A Good Year

A Good Year: August 2013

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Uitkyk - Wine & Pancake Pairing


My chef sister frowned when I mention wine and pancakes together, thinking it was an odd combination.  But Uitkyk did an exceptional job of pairing the wines with the respective pancake fillings.

We arrived a bit early and meandered around the farm - it is rustic and beautiful.  It reminded me of your typical working farm, more of a dairy or cow farm than a wine estate per se.  But that's what made it so lovely.  While I do enjoy the style, heritage and luxuriousness that comes with most wine estates, it was a breath of fresh air (literally) driving into this farm. 
Again with winter here, no matter how beautiful the farms, the leafless vineyards and trees just don't look as good as they could.
The Tasting room is simple and welcoming.
The Wine and pancake pairing took place in the Old Manor House which looks more like an English Country House (or even one of those old mansions in the deep south of the US of A, Alabama perhaps) than the typical Cape Dutch.
I had heard of Flat Roof Manor (FRM) wines, but did not know they were part of Uitkyk and obviously named after the Old Manor House.  I was pleasantly surprised by the quality and price of the Flat Roof Manor wines, considering they are a second tier brand.  Good quality and very reasonably priced.  Also, most of them are actually lighter wines - 9% alcohol as opposed to the usual 12-14% and have convenient screw caps.  Perfect wines for picnics, braais and chilled evenings with friends.

The FRM PINOT ROSE 2012 (LIGHT)  was not part of the pairing, but I had a quick taste at the tasting room before buying a bottle.  It is lovely, its like juice, very easy drinking!  I have decided I'm going to try and bring Roses back into the family for this summer.  Sav Bs and Chenin Blancs get too much of our attention and there are some great Roses out there.

We started with a complimentary glass of the FRM SAUVIGNON BLANC 2012 (LIGHT) on the Old Manor House stoep while we waited for other guests to arrive.  Delicious, soft and light, with green fig and asparagus flavours... we took a bottle of this home too.

We were seated at a long table of 20 in one of the Manor House rooms, I was very chuffed to get a place next to the fireplace.  I love a kaggel.  The TRH gave us brief chat of which wines had been paired with what and why, and then left us to be.  I would have liked them to maybe stick around and interact a bit more, but it was quite nice to be left alone to taste and compare at leisure.  It also encouraged people to interact with one another and chat to the stranger sitting next to you to find out their opinions too.  
Another lovely afternoon in the winelands.

Below the wines and their respective pairings:

FRM PINOT GRIGIO 2012 with Spicy Thai Green Curry
The Pinot Grigio was light, fruity (particularly litchi flavours) and delicious.  A very enjoyable light, fresh summer wine.  The Thai Green Curry was a fantastic pairing, smoothing the wine out even more.  The spice complimented the fruitiness of the wine perfectly, our favourite pairing of the day.
UITKYK CHARDONNAY with Slow Roasted Pumpkin and Brie
This Chardonnay has spent only 6 months in oak, so it is a little toasty on the nose and has a slight butter finish to it, but otherwise quite cirtusy in flavour.  The Pumpkin and brie pancake was delicious!  The brie in particular was scrumptious.  This pairing makes you understand why cheese and wine go so well together, the stinky cheese-ness perfectly compliments the rich chardonnay.  Another great pairing.
FRM MERLOT 2010 with Roast Chicken, Camembert & Sage
We were pleasantly surprised by this merlot, a little dry and green pepper aromas on the nose, but lovely and juicy on the palate.  Rich fruit like red berries and prunes with a slightly dry oak finish.  The pancake pairing was fantastic, the sage brings out a little bit of smokiness in the wine.  Second favourite pairing of the day!  And at R49 a bottle, a great deal for a merlot.
FRM SMV 2010 (Shiraz, Mourvedre, Viognier) with Roast Beef, Spinach & Cranberry Jelly
There is definitely more white pepper aromas on the nose coming through from the Shiraz, its quite dry and peppery and yet it is still fruity.  The pancake itself was delicious, but together as a pairing it was not our favourite.  The sweetness of the cranberry cancelled out a lot of the berry flavours in the wine making the wine too spicy.  Our TRH said this was her favourite pairing. Just shows you there is not right and wrong answer in wine & food.
UITKYK SHIRAZ CABERNET SAUVIGNON with Sauteed Onions, mushrooms & Edam 
This is a 50/50 blend and is a lot more earthy than the other reds tasted.  It is however, a very nice wine.  The pairing was good, not amazing.  Mushrooms to me are always delicious, but perhaps not the perfect pairing for this wine.

A great idea for a food and wine pairing, relaxed and enjoyable.
I think they have one more this year before summer hits and then they will start up again next year winter. 

GPS: S 33 51' 24.8" E 018 51' 50.7"
Tel: +27 21 884 4416
Situated on the R44 between Paarl/Klapmuts and Stellenbosch
www.uitkyk.co.za / www.flatroofmanor.co.za

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Thursday, 22 August 2013

Wine with dinner - Under Oaks

With no food in the house and a few matters to discuss, we thought pizza and wine would be the perfect solution!

Under Oaks is a lovely little wine farm just outside Paarl with a Pizzeria open until about 9pm in the evenings.  It is the most beautiful farm, when it is not too cold you can sit at the tables outside under the huge oak trees and enjoy the view of the dam, mountains and cows nearby.
It's your typical homestyle / family Italian restaurant with a simple menu, red & white checked table clothes and of course their own Under Oaks wines.

The walls are lined with artwork from the well known Frans Groenewald - Love his stuff, it's definitely going to feature on my wine cellar walls one day, when I'm big! They are such fun, quirky pieces with a play on wine & food words and characters.

Check out more of his work on his website - www.vespaghetti.co.za

The cows were right up at the entrance to greet us when we walked in.  We started with a Garlic Foccacia and a bottle of the Shiraz Reserve 2010The pizzas are always fantastic and we usually have a Sav B or Chenin, but given the chill in the winter air we opted for a red. 
What a great wine, so smooth, quite dark in colour (although that could have been the lighting).  Like the tasting notes say, a rich berry flavour with a long smooth finish - spot on!  A great wine, even better with our pizzas.

Their other wines are also very enjoyable, reasonably priced and definitely above your average easy drinking wines.
The three leaves on the label represent the Oak trees under which the vineyards lie, the vine for the grapes and the cork which brings the hand picked, carefully crafted boutique wines altogether.

Of course you can't go home without dessert and you have to have Italian kisses at a restaurant like this - nougat ice-cream with a chocolate shell was our choice - yum yum yum!

Great wine, delicious pizza and a lovely chilled out dinner.  A local favourite!

Through Paarl Main Road and out the other side for about 4kms, it will be on the right
S33°’ 40′ 40″ E018°’ 56′ 24″
TEL: +27 21 869 8045

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Monday, 19 August 2013

Franschhoek Winter Wines - How was it?

The Franschhoek Winter Wines festival is held at L'Ormarins Wine Estate, which is a beautiful farm (even in winter with the brown and leafless trees and vines).  There are endless paddocks with giant mountains as a backdrop.  One of the first paddocks on the way in also had a herd of very impressive and healthy looking Angus cows quietly grazing.


The thing about Franschhoek is that the little valley really does produce some fantastic wines. 
Perhaps it is the terrior of the little valley, perhaps it is wine wisdom of the French Hugenots passed through the generations or even just the standard of excellence that the town seems to exude, especially in the food and wine category.  It is not often that you find a wine that doesn't make you want to buy a bottle, drink some more and come up with some elaborate menu to enjoy with it.  

This festival was held in one of the four buildings which house the motor museum.  Each farm exhibiting had one wine (often the flagship of the estate) atop their designated barrel.  Most of the farms had their winemakers present who gave you a little more insight into the making and producing of that particular wine.  The one man band Newton was playing some awesome background music and in general there was a lovely relaxing atmosphere, despite the chills outside.  It was mostly REDs available for tasting with the odd MCC here and there.

The motor museum in itself is well worth seeing.  The collection is astounding, really to have that many cars in one place! (and it is not even the full collection).  The cars are in mint condition and absolute pieces of art.  From the formula ones to the vintage cars and the row of Ferraris, stunning!  The Enzo is amazing!  But my personal favourite, for my casual Sunday wine routing would have to be the Aston Martin DB2-4, it is a beauty!! (I'd probably take the mustang too... and maybe a few others!)
I definitely don't know enough about the ins and outs of the engines and all that stuff under the hood, but I can appreciate the beauty, precision and artwork that goes into everyone of those vehicles!  A great collection, well worth seeing!
By the time we arrived at the festival the nearby parking lot was full, but we did not mind at all because it meant we could be chauffeur driven in one of the museums vintage cars right to the festival, door to door service in style - so awesome!  I love the vintage cars.

We had an awesome afternoon!
A few notes below  on the wines we decided to taste...

Their Brut is made from Pinot Noir & Chardonnay grapes and it is delicious!  It is quite sweet for a brut, but drier than a rose.  They seemed to have found that perfect point of sweet and dry with beautiful tiny bubbles.  A great bubbly!!

Another fine wine, not too harsh on the coffee notes and a lovely berry flavour.  An above average Pinotage, perhaps a little over priced (personal opinion).

The Big G is a blend of 50% Cab Sav & 50% Cab Franc.  This may sound strange, but it tastes purple.  It is dark and earthy (Cab Sav) and yet somehow floral with perfume aromas on the finish (Cab Franc).  A lovely blend, very enjoyable.  The winemaker informed us that it would be great with an excellent steak - particularly their Estate Restaurant, Franschhoek Kitchen's, steaks.  This was seconded by another bystander, so we will definitely have to pay them a visit for a steak and wine dinner!
An absolutely lovely Syrah, smoothed out beautifully with a little Viognier.  Very smooth and extremely enjoyable.
According to the winemaker, the name La Chataigne means chestnut in French and so he has tried to name the wines as such using different languages, hence the name Marron (a larger eating chestnut in French) for this wine.  The wine is actually a blend of Merlot, Cab Sav and Pinotage (a Cape Blend).  It is quite an interesting blend, it smells like a vegetable garden or some healthy soil.  It is quite peppery and tangy with a fruity metallic-ness to it.  It is very nice and could probably even sit for a little longer in the bottle.  
The winemaker also apparently hand signs the name of the wine on each bottle, so they actually make for very nice gifts as the bottles from this boutique winery are quite unique looking.
Another great wine, your standard well made Cab Franc.

THE BEST OF THE DAY!  This Brut was our absolute favourite, we were taken aback by the beautiful hue - a perfect soft pink / off mink champagne colour with tiny bubbles - beautiful!  It tasted like sweet roses and peaches, genuinely, with sweet florals on the nose.  It really was delicious and quite reasonably priced at R115 a bottle.  
This farm also imports three different French champagnes, so we will definitely be paying them a visit sometime soon.  (We were back at their barrel a few times)

This was a blend of 68% Cab Sav together with Merlot and Petit Verdot.  It is really smooth and has lovely berry flavours without being too sweet or plum-y.  The delicious Cab Sav flavours being well rounded and smoothed out by the Merlot.  Delicious.
Solms Delta's flagship wine, which they can definitely be proud of.  This wine is a Shiraz, however, they have used the dessication method (drying out the grapes before harvest while, still on the vines, a little like raisins).  The dessicated bunches are then fermented as whole bunches.  These methods result in a much more concentrated and deep berry flavour.  It is unbelievably smooth with delicious berry flavours and your spicy Shiraz finish.  Wow, exceptional, it gets better with each sip.  Definitely the best RED of the day!

You don't find a lot of Sangiovese in South Africa so it is nice to have the opportunity to taste one here.  It doesn't have any particularly noteworthy points, but it is a lovely rich, smooth red which is definitely above average. 

A lovely festival, fantastic wines, amazing cars and a thoroughly enjoyable afternoon!

See you there next year.

Latitude: 33°52´18.79¨S Longitude: 18°59´54.64¨E 

Tel: +27 21 874 9041

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Thursday, 15 August 2013

Franschhoek Winter Wines Festival - This Weekend

This weekend is the Franschhoek Winter Wines festival, 17 August 2013!
There tickets are a little more than the usual festival at R180 per person, but the event takes place in the Franschhoek Motor Museum on the L'Ormarins Estate.  There is usually a cover charge for the museum, but this weekend you will be in amongst the vintage cars with over 100 years of motoring history, tasting some of Franschhoek's finest wines.
The festival runs from 12 - 5pm with live entertainment throughout the afternoon.

Check out the long list of wineries below that will be exhibiting, with their wines available for tasting and winemakers available for chatting:

Akkerdal                                         Anthonij Rupert Wines
Boekenhoutskloof                           Boschendal
Colmant                                          Four Paws Wines
Franschhoek Cellar                        GlenWood
Grande Provence                            Haute Cabriere
Holden Manz Wine Estate               La Bri
La Chataigne                                   La Couronne Wine Estate
La Motte                                          Leopard’s Leap Family Vineyards
Lynx                                                 Morena
Noble Hill                                         Rickety Bridge
Rupert & Rothchild Vignerons         Solms-Delta
Terra del Capo                                The Bernard Series
Vrede en Lust Wines 

Let us know if you are heading out there this weekend and how it is/was!

Check out the official website for more information - http://franschhoek.org.za/events/event/franschhoek-winter-wines-2/

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Monday, 12 August 2013

Hidden Valley Wine Farm


This gem of a wine farm is right at the end of Annandale road.   I actually always thought the farm's name came from it's position - hidden at the end of a beautiful valley, but in fact it is the owners who are the Hidden family. 

It really is a beautiful part of the world.  A cute little dam lies at the bottom of huge, majestic mountains, there is a lovely little nature trail which one can do with ease.  Or if you would rather relax with a lovely glass of wine, the view from the tasting room and patio is spectacular.  Hidden Valley is also host to one of the top ten restaurants in the country - Overture.  It is so peaceful and tranquil out there (without being eery).  I also love how they have made an effort to keep all the surrounding fauna and flora as indigenous as possible, with beautiful proteas, strelitzias and more.

Unfortunately our service wasn't that great, it seemed like the wine tasting side were a bit under staffed and one of them got the chocolate pairings wrong amongst other things.  We waited for ages to actually get our first tasting and we had those awful small glasses because they had apparently run out of the big ones.  So, not ideal, but the setting and wines completely made up for it.

We had family with us from Durban (a not so experienced wine drinker), which lead to a lot of entertaining commentary on the wine... with aromas of pepper and tastes of gravel!  I opted for the chocolate and wine tasting, and of course the chocolates were thoroughly enjoyed by ALL in pairing with their wines too.  Hidden Valley has made a concerted effort to try pair the flavours of the wine and chocolates and in doing so have made their own chocolates with a interesting variety of truffle flavours.  From coriander to cinnamon and a few others in between (check out the pairings below).  There is also an olive and wine pairing, although we are not massive olive fans.  They did however let my mom taste a few of the green and black ones to help her decide which ones to buy.

We noticed they also had a Viognier which we are seeing more and more often - surprising because most farms tell you they are 'one of the few farms', apparently there are not so few.
There is also a special at the moment - 3 bottles of the Hidden Secret 2008 for R300.  Although we tasted the 2010 (see below), it was fantastic and we can imagine the 2008 is just as great if not better and so we bought a box of three for the wine rack.  As you can see these (together with the other reds have a number of awards stickers on their bottles - well deserved!)  I'll have another post next time we enjoy one of these bottles with dinner.

A few wine (and chocolate) notes below...

HIDDEN VALLEY SAUVIGNON BLANC 2013 (White truffle chocolate with coriander filling)
This is a delicious Sav B, it is quite fruity with its melon, passion fruit and litchi flavours and smells just lovely.  There is less of the grassy zest you usually find in a Sav B.  I also agree with the tasting notes that there is a slight minerality to the wine too.  
The chocolate, while unusual and herbal, actually proved to be a very good compliment to the wine.
HIDDEN VALLEY CHENIN BLANC 2012 (Milk truffle chocolate with cinnamon filling) 
The family from Durban commented how this wine smelled like the sea air.  It has spent about 8 months in oak, which gives it a slightly yellow colour.  I definitely got the honeysuckle and apricot flavours, but found the wine to be quite tart and did not enjoy it that much.  Having said that, this chocolate pairing was by far the best and actually improved the flavours of the wine with its spicy cinnamon filling (which was also quite interesting). 

HIDDEN VALLEY VIOGNIER 2012 (Milk truffle chocolate with salt)
This varietal is definitely becoming more popular even though it often lacks a bit of flavour.  This one in particular is very smooth, it smells like apricot pips, but is a little bland in taste.  The salt chocolate definitely compliments and enhances the flavours and as always the wine is good with any food.  The Durbanite thought it had a strong peppery taste, I also thought it was quite acidic and a little sharper than the usual vanilla notes.
HIDDEN VALLEY PINOTAGE 2011 (Coffee dark chocolate AND Orange chocolate)
This Pinotage has quite strong coffee aromas and yet not so strong on the palate but more fruity flavours with a coffee finish.  Lovely aromatic plums, mulberries and blackberries together with spicy mocha flavours.  It is a very good Pinotage and the chocolate pairing was also great.
HIDDEN SECRET 2010 (Shiraz & Tannat) (Dark chocolate with marzipan filling)
Rhone style Shiraz - A Mediterranean French blend of Shiraz and Tannat.  It is very dark in colour, this comes from the Tannat influence.  An excellent wine!  It has rich plum aromas together with the spicy components.  It is smoother than the Cab blend below and well deserving of the awards.  Shiraz is definitely becoming one of our preferred varietals. 
The marzipan chocolate was not great, but then again, marzipan is not everyone's favourite.

HIDDEN GEMS 2010 (Cab Sauv & Petit Verdot) (Hazelnut truffle)
This wine has very earthy and metallic aromas typical of your Cab Sav.  The Durbanite commented on it saying it tasted like a gravel road!  It is definitely harsher than and not as smooth as the Hidden Secret, but as a Cab Sav should be, it is more robust and still very enjoyable with fruity, mineral and earth flavours.  Not sure if the chocolate pairing was the most complimentary and we would have like a bit of an actual nut crunch in the Hazelnut truffle, it was rather a smooth chocolate.  Great Cab blend though.

Some very good wines and a beautiful farm, I would like to go back to the restaurant and I am glad to say I now have some of their Secrets on my wine rack!

T4 Route
Off Annandale Road

Phone:  +27 (0) 21 880 2646
S34 01 14.2  E18 51 12.9

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Wednesday, 7 August 2013

South Africa's Pinotage

Look what popped into my inbox today...


The Epicurious Daily Sip newsletter all about our Country's signature varietal.

Now Epicurious is obviously international, but from the advertising and content one can assume their general market is the US of A.  Which is why it is so fantastic to see a uniquely South African varietal getting some airtime!

Of course the Beyerskloof Pinotage "Diesel" which they recommend goes without saying.  Beyerskloof is synonymous with all things Pinotage (Pinotage burgers,  Chenin Blanc/Pinotage white wine, Lagare fortified Pinotage) and really have made their mark in this varietal with awesome wines.  The farm itself is so inviting, a beautiful view from the restaurant deck and a completely relaxed and comfortable environment.

The other wine they mention is Kanonkop, this farm is just down the road from us, so I will definitely be making a stop there sometime to check out their Pinotages.  According to the Pinotage history, Kanonkop was actually one of the first farms in the country to plant Pinotage grapes.

Image: Diemersfontein website

Another predominantly Pinotage farm is Diemersfontein which make awesome wines.  Their Pinotage-on-tap festival is actually coming up on 12th October 2013.  When I tasted Diemersfontein Pinotage the first time I told the lady it was one of the few times I actually tasted the flavours she described, dark chocolate on the palate and coffee in the aftertaste.

While the newsletter gave a great description of a typical Pinotage, they forgot to mention the distinctive coffee and chocolate flavours one would usually find on the nose and palate. 
A lovely wine and proud to see it getting some recognition across the pond over there!

If you are looking for some other good bottles, the 2012 ABSA Top Ten Pinotages were as follows:

  • Altydgedacht Estate 2011 (Durbanville)
  • Diemersdal Estate 2011 (Durbanville)
  • Durbanville Hills Rhinofields Pinotage 2011 (Durbanville)
  • Painted Wolf Guillermo Pinotage 2009 (Swartland)
  • Rijks Private Cellar Pinotage 2008 (Tulbagh)
  • Simonsig Estate Redhill Pinotage 2010 (Stellenbosch)
  • Spier 21 Gables Pinotage 2010 (Stellenbosch)
  • Swartland Bush Vines Pinotage 2010 (Swartland)
  • Wellington Wines La Cave Pinotage 2010 (Wellington)
  • Windmeul Reserve Pinotage 2011 (Paarl)

Got get yourself a bottle to enjoy and let me know if you find some other good ones!

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Monday, 5 August 2013

Festivals this weekend

This Friday, 9th of August, we celebrate women's day in South Africa, commemorating those women who fought against the Apartheid era and peacefully marched to the Union Buildings in 1956. 
And so in addition to the long weekend everybody has there are loads of events and specials in honour of women from breakfast and lunch specials to guest speakers and the likes.
Check out some of your favourite farms and see what they have in store.

On Festivals... there are two of note this weekend:

26 Wineries and Guesthouses from Ashton, Bonnievale, McGregor and Robertson will welcome visitors  into their homes, to their dining tables and onto their farms for a food & wine experience - enjoyed SLOWLY.  One of the highlights being the food market on Sunday.  Other activities will include Horse Riding, Boat Cruises and Fynbos and Renosterveld Walks as well as vineyard tours.

Check out their website for more information - http://www.robertsonslow.com/

The festival covers the Overberg area which includes Elgin, Hemel and Aarde, Walker Bay to name a few.  Located in the Hemel and Aarde Village (at the start of the wine route).  R120 will get you into the wine tasting tent, while the food marquee and entertainment is free.  Lots of local wines and cuisine to be enjoyed at a long weekend seaside getaway!   

Check out their website for more information - http://www.winevillage.co.za/cms/

Enjoy the short weekend and have an awesome weekend.  Let us know if you attend any of the festivals or weekend specials and how much you enjoyed (or didn't) them and of course which new wines you found!


Friday, 2 August 2013



Their farmer's market is the first Saturday of every month and we are there just about every time. 

The last one we actually ran there to earn our delicious farmer's breakfast. 

So, it's on again this weekend and we will be there.  We have family in town who are keen to head out there and it's a great Saturday morning breakfast.  (We also need to replenish some wine stock!)

It is much more relaxed and far less busy than some of the other more well known markets, but that's what makes it so great!  Here you will find rerige boere plaas ontbyt, honey koeksusters, biltong, jams, the BEST snoek & feta samoosas and more.  Every time we go someone comments on how good their wines really are, reasonably priced and delicious.  (We actually had their Sauv B and Cab Sav as our wedding wine, so I may be biased, but they really are great).  I sometimes have a bad habit of benchmarking other Sauv Bs and Chenins against theirs when deciding whether I like them or not.

Last time we left with a bottle of their Cape Blend which has numerous awards stuck all over the bottle, a great SA wine for the wine rack.  A fantastic Pinotage based blend which has the distinct plum and coffee flavours of a Pinotage softened by the Cab Sauv, Petit Verdot and Merlot.  A lovely smooth wine to be enjoyed anytime.  We'll be getting some more of that this weekend.

This farm really does have fantastic wines and at such reasonable prices. 
The Sauvignon Blanc, which we had at the wedding, has a Veritas double gold and goes for about R40 a bottle - not too many deals like that around.  It is lovely, fresh and crisp with slight granadilla flavours.  Not too sweet or too dry, just right.  As far as I know the 2012 completely sold out. 
The Chenin Blanc has lovely peach flavours, a delicious crisp finish, more awards and also goes for about the same price. 
Even the Cape Blend is about R90 and covered in awards (4* John Platter, Veritas Gold, ABSA Top 3, Winemakers Choice Diamond).

All of the wines are available for tasting and purchase at the market.

Remember there is also a 10% discount on the wines if you buy them at the Saturday market.

It's a fantastic way to spend a Saturday morning with family and friends!  Love their wines and always have a few bottles on the wine rack at home.  See you there tomorrow!

Latitude:-33.671667  Longitude: 18.910278
Take the R44 off the N1 towards Wellington, the farm is about 15km on the left
+27 21 869 8100 

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