Big Bottle

Big Bottle Festival 2013



If Cape Town and surrounds doesn’t have some sort of Guinness world record for most wine festivals in one area, then it should. If there was a comprehensive listing of wine events (which there obviously isn’t otherwise we wouldn’t have the clashes we have) there would probably be more than one every week. It’s not possible to attend that many wine festivals and events. Believe me, I’ve tried. I get invited to a lot and in the old days I used to try go to as many as I could but it’s just too much.

So these days I mainly attend the ones that are really good. I like the Cape Winemakers Guild auction showcase, not only for the quality of the wines but because there are some different wines too. I enjoy Caroline’s wine reviews, she only has the best estates there and they can only choose one wine to show. There are a couple of others I attend as well but my new favourite is the Big Bottle Festival.

It’s definitely one of the fancier festivals, which is evident in the price at R400 per ticket. The attendees are respectably dressed and it’s not over crowded, which is a major plus. Many of the winemakers are there to represent their wines themselves and there is a selection of tasty food prepared by 7 of our top chefs. The venue adds to the opulence of the affair. The Cellars Hohenhort hotel is a beautiful venue and occasional glimpses of the award winning gardens are a treat.

Seriously, it’s fancy.

The highlight is obviously the wine, from 50 producers this year. Being able to try wines from big bottles is a rare treat. Chats with the winemakers will reveal what effect the big bottle has had on the wine compared to the standard size bottle. There is a range of big bottles, from the Magnum (1.5L) all the way to the Goliath (27L). There is big bottle bubbly on offer, including several French champagnes. That alone would make the ticket price worthwhile.

The food was really good, the white bean veloute from Bistro 1682 and the chicken curry with homemade lemon atchar from Planet restaurant were highlights.

I attended the Big Bottle Walkabout which happens on the Saturday and Sunday afternoon but that is just one element of the Big Bottle Festival. For those who are more serious about wine (and with bigger budgets), there is the fine dining event on the Friday night which includes a 5 course menu by Peter Templehoff, paired with amazing wines from around the world. The price of the dinner is R1,980. There is also a prestige champagne tasting, showing a selection of rare champagnes. The champagne tasting costs R2,300.

If you haven’t been yet, I would suggest you put this in your calendar for next year. It’s a fun event, I think having access to the best wines and amazing food puts everyone in a good mood.

Find out more at the Big Bottle Festival website.

The rest of my photos from the festival are here.