Where Eagles Dare

A funny thing happened while I was writing up the Constantia Wine Route post yesterday.

Firstly, I wanted to link back to the last Constantia Wine Route post I did. Standard practice there. I had a quick read through it as well.

And then, for some reason (alcohol + lack of an introduction + no name badge + my age (whatevs) + [one last excuse here]) I couldn’t recall the name of the guy who served us at Eagles’ Nest. UCT student, doing Business Science and Commerce, passion for wine, third season working there, favourite Eagles’ Nest wine: Viognier, top knot, possible beard. Nice chap. Nameless.
So I went to the Eagle’s Nest website, clicked on ABOUT and selected PEOPLE BEHIND OUR WINES. Maybe they had a ‘meet and greet our front room staff’ thing. They didn’t.

What they did have was the Executive Director, the Winemaker, the Farm Manger etc etc.
And they had this too:

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That’s Kaylee Stewart. She’s the Brand Manager: Tasting Room, Sales & Marketing (Western Cape).
Says her blurb:

Kaylee joined the Eagles’ Nest team at the end of 2011 to build on her families involvement. Since, she has enthusiastically taken up the role of managing the tasting room, local Cape Town trade and fulfilling certain public relation and marketing roles.

(Families [sic] involvement being her Dad is the Executive Director)
But what would “fulfilling certain public relation and marketing roles” actually entail, though? And how would one prove oneself capable of handling such a taxing role?

Might it include putting promotional comments about Eagles’ Nest on blog posts about the Constantia Wine Route, even when the said blog posts don’t mention Eagles’ Nest?

It might.

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What are the chances that someone called Kaylee Stewart thought that a wine farm run by Peter Stewart was the best of all the wine farms in the Constantia Valley? It’s almost too coincidental to not be the same Kaylee Stewart that now fulfils certain public relation and marketing roles.
And yet, it’s obviously not the same Kaylee Stewart because surely she would have mentioned that she took her family members down from England “because Dad is the Executive Director there”. And she would just have given her Pops a call and asked when the Shiraz was coming out, no? None of this “mid May if I am not mistaken” nonsense.


And yet, even if it were the same Kaylee Stewart (which it isn’t), then there’s nothing illegal about what she did. Rather disingenuous, ethically iffy, sure, but that’s about it.
If it had have been the same Kaylee Stewart (which it wasn’t) she would have known that if she had ‘come out’ as being connected to the Eagles’ Nest estate, readers would obviously have taken everything positive she said about the place with a pinch of salt. And so if it was her (and we’re all aware that it wasn’t) she would have simply omitted any reference to the fact that it was her family’s business anyway. Clever lady.
(It’s worth noting that according to the website, the real Kaylee Stewart wasn’t working for the vineyard when the comment was posted.)

For me, it raises an interesting point with regard to bloggers recommending products. We wouldn’t have believed what the real Kaylee Stewart had said if we’d known about her family’s business, and yet people still read blog posts for which the blogger has been paid or has received free accommodation/food/services or goods and they lap up the positive reviews. It works for the blogger, because they get money and/or free stuff, and it works for the company involved because they get the positive review and the increase in sales. We can all name several (or more) local blogs that do this.

People aren’t going to believe everything that they read, though, are they? Except obviously yes, enough of them do, because otherwise it would all stop. Personally, I can’t understand it. It’s actually fairly depressing that no-one seems to think any deeper than the actual words they are reading when there’s a paid-for review. Most of the time there’s absolutely no disclosure by the blogger anyway, so I guess you’d never know.

These days, when I get asked to do reviews on stuff, I make it clear from the outset that if it’s not very good, I will write that it’s not very good. And suddenly there are very few takers. Maybe because they don’t have the confidence in the product, but more likely that they know that they can get the next blogger they call to write something nice – however poor the actual experience – by just giving them some money or make up or a helicopter trip or a phone or whatever.

Whatever happened to integrity, hey?

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Constantia Wine Route redux

When people think “Wine Route”, they generally think of Stellenbosch, Franschhoek, Paarl or Wellington (jks – no-one goes to Wellington deliberately). We think that Local is lekker though, so we headed just down the road to sample a bit of what Constantia had to offer.

It had been a while since we had been on the Constantia Wine Route, and we came far from doing all of it today. However, three wine farms and 19 wines later, we’d had a good time. It was only when we got back that I realised I hadn’t taken many photos. Having too much fun, see?

First up was Klein Constantia, where a tasting is R30 for 7 wines, but buy a bottle (or more) and they’ll waive the fee. The informative Johan helped us out. They still have their peculiar ‘stand up and taste’ set up, but the wines are superb, including (of course) their famous Vin de Constance and the last of their unusual, but incredible 2007 Madame Marlbrook. All I need is some fine quality seafood to pair it up with now.
I don’t have much more to add here. They just do stuff well, with understated elegance.

Then it was up the hill to Eagles’ Nest. It’s another beautiful place, without the spectacular views of its closest neighbours, but with enthusiastic service; it’s family friendly and tourist driven (it’s on the Red Bus wine tour). The wines though? Not all that. Perhaps the exception was their Little Eagle Rosé, which was alive with crisp strawberry flavours. Their flagship 2012 Shiraz was rather ordinary, and – I thought – vastly overpriced at R225 a bottle. Those Brits on the bus must have thought they were in heaven though. When you compare this with what you get in Tesco for what is essentially ten quid – suddenly you start to understand the pricing structure. R50 gets you a 5 wine tasting, and you have to spend over R300 per person to get that refunded.

Protea on the way up to Constantia Glen

And then onward and upward to Constantia Glen. Last time we were up here (amazingly 4 years ago to the day), we had the tiny place to ourselves. This time, we were greeted with a bright, modern, brand new tasting room and restaurant, plus literally hundreds of people. We got the last two seats at the bar and tucked into one of their cheese and charcuterie platters with a Premium (capital P) wine tasting (R80 for seven wines) for me and a white wine tasting (R55 for 4 wines) for Mrs 6k. Enoch may have helped her out with a couple of refills though. If you’re Enoch’s boss and you have a problem with this, then he didn’t. But he’s still great.

Wines here are excellent, especially their Estate Range Sauvignon Blanc with lots of grass and lots of green figs. On the reds, the bold Three is good, but the hugely rich and deep Five French blend is simply sublime and paired beautifully with the cheeses on the platter. We spent [rather a lot] here, meaning that our tasting was gratis and we have a nicely stocked wine rack for the foreseeable future. Winning.

We’re so lucky to have these amazing places right on our doorstep, but we sometimes need a reminder that they are there. So, let this blog post be it and give yourself a few hours off over the summer holiday enjoying some of the superb wine Constantia has to offer.

Not a sponsored post. Just a really good day.

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Not literally. But an afternoon of braai’ing with several (or more) adults and eight kids aged between 4 and 10 years old, together with a near immeasurable amount of beer has just about done for me.

Not that it wasn’t fun. It was fun. But my ears are still ringing and my house looks like something akin to Attercliffe after the Sheffield blitz. But with a beagle.

More? Tomorrow.

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Moone Boy

I found Moone Boy on one (or more) of my trips to the UK this year. Not strictly in the UK, but on the Emirates flights there, and, quite possibly, back. It’s Irish, it’s original and it’s really funny. Not Emirates. Emirates is Emirati, works to a mildly innovative, but otherwise unremarkable basic international carrier business plan and is less amusing.
No, it’s Moone Boy which is Irish, original and really funny. And rather surreal in parts. I’m going to stick my neck out here and suggest that it might even be this generation’s Father Ted. Yes. It’s that good.

Here’s Martin starting “big school”:

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Chris O’Dowd plays the imaginary friend of Martin Moone. No-one can see or hear him apart from Martin (this elaboration just in case you weren’t aware of how imaginary friends work), and – through the magic of TV – the viewers. It’s a semi-autobiographical account of O’Dowd’s own childhood in late 1980’s Ireland. It has the infamous Sultans Of Ping FC 1993 track Where’s Me Jumper as the theme music and it’s properly amusing.

So – why am I telling you this? Well, because it’s coming to SA next month. With DSTV having revised and improved its BBC offerings with the addition of BBC First (featuring programmes like Doctor Who and the latest drama from Benedict Thunderbeagle), there’s more space for other stuff on BBC Entertainment, which is now BBC Brit and will feature this… er… Irish comedy.

If you have a vaguely twisted sense of humour, and you’re willing to give it a couple of half hour episodes to learn a little more about the characters (and yes, I’m aware that people on long haul flights in and out of Dubai have considerably more spare time at their immediate disposal), you’re going to really enjoy this.

It starts next week. Please give it a go.

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Snake Take 2

Busy day? Busy evening? Quota photo time.

And it’s back to San Bona to a Cape Cobra (Naja nivea) (nothing to do with skin cream) which the rangers had found near the main entrance of the camp and were going to relocate to some distance safely away from the main entrance of the camp.

But not without showing the tourists first. When brought out of the box they’d placed him in, and (ever so) gently manoeuvred with the snake hook, he reared up to give us a proper display.

Bigger on black here.
More San Bona here.
More recent snake here.

Thank you rangers.
Thank you snake.
Good morning Yvonne.

See you tomorrow.

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