A Good Year

A Good Year: October 2013

Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Leopard's Leap Family Vineyards


Leopard's Leap gave their whole tasting area, restaurant and wine experience a revamp earlier this year and it is looking superb! 

Absolutely love the "whisk" lamp shades in the dining area.  Also the individual cooking stations set up in the kitchen for their delicious cooking classes.  Even on the rainy day we visited, the high ceilings and structure made the whole place light and inviting.  We are definitely coming back for the buffet lunch, some chocolate brownies, to check out the newly opened store and to enjoy some wine on the lawn, now that summer has finally arrived!

We just tasted wine on this particular visit, and our TRH was great!  He knew all the answers to all my questions (which can sometimes be silly!) and was super friendly and efficient.  We sat up at the bar counter enjoying their really good and exceptionally well priced wines and landed up leaving with a few bottles... as you do!

Leopard's Leap itself actually doesn't grow any of its own grapes, so the ones you see on the drive in are either for decoration or belong to someone else.  Their spot in Franschhoek houses the restaurant, wine tasting and shop.  They buy in all their grapes, which actually allows them to pick and choose the very best available of each varietal.  Most of their grapes are sourced from Botrivier, Swartland and Robertson to name a few.   

The wines in the Classic Range are all great quality with nothing over R45.  Perfect to take to your next dinner.  We tasted the SAUVIGNON BLANC, which was lovely and easy drinking, hardly any acidic aftertaste.  The CHENIN BLANC, smells like "peaches and cream" and is loaded with smooth peach and apricot flavours, we took home two bottles of this one.  The CABERNET SAUVIGNON MERLOT is also another standard, easy drinking, well blended wine.

There was only one Family Collection available for tasting, the SHIRAZ MOURVEDRE VIOGNIER, which is actually made by Hein Koegelenberg himself.  Hein is currently the CEO of La Motte & Leopard's Leap (and director of Meridian Wine Distributors) and is largely responsible for their great successes over the past few years.  They also recently, together with a Chinese entity, bought the Val de Vie vineyards.  While Hein started his career at Spier Wine Farm, he moved onto to one of our other favourite wine cellars Windmeul Kelder where he moved through the ranks to CEO there, before moving to La Motte.  He is well known and respected in the wine industry and doing great things for South African wines.  Check out his blog he keeps on the side - heinkoegelenberg.typepad.com .
Okay, so back to the wine.  It has really rich berries and spice on the nose and is quite spicy on the palate, with a beautifully smooth finish.  Apparently they burn the insides of the barrels in which this wine is stored which adds to those smokey flavours.  Interesting!  Fantastic wine!
You'll see there is also an "RK" logo on this and some of the other wines which shows it is part of the family - R being Hein's wife's maiden name Rupert and K for Koegelenberg.

We actually started the tasting with some bubbles - because if bubbles are available for tasting, then they are always first on the list!  Their CULINARIA BRUT METHODÉ CAP CLASSIQUE is delicious, gentle citrus with a little caramel and a lovely balance.
The Culinaria Collection is the more sophisticated, heavier collection, with really smart labels and mostly blended wines. 

A few Culinaria notes below...

2012 CULINARIA CHENIN BLANC GRENACHE BLANC - 6 months in French oak smooths this wine out beautifully, full of fruit, but slightly drier on the palate.  Great with smoked foods.
2012 PINOT NOIR CHARDONNAY - Not a combination I have heard of before.  The wine has a beautiful golden pink hue from spending just 10hrs on the Pinot Noir skins.  It is quite a sweet wine with berry flavours coming from the 60% Pinot Noir, it is almost a little tart too.  Perfect with pork or even dessert.
2010 CULINARIA GRAND VIN - A very good Bordeaux blend, slightly more harsh and metallic than fruity.  Definite coffee beans and nutmeg.
2010 CULINARIA SHIRAZ GRENACHE - Excellent, great spice flavours and berries smoothed out by the Grenache.  Quite heavy but still versatile when pairing with anything from meat to pasta.  We took a bottle of this home.
2013 CULINARIA MUSCAT DE FRONTIGNAN - Hands down the best dessert wine we have tasted!  The nose is full of rose flavoured Turkish delights and blossoms.  It is deliciously sweet and yet still light, not nearly as syrupy or heavy as other dessert wines.  It actually only has 84g sugar vs some others that have up to 200g.  Delicious!  We took a bottle of this home too!

Did you know that here in South Africa we have Noble Late Harvest which is usually your dessert wines.  The name comes from the Noble rot (Botrytis fungus) which attaches to the grapes and drains them of their water leaving the sugary goodness behind.  Late Harvest obviously the fact that the grapes are harvested much later than other wines.  Places like Canada and Germany have Ice Wine dessert wines which also sees the grapes being drained of their water, but this is as a result of the grapes freezing in their sometimes below zero temperatures.  Random fact for the day!

Next time you go wine tasting, check out Leopard's Leap... or look out for their bottles in the stores!  We will definitely be back, they are a new favourite of ours!

R45 Franschhoek Valley, Frasnchhoek
Latitude 33° 52’58.8″ Longitude 19°04’50″
Tel: +27 21 876 8002
Closed on Christian public holidays  

Labels: , , ,

Monday, 28 October 2013

Tulbagh Valley

What a beautiful weekend in the Mother City we just had... it seems Summer is finally here!

And with the Sharks taking home the Currie Cup, all is now well with rugby.  While we did get tickets offered to us for the game, we had already committed to a big family gathering / multiple birthday, Lamb-on-the-spit occasion in TULBAGH.  But there was still a big screen and a lot of rugby noise and festivity.

The Tulbagh valley produces excellent red and white wines as well as olive oil, peaches, pears and grains.  The valley is surrounded by mountains, with the Obiqua Mountains to the West, Winterhoek in the North and Witzenberg to the East.  The Southern slopes are open to the cool Summer South Eastly winds that blow through.  With such diverse conditions and terrior, the valley is a perfect place for winemakers to create diverse and distinctive wines. 

Drostdy Hof is one of the well known easy drinking wine labels of the valley with their winemaker's collection as well their range of light wines.  Krone (Twee Jonge Gezellen), was one of the first estates to introduce night harvesting in South Africa, which is now widely employed across the wine regions.  They are also very well known for their delicious MCCs.  Rijk's Private Cellar is the most awarded Pinotage producer over the last 10 years.  Theuniskraal Riesling is another well known South African wine from the valley.  
Just a few reasons why Tulbagh is recognised as a great wine producing valley.

We enjoyed some of Tulbagh Winery's easy drinking COLOMBARD / CHENIN BLANC which is a perfect fruity white on a warm summer's day!  Never mind the red meat lunch.

Have you been to Tulbagh lately?  Which are your favourite wineries from the Valley?


Labels: , , , ,

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Chocolate Merlot Cupcakes & Maison Shiraz

Another family birthday and of course you need cupackes to celebrate!  I found this awesome recipe for Chocolate Merlot Cupcakes at life tastes like food (those are my attempt in the picture)Not your usual chocolatey flavours but more of a winter spiced hot chocolate sort of flavour.

A great recipe if you ever decided to do some Wine & Cupcake pairings.
I think it would be a lot of fun pairing cupcakes and wine, how about a lemon chiffon cupcake with a Sav B.  Or a red velvet cupcake with a Pinotage or Pinot Noir.  Perhaps for the next birthday party!

We had a fantastic Maison Shiraz 2011 with our dinner.  Delicious berries and dark chocolate together with strong typically shiraz spices and white pepper.  I can understand why the signboard outside their tasting room says "SHIRAZ LOVERS STOP HERE".  The in-laws had an awesome tasting experience when they were last there and raved about the wines... we'll have to make a stop there sometime soon!

Franschhoek Main Road, R45
Tel: +27 21 876 2116
Open Sundays


Labels: ,

Friday, 18 October 2013

Blog Boot Camp Giveaway

For those of you who enjoy the wonderful world of blogging and want to learn a whole lot more about the ins and outs of blogging and how to grow your personal or business blog, the lovely ladies from Lanalou Style (Lana) and Becoming You (Kathryn) are hosting a Blog Boot Camp.

Happening on 9 November 2013, it promises to be an awesome morning of networking, tips, tools, goodie bags and snacks.  

Send them a mail on info@blogbootcamp.co.za and book your spot.
They are also giving away one free spot... so head over to one of their blog's now and check it out.


Thursday, 17 October 2013

Juno's New Wine Shop and Tasting Room

Quickly popped into Juno's the other day (Paarl Main Road) and noticed a new little addition.

One of the rooms which previously had restaurant tables and chairs has now been converted into a wine tasting room and wine shop.  Fantastic idea!  For R15 you can taste all of the Juno wines.  

If you are staying for a drink and some snacks you can buy any of the wines available in the shop to drink at your table.  They have a really nice range of great South African wines, a few boutique wineries and some more well known ones too (we noticed a Meerlust in there, a few La Motte's, Fairview, Spice Route etc)

And they have done it out so nicely.  Juno's is definitely a favourite spot of ours in Paarl - Juno's post .

Go check it out next time you are in the area!

Restaurant, Studio, Wine Bar
191 Main Road, Paarl
+27 21 872 0697


Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Dieu Donné Vineyards


This farm definitely has one of the best views of the Franschhoek Valley, half way up the mountain and looking down over the paddocks and vineyards - Stunning!  We actually caught a perfect sunset there the other night when we attended a Pink Lady Apple function at Roca Restaurant which is on the farm.

The Dieu Donné wines are very good and surprisingly reasonable considering they are Franschhoek vineyards.  The tasting room has a bunch of tables on the lawn in front where you can enjoy your wines while taking in the surrounding beauty.  Not the best tasting room service, but perhaps they are looking to create a more relax atmosphere.  
You can choose four different wines to taste at R15 and must go inside to the wine counter to collect your wines.  The TRH ladies weren't too clued up, their knowledge extended as far as the tasting notes on the wine list, not usually what you expect in Franschhoek, but nonetheless, not too much can bother you when you have good company, lovely wine and another beautiful day in Africa!

If you are visiting Franschhoek remember to check out the Wine Tram - http://winetram.co.za/- Dieu Donne is on one of their routes.  It is a fantastic way to see the town and it's wine.

Unfortunately the award winning Reserve Shiraz Viognier 2008 and Merlot Cabernet Sauvignon 2008 are unavailable for tasting.  You will have to get yourself a bottle to take home when you visit them.

Some quick wine notes below...

Méthode Cap Classique 2010 (R95) - 100% Chardonnay.  Delicious, stylish drinking.  It tastes like lemon creams with bubbles - yum! 
MCC Brut Rosé 2011 (R95) - 96% Chardonnay, 4% Pinot Noir, to add some colour.  This one is slighter sweeter than the MCC in a strawberry sort of way but still earthy and a pleasantly dry finish.

Rosé 2013 (R40) - Smells like red juice from when you were a child, lovely floral and candy flavours.  Perhaps a little too sweet for some though.

Sauvignon Blanc 2013 (R55)- Very fruity and strong green fig flavours, a little tart.  Nice.
Viognier 2011 (R45)- Fresh, easy and floral with more flavour than some other Viogniers that tend to be a little bland.  This was a one of the favourites in the whites.
Chardonnay 2013 (Unwooded) (R50) - Definitely agree with the lemony undertones together with some soft honey notes.  Not at all heavy and quite smooth.
Chardonnay 2011 (Wooded) - Lighter in colour and very creamy with vanilla and soft lemon flavours.  Very nice!

Cabernet Sauvignon Shiraz 2011 (R45) - Great blend.  One of the favourites for the day.  Very soft, smooth and flavoursome with hints of pepper.  Very good value.
Shiraz 2009 (R85) -  A lovely Shiraz, with all the typical tobacco spice and white pepper flavours.
Merlot 2010 (R105) - The farm's flagship wine.  Loads of dark berries.  A very juicy, excellent Merlot with a nice slightly dry finish and tanniny structure.  Not everyone's favourite, but then this lot tend to prefer their Cabs and Shiraz.

Reserve Range Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 (R90) - Wine of the day.  Dark, blackcurrant flavours with an earthy spice (not tobacco spice, earth spice!)  Delicious! and very well priced.

Another superb afternoon in the Cape winelands, we'll definitely bring visitors back for the views!

Uitkyk Street, Franschhoek - Follow the signs from the Main Road
Tel: +27 21 876 2493
Open Sundays.

Labels: ,

Friday, 11 October 2013

La Vierge & Domaine des Dieux

La Vierge is at the top of the hill and with it's pink and white walls you certainly cannot miss it as you drive through the Hemel-en-Aarde Valley.  Everyone always wants to stop there because it looks really inviting and you expect the views to be incredible!  

The views are fantastic and you can sit outside on the deck while wine tasting.  There is a restaurant too, but they were closed the day we were visiting in preparation for an afternoon wedding.  Being so high up in the valley unfortunately it was pretty windy when we were there.  Overall on the wine tasting side of things, we were not overly impressed with the whole experience, perhaps the wind was a hindrance, but it is a lovely quaint, quirky wine farm with amazing views.  I was there once before on a girls "golfing" weekend and we had a great time inside the tasting room (it was too cold to sit on the deck)!
They actually have a sandpit on the deck too, which is set up and ready for a game of boules.
The Domaine des Dieux MCCs were also available for tasting because their tasting room is closed during the quieter winter months.  We tasted both of their MCCs and they were an absolute hit.  Bubbles are always a great way to start!

The Rose of Sharon Brut Rosé MCC was delicious.  Strawberry and raspberry flavours, but still dry with a minty rose water finish.  Very very nice!  So too was the Claudia Brut MCC which is 76% Chardonnay and 24% Pinot Noir.  The nose has a lot of porridge in it, but the palate has a creamy mineralness to it.  We thought it had beautiful apple and creamy lemon curd flavours and not too dry like some white MCCs can be.  Excellent, we'll be back for both of these!

The La Vierge wines have some very intriguing names and wine labels, as well as a few lesser known varietals included in their blends.  We wanted to try the "Temptation" and "The Affair", but they were unfortunately sold out.  There is also a "Seduction" we didn't get to.

Some brief wine notes below...

LA VIERGE ORIGINAL SIN SAUVIGNON BLANC - Lovely typical green pepper and earthy notes on the nose, delicious green fig, grape, grass and tropical fruit flavours.  Lovely!

LA VIERGE THE LAST TEMPTATION (Weisser Riesling) - Quite a strong melon perfume nose, very fruity and almost textured on the palate - very enjoyable! 

LA VIERGE THE COLLECTION SATYRICON ITALIAN BLEND - In true Italian style, this wine is quite tanniny and acidic with loads of spiced cherry flavours, rich fruit, nutmeg and minerals.  It is a bit lighter in colour, with some serious legs, but very juicy.  Different to the usual South African wines and quite lovely.

LA VIERGE PINOT NOIR - Which they at the farm prefer to call the Black Virgin or Black Madonna because of its supposed darker side.  It is certainly more zesty and smokey than some other Pinot Noirs with garden flowers and honey flavours.  It is very light and grape juicy in colour.  It is more easy drinking, but we thought it lacked a little in flavours, better than some of the watery Pinots, but not as good as some of the Valley's other gems.

A lovely experience, definitely worth a stop for the view and some fun wines and bubbles to taste.

Hemel-en-Aarde Valley Road, Hermanus
Tel: +27 28 313 0130
GPS: S 34° 22’ 22.3" E 19° 14’29.4" 

Hemel-en-Aarde Valley Road, Hermanus, just past Creation Wine Farm
Tel: +27 28 313 2126

Labels: , ,

Friday, 4 October 2013

Fairview La Capra Goat Run


This Saturday is the La Capra Goat Run at Fairview Wine Estate - well it starts at Fairview and ends at Spice Route.  I'm not sure if there are many entries left, but even if you're not running it is bound to be a festive morning in the winelands.

A 5km vineyard walk, an 8km trail run and the 15km for the mountain goats! Our goodie bags came with a bottle of La Capra Malbec and some delicious Fairview Brie Cheese.  Fairview has some fantastic wines which we have previously had the pleasure of tasting together with their cheeses in the Master's Tasting - Fairvew Master's Tasting .

But they also have the more fun and relaxed La Capra brand which is popping up in all sorts of places and becoming quite popular.  I'm very excited to test my complimentary bottle after the race.  La Capra is a range of 10 different single varietal wines made in a fruit-forward style lending themselves to early enjoyment and relaxed dining with very fruity and fresh flavours.  They've done a great job with the labeling too causing them to stand out from the crowd.

The Goat Run starts at Fairview and ends at Spice Route which means there will be beautiful views along the way up the mountain and past the Paarl Rock.  With all the activities (see my previous post - Spice Route) at the Spice Route farm, there will be more than enough entertainment after the race.  Charles Back really has done a superb job of managing and developing the two farms, their brands and their success. 

If you haven't been out to Fairview or Spice Route, it is definitely worth the trip.  Fantastic wines at both farms as well as loads of other tasting opportunities namely, chocolate, cheese, beer and grappa - you could spend all day there!

The DV chocolates are absolutely delicious, I'm excited to try out the new patisserie that has opened and might sneak in a beer after the race before stocking up on some wine.

We actually had a beer tasting party (with a range of craft beers) last weekend for a friend's birthday and the CBC Lager was definitely voted as one of the favourites.

What are your weekend plans?  What are your weekend wines?

Suid-Agter Paarl Road, Suider Paarl
Take the Paarl Main Road / Franschhoek turnoff off the N1, turn right under the highway and look for the Fairview signs.
Tel: +27 21 863 2450

Suid-Agter Paarl Road
Same directions as above just a little further down the road.
Tel: +27 21 863 5200

Labels: , , ,

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Wine with dinner - Leopard's Leap Cabernet Sauvignon

DATE NIGHT - we headed to NOOP restaurant in Paarl Main Street, well known for a great atmosphere and excellent food.

I had the most delicious Slow roasted deboned lamb neck stuff with cranberries & feta, sweet potato risotto, Merlot jus & baby vegetables - is your mouth watering?  It was amazing - I love lamb!  And all the flavour combinations together... after watching too much Masterchef, I can say it was perfectly balanced, textured and DE-licious! 

My husband's rib-eye was excellent as well, melt-in-your-mouth tender.  So too was the West Coast Crayfish bisque we shared as a starter, silky seafood flavours - tastes like more! 

All of our food choices worked superbly well with the bottle of Leopard's Leap Cabernet Sauvignon 2011 we took with us.  My husband coaches a bit of school boy rugby on the side and their team managed to have a great season this year.  So either for this reason, or a great group of parents to his team, he has received quite a few bottles of wine recently in thanks.  This was one such bottle.

Given the quality of the wine, we were guessing the price to be around R100 - R120 and found out later it is in fact more in the region of R45.  Impressive.  A rich, dark red wine with your typical mocha cigar flavours but a smoothness I couldn't quite put my finger on until I read the tasting notes.  Toffee undertones, perfectly describe the smoothness of this Cab Sav's palate, behind the dark berry and mocha flavours.  A very enjoyable red wine at a very reasonable price.  They say it can spend more time in the bottle, but being a 2011 vintage it has already, so anytime from now is a good time to enjoy it.

I know the farm revamped their tasting room and restaurant at the beginning of the year, but we are yet to get there.  I here the restaurant is usually quite full, so book in advance.  I also love their "leaping leopard" statue that hovers across the grass and over the entrance to the farm in Franschhoek.  We will have to pay them a visit sometime and taste a few more of their wines.

R45, Main Road Franschhoek
Tel: +27 21 876 8002
Latitude 33° 52’58.8″ Longitude 19°04’50″

127 Main Road Paarl
Tel: +27 21 863 3925

Labels: ,