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, 23 August 2015


I contacted the winery an hour in advance to let them know I was wanting to come for a tasting. They were very accommodating and happy for me to come through.

I was greeted by Jessica in the tasting room, and was led to a map on the wall. She explained that the farm is 12 hectares, 10 of which vines have been planted and two are planted with olive trees. When the farm was purchased in 2000, extensive soil tests were done and it was decided that Syrah would be the ideal grape here. 8 of the 10 hectares have been planted with Syrah, 1 hectare is for Viognier and another hectare for Mourvedre.

The wine farm is called Kleinood which is an Afrikaans word meaning small and precious. The wine however is called Tamboerskloof which I found interesting. I asked Jessica why the wine was called this and she explained that the owners used to live in the Tamboerskloof area in Cape Town for 25 years and with their fondness and memories from this area they decided to name their wine Tamboerskloof. Tamboerskloof means the valley of the drums.

We then sat down at the long table in the tasting room and tasted three wines. Here are my notes on the wines:

Tamboerskloof Rose is 100% Syrah (R76 a bottle). They use the free run juice of this grape to make the rose. Unlike many wineries, Kleinood doesn't use the leftover grape skins to make red wine. These grapes are designated for Rose. The wine was lovely, the aromatics were medim-pronounced in intensity. It had strawberries/red berrries on the nose, fresh, citrus and lime flavours. This wine was named after the owners daughter, Katharien.

Next we tasted the Tamboerskloof Viognier (R108 a bottle). This consists of 90% Viognier and 10% Roussanne.  They mature this wine in 300L and 500L old french oak barrels. This wine had a pronounced nose with fruit and spice. It was delicate, soft, light on the palate, with marmelade and spice on the finish. It needs to breathe and open up to get the full impact of body and flavour on the mid palate. Ideally you wouldn't want to serve this wine too cold either.

Tamboerskloof Syrah 2011 has 5% Mourvedre and 1% Viognier (R145 a bottle). Spent 20 months in barrel, 10-15% new oak. This had a deep ruby colour, was shy on the nose, smooth, savoury on palate, rich flavour, a little spicy, and a lovely mouth-feel. It was a very elegant wine.

The wines are all good quality and I feel very good value for the price.

On my way out, I admired the beautiful grounds just outside the tasting room. I wonder if they do tastings outside? It is very pretty!

A few weeks after this tasting, I dined at Il Leone restaurant with some friends and I chose a bottle of the Tamboerskloof Syrah to enjoy with our dinner. It was beautiful and all of us enjoyed the wine! I can highly recommend visiting this winery, and ordering a bottle at a restaurant. I truly feel you can't go wrong with any of their wines!

At the winery they also sell olive oil, which is made from their own olive trees. They sell this for R93 a bottle. With the wine tasting you get to try this also.

Saturday, 18 July 2015

Vondeling - second visit

Today we were on our way to Riebeek Kasteel for a weekend away. On our way there we drove past Vondeling and I decided to stop for a tasting as it had been a few years since I last tasted their wine and my boyfriend had not been there before and I wanted to show him the place.

To see my notes from my first visit please go to http://westerncapewineries.blogspot.com/2013/04/vondeling.html

The place was quite busy. I found out that they had recently done a Groupon special where you can have lunch and wine tasting for a special price. The meal looked scrumptious and I was envious of all these Groupon customers!

On arrival the staff were very welcoming and polite. We were lead to the bar/counter to do the wine tasting and then Marian came to conduct the tasting with us. 

The tasting room here is humble and lovely. As it was during the winter months the fire place was going and everyone was happy to be inside.

The church is now finished making the venue even more ideal for a wedding, not to mention the views. There is a lovely outdoor area at the tasting room with views over the vineyards with the mountains in the not far distance.

Vondeling has a lovely range of wines and they are fairly priced. I can highly recommend coming out to Vondeling for a tasting. I am sure you will enjoy the charm, warmth and kind hospitality that the staff show here.

Tasting notes:
Vondeling Rose 2015 - 100% Merlot Rose. Pronounced nose, nice viscosity, red berries on the palate. Great fruit flavour with some spice. Very nice. R49.50 a bottle.

Vondeling Petit Blanc 2014 - 60% Chenin Blanc, 28% Chardonnay, 12% Viognier. Pretty floral character on the nose. Fresh flavours on the palate. It is fruity, green fruit to be more specific, with some lime that lingers on the finish. I liked this wine. R49.50 a bottle

Vondeling Sauvignon Blanc 2015. Sweet tropical fruit aromas including guava and gooseberry. It has intense flavour and reminds me of a NZ Sauvignon blanc. A lovely wine! R65 a bottle.

These first three wines turned out to be my favourite from the range. They are great value for money; you can't go wrong with these wines!

Vondeling Chardonnay 2013 - buttery, honey, butterscotch, heavy.
Vondeling Chardonnay 2014 - light aromatics, fresh, lighter in style to the 2013, pleasant.

Vondeling Barbera 2013 (flagship white) - 60% Chenin Blanc, 15% Grenache Blanc, 15% Viognier and 10% Chardonnay. Babiana is named after a flower on their property which is endemic to the area. When you visit this winery, you can see a photo of this flower on the wall. This wine has good body, has a slight waxy texture/mouth feel. Stone fruit flavour. This is a good wine. R135 a bottle.

Vondeling Petit Rouge 2014 - 85% Merlot and 15% Cabernet Sauvignon. Medium intensity on the nose, black fruit flavours, good tannin structure, liquorice. Good depth in flavour. R49.50 a bottle.

Vondeling Baldrick Shiraz 2013 - 93% Shiraz, 6% Mourvedre and 1% Viognier. I wasn't a fan of the nose on this wine, it had a slight earthy/manure smell. It had good depth in colour, was smooth and had good concentration in flavour. More along the lines of dark fruit flavours. Tannins are present. R70 a bottle.

Vondeling Erica Shiraz 2011 - 86% Shiraz, 10% Grenache Noir, 3.6% Mourvedre and 0.4% Viognier. This had a beautiful (and pretty) nose, with some sweet notes of vanilla. It was spicy, a little dry (tannins) but not harsh or undrinkable. Violets and floral tones. R139 a bottle.

Vondeling Cabernet Sauvignon 2012 - lovely red fruit aromatics, with some slightly sweet spice and cigar hints on the nose. Lovely ripe fruit flavour, dry, and a little bit of spice. R102 a bottle.

After reading my previous post on this wine estate, I feel this one doesn't do it enough justice, in regards to the charm and warmth of this place. Please do read my post from the first visit as I hope it will encourage you to make the journey out to this estate.

Saturday, 4 July 2015

Gin Tasting

Today I joined two others in a Gin tasting to see how the gins I have from overseas compare to what we can get locally here in South Africa. I have looked online for retail prices and then exchanged them in to Rand at today's exchange rate. I thought it would be good to see how they differ in regards to price.

South Gin (NZ) NZ$45.90 = R375
 - Had a candy character on initial taste and heaps of liquorice on the finish. Lingered for a long time!

Hendriks (Scotland) NZ$59.95 = R500
 - What really showed on this in comparison to the others is the texture. It was much thicker in consistency than the others. More floral on the nose. Candy, cucumber and botanicals on taste.

Uncle Vals (USA) US$45 = R560
- Cucumber on the nose. Citrus/marmalade on taste.
Woodstock (local) R180
- Prominent butterscotch on the nose. Good viscosity but not as much as Hendriks.

The Botanist (Scotland) NZ$75 = R630
 - not offensive on the nose or palate. Definitely the best sipping gin.

Tanqueray No. 10 (USA) NZ$73 = R630
 - pleasant nose, good viscosity, candy and citrus flavours.

Inveroche classic (local) R350
 - Citrus on the nose, nice viscosity, spearmint, alcohol wasn't offensive.

Bombay (England) NZ$48 = R400
 - like a slap in the face after the other gins. Not offensive on the nose however.
Inveroche Amber (local) R350
 - Cola on the nose.

This was a fun exercise! It was nice to be tasting something other than wine and to sit down and really understand the characteristics of gin. It seems the Uncle Vals which we only had a shot left of, was the favourite. Sadly I can't get more of that unless I go back to the US or someone brings me a bottle. The Woodstock was a stand out gin. The Botanist showed as the best sipping wine, the South Gin was a favourite in flavour, and the Hendriks won on viscosity. The Inveroche showed well against all these gins and made us proud to have a high quality local gin on the market. The Bombay was very much out of place!

I would love to get some more gins and do this again in a year's time. I wonder what wonderful gins we can find by then. It might be quicker, easier and cheaper to hit Mother's Ruin in Cape Town!?

Tuesday, 16 June 2015

Phizante Kraal

Well this was a surprise find on my doorstep! A friend of mine told me about a lovely breakfast she had at this winery (Phizantekraal) not far from where we live. Then one day, my boyfriend surprised me with a trip to Phizantekraal for breakfast.

This is not even 5 minutes drive from where we live and we have now dined here twice since finding out about it. The main building where the restaurant is, was built in the 1700's. They have built an extension for the tasting room. The place looks modern, smart and yet quaint and charming. I love the place.

My battery on my camera died when I wanted to take a photo of the building, so I have taken this photo from the Phizantekraal website. You can see the front part (the brick part) is the new extension to the original building  with the thatch roof in the back.

Here is a photo I took inside the restaurant. You can see they have a high ceiling and looks really nice with all the wooden columns: 

We had a very nice breakfast. The menu is small but there is something for everyone whether you want the good old bacon and eggs, something sweet like french toast or something warm and wintery like porridge. Our meals were nice and the service was fine, though they did take a while to bring the bill; I had to ask a few times for it.

There was a big group celebrating a Grandma's birthday on the day we dined here. I have to say this restaurant is ideal for couples, families, baby showers, birthday celebrations and more. It really does cater for everyone and the setting is so humble, low key and relaxed.

After breakfast we went through to the tasting room to try the wines. They have a wall of jars filled with different aromas for characters of wine. They have a big range of aromas like tobacco, aniceed, wet rocks, almonds plus many more. We spent a good amount of time smelling all the jars, it was a lot of fun.

This picture is from the Phizantekraal website. As you can see, the tasting room is very modern and has lovely big windows for you to enjoy the view. Like the day we visited the weather it was a bit dismal and it looks like it was the day this photo was taken too. I can imagine on a clear day the views must be very nice. Even when the weather wasn't great, the views were also lovely.

Now, getting to the wines, I was impressed. Apparently they have been selling off their grapes for a long time and still sell off a good portion, however they now make wine from their vines also. Quantities of wine production are low and the quality of the wine is very good, especially for the price.

Sauvignon Blanc 2014 (R58 a bottle): Medium to pronounced nose, more fruity in style. Light in body, medium - high acidity, green fruit - like granny smith applies - on the palate. Soft, creamy, and a little floral.

Chenin Blanc unwooded 2014 (R48 a bottle) had medium intensity on the nose, smelled like smelly cheese (strange I know). It was fruity on the palate with hints of peach, apricot, pineapple and pear. There was also a little bit of floral and some green characters to the wine like bell pepper and asparagus. It had medium acidity, medium body, and a good mouth feel. It was a pleasant wine. I had a glass of this wine when we dined here a week later. It went very nice with the curry dishes we had.

Chenin Blanc wooded (R85 a bottle) had a medium lemon colour, medium intensity on the nose. It had nice aromatics. On the palate I picked up fruity flavours including some hints of melon. This wine was soft, round mouthed, creamy, had medium body, medium - high acidity. It had lovely oak character with hints of nutmeg and cinnamon. The oak is subtle. This wine had flavours of apple, raisin, saltanas, nutmeg and custard. Reminded me of a bread and butter pudding. This wine also had some floral character to it. This wine was nice.

Cabernet Sauvignon 2013 was a medium ruby colour, had medium intensity on the nose and medium body. There were some soft wooden spices coming through on the nose and I picked up plums and some sweet characters on the nose also.It was soft, had lovely red fruit with some raspberry flavours and some spice on the palate. There was aniceed/liquorice, followed by a plastic feeling on the finish. Soft tannins, ready to drink now. This wine impressed me more than the reds and was nice. We had a bottle of this with our dinner on the next occassion we visited this winery. It is very good value for money and very pleasant with food.

Shiraz 2013 had a dark ruby colour. It had intense aromas with dark fruit character. This wine was soft, had hints of christmas fruit cake and a little bit of citrus (orange specifically). It had medium body, soft tannins, was rich and had good length. Again I was impressed with this wine. We had a bottle of this at the three course dinner also, again it went down well with our food. Our friends were really impressed by the wine and the price!

I am more of a white wine drinker, but the reds stood out for me more than the white wines. Which did surprise me considering Durbanville has become well known for their white wines. All of the wines are nice and very good value for money.

The tasting room manager did a good job of presenting the tasting. It was clear that she had been with the company for a while and knew the wines well. It was an informative tasting and she was very pleasant. The tasting costs R20.

Once a month they open their doors for dinner. It is a set three course dinner and themed. We attended the one in June which was a Middle Eastern Winter Flair for only R180 pp. The food was very nice, presentation was good and the timing of the dishes coming out was done nicely.

This is a photo of the starter we had. Aloo Tikka with Chutney & Pickled Radish. The food as you can see was nicely presented and creative also. This was a delicious meal! 

For our main the following dishes were placed in the middle of the table and everyone could help themselves, there was plenty to go around, the portions were generous.
Lamb & Sweet Potato Curry with Cashew Butter Paneer, Turkish Apricots, Rice & Lentil Pilaf, Buttered Naan.

For dessert we had Honey Orange Cake with Pistachio Cream. They served this with Masala Chai Tea which was delicious!

A bonus to dining here is that you get the wine at cellar door price!! The three course dinner was really good value for money and a lovely evening to catch up with friends. It is great to have another dining option in the Northern Suburbs.

If you are out this way, be sure to stop by. It really is a lovely place for a wine tasting, breakfast, lunch and dinner (the latter is by appointment only and you need to find out what date they are holding them)!

Friday, 29 May 2015

Tasting notes for Arendsig Grenache 2014

Today I tried the Arendsig Grenache 2014. Here are my tasting notes:

Appearance: Light in colour, ruby red, clear.
Nose: Clean, medium intensity, fruit
Palate: Dry, medium acidity, low tannin, light/medium body, fruit and spice. Short finish.

Conclusion: This is a very good wine. This wine had a beautiful light colour. It is nice, soft and light on the palate. Fruit and spice flavour.

Wine Tasting Notes for Scali 2014 Sirkel Pinotage

Today I tried the Scali Sirkel Pinotage 2014. Here are my notes:

Appearance: It is quite light in colour, nice ruby red, clear.
Nose: Clean, light, spices, fruit
Palate: Dry, medium acidity, medium tannin, medium body. Little oak. Sweet spices like clove, nutmeg, and cinnamon. Red fruit like cranberry, plums and red cherries. Had a short finish.

Conclusion: A good wine. Acidity seems a bit high and needs time to settle. Otherwise a soft, fruity wine. A little bitter on the finish.

When I tried this wine blind at Publik Wine Bar, previous to the above tasting this was my opinion on the wine:
I tasted this blind and was very impressed by the intense, dark fruit and licorice flavours yet soft on the palate. It was an unexpectedly pleasant Pinotage!

This is what the winery has to say on their website:
"Expressive fresh, ripe raspberry and red fruit with a hint of sweet herbs. Youthful and elegant, this wine is ready to be enjoyed now".

Monday, 27 April 2015

De Grendel - second visit

Recently we went to De Grendel for a wine tasting as I thought it was time for a re-visit.

This is still a favourite wine estate of mine and I will gladly visit this winery again and again and again. The setting is beautiful from the moment you arrive at the gate. You drive up a long driveway lined with tall trees, and when you get to the cellar you are greeted with a modern and beautiful tasting room with beautiful views.

This winery has a cellar, tasting room and restaurant. The tasting room has outdoor and indoor seating with amazing views of table mountain in the not so far distance. It really is beautiful. The service is very good here, they are attentive and knowledgable about the wine, providing informative tastings.

There are two tasting options here. You can choose to taste all the wines for R50 or you can taste three wines for R20. Only there is one slight catch, if not all wines are available for tasting, you still pay the full amount. Also, if you want to taste the MCC Brut and/or the Chardonnay Op die Berg you pay an extra R20 for each wine.

I was impressed to see the length of their opening hours. It is great that you can come and do a tasting here up until 7pm Monday - Saturday. This is later than most wineries stay open until. Something to keep in mind when you are planning a day visiting wineries in Durbanville. Or even if you decide to visit wineries further afield, you can always come back via De Grendel to Cape Town, or finish here for dinner after a day visiting wineries.

Tasting hours:
Monday - Saturday 9am – 7pm
Sunday 10am – 4pm

They offer cheese and charcuterie platters at the tasting room. I have had the cheese platter on a previous visit, sharing with two others and felt it was really good value for money and delicious! These platters are R110 each.

Ok, so I decided to taste all the wines including the MCC Brut. For the record, I didn't find one wine which I didn't like! Across the board the De Grendel wines were very nice but it was the Merlot, NLH and Pinot Noir which caught my attention. Here are my tasting notes:

MCC Brut 2013 is R165 a bottle. It was nice, biscuity, complex yet approachable.

Pinot Gris 2014 is R75 a bottle. This was nice, light, had hints of apple and peaches.

Sauvignon Blanc 2015 is R80 a bottle. This had a beautiful nose, pleasant and typical fruit flavours for a SB, fair acidity, was elegant and smooth.

Unfortunately the Koetshuis SB 2014 was sold out so we couldn't taste this. It is R110 a bottle.

Viognier 2014 is R75 a bottle. This had a lovely floral nose, i particularly picked up violets in the bouquet. It was a pleasant tasting wine and had a good mouth feel.

Rose 2014 is R55 a bottle. This had a lovely aroma, was dry and fresh on the palate, and had black forest flavours.

Pinot Noir 2012 - Op Die Berg is R160 a bottle. This had a lovely nose with blackcurrants, berries and cherries. It was a nice Pinot Noir. This was my third favourite wine from this tasting.

Merlot 2013 is R110 a bottle. This was beautiful, elegant, soft and had lovely flavour. It had good tannin structure and had a little dry finish to it. This was my favourite from today's tasting, I was really impressed!!

Shiraz 2013 is R125 a bottle. It was herbacious and had licorice on the nose, smooth and spicy/peppery on the palate.

Last but not least we tasted the Noble Late Harvest 2014 at R110 a bottle. I am a sucker for dessert wines and this really impressed me! This NLH is made from Sauvignon Blanc. It had a sweet aroma of peach, orange rind and marmalade, with some lemon and olive notes also coming through on the nose. This was another favourite of mine from this tasting.

I can highly recommend visiting this estate, they have beautiful views, good service, great wine and apparently they have a really top restaurant! I still need to come and dine here to find out for myself.

Durbanville Hills - lunch

We decided to meet my boyfriend's parents for lunch today. I had heard that the chef had changed since we last dined at Durbanville Hills, so I booked us a table to check it out.

The place was busy. In fact, all of the Durbanville Wine Route was busy, which was awesome to see. I am pleased that everyone is catching on to the fine cuisine, views and experiences one can enjoy in the Northern Suburbs and without having to head in to Cape Town or out to Stellenbosch.

The restaurant has a lovely modern, fresh and open feeling to it. The service was fine but it could have been better. I remember we couldn't find our waiter to order drinks on one occasion and then again when we wanted to order our food, for example.

All of the food we ordered was nice, but nothing wowed me to be honest. I would eat here again, especially as it is convenient for those of us living in the Northern Suburbs, but I wouldn't come out of my way to dine here if you are a tourist with limited days to enjoy the fine cuisine on offer in the Cape. As you can see in my photos below, the presentation is good and the meals look interesting, but the flavours just lacked and didn't leave me wanting more. If you look at the prices, you can see that it is good value for money however.

Chicken Galantine R110
Potato gratin,bacon, red wine and pearl onion sauce

Braised pork belly R65 (starter)
Pickled cabbage, jus.

Twice-baked butternut and cumin souffle R50 (starter)

Chocolate lava pudding, white chocolate and pistachio fudge and a tot of Van Ryns 12 year old brandy R65
Spiced Orange Creme Caramel, peach and apricot brunoise R60

After lunch we went down to the tasting room as I wanted to taste some wines but unfortunately we missed the cut off point. I was a bit gutted as I really had hoped to taste the wines and didn't expect for them to close before we finished our lunch. However, the lady who I spoke to was very kind and suggested I could taste three wines (for free - very kind of her) at the counter, this suited me perfect and I was really grateful for this suggestion! I tasted the Durbanville Hills Sauvignon Blanc at R50 a bottle, the Chardonnay at R50 a bottle and Rhinofields Sauvignon Blanc at R90 a bottle. I didn't make many tasting notes on these wines so haven't written them here.

Durbanville Hills has a nice "package" going on here. They offer various wine tastings which include:
Crystal Tasting: A selection of eight wines including a souvenir crystal glass. Price : R45.00
Chocolate and Wine Pairing: Selection of five wines paired with five artisan chocolates. Price : R65.00
Biltong and wine Pairing: Selection of five wines paired with five types of biltong. Price : R80.00
Rhinofields Food and Wine Experience: Our six Rhinofields Reserve wines, expertly paired with a variety of dishes such as chilled tomato soup and crème brulee. Price: R120 Duration: 75 minutes Booking is advised for this pairing.

As you can see they have something for everyone. They have outdoor and indoor seating. They offer picnics which you can enjoy under the trees, and inside you can enjoy a platter of cheese, meats and breads while doing a wine tasting. They really do cater for everyone.

They are open Monday to Wednesday 9am to 4.30pm, Thursday and Friday 9am - 6pm, Saturday 10am - 4pm and Sunday 10am - 4pm.

Tuesday, 24 March 2015


I was out this way for work and had 30 minutes to spare, so I decided to stop off at Wildekraans. This winery is on route from Cape Town to Hermanus and about 2-5 minutes drive off the highway (once you have turned off from the N2 towards Hermanus). If you are heading on the N2 from Cape Town to Swellendam then you turn off the highway towards Hermanus and not even five minutes later you turn off for Wildekrans. It really isn't much of a detour, if you need to get back on the N2, which is nice.

It is a nice estate, and the vineyards look well kept.They look like they are sitting on some relatively rocky soil? Yet it looked like the vineyards were on the less interesting/rocky soil areas.

I was welcomed by a lady at the tasting room. It was a quite a good size room and I saw they have outdoor seating as well, so I imagine one can enjoy a tasting inside or outside.

The lady serving me did a great job in providing an informative tasting. You could tell she had been working for the company for a while, she was confident and could speak well about each wine. My overall experience was very good. 

The first vintage produced here was 1992/1993 and the winemaker is William Walkenson.

I tasted the following wines:

Estate Sauvignon Blanc 2014 at R52 a bottle.
It lacked aromatics on the nose, had a fresh tropical flavour on the palate, was a little floral, and had a flour mouth-feel on the finish.

Estate Chenin Blanc 2014 at R52 a bottle
Again not much on the nose, had lovely balance between fruit and acidity.

Premium Range Sauvignon Blanc Barrel Select Reserve 2011 at R115 a bottle
This wine was matured for 3 months in all new oak barrels. It lacked again on the nose, had a nice mouth-feel on the palate, soft fruit flavours coming through, very light flavour though. Slight acidity on the finish. Good lingering finish with freshness and acidity.

Premium Chenin Blanc Barrel Select Reserve 2013 (flagship white) at R170 a bottle.
This wine was matured in new oak barrels for 12-15 months. Good flavour on the palate, lovely honey tones, oak compliments with slight nuttiness. The lady informed me that there are honey bush planted between the vines which has an impact on the flavour of the wine. This wine had some sharp/fresh flavours and a little bit of acidity on the finish, as well as a nice lingering finish. There is minerality on the mid palate and finish.

Estate Range Cabernet Franc/Merlot 2012 at R75 a bottle.
This wine spent 12-15 months in 2nd and 3rd fill french oak barrels. It had an interesting nose with hints of cigar and fynbos. It was nice and soft on the palate, light - medium weight, a little dry on the finish. Earthy tones and fruit on the palate. It is a nice blend. Aging potential 7 years. Drink before 2019.

Estate Range Pinotage at R77 a bottle.
Interesting/unusual aroma. It felt like it was the alcohol hitting me, but it was only around 14%. it was a little dry on the palate, sharp on the finish. I wasn't a fan.

Premium Range Cape Blend Barrel Select Reserve 2012 at R175 a bottle.
Spent 18 - 24 months in new french oak barrels. It is a blend of Pinotage, Shiraz and Cab Sauv. Lovely and soft, good flavour with fruit, spiciness and earthiness. Medium body and a little dry on the finish.

Tuesday, 17 March 2015

The High Road

After visiting Dalla Cia, I figured I might as well tick off one more winery while in the area and stopped at the tasting room at High Road.

I wasn't sure if this winery was by appointment only or if you can walk in anytime, so I walked in and a lady was upstairs in the office. It turns out I was in luck, as she had some free time.

We went downstairs to do the tasting. The lady serving us was very pleasant, had been with the brand for a while so could speak confidently about the wine and made us feel very welcome.

We tasted the Classique 2010 at R115 a bottle. This is 41% Cabernet Sauvignon, 39% Merlot and 20% Cabernet Franc. It had lovely sherry/port/sweetish tones on the nose. It was light on the palate, had soft tannins and wasn't dry. It didn't have a lot of flavour. It was soft, a little spicy and approachable.

Then we tasted the Director's Reserve at R245 a bottle. This is 69% Cabernet Sauvignon, 19% Merlot, 8% Cabernet Franc and 4% Petit Verdot. It had a soft overripe fruit nose, was soft on the palate, had pleasant flavour, soft tannins, good fruit, dry, good finish, ripe flavours.

Both of these wines are Bordeaux blends and vintage specific. They buy in the grapes from the Helderberg, Devon Valley and Poladraai regions. 

Dalla Cia at Pane E Vino

The other day I needed to drop off wine samples to ViniLab so I quickly popped in to Pane E Vino to see what the Dalla Cia wine was like.

It costs R55 to taste all 4 wines. The waitress brings four glasses, pours each wine, tells you what each one is (i.e Sauv blanc, Chard etc) and leaves you to taste.

Dalla Cia Sauvignon Blanc 2014 is R125 a bottle. This had lovely tropical fruity and crisp aromas, it lacked body. It had a fresh finish, acidity was balanced, floral tones on the finish. Subtle fruit flavour. Overall a pleasant and fresh drinking wine.

Dalla Cia Chardonnay 2013 is R162 a bottle. It had an oxidative nose, light barrel character, light buttery and creamy yet fresh finish and fresh flavour on the palate. Round mouth feel but light. Overall a pleasant and fresh wine.

Dalla Cia Classico Cabernet Sauvignon 2013 at R189 a bottle. Typical Cab Sauv with that cigar box and spices on the nose. It was dry, medium bodied, shy (needs time or food?), tannins are prominent, chocolate tones and not much fruit on the palate. It was overall ok, a bit dry and lacked character.

Dalla Cia Giorgio 2011 at R295 a bottle had a sweet port/sherry nose, was light on the palate, a little spicy, little dry, balanced but again not much flavour. Overall it was ok, balanced but nothing exciting.

Pane E Vino was a nice looking restaurant, it looked like a deli/bakery kind of cafe. It had a nice atmosphere and the staff were pleasant and friendly. I didn't eat here, so I cannot comment on the food. The overall experience was fine but you don't come here for the views, vineyards, cellar etc. It is simply for the convenience of being able to try the Dalla Cia wine here (and the food if you eat here).

Sunday, 15 March 2015

Springfield - tasting notes

Recently I was at Buratta and my friends ordered a Wild Yeast Chardonnay from Springfield. I was really impressed with this wine. Then I was at Schoon Oordt in Swellendam and I was introduced to the Miss Lucy which is a blend of Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon and Pinot Gris, this was also very nice.

When I found myself staring at the whole range of Springfield wines at Delish in Heidelberg, I decided to try more from their range. I purchased the Life From Stone, Reserve Cuvee Sauvignon Blanc and the Pinot Noir 2010. Out of all of them, the Pinot Noir impressed me the most, the two Sauvignon Blancs were quite similar and neither jumped out at me as a wow Sauvignon Blanc. The Newstead 2014 Sauvignon Blanc is still my favourite at the moment.

Here are my tasting notes of the three Springfield wines:

Life from Stone
Pick up minerality, green tones, a bit of asparagus, guava, creamy and fruitiness on the nose. Yes I could smell the creaminess of the wine. Sure enough on the palate it was soft and creamy, it had good body and I picked up flavours similar to Feijoa on the palate. I didn't enjoy the taste of the wine. There was a bit of acidity on the finish. I think this is best drunk ice cold.

The Reserve Cuvee Sauvignon Blanc didn't have so much to offer on the nose, but what I did pick up was similar to the Life from Stone, only it was very faint. This wine was lighter on the palate and had more freshness. It had lovely tropical fruit flavours and the acidity on this was balanced. It was a pleasant Sauvignon Blanc.

Pinot Noir 2010 had a glazed cherry smell, was light on the body, had very little tannins, was light in flavour and on the finish. It was a non-offensive light red wine with a little sharp feeling right on the finish. It lingers quite nicely. Not a bad wine at all. I would buy another bottle of this wine.

Saturday, 28 February 2015

Viljoensdrift - Tasting Notes

My Western Cape Wineries wine club recently got together for a blind MCC tasting at La Vie in Cape Town and other than the Moet being the highest voted wine, Viljoensdrift came in a very close second with only one vote difference.

I therefore opened a bottle a day after the event, to see if it was as good as I had remembered it to be, and to see how it tasted by itself, and not side by side 9 other MCCs.

It had a lovely yellow colour. I imagine this is partly due to the age. It is a 2008 vintage!

Bubbles continue after pour, not on surface - this settles obviously, but in the glass they continue for a long period.

Nose: Yeast, biscuit, peach and apricot (stone fruit)

Palate: Medium body, plenty of flavour, lovely honey, nuts and fruitiness. It is a little sweet on the front of the mouth with more tart expression on the back.

It has a lingering finish.

This is a very good MCC and at a fantastic price!

Thursday, 26 February 2015

Newstead Winery

I have now visited this winery twice in two months and highly recommend stopping here if you are on the Garden Route. Newstead winery is just outside of Plettenberg Bay, very close to Bramon Wine Estate. There are quite a few wineries and attractions out this way making for an enjoyable day out. Plett is not far from Knysna, so if you are staying in Knysna, it is an easy 30 minute drive, with beautiful scenery and plenty of farm stalls and attractions to enjoy on route. Here is a nice map you can use for the Plettenberg/Crags area. http://www.cruisethecrags.co.za/map/index.html

I love how as you drive to the parking area of this place, you drive through the vineyards. It gives you a sense of where you are and allows you to absorb the location of where the wine is coming from. You are right in the heart of it when you arrive.

Once you get to the building, you walk in to the reception and shortly after you get to the tasting room. They have a beautiful porch to conduct the tastings. From the porch you can see the vineyards and enjoy a wine tasting and some food. They have tables and chairs on the grass where you can spend all afternoon catching up with friends.

The owners are very hands on, so you will likely meet them if you visit the winery. They have a small team of staff to run the tasting room and all work efficiently making sure the guests are seen to and receive the attention they need.

The first time I visited this winery was when my brother and his family visited me here in SA in December 2014 and we spent four days in Knysna. We did a day trip to Plett which included Jukani Wildlife Sanctuary, lunch at Thyme and Again, visiting The Potter and a wine tasting at Newstead. It was a really nice day out.

The lady who served us was very informative, she could answer any question we had and was really polite and friendly. We loved the wine here, we tasted the Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. We purchased a bottle of each wine for our cellar. Their prices are very reasonable for the quality of wine you are getting. It won't take long for their wines to be in everyone's fridge and cellar. Although, having said that, there won't be enough to go around as they only make around 30,000 bottles a year, so you will have to get in quick.

The good news is, you don't have to wait for this wine to hit our shelves, nor do you need to visit the winery to buy the wine. You can contact them directly and have the wine delivered to your door. http://www.newsteadwines.com/shop.html

I was super lucky on my first trip to be able to buy a bottle of their MCC. There were only two left in the fridge and I was allowed to buy one. It was only R120 so I didn't mind not tasting it before buying it. It was the best R120 I have spent!! I tasted this at home a few days later and was so impressed!! I have been telling everyone how awesome that MCC was. It had the texture of mousse, hints of strawberry flavour and had beautiful fine bubbles and plenty of them. I rate this wine up there with the Cape Winemakers Guild  Graham Beck MCC!! It is a stunner. Sadly they are sold out so I was unable to buy more on my second visit, but I have now put my name down on the waiting list for the next vintage, and I believe I am not the only one, so be sure to get in quick when the next vintage comes out!!

On my second visit I got to meet the owners Sue and Doug Lund, and they were so welcoming and hospitable. We did a tasting of the Sauvignon Blanc 2014 and Chardonnay 2013 (I think).We had some lovely food for lunch which included a tasty puff pastry, cheese board and bread. Perfect for the setting. We sat on the porch, overlooking the vineyards, sipping wine and eating this beautiful food.

Sue and Doug have created an ideal setting here at Newstead which makes it very hard to drive past without stopping. I guarantee after visiting this place once, you will always visit when out this way.

I didn't take notes on the wine, as on both occasions I just wanted to enjoy the company and atmosphere. However, other than the much raved about MCC above, I can also highly recommend the Sauvignon Blanc 2014 which sells for R75 a bottle. This Sauvignon Blanc will give a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc a run for it's money. It has the most beautiful tropical fruit flavoured aromas I have smelt on a SA Sauvignon Blanc, it is beautifully balanced with just the right amount of acidity and has just as much tropical fruit flavours on the palate as it does on the nose. This is a must buy!

I will be using this wine in my next blind Sauvigon Blanc tasting and putting it up against a NZ Sauvignon Blanc as well as 8 other South African Sauvignon Blancs to see how it compares. Stay tuned for the date of this tasting in Cape Town and the Northern Suburbs of Cape Town. It will likely be end of March or early April.

Check them out on Facebook on Newstead Lund Family Vineyards