The magnificent setting that is Glen Carlou on the R45 at Paarl was just perfect for Walter Finlayson when he bought the place in 1983.
The first wine was made there in 1988 and achieved many accolades. Today this fabulous place belongs to the internationally famous group called The Hess Family Collection, with wineries in Argentina, the US, and SA—all prestigious and renowned for top quality product. Donald Hess, the Swiss owner, is also a prominent art collector and some of his collection can be seen at Glen Carlou. It is a most eclectic collection which will certainly cause plenty of discussion when you get around to visiting it. There is also an excellent restaurant on site—more of that later—but the raison d ‘etre of it all is the wine.
The tasting room here is clean as a whistle with no bits and pieces to distract one from the primary purpose of going there. The wines are deliciously fruit driven, most of the fruit coming from the estate itself. With only 50 hectares under vine, winemaker Arco Laarman has to stay focussed on getting the best fruit he can. The range is quite large with some really serious award wining wines taking pride of place with some serious prices to match.
Very user friendly are the wines they call Tortoise Hill, no less delicious and made for early drinking, great quaffers, a Red and a White, just the thing to knock back without feeling you need a light around you when doing so. The others, like the Curator’s Collection feature superb Cabernet Franc, Malbec, and other reds, and a brilliant Chenin.
If you become a member of their Wine Club you will be able to get your hands on some serious bargains. A visit here will never fail to delight with the view across the valley to the Paarl Mountains the other side a knockout.
Words: Greg Landman
As the wine writer for Country Life magazine for the last 15 years, Greg has met and interviewed more than 150 of the country’s top wine makers. His articles offer unique insights into where to eat, what to drink, and where to go all over the Western Cape. With his dining companion Beryl Ormsby Browne, he has also reviewed more than 60 country restaurants for the magazine and has been a reviewer for the prestigious Eat Out Guide for 12 years. His passion for everything the winelands has to offer has led him into the world of wine tours. To find out more, visit his website Magic Grape Tours.