The second day of our trip to Robertson started under cloudy and drizzly skies but who needs sunny skies to do wine tasting anyway? After a very leisurely breakfast we set off to
De Wetshof Estate
De Wetshof has become known internationally as South Africa’s eminent Chardonnay House due to the pioneering role it played in introducing this noble Burgundian grape to the country. The De Wet family’s winemaking heritage can, however, be traced back to 1694 when the first De Wets arrived at the Cape and immediately made a mark on the South African wine industry. Today, De Wetshof is one of the few third generation wine estates in South Africa. Here Danie de Wet, proprietor and cellarmaster, is assisted by sons Johann (viticulture and marketing) and Peter (winemaker). Once again, we have the wonderful Pieter Ferreira, of Graham Beck, to thank for having organised a personal tasting for us with the winemaker, Peter De Wet. We started off with their De Wetshof Methode Cap Classique Brut 2008, an elegant brut Methode Cap Classique with yeasty citrus aromas and zesty mineral flavours and small petillant bubbles. This was followed by the De Wetshof Estate Methode Cap Classique Pinot Noir Brut 2008. This Méthode Cap Classique with its charming salmon color has a persistent bubble and a lively rich mousse. On the nose it expresses brioche, dark fruit and flowers, while the palate is alive with citrus and berry notes complemented by a slight hint of baked biscuits. The estate offers 7 whites and 3 reds. Their specialty being unwooded Chardonnays. My favourite was the Limestone Hill Chardonnay 2016. An unwooded wine, Limestone Hill has notes of grapefruit and nuts, with the complexity balanced by a nuanced elegance ending with a delicate ripeness.
The American critic Robert Parker describes this wine as such: “The De Wetshof Estate Limestone Hill Chardonnay never sees oak, and offers impeccably pure, refreshing apple, peach and lemon fruit, a lovely leesy richness of texture, and a nutty, chalky, fruit-filled finish of imposing length. Understated and less tropical than some of the better un-oaked Chardonnays, this wine possesses far better balance and sheer drinkability – not to mention more finesse – than 99% of the world’s Chardonnay I have experienced.”
Peter spent over an hour with us explaining the process and philosophy behind their wines. Quite a special treat. If you find yourself in the area, I highly recommend a visit to this superb winery.
Peter recommended we stop in at Bon Courage, about a 3 minutes drive away to taste their bubblies and some of their reds. Who were we to argue? So, off we went. The sun was just starting to peek out and we decided to sit outdoors and do the tasting.
We started off with their Jacques Bruére Brut Reserve, Jacques Bruére Blanc de Blanc and the Jacques Bruére Cuveé Rosé Brut. All very elegant and highly recommended sparkling wines, then we moved onto a few reds. Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinotage and Shiraz followed by a Cape Vintage Port. A very well worthy stop indeed.
By now, it was getting to late afternoon and with it being autumn, we knew the light would not be around much after 6pm and the tasting rooms close at 5pm, so we headed back to Cape Town not expecting to be able to put in another stop. We decided to take the coastal route back and thereby cross another wine growing region, the Hemel-en-Aarde Valley.
The area has a particularly strong maritime influence . Collectively, the three Hemel-en-Aarde Area appellations enjoy probably the strongest maritime influence of any winegrowing area in South Africa. The closest point to the Atlantic Ocean Walker Bay, with its cooling influence of the cold Benguela current flowing up from Antarctica, is only 1.5km and the furthest point 10.6km. The prevailing summer wind, the Southeaster, blows across this bay towards the vineyards enhancing the cooling effect of proximity to the sea. This means cooler days but warmer nights and cooler summers but warmer winters. The climate, as for the rest of the Western Cape, is Mediterranean.
At 4:45pm we drove past Hamilton Russel.
The Estate specialises in producing highly individual, terroir driven Pinot noir and Chardonnay, which are widely regarded as the best in South Africa and among the finest in the New World. The estate also produces an Extra Virgin, cold-pressed Olive Oil from early hand-harvested, very low yielding, unirrigated groves of Frantoio, South African Leccino, Mission and naturally seeded trees, is fresh, peppery and pungent. Celebrating 23 vintages and a delicious full-flavoured, complex honey from a highly species-rich private 38 hectare indigenous Fynbos reserve, less than 2km from the sea. A great last minute stop.
By now, the light was fading and with another 2 hour drive back to Cape Town, we headed off along the beautiful coastal route through Betty’s Bay, Rooiels, Gordon’s Bay and Strand. Even with quickly fading light, the view was superb and we had to stop a few times to take some photographs.
We stopped at the Waterfront in Cape Town for dinner and decided on Karibu.
What a great idea that turned out to be. The restaurant prepares the best South Africa has to offer – from succulent steaks and delicious seafood to Cape Malay and traditional local favourites like boboite, potjiekos, game, snoekbraai, putu and chakalaka and koeksisters. The owner himself came over to chat and seeing as we could not decide what to order,(the menu is extensive and everything sounded delicious), he sent the chef over to advise us. We settled on the bobotie springrolls to share as a starter. Unfortunately, I was so hungry by the time they arrived, as I had not eaten since breakfast, that it was only as we were licking our messy fingers that we realised that we had not even taken a photograph. Sorry, but trust me, they were delicious and the presentation was beautiful. Luckily, having filled the whole in our stomachs, we had the foresight to take photographs of our main courses, which, also were absolutely delicious. Thanks to the suggestions of the chef, Stuart and I both had exactly what we wanted but had not known it.
I had the Malay Vegetarian Feast. A tantalising medley of chick peas, butter beans, brown lentils and kidney beans, – layered with aubergine, topped with feta and yoghurt and then baked to perfection. Served with salad, roosterkoek and chutney and sambals. The flavours blended perfectly together and the warm freshly baked roosterkoek with butter and jam was just delicious. Dinner and dessert all on one plate.
Stuart had the trio of venison medallions which consisted of three pieces of fillet, impala, springbok and kudu served with crispy potato wedges and two sauces, an Amarula sauce and a, blow your mind, pepper sauce. The chef explained the differences in texture between the three fillets but Stuart could not identify which was which. But that did not really matter because they were all three cooked to perfection, tender, succulent and most importantly, absolutely delicious. A perfect meal to end an absolutely perfect two days of wine tasting in and around the Robertson area.