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Nicole, my daughter, had suggested we book for a Saturday lunch picnic at Warwick Estate in Stellenbosch. Warwick Estate is a family-owned and run winery. Stan Ratcliffe purchased Warwick on April 1st 1964 after an extensive search for the best ‘terroir’ in the Cape. Together with his wife Norma, they soon realized the potential of the extraordinary property and began planting Cabernet Sauvignon. The Cabernet Sauvignon vines produced high quality grapes, which were soon in demand from neighbouring wineries. Norma became more and more interested in the making of wine and began to study the subject. Soon a cellar was in place and Norma began producing her own handcrafted wines using the Warwick grapes. In 1984 the first Warwick Cabernet Sauvignon called ‘La Femme Bleu’- the Blue Lady – was released. Norma had a natural talent for making great wines and in 1986 Warwick Trilogy was released, a Bordeaux style blend which has since become a flagship of the South African Wine Industry.  Norma is often referred to as ‘The First Lady’ as one of the first woman to make wine in South Africa. Norma is the family matriarch and has been head-winemaker at Warwick since the late 1970’s. The first woman to become a member of the Cape Winemakers Guild and the only woman to serve as Chairperson, she has played a pivotal role in the development of the South African wine industry. With all that great woman power, I was really looking forward to going there and trying their wines as it had been a few years since I had drunk any Warwick wines.

Everyday so far, had been between 27 and 32 C (80 to 84F) and bright sun but this morning, we woke up to a very cool, cloudy and foggy morning. Typical, isn’t it? The one day that we had actually planned an outdoor picnic was the one and one day that announced itself as very iffy, weather wise. But, the picnic was booked, Nicole’s friend, Alex was joining us and we were all set. I packed my big floppy hat in the hope that it would be used for the sun but alas as we set off towards Stellenbosch, the drizzle started. It even turned to rain for a while and I foresaw using my hat as rain protection although I was not sure how well a straw hat would stand up against a shower.  The drive to Stellenbosch from Sea Point is about 45 minutes or so and we kept glimpsing bits of blue sky but no sooner had we seen it than the few drops would fall. We arrived at Warwick in time for a tasting before our picnic to a few drops of rain. The tasting was consequently held indoors.IMG_6811IMG_6814IMG_6815

For R35, we had the classic tasting which included 2 whites, an oaked chardonnay, and a sauvignon blanc, a rosé and 3 reds, a cabernet sauvignon, a pinotage IMG_6830and a cape blend. The server threw in the Trilogy, a bordeaux blend and their flagship wine, to make up for the weather. Not bad! All the wines were very good although I did prefer the reds to the whites. Our server was very knowledgeable about the wines, the making, terroir etc and generally enhanced the entire experience. By the time we were finished with the tasting, the skies had cleared and we decided to have the picnic outside as planned. A number of families and couples were already at the various sites, tables, lawns, private pods enjoying their baskets. IMG_6816IMG_6817


Me with Nicole and Alex at our picnic table

Warwick is renowned for their scrumptious picnic baskets, each of which serve 2 people. I chose to order one gourmet and one vegetarian basket. This is the menu. I am salivating just thinking about it.

As the only indigenous South African variety, Pinotage forms the foundation of the passion, commitment and dedication that is lived out at Beyerskloof. As a result Beyerskloof is globally know for their Pinotage wines, making it the perfect place for me to end my South African tasting trip.IMG_6843
I was most definitely not disappointed. The Beyerskloof Pinotage boasts with being South-Africa’s most popular Pinotage, and it’s no wonder. This wine has shown a fruity and enjoyable consistency year after year. Classic Pinotage. A wine made to enjoy, to drink at any occasion.Bouquet: Primary fruit aromas lead to an abundance of plum and black cherries against mocha, cedar & sweet spicy notes.Tasting notes: Strong plum flavours with velvety tannins. Well structured, yet elegant and soft, medium-bodied with a fresh and superbly balanced finish. Impressive for consistency, given the volume produced of this specific vintage. For a full flavoured experience they recommend drinking young. The Diesel Pinotage is excellent.Bouquet: Rich blackcurrant and black cherry fruit upfront combines well with the elegant cedar oak aromas.Tasting notes: A big structured Pinotage with intense dark fruit flavours. A complex middle leads to a smooth finish with pleasant cedar flavours from the oak. Great balance between fruit and oak will allow superb ageing in the bottle for 10 years and more. The ideal match to spicy Indian dishes or a well matured rump/sirloin steak. And to end a very pleasant surprise: the Lagarre. . A lush, strong and fruity-sweet fortified wine with great flavour and character. A lovely wine to relax with and sip slowly.Unique, not typical port-like, rather exotic. A bottle of that made its way into my luggage, courtesy of Alex. Thanks.
What a perfect end to a perfect day. Sitting on the balcony, sipping some Graham Beck bubbly and eating takeout pizza.IMG_20160304_185026