Stellenbosch is God’s Country

Dawie Botha, winemaker at Rupert

Dawie Botha, winemaker at Rupert

This is one gorgeous wine region. The Dutch influence is omnipresent from street names to the everyday language, and to wineries. They were the ones after all who introduced wine to the region, followed by the French Huguenots.

We started today with a visit to the winery owned by the richest man in South Africa, the Anthonij Rupert Wyne. It’s an enormous estate with thousands of acres and well-groomed grounds- and great wines. After being greeted we immediately boarded a tram that took us to a high vantage point in the vineyards so we could view the gorgeous panorama. We were served an aperitif of the Cap Classique Brut, a delightful sparkling wine made in the traditional Champagne style. We then went back to the manor house where winemaker Dawie Botha conducted a tasting of 4 of their best wines: the Ultima ’14 sauvignon blanc, crisp and bone dry which combines the grassy New Zealand style with the classic Loire Valley Sancerre; the Optima ’11, a blend of cab, merlot and cab franc; the cab franc ’09, a great vintage of which only 24 barrels were made (I bought this wine); and the cab ’09, with great structure and aging potential.

Boekenhoutskloof

Boekenhoutskloof

Our next stop was an alfresco lunch at Bread and Wine at the Moreson Winery with local charcuterie, springbok (venison) and an assortment of desserts, accompanied by the Dr. Reason Why Unwooded chardonnay ’13 and the In My Bed cab ’13, both awarded “Best Value” wines. Lunch was followed by a proper tasting of the Solitaire Blanc de blancs, made in the method Cap Classique (the S. African term for the traditional Champagne process); the Mercator Premium Chardonnay, their oaked version; and the Widow Maker Pinotage ’13.

tasting at Boekenhoutskloof

Tasting at Boekenhoutskloof

For our final visit of the day we traveled further up the Franschhoek Valley to Boekenhoutskloof, a winery with an interesting dichotomy: they produce over 6 million bottles, most of it mundane at a different facility; and their boutique winery, which we visited. Winemaker Jean Smith led us in a tasting of 5 sterling wines: the Semillon ’04 and ’12; the well-known Chocolat Block ’13, a blend of 70% syrah and the balance with cab, grenache, viognier and cinsault; the Syrah ’12 produced from the upcoming Swarthland area and the ’12 cab.

Only 16 wines today!  (We add more photos daily on our webpage)

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