I am sure you have noticed the new state of the art wine and stud farm that has popped up along the R44. There was some speculation about it being an American owner, but it is in fact a South African. And with all the security cameras and beautiful paddocks you can see from the road, I'm not sure about you, but we were waiting in anticipation for their opening.
So, on our way back from ice creams at the beach during the holiday break, we popped in to satisfy our inquisitive sides. The security is pretty intense and you can't drive more than about 20km/h up the road to the wine tasting and restaurant. On the way up there you pass the paddocks, stables and training area which are not open to the public. I did however, see a few pictures from a friend of the indoor training arena they have there and it is really quite impressive. Their website has a few more.
But, onto the next building, where you are welcomed and escorted in. The restaurant has the most extrodinary views spanning the whole Stellenbosch valley. The kitchen is open and there is a lovely relaxed, fresh atmosphere in the restaurant. We didn't eat that day, but the menu looks delicious and reasonably priced. If nothing else it is worth it just for the view, to sit out on the deck - beautiful!
The wine tasting is downstairs next to the gallery (we weren't sure if we were allowed in, so steered clear). It has been built like a "Master's" cellar, with one whole room dedicated to the owner's personal whisky collection, which is apparently the largest private collection of the Southern Hemisphere (some 450 brands). I do like the idea of an "underground" cellar and it is very stylish down there, beautiful artwork of horses as well as an impressive wine collection (another small room off the tasting room), however, on this particular day, the weather was so spectacular I was a little disappointed to be in doors with soft, darkish lighting. Perhaps we will have to go back in winter... but only if the fireplace is in use. Otherwise, it is a very stylish cellar.
The wines of course all have horsey names. The labels are really nice, the entry level range simple and stylish while the premium ranges have strong black and gold labels. The wine tasting was R30 for 5 wines (The Cermello was sold out, which would make up the 6 wines available at the farm). Love the wine glasses they use in the tasting room - sometimes the small things can make a difference.
The wine tasting was very chilled, a few couches and stools up at a bar counter. With regard to the wines, the White Knight 2013 is a slightly acidic Chenin with nice citrus and orange blossom flavours. The Pink Pony 2013 is a medium dry rosé made from Grenache grapes. Both the aromas and flavours lean more towards a red wine than a white, with red currant and earthy notes, it is rather enjoyable - our second favourite for the day (the flagship won). The Black Beauty 2012 is made for easy drinking, it will probably soften over a year or two, but you may as well enjoy it now. It is a Shiraz, but it has more berry flavours than spice, a little metallic and tongue clucking for me, but fine for a braai or pizza.
Onto the premium range, the Rogue 2010 which is a Malbec/Pinotage blend is surprisingly smooth with lovely spiced red fruits as well as wood and herbal undertones. I really enjoyed it, lovely structure and aging potential. The last wine was the farm's flagship, the Warlord 2009. Definitely the best of the day, a blend of Cab Sav and Shiraz. You can taste the distinctive Cab gravel road, earthy flavours together with plums and currants. It has a lovely lingering aftertaste and would be a perfect compliment to a great dinner.
Well worth a visit, it really is beautiful out there, even more so if you are a lover of horses. I would really like to get back to the restaurant sometime. The wines are pretty good too considering how new the farm is.
Have you been there? What did you think?
CAVALLI STUD & WINE ESTATE
Strand Road (R44), Somerset West
Tel: +27 21 855 3218