Wine Tasting in Western Cape

Posted by on Apr 24, 2013 in Africa, Play-by-plays, South Africa | 0 comments

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The first thing we did in Cape Town, after reveling in the luxury of beds, linens, wifi, and malls (MALLS!!!) was go on a wine tasting tour obviously. Sparky from Highlanders set everything up for us, and for 500ZAR we had transport, tastings at 4 wineries (one that also included a cheese degustation), and lunch (with more vino, of course).

In general, South Africa is known to grow chenin blanc as its main white varietal, although sauvignon blanc and others are also produced. As for reds, the Bourdeaux blends and the South Africa’s signature varietal, Pinotage (combination of pinot noir and hermitage) are most common.

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By Cape Town, everyone in our  group had realized my zealous penchant for wine and the fact that I could easily live off fancy cheese and fermented grape juice. And in general our group was not one to reject a day drinking session in gorgeous scenery–who can resist lush rolling hills?!  The overcast weather provided even more reason to keep warm with wine, especially the fortified kind. So here is a summary of our day.

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Simonsig, Stellenbosch

The Malan family of French Huguenots landed in Cape Town in the 17th century and has been making wine in the region ever since. And Simonsig, named so after the Simonsberg Mountain which towers in the distance and provides spectacular views for its visitors, has been a pioneer in winemaking in Stellenbosch. It was the first house, in 1971, to use the French methode champenoise (methode cap classique locally) to introduce Kaapse Vokel, South Africa’s debut sparkling wine. Anyday you start with some bubbly is bound to be a good one!

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Fairview, Paarl

My favorite stop of the day, Fairview delighted us not just in wine, but also in a generous selection of artisan cheeses. The wines were a typical mix of white and red varietals, but what I loved was that Fairview experimented with creative blends of Italian and Spanish grapes as well. Its fortified wine was probably my top pock of the day, and complemented the cheeses perfectly.

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Dieu Donne, Franschhhoek

Although the location and views from Dieu Donne were by far the most stunning, the wine was mediocre at best. Perhaps we were swayed by the better wine we had already tasted, or the best wines were sold out allegedly, but there was nothing really here I’d write home about. And typically, tipsy Nat would throw our accolades left and right as long as the wine tasted anything remotely close to grape juice. But once again, I have to reiterate that the views on the terrace are spectacular.

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Boschendal, Franschhoek

Located in another dramatic setting of soaring mountain views and verdant orchards, Boschendal farm is rife with history, once even owned by John Cecil Rhodes (of the DeBeers Diamonds fame). Aside from wine tasting, you can do estate and manor house tours. As for the wines, I was a fan of most and tasted a few of the reserve ones as well, which were good but not convincing enough for me to splurge and buy a bottle.

After the vineyards, we returned to Cape Town and continued to get to know the lovely city!

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