Welcome to the Western Cape Wineries - a kiwi's opinion blog

I originally set up this blog to help foreigners have an enjoyable experience when visiting the western cape wineries in South Africa.

I realised that it is very difficult for a tourist to choose where to go and which wineries to visit, when you have 600+ wine producers to choose from.

When I first moved to SA December 2010, my palate struggled to adjust to SA wine, b
ut after living here for a while and after visiting over 100+ wine estates, I have found many wines which I really like and can highly recommend.

Admittingly, when you come from another country it is hard not to compare the wine in SA to what you are used to back home. However, once you realise they are not the same (they have their own characteristics due to the different soil, climate etc) and appreciate their wines for being SA wines, it will improve your opinion and experience of the wines immediately.

If you are staying in SA for a while, don't dispair, your palate will change, and you will soon find yourself liking SA wine over your home countries wine!!

I hope my blog will help wine lovers have an enjoyable wine experience while in SA.

Please note: I am not a wine connoisseur. The comments I write about the wine is mostly for my own benefit of having them on record.

Monday, 28 January 2013

Goede Hoop

I almost didn't go to this winery as I already had been to two this afternoon, but with it being right beside Fort Simon and I didn't feel like driving up this long driveway again I decided to visit it while there. It was the best decision I made!!

This winery was similar to Bellevue in that it was a traditional, humble wine estate. I was greeted by one of the winemaking assistants and shown through to the tasting room.

Here I was able to try the Domaine White 2012 (Sauvignon Blanc/Chenin Blanc) at R31.50 a bottle. It had a sweet nose, smooth and silky texture, was fresh and fruity. The Sauvignon Blanc 2012 (R49.10) had a very floral aroma, which I found had a lavender and herbacious taste. It was unique!!

The Pinotage 2009 at R66.50 a bottle had an intense aroma, interesting taste, it was a little dry, little tart/sour. The Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 (R115.20) was a little dry, fruity, nice, lovely flavour, medium body and mature red. Pinotage 2005 (R66.50) has interesting fynbos and herbacious aroma and taste. It was lighter than the 2009.

Merlot/Cabernet Sauvignon 2002 (R63.10) was lovely on the nose, a little floral, little sweet hints and dry aftertaste. I really liked it!!

After the tasting I was shown through the cellar, which was when I saw that this winery still uses the old concrete tanks. It was so cool to see. I felt like I was walking through a wine museum. Another thing I noticed is the s-shaped object above the barrels with the MCC in them. First time seeing them and I was absolutely amused.

The lady who took me through the cellar showed me their special collection of old wine. She then went on to tell me that they hold dinners with the winemaker. A four course dinner for R305 which includes the opportunity to taste wine from their collection of wine.

The wine is from various wineries and many are from KWV.  Some of the wine is as old as 1975!!

I was so keen to attend this event, and it just so happened that the next one was on Thursday the 31st, so my boyfriend and I went along.

It was such an awesome experience!! Each couple was asked to choose a wine from the collection. As you can imagine this process took a while as we all thought so hard as to which wine we would pick out of such a collection. The wines selected ranged from 1975 to 2010.

The evening was fantastic, the food was great, the experience was one in a million and the night was one I wont forget.

If you are on Bottelary Road, be sure to pop in to this wine estate as I am sure you will have as memorable an experience as we did. Do yourself a favour and join them for their next winemakers dinner. I can't wait to attend the next one!!

Fort Simon

This was the second winery I visited today on Bottelary Road. I had heard that this wine estate has a castle and a fort, so I decided to finally check it out.

It is quite a cool feeling you feel as you make your way up to the wine estate. Be sure to take your time to stop, take photos, and soak up this unique place.

As I got to the car park and made my way to the tasting room, I felt this feeling that I had stumbled upon something which no one else has found. I found myself feeling warm and child like as if I had stepped in to a mystical place. It was a peculiar feeling but one I liked.

It almost had a Disneyland feeling. The plants here are not typical to Cape Town, the water was so blue and pretty, the frangipanis were so pretty!! It felt magical and mystical. I liked it.

Once I got to the tasting room I was greeted by the tasting room manager. I had a very pleasant tasting here. We started with the Sauvignon Blanc 2011 (R70 a bottle) which was soft and fruity. The Pinotage Rose 2011 was my favourite wine here. It was delicious!! It was fruity, soft yet not sweet. I really liked this wine.

The Merlot 2010 is R73 a bottle. It is a little spicy on the nose, smooth, little dry and nice.

Pinotage 2009 at R86 a bottle was light, smooth, fruity and nice. The Shiraz 2009 at R106 a bottle was soft, sweet, fruity and nice. The Cabernet Sauvignon 2008 at R106 a bottle had an interesting/intense smell, lovely flavour, soft, refined and long lasting taste.

Platinum Collection Viognier 2009 at R96 a bottle is sweet, with peach tones, lovely texture, fresh, and has a long finish. It spent 6 months in 2nd fill french oak barrels. It was not too bad, but it still doesn't match up to my favourite Viognier in SA.

Viognier Noble Late Harvest 2010 Platinum Collection. Delicious!!! R109.

The overall experience was very pleasant. The wine was ok. I walked out with a bottle of the Rose and the dessert wine, as I thought these were fantastic. I look forward to sitting down to an entire bottle and making another judgement on these wines.

If you come out this way, be sure to visit this winery, Goode Hoep (right beside Fort Simon) and Bellevue. It really makes for a lovely afternoon!!

Bellevue Wine Estate

Today I woke up and decided I should check out some of the wineries on Bottelary Road.

I started off with Bellevue and was so pleased I did. The wine tasting room is pretty unique and what I like the most about it is it's rustic and traditional style.

In the tasting room you can see the concrete tanks the winemakers used to use on this farm. It is pretty cool to see.  After visiting a few wineries on this road, I realised there are several wineries who have these concrete tanks in this area.

I was informed that Bellevue is the name of the estate and Morkel is the name of the family that owns it. You will see with their wine that they use Morkel on some of the labels and some have PK on them. PK is the previous owners name.

We started the tasting with the Premium Collection Morkel Shiraz 2010 at R50 a bottle. It has a nice spicy aroma, is soft and spicy on the palate, elegant with a grippy finish.

Morkel Pinotage 2009 is R95 a bottle. It turns out Bellevue Estate was the first to plant Pinotage grapes in South Africa in 1953 along with Kanonkop. This Pinotage has an interesting aroma, is lovely on the palate, has great body, I really liked it!

At Bellevue they use French made American Oak barrels on several of their wines. What was interesting is that the winemaker has tried various oak barrels and found this one works well on many of his grapes. He said that the wine chooses the barrels rather than the other way around. I liked this.

Morkel Malbec 2010 is R95 a bottle. It has an interesting herbal, spicy, fynbos aroma. It smells delicious and tastes just as good. It has soft tannins and spent its time in French Oak barrels. I just loved this wine.

PK Morkel Petit Verdot 2009 is a single varietal and sells for R145 a bottle. It has an interesting nose, is beautiful on the palate, smooth and just beautiful. The winemaker mentioned that this wine is ideal with fatty/heavy food and I completely see where he is coming from. This wine has a long finish and is very nice!

The last wine to try was the Tumara 2005. It is a bordeaux style blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec and Petit Verdot. It spends 34 months in new French Oak Barrels. It is smooth, tasty, has deep berry and tobacco aroma. This wine sells for R125 a bottle.

As much as I wouldn't recommend the wineries on Bottelary Road as first port of call, especially if you are a tourist to Cape Town and only have one day, I would say that if you are a local and haven't visited the wineries on Bottelary Road, you must check them out!!

They have a lot of history, surprisingly great wine and a charm that I had not expected from them prior to visiting them.

Check out my review on Fort Simon and Goede Hoop also. These three wineries made for a very pleasant afternoon of wine tastings.

Sunday, 20 January 2013

Doolhof Wine Estate

On Sunday my boyfriend and I visited Doolhof wine estate as we had bought a city slicker voucher which entitled us to a wine tasting, walk around the farm and a picnic.

We started with the tasting, we were told to pick 5 wines from the list of 21 wines, then take a seat and they will bring the wine out to us. They bring all 5 wines on a tray, with each one labeled. The labels were cute I have to say. The lady serving us told us that if we have any questions on the wine to just ask, otherwise we can just enjoy the tasting and take our time.

Between the two of us we tried the Signature Sauvignon Blanc 2012 R90, Signature Cabernet Sauvignon 2010 R80, Signature Shiraz 2008 R80, Signature Pinotage 2008 R80, Signature Malbec 2010 R115, Signature Petit Verdot 2008 R115, Signature Cabernet Franc 2009 R115, Renaissance Cab/Merlot 2007 R80, The Minotaur 2008 R150 and the Lady in White 2010 R80.

Out of all these wines, I liked the Malbec the most, then the Shiraz, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Lady in White.

I have to say the Petit Verdot was so interesting!! It has a sweet smell to it and then it tastes so sour!! I would never buy it but I highly recommend you taste it if you visit the winery. It is just so unique and funny!!

The manager at the tasting room is very welcoming and pleasant. She was polite, friendly, and always ready to answer any questions we had. She is a good ambassador for the wine estate!! No complaints from my side on the service!!

Our picnic was lovely. We found a spot near the river and enjoyed a wrap, cheese and crackers, potatoe salad, meatballs, and brownies. We were also given a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc to enjoy with the picnic.

After our walk along the river, we went and checked out the maze and the horses. It was a lovely day trip and I highly recommend one takes a day to enjoy all that the winery has to offer.

Having said that, I would not drive all that way just for the wine, and if you only have one day in Cape Town, then this would not be the top of my list. But, if you are a local and have been to many wineries and have not made the effort to drive out to Doolhof, do so, and call in advance to see if you can book a picnic while there. If not, see if they will let you take your own. Relaxing at this place was what I enjoyed the most!!! It really is a lovely, tranquil and friendly wine estate.

Monday, 14 January 2013

Knorhoek Winery

On my way back from Stellenbosch I had time to visit one more winery for the day. I decided to stop off at Knorhoek Winery. There is a nice outdoor and indoor area to enjoy your tasting. The view from the patio was beautiful with the mountains in the back ground.

A tasting costs R20 here.

I only had time to try three wines, so I chose the Sauvignon Blanc 2012 at R48 a bottle. It was very smooth and had a gorgeous fruity/tropical aroma, it was a little tart, had a slight banana and pineapple taste, I wasn't keen on the aftertaste. It is a nice wine however and is very soft for a Sauvignon Blanc! It has a lot of fruity flavours coming through and it lingers for a long time afterwards.

Next I tried the Chenin Blanc 2010 which was very yellow in colour, had a fruity aroma, yet was dry on the palate. It was interesting!! Almost a little complex. The colour, smell and taste confused me. From the colour you expect something more oaked, from the smell you expected something sweeter and then it is dry on the palate. So yeah, I found it complex :-p

Last but not least, I tried the Pantere 2007 which is a Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon. It had a rich smell of licorice/cigar box/spicy/dark berries/dried fruit. It was dark crimson in colour. A soft/rounded wine. Had medium-heavy body. A lot of flavour!! It had a lingering finish. It is a good food wine. I think it may be one to cellar or decanter? It was an interesting/complex wine!!

The service was ok here. I felt the attitude of the chick serving was not ideal. It was like she was a bit over the place or the job. Perhaps it was because it was the end of the day? But she was kind enough to do a tasting with me considering I was there 30 min before closing. She made the comment that I had missed the deadline for a full tasting and that she could serve me three wines to try. I therefore got the impression that you need to get there at least an hour before closing to enjoy a full tasting.

The closing time of a winery always puzzles me. Should a winery put it's closing time as 4pm if they want to close at 5pm? Or should people respect that if a winery closes at 5pm then it means you must come at 4pm to do a tasting before they close? Or if a winery states that it closes at 5pm, do you think you can rock up anytime before 5pm and expect a full tasting? I shall have to facebook this to see what others think...

Overall, it's a nice winery. I will go back to try more wine and allow more time for a tasting :-)

Slaley Winery

Today I decided to quickly pop in to Slaley Winery on my way to an appointment. I didn't have my camera on me so sadly have no photos. Be sure to check out their website http://www.slaley.co.za/ for more information and images of their winery.

I was so surprised when I was inside the building. It is so modern and stylish. They have a nice outdoor area to relax and enjoy a wine or cocktail.

I did a quick wine tasting here. They charge R20 for a tasting and if you purchase wine they waive the fee.

They have quite a wide range of wine to try, however, they tend to only have 5 wines open at any one time. You therefore can't really choose the wines you want to try, but rather try what is open.

I tried the following:

Broken Stone Sauvignon Blanc 2009 at R50 a bottle: It's not your typical SB. It is soft, with stone fruit aromas. Has a slight peach and stone fruit flavour. Soft, rounded wine. Slight tart aftertaste, which lingers.
Slaley Chardonnay 2010 at R80 a bottle: Slight pear aroma, soft, light, approachable wine. Spent 8-10 months in barrels.

Broken Stone Pinotage 2006 at R65 a bottle: Cherry/red plum colour. Soft, rounded, very pleasant to drink. Light. I wonder if decantering would be advised for this wine? It's quite light, no major flavours coming through. A bit non-descript yet nice. For a Pinotage it is pleasantly soft and not dry! Not a heavy wine either. I was so intrigued by this wine and curious to try it again, so bought a few bottles to try it again on another day.

Broken Stone Cabernet Sauvignon 2006 at R65 a bottle: Dark red/brown colour. Can see it's an older wine. Musky feel on the palate, smooth, lingering aftertase, slightly dry. Wasn't my cup of tea. It had an "aged"taste to it and was a bit tart.

Slaley Shiraz 2004 at R110 a bottle: Cherry red/brown. Smells like a port or dessert wine. Is a little dry. Had lovely character.

Overall I enjoyed my experience at Slaley. It was fantastic to have Shaun do the tasting as he knows a lot about wine and could therefore provide an informative tasting. He had a very relaxed approach and I found he spoke to your level of wine knowledge, it was very well done.

I am looking forward to going back again and relaxing on the deck with some friends and wine :-)