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.

Sunday, 20 October 2013


Today we went past this wine estate and I had heard good things about it so we popped in for a tasting and to see if we could get a bite to eat. What a find!! This is a must visit.

The place looked very busy so I was very surprised when they managed to find us a table outside within a few minutes.

We wanted to do a wine tasting and have something to eat, but it seems that wine tastings are not so feasible in the busy periods, but they are planning on building a tasting room next to the restaurant specifically for tastings, I think this is a great idea.

The manager of the place introduced himself and told us the options for wine tastings, one of which included a pizza and wine pairing. As we were a little hungry and wanted to taste the wine, this seemed like the best idea.

The manager then sat down and told us all about Brenaissance, the history, when it started etc. The restaurant has been there since December 2012 however they have been making wine since 2009.

While waiting for our wine and food pairing to begin we both enjoyed two delicious drinks which we so refreshing and tasty!! One of them was similar to a Mojito only without the alcohol and the other was a berry flavoured drink.

The pizza and wine tasting didn't take more than 30 minutes to be prepared/served, I thought this was impressive considering how busy it was. This place was bustling. It felt like everyone knew about this place except us!!

We started the tasting off with the Knight of White (Chardonnay) 2009 at R128 a bottle. It was smooth and had butterscotch and strong stone fruit flavours. It was quite a bold tasting Chardonnay. This was served with the Parma Ham and Parmesan Cheese Pizza.

Next we had the Queen of Hearts (Merlot) 2010 at R138 a bottle.  It was smooth and silky, fruity, elegant, beautifully balanced and had a lingering finish. I liked this wine. This was served with caramelised onion and olive pizza.

Third wine for tasting was the Full House (Bordeaux Style Blend) 2010 at R148 a bottle. It had a lovely colour, intense flavour, but it really needs time to breath. This wine will probably taste better if decantered (or put away for a few years) as this was quite intense. It is however smooth and balanced. It is a lovely wine. This was served with Biltong and Fig Pizza.

Last but not least we tried the Jack of Diamonds (Shiraz) 2009 at R168 a bottle. This was a stunning Shiraz. It is relatively light for a Shiraz with lovely berry flavours. It was purple in colour. Lovely wine!! This was served with Cajun Chicken Chorizo Pizza.

This was truly a fantastic experience that we had here. Great service, ambience, food and wine. I highly recommend anyone visits this estate.

J C Le Roux

Today we decided to go to J.C Le Roux as I had heard about the new renovations and fantastic nougat and MCC tastings.

(Unfortunately I can't find my photos from my time here, I have therefore used photos available from the internet).

I felt it had quite a grand entrance, was a lovely building, modern, and a happening place.

Once we stepped through the door we were greeted by one of the staff. They showed us a list of options for tasting and informed us that there was a waiting list to do a tasting. They therefore took our name, wrote down our choice of tasting, gave us an invoice to pay immediately before we sat down for our tasting and asked us to look around the museum while we waited.

R120 and 10 minutes later we were seated in front of 5 glasses of bubbly with the matching food in front of each glass. The MCC was already poured.

The staff member who showed us to our table went through each wine and then left us to our tasting. A couple of the wines had already lost their bubbles and were not as cold as they should have been. We beckoned a staff member and they changed the two MCCs which were flat. I personally felt the whole lot should have been re-poured!!

The tasting options include:
MCC tasting - R45 (5 MCCs)
Mixed Tasting - R35 - 3 MCC's and 2 Sparkling Wines
Marshmallow and Meringue Experience - R60 - Mixed tasting complimented with 3 meringues and 2 marshmallows.
Nougat Experience - R75 - Mixed tasting paired with nougat and turkish delight
Non-Alcoholic tasting - R15 - Le Domaine & La Fleurette Non Alcoholic

To be honest, the tasting was pretty disappointing. The service was very robotic, the wine is poured before you sit down so the MCC is either flat or not as cold as it should be by the time you taste it, there is no emotion or passion in this place. I have spoken to a few people about this and all of them had similar experiences. One person I know in the wine industry told me that she used to visit JC Le Roux a lot as she really enjoyed going there, but since the renovations she doesn't enjoy going there anymore, she said the staff are not friendly, they are robotic and you are just another person through the door. 

I think this is a shame, as J.C Le Roux has such a presence in this country and should be the go-to place for tourists to see what SA has to offer in regards to sparkling and MCC. They are more known for their bubbly than their MCC within SA, which is a shame as they have great MCC also but the average consumer does not seem to be aware of this. My personal favourite from their range is the Scintilla MCC 2003!!

I think it will be great if JC Le Roux can add some charm and personal touch to this place. Then the grandness of the place and their wine will come together to improve the overall experience.

This unfortunately will not be on my recommendation list (I would rather suggest Villiera or Chabivin in Stellenbosch for a MCC experience), but if you do visit J.C. Le Roux, be sure to visit Brenaissance on your way to JC Le Roux or after. Brenaissance has a fantastic vibe and is a great option for lunch!!

Saturday, 19 October 2013

Sadie Family Vineyards

Eben Sadie is not one to do things the "normal" way. His winery for a start off is not open to the public for tastings and sales. Instead, when he has time in his calendar between checking his vineyards, making the wine and surfing, he will notify those on his mailing list that he will be doing a tasting on xyz date. It is then first in first served to call to book a spot on this one off tasting.

I have found Eben an interesting guy to meet and listen to on both occassions. He talks a lot and one is warned of this before the tasting. After the first time, I was more prepared for the second time of standing around for 2.5 hours before spending 30 minutes tasting the wine with him.

As many of you would know, Eben is making premium wine here in SA and at some high prices. I guess that might have played a part in why he was selling more of his wine overseas before anyone locally even knew about him or were willing to pay for a bottle. He had to become famous first overseas before those living in SA took notice of his wine.

It is interesting to see that Eben is going away from using oak barrels to make his wine. When we visited this time around, he had all of 9 barrels left. A cellar tour is always interesting with Eben and entertaining, therefore I do recommend joining their mailing list to be invited to the next tasting.

Comments I made on the wines:
Skerpioen 2012 is a blend of Palomino (a Spanish varietal) and Chenin Blanc. It was fresh, acidic, balanced, had minerality, and a lingering finish. It had a fresh aroma. Strong fruit flavours which I couldn't define. Eben mentioned that this wine will be good with osyters and has 8 years aging potential.

Skurfberg 2012 is 100% Chenin Blanc. It has subtle fruit flavours, is nicely balanced, has nice body, and a lovely lingering finish. Full-mouth feel and minerality on the palate. I liked this wine.

Palladius 2012 -  the grapes for this wine are sourced from thirteen vineyards and it is made up of ten different grape varietals. We therefore weren't told all the varietals used, I guess it would be a bit of a mouthful. This wine had an oily aroma, was aromatic and floral. It was smooth, had a sharp flavour, was slightly tart, had a long finish. I have noted that it starts sharp and finishes oily. The sharp taste reminded me of fruit which is picked too early and therefore hasn't ripened yet, it reminds me of lime too!! Having said all this, it is a nice wine and maybe decantering or aging this wine would do it more justice.

Pofadder 2012 is made of Cinsault. It is 13.8% alcohol. It smelled quite high in alcohol and also smelled a bit like marzepan. I loved the colour of this wine, it had a beautiful black berry nose, light body, and was a little dry. Again I found this wine to have sharp flavours but not as much as the Palladius. Overall this wine was nice and had lovely flavours.

Soldaat 2012 grapes come from Piekenierskloof and is 100% Grenache Noir. This wine had a unique fynbos smell, with a bit of capsicum (bell peppers) on the nose also. It had a very strong smell. The wine had a lovely texture on the palate, it was a little dry, yet smooth, light-medium body. Again I found this wine had some sort of strange sharp, almost bitter, taste. The closest thing I could describe it to is cranberries. It had an unusual taste and it is an interesting wine. Perhaps this wine would be better if served with food. It was fruity with a slight bitterness.

Columella 2011 had a beautiful nose. This wine had lovely berry aromas, lovely flavour, had layers, was balanced and yet complex. It was a little dry. Probably better served with food. I liked this wine.

Out of all these wines, the ones I asterixed were the Skurfberg 2012, Pofadder 2012 and Columella 2011.

Eben Sadie is an interesting character and the experience is very different at this winery to any other. I therefore do recommend one visits this winery when they are open for tastings. Just be warned, you cannot buy wine at the winery, so if you see it at a shop, buy it there. Oh, and allow three hours for these wine cellar tours and wine tastings.

Thursday, 17 October 2013

Lutzville - Wine club tasting

One of the senior winemakers at Lutzville, Jaco van Niekerk, was very kind to be a guest winemaker at my Western Cape Wineries club tasting in October at the Cape Town Club.

It was such a great tasting with Jaco. Learning about wine from Klawer was really interesting and the wines were so well priced and really value for money.

I didn't know much about Lutzville wine before this tasting and now I will have no hesitation ordering a bottle of their wine at a restaurant.

We tasted the Sauvignon Blanc 2012 which had lovely fresh minerality, a nice balance between tropical fruity flavours and green charters. It was very approachable and easy drinking. I liked this wine and felt it was value for money!! This wine is only R45 a bottle at the cellar.

Their Chenin Blanc 2012 won double gold michelangelo. It is a wooded Chenin, the wine is matured in big barrels for 9 months. This wine was very smooth and pleasant. Only R55 a bottle.

Cabernet Sauvignon 2010 is R65 a bottle. It had nice fruitiness, was a little dry and a little harsh. It was ok but it was not my favourite out of the wines we tasted. It had strong characteristics and it wasn't balanced. It was very fruity on the nose.

Ebenhaeser 2010 is their flagship blend. This sells for R85 at cellar door. It is a blend of Merlot, Pinotage, Ruby Cab, Shiraz, Pinot Noir and Cabernet Sauvignon. It had lovely flavours, was soft, fruity, had chocolate/mocha flavours, was integrated and balanced.

Pinotage 2012 was metallic and had a mocha nose. R40 a bottle (cellar door).

Francois be Vaillant Pinotage 2012 I didn't like the nose, it was balanced, full of flavour and character, had a long finish. This wine is R250 a bottle at cellar door.

They also have a noble late harvest for R150 a bottle. I found this had a full mouth feeling, was heavy and thick.

The Muscadel was soft, sweet, had tones of honey, it was nice.

I have to say, after writing out my notes just now, it seems I liked around half the wines we tasted. But, I am very keen to go out to the winery to see the location, vineyards and cellar. Jaco was such a nice guy, and was so informative when conducting the tasting that I really am looking forward to visiting the winery when next out that way. I really would like to learn more about this wine region and taste the wines again.