Page 1


The SUP prime Bertish stands and delivers

Big blender Mac the Nose meets his match

Zen gold

An ancient art in the spotlight


Hound seats




Accelerate Cape Town’s CEO keeps a sharp eye on tomorrow [page 40]

12 ED’S LETTER What excites our editor and, hence, our readers: a look at those stories (and writers) that make the grade.



Simple investment truths handed down through generations have relevance even in these everchanging times. Stephen Silcock shares the timeless lessons taught by a JSE doyen.

18  PSST






Chris Whelan plays Cape Town forward and shows us a vision of a city with a glamorous new face.

46 ZEN AND THE ART OF GRANULATION Attaching tiny gold balls to adorn

The list that should make it into your little black book and seduce the cards from your wallet.



How a little rebellion from a winemaker created a modern masterpiece, and the Italian Navy inspires a modern classic watch.


FELLOWSHIP OF THE ROD You can buy a graphite flyfishing rod to last you a lifetime or a bamboo rod that’s as personal as a magician’s wand.

gold jewellery is an ancient art now revived, with some surprisingly beneficial effects on the brain.

SON OF THE SOIL A giant of a man in many ways, HRH Unathi Pathuxolo Mtirara has an opera up his sleeve that pays tribute to the man he’s entitled to call ‘Tata’.

Cover shot of Chris Bertish by Craig Kolesky/Nikon/Lexar. Styling: Luanne Toms. Blue jacket, Cape Union Mart. T-shirt, Sportman’s Warehouse. Grooming: Mary Gouveia, represented by Supernova. Post-production: Blink






We wrote about them five years ago as a curious investment idea and now SA truffles are ready to hit the table – at R6 000 a kilo.

If luxury lies in the unusual experience, the Maldives has a bucket list to beat them all. Fancy swimming with whale sharks, anyone?



What’s SUP? If you really need to torture your abdominal muscles into shape, nothing beats doing it on a board.



Put André Wiesner in a room with master distiller Ian MacMillan and you have an outrageous blend of fine whisky and tales beyond the bar.



Collecting Japanese netsuke may seem like a slightly arty obsession until you do your sums. They sell for more than a pretty penny.



A tale of a man with a love of pure sound and a keen grasp of aerodynamics.


SHOWING SOME TEETH There’s a dog breed so extravagantly priced and so fierce that it might be wise for their owners to give them a bodyguard rather than a bone.

Bertish’s 350km ‘proof of concept’ paddle was self-sufficient – he carried solar panels, water, food, and communications and navigations equipment on board (page 60).




MARIANNE HERON Working as a feature writer and editor for Ireland’s leading daily newspaper, the Irish Independent, has made an addict of Marianne: she can’t resist a good story. Training in fashion at St Martins College of Art in London left her hooked on design, and having written books about gardens and houses in Ireland has sparked an insatiable curiosity in her about what lies around the next corner. She feels writing features is a wonderful excuse to satisfy all those cravings: especially when it comes to something as tantalising as the secret of growing Périgord truffles or the exquisite collectable Japanese art form of netsuke.

1 0 P R I V A T E E D I T I O N ISSUE 19

TONI MUIR For as long as she can remember, Toni has been writing, and she loves the story behind a story. A professional photographer as well as a writer, she is moved by the extraordinary, the beautiful, the inspirational. The more effort a creator put into something and the more complex the handiwork, the greater her appreciation for both the item and the one who made it. A seasoned luxury-lifestyle writer, Toni travelled to Geneva, Switzerland, in below-zero weather to bring back the best of the 2013 Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie, an annual fair that celebrates the watchmaking industry’s most audacious recent releases.



LUANNE TOMS With a passion for print media that began when she started collecting treasured magazines as a teenager, Luanne has been fortunate to have worked on most of her favourite titles, like Leadership, Sunday Life, Elle Decoration, Real Simple and National Geographic Traveller. Her love of editorial art direction, design and styling has led to a collaboration with longstanding colleague and friend, editor Kerryn Fischer, under the banner of Frank Features. Luanne finds great joy in working with authentic copy and some of South Africa’s top photographers to create beautiful print material – principles upheld by Private Edition.






Private Edition is published by The Publishing Partnership (Pty) Ltd, 9th Floor, Tarquin House, 81 Loop Street, Cape Town 8001. Copyright: The Publishing Partnership (Pty) Ltd 2013. No portion of this publication may be reproduced without prior written consent from The Publishing Partnership or the authors. The publishers are not responsible for any unsolicited material.  The opinions expressed are not necessarily those of The Publishing Partnership or the editor. Editorial and advertising enquiries: PO Box 15054, Vlaeberg 8018; tel: 021 424 3517; fax: 021 424 3612; email: Reproduction: Hirt & Carter. Printing: Paarl Media Paarl. ISSN: 2218-063X Private Edition is produced using certified paper from GOLDEAST PAPER CO LTD, an accredited company committed to environmental protection. The paper is made from legally harvested trees using environmentally friendly materials. The supplier is subjected to regular environmental audits.


NAME YOUR SON STEPHEN OR STEVEN and chances are he’ll end up in a fascinating career. We have four of ’em to prove the point in this issue: Stephen Boshoff and Stephen Dugmore both craft highly covetable bamboo fly-fishing rods (page 36), Steven Lack is a French wine and Champagne ‘cellar’ of strategic information (page 32), and Steve Kocher is the man we go to when luxury is layered in an array of covetable timepieces all with ‘complications’ more fascinating than the next (page 34). We’re often asked to supply our features for the year to which we have to answer: as soon as we find them, we’ll spill the beans. Feature articles are sleuthed out in a combination of gentle arm-twisting and tracking by our curious writers. Debbie Hathway managed to coax CEO of Opera South Africa, HRH Unathi Phathuxolo Mtirara, into speaking to us about his extraordinary childhood in the inner circle of SA’s royal Xhosa family and his dream of a Mandela opera (page 50). I met the CEO of Accelerate Cape Town, Chris Whelan, a few months back and listened with growing admiration to his passionate long-term vision for the city, including his plan to turn one of the scruffiest industrial faces of the Cape Town harbour into a stretch of property as alluring as the Atlantic Seaboard (page 40). This all fits well into our quarterly theme of ‘Back to the Future’, where we take a look at brilliant groundwork and where it has led us. Five years ago in Private Edition, we said it would be a fine idea to get into the truffle industry. This ‘black gold’ is now ready

to be mined and our follow-up story (page 54) gives the lowdown on industry, which may generate a respectable R6 000 to R8  000 a kilo for the rare foodstuff. And on the rare trail, we were fascinated by the ancient art of gold granulation that’s enjoying a renaissance. This is a ‘step back in time to the days when goldsmiths plied their trade one piece at a time’, writes Ettagale Blauer (page 46). Collecting Japanese netsuke carvings smaller than a matchbox may seem a little arty and fussy for serious investors – until you do a little digging, like Marianne Heron did. One fine piece sold for £500 000 recently (page 70). And if you can’t buy it, do it. In Hanifaru Bay in the Maldives between May and November, manta rays and whale sharks, drawn to the rich food source in monsoon season, offer scuba divers one of the most extraordinary aquatic spectacles on earth. Brian Berkman writes about the experience and a lodge on the island that seems to rewrite the rule book on luxury (page 76). As you’ll notice from the picture above, I was loaned a Bentley V8 GT Convertible to test-drive (page 30). I happened to hurtle past a group of high-school pupils on the test route. With the top down, the only word I could make out was South African and there’s no official translation for it. In unison, they said ‘Yoh’, with a long, reverent hold on the vowel. The car stopped them dead. It hauled them away from their earphones and their iPhones. Now that’s a car.


10 of the Best

Simple investment truths handed down through generations have relevance even in these ever-changing times. Stephen Silcock shares the timeless lessons taught by a JSE doyen. Words Stephen Silcock



When my grandfather stepped down from the JSE presidency, Bernard Naicken, then financial editor of the Rand Daily Mail, paid him this tribute: ‘Mr Martin will undoubtedly be remembered as one of the great presidents of the Exchange. Not only was he at the helm during one of the greatest boom and slump periods ever seen but he was also responsible for significant changes in the workings of the market. Without many of the innovations that he and his committee introduced, and those for which they have laid the foundations, the entire system would have been in jeopardy.’ One of the legacies my grandfather left was a hand-written note with 10 investment tips: 1. The price paid for a share should have nothing to do with a subsequent decision to hold or sell. 2. There are many reasons to sell a share; taking a profit is not one of them. If the share remains a good investment, don’t try to second-guess when it will fall. 3. The first loss is the best one – admit your mistake, learn from it and move on. 4. Where there’s a tip, there’s a tap – think about why the tipster is sharing his gem with you. Maybe he wants to offload?

5. Be aware of averaging downwards; be wary of buying more of a share unless it is on behalf of an initial buyer – to use the equivalent military maxim, never reinforce failure. 6. Run profits and cut losses – one bad choice that is not eliminated quickly can negate a dozen good choices that improve moderately. 7. Remember the specific needs of a client – elements such as life stage, financial commitments and risk tolerance. 8. Never fall in love with a share or sector – many sectors have enjoyed their time in the sun only to underperform in later cycles. 9. Keep a reasonable balance in your portfolio – a heavy weighting in one or more shares or sectors increases risk. 10. There are good reasons for not fidgeting with investments generally. Many shares will reward holding out for the long run. Stephen Silcock is a portfolio manager at Investec Wealth & Investment. For more details, go to investec.



I HAD THE WONDERFUL PRIVILEGE OF learning from my grandfather, Alastair Martin, a former chairman and president of the Johannesburg Stock Exchange, over many years in his asset-management business. After returning from London in 2000 to join his company, I was able to soak up more than 40 years of investment and life experience from him – far better than any university degree. My grandfather was one of the youngest majors in the British Army before coming to South Africa to start a career in equity markets. His speedy progression to the top could be attributed to the forward-looking contributions he made to committee deliberations right from the start. His years as head of the JSE coincided with one of the most tumultuous periods in the markets, including the buoyancy of the 1968 bubble and the inevitable crash in May 1969. The latter event was one that he had forecast, when he stated, ‘It will be surprising if 1969, as well as providing a continuation of the present buoyancy, does not also produce the quite sickening thud of a major correction. The higher the peak, the steeper the fall.’ He was not at all popular for voicing his view – but history proved him unnervingly accurate.



Cartier’s spectacular Crash watch came about by accident – literally. During the 1960s in London, a client arrived at the Cartier boutique with a Baignoire Allongée watch that had been damaged in a car accident. Jean-Jacques Cartier, then the head of Cartier London, was so taken with the shape of the case that he decided its design must be recognised and reproduced. As its name suggests, this watch represents impact, non-conformity and creative liberation for Cartier, a house fond of turning convention on its head. Originally produced in 1967 and later in the early 1990s as a limited edition, the Crash became an underground icon and a legend in its own right – not to mention a collector’s piece. The new Crash collection incorporating four ladies’ models, revealed at the 2013 Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie, takes a special place in the Cartier catalogue thanks to its avant-garde style. The original gold model with its simple leather strap has now been fitted with an 18ct white- or pink-gold ‘tear-drop link’ bracelet. In an even more precious version, the entire bracelet is set with gems. The twisted case remains, as do the warped numerals so reminiscent of a Dali painting. The effect is a fascinating aesthetic. The new Crash models feature manually wound mechanical movements and have a diameter of 25.5mm x 38.45mm. The gold bracelet models are set with 2.15 carats of diamonds, and the fully pavéed gold bracelet models with 4.27 carats of stones. In reference to 1967, the year of the Cartier Crash’s creation, 267 numbered watches were produced of the models with gold bracelets, and 67 numbered watches of the ones set with gems. Available from selected Cartier boutiques only. Visit for details.




A RARE NOVELTY Channelled creativity


ART ALERT Under the hammer On 30 May, Wits Art Museum (WAM) in Braamfontein, Johannesburg, will host an auction of contemporary South African art to launch its endowment campaign and also celebrate its first year in operation. On sale will be 30 contemporary artworks donated to WAM, with headline works from Robert Hodgins and substantial pieces by William Kentridge and David Goldblatt. Penny Siopis’s Cloud is pictured here. The auction’s the perfect platform for collectors, art lovers and supporters of the arts. For further information, call Lesley Cohen on 011 717 1357.

CENTRE STAGE How a classic Italian becomes a design diva They say beauty is all about symmetry and proportion: whether it’s a model’s face destined to grace international magazine covers or ancient architecture with its mathematical precision hidden in gracious lines. The Atlantic sofa by Chateau d’Ax is designed with these principles in mind. It’s the sum of brilliant craftsmanship and design but it’s also a statement about how you regard your primary living space. The Atlantic calls for centre stage and brings function to form. Comfort is, and must always be, the final test of this versatile piece. Available in microfibre upholstery or fine leather, it will quietly dictate to the room the rules of luxury living. For details, visit

CHECK IN, CHECK IT OUT Service first

SSST The first thing you should hear this season Cast your taste back to the ’80s and you’ll recall that no household – with kids anyway – did without one. Sodastream then went the way of padded shoulders and 30 years later Sodastream Source returns as one of the most exciting revivals in product history. The sleek design by Yves Béhar makes it the yin to the espresso machine’s yang – and yes, make counter-top space for it. It is beyond cool. The bottles now snap and lock, the LED display gives your carbonation levels, and you can adjust the sweetness level of the added flavours. All 26 of them. Quite simply, it’s a beautiful, functional and ecofriendly 21st-century appliance. You can order your Sodastream Source online at or purchase in store at Dion outlets.




Great hotels are never about bricks and bed linen. 54 on Bath still looks as it has since it’s early days as The Grace but the interior has undergone a metamorphosis with a light, contemporary design while losing nothing of its reputation for elegance. It has to be one of the best places for a cocktail after work. On splendid Johannesburg evenings when the temperature is a silky warm 24˚C, the lap pool and garden offer a rare city-within-a-city escape. Often, no matter how good the infrastructure, staff and service can be the weak spots. Not here. They are – for want of a better description – utterly charming and warm. Regardless of the time you check in. The doormen offer the first encounter and set the tone. Little touches such as the Illy coffee machine and inventive turndown treats (like chocolate shots) mean that someone somewhere has really given hospitality a long hard look, and then pushed the ‘on’ button. For more info and reservations, call 011 344 8500.


SUITE DREAMS Sleeping on top of the world There is a hotel suite in Cape Town that you’d only know about if you were a top-drawer guest – or a peregrine falcon. The Taj Cape Town is all glamour and marble in the foyer, anchored smartly within striding distance of The Company’s Garden. At city roof-top level, the hotel’s Hästens Suite offers a rare luxury item: a bed preferred by Swedish royals and anyone who believes that if you do spend 20 years of your life asleep, it should be done on the best. Hästens beds have been handcrafted for more than 150 years using natural materials – the finest flax, wool, cotton and hypoallergenic horse hair. So, how do you feel once you’ve slept on one? Completely rested. Your back is supported firmly but gently. It’s not proven but we hazard a guess that you’re likely to live longer as a result. For details, contact Hästens on 021 418 0434 or 011 262 4431/2 or Taj Cape Town at 021 819 2000.

1 001 DELIGHTS Life is too short for restraint

TASTE FEST Liquid gold comes (back) to the Cape Fine Brandy Fusion, the country’s premier brandy event, heads south in 2013 as the festival returns almost to this iconic spirit’s point of origin in Table Bay harbour 341 years ago. Things are a lot more refined today, and Cape Town brandy lovers can look forward to a surprise launch at the CTICC that may just eclipse that of Van Ryn’s 30-year-old AU.RA last year. Look out on 9 and 10 May for several new artisanal brandy products and intriguing cocktail innovations. To find out more, visit




I know that all health freaks are going to feel stupid someday, lying in hospitals dying of nothing when they could have experienced The Orient. There’s a thought to ponder as you drive up to The Orient boutique hotel in the Francolin Conservancy, in the Crocodile River valley west of Pretoria. Ozymandias would be comfortable in this palace, accessed through double doors that would allow ingress to a maharajah sitting in a howdah. A seraglio overlooks the lobby – only the eunuchs are absent. Settle in and savour the wines specially chosen to accompany the sumptuous dishes prepared by former Eat Out Chef of the Year Chantel Dartnall, who trained in a couple of starred restaurants. The food at The Orient’s Restaurant Mosaic, like sex and the weather, is a compulsive affair to which everyone many times returns. There’s no academic detachment about something this good and this necessary. Each course is a visual feast, and the light sauces served separately could launch a religion. Treat the maharani and stay for a night or two. On your head be it if one day you find yourself waning away and wishing you had indulged at least once. For more information, call 012 3712902 or go to – ROLAND ACKERMAN


REWRITING THE LEGEND ‘The year of Excalibur’ The craftsmen at Roger Dubuis have referenced Arthurian legend to come up with new concepts for the Excalibur range launched in Geneva earlier this year. Powerful in design and manufacture, the 45mm, 42mm (pictured) and 36mm models are built on tradition, yet developed with contemporary flair. The Roman numerals, a signature of this collection, are further enhanced by a double sapphire crystal: one holds the numerals and covers the diamond-pavéed dial while another ‘encases the hands and seals the watch’. In addition to centuries-old expertise, daring design and magnificent gem-setting, the Maison is known for developing the micro-rotor for its self-winding movement to optimise performance. This model’s black, hand-stitched alligator strap, with its pink-gold folding buckle that echoes the pink-gold case, is the ideal match for this particular design. For further information, call Bellagio Sandton City on 011 784 0206 or go to

VINTAGE FINESSE The art of timekeeping Franck Muller’s reputation for innovation and technical excellence underpins the recent launch of the Vintage (Curvex) 7-Days Power Reserve Mechanical wristwatch. Master watchmaker Pierre-Michel Golay says the complexity of the craftsmanship required for the precision demanded by this performance standard is remarkable. ‘It’s what makes it a Franck Muller classic,’ he says. The mechanical movement created by watchmakers in the famous Joux Valley combines elegance, decoration (the movement alone features 27 rubies) and perfectly balanced proportions. To achieve the 7-Days Power Reserve capability, the movement has been fitted with an extra barrel. At 11 o’clock you’ll find a window that reveals the amount of power remaining, and at 6 o’clock, a seconds display. It’s available in stainless steel or pink gold with a white or inked enamel dial. For details, call 011 372 6000.

The ExoTourbillon Chronographe is the first watch in Montblanc’s Villeret 1858 Collection to combine two of the most revered horological complications: a tourbillon and a chronograph function. While the chronograph upholds tradition with a column wheel and horizontal coupling, the four-minute tourbillon boasts a truly unique innovation: the balance is separate from the cage, isolated from the escapement. Montblanc’s Villeret manufacture has created the world’s first tourbillon in which the rotating cage is smaller than the balance, which oscillates outside the cage and on a higher plane. This architecture inspired the watch’s name, which includes the Greek prefix ‘exo’, meaning outside. The 18ct gold dial is available with black or silver-grey decor, and a delicately grained texture that contrasts with the timepiece’s shiny hands, applied subdials and polished-steel components. The chronographs in Montblanc’s Villeret 1858 Collection are sought-after rarities because they’re manufactured in strictly limited editions. For the ExoTourbillon Chronographe, this will be even more so. Only one watch will be manufactured in platinum, together with eight pieces each in 18ct white gold and 18ct red gold (5N). To find out more, visit – TONI MUIR




STRICTLY LIMITED Innovative complication


REFINED TIME Carefully considered aesthetic makes mechanism shine Less is more in the timeless design of Girard-Perregaux’s 1966 collection, which has been enhanced with the addition of the Small Seconds and Date timepiece. Its appearance is deceptively simple. The watchmakers have meticulously applied subtle finishes to the hour markers (their faceted ends mark the slope towards the bezel) and the small seconds display is given depth by its positioning in a diamondcut lattice beneath the foliate hands. The automatic mechanical calibre is made and assembled in the manufacture’s workshops. The Girard-Perregaux Small Seconds and Date watch has a 54-hour power reserve, revealed by the transparent case back. The curved dial contributes to the beautiful aesthetic and is available in two options: silvered opaline and cognac. Call 011 372 6000 for more information.

DEEP MEANING New Ceragold technology There’s something about the combination of red gold and black that creates instant drama in a watch face. Whether complicated or classic in design, the impression is a lasting one. Add practicality to the mix and you’ve got a winner like the Omega Seamaster Planet Ocean Ceragold. It’s part of a new collection that’s distinguished by the decoration of ceramic watch parts with 18ct gold, resulting in a striking look and satin-smooth finish. The zirconium-based bezel gleams with gold numbers and scaling to create a diving scale par excellence. Planet Ocean watches are water-resistant to a depth of 600m and have professional dive features, including a unidirectional rotating bezel and a helium escape valve. The latter is specially developed for deep-sea divers who are subjected to several days’ underwater work that begins and ends in a pressurised diving bell. When the job is done and the bell is raised to the surface, the valve must be opened during the return to atmospheric pressure to prevent the crystal from being pushed out. This Seamaster Planet Ocean watch is also available with the chronograph and fitted with the Omega CoAxial calibre 9301. For details, visit

BRILLIANT DECORATION Record holders in watch manufacture The Piaget Manufacture de Haute Horlogerie is famous for ultra-thin watchmaking so its reveal of new records set in that field at the recent Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie in Geneva was something to celebrate. The classic Piaget Altiplano Date model now boasts the world’s thinnest automatic movement at 3mm thick, housed in an unprecedented 6,36mm case. However, the brand’s automatic gem-set Skeleton watch takes haute joaillerie to a new level, with its main plate and functional parts set entirely with gemstones. This feat alone is a world first in its category, but more records are set with the 3mm thickness of its new Calibre 1200D movement and 6,10mm case depth. It takes four days to set the 259 brilliant-cut diamonds and the 11 black sapphire cabochons within a diameter of 31,9mm. A further 347 brilliant-cut diamonds adorn the crown, lugs and case back, and the bezel is pavéed with 40 baguette-cut diamonds. And if that’s not enough, there are another 24 brilliant-cut diamonds on the strap buckle! To find out more, call 011 317 2600 or visit




IN THE MAIL Cartier’s special delivery Once in a while, a famous house creates something so irresistible that it earns its stripes as a wardrobe investment. Take Marcello de Cartier’s Envelope Bag: it’s minimalism with maximum style. The goatskin envelope with overstitched raw edges has simple Cartier metallic fittings and comes in red, mahogany and black. But it’s how it looks on the shoulder that will sway you. It declares your eye for elegance, fine design and good taste. That’s not simply a letter but a personal mission statement. For details, visit

BOSS’ DRESS CODE What to wear next summer Take your cue from Hugo Boss for our next warm season and opt for elegant linen with two-button styles in luxury wool blends. The more casual sportswear trend of the moment calls for light cotton chinos and summer knits. Overall, the sleek silhouettes define masculine lines and call for a body that’s fit and trim. We can’t think of a better reason to work out. The ‘must-add’ to your wardrobe is the fine-gauge pullover and the soft lamb-leather jacket. As for key colours, keep it to a muted palette in shades of grey and blue, and black, with accent colours in lime and pastel pink. Think modern classics. Find out more at



Bikinis in the Bo-Kaap? Is that even legal? They’re certainly attracting attention, but only because the exotic swimwear by sizzling Colombian fashion brand Agua Bendita is now available at Agua Dreamz, a brand-new boutique that opened simply because ‘Cape Town needed it!’ The bikinis are so intensely colourful and tailored that they blur the boundaries between fashion and craft. Every piece is decorated by hand with beads, sequins, ribbon, lace, crocheted flowers, buttons or shells. Bendita means ‘blessed’ – and since Agua Dreamz flung open its doors, a new breed of very happy benditas has been spotted on the beaches of the Mother City. Also found exclusively in this store is the bold jewellery of celebrated Brazilian artist-jeweller Carlos Sobral. Each Sobral creation is a masterpiece of layered colour: flecks of gold, splashes of silver, swirls of copper or a whole rainbow of colour embedded in translucent resin. Check out Agua Dreamz at Urban Hub, 142 Buitengracht Street, Cape Town, or call 021 424 8292 for details.


SOUTH-AMERICAN SIZZLE Between sexy and stylish


LASH OUT If you’ve got it, float it Lush lashes were all over the spring/summer 2013 catwalks: from the extravagant ’60s eyes at Moschino to feathered, lace-print numbers at Chanel. Get the jump on next season’s eyes by preparing your lashes now. Talika Lipocils makes lashes appear thicker, darker and longer from the first week of use: it’s our desert-island essential. Latisse may take three months to work, but work it does: originally developed to treat glaucoma, this drug happened to have the pleasing side effect of making lashes twice as long and thick. Apply it like liquid liner every night and in time you could have a set to beat the Moschino girls. Curlers won’t cut it on long lashes so try a chemical uplift treatment like Nouveau Beauty Group’s LVL Lashes, the modern alternative to perming. Lashes are treated with a gentle formula and lifted upwards on tiny rods; 30 minutes later you’ve got a freshly curled look that stays in place for two months. Perfect for beach holidays, it nixes the need for mascara, so your poolside make-up will stay pristine. For further information, go to, and

UNRIVALLED Bird bling Where better to buy artistic masterpieces than at the annual TEFAF Maastricht, the globe’s greatest art and antiques fair, where investors this year would have been dazzled by Graff Diamonds’ unveiling of yet another jewellery trophy? This exquisite peacock brooch glitters with 120.81 carats of diamonds and measures little more than 10cm in height. The asking price? US$100 million. The peacock’s breast is a 20.02ct fancy deep-blue pear-shaped diamond and – because it’s Graff – one of the rarest in the world, naturally. The master craftsmen of this house have worked in an ingenious clasp at the back that allows the centrepiece to be removed and worn two ways. Find out more at

ISSUE 19 P R I V A T E E D I T I O N 2 9


LEGACY Raw power to urban refinement

DECEPTIVELY GREEN Jaguar hides its real credentials

SPACE ODYSSEY The best of both worlds The Mercedes-Benz CLS Shooting Brake has intriguing origins. It was the name given to a carriage that transported hunting parties and dogs back in the 1800s. And that’s where the analogy stops. Fast-forward to the 21st century and a leisure lifestyle that demands space for the paraphernalia of a serious sportsman or active family, and you have the ultimate in space, power and style. To that, add the mechanical version of a ‘nervous system’. The four-door CLS coupé’s Airmatic suspension system and 7G-Tronic transmission, simply put, change the way the road feels beneath the wheels. Request an ‘active multicontour seat package’, which brings new meaning to ergonomic by literally hugging the occupants against the lateral forces when cornering. Optional mood lighting, reverse camera, night vision and heated or cooled seats up the ante, which begins with mindblowing performance, agility and the ability to get the heart rate up. For further details, go to



Any car manufacturer that’s taken the immense technological step to ensure that you can travel from the Union Buildings in Pretoria to the Durban beachfront and back on a single tank (all because of a consumption rate of 4,9 litres/100km), deserves respect. That’s what the Jaguar XF’s 2.2-litre turbodiesel promises: power that packs a carbon conscience. The line-up includes the whole pack: the XF, XK and XJ, and – coming soon – a show-stopper, the F-Type. Every Jaguar has soul. Founder Sir William Lyons said, ‘A car is the closest thing we will ever create to something that is alive.’ He made a good point. Consider the personality of every car and how it interacts with the driver on so many levels: it can keep your hands and feet busy at once, whether you’re enjoying a brisk drive through the country or using the multitude of onboard functions relating to entertainment and information. To personally involve yourself with one of the world’s iconic brands, visit

It’s easy to fall for Bentley: 14 handstitched Swedish leather hides adorning the car; the unbridled power of the 6.0-litre W12 Twin Turbo engine; the reassuring ride as you float over the asphalt… Nothing tells this story better than the new Bentley Continental GT V8, the perfect marriage of blistering supercar performance and Grand Touring style. It’s a new car from the bottom up – wider, longer and lower, and exquisitely beautiful, with a soundtrack from the V8 that sends tremors down your spine. It’s a true masterstroke in the automotive world. Hot on its heels is the Continental GT Speed, the ultimate in Bentley performance. The 6.0-litre W12 Twin Turbo delivers 460kW; 0-100km/h is disposed of in a mere 4,2 seconds, and the top speed is a horizon-devouring 330km/h. All this from a sumptuously appointed cockpit of mirror-matched veneers and handcrafted aluminum. Bentley began its life on the racing circuit. The car still delivers on speed but is beautiful to boot. Who said life is fair? For details, visit


POWER PLAY A racing legend comes of age

Fifty years ago Ferruccio Lamborghini set out to build the best sports car ever. Many would argue that he lived his dream. His long legacy culminates today in new-generation Lamborghinis like the Gallardo. One of its most impressive features is how easy it is to drive without sacrificing the raw power of the fighting-bull brand. The sports car is now commuter-friendly, with straightforward controls: the only quirky feature is a button on the dashboard for selecting reverse gear. Everything changes when you lean on that right foot. Deciding between the coupé and the Spyder will be your toughest choice. Find out more at


The Secret Life of Famous Wines New-world vintages: out of the dark ages. Words STEVEN LACK Photography FIONA ROYDS/INFIDELS

The sky’s the limit for California cult wine label Screaming Eagle: it’s worth way more than any of Europe’s finest FROM GRANGE to the hill of grace to the grace of God, from Opus One to Harlan Estate to the Screaming Eagle soaring with the gods; from across the Pacific to Marlborough bays clouded over, to the valley of the spies. From the icy peaks of the Andes, then south of the Atacama Desert into Mendoza, the fiery passion of the Argentine tango was a celebration of the 20thcentury renaissance: the rebirth of new-world wines was in full swing and widespread. Ask any foreign enthusiast about Château Margaux and they’ll say 1998 is ‘classic Margaux’, yet on the same vintage Vergelegen they’ll venture a ‘Say what?’ When Simon van der Stel was planting our first vines, Château Margaux was still feeding sheep – yet while European wines dominated the globe, the New World lived in its darkest wine ages until the late 20th century. California sold table grapes during prohibition, their wine industry then dead. Until 30 years ago, Australia massproduced nothing but unpalatable wines while the rest of the world drank Château Margaux on special occasions and Burgundy on others.

3 2 P R I V A T E E D I T I O N ISSUE 19

Max Schubert lived his own prohibition. Today he’s Australia’s most famous winemaker but in his darkest ages he followed his heart, secretly producing what would become an icon of the modern wine world. A relatively short while ago he served a wine to Penfolds’ directorship (his bosses), who, had they been Argentine, would have done a tango upon their first sip. Declaring it to be one of the greatest wines they’d ever tasted, they asked Schubert whether he could produce a wine of similar quality one day. He already had. The wine they were rejoicing in was the one they had forbidden him to produce years before. This was Australia’s Birth of Venus, the story of Grange. Mona Lisa and David followed, with Henschke’s Hill of Grace Shiraz and Mount Mary’s Quintet, arguably the greatest of all Australian icons known to winekind. Iconic winemaker and ambassador Robert Mondavi, California’s ‘Botticelli’, devoted his life to ensuring that Californian wines would one day take their rightful place alongside the world’s best. His work culminated in Opus

One, selling pre-release in the early ’70s for thousands of dollars – then the highest price fetched on auction in the US for any wine. The American renaissance would later see the production of even greater icons. If a menu called for a new-world wine to outshine Burgundy’s most famous, the choice would be the William Selyem Pinot Noir from California’s Russian River Valley, an iconic Pinot-producing region. If expensive tastes and eccentric habits could be matched, naturally it would be Screaming Eagle, with a single bottle fetching more than five times the price of any of Europe’s finest. Marlborough, New Zealand, has Cloudy Bay, which placed it on the map of the world’s most sought-after Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir. Alas, it succumbed to corporateownership demands and the bottom line, paving the way for Spy Valley Wines to be crowned as New Zealand’s finest. Audacity and perspicacity. Myth and mass production. There is but one certainty: given a nod from the gods, good wine will out.


Past Perfect How the hands of time embrace history – in brand power, movements and design.

LUXURY WATCH BRANDS are a prime example for adapting technologies and design styles of the past to today’s fashion trends and consumer expectations, whether it’s reviving old brand names, engineering more intricate mechanical complications or using design elements from the early 20th century like Art Nouveau or Art Deco. In recent years, old and often forgotten watch brands have been used to create entirely new marketing concepts based on an aspect of their history. Officine Panerai, for example, a small Italian watch manufacturer that specialised in supplying the Italian Navy in the 1930s and ’40s, was purchased by the Vendôme/Richemont group of Stellenbosch in 1997 and brought back to life with the use of historic case shapes and dials with extra luminosity. An innovative marketing concept modernising product design and romanticising the past was supported by intense advertising investments – cue instant worldwide success. I often refer to luxury brands outdoing each other with the design and development of complicated mechanical movements. It’s characteristic of established haute horlogerie brands such as Breguet, Patek Philippe and

Audemars Piguet to use and refine movement technologies going back to pocket watches of the late 18th and 19th century. Even ‘new’ high-end luxury brands like Franck Muller have built their reputation on the exclusive use and manufacture of historic yet highly evolved mechanical movements. Modern technology enables reductions in size and thickness, as well as more functions (complications). Stateof-the-art machinery allows for cases and dials of sublime beauty to house these masterpieces What about designs of the past influencing today’s luxury-watch trends? The Art Deco movement, born in Paris in the 1920s, can be found in almost all areas of decorative arts (architecture, décor, furniture, automobiles, watches). Although applications differ, objects share elements like geometrical shapes, contrasting straight lines and curves, symmetry and discreet ornamentations. The move from pocket to wristwatches coincided with the beginnings of Art Deco, which offered designers an inexhaustible source of inspiration. It’s no surprise that Paris jeweller Louis Cartier was the first to apply new design principles. The rectangular Tank watch, designed in 1917, turned tradition on its head

and brought modern design to timepieces, thus pioneering the wristwatch as a fashion and style accessory. The 1922 version, Tank Louis Cartier, styled the Art Deco way, has since inspired many other Tank designs. High up in the Jura mountains, La Chauxde-Fonds, the capital of Swiss watchmaking, is not only home to haute horlogerie brands like Girard-Perregaux but it is also the birthplace of Le Corbusier, one of the greatest names in modern architecture and design, as well as pioneering auto maker Louis Chevrolet. In the early 20th century the town was renowned as a centre for Art Nouveau, and industrial creativity was flourishing. Girard-Perregaux used the principle ‘back to the future’ for its designs in a most successful way. In 1945 it launched an Art Deco inspired watch, and 50 years later that very design served as an inspiration for a family of new timepieces, the Vintage 1945 collection. True to its original spirit, it is far from a slavish reproduction. The Vintage 1945 is much larger and a fully modernised rework of the original. Its thin and fluent rectangular case is curved with a balanced design, ensuring perfect wrist comfort and contemporary aesthetics.

(From left) Cartier’s Tank Anglaise has its design foundations in the Art Deco lines of the Tank Louis Cartier of 1922; GirardPerregaux’s Vintage 1945 is a fully modernised interpretation of the original design launched more than 50 years ago 3 4 P R I V A T E E D I T I O N ISSUE 19




Still life with hand planers: Stephen Dugmore’s backyard workshop where a new rod is crafted. [Opposite] Dugmore devotes months at a time to custom-making a ‘living’ instrument for a purist fly-fisher

Fellowship of the Rod How two rare craftsmen put life and soul into their bamboo fly-fishing rods and change the game plan. Words LES AUPIAIS

ISSUE 19 P R I V A T E E D I T I O N 3 7


STEPHEN DUGMORE IS AN ARCHITECT with a passion for context-driven architecture; Stephen Boshoff is an urban planner and city-development strategist. There is something, then, in both men that calls for creative order, a sense of space and form, craftsmanship and a mastery of ergonomics. It’s big-picture stuff, though, geared for sheltering people and drafting plans that make buildings and whole cities articulate and communicate. Secretly, however, they’re ‘detail’ men, slightly obsessive perfectionists with a passion for crafting bamboo fly rods that take them up to five months to make. ‘Detail’, because from the fat culms of Chinese bamboo that dry out in the ceilings of their small back-yard workshops they slice long, triangular shafts of the material, and then plane and bind the lengths into rods that taper to impossibly thin and whippy tips barely 1,2mm in diameter. ‘Books have been written on the taper,’ says Dugmore wryly, in case anyone should for a moment dismiss the seriousness of it all. He also designs and makes many of the precision tools he needs for the work. The rods are destined to become highly sought-after and ‘living’ instruments for sportsmen bent on luring wary and inexplicably wily fish from rock pools and mountain streams. Even though the sport is based on catch-andrelease, trout are ‘spooky fish’ and ‘conscious of danger’,



they say. All the more reason to match wits, it seems. On a point of provenance, both Stephens – two of a small number of bamboo rod makers in the world – know from where their raw material originates, down to the last square kilometre, the weather conditions surrounding its growth and whether or not the grove is south-facing. Flexing, bending and recovering, the bamboo in its natural state seems to be in perpetual rehearsal for its final show. The vagaries of each batch of hand-picked bamboo give the rods their DNA and justify their allure. Of the 1 200 species grown in China, few have the dense fibres ideal for crafting these rods. The material lends itself to the fine art of rod making – but why, with modern graphite rods with their lifetime guarantees and eager market of young flyfishermen who feel the need to cast further and faster, does a bamboo rod even feature on the landscape? Dugmore believes that there is something about the elasticity of the material that gives it life. ‘Graphite can be scientifically amazing but doesn’t give you the “feel” that bamboo does,’ he explains. ‘I really didn’t understand what a rod should do, so I made one,’ Boshoff adds. ‘You’re after a fish with “character”, not something mechanical. It seems right to go after it with a living thing.’ He is poetic and philosophical about the sport and the rods themselves, yet there is nothing of



[From far left] Stephen Boshoff takes pride in offering soulful alternatives to ‘the ruthlessness of mass production’; rods from Stephen Dugmore’s workshop carry his signature; Boshoff handcrafts a net in between making rods

the romantic dreamer – all clutter and dust motes – about his workbench. It is pristine, with raw material and tools stowed so meticulously that it resembles the interior of an ocean-going yacht. There’s no room for grit and particle when you’re trying to connect the surface areas of material accurately down to a fraction of a millimetre. Dugmore’s introduction to the craft was a coming-ofage experience. ‘I had a bamboo rod when I was seven years old,’ he says. ‘When I foolishly broke it, I tried to fix it – and then discovered how hard it was to do so.’ He speaks of the ‘elasticity’ of the bamboo rod. ‘The way it bends, combined with the propulsion of its self-weight, gives you a feeling that a graphite rod cannot – making it a superb fishing instrument, certainly for stream fishing.’ A growing interest in fly-fishing is driving a different kind of fisherman who wants to revert to the sport in its purest form. Depending on its weight, length, taper and position of the reel seat, the action of a bamboo rod can be ‘customised’. It begins with interviewing the fly- fisherman: an exploration that covers style of fishing, a preference for dry or wet flies, casting speed and a state of mind. Dugmore says he suggests what he would make for a client – the length, line weight and finish (straw-blonde or flamed) and the wraps – and can recommend a reel. ‘You can actually design a rod’s action to match fishing conditions

very closely: softer and bending into the grip for smaller streams, or faster for larger rivers or still waters,’ says Boshoff. Both of them use indigenous woods in grips and reel seats, and so Africa gets a look-in for the final product. So why the growing love for the sport from men – and, increasingly, women? Cape Town urban planner Herman Potgieter uses rods from both craftsmen and spends time in the river for meditation, not simply for the sport. ‘Away from your own ego, you’re active in a quiet way,’ he says of his passion for fly-fishing. ‘When you’re engaging with the environment, two hours can go by very quickly. When a fish does take, you can laugh like a child. It strips away modern life.’ Like the wands in the Harry Potter books, the rods seem to be mysteriously connected to their owners. Away from what Boshoff calls the ‘ruthlessness of mass production’ and the desire to whip out a known brand, lies a sporting instrument made more like a Stradivarius than a simple violin. It has ‘soul’, say both of the makers. ‘Success is not something you can predict in this sport,’ says Potgieter. ‘It is primitive, very individual, egalitarian.’ ‘And somewhere out there,’ says another fly-fisherman, ‘you do find God.’ To find out more, call Stephen Dugmore on 082 399 2390 and Stephen Boshoff on 082 376 7381.

ISSUE 19 P R I V A T E E D I T I O N 3 9




Prophet of Boom A revolutionary vision for Cape Town could see the city wake from its slumber with a very fierce growl. Words ANDRÉ WIESNER Photography WARREN RASMUSSEN

CHRIS WHELAN, MASTERMIND of Cape Town’s future, is running 15 minutes late. When he sails into reception, hand outstretched, he’s apologetic, remarking in a quiet baritone that he ‘set a new land-speed record’ in his haste to bolt from a meeting at Stellenbosch University back to his Foreshore offices, a high-rise where the view gives out to the city’s freeways and shipyards, its cranes and heat ripples, and the glittering sea. One assumes he covered the distance by car, yet he seems capable of having done it on foot, at a run. Dressed in slacks and an open-necked shirt, he’s a sturdy slab of a bloke, with bite to his handshake and a cropped head that makes him look part intellectual, part legionnaire – dreamer and doer combined. Which is all as it should be. Whelan carries a world on his shoulders, a world still in the coming. And he’s a dangerous man. Dangerous, that is, in the way described by the writer TE Lawrence: ‘Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake in the day to find that it

was vanity; but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dreams with wide eyes, to make it possible.’ Whelan specialises in business transformation and ICT; more particularly, he’s a futurist, with a master’s degree in futures studies. ‘It’s about understanding the future and how to create it,’ he explains, ‘about looking at mega-trends and being purposeful about where you want to go.’ People often buttonhole him for stock-market tips or issue the swaggering challenge, ‘So tell me, what’s your crystal ball say about X?’ He chuckles. ‘As if it were some kind of magic, when the reality is that it’s hard work and requires a keen understanding of commerce.’ Hard work, indeed. Until recently, Whelan, a 45-yearold family man and Wynberg old boy, had been consulting in Sydney, among other things as chief knowledge officer for Ernst & Young Asia-Pacific, and travelling to places like China, India and Singapore – a conscious move ‘to see how things are done differently’. The call came

This view could be a dinosaur in 20 years. A new vision for Cape Town includes linking the city to the sea once more – and making the most of a hidden beach. [Previous] Chris Whelan, catalyst and prophet of boom


in 2011, and today he is CEO of Accelerate Cape Town, tasked with a job covering more than 100 000km2 and at least 20 years deep: to catalyse the reinvention of his home city and region into a powerhouse that ‘connects Capetonians to Cape Town, and Cape Town to the world’. A think-tank working to galvanise economic growth, Accelerate Cape Town may seem like a standard business club or chamber of commerce, but Whelan considers his organisation a rare bird in South Africa. It’s a not-forprofit organisation funded by members, in return for which it promotes and protects their collective interests. Modelled internationally on the group London First, locally it follows in the tradition of the Consultative Business Movement – the corporate leaders who engaged with the then-banned ANC in the 1980s – and the Mont Fleur Scenario Exercise in the early 1990s, at which senior money men presented ANC figures with possible national futures such as Icarus (nationalise everything, flame-out) or Flight of the Flamingos (whoa, steady on).

‘Historically, business has played a crucial role at different junctures in the country’s life,’ Whelan says. ‘I would argue that the engagement of business, along with government, academia and civil society, is required for us all to own the solution to Africa’s problems.’ The subtext: don’t wait passively for the future – go and create the damn thing yourself. So it was that, in a province hotly contested by the ANC and DA, Accelerate Cape Town came into being, formed in 2007 by ‘business leaders brought together by a common concern over the pace and direction of change in the Cape and all agreed that long-term vision was needed to inform the strategies and activities of business, government, labour and civil society’. It was agreed, too, that big business should take the lead in the process of shaping this vision and its strategies, the result of which was Vision 2030, a research-based blueprint for transforming the Cape Town city region ‘into Africa’s Global City, a city of inspiration and innovation’.


Accelerate Cape Town exists to ‘influence business and policy direction’ so that the vision is taken forward and implemented on the ground; in short, it’s there to foment things into happening. ‘We deliberately aim to work with the top corporates,’ Whelan says. ‘What’s important for us is the influence of the right decision-makers in the business arena. We want to engage with the biggest players, the anchor tenants in the mall. When the Premier wants to understand business’ view on a particular matter, she can have a direct conversation with us.’ While the organisation is a vehicle for representing corporate Cape Town, the corporates are a vehicle for it in turn, a weighty instrument to be leveraged for its strength, know-how and can-do. The work of city transformation is stewardly and catalytic, involving a combination of ‘thought leadership’ (keeping people informed, inspired and on programme), networking (connecting people, creating synergy), influencing (particularly at government level), and – the big one – mobilising: rising into action to implement projects focused ideally on public-private partnerships.

Africa, growing at eight percent per annum and rich in enterprise that can absorb labour galore into the formal economy. For instance, a 2 000-seater call centre with three shifts provides employment for 6 000 job entrants and benefits about 18 000 dependents. With India pricing itself out of vogue, multinationals are turning to the Cape, partly (and bizarrely) because the English accents there are regarded as ‘the most neutral’ in the world. Nevertheless, current growth is three percent per annum, far short of the eight-percent target. In Whelan’s mind there are wheels within wheels, and a major idea he has been promoting involves priming the region to service West Africa’s oil and gas fields to boost employment. Not only are Cape Town and Saldanha Bay ‘the closest ports’ to those oilfields, but Saldanha – with its industrial capability, deep harbour and elbowroom – is also well suited to the job. So hook up to West Africa, focus on Saldanha, create long-term livelihood for welders, fittersand-turners and the like; integrate the two ports more tightly, broadband the buggers, enhance their bus and rail connections, develop an economic corridor on the West Coast and ‘turn the crank handle of the economy’.

So, if you shouldn’t ask Whelan about his crystal ball, don’t ask him where your bacon and eggs are, either. Although it’s a common misperception – ‘Oh, you guys organise breakfasts?’ – he is most emphatically not an event organiser. Yes, he says, in a few weeks there’d be a breakfast looking at mega-trends around disruptive technologies. ‘The reason we’re having it is to help our members understand these trends and what they mean for Africa, specifically Cape Town. Our biggest achievement has been to define Vision 2030, and we’ve had a significant impact on the region’s economic policy in recent years’ – a case in point, he says, is the Western Cape Economic Development Partnership, which is ‘largely influenced’ by this agenda. ‘If Accelerate Cape Town has done anything, it’s been to pull together people who should be finding that vision. Because if you don’t know where you want to go, you ain’t gonna get anywhere.’ The vision on the horizon is of a sustainable and expanding economy, and underlying it is a simple axiom: ‘to prosper, everyone has to prosper’. In an environment with ‘massive socioeconomic challenges’, growth must not only be high but also demographically inclusive. The alternative – low growth, exclusive growth – is ‘a recipe for social unrest’. Better, then, to accelerate and set a land-speed record, as Whelan does so well, in attaining the future scenario, The Southern Tiger: a regional economic hub connecting Asia and Latin America to



Then, why not make Saldanha the region’s container port? Uninspired by official projections for Cape Town harbour, Whelan doubts that its cargo volumes make the port viable in the long run. What’s more, you’ve just lunched at the V&A Waterfront, step out – and see what? Mountains of shipping containers, ‘literally in our front garden’. Why not learn from Barcelona and clear the view, further link the city to the sea? Doing so would yield another boon, buried in the harbour’s armpit: Woodstock Beach. Even for some Capetonians it would be news that Woodstock has such a thing but it’s out there, hidden on those highways behind a speed-blurred wall of industria. ‘Prime coastal real estate’, this strip of otherwise grim beachfront is conceivably ripe for promenades, cricket pitches, residential zones, commercial precincts, marine institutes… Hell, if you want to shoot for the stars you could sink those highways, channel them underground… Whelan pauses and grins. Perhaps he’s accelerating too fast, this man who wants to make sure that ‘when we hand over the keys to our kids, they have something to work with’. ‘I don’t mean to sound too whacked out,’ he says, ‘but I like to see myself as a catalyst for possibilities thinking, for opening minds to the art of the possible… If you can put a picture in place, people will start talking about it. Then reality shifts.’


‘The work of city transformation is stewardly and catalytic, involving a combination of “thought leadership... networking, influencing and mobilising...’


Zen and the Art of Granulation A craft perfected thousands of years ago is revived. Words ETTAGALE BLAUER

THE GOLDSMITH HAS PLACED hundreds of tiny gold balls onto a gold surface, keeping them in place temporarily with just a whisper of glue or flux. The moment has arrived to apply a little heat in order to secure the connection between the granules and the gold background. How long does the goldsmith pass the handheld torch back and forth over the design, until the tiny gold globes are firmly in place? A few seconds too long and your crisp, tiny gold globes have lost their shape. Take the heat away too soon and they’re in danger of being knocked off at the slightest touch. The art of granulation has been with us since the beginning of goldsmithing, at least 5 000 years ago. Even with absolute temperature control, a constant flow of heat and a supply of perfectly round, regular granules, contemporary goldsmiths still face the moment of truth every time they get ready to apply fire to a piece of granulation. If anything can be said to have been ‘lost’ during the millennia, it was the methods and alloys used by the ancient metalsmiths to achieve granulation. When Alessandro Castellani and his student, Carlo Giuliano, began producing classicist jewels in the mid-19th century, they were hailed as the discoverers of granulation. According to Geoffrey Munn, author of the definitive Castellani and Giuliano: Revivalist Jewellers of the 19th Century (Rizzoli),



Castellani worked for more than 30 years trying to uncover, or rediscover, the techniques used in classical jewellery. With the help of goldsmiths in Naples, a city known for its forgeries of classical pieces, Castellani arrived at a formula that allowed the firm to produce jewels ornamented with granulation. After these talented Italians retired from the scene, the technique was said to be lost again until it resurfaced in the 20th century. In the 1930s, goldsmiths and metallurgists once more were determined to unearth the secrets of the ‘forgotten art’. Over time, bits from here and there were combined, until a method evolved that was not only doable but also teachable. The process was built on the efforts of Robert Kulicke, who expanded on the work of several jewellers and researchers, ultimately founding a school for goldsmiths in New York City. Generations of goldsmiths emerged from the Kulicke Academy, later known as the Kulicke-Stark Academy after Kulicke’s second wife, Jean Stark, joined him. The technique has become so ubiquitous that the challenge now is to make original jewellery designs rather than aping the classicists. Two who have found a way to individual esthetics are Maija Neimanis, and Jack and Elizabeth Gualtieri, whose company is called Zaffiro. Maija Neimanis was one of the hordes who arrived at the Kulicke-Stark Academy and

Clean and crisp, but it doesn’t have to look old. That’s the design ethic behind this handcrafted Zaffiro pendant by husbandand-wife team Jack and Elizabeth Gualtieri

ISSUE 19 P R I V A T E E D I T I O N 4 7

found a calling. A three-week course there and, she says, ‘I got completely addicted.’ That’s the way it is with granulation. Still working at her day job as a film stylist and costume designer, she would practice her new craft in the studio at night. ‘When you granulate it’s like Zen. You’re just in another world,’ Neimanis explains. Her designs are soft and rounded. The granulation floats around them; it enhances and embellishes and doesn’t shout about its own cleverness. For the Gualtieris, the husband-and-wife team of Zaffiro, the goal is to create clean, crisp designs – ‘it doesn’t have to look old’, they say. But a goldsmith from 200 years ago would feel right at home in this couple’s workshop where absolutely everything needed to create the jewellery is made by hand. ‘We mill from 24ct gold; we make our own sheet and wire and then we make our own granules.’ Their production is not large – on average about 100 to 120 pieces a year. Jack says he enjoys every aspect of the work. ‘Making the granules is very therapeutic. When you really love to do something, you are willing to do whatever it takes.’ Along the way they have worked out their own recipes, enabling them to do platinum granulation on yellow or rose gold, white on white, rose on rose, and even platinum on platinum. Susan Reinstein began her magical granulation journey in a tiny jewel box of a shop in New York’s Soho district. It was called, fittingly, Byzantium. There she met gem dealer Brian Ross. The two formed a life and business partnership called Reinstein-Ross. Today their work is available in two shops in New York City. In their Madison Avenue store, clients can see the work being made in the workshop behind the sales counter. It’s a step back in time to the days when goldsmiths plied their trade one piece at a time. Each gemstone is chosen for its colour and shape and then set within a beautiful 22ct gold frame. The particular gold alloy is made in the

chosen tone to complement the colour of the gems as well as the customer’s skin tone. It’s as bespoke as a piece of jewellery can be. It is in the nature of goldsmiths to seek perfection and no-one has done more toward achieving that goal than Daniel Brush, the supreme master of contemporary granulation. ‘Granulation can be learnt in a minute and a half,’ he says. And in a sense that’s true. The basic technique is easily mastered. It’s the ability to produce exquisite, finely detailed and ornamented work that takes years. For Brush, while the hands are doing the granulation, the mind is left to float free. ‘I had more to think about than placing the granules,’ he says. ‘It was my relaxation. It was a vehicle for passing the day.’ But what he also wanted to do, he says, is to overcome the fear that is at the essence of granulation, the decisive moment, firing the piece with a heat source precisely to the exact moment that the mysterious bonding occurs. Brush set himself the task of reaching a specific goal. ‘I wanted to understand what it meant to have 6 000 years of gold come into my being.’ He began to make a dome covered with patterns of granulation. During more than 600 hours of work, using a brush with one hair, he placed 78 000 granules on the dome. And then he left the piece alone – for two years. Brush, who has very understanding patrons, didn’t take the ultimate step of firing the granules. He devoted himself to everything else, anything else, just not taking that final, crucial step. Why? ‘I was unnerved because it was finalised.’ That moment comes to every goldsmith… of applying the torch to the granulated piece, to secure the tiny gold granules. Did he ever apply heat to the dome with the 78 000 granules? He did. The object, most recently seen in a retrospective of his work at the Museum of Arts and Design in New York City, stands as a small, dazzling object in the remarkable, long history of granulation. [Top, left] This bespoke Reinstein-Ross Mumtaz pendant is set in a gold alloy that complements the client’s skin tone. [Left] Reinstein-Ross cufflinks are available via their New York stores or




Son of the Soil HRH Unathi Phathuxolo Mtirara has an air of understated authority and the physical stature of his Xhosa bloodline, but there’s no hint of entitlement. Here he talks about his people, projects and passion. Words DEBBIE HATHWAY Photography WARREN RASMUSSEN

VILLAGE BOY, STUDENT, model, singer, businessman − Unathi Phathuxolo Mtirara is not your average royal. Taught to take nothing for granted and to work for what he wants, this grand-nephew of Nelson Mandela has set his sights on staging an opera he’s producing about the life of the icon he calls ‘Granddad’. Written by Juan Burgers and simply titled Ubuntu, it’s likely to include a starring role for his new wife, Nonhlanhla (Nonnie) Yende, a mezzo-soprano who won critical acclaim for her 2012 debut as Bess in Cape Town Opera’s touring production of Porgy and Bess in London. While Unathi’s work is in Pretoria as CEO of Opera South Africa, Yende’s is in the Mother City, where she has worked as a Cape Town Opera Young Artist for three years. Living between two cities has its challenges but there’s one thing they can agree on − there’s no competition for the spotlight! Although singing united them in 2005 (they started dating in 2008), Unathi likes to stay behind the scenes. ‘Nonnie took all the limelight so I wouldn’t want to compete with that,’ he laughs. ‘If I had to sing, there had to be 60 others with me in the chorus – so that if someone was singing off-key it wouldn’t be so obvious that it was me!’



Even though Gauteng’s classical-music prospects are dismal, 2013 holds promise for Opera SA. ‘When I started the company in 2009, everybody thought I would use the family name and funding would come easily,’ he says. But when it comes to raising financial support for the opera about Mandela’s life, for me, family becomes a last resort.’ Opera SA’s partnership with Makhaya Art & Cultural Development, formed to showcase local talent internationally, led to an invitation from Xolisa Mabhongo, South African Ambassador to Vienna, to perform at the International Atomic Energy Agency Ball in February. They’re also booked to perform in Serbia in June, and in Moscow from September to November. Unathi’s hopeful that this strategic association will forge cultural-exchange programmes and attract international investment in the development of local arts and culture. Creating performance opportunities for South African artists is an objective of a gala concert he’s organising at Emperors Palace in Johannesburg on 29 May to celebrate Mandela’s 95th birthday – but it will also raise funds to benefit the community at his family home in Mqhekezweni near Mthatha. ‘Nonnie married into my family in December last year. That comes with




‘My grandmother never treated us as royalty. The community did, but at home she made us earn everything we wanted.’


[Opposite] Bring him a serious countenance and he’ll be sure to match it. It’s intimidating. Unathi Mtirara plays the joker to relax people in his lofty presence. [Previous] Backstage is best. Unathi loves the business of the arts

responsibilities,’ he says. Last October, they raised funds to renovate the rondavel in which Mandela grew up, as well as the house of Unathi’s great-grandfather, who raised Mandela. The community was so impressed that they asked for assistance to improve some of the village’s other tourist attractions, such as the junior primary school that Mandela attended and the preschool. ‘At the end of the day, it’s our home as much as it is the world icon’s home. We still carry the legacy,’ says Unathi. He describes his home as the Original Great Place of King Dalindyebo. ‘We grew up knowing our home was for everybody. When we received visitors, nobody asked how long they were going to stay or when they were going to leave. Even if Mandela did not grow up at my home it would still be like that, because it’s been that way forever.’ But where does Mandela fit in exactly? Unathi explains that the Kingdom of AbaThembu comprised five families. ‘King Thembu’s great wife, from the Dalindyebo clan, lived in the great house. Then there was the lefthand wife from the Mtiraras, the right-hand wife from the Matanzimas, the supporting wife from the Mnqanqenis, and the small wife from the Mandelas. If anything was going wrong in any of the senior houses, the Mandela role was to mediate, which is what they still do, even today.’ Nelson Mandela moved to Mqhekezweni at the age of nine, after his father passed away, and was raised by Unathi’s great-grandfather as his own son. Mandela shared a rondavel with Unathi’s grandfather, Regent King Jongintaba Mtirara, who was a few years older than him. In the meantime Unathi, being born out of wedlock, according to custom became his grandmother’s responsibility. He did not have contact with his mother, Chief Dalindyebo’s last-born, until he was a teenager. ‘My grandmother never treated us as royalty. The community did, but at home she made us earn everything we wanted.’ Unathi had three pairs of shoes – one each for school, church and town. If he wanted another, he had to work for them by selling chips and sweets. ‘I used to take that box of 144 Wilson’s toffees and sell them for 20c each.’ Even playtime was strictly managed. Unathi was allowed to ride his bicycle for an hour on Sundays if his grandmother was satisfied with his homework. Then he had to prepare her spaza shop for the next day and do his chores. One of his greatest ordeals was being made to sit through a weekly classical music show on Radio Transkei (now Umhlobo Wenene). ‘I hated it because it was just symphonies. I would have felt better if there had been some voices or arias… Later, when I was 14, a group of old men came to the village to sing and my grandmother kept asking them to teach me. But all of that formed me and

now I’m stuck with these classical singers,’ he laughs, with a glance at his wife. They make a lovely couple, her calm, patient manner the perfect foil (or test) for his fun-loving personality. Preferring the pedestrian to the pedestal, he plays down his royal status and quickly resorts to the role of joker if he senses that he needs to break the ice. ‘I’m about 2m tall and people say I’m even more intimidating when I’m serious so I tell jokes to make everyone relax around me.’ He recalls the ‘priceless, precious moment’ when he first drove Nonnie to the village from Pretoria. She had no idea how far they were going. ‘I think I tried to refresh about four times… By the time we got there, I’d lost my excitement,’ Yende says. The next day, their journey continued to nearby Qunu, where Mandela lives. ‘I didn’t tell Nonnie we were going to see the old man,’ Unathi says. ‘She was wearing a skirt and a sleeveless top, which is not considered suitable for a meeting with an elder. Even with all the security, she had no idea where we were until we saw Granddad right in front of us, inviting us to come and greet him. She quickly covered her head with a scarf!’ Unathi had little exposure to politics when he was young and has no interest in it now. ‘My grandmother protected us, so that people could not use the family to get to Granddad. I had heard about this person called Mandela, who grew up with us, but I had no idea how close he was to us.’ Unathi studied electrical engineering at the then Border Technikon in East London ‘to get my mom and dad off my back’ but his mind was never into ‘those serious things’. Encouraged to try modelling by one of his schoolteachers, who noticed that he was ‘thin, tall and into fashion’, Unathi left for Johannesburg in his early twenties. In between gigs, he studied small-business and events management. He says he got into the arts by accident and credits Neels Hansen, founder of The Black Tie Ensemble, with teaching him almost everything he knows about the business. However, he says what he knows about leadership he learned at home. ‘I would listen to my uncles at community meetings and see how they conducted themselves. I believe the way you treat people and the way you address them says something about where you’re going in life.’ The interview is over and the couple prepares to leave for Vienna. Unathi looks at me and says, ‘I was thinking we should pass by the [Houghton] house now to say hi to Granddad but I know she’s not going to go for it...’ For more details, visit or email

ISSUE 19 P R I V A T E E D I T I O N 5 3




Deep, Dark Secrets The jewels of the culinary world may soon be lucrative stars as SA’s first truffles see the light this winter. Words MARIANNE HERON

Pigs and hounds in France sniff out the precious truffles. SA farmers are set on using dogs as they lack the aggression of a pig on the hunt

THE FRENCH CALL IT ‘la grande mystique’. The secret of growing truffles – the extravagant black diamonds of gourmet cuisine – was once shrouded in mystery. Bound up in la mystique is the notion that anyone who can crack the code for cultivating these underground mushrooms will grow as rich as Croesus on yields. There are more than 200 truffle varieties but the most sought after and valuable are the black (Périgord) truffle Tuber melanosporum and the white truffle Tuber magnatum. These truffles occur naturally in France, Italy and Croatia, growing in symbiotic relationship among the roots of oak and hazel trees. Traditionally they’re foraged by secretive truffle hunters in forests in winter, and uncovered by trained hounds or by sows frenzied by the pheromone androstenol that is emitted by the fungi and also occurs in the saliva of lusting boars. The science involved in trufficulture remained as tantalising as an alchemist’s search for the fabled philosopher’s stone until Frenchman Joseph Talon discovered the secret in the early 19th century. He became wealthy and so did his imitators in a golden era of truffles, which ended when Talon’s secret was lost in the carnage of WWI. Wild black-truffle harvests in France have declined by 92 percent over the last century, decimated by deforestation and climate change. Modern mycology has come to the rescue and today 80 percent of French truffles are farmed. Trufficulture has now come south, and truffle orchards established in New Zealand, Australia and Chile over the last decade are already producing the fungi. Wild black truffles favour the magical world Italians call sottobosco (the forest floor), in areas with chalky soils, cold winters and plentiful rain – so on the face of it, trufficulture seems an unlikely prospect in South Africa. Yet a harvest of the Cape’s first farmed Périgord truffles may be only a matter of months away. Could this open the door for lucrative new investment opportunities here – or is it a long shot in the dark world of mycorrhizal fungi? ‘No, it’s not a gamble at all because it’s a totally scientific process,’ says Volker Miros, MD of Woodford Truffles SA, a

ISSUE 19 P R I V A T E E D I T I O N 5 5




inoculated trees and provides an ongoing service during the establishment and productive life of orchards. The aim is to farm both black truffles and the blanchetto or white spring truffle Tuber borchii. Easier to grow but less valuable than black truffles, white spring truffles fetch between R6 000 and R8 000 per kilogram. After four to five years, orchards in South Africa should begin to produce truffles from June to September. They’re expected to reach peak production after about 12 years and be capable of continuing for 30, 50 or even a maximum of 80 years. ‘You can expect a turnover of about R1 million per hectare,’ claims Miros. ‘And harvesting is the most important part; you can’t leave harvesting to just anyone.’ Dogs are the harvesters of choice in South Africa. Pigs apparently behave badly once they’ve found their treasure. Quite understandably, if sows associate the smell of a truffle with potentially earth-moving sex with a boar, things could get tricky. More than a few French farmers have ended up minus a digit or two trying to stop sows from gobbling the crop. But Miros already has a plan, and a dog trainer who breeds a cross between a Jack Russell and a beagle is set to sell them or let them for the season. The usual hazards of farming – from fires to pests – apply but in truffle farming’s favour are the labour costs. Mowing, aeration and irrigation over five hectares can be managed by one person with a small tractor. And unlike with wine, terroir makes no difference to truffles’ selfcontained explosion of taste and smell. Conveniently, southern-hemisphere truffles are in season when their northern counterparts are off the menu. Another plus: a bad year for grapes with lots of rain means a good year for truffles, so a spot of diversification might not go amiss. Marketing is the next step, and with a seasonal advantage in the European market and a home market waiting to be exploited the picture looks promising. Like with diamonds, the price of truffles is tightly controlled. Joint ventures split the proceeds of truffle sales 70 percent to the farmer and 30 percent to the company. ‘You have to guarantee the price,’ says Miros, ‘otherwise, if you start an internal price war, it would be totally destructive for the business. The asking price is set by the last price in the February/March sales in Europe, and you will probably get more.’ Downstream there are opportunities to develop truffle products: truffle oil, truffle pasta, truffled pâté. There’s a whisper in top culinary circles that South African chefs are already dabbling in truffle alchemy…

The bottom line? Like any long-term crop, trufficulture requires a sizeable initial outlay but with a decent yield a farmer may be able to recoup his investment a couple of years into production. For more info go to and


joint-venture enterprise aimed at supporting South African farmers in the successful production of truffles. ‘You need to follow all the rules. If you do that, I don’t see any reason why you shouldn’t have truffles. We have planted 15 hectares of orchards ourselves on our Cederberg farm, and in winter 2013 or 2014 we expect to Pigs apparently behave badly have truffles.’ But you shouldn’t count your once they’ve found their treasure… truffles… ‘For a variety of reasons More than a few French farmers many truffle plantations never have ended up minus a digit or produce,’ writes international two trying to stop sows from mycologist Ian Hall in the gobbling the crop. introduction to Taming the Truffle (Timber Press), the trufficulture bible he co-authored. ‘Consequently,’ he cautions, ‘investing in the cultivation of truffles and other mushrooms must still be regarded as speculative and potentially high-risk.’ If you’ve read the small print and still feel boarish about the market, follow Miros. ‘Say you have a farm up in the Cederberg, Villiersdorp or Grabouw – these are good areas,’ he says. ‘I ask for the coordinates of your farm to see whether you fall within a suitable area. Number two, I ask for the registered name of the farm to see if you have water rights. If you haven’t got water, the scheme won’t work. If those are okay I will deal with you.’ Soil must be analysed for acidity, structure and trace elements. Périgord truffles grow in alkaline soil, whereas our soils are usually acid. Add lime to your agricultural shopping list. The fungi also need sufficient water and cold points (an average of about 8˚C in winter) to form. Pray for a cold snap. Farming begins not with truffles but with acorns. Miros propagates about 250 000 acorn trees a year, grown from sterilised acorns and planted in a sterile nursery medium. The saplings are then innoculated with spores from a reputable Italian supplier. It takes five or more years before the process will result in any truffles, which seems a nailbiting wait – but a farmer would be able to check on the progress of the operation within the year. So far Miros has been involved in the establishment of four orchards, which he says are on track to produce truffles several years from now. Leon Potgieter of African Truffles, another jointventure partnership, also expects his first crop in a few years but is bound by a confidentiality agreement not to disclose information about his clients. ‘We expect good results. Root samples are coming out well but we haven’t yet had the opportunity to establish a big orchard,’ he says. The company, headed by mushroom farmer Potgieter in partnership with mycologist Dr Paul Thomas, supplies



F o r m o r e i n f o r m a t i o n , c a l l L e i g h R o b e r t s o n a t P e a r l Va l l e y P r o p e r t i e s o n 0 2 1 8 6 7 8 0 0 0 o r v i s i t p e a r l v a l l e y. c o . z a ; o r c a l l L o u i s e v a n A a r d e a t L e w G e f f e n S o t h e b y ’s I n t e r n a t i o n a l R e a l t y o n 0 2 1 8 7 0 1 0 1 1 o r v i s i t s o t h e b y s r e a l t y. c o . z a .

UNDER AN HOUR FROM THE CITY OF CAPE TOWN, AND A SHORT DRIVE TO THE CULINARY CAPITAL OF THE CAPE, FRANSCHHOEK, AN INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT OR WORLD-CLASS SHOPPING, PEARL VALLEY GOLF ESTATES HOLDS ALL THE RESIDENTIAL ACES. On a 212-hectare estate caught between impossibly clear blue Western Cape sky, the Simonsberg and Drakenstein mountains, and the pristine greens of a golf estate, life is simply… different. Pearl Valley Golf Estates seems to enjoy its own enviable microclimate, where the multi-award-winning Jack Nicklaus golf course and the allure of the game must share star billing with the generous open spaces of the estate, an equestrian centre, tennis courts and a clubhouse. The estate provides a myriad reasons why executive families from neighbouring provinces and discerning international buyers from Europe settle here. Outdoor-loving and active residents may hike and explore the many trails bordering the Berg River. The river itself allows the sport of canoeing and fly-fishing. Into the deep, quiet pools of the river, fly-fishers cast their lines and wait patiently for that elusive bite… But even those who are less adventurous need only put up their feet and marvel at the authenticity of a ‘garden’ beyond the boundary of their properties. The estate prides itself on a proactive approach to nature conservation, where mostly indigenous plants create colour nuances and the distinct fragrance of alluvium fynbos. In the late-afternoon light, mountains, greens, fynbos and watercourses are compositions in a subtle palette of colours. Authenticity is a key attraction of the estate. Architects have used their considerable skill and experience to design contemporary homes, resort-style lodges or lock-up-and-go residences that make the best of the light and the views. Homes, some on stands of up to 2 800m2, have their own distinct character and style but also create a visual synergy that gives the estate its well-earned reputation for luxurious yet relaxed living. Pearl Valley Golf Estates is close to some of the Western Cape’s top schools and, with its commitment to state-of-the-art security, has irresistible appeal for those who put their families first. You may work in another city and commute. You may play sport, hike, ride or make up a four-ball. You may be a ‘swallow’ and choose to spend only summers here. There is never a single reason why you choose to invest in a home at Pearl Valley Golf Estates. There are many. And each a little more compelling than the next.

First Ascent Summit jacket R2 999 and Suunto Ambit watch R5 799, both Cape Union Mart


Master Strokes Changing your perspective usually changes your life for the better. Just ask any stand-up paddleboarder. Words JAZZ KUSCHKE Photography and captions CRAIG KOLESKY/NIKON/LEXAR

ISSUE 19 P R I V A T E E D I T I O N 6 1


Chris Bertish has been surfing big waves – conventionally and using tow-in – since 1998. This wave, in 1999, was the first ever ridden on an SUP at Dungeons, South Africa’s world-famous big-wave spot off The Sentinel, Hout Bay

ISSUE 19 P R I V A T E E D I T I O N 6 3


THE SURFACE OF A BODY OF WATER – even without a whisper of wind or a trace of swell – is always in motion. To stand on it, then, requires a perpetually activated core – micro-adjustments of abdominals, spine, hips and legs, even toes. Balance. For a steady-footed stand-up paddler, this waterway and its microclimate, whether inland and fresh, or salty like the blood in our veins, can be a teacher, coach, training buddy or play park. Motivations for each are myriad and complex, and therein hides the essence of SUP. Paddling, in its assorted forms, has always been a multidimensional pursuit. The seemingly evolved form of doing it while standing on an oversized board, with a manlength paddle extending from your arms, is no different. Its roots are in ancient Polynesia and can be traced back to before even ‘real’ surfing, but it resurfaced in the early 1960s when the Waikiki beach boys would stand on their longboards and paddle out using outrigger paddles, to take pictures of the tourists learning to surf. Those beach boys were true watermen, adept and completely at ease in the ocean. To them, standing while paddling was a natural evolution rather than something new.

Tools of the trade: on a ‘proof of concept’ paddle ahead of his attempt to cross the Atlantic Ocean, Bertish paddled from Cape Point to Lamberts Bay. He covered the distance of 350km in seven days and was totally self-sufficient, having to carry solar panels, water, food, and communications and navigation equipment on board

ISSUE 19 P R I V A T E E D I T I O N 6 5


Bertish is planning to stand-up paddle across the Atlantic from Dakar, Senegal, to Camocim, Brazil. To complete the 3 225km in his projected time, he’ll have to paddle the equivalent of a marathon a day for 65 days. Follow his journey as he battles the unpredictability of the Northern and Southern Atlantic, and crosses the equator and doldrums, on

ISSUE 19 P R I V A T E E D I T I O N 6 7

The paddle is an extension of the SUPer’s body and comes in a variety of shapes, sizes and materials. [Right] At nearly 5,5m, Bertish’s long-distance paddleboard is much longer and narrower than his wave-riding model. It also has a lowered bow and soft, forgiving rails for long glides and speed on the open ocean





STAND AND DELIVER ‘I’ve been involved with water sports since I was about three years old,’ says Chris Bertish, SUP extraordinaire and a modern-day incarnate of the pure waterman. ‘Of course I was going to get involved with an activity that has so much potential, is great for cross-training and gets you out in the ocean in all conditions.’ Bertish is as multifaceted as the sport that’s brought him national colours, passport stamps and fame. (He finished seventh at the World SUP Championships in Peru earlier this year.) There’s the wellrehearsed public speaker and often-interviewed sportsman who, when quizzed about why he does what he does, gushes quotes like, ‘I’m four years younger than my brothers and never wanted to get left behind. That’s what drove me to be so super-focused, competitive and goaloriented.’ People familiar with the ‘other’ Bertish allow him the clichés. They know the real one. They know that when he tells journalists he’s ‘more comfortable in the sea than on land’, he’s actually being sincere. This Bertish wears a faraway gaze when he talks about his ocean exploits. Such as when 23 humpback whales surrounded him on his board off Dassen Island in early January. For two hours they stayed with him and guided him out of impenetrable fog. If the story of how he got there (read it on is not inspirational enough, how he downplays it will be. ‘I don’t want to get all spiritual about it and all,’ says the 38-yearold Capetonian, ‘but I’ve been fortunate enough to have some amazing experiences in the ocean over the years. And nothing, nothing compares to that.’ Sure, if circumstances were similar it’s an encounter a kayaker may have had. The ultimate distinction, though, lies in the angle of view. New depths of field and lines of perspective emerge from up on an SUP, like when a photographer puts on a 15mm lens. Forget competition, training and transport. Forget adventure. Ask any SUPer why they love their sport, and somewhere among their words you’re guaranteed to get, ‘above the water rather than on it’. The analogy of ‘rising above’ applies more than aptly to Bertish, who’s never been a professional athlete and has had to chase his sporting dreams while doing a full-time job. The sacrifices he’s made and the challenges he’s overcome form the basis of his motivational lectures. That, and how changing your perspective to a positive, upstanding one, will change your life.

HOW TO They’re doing it everywhere from Emmarentia Dam and Midmar to Tietiesbaai on the West Coast. A secondhand board costs about R5 000 and a lesson is recommended. To find out more, contact Ocean Riders on 082 454 0398, go to or email Bird sense – pilots have a variometer that indicates when they’re climbing, but they’re always in tune with their surroundings, watching trees, the sea and the birds for clues of wind shifts and weather changes With thanks to Nikon and Lexar ISSUE 18 P R I V A T E E D I T I O N 7 5


The Hare’s Breadth Japanese netsuke not only tell witty and sometimes wicked tales – a prize piece also sells for a pretty penny. Words MARIANNE HERON

‘…OR DID CHARLES UNWRAP THEM one by one,  finding my favourite tiger turning in surprise on a branch of bamboo, carved in ivory at the end of the 18th century in Osaka; or the rats looking up as they are caught on the husk of a dried-out fish? Did he fall in love with the startlingly pale hare with the amber eyes, and buy the rest for company?’ Smaller than a matchbox and with all the cachet of precious collectables, Japanese netsuke (pronounced nets-ki) are exquisite. And, as evidenced by the enchanting netsuke described above in Edmund de Waal’s The Hare with the Amber Eyes (Vintage Books), the subject matter of these intricate carvings is immensely varied, ranging from fables to caricatures of early European arrivals in Japan, and from the animals of the zodiac to erotica. Netsuke became a recognised art form in the late 1600s. Both functional and decorative, they were used to hang sagemono (receptacles for storage) from the obi, or belt, with which traditional kimonos were tied (kimonos had no pockets). The toggles were in everyday use throughout the Edo period (1603−1868), which brought 250 years of stability to Japan, and the Meiji period (1868−1912), when the country emerged as a modern nation, and then went out of fashion along with the kimono. Earlier pieces were



usually made of ivory or wood but later on horn, lacquer, coral, jade, metal and ceramic were also used. There are four main forms of netsuke: katabori, the most common type, are round and sculptural; sashi are elongated; kagamibuta are spherical and lidded; whereas manju are round and flat. De Waal’s compelling history of the Ephrussi banking dynasty, woven around a collection of netsuke, has inspired great curiosity in this art form. And, happily, that curiosity can be richly satisfied in Cape Town, where there is a littleknown but significant collection on permanent display at the South African Jewish Museum. Western interest in netsuke was piqued in 1870 after art historian Charles, scion of the fabulously wealthy Jewish Ephrussi family, bought a collection of 264 netsuke in Paris when Japanese artifacts where all the rage with the French beau monde. At that time, after two centuries of seclusion, Japan had recently opened to the Western world following US Commodore Perry’s successful agreement with the islands in 1854 and France rapidly became an important trading partner. Inherited by Charles’s relatives, the collection of netsuke was taken to Vienna and hidden by a family servant during the Holocaust when the rest of the family’s property and possessions were confiscated by the Nazis. In 1947 the netsuke were taken back to Japan by Edmund’s great-uncle in order to repatriate them.

[Opposite] In a specimen of enchanting detail, an ivory pine cone opens to reveal the figures of Jo and Uba, characters from a popular Noh play. Symbols of longevity and happy marriage, the elderly couple guard a sacred pine forest

The subject matter of these intricate carvings is immensely varied, ranging from fables to caricatures of early European arrivals in Japan, and from the animals of the zodiac to erotica.

ISSUE 18 P R I V A T E E D I T I O N 0 0


Just one year earlier, Isaac Kaplan began collecting netsuke in Cape Town. His interest was triggered by a collection of ivory statuettes brought back to the Cape by Louis Kushlick, his business partner’s brother, who had been working in Japan. Over a 30-year period, Kaplan collected more than 600 netsuke, buying them through auction houses on visits to London, and acquiring (with Dr Toddy Schrire) the important Boonzaier collection of netsuke. After the death of Kaplan and his wife, Jessie, their children donated the collection to the South African Jewish Museum, which they had built in their parents’ memory. Since the publication of De Waal’s book, the exhibition has been attracting growing interest. ‘The book has helped to raise the profile of netsuke,’ confirms musuem director Gavin Morris. ‘It is one of Cape Town’s best-kept secrets, given that it is in the Jewish Museum – not necessarily a place where you’d expect to find it.’ Tucked in an intimate corner of the award-winning museum, the netsuke are on show in individual, lit cases, alongside Kaplan’s desk, where he catalogued his acquisitions and taught himself Japanese. Also displayed on a touch screen to satisfy visitors’ desire to see them in greater detail, the netsuke have also worked their magic on museum security guard Malibongwe Makapela. He became

intrigued, learning everything he could about them, and in due course was asked by former museum director Shea Albert to join the staff as a guide to the netsuke. Makapela’s stories are part of the charm of visiting the exhibition. ‘I found that I was interested in the background. I wanted to know more about where and how Mr Kaplan got the netsuke,’ explains Makapela. ‘I was so fascinated by the story behind one of the exhibits. It was the tale of two fishermen, Ashinaga and Tenaga, who couldn’t catch fish in the river even though they tried. The reason was that one had long legs and short arms, and the other had long arms and short legs. The moral of the story was that they had to work together.’ These fascinating objects have a way of lodging in the imagination: one piece in ivory, coral, gold and buffalo horn depicts Koronbo, a South Sea Islander. Koronbo squats as he heaves up a piece of coral larger than himself. Among the most rare pieces are a seated ivory deer (a harbinger of good fortune) by master carver Tomotada, or possibly his pupil, Okatomo, and a pine cone in silver and gold by Naosada that opens to reveal Jo and Uba, an elderly couple symbolic of marital bliss and immortality. This is an art form where the devil truly is in the most minute detail, as is the case with the netsuke by Kagetoshi, of the fabled character Rosei dreaming of success in a

Some master netsuke carvers had a special knack for capturing fleeting moments and elusive moods. This ivory piece, bought by celebrated Cape Town collector Isaac Kaplan in 1946, depicts a pensivelooking mother reclining to nurse her baby


[Above, from left) Kaplan took great care in logging his netsuke purchases in records now housed at the South African Jewish Museum; immortalised making a meal of a monkey, this prized ivory wolf changed hands for a mere £6,50 more than 65 years ago

palace, among people so tiny that you need a magnifying glass to see them. Sometimes the detail literally is a devil, like the boxwood carving of the dragon witch Kiyohime coiled around a temple bell under which she trapped the monk who spurned her love. Today netsuke are highly collectable. ‘There are many collectors and the International Netsuke Society have chapters in many countries. They are a particularly attractive art form because they are easily transportable,’ says Mark Hinton, director of the Japanese department at Christie’s London. Associated art forms like sagemono and ojime (bead-like cord fasteners) are often collected together with netsuke. Kaplan’s records show that, in 1946, he paid between £5 and £6,50 each for three ivory netsuke: one of a mother nursing her child, another of two quails standing among millet, and a third of a wolf devouring a monkey. Since then, interest in netsuke has grown, spiking in the 1960s thanks to the influence of people like Raymond Bushell, a US lawyer who worked in Japan for 30 years and took collecting to a new level, amassing a collection of more than 6 000 pieces. Prices have risen accordingly. ‘Good netsuke can fetch as much as £250 000. One even went for £500 000 recently – but you can buy interesting pieces from £1 500 to £2 000,’ says Hinton.

Many factors dictate the value of a netsuke, according to Hinton. It could be a matter of taste, the changing whims of collectors determining the desirability of certain pieces. Other factors at play are the quality of the carving, the particular artist, and whether the subject matter is especially attractive. Netsuke make a good investment. ‘Anyone who has bought in the last 10 years should be very chuffed, as prices have stood up very well,’ Hinton confirms. The piece after which The Hare with the Amber Eyes was named, along with the rest of De Waal’s collection, is now in his Edwardian home in London, in a vitrine he calls his Wunderkammer: ‘my world of things… my secret history of touch’. The door of the cabinet is left unlocked so that his children can open it and play with its contents. ‘I put some of the netsuke on display: the wolf, the medlar, the hare with amber eyes, a dozen more, and when I next look they have been moved around,’ he writes. ‘A rat, curled up asleep, has been pushed to the front. I open the glass door and pick it up. I slip it into my pocket, put the dog on the lead and leave for work… the netsuke begin again.’ The South African Jewish Museum is at 88 Hatfield Street, Cape Town. It’s open from Sunday to Thursday from 10am−5pm, and on Fridays from 10am−2pm. For more information, call 021 465 1546.

ISSUE 19 P R I V A T E E D I T I O N 7 3


Showing Some Teeth They’re huge and expensive, and require endless socialisation. Some are so aggressive they’ll smash through plate-glass windows. At the top end of the market, the superdog is fetching millions.





[Opposite] The Tibetan Mastiff is one of the dog breeds that’s becoming more than a prized possession for wealthy owners. These magnificent beasts are highly valued as guard dogs BIG SPLASH certainly looks a million dollars. By anyone’s standards, he’s a gorgeous creature – more blow-dried lion than dog, with a rich, red coat. But he cost quite a lot more than that, actually. In 2011 he sailed into the record books when his coal-baron owner paid 10 million yuan (about R14,2 million) for him. He was transported to his new home in an armoured vehicle and subsists on a diet of beef, abalone and shrimp. His fee saw him knock Yangtze River Number Two, who was sold in 2009 for 4 million yuan, off the top spot. Like Big Splash, Yangtze River Number Two is a Tibetan mastiff whose purchase made world headlines – not least because, when he touched down in the city of Xi’an, he was met at the airport by a motorcade of 30 black limousines. Welcome to China, the world’s fastestgrowing economy, where millionaires are made every day and the newly rich are snapping up an ancient breed. In the last two years, the number of Chinese households with assets worth more than one million dollars rose by 16 percent. And although pet ownership was once banned by the Communist government, wealthy Chinese are now acquiring Tibetan mastiffs in droves, spurred on by the most capitalist of motives. A large beautiful dog that costs a huge amount to keep is an eloquent status symbol. But the breed is also known to be aggressive and fiercely protective of its owners and their homes. Just the thing for fending off burglars who still believe all property is theft. It would be easy to dismiss all this as more evidence that the rich have far too much money. Yet even people who don’t have that much that could be stolen are coming round to the appeal of a hefty canine companion. ‘Spending on dogs is holding up extremely well,’ confirms anthropologist John Bradshaw. ‘They seem recession-proof. We’ve seen this during the early ’90s and it’s happening again now. The thinking has always been that dogs fall somewhere between possessions and people. But in economic terms, they’re definitely being treated more like people.’ And it’s a certain group of dog breeds − the Molosser − that has seen a spike in popularity.

This family of powerful, muscular dogs, originally bred to protect livestock from wolves, bears and lions, includes the Tibetan mastiff, the Anatolian shepherd (first introduced to South Africa to guard herds from cheetahs, now sequestered to suburban homes) and the Caucasian Ovcharka. ‘Enquiries about Caucasian Ovcharkas have tripled recently,’ says Eddie Allnutt of Euro Puppy, a Budapest-based company that connects breeders and owners in more than 100 countries. ‘I’ve been working at Euro Puppy for 10 years, and there’s never been as much interest in them as in the last two.’ Devoted to their family and aloof with strangers, Ovcharkas are widely regarded as the finest guard dogs in the world. They were once used by the Soviet Army to patrol the Berlin Wall (the Soviets initially tried to train them using aversive stimuli, but it didn’t work because the breed is almost impervious to pain). When the Wall came down in 1989, many of the 7 000 dogs left jobless found homes with German owners. These owners discovered that, once they reached the age of two, the dogs cared for little else but guarding. If pushed, they would kill to protect their owners. ‘These are dogs for people who need serious protection – those who have a high net worth or whose jobs put them at risk,’ says Canadian breeder Katie Parry. ‘We get a lot of prison guards and policemen who work on violentcrimes units. And people who live in isolated areas. I live between the highest-security prison in Canada and the mental institution for the criminally insane. And I sleep like the dead.’ Parry shares her home with three Ovcharkas. She says that, whenever they go somewhere they haven’t been before, her dog Jade will make a quick sweep of the room, like a security detail checking for bugs, before positioning herself by the door. She will stay there in a state of ‘calm watchfulness’ until Parry is ready to leave. Breeders test Ovcharka pups for something called active defence reaction (ADR) at around three weeks, and Jade has a medium/high ADR. This means that if a man stopped them on the street to ask

a question, Jade might growl but she wouldn’t attack unless Parry seemed scared. Dogs with a higher ADR don’t wait to get the nod from their owners. Cases of Ovcharkas smashing plateglass windows in pursuit of a perceived threat, even if it’s just the delivery guy, are common. ‘You’ll need a chain-link fence and [burglar bars] on the windows, because these dogs will go though them, especially if they think that “their” person is in danger,’ says Parry. ‘You can socialise them all you want but training is skin deep. Instinct goes to the bone.’ Socialising Jade has been an ongoing and exhaustive process. Parry has had to train her to recognise the difference between the sound of someone hammering on the door and, say, Parry knocking her arm on the wall by accident, otherwise Jade will ‘aggress’ unnecessarily. Anyone buying an Ovcharka will face a similar job of work as long as the dog is alive. They are not for the casual owner, and Parry refuses to sell to most people who make enquiries. Yet demand is growing. Breeders have their own theories as to why this is. ‘When the crime rate goes up, it’s the big guard dogs that become more popular,’ says Allnutt, ‘the Rottweiler, the Doberman and the Caucasian Ovcharka.’ ‘People are worried about crime,’ agrees British breeder Brian Pike. ‘Trainers all say the same thing: a good dog will put off the wrong type of person.’ The fact that crime has actually gone down, rather than up, hardly matters. (Violent and acquisitive crimes have dropped in both the US and the UK. In South Africa there’s been a reduction in all seven categories of contact crime, while the murder rate was down 3,1 percent in 2011-2012, according to SAPS statistics released last year.) What’s significant is that when the credit crunch hit, analysts made bleak predictions that the downturn would see crime figures soar. And we listened. As the recession wears on, economists like Benjamin Friedman have tracked us becoming less tolerant, less optimistic, less open and increasingly reactionary in our politics. Right now, it seems we’re ready to let the dogs out. Whether or not we’re millionaires.

ISSUE 19 P R I V A T E E D I T I O N 7 5


The Life Aquatic It’s not where you swim in the Maldives that counts. It’s what you swim with... Words BRIAN BERKMAN

BETWEEN MAY AND NOVEMBER in the Maldives, the southwest monsoon traps plankton in Hanifaru Bay in a space no bigger than a soccer field. The rich concentration is enough to draw manta rays and whale sharks and, in their wake, a few privileged divers who get to swim with them. In June 2011, Unesco declared the Baa Atoll a protected Biosphere Reserve – and this is also one of the few places on earth where whale sharks gather to mate. The ‘golden circle’ closest to this magical experience must be Anantara Kihavah Villas on Kihavah Huravalhi, one of the most pristine Maldivian islands, just 35 minutes by seaplane from Malé International Airport. Considering that the resort only opened in February 2011, your visit places you among the pinnacle percentile of people able to access



this phenomenon. As an Anantara Kihavah Villas guest you reach these waters within 20 minutes on the hotel’s launch. It isn’t the high thread count of the resort’s linen that impresses you but rather its Green Globe certification, a worldwide accreditation that measures the sustainable operation and management of travel and tourism businesses. You know that the Maldives carries the scars of climate change, with coral bleached and decimated in parts from the changing sea temperatures, so you’re keen to contribute to Anantara’s coral-adoption project. You’ll see the Anantara ‘A’, an artificial reef assembled by coral frames first grown in the hotel’s coral nursery, from the air when you fly in – and you’ll snorkel around it when you’re there, especially if you’re staying in one of the over-

water villas that curl around this underwater nursery like protective hands. Sponsoring a frame costs between R917 and R2 750, and the resort’s marine biologist updates images of the growing coral to a dedicated website every three months. It’s easy to wade to most of the coral, and you can join the marine biologist (masks and snorkels are provided upon check-in) as she maintains and replants frames. The faster-growing acropora coral such as staghorn and table coral cover the frame structure completely within a year, whereas some slower-growing species will be introduced once the coral colonies are well established. Fragments from fully grown frames are either transplanted onto new structures or relocated onto the natural reef where they can expand over time, gradually

Manta rays are elusive, fast-moving and listed as vulnerable by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature – to get up close and personal to one is a precious opportunity. [Opposite] Your base: from this perspective Anantara Kihavah Villas even looks like a sea creature. It’s design affords direct access to the ocean from each of the 78 units

ISSUE 18 P R I V A T E E D I T I O N 8 1


A 35-minute hop from Malé International Airport on the main island, this is the scene that will greet you as you disembark the seaplane. [Opposite] The rooftop deck at Sky – the cherry on top of a multi-level dining complex called Sea.Fire.Salt.Sky – offers the perfect end to a thrilling day exploring the water wonderland on your doorstep: a cocktail to match the view




attracting more coral and reversing the impact of climate change. If what the sea holds is too adventurous for a daily lap, you’ll be pleased to discover that all 78 Kihavah Villas have private pools. The great thing about their design is the fact that you can flop from your hammock into your pool and into the sea. If you’re in one of the over-water villas, you can roll from your glass-bottomed bath, through the glass doors that open all the way to welcome the balmy breeze, into the rimflow pool and then, literally, you’re two steps away from the sea that is truly more blue than any photograph could suggest. By contrast, if you’re staying in a Beach Villa, you’ll be walking on the beach sand the moment you step out of your private pool.

At Kihavah it’s all about being one with the water. That’s why, even though each villa has its own pool, the resort also boasts one of the biggest ‘public’ pools in the Maldives. Not surprising that it’s listed on every notable hot list. Villas range between 260m2 and 2 730m2, but you’ll probably want one of two- or three-bedroom residences. The island is the exclusive domain of Anantara Kihavah Villas, and security and privacy are paramount all over – you’ll appreciate it especially if you’re in one of the beach villas where the open-air bathrooms are surrounded by high walls and sheltered by palm fronds. When you’re not snorkelling with the manta rays, having a private dinner on the

beach or on a nearby hideaway island, or simply reconnecting with yourself and loved ones over shared activities like cooking with the chefs or creative workshops with the resident artist, you marvel at how each leaf seems to fall into place effortlessly and the footsteps in the sand get brushed away when you’re not looking.

You’re at the top of your game and you expect everyone else to be too. At a room rate that can set you back up to R165 000 per night, Anantara Kihavah Villas in the Maldives is accessed by the select few. Plan your visit between May and November in order to swim with the manta rays and whale sharks. To find out more or book, go to

ISSUE 19 P R I V A T E E D I T I O N 7 9





[Top, from left] This year’s theme, ‘Made to fly’, gave wings to the imagination; Ritza Janse Van Rensburg; the best-dressed awards had punters pulling all the style stops. [Centre, from left] Roxy Louw and Miss SA 2012 Marilyn Ramos; J&B in the mix; the talent on the track. [Bottom, from left] Sitting pretty; Jen Su; Leigh-Anne Williams

A Cut Above The MTN Prestige programme’s exclusive members know full well that in the realm of loyalty perks they reap the most coveted rewards.


POSSIBLY ONE OF South Africa’s most celebrated outdoor social and sporting events, the J&B Met merged equestrian prowess with high fashion for the 36th time at the Kenilworth Race Course in Cape Town in February 2013. Tradition and pageantry may well constitute the core of this historical horse race, but ground-breaking haute couture that challenges conventions, celebrates bold attitudes or simply astounds have become just as much a part of the Met. The scene was set for a day of decadence and debauchery: celebrities mingled with the rich and famous as well as the movers and shakers while the African sun shone down and

the blustery Cape wind ruffled feathers and fascinators alike. Racing enthusiasts got to inspect the talent and bet on their favourite horses. Win or lose, the MTN Prestige VIP oasis allowed exhausted revellers to immerse themselves in a luxurious calm in the midst of the hustle and bustle. At this by-invitation-only MTN Prestige event, guests were pampered at every turn with French Champagne and witty banter, never-ending platters of perfectly presented canapés, and prime views of the track. Spectators showed their appreciation for every winner, whether they had backed it or not, and simply admired the bravery and

stamina of these wonderful horses. Guests were overheard discussing favoured destinations to experience luxury in London, trading insider tips for shopping in Milan and exchanging business cards and ideas that were made to fly. Guests from a range of South African industries were invited, so business networking against the backdrop of a vibrant event made for a potent mix of work and play. ‘It’s not just about giving our MTN Prestige members access to these superb events,’ says Ryan Gould, MTN’s General Manager for Brand and Communications, ‘but also about creating experiences that are unforgettable and networking opportunities that are meaningful.

ISSUE 19 P R I V A T E E D I T I O N 8 1


‘It’s not just about giving our MTN Prestige members access to these superb events, but also about creating experiences that are unforgettable and networking opportunities that are meaningful.’ – Ryan Gould faulty phones, unlimited access to airport lounges, as well as priority routing in the MTN call centre. MTN Prestige has created exclusive events for members to enjoy cycling, polo, golf, international music events and now, the J&B Met. It doesn’t matter which horse you back at Kenilworth – when it comes to your communications partner, the smart money is with MTN.

To find out more, go to

[Top, from left] KaylieAnn Bosch and Peter Coutsourides; the tension was palpable track-side; some fascinators proved their name right. [Above] Nicky van der Walt and Lee-Ann Liebenberg. [Left, from left] Jeannie D; Yolanda Mbuli and Kabelo Ramothata




Creating connections between people is what we do best and today is a manifestation of exactly that. It is important for us to hand-pick events around the country, to ensure that we have an opportunity to show our gratitude to our MTN Prestige members for their loyalty and support.’ Gould explains that MTN Prestige is an invitation-only programme for individual and corporate customers, with coveted perks that include an annual upgrade, membership to South Africa’s leading lifestyle management and concierge service, instant swap-outs for


Mac the ‘Nose’ Why master whisky blender Ian MacMillan stays pure to form.




A FIERY AND HILARIOUS MAN, Ian MacMillan proves to be unbeatable lunchtime company. Knows a thing or two about liquor too, he does. ‘Balfron, I’m from,’ he regales – this is the village in Stirlingshire, Scotland, where, during a college summer break in 1972, he rolled barrels at a local malt distillery, Glengoyne. Fancy a full-time job?, the manager asked, which was an intriguing idea – until the youngster told his parents. ‘They were devastated,’ he says. ‘The immediate thought was, “You’re going to become an alcoholic.”’ In time, their son’s decision would make them proud. He night-schooled his business studies, later on pursuing organic chemistry, and lit out into the whisky world, learning mashing and distilling as a shift worker at Glengoyne before

[Far left] Imposing Bunnahabhain, meaning ‘river mouth’, hugs the Sound of Islay on the northeastern shore of the Queen of the Hebrides. [Left] MacMillan has to answer for every drop of whisky bottled here

entering management at a Glasgow grain distillery. He moved to London, getting the gen on gin, found a stepping stone at an operation in Perthshire, then landed at Burn Stewart Distillers, where he was tasked with reviving two ‘run-down’ facilities as well as managing Bunnahabhain, located since 1881 on the rugged Isle of Islay. MacMillan’s been with the company for 21 years – his card reads ‘Head of Distilleries’ – and, in an industry employing thousands, he believes he is one of the few to have gone through its every production process. ‘I can’t send anyone to do a job I haven’t done myself,’ he says. A further distinction: not only a Master Distiller, he is among a rare group of people in Scotland – a dozen is his estimate – recognised as Master Blenders.

‘The Master Distiller has overall responsibility for the quality and consistency of the distillate going into the casks for maturation,’ he says. ‘Once the whisky is maturing and matured, the Master Blender is similarly responsible for the liquid that goes into every bottle.’ To execute these duties, MacMillan relies on managerial teams he’s personally selected and trained. They are more than tools serving an organisational need: in an era of robotised distilleries, he considers them irreplaceable. Artificial additives are legally prohibited in the manufacture of Scotch whisky and only three ingredients allowed: malted barley, water and yeast. To this, lauding the pride of traditional distiller communities, MacMillan adds a fourth: ‘the people who make it’. Automation does

ISSUE 19 P R I V A T E E D I T I O N 8 5


lead to consistency, yes: consistent ‘blandness’. Removing the human element takes away the identity of the whisky, he believes, and ‘destroys the myth of Scotch as a handcrafted product’. No such element is more crucial or specifically human than the Master Blender. His acumen depends on a singular talent, hemmed in by everyday safeguards: ‘top-quality organoleptic ability’. Come again? ‘The ability to nose; to taste.’ A common cold, for instance, means production delays, so staying healthy is important. ‘One thing I don’t drink is coffee, which leaves a horrible coating in your mouth you can’t get rid of – you need a toothbrush to brush your teeth and gums,’ he says. It’s tea and cranberry juice, stuff like that; no strongly flavoured foods. Smoke? ‘God, no. I’d never smoke.’ Blending whiskies, he explains, ‘is like inviting guests to a dinner. Some are not particularly appealing on their own but when you blend them with the right people they become very interesting. ‘In other ways, I’m the conductor of an orchestra. In every category of malt whiskies you have the ones that would be the strings section – the floral, fruity, sweet – and on the other side’s the percussion section, with the drums, the real heavy-hitters. Then you’ve got the brass section, the nutty ones, and the woodwinds, with a slightly drier style. You have these different styles of whisky, and you’re

the conductor who brings the whole orchestra together in harmony.’ Although he’s anything but the old pipe-and-slippers type, MacMillan believes whisky should not only be produced but also drunk in the traditional way. Take chill filtration, for example. Originating in the 1970s, it prevents whisky from going hazy when ice or water is added to it – something perceived as a flaw when it’s precisely the sign of authenticity. ‘Marketing people wanted whisky to look pretty,’ he says, contending that ‘over 30 percent of the flavour, aroma, texture and colour is removed in the process.’ And so, after a rich conversation – some of it unfollowable, much unpublishable – the lunch hour nears its finale and the time comes for a tasting of the new unchill-filtered Bunnahabhain 12-year-old single malt. The liquid is decanted, a cube of ice released cracklingly into it – yes, there it is, that sign of the pure, an effusion stirring in the glass. Sniff, then sip. Startled blasphemies. Swooning ecstasies. The finest spirit this been-around-theblock writer has ever knocked back. At moments like these it’s easy to get rambling on about whisky and passion and that, but MacMillan interrupts. ‘It used to be passion for women!’ he laughs. ‘The thing is, as you get older… well, y’know, you have to find something else.’

SAVOIR FLAIR Renaud de Gironde seems the very model of a modern French winemaker: he has trained in New York and Chile, and has a master’s degree in wine business from The University of Adelaide. He speaks good English and is pragmatically open-minded about the best way to drink cognac – how you enjoy it most. When asked what he thinks of the South African tradition of mixing brandy and Coke, he doesn’t launch into a Gallic diatribe about barbarian tastes but smiles gently and says, ‘I’m sure it improves the Coke.’ He’s sharply aware of the cultural differences between the world’s biggest cognac markets: the US, with China rapidly catching up. In the US, cognac moved from being an older person’s conservative drink to a trendier beverage associated with rap music. The Chinese typically drink cognac throughout the meal, and De Gironde feels it complements many kinds of Chinese cuisine superbly. In China, a typical mix may be green tea with cognac, or cognac with ice and water. In Japan, on the other hand, cognac is an after-dinner or nightclub drink. For De Gironde, the challenge is to avoid cognac becoming a trendy drink – Hennessy’s aim is for sustainable associations with pleasure, emotion, sentiment.



Renaud may be cosmopolitan but he’s also part of a family whose links with Hennessy go back to 1800. His uncle Yann Fillioux is the firm’s current cellar master. De Gironde has various duties. He manages Hennessy’s relationships with 1 600 viticulturists who supply the grapes, and is one of the eight tasters who meet every day to taste the various eaux-de-vie that will be blended to make cognac. During the tasting, and celebration of the new bottle design (pictured) by Chris Bangle, De Gironde lets slip a business secret that may be worth as much as all those American management tomes that gave rise to cultures where unsupervised 25-year-old traders lose billions. The lesson deals with the way the tasting committee works to ensure that the classic taste of Hennessy is maintained, using the human palate and ingrained traditions. He says, for the first 10 years, you do not have the right to speak in the meeting – and he zips his lips with a rueful look. So, long before Malcolm Gladwell’s 10 000-hour rule, there was the Hennessy 10-year rule. When someone asks De Gironde whether he’s the youngest on the team, he grins and says, ‘No, and I have been there for 11 years now!’ – IAN GLENN


Getting to the top in the world of cognac starts with a vow of silence.


Mind-blowing Archery, flutes and model airplanes are all the same at a certain aerodynamic level. Leading flute maker Michael Botha says there’s a way of understanding arcane things that goes beyond mechanical sensitivity. IF YOU WANT TO BE A FLUTE MAKER, you have to be a bit OC, if you don’t have OCD. In fact, flautists say that when you blow across the hole, you lose your mind. ‘It’s the start of the madness,’ says Johannesburg flute maker Michael Botha. His knack of modifying the proportions of a flute’s asymmetric embouchure hole (‘that you blow over like a sophisticated beer bottle’) and optimising the instrument to produce ‘that sound’ has led to world renown for this labour lawyer. Flute making, however, is not his only passion. Botha began building model aircraft at the age of four and was a budding archer by 10. His skill with a bow and arrow made him a world-record holder and the World Indoor Veterans Champion in 2011. A fascination with the wind instrument came later, at 15, after he saw a picture of a ‘guy who looked like John Denver playing the flute. I thought he looked cool.’ When he heard musicians like Ian Anderson, leader and flautist of British rock band Jethro Tull, he was hooked. ‘It’s something to do with the purity of sound, the resonance that’s created with the breath coming out of your body and the feeling of air flowing under your fingers,’ he says.



Classical music followed in the late seventies when Botha studied music at Rhodes University and quickly established that he was by far no threat to the maestros of the day. Meanwhile, he’d met Albert Honey, a senior lecturer who had been one of the London Flute Players. ‘They were enormously influential. Honey had studied in France, the spiritual home of the modern flute, and had taught two of today’s eminent flute players, James Galway and William Bennett,’ says Botha. In addition, Botha had enjoyed an informal apprenticeship in instrument repair courtesy of the then South African government. As a member of the SA Army band during his national service, he’d discovered a room full of broken instruments waiting to be fixed. From a flute-making perspective, however, it was Honey’s friendship with Londoner Albert Cooper, whom Botha met in 1988, that was most beneficial. Cooper, who developed the Cooper Scale and revolutionised the modern flute and its head joint (voicebox) to suit industry trends, taught Botha the basics of making flute head joints. The key? Aerodynamics – what air does and how it behaves. And it’s Botha’s understanding and application of these principles that gives

him the edge. He says it goes beyond the mechanical, that there has to be a sensitivity to these things… ‘I have a reasonable ear for pitch – frequency or height – but an incredible ear for timbre – the “colour” of sound. That’s very important for head-joint making. You can blow a flute in tune but if the harmonics are incorrect it will sound funny. You have to get both right.’ The big things for Botha are experimentation and research. He’s currently developing a new head joint utilising the Coanda aerodynamic effect. Because it takes about 200 hours to build a flute, and the local market for new high-quality instruments is poor, Botha concentrates on flute modifications, overhauls and headjoint making, on request by professional and wealthy amateur players around the world. Other contributors to achieving ‘that sound’ are Botha’s padding of the flute and specification of the crown weight – the ‘little bit of jewellery on the end of the flute’. He fiddles with flutes most days but on Saturdays he runs free. ‘I disappear with my SUV full of model aircraft and bows and arrows so I that can be mellow and mild the rest of the week.’

Private Edition Issue 19  

Private Edition is an intelligent, often provocative, read. If there is one word that characterises the look of every issue, it is ‘glamour’...

Read more
Read more
Similar to
Popular now
Just for you