw cap or cork? “A screw cap, please. Cork can spoil an expensive bottle of wine, which is a crying shame. One day, everyone will have switched to screw caps, mark my words...” • www.ceesvancasteren.com
Which Aaldering wine do you think will be the first to get five stars? “The Pinotage. Theirs is really a step up from the classic style with aromas of burnt rubber. I don’t call it ‘rubber’, by the way, but ‘fynbos’. Fynbos is the indigenous vegetation in the Cape, the scent of which you tend to taste in red wines. It comes with the terroir of the Cape. The Aaldering Pinotage however is very pure, with intense fruit and high levels of The South African Dream | 63
alderingʼs South Africa’s most significant international wine show, Cape Wine, takes place only once every three years and once again Aaldering hosted an exclusive estate wine dinner for the international VIP’s that had travelled to the Cape for this event.
The Cape Wine Dinner in 2012 marked the opening of Aaldering’s brand new wine cellar. This year, the event marked the celebration of the release of the 2012 reds, the first red vintage made in that new cellar. The dinner brought together various wine writers including the Decanter UK Magazine publisher Lindsay Greatbatch and John Cullimore, Neil Pendock from Pendock Uncorked, Edo Heyns from WineLand Magazine and Jonathan Ursem from Quote, two Masters of Wine – South African Cathy van Zyl and Dutchman Cees van Casteren –, Stellenbosch Wine Routes CEO Annareth Bolton, Consul General for the Netherlands Bonnie Horbach, wine importers such as Nigerian Chief Mark 64 | The South African Dream
Nwosu, Vikash Ramjuttun from Mauritius and many more wine friends from across the globe. A toast was raised with a glass of the Aaldering Estate Sauvignon Blanc 2014 in the tasting room, where an open fire warmed a chilly early spring evening. Guests were treated to waterblommetjies and harder ceviche canapés, delicately prepared by chef Christoph Dehosse from Joostenberg Deli. The guests then progressed to a beautifully decorated long table in the wine cellar. Once seated, the candles were lit, the pianist started playing and her beautiful voice embraced the acoustics of the cellar with its shimmering stainless steels tanks. A fabulous seven course dinner was served by the highly praised Joostenberg culinary team and paired with seven gastronomic Aaldering wines that showed their perfection and elegance in the very place where they were created. As a perfect evening came to a close, new friendships were fused, contact details exchanged and beautiful memories made. •
Aaldering Vineyards & Wines | Cees van Castern MW and Fons Aaldering
Marianne Aaldering and wine importer Mark Nwosu
estate wine dinner Wine journalist Neil Pendock, Janine Smink, and artist Luan Nel
Consul-General Ms. Bonnie Horbach
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| Aaldering Vineyards & Wines
ust talking wine
Are you always on the lookout for interesting trivia about your favourite wine brand? Then take this all in, as we have some interesting Aaldering wine facts for you.
2007 is Aaldering�s very first vintage. The wines that were released in that year included a Pinotage, Shiraz, and Cabernet Sauvignon-Merlot. The classic trio, where it all started with. Aaldering's terroir and the fact that we can see the Atlantic Ocean from our vineyards south-western slopes offer the right conditions for growing perfect grapes.
South Africa boasts 130.000 hectares of vineyards. At Aaldering Vineyards & Wines, we own 19 hectares. This officially makes us a boutique estate. Our vineyards are subjected to various microclimates. Sometimes the temperature of our top soil between different plots differs five degrees on the same day. The Pinotage grape is indigenous to South Africa. The name refers to Pinot Noir and Hermitage, with its origins dating back to 1925. The variety, in fact, is a cross between Pinot Noir and Hermitage, elsewhere known as Cinsaut. The Aaldering Pinotage Clone PI48A is closer related to the Pinot Noir than the Cinsaut grape, and is therefore showing much elegance and red fruit character. We value cork over screw cap for preserving our wines. The former provides the right percentage of air, which enables living wines to develop further in the bottle.
Our whites and rosés have the potential to age for a few years. To guarantee these winesʼ shelf-life, we bottle them in antique green bottles rather than in transparent ones. These provide a better protection against the sunʼs UV rays. For our Chardonnay, we use 300-liter burgundy barrels, which are known to respect the delicate nature of the worldʼs most planted grape variety. Our Pinotage Blanc is made by immediately removing the skins after the whole bunch pressing of the black Pinotage grapes. The result? A clear, white grape juice with a charming blush. Our Pinotage Rosé gets its beautiful salmon colour from the skins of the black Pinotage grapes. We remove them within 1,5 hours after pressing. At Aaldering, we use French oak barrels to age our red wines, simply because French oak brings in a typical elegance.
The life of a boutique wine producer is not at all glamorous. We wake up at 5am during harvest time. The lower the outside temperatures, the better it is to harvest, as this protects the grapesʼ flavour and acidity. The high pH value of our soil is very beneficial to achieve that great wine quality we are after. 66 | The South African Dream
Aaldering Vineyards & Wines |
asting notes Aaldering Estate Sauvignon Blanc 2014 Exotic flavours of pear, lime and tangerine reflect the site specific characteristics of the estate vineyards, shaped by a creamy and lingering mouthfeel from sur-lie aging.
Aaldering Estate Chardonnay 2014 Established on our highest altitude site, this vineyard offers captivating aromas of Cape gooseberry, passion fruit and pineapple with a fresh character and exceptional length.
Aaldering Estate Pinotage Blanc 2015 Zesty pear and pomegranate flavours with an alluring creaminess create a perfect balance in this limited Blanc de Noir. Over-excited table guests guaranteed.
Aaldering Estate Pinotage Rosé 2015 Appealing layers of red fruit intertwined with subtle oak flavours, originating from the partial barrel fermentation, lending structure and complexity to this exclusive rosé.
Aaldering Estate Lady M 2014 A benchmark Pinotage, the signature red grape of South Africa. The complex palate starts off with mulberries and raspberries and leads on to nuts and spices. Serve chilled. A wine for sophisticates and ode to Lady M.
Aaldering Shiraz 2012 An elegant wine showing aromas of dark cherry, raspberry, white pepper and cloves on the nose and a rich full structure on the palate.
Aaldering Pinotage 2012 Rich aromas of raspberry, dark cherry, and pomegranate with subtle vanilla pod and mocha undertones. Full in texture with a lingering aftertaste. Already a classic. Also available in Magnum and double Magnum.
Aaldering Cabernet Sauvignon – Merlot 2012 A refined wine showing richness and great structure with aromas of blackcurrant, liquorice and cassis, supported by ripe and firm tannins as you would expect of this harmonious blend. 60% Cabernet Sauvignon and 40% Merlot.
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Winery & Branches Aaldering Vineyards & Wines Devon Valley Road 7600 Stellenbosch South Africa email@example.com Lindie +27 (0) 21 865 2495 Guillaume +27 (0) 79 526 8026 Europe Nijkerk, The Netherlands firstname.lastname@example.org Janine +31 (0) 65 199 91 95 +31 (0) 33 247 88 56 Femke +31 (0) 33 247 88 52 Asia Xiamen, China email@example.com Johnna +86 (0) 136 0097 1643