Art and WINE ESTATEs
One thing that amazed me the most about South Africa, Cape Town and surrounding wine estates is a close relationship with the art scene. It is incredible how much creativity is nurtured and developed into unique art in this part of the world. Wine making itself is a rather crafty process with the aim to produce an art piece that speaks the poetry of a lifetime. At most of the wine estates I visited I could see a diverse spectrum of art whether it was in the form of a sculpture, painting, or a landscape garden. With the stunning scenery of mountains and vineyards, exotic flora and fauna, a great climate, bright blue skies it almost felt surreal. To an extent it felt like you are in a parallel world, one may call it a Wine Wonderland.
Few wine estates I would like to highlight for it's artistically beautiful settings are:
Nested on the dramatic slopes of Botmaskop alongside the Helshoogte Pass overlooking Banhoek Valley in Stellenbosch, Bartinney is a family run farm spread over 28 hectare that dates from 1912. With its incredible charm this historic estate doesn't only excel in wine but also has leapt into the spirt industry with its distinctive botanical delicious gin 'The Tempest Gin'. A botanical element is very dominant here even in the wine tasting as the hosts try to portray herbal influence in a wine aroma from the nutritiousness of the land where the vines are grown.
Their philosophy is simple 'everything has to work in harmony', agriculture with nature, people with animals, sustainability with excellence. Something to admire! This is very evident when you arrive to the estate when you encounter quite a few friendly golden retrievers, beautiful horses, breathtaking views of the well maintained vineyards and their gardens and certainly the balanced production manner of their products and services.
The Bartinney logo depicts a winged figure sculpture 'Elevage' created by the world famous sculptor Dylan Lewis that can be seen on the wine bottles. The sculpture resides symbolically in the estate's fynbos garden. Elevage resembles 'the French art of the selective maturing and ascension of a wine to its ultimate heights, unfurling its most noble traits.'
Wine of recommendation
One wine that left me dreamy for days with its long lasting taste is 'Hourglass Chardonnay 2015' vintage. It is from a vineyard that stretches 350m to 550m above sea level, which allowed greater exposure to the sun and winds.
Absolutely delicious Chardonnay with complex aromas and balanced acidity which make this wine delicate and soft - from my perspective a keeper. White peach, toasted brioche, jasmine and fresh lemon developed from exceptional weather and enhanced by 11 months ageing in French oak barrels.
This wine goes well with poultry, pork and rich fish with herbs and vegetarian dishes.
Don't forget to taste their 'The Tempest' gin.
Delaire Graff Estate is a state of luxury and art itself. Known for its renowned jewellery design and special gems, the estate also produces premium wine. The estate also offers fine dining at a spectacular restaurant incorporating home-grown fruit, vegetables and herbs.
We arrived to the estate rather spontaneously as the initial plan was to go on a different day a lunch booking. Luckily, the bar was still open so we could order few glasses of wine to taste.
Wine of recommendation
From this estate I would like to select 'Delarie Graff Merlot 2016' made from hand picked grapes from the Estate's oldest single vineyard. Such a gorgeous Merlot that hints southern sunny notes of spicy aromas of dark plum and berries, ripe tannins that are incredibly balanced and give a long sustaining finish to wine.
This delicious Merlot goes so well with meat, pates, cheeses and vegetarian stews.
Savour the moment with a glass of wine while observing breathtaking views of this luxurious estate. Staff are so friendly and well informed about different wine. The atmosphere was pleasantly buzzing.
Hidden away in the majestic Jonkershoek Valley on the outskirts of Stellenbosch, Stark-Conde is yet another family run boutique winery that I thoroughly enjoyed visiting for the unique scenery and great food reference to the 'Postcard Cafe'. This estate allows you to have wine tasting by their lake and admire views of surrounding wine estates and a beautiful chateau on the top of the hill, (I believe it's a private property before you venture to check it out...)
Wine of recommendation
Some gorgeous red wines, particularly popular for Cabernet Sauvignon and other Bordeaux varieties. One to note is their 'Three Pines Cabernet Sauvignon 2014' awarded a tremendous 95 points by Tim Atkin in 2016 SA Wine Report, including other prestigious recognitions.
This wine was matured for 22 months in French oak barrels with blends of petit Verdot and Merlot to enhance aromas of blackcurrant, vanilla and leather notes among others.
This wine goes nice with red meat with herbal spices, hard cheeses and aromatic vegetarian curries.
Try to book lunch at 'The Postcard Cafe' and try their homemade banana bread with their homemade chocolate spread. So delicious!
Tucked away in Durbanville Hills Valley, this little gem is family run and they take pride in their homemade wine. Wines at Nitida are predominately white and are intriguing. 'Nitida' name and logo derives from tree leaves, inspired by a wildly recognised South African protea nitidus flower that can also be found in their garden. All wine bottles resemble some form of a plant or animal that can be seen at their farm.
Wine of Recommendation
I would like to nominate 'The Tinkery' for its effortless harmony. Every year a different grape is selected, 2017 was dominated by 100% Viognier. Exotic and yet fresh - the background jasmine introduces a silky synthesis of fruit and spice - peach, apricot, cinnamon and fennel.
Goes lovely with various tapas and cheeses.
Try 'The Matriarch (MCC)' sparking wine for its honey-crisp apples and brazil nuts aromas.
waterford estate Stellenbosch
While visiting South Africa back in January, among hiking the Lion's head in Cape Town, scooping up unique souvenirs at vibrant markets; selecting and visiting wine estates and vineyards was a great priority.
South Africa ranks seventh among the biggest wine producers globally according to the statistics published by OIV with an estimated 10.8 million hectolitres. My challenging mission was to condense wine estates in two weeks and every each one of them left me breathless for their beauty of landscapes, architecture and art, and most of all unique delicious wines.
I thought for this post it would be a great opportunity to highlight an estate that ticks all the boxes for great wine estate: exclusive wine blends, adventure and gorgeous scenery.
Waterford Estate Wine Stellenbosch
The Wine Safari experience offered by the Waterford Estate intrigued me to visit this estate. I was not entirely sure what to expect from a morning adventure and wine tasting. Having arrived at the estate that is set among beautiful Cape mountains forming breath-taking landscapes, I almost felt for a moment that I was in Tuscany as the venue resembles a traditional Tuscan Villa.
During the wine safari we had few pitstops where we tried a selection of different wines whilst absorbing breathtaking scenery while spotted few local animals and learnt more about host's wines.
The whole experience of the estate tour, wine tasting and pairing with some delicious and beautifully presented snacks, not to mention a unique wine and chocolate pairing, was absolutely exquisite.
Wine of recommendation
For this wine estate I've picked a wine that is one of the most distinctive blends that I've ever had due to its diverse grape union - Cabarnet Sauvignon as the base, Merlot, Shiraz, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, Sangiovese, Barbera, Mouverde. 'The Jam 2012' vintage truly is a gem, named after the vineyard's owner and a truly beautiful wine.
The complexity of the wine with different aromas and powerful blend of fresh black fruit, spice, tobacco, leather that work well balanced together with elegant tannins that chance a long memorable finish for days.
Red meat, soft and hard cheese and spicy food.
The estate can be visited without any prior announcement, however for the wine safari make sure you book in advance, especially during the peak season. The safari is organised in very small pair groups or if preferable you have a possibility to book just for yourself and your partner.