Bollinger Service Excellence Awards to be announced at Swartland Revolution in November

The following sommeliers have been identified that will compete for the Boliinger Service Excellence Awards:


Francis Krone – The Saxon Hotel
Mike Buthelezi – Signature Restaurant
Erick Sikhosana – Hyatt Hotel, Rosebank
David Bronner – Ciao! Italian Mediterranean Kitchen
Brilliant Mathelumusa – Southern Sun Fourways
Sean Trollip – Kream Restaurant
Tebo Buthelezi – Casalinga Ristorante
Gareth Ferreira – The Saxon Hotel
Isaac Kubheka – The Butcher Shop & Grill
Ane Erwee – Brasserie de Paris


Kerry Bartlett – 9th Ave Bistro
Haroon Haffajee – Harvey’s Restaurant
Graham Steyn – Harvey’s Restaurant

North West Province

Mercy T Zendera – Makanyane Safari Lodge, Madikwe

Western Cape

Carl Heinz Habel – Mount Nelson Hotel
Josephine Gutentoft – Grande Roche Hotel
Philip Erasmus – Cape Grace Hotel
Wayne Kolevsohn – Le Quartier Francais
Gidi Caetano – French Toast Wine & Tapas Bar
Pieter Brahm Steenkamp – Sofia’s at Morgenster Estate
Kris Snyman – Delaire Graff Estate
Nick Botton – Kitima at Kronendal
Eric Botha – One&Only Hotel
Gregory Mutambe – The Twelve Apostles Hotel
David Nell – La Colombe at Constantia Uitsig
Dominic Bowers – The Table Bay Hotel
Howard Booysen – Aubergine Restaurant

Eastern Cape

Shaun Abbott – Amaze Restaurant
Sbonelo Hasa – La Cuisinette
Stanton Hammond – La Cuisinette



By Anelde Greeff – Wednesday, June 22, 2011

“Sorry, it’s chaos here. Going from a 50-seater to a 500-seater restaurant is a change, I can tell you. Logistically it’s a nightmare!” So said David Higgs, Eat Out Chef of the Year 2010 and, until recently, executive chef of Rust en Vrede, during a hurried phone interview on day two of his new job.

Said new job is senior chef of the 110 square metre Radisson Blu Gautrain Hotel in Johannesburg. David was approached by the hotel earlier in the year and jumped at the opportunity to work in Johannesburg – a city whose dining scene has been under much debate this past year.

“It’s a very exciting, diverse city, and I’ve always been one to challenge myself. Plus, I’ve never worked in a hotel. I’ve had experience in almost every other part of the industry – from working in a restaurant, to industrial catering and catering for Woolworths, a school and weddings. I’ve literally done almost everything, and I really do think I have something to offer here.”

In addition to overseeing all the hotel’s food, David will be heading up itsCentral One Bar & All Day Restaurant, which will undergo a major aesthetic and culinary facelift. He will draw inspiration from multiple Michelin-starred chef Joel Robuchon’s L’Atelier brand.

“We’re going to warm it up a little bit. Joburg has a big after-work crowd, and we need to be able to give them some great cocktails and really good music. And, obviously, we want to try and entice them to stay in the restaurant. That’s your biggest challenge in hotel restaurants: getting people in, and then keeping them in.”

David and his new employer are still busy finalising the menus, but we can expect modern comfort food – not fine dining – at breakfast, lunch and dinner. David is extremely excited about his new challenge, albeit a bit emotional about leaving South Africa’s number one restaurant.

“It was the dream job! Rust en Vrede is such a wonderful restaurant and I had carte blanche – owner Jean Engelbrecht left me to do whatever I wanted to, as long as it worked. It was difficult to leave, but sometimes you feel like a bit of a change. After all, it’s not just about creating the food – you can create the plate that the food gets served on; you can create the restaurant around the plate. The whole creative process can expand. Which is really nice and where I am at the moment.”


Amorim MCC Challenge: a judge’s view

21 June 2011  by Amorim Cork South Africa
With juding of the Amorim WINE Magazine MCC Challenge to commence next month, the five judges are preparing their palates.
The judging panel is chaired by Allan Mullins, Cape Wine Master and consists of Christine Rudman, CWM, wine writer Neil Pendock, sommelier Miguel Chan and Heidi Duminy CWM. We put some questions to Ms Duminy.

You judge an array of wine styles. As a judge, what do you look for in MCC?

Sensory analysis follows the same basic ritual with the obvious important additional consideration and assessment of the bubble quality and its behaviour. This would include the evidence of the bubble in the glass with particular note to size, speed, persistence, formation of a crown or ring and then the aesthetic experience in the mouth and across the palate to finish and aftertaste.

Appearance, Aroma and Palate assessment are all equally as important as when judging any still wine. The 20 point scoring system is applied in this competition. A top scoring wine will display purity of fruit and deft use of varieties, outstanding balance, complexity, freshness, integration, leesy richness, autolytic intrigue, optimal maturity, intricacy, luminosity and potential.

The category is growing locally – among producers and consumers. What has led to South African consumers fondness for MCC?

Value. I would dearly like to believe that the style and quality of MCC provides faith strong enough to be first choice, but all things being equal, I believe that the consumer would still be reaching for the champagne. The motivation for drinking plays an important role in this purchasing decision and it is undeniable that the majority of consumers still drink brands rather than wines. MCC offers a fantastic more casual value proposition although it is still the consolation prize in the shadow of the big C.

There has been a surge in producers releasing very small volume boutique cuvées that make for great intrigue and interest, but shall take some time before becoming commercial contenders. The tremendous growth in the category has peaked and is now seeing a retreat

Can you name major areas of improvement in MCC wines that you have noticed over the past, say, 10 years?

There has been huge progress in creating definitive styles with the categories now emerging as more obvious. Vintage is showing substantial depth and dimension with more leesy intrigue and richness instead of being made as an uncomplicated NV that happens to be made of base wines from the same year.

There has also been less use of random varieties with the classic Pinot Noir and Chardonnay (and even Pinot Meunier) now dominant. Rosé MCC has also come along tremendously across styles. Beneath the cork and beyond the glass, technical experience and better understanding of the category in a Cape context has allowed better work to preserve inherent fruit, supported by leesy complexity whilst still retaining natural freshness for better balance and vibrancy.

Although diversity is joy, what are the non-negotiable characteristics of a good MCC? 

Balance and bubble quality are critical – a good MCC should be well integrated with a detailed core of pure fresh fruit enhanced by an easily evident autolytic character balanced by a fresh natural acid line and a persistent fine mousse.

Are there any inherent characteristics/ features embodied in MCC that distinguish the category from other countries’ bubbles?

The fruit profile. In the Cape, harvesting for MCC needs to happen early enough to retain natural freshness, yet still at optimal phenolic ripeness not to be lean and dilute. This often comes at the cost of complexity and/ or freshness in SA, making the fruit too rambunctious and clumsy. Even when perfectly balanced, elegant and restrained, MCC reveals a pronounced fruit profile as a pose to more mineral savoury characters common in other sparkling wine.

Note to MCC producers: entries are now open for the Amorim MCC Challenge, and producers should have received their entry forms. Closing date for entries is 15 July. Judging commences on 10 August, with the awards ceremony being held at Bosmans Restaurant at the Grande Roche Restaurant in Paarl on 15 September.