A country whose wine history stretches back to 1659, South Africa enjoyed an oenological rebirth in the mid-1990s after the death of apartheid and the birth of democracy. Today it boasts nearly 600 wineries, with 247,000 acres planted in vines, and produces a range of wines that catch the attention of wine lovers throughout the world. Recently I tasted a group of new releases of South African wines in the United States — some from well-established wineries, some from wineries just entering the international market. Highberry Sauvignon Blanc 2014 ($21) represents both. It hails from a new winery owned by three men with long wine experience, one of whom is Jabulani Ntshangase, the preeminent black South African in that country’s wine world. Its first release is a delicate, subtly flavored, pale-shaded wine offering excellent balance and evoking flavorful citrus fruits. New on the international market, Virgin Earth Sauvignon Blanc 2015 ($19) calls to mind freshly mown grass, a basic aroma of its grape. It also offers a floral essence and a rich array of tropical fruits. With 18 percent of its vineyards planted to Chenin Blanc, South Africa is the world’s largest producer of the grape. And Terre Brulée Chenin Blanc 2014 ($16) proves an interesting example of the many paths the grape can take. The winery’s owner, from France’s Loire, produced a smoky, spicy wine with good acidity and hints of honey and citrus. Pinotage is a grape created in South Africa in the 1920s. Radford Dale Frankenstein Pinotage 2014 ($35) captures the essence of the grape with its dark color, an aroma that recalls plums and other red fruits, and a lingering finish. Thelema remains one of South Africa’s most dependable wineries, and its 100 percent Cabernet Sauvignon 2010 ($35) continues that reputation. A smooth, stylish, complex wine, it displays dark fruit flavors and a long finish. Ken Forrester Renegade 2011 ($20) offers a blend of Syrah and Grenache and melds the flavors of both — the spice and black olive of Syrah and the earthier flavors of Grenache. They add up to a distinctive, well-structured, full-bodied wine.
Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group announced plans to take over an existing hotel in Switzerland. The property is undergoing extensive renovations in preparation to open at the end of next year as Mandarin Oriental Palace, Luzern. The property was previously Hotel Palace Luzern, on the shores of Lake Lucerne and in the heart of the city; it originally opened in 1906.
United Airlines’ environmentally friendly efforts lessen the impact on local U.S. communities.
As part of Germany’s climate package, a plan to reduce emissions, the country will raise departure taxes at German airports. Taxes will go up as much as 60 percent, and are expected to raise up to €740 million. The funds will then be used to lower VAT on rail fares from 19 percent to 7 percent.
Norwegian Cruise Line took delivery of its newest ship, Norwegian Encore, ahead of its naming ceremony Nov. 21. The 1,100-foot-long ship boasts a guest capacity of nearly 4,000. Since Norwegian Cruise Line took delivery of the shi, Oct. 30, Norwegian Encore sailed from Germany to England before making its way to New York City, then Miami, where the christening ceremony takes place next week.
Swiss-Belhotel International boasts an impressive portfolio throughout 22 countries, including 10 ASEAN member countries. This growth is continuing with the group’s new plans to debut four properties in Thailand.
One of Palm Desert, California’s, signature hotel properties recently finalized its biggest-ever redesign. The JW Marriott Desert Springs Resort and Spa is home to 884 guestrooms and nearly 250,000 square feet of event space. Every facet of the property has been redesigned ahead of the property’s grand re-opening in January.