This month our wine writer Greg Landman goes wine tasting in the Simonsberg for our Wine Town of the Month series.
The Stellenbosch Wine Route is by far the biggest one we have in terms of numbers. It has 150 wine estates divided into five different areas. The town itself is steeped in history and a must-see when in the Cape with its historic buildings, magnificent mountains and settings to take your breath away. Shopping in town is great fun and it is also the home of some of our very best restaurants. Take a step back in time and spoil yourself with some fabulous down time. This month we are focussing on five of my favourite tasting places in the Greater Simonsberg area. The winter months in the Cape are very special with fireplaces, casseroles and the world famous wine to keep you company.
If you missed Greg’s Wine Town of the Month for June, find it here.
Here’s where to go
Muratie Wine Estate
Pronounced the Dutch way, Murasie, this is a very special place. One feels as if you have stepped onto the movie set of a BBC period drama with ancient farm buildings steeped in character, and real cobwebs that have stood the test of time. The history of the place is fascinating with characters like Laurens Campher, a young German soldier who started farming at Muratie in 1685. He fell in love with a young slave girl called Ansela van de Caab and later married her. He was so in love that they say he used to walk to Cape Town to visit her. Ansela planted an oak tree next to the Manor House and it still stands there today. Fascinating characters like the Canitz family and the Melcks all played important parts in making Muratie what it is today, under the curatorship of Rijk Melck and his family. And what about the wines? Oh the wines! There are fabulous Cabernets like the Martin Melck Cabernet Sauvignon Family Reserve that’s gloriously fruity, Merlots like the Alberta Annemarie that’s packed with bright berry fruit and Chardonnays like the Isabella Chardonnay Reserve that’s elegantly wooded. Don’t miss the wine named after Ansela, a Cab-led Bordeaux style blend that’s rich, intense and beautiful. Another not to miss is the legendary Amber Forever; it’s gloriously citrusy and slips down the throat like velvet. Enjoy a standard wine tasting for R45pp, a premium tasting at R80pp or a chocolate pairing experience for R50pp.
+27 (0) 21 865 2330/6; [email protected]
Remhoogte Wine Estate
Though small in the great scheme of things, this delightful place is very much a home away from home. It has all the makings of a memorable visit with spectacular views, tranquil setting, excellent accommodation in two very well-equipped cottages that are close enough to town for you to experience the rest of Stellenbosch and still get back to your little nest on the slopes of the majestic mountains. This is the home of the Boustred family whose son Chris is making great wines, some of which have red stars in the Platter Guide to show he and his team know what they are doing. Try the superb Sir Thomas Cullinan, a magnificent Merlot and Cab blend that’s savoury and intense with plenty of complexity – a red wine lover’s dream. The Chenin Blanc which they call Honeybunch is a perfect balance of the tang one finds in honey without over the top sweetness, all reined in by judicious oaking – delicious. While Remhoogte has great views, wine and accommodation, the farm also offers cheese platters to assuage those hunger pangs which inevitably arise when wine is in the air.
+27 (0) 21 889 5005; [email protected]
Packed with Gallic charm, this magnificent place belongs to Anne Cointreau, a name not unknown in wine circles all over the world. The gardens are a delight, a superb place to wander in whether after your tasting or before a satiating lunch in the excellent restaurant. Once again fabulous views of a typical Stellenbosch setting surround you, making it a favourite with brides who want to tie the knot in an unforgettable way. The Manor House offers classy accommodation and if you are in a rush, there is a helipad to help you beat the traffic. Cellar tours, which are fascinating, can be arranged but need to be booked. Obviously French style grapes dominate the wines on offer, but all are handled with an African sensibility which avoids slavish copying. The Fantail range offers excellent quaffers at prices that will not break the bank and include a delicious Pinotage, packed with red fruit. The Morgenhof Estate Brut Reserve MCC is superb, a gorgeously dry Pinot Noir/Chardonnay classic – the perfect aperitif. Others to note are the Malbec Vintage Reserve that’s smooth while being dry and darkly satisfying, and the Cape Late Bottled Vintage, an irresistible Port from Touriga.
+27 (0) 21 889 2000
The Delheim name will forever be associated with a classic SA dessert wine called Edelspatz Noble Late Harvest, a 100% Weisser Riesling knockout that has graced many dinner tables. The other great dessert wine from here is called Spatzendreck Natural Sweet which is made from Muscat de Frontignan, Riesling, and Chenin. It’s spicy, honeyed with some butter and very moreish. I am sure you have gathered by now that Delheim is a German farm, which has been home to the Sperling family since after the Second World War, when the farm’s patriarch, the late Spatz Sperling, arrived on our shores. The place is full of character and a delight to visit. Whether you choose to dine outside when the weather is good or cosily inside, a lunch date with Delheim’s Garden Restaurant is a must. It’s known for its food pairings and delicious cuisine such as the Cape Malay and bratwurst and expertly cooked venison that cannot go without a glass of red. Other wines not to be missed are the Gewürztraminer, with classic Turkish delight notes, and the fabulous Chardonnay Sur Lie, full of stone fruit flavours underpinned by light oaking. Delheim also offer an unusual pairing of Fynbos cupcakes and wines at R120pp between 10am and 4:30pm, Monday through to Sunday, but I suggest your book to avoid disappointment.
You’ll find Delheim’s Chardonnay Sur Lie on Greg’s top Chardonnay wines.
+27 (0) 21 888 4600; [email protected]
There is no doubt that historically important Kanonkop Estate is one of the most famous and beloved of all our great wine estates. It’s the domain of Abrie Beeslaar who was named International Winemaker of the Year for a third time in 2018 by the International Wine and Spirit Competition. In addition to the more exclusive wines that have put this estate on the map, Kanonkop is also the home of a delicious range called Kadette and it just so happens that this exclusively red wine estate has added a Rosé to their Kadette portfolio. To be fair, it is made from Pinotage so I guess they have hedged their bets. It is crisp and clean, and goes great with sushi. The other Kadettes include the Pinotage that’s bright and full of flavour, and the very popular Cape Blend which happens to be a melange of Cab and Merlot – delicious and easy to drink. The leader of the pack is the Paul Sauer, a five-star Bordeaux style blend of Cab, Merlot and Cab Franc that’s superb. It’s closely followed by the darkly intense Cabernet Sauvignon, the classic Pinotage, and the Black Label Pinotage from 58-year-old vines – magnificent. Kanonkop sticks to what it knows best: wine, so there’s no food on offer, but that just means you can pop into another wine farm for lunch (and more wine) instead.
You’ll find some of Kanonkop’s wines on Greg’s list of top Pinotage wines.
+27 (0) 21 884 4656
Words Greg Landman
Photography Greg Landman and Supplied
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.