A Good Year

A Good Year: June 2013

Thursday, 27 June 2013

Anthonij Rupert


So, Anthonij Rupert was actually the owner of L'Ormarins wine farm in Franschhoek, where these wines are made.  Anthonij Rupert sadly passed away and hence there is now a range of wines in his honour.
L'Ormarins then bought the Graham Beck property adjacent to it in 2011 and this farm has now become the Anthonij Rupert and Terra Del Capo farms and wine tasting rooms.

We were not overly impressed with the tasting experience at Anthonij Rupert.  Perhaps because it has only recently opened, perhaps because we had such a great experience at La Motte earlier in the day and we were comparing?!  It just felt like it lacked a bit of heart and enthusiasm.  Perhaps they have a more old school approach.  The wines were brought to our table, explained and then left to taste.  While it did allow us to enjoy each others company, I did find by the time I tasted the second wine I had completely forgotten what the TRH had said about it.  And so the experience was more like - a lovely glass of wine on a farm house stoep, rather than an actual Wine Tasting Experience. 

Nonetheless, the scenery is beautiful and the wine tasting is in the old Manor House where you can
choose to sit outside overlooking the lawn or inside one of the rooms. 
We actually ended up sitting out the back overlooking the old vegetable patch.  The weather was spectacular and it really was lovely sitting under the trees on the porch of an old farm house. The wines are also exceptional, like Rust & Vrede, they are in another league.  I still struggle a little though to justify R 400 for a bottle of wine (anything over R300 I struggle to taste the difference in value... perhaps there is still room for growth in my wine tasting capabilities :)).
I also found the tasting a bit overpriced.  Yes, they are excellent wines and a fuller glass is poured, but R65 to taste three wines isn't going to have me bringing friends back for more.

Overall, aside from the beautiful scenery and exceptional wines, the whole taste experience was found to be somewhat lacking.  Not overly impressive as one would expect from a prestigious farm, but rather a little disappointing.  Perhaps they are trying to create that environment of leaving you with the wines.  We just did not walk away thinking, "great tasting experience, we should definitely bring people back here"... but rather thinking, "That was a little disappointing don't you think?!"  Still pleasant, just not amazing.  Again, personal preference.

The only reason I do want to head back to the farm is to do a TERRA DEL CAPO tasting. 
Anthonij Rupert had a love for Italian food and wine and so, again, in honour of him this range has been launched and can be tasted in a separate tasting room on the farm.  The range consists of a Pinot Grigio, Sangiovese and Arne.

Personal preference and comments aside, the wines were quite delicious.  Very heavy wines, a lot of legs and perhaps to be accompanied with a meal.  But very well rounded and sophisticated wines.  I opted for the Anthonij Rupert tasting made up of the Anthonij Rupert Optima, Anthonij Rupert Merlot and Anthonij Rupert Syrah while my other half chose the Blends tasting made up of the Rupert & Rothschild Classique, Anthonij Rupert Optima and Rupert & Rothschild Baron Edmond.  I do certainly appreciate it when they bring you a glass or jug of water along with the tasting. 

The Rupert & Rothschild farm and tasting room are currently closed for some renovations, so the wines can be tasted at the Anthonij Rupert farm.  Rupert & Rothschild are a boutique winery who make a Chardonnay (Baroness Nadine), Classique (Red Blend) and Baron Edmond (Red Blend).

 A few wine notes below...

This is a Bordeaux Blend, a very well rounded blend and the easiest drinking of the five we tasted.  We both commented that no significant varietal sticks out, but rather they are beautifully blended together.  Having said that in comparison to the other wines, this wine was a bit more harsh and earthy.  A very enjoyable typical Bordeaux blend, with heavy legs.

This blend is Cabernet Sauvignon based and you can taste the distinct Cab Sauv flavours coming through, especially compared with the Optima.  There was quite a lot of sediment in the bottle as a result of the processing, where the wine is aged for a period in the bottle.  Again, a lovely blend, especially if you are a Cab Sauv drinker.

There was also a lot of sediment in this bottle (and the bottom of your glass).  The Merlot is much rounder than the other wines, a lot more berry flavours even though the nose is quite earthy and white peppery.  A lovely Merlot with a dry finish, but somehow not tanniny.  Though dry it did not leave that "cluck your tongue" dryness in the after taste, but rather, quite smooth.
Again, loads of sediment in this wine.  A very smokey Syrah, definitely the smoothest of all the wines we tasted here.  A rich blend of dark fruits, with the typical clove, pepper, smokey hints.  A really fantastic Syrah, my other half even went far enough as to liken it to a Rolls Royce of Syrahs.  A little out of our price range (R 410), but really really great!


This is the Flagship of the Rupert & Rothschild estate.  This wine is a blend of Cab Franc, Cab Sauv and Merlot.  Lighter than the Anthonij Rupert wines, with more cherry and cedar flavours.  Also very heavy legs, a very smooth and very enjoyable blend.

So after a little complaining it was actually a very pleasant afternoon, not the greatest wine tasting experience as a whole, but fantastic wines which you can really appreciate!

Anthonij Rupert Wine Farm

Lattitude: 33˚52'48.47" S Longitude: 19˚01'26.60" E
The Farm is on the R45 (Approx 13km from the N1 turnoff) on the right hand side, driving towards Franschhoek.

021 874 9041

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Monday, 24 June 2013

Wine with dinner - Diemersfontein Pinotage

Another occasion and another great bottle of wine!

 The wine was actually one of my birthday presents, a gift box containing one Pinotage and one Carpe Diem Pinotage Reserve.  Seeing as we were eating a gourmet meal of KFC, we opted for the Pinotage and decided to save the Reserve for something a little more sophisticated.  (We ate first and then enjoyed the wine, so as to not tarnish any flavours - obviously!).

Diemersfontein is well known for being one of the first  (if not THE first) coffee / chocolate Pinotages.
Just to check how "coffee" the coffee hints are, we compared the smells of the wine to a bag of ground beans from our local roastery (Bean in Love, Main Street, Paarl).  While you can smell the coffee, the nose of the wine is softened by the berry aromas and is definitely not as harsh or bitter as the ground coffee.

We also tested the difference an aerator (an awesome, very smart gift from my sister) made on the taste of the wine.  My other half tasted both glasses without knowing which had been poured through the aerator and commented that one (the aerated one) tasted significantly better, less heavy, like it had breathed.  Interesting, so breathing does make a difference to your wines.
A most delicious wine, thoroughly enjoyed!

Our wine notes...

WINE:  Diemersfontein Pinotage
PRODUCER:  Diemersfontein 
REGION & COUNTRY: Wellington, Western Cape
GRAPE VARIETY:  PinotageBOUGHT: At the farm
PLACE TASTED: A birthday present paired with an anniversary celebration.  Enjoyed at home with a gourmet meal of KFC and some homemade bread (Nigella style).

A dark red, almost purple colour.
NOSE:  Earthy and fruity.  Coffee beans.
TASTE:  It has the smoothness of a blend, it is fruity with an edge and not too earthy.  It has a subtle coffee flavour when you are drinking it, but none of the bitterness.
FINISH: A slight dark chocolate, like 85% Lindt dark chocolate finish.  A smooth and soft finish. 
OVERALL IMPRESSION:  Excellent! It is actually quite reasonably priced considering the quality.  There is a reason this wine is so well known, it is definitely the best Pinotage we have had, in a league of its own. (And it won't break the bank).  A well rounded delicious wine!
OVERALL VALUE: 4 out of 5

Bottle Quote:
"The original coffee chocolate Pinotage in its 12th Vintage - It befriends, it converts, it seduces!"

Diemersfontein Wine Estate
The farm is along the R301 between Paarl and Wellington, on the right hand side.

WGS84: S 33 39 33.7 E 19 00 15.8Tel: +27 21 864 5050

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Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Spice Route


Being right around the corner with a beer & biltong bar which now stays open until 8pm (most farms close at 5pm) we do tend to frequent this lovely farm, and always take visitors with us!
We actually first tasted the Spice Route Chenin Blanc in the Cayman Islands (see previous Wine with dinner post).

The view from the wine tasting area is just spectactular, from the vineyards and farms below to the Stellenbosch mountains & valley on the left and all the way to Table Mountain in the distance.  You can just about spend an entire day at thus farm with all the different options (we almost did).

Grappa tasting & the pizzeria - I went for a birthday lunch this year.  It was horrible weather, but cosy inside with the fireplaces.  We sat on the Grappa tasting side, took our own wine and had fantastic pizzas, delicious thin crust pizzas, specifically the Giorgio, Parma ham & Rocket and also the Flammkuchen (Tarte Flambe, which is a thin crust pizza with cream cheese, onions, bacon and garlic).  A lovely afternoon in the cold and wet weather.

DV Artisan Chocolate - There is a great chocolate tasting experience here and a lovely espresso bar.  You can actually see where the chocolate is being made, taste the cocoa beans and the variety of chocolates from different regions in the world.  Excellent chocolate and delicious tasting!

CBC Brewery  - A glass wall is all that stands between you and the brewery if you enjoy seeing the full process and watching all the machinery in action.  The beer making methods and information is all artistically captured on the walls.  I have not actually done at tasting at the brewery, but I have enjoyed a few IPAs and Pilsners with a bowl of biltong at the adjacent Biltong & Barley.

Glass Studio - A must see.  The creations are amazing and they are often busy at work melting and molding the glass, which is quite amazing to watch.

Restaurant - A delicious menu which I have yet to taste.

Wine Tasting - Definitely one of the most enjoyable wine tasting experiences there is.  The TRHs are very knowledgable and friendly, the wines are superb, the view is amazing.  There have even been some birthday or bachelorette wine tasting parties at the tables on the lawn, which are a great idea.

My wine notes below...

This was definitely the best WHITE of the day.  It had a nose of apples and pineapple with a very crisp and fresh taste, some gooseberry flavours coming through.  The winery notes mentioned grapefruit and floral notes with tropical fruit, fresh cut grass and green tea flavours.
A very nice wine.

Originally from the Rhone Valley, this varietal is usually blended with RED wines.  It has a lovely vanilla nose.  It is a very smooth wine to drink, with a full ripe fruit flavour and has a similar finish to a RED wine, which seems strange, but believable given the blending information.  I definitely agree with the winery's notes about and elegant length finish.  Not my first choice of wines, but interesting and enjoyable.

I thought this wine had a slightly fruity and soft rose nose, almost like the smell of the make-up and perfume combination a older aunt might have.  It definitely had a CHENIN finish in the taste, that slightly more asyn taste than a Sav B.  I could taste pears, with some peaches and apricots.  Having spent time on barrels, there is a slight wooded taste to the wine, like the spiced apple flavours mentioned in the winery's tasting note.

As our well informed tasting room assistant taught us, the Mourvedre is the light baby sister of a Shiraz.  It is a Spanish grape with a French name.  It is spicy but less bold than a Shiraz.  It smells slightly sweet, but spicy and light.  I noticed it has quite hectic legs, and on tasting you get the tannins at the back of your throat.  A very nice fruity wine with a smoky finish and an apt description of a younger Shiraz.  A very enjoyable RED wine.  I definitely agree with the wild herb and smoky aromas in the winery's notes.

The varietal created with Pinot Noir and Hermitage (France).  Apparently this wine can be kept for almost 10 years.  I did not think it was amazing, more of an easy drinking pizza wine.  "A lekker kuier wine" as someone else at our table described it.  It is definitely a lighter Pinotage with not such strong coffee and chocolate flavours, a lot more fruity, maybe a little too fruity.  The winery accurately describes it has have a subtle spice with raspberries and plums.  Not my favourite Pinotage, personal preference.

SPICE ROUTE CHAKALAKA 2010 (Syrah, Mourvedre, Carignan, Petit Sirah, Grenache, Tannat)
Chakalaka is a spicy African relish made from a blend of a number of ingredients.  In the same way, they say, this wine being a blend of 6 wine varietals is a similar spicy blend of African flavours.  It is very dark in colour and has a definite spicy, smoky clove nose.  It is a solid wine.  Having both the robustness of the Spanish varietals and the softer effects of the French varietals, this blend is excellent.  It has a delicious flavour of plums, sweet oak and spice.  With all the flavours, I would agree that this wine can be paired with just about any food.  A lovely blend!

Fantastic wine.  A Syrah is the same grape as a Shiraz, but the wine has been made using old world style (the grapes being of Persian origin) wine making techniques, whereas a Shiraz is made using new world techniques.  The old style creates a smooth, less robust palate.  This wine has spent 20 months in French oak.  It smells of liquorice and white pepper with a hint of cedar wood coming from the oak.  It is a medium bodied wine with a lovely combination of fruit and spice flavours.  A fantastic wine, no need to pair with anything it can definitely be enjoyed by itself.


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Thursday, 6 June 2013

Guardian Peak


We were in Stellenbosch for some rugby and decided to head to Annandale road to have lunch and do some wine tasting.  Guardian Peak's "Winery & Grill" seemed the more affordable lunch option along this road on this particular occasion, so we stopped there.

Lunch was DE-licious!  I had the Calamari tubes with Feta, baby potatoes & Paprika - delicious, an explosion of taste!  The boys had the gourmet burgers which were pretty darn good too with their bacon, brie and caramalised onions on top of the homemade melt in your mouth burgers.  The views are spectacular with the surrounding wineyards and mountains.

The list of wines is on the back of the menu with simple one line captions to describe the wine's drinking experience rather than the aromas and flavours.  We were not too impressed with the TRHs.  It may be due to the fact that they double as waitrons, or perhaps we complicated matters by having lunch at the same time as tasting (although most people seemed to be doing the same).  A different person served each wine,
some gave us a brief description, some failed to give any description, not even letting us know which wine it was.  Luckily no one was particular phased and the list is on the back of the menu anyway.  A lovely atmosphere nonetheless.

Not too many notes today as we ate lunch and chatted at the same time as tasting, no room on the table for pen and paper, no room in the conversations for detailed wine vocabulary, rather relaxing and enjoying.  All of their wines we found most enjoyable and definitely above average!  A great way to spend lunch with friends in the winelands.

A few short wine notes below...

Guardian Pink (The 2012 Rose) - "Light and elegant...Beautiful" - such a cute and smart name, a lovely not too sweet rose, quite crisp.

Sauvignon Blanc 2012 - "A crisp and light Sauvignon Blanc perfect for a summer's afternoon on the Guardian Peak deck".  Agreed, it's delicious.

Merlot 2011 - Berries and dry.  Delicious, not as sweet as some other very berry Merlots.

Shiraz 2012 - A slight purple colour to it, quite fruity and not too spicy.

Frontier 2011 Blend (Cab Sauv, Shiraz, Merlot) - A great blend and great value.

2011 SMG (Syrah, Mourvedre, Grenache) - Also another delicious blend.  Could be added to the favourites list.

Malbec Tannat - The first blend of its kind in South Africa. Quite an interesting flavour, a little sweet.

Lapa Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 - "Jean Engelbrecht's appreciation for Napa styled Cabernet Sauvignons is the inspiration behind this wine." - Although I am not this biggest fan of the Napa Valley wines, this flagship wine is fantastic!

Really great wines, delicious food, beautiful views and a lovely relaxing environment.


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