Today we are tasting the wines of Stellenbosch in South Africa! We started our day on the patio in the middle of the vineyards at our B&B eating fresh made eggs, fruit and toast with homemade jam. We had a couple of pamphlets with wine maps so knew the route we wanted to take.
Our first stop was at Spier (www.spier.co.za) which is one of the oldest wine farms in the area…dating back to 1692. It is pretty large and well-known. Inside was a nice big open space with a bar in the middle and little tables surrounding the bar. Each table had wine glasses and a paper for writing tasting notes. We chose a few wines to taste and one of the women working there brought over the wine explaining what each wine had to offer and the differences between them. The wines were very good…our favorite was the Frans K Smit which was perfectly balanced with a log finish and great vanilla notes from the barrel aging…it was of course the most expensive, about $80 in USD…no we did not buy it. We enjoyed our tasting and actually purchased a white bottle of their 21 Gables, Chenin Blanc. We much prefer red wine but lately we have really started enjoying a nice oaky chardonnay. We were surprised that we liked the Chenin Blanc but made the purchase.
We were leaving the winery and saw a row of vendors selling some of their local goods right by the parking lot. There were some really cool artsy crafts to look at and we ended up buying a bracelet and matching necklace hand-made out of recycled material for my mom…hopefully she likes it! We took a picture with the women who made it and then were on our way to the next winery. We approached the Klein Zalze Vineyard (www.kleinezalze.com) which had a guard at the gate who let us in to see both the winery and restaurant. We chose a flight of wines to taste and sat outside at a picnic table while the women explained what we were sipping. We poured some of it out…it was not nearly as good as Spier in our opinion, but our favorite there was the 100% Shiraz, 2009. We paid for our tasting and then were on our way to the next winery…we have many places to fit in today.
The third winery of the day was Blaauwklippen (www.blaauwklippen.com). We weren’t overly impressed with any of the wine we tasted at Blaauwklippen until we reached the last taste which was a fortified Brandy with late harvest Zinfindel. It was in a fancy bottle and as soon as it hit our tongues, we were intrigued, we had never seen a Brandy mixed with Zinfindel. It was very different so we bought a bottle of the very well priced after dinner drink. If we could have shipped more to the US without costing so much, each one of our friends would have received one of these, but…only one bottle for us, they’ll have to take our word for it!
Our fourth winery was a very quick stop, they were actually closing but allowed us to come in for a quick taste since there were a couple other people inside. We tasted a few and realized their style of wine was all very earthy. Giff is ok with earthy but I definitely don’t prefer it, we bought a bottle of the Jeti to be nice which was the best of what we tasted. We were only there for a few minutes as we could clearly see they wanted to leave for the day.
Our last stop was at Neethlingshof Winery (www.neethlingshof.co.za) which was a beautiful property, it was surrounded by hills and mountains, greenery and the old white manor house. We followed another couple around our age who seemed to know exactly where the tasting room was. We sat at a table next to them and ordered our own tasting flight while chatting with them. They also did a lot of traveling and she was from South Africa so gave us tips on other wineries to visit. The wine was very good…our favorite was the Owl Post, we bought a couple of bottles and then walked to the winery restaurant, just next door.
The sun was just about to set and they put us at a table outside to enjoy the view. The weather was perfect and the food was nice and fresh. We enjoyed our relaxing meal and decided we do like the wine here so far…particularly the whites, who knew?!
Tomorrow we have another long day of wine tasting…it is kind of our duty while we are here to properly taste a good handful of wines before leaving this gorgeous scenery.