It's been 16 years since the Michael Fridjhon Wine Experience was
launched - an annual event intended to enable Rand-locked South African
wine enthusiasts to benchmark their expectations and their palates with
the finest wines produced in the Old and New World.
Since those early days, wines available from our top producers have come to rival many of the international classics - a measure of the importance of keeping the highest standards as a frame of reference. However, in the same period, the Rand has halved in value against the Pound, while the cost of the finest international wines has quadrupled in hard currency terms. In short, it gets more and more difficult (and certainly more expensive) for us to remain true to our founding objectives.
It may not be able to continue indefinitely - the wines must always be of sufficient stature to live up to the founding purpose of the weekend and the package must remain affordable for those who wish to attend. This slightly disconcerting thought prompted the theme for the 2013 Telkom Business Michael Fridjhon Wine Experience - Absolute Benchmarks in the World of Wine.
Michael Fridjhon has assembled an extraordinary array of mature wines - each of which occupies its own unique place on the spectrum of wine absolutes - covering most of the important varieties and the undisputed premier appellations. There will be Chateau Cheval Blanc 1985 (the world's greatest Cabernet Franc-dominated wine), Chateau La Conseillante 1985 (an extraordinary Merlot-dominated Pomerol), Remoissenet's Grands Echezeaux 1983 to represent Pinot Noir, Montrachet 2004 from the Marquis de Laguiche to meet the most exacting expectations of Chardonnay aficionados. Chateau de Beaucastel 1998 will fly the flag for the Southern Rhone, Vouvray 1989 from Domaine Huet will state the case for Chenin Blanc, and from the same year a Scharzhofberger Auslese from Reichsgraf von Kesselstatt will speak for Riesling.
Between the tasting and dinner, Wine Experience guests will enjoy Louis Roederer Cristal 2004, the first prestige cuvée ever produced in Champagne. Once they sit down to their meal, the 2002 Baron de L from Baron de Ladoucette's own cellar will reveal the full potential of sauvignon blanc grown in Pouilly-sur-Loire. Chateau Corton Grancey Grand Cru 1988 will be served alongside Hermitage 2003 to accompany the entrée while Chateau d'Yquem 1999, the greatest of all Sauternes, will bring the meal to a suitably sumptuous conclusion.
The Wine Experience Champagne Brunch - long regarded as an event in its own right - will provide guests with an opportunity to familiarise themselves with one of the most famous family houses in Champagne. Several wines from Pol Roger, ranging from the Cuvée Sir Winston Churchill (the great man's favourite fizz) to the Blanc de Blancs, Vintage and the Rosé 2004, will be served over the course of a brunch which begins towards the middle of the morning and continues into lunchtime. No one who has indulged in the degustation of oysters, the array of cured hams, the mountains of crustaceans, the truffled scramble eggs, the cheese selection, the macaroons and the desserts has ever left hungry or disappointed.
For the past two years we have included overnight accommodation as part of the weekend package - in an endeavour to relieve our guests of the stress of travel arrangements. Many have indicated that they would prefer the choice of returning home. This year couples paying the Early Bird rate by Friday 5 July, who qualify for the accommodation and who don't want to, or can't stay over, will receive (in lieu of the complimentary room) a bottle of Champagne Louis Roederer Cristal 2005.
The Telkom Business Michael Fridjhon Wine Experience 2013:
Date: Saturday 31 August and Sunday 1 September
Venue: The Hyatt Regency, 191 Oxford Road, Rosebank, Johannesburg
- Saturday Benchmark Tasting 18h30 for 19h00 sharp start, followed by the Gala Dinner (20h30 onwards) in the Ballroom
- Sunday Champagne Brunch: Registration from 10h15 for 10h30 sharp start. Brunch ends around 13h30
Cost: Early Bird package (book and pay in full by Friday 5 July) R6800; thereafter full weekend package R7 600. Rate is per person and includes VAT. Rate includes overnight accommodation at the Hyatt Regency on Saturday 31 August for the first 36 twin/double room bookings. Single supplement of R500 applies.
Attendance of the Champagne Brunch only: R2250
Couples paying the Early Bird rate by Friday 5 July, who qualify for the accommodation and who don't want to, or can't stay over, will receive (in lieu of the complimentary room) a bottle of Champagne Louis Roederer Cristal 2005.
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