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, 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.