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.

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

Tuesday, 10 February 2015

Karusa - second visit

Today I was in the area so I decided to pop in for another tasting. The place seems to be doing really well, you will notice that their wine is in most restaurants in the area (Oudtshoorn) and each time I have visited the winery (both times on a week day) they have had guests sitting on the stoep enjoying a bite to eat and sipping on a glass of their wine.

Karusa has an outdoor area to enjoy a glass of wine and food and an indoor area for wine tastings. They serve food here also so I ordered a grilled Ostrich wrap which was delicious and a very decent size!

For the tasting you are restricted to 5 wines for R30. For anyone who follows my blog you know I struggle to chose and especially from a list of 20+ wines. I however felt like mostly white wines so I chose five and then the lady was kind to give me a tasting of a few more at the end. I therefore got to taste the following:

Southern Slope Sauvignon Blanc 2014 R58 a bottle - not too acidic, tropical nose, intense and good. Lighter on the palate in comparison to the nose.
Stonerock Viognier - wooded 2014 at R58 a bottle - nice and smooth, a little fresh on the finish.
Aloe Ridge Chardonnay - unwooded 2013 at R55 a bottle - guava, lime, fresh yet round mouth feeling
Terre Noire Syrah 2012 at R85 a bottle - heavier on the nose with blackcurrant and black pepper. Medium body, nice flavour, earthy tones, nice.
The Ancients Pinot Noir 2012 at R85 a bottle - smokey and spicy. Nice but unusual for a Pinot Noir.
Double Black Petite Syrah 2014 at R115 a bottle was rich and heavy, had cherry and blackcurrant flavour. It was good, but I didn't feel it was R115 good.
Grenache Noir/Shiraz/Mourvedre - unwooded red 2013 at R40 a bottle - it was served a little warm. It was a nice, light and easy drinking red, white pepper on nose and palate, a little spicy.
Muscat Blanc semi - sweet 2014 at R45 a bottle - lovely nose, nice easy drinking wine, pear, apple smell and taste, it is a light wine. Only 11.5% alcohol which is a bonus.

The lady who served me was very lovely. She remembered me from my last visit and provided an informative tasting.It was nice of her to give me a few extra wines to taste also.

I recommend one visits this winery when in Oudtshoorn.