Wednesday, October 27, 2010

SA's smart set for The Daily Maverick's The Gathering

THE DAILY MAVERICK, Johannesburg, 26 Oct 2010

SA's smart set for The Daily Maverick's The Gathering, Zwelinzima Vavi, Michael Jordaan, Nic Dawes, Jovan Regasek and Ray Hartley are among the business, media and political heavyweights set to meet at The Daily Maverick's gathering of minds on the first Thursday of November.

Sandton, Friday 22 October 2010 – South Africa's top thinkers in business, politics and the media will be meeting for a day of analysis, discussion and ideas at The Daily Maverick's The Gathering, which is set to take place at The Theatre on the Square, in Sandton, on 4 November 2010.

The full-day session is all about clever people connecting, and talking on issues they know the best and care about most. "The Daily Maverick has established itself as the news and analysis site for people who matter, so it is fitting that our first gathering will feature well-connected, smart thinkers that intelligent people would most like to meet and hear from," says editor Branko Brkic.

Speakers at The Daily Maverick's first Gathering, with Kieno Kammies as MC, include:

Zwelinzima Vavi, general-secretary of Cosatu Michael Jordaan, CEO of First National Bank Nic Dawes, editor-in-chief of the Mail & Guardian Ray Hartley, Sunday Times editor Jovan Regasek, CEO of ITWeb Richard Mulholland, professional speaker most likely to be confused with a rock star Lauren Beukes, author of Zoo City and Moxyland Yusuf Abramjee, head of news and corporate affairs, Primedia Yvonne Johnston, brain-mother to Brand SA and marketer-at-large Khaya Dlanga, prolific blogger and troublemaker Ivo Vegter, columnist and analyst Terry Annecke, operations director of BlackStone Tek Victor Dlamini, chairman of Chillibush Stephen Grootes, Eyewitness News reporter Mike Ratcliffe, Wine marketing guru & owner of Warwick & Vilafonté wine estates, Toby Shapshak, editor of Stuff magazine

The Gathering will stretch over the course of one business day and Brkic guarantees that people who participate won't leave without having their ideas challenged. "The Daily Maverick is creating a forum that will bring people who matter together. We want to offer our readers access to the thinking of some of the most influential people in this country."

To keep things intimate and interactive, seating at The Gathering is limited and only 150 guests will make it through the door.

Tickets have been selling swiftly, but there are still a few open spaces. Those who want to be a part of the event can e-mail for more details or to make a booking. Bookings are offered on a first come, first served basis.

A small number of seats are available, at a heavily discounted price, to full-time students.

The Gathering A conference by The Daily Maverick 4 November Theatre on the Square Sandton Johannesburg Seats available at R2 800

Contact or go to


Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Top London wine merchant Handford Wines celebrates 21st anniversary with Warwick Trilogy

Top London Wine Merchant Handford Wines Celebrates their 21st Anniversary In Style with a Prestigious Tasting of the Greatest Wines of the World from 1989 (including Warwick Estate and Meerlust!) 1989 - 2010 The 12th of August 2010 officially marked the dawning of a new era for Handford Wines, the London based wine merchant specialising in premium fine wine from the Old World and South Africa, and on the 6th of October 2010, Handford Wines hosted one of the most exclusive and exciting fine wine events of the year so far, paring 24 wines from 1989 with 24 contemporary releases from the same wineries.

Drawing renowned journalists such as Steven Spurrier (Decanter Associate Editor), Neal Martin from, Quentin Johnson from and Chris Kissick from, ensured the event was well attended by some of the leading opinion makers on the vibrant UK wine scene.
Among the glamorous array of fine wines from around the world, many of which were donated from the personal cellars of the proprietors, were the spectacular South African pairings of Meerlust Rubicon 1989 and 2006 and Warwick Estate Trilogy 1989 and 2007.

"The idea was to show premium wines from wineries around the world that have supported Handford wines for all these years and helped make us what we are today - "one of the best indie merchants in London" accordingly to, among others, journalist Neal Martin. Mike Ratcliffe and Hannes Myburgh / Chris Williams were very obliging and ensured we received the best archive stock from the deepest and darkest corners of their wineries" said Greg Sherwood MW, Handford Wine's senior wine buyer. "We thought it only fitting that wines such as Trilogy and Rubicon should be poured along side global icons such as Mouton Rothschild, Montrose, Palmer, Vega Sicilia Unico, Tignanello, and Clos du Val from Napa Valley. After all, the same private clients who are buying these old world icons are also buying cases of Trilogy and Rubicon weekly" commented James Handford MW, the managing director and founder of Handford Wines.

After recently winning the highly competitive "Small London Wine Merchant of the Year: Runner-Up Award" at the Decanter World Wine Awards in September 2010, Handford Wines are eagerly looking forward to another 21 years of success and hope to be able to pour an entire table of South African icon wines next time around.

"The Meerlust 1989 and Trilogy 1989 were among the favourite wines of the night with some of the most flattering comments coming from the journalists and our highly "wine educated" private clients. We can't say we were surprised though!" commented Greg Sherwood, currently the fourth and last South African to be awarded the prestigious Master of Wine qualification.

Monday, October 18, 2010

The ultimate Hong Kong status symbol for the wine-lover

Mike Ratcliffe
Warwick Estate & Vilafonte
P.O.Box 2 Elsenburg, 7607, South Africa


Warwick Wine Dinner - Kempinski Hotel

Beijing, September 2010; On October 15, 2010, Kempinski Hotel Beijing and boutique distributor EMW Fine Wines are proud to host a unique wine-tasting dinner. Taking place in Kranzler’s restaurant, this is a not-to-be-missed opportunity to sample one of the most exciting wineries in South Africa - Warwick Estate.

Warwick Estate is a family-owned and run winery in the famous Stellenbosch region. The land was purchased by Stan & Norma Ratcliffe in 1964, at which time not a single vine grew on the farm. However, The Ratcliffes soon realized the potential of the terroir and began planting Cabernet Sauvignon. The Cabernet Sauvignon vines yielded grapes of notably high quality, which were soon in demand from wholesalers and other wineries. Norma became increasingly interested in the wine-making process, and began to study the subject. Eventually a cellar was in place, and in 1984 the first Warwick vintage was released (a Cabernet Sauvignon). Since 1986, “The Trilogy”, a Bordeaux-style blend, soon became one of the flagships of the South African wine industry. Norma Ratcliffe became her country’s first female winemaker. She even has a wine – “The First Lady” – named after her.

Tom Stevenson, a prolific wine author and regarded as the world’s leading authority on Champagne, holds Warwick Estate in high regard: “Rich, complex wines make Warwick one of the youngest, smallest, and most exciting boutique wineries on the Cape winemaking scene.” In addition, Warwick has implemented an environmental-friendly approach to viticulture, refraining from using pre-emergent herbicides in its vineyards.

At the event, guests will have the opportunity to meet Norma and her son Mike Ratcliffe, the Managing Director of Warwick Estate, and can also sample a hand-picked selection of her wines, including “The First Lady” (Cabernet Sauvignon, 2008), “The Trilogy” (Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, 2007), “Old Bush Vines” (Pinotage, 2008) and “The Professor Black” (Sauvignon Blanc, 2009). The wines will be paired with a specially-crafted menu prepared by Executive Chef Thomas Laberer and his team.

In addition to the wine dinner, Warwick wines will also be available at Kempinski Hotel Beijing from October 1 to November 30, 2010.

Warwick Dinner Ticket: RMB 498 per person and subject to 15% surchargeTo reserve tickets, or for more information, please call our F&B Information Desk: 010-6410 4200

Monday, October 11, 2010

Mountain wines

By Stephen Quinn (China Daily)

The oldest and best wine region in South Africa is around Stellenbosch, a short drive from Cape Town on the country's southern coast. Vines have been grown there since the late 17th century.

High mountains produce a micro-climate that is three to four degrees warmer in summer and a similar number of degrees cooler in winter. This produces a longer ripening period. The best way to visit the vineyards is to take the famous wine routes, established in 1971. The five current routes take you past 148 vineyards. The high number of vineyards also means that prices are competitive. A good time to visit, if you like crowds, is to attend the Stellenbosch Wine Festival, usually held in June each year.

I visited Warwick Estate in early July, just after the festival. The estate started in 1770 as a fruit farm. The Ratcliffe family planted vines in 1964 and winemaking started two decades later. Norma Ratcliffe became one of South Africa's first female winemakers.

Warwick's flagship red, the Trilogy (a traditional Bordeaux blend of cabernet sauvignon, cabernet franc and merlot), was selected in Wine Spectator's top 100 wines around the world for a second time in 2009. I tasted the 2007 Trilogy and, though still young, it had a distinct cigar box aroma and tasted of dark chocolate. The wine receives 24 months in French oak (40 percent new), so it exhibits a dusty tannic structure. This means Trilogy should be cellared for at least eight years after vintage. At about $34 (about 230 yuan) a bottle from the vineyard, it is a bargain.

Another standout wine was the Old Bush Vines pinotage 2008, another bargain at about $13. Pinotage is a grape variety conceived at the University of Stellenbosch, a hybrid made from pinot noir and shiraz. Pinot noir struggles in the South African climate but the hybrid flourishes because of the influence of the more rugged shiraz. Another excellent Warwick wine is the Three Cape Ladies, a blend of pinotage, cabernet sauvignon and shiraz. It sells for $15. It also receives solid oak treatment, this time 23 months in French oak (40 percent new). And it should be cellared for up to a decade before being consumed.

Warwick Estate wines are available in China from East Meets West Fine Wines at 988 Shanxi Bei Road in Shanghai.

Stephen Quinn traveled to Cape Town courtesy of the South African Tourist Board.