Advent Calendar #16 2018…

Ginsmith Gins, on my Advent Calendar #16 2018

At their Tygerkloof Distillery in the Groot Winterhoek, Colleen Smith and Lesley Clark handcraft their Michelangelo Gold Medal gins in the time honoured, traditional way, using copper alembic stills over flame. Their 300 litre still was handcrafted by village artisans in Portugal and named Bella Maria in honour of Maria the Jewess, the first recorded alchemist and designer, in 2AD, of the first alembic still in Alexandria, Egypt. It seemed apt that, as women distillers, our beautiful still should be named after her.

Colleen Smith, Bella Maria & Lesley Clarke

Ginsmith Gins are ‘slow’ gins, and from field to glass, are infused with Colleen and Lesley’s relationship to every aspect of the product. They hand harvest botanicals from their immediate terroir – kapok, imphephu, and buchu, which only grows naturally on the mountains, surrounding Tygerkloof Distillery.

Ginsmith Pink as a mixed drink

When they, of necessity, import botanicals they source them from ‘emotional terroir’, places to which they have some emotional attachment, such as Tuscany, the source of their juniper berries and orris. The ruby grapefruit for the delicious Ginsmith Pink are grown on a farm down the valley.

They have three gins, The Navy, The Pink and The Stepchild. Well worth landing a bottle when you can.

GinSmith Navy with mixers & garnishes

For more information about GinSmith Gins – CLICK HERE

If you love gin, this is a very handy book to have. It is available from

Ataraxia Pinot Noir 2015

Kevin Grant has made more than a name for himself up in the Hemel en Aarde Valley, just west of the seaside town of Hermanus. He makes sublime wines, a. stunning Chardonnay amongst them. Pinot Noir is a thin-skinned low colour grape which is known for reflecting its terroir, its soils and its microclimate and its place.

Pinot Noir ripening in the vineyard

The vineyards are of clay rich Bokkeveld Shale. Beautifully situated, where cooling breezes off the Atlantic move up the valley ameliorating the Summer heat in the vineyards and allowing for long hang time. The Pinot Noirs on Ataraxia are amongst the very last to be picked in the Valley. Made in the Ataraxia Cellar up in the Valley, the wine rests in small French oak barrels before being prepared for bottling.

Wine is about patience – Kevin Grant in the Cellar

From a Burgundy shaped bottle closed with natural cork. The label depicts a floating figure in a state of Ataraxia – a calm state of serenity. Closed with natural cork and the top is covered with a red cap. In the glass, a beguiling translucent red cherry which pales out to the edges. The aromas and flavours are classic Pinot. Fabulous fruit, red cherries, roadside brambles, forest floor mushrooms. Rich, round mouthfeel with red berries swirling around. A golden thread of acidity and cashmere clad tannins running through from entry to the tail. Very pleasing wine, nice and sappy fruit.

Ina Paarman’s Short Cut Pekin Duck

I would suggest you chill this for 30 minutes before serving. It does perfectly as a glass on its own when you need a quiet moment with a truly great bottle. We must remember that this is the wine of Coq au Vin and Beef Bourguignon, so it can tackle some great flavours. Ina Paarman’s Short Cut Pekin Duck is such a lovely partner for the Ataraxia Pinot Noir 2015. Click here for her recipe.

Ina Paarman – creator of this lovely partner to the Ataraxia Pinot Noir 2015

Read more about Ataraxia Wines – CLICK HERE