Welcome to the Western Cape Wineries - a kiwi's opinion blog

I originally set up this blog to help foreigners have an enjoyable experience when visiting the western cape wineries in South Africa.

I realised that it is very difficult for a tourist to choose where to go and which wineries to visit, when you have 600+ wine producers to choose from.

When I first moved to SA December 2010, my palate struggled to adjust to SA wine, b
ut after living here for a while and after visiting over 100+ wine estates, I have found many wines which I really like and can highly recommend.

Admittingly, when you come from another country it is hard not to compare the wine in SA to what you are used to back home. However, once you realise they are not the same (they have their own characteristics due to the different soil, climate etc) and appreciate their wines for being SA wines, it will improve your opinion and experience of the wines immediately.

If you are staying in SA for a while, don't dispair, your palate will change, and you will soon find yourself liking SA wine over your home countries wine!!

I hope my blog will help wine lovers have an enjoyable wine experience while in SA.

Please note: I am not a wine connoisseur. The comments I write about the wine is mostly for my own benefit of having them on record.



Sunday, 23 August 2015

Kleinood

I contacted the winery an hour in advance to let them know I was wanting to come for a tasting. They were very accommodating and happy for me to come through.


I was greeted by Jessica in the tasting room, and was led to a map on the wall. She explained that the farm is 12 hectares, 10 of which vines have been planted and two are planted with olive trees. When the farm was purchased in 2000, extensive soil tests were done and it was decided that Syrah would be the ideal grape here. 8 of the 10 hectares have been planted with Syrah, 1 hectare is for Viognier and another hectare for Mourvedre.



The wine farm is called Kleinood which is an Afrikaans word meaning small and precious. The wine however is called Tamboerskloof which I found interesting. I asked Jessica why the wine was called this and she explained that the owners used to live in the Tamboerskloof area in Cape Town for 25 years and with their fondness and memories from this area they decided to name their wine Tamboerskloof. Tamboerskloof means the valley of the drums.


We then sat down at the long table in the tasting room and tasted three wines. Here are my notes on the wines:



Tamboerskloof Rose is 100% Syrah (R76 a bottle). They use the free run juice of this grape to make the rose. Unlike many wineries, Kleinood doesn't use the leftover grape skins to make red wine. These grapes are designated for Rose. The wine was lovely, the aromatics were medim-pronounced in intensity. It had strawberries/red berrries on the nose, fresh, citrus and lime flavours. This wine was named after the owners daughter, Katharien.

Next we tasted the Tamboerskloof Viognier (R108 a bottle). This consists of 90% Viognier and 10% Roussanne.  They mature this wine in 300L and 500L old french oak barrels. This wine had a pronounced nose with fruit and spice. It was delicate, soft, light on the palate, with marmelade and spice on the finish. It needs to breathe and open up to get the full impact of body and flavour on the mid palate. Ideally you wouldn't want to serve this wine too cold either.

Tamboerskloof Syrah 2011 has 5% Mourvedre and 1% Viognier (R145 a bottle). Spent 20 months in barrel, 10-15% new oak. This had a deep ruby colour, was shy on the nose, smooth, savoury on palate, rich flavour, a little spicy, and a lovely mouth-feel. It was a very elegant wine.

The wines are all good quality and I feel very good value for the price.


On my way out, I admired the beautiful grounds just outside the tasting room. I wonder if they do tastings outside? It is very pretty!


A few weeks after this tasting, I dined at Il Leone restaurant with some friends and I chose a bottle of the Tamboerskloof Syrah to enjoy with our dinner. It was beautiful and all of us enjoyed the wine! I can highly recommend visiting this winery, and ordering a bottle at a restaurant. I truly feel you can't go wrong with any of their wines!

At the winery they also sell olive oil, which is made from their own olive trees. They sell this for R93 a bottle. With the wine tasting you get to try this also.

Saturday, 18 July 2015

Vondeling - second visit

Today we were on our way to Riebeek Kasteel for a weekend away. On our way there we drove past Vondeling and I decided to stop for a tasting as it had been a few years since I last tasted their wine and my boyfriend had not been there before and I wanted to show him the place.

To see my notes from my first visit please go to http://westerncapewineries.blogspot.com/2013/04/vondeling.html

The place was quite busy. I found out that they had recently done a Groupon special where you can have lunch and wine tasting for a special price. The meal looked scrumptious and I was envious of all these Groupon customers!


On arrival the staff were very welcoming and polite. We were lead to the bar/counter to do the wine tasting and then Marian came to conduct the tasting with us. 


The tasting room here is humble and lovely. As it was during the winter months the fire place was going and everyone was happy to be inside.

The church is now finished making the venue even more ideal for a wedding, not to mention the views. There is a lovely outdoor area at the tasting room with views over the vineyards with the mountains in the not far distance.

Vondeling has a lovely range of wines and they are fairly priced. I can highly recommend coming out to Vondeling for a tasting. I am sure you will enjoy the charm, warmth and kind hospitality that the staff show here.

Tasting notes:
Vondeling Rose 2015 - 100% Merlot Rose. Pronounced nose, nice viscosity, red berries on the palate. Great fruit flavour with some spice. Very nice. R49.50 a bottle.

Vondeling Petit Blanc 2014 - 60% Chenin Blanc, 28% Chardonnay, 12% Viognier. Pretty floral character on the nose. Fresh flavours on the palate. It is fruity, green fruit to be more specific, with some lime that lingers on the finish. I liked this wine. R49.50 a bottle

Vondeling Sauvignon Blanc 2015. Sweet tropical fruit aromas including guava and gooseberry. It has intense flavour and reminds me of a NZ Sauvignon blanc. A lovely wine! R65 a bottle.

These first three wines turned out to be my favourite from the range. They are great value for money; you can't go wrong with these wines!

Vondeling Chardonnay 2013 - buttery, honey, butterscotch, heavy.
Vondeling Chardonnay 2014 - light aromatics, fresh, lighter in style to the 2013, pleasant.

Vondeling Barbera 2013 (flagship white) - 60% Chenin Blanc, 15% Grenache Blanc, 15% Viognier and 10% Chardonnay. Babiana is named after a flower on their property which is endemic to the area. When you visit this winery, you can see a photo of this flower on the wall. This wine has good body, has a slight waxy texture/mouth feel. Stone fruit flavour. This is a good wine. R135 a bottle.



Vondeling Petit Rouge 2014 - 85% Merlot and 15% Cabernet Sauvignon. Medium intensity on the nose, black fruit flavours, good tannin structure, liquorice. Good depth in flavour. R49.50 a bottle.

Vondeling Baldrick Shiraz 2013 - 93% Shiraz, 6% Mourvedre and 1% Viognier. I wasn't a fan of the nose on this wine, it had a slight earthy/manure smell. It had good depth in colour, was smooth and had good concentration in flavour. More along the lines of dark fruit flavours. Tannins are present. R70 a bottle.

Vondeling Erica Shiraz 2011 - 86% Shiraz, 10% Grenache Noir, 3.6% Mourvedre and 0.4% Viognier. This had a beautiful (and pretty) nose, with some sweet notes of vanilla. It was spicy, a little dry (tannins) but not harsh or undrinkable. Violets and floral tones. R139 a bottle.



Vondeling Cabernet Sauvignon 2012 - lovely red fruit aromatics, with some slightly sweet spice and cigar hints on the nose. Lovely ripe fruit flavour, dry, and a little bit of spice. R102 a bottle.

After reading my previous post on this wine estate, I feel this one doesn't do it enough justice, in regards to the charm and warmth of this place. Please do read my post from the first visit as I hope it will encourage you to make the journey out to this estate.

Saturday, 4 July 2015

Gin Tasting

Today I joined two others in a Gin tasting to see how the gins I have from overseas compare to what we can get locally here in South Africa. I have looked online for retail prices and then exchanged them in to Rand at today's exchange rate. I thought it would be good to see how they differ in regards to price.


South Gin (NZ) NZ$45.90 = R375
 - Had a candy character on initial taste and heaps of liquorice on the finish. Lingered for a long time!

Hendriks (Scotland) NZ$59.95 = R500
 - What really showed on this in comparison to the others is the texture. It was much thicker in consistency than the others. More floral on the nose. Candy, cucumber and botanicals on taste.

Uncle Vals (USA) US$45 = R560
- Cucumber on the nose. Citrus/marmalade on taste.
Woodstock (local) R180
- Prominent butterscotch on the nose. Good viscosity but not as much as Hendriks.

The Botanist (Scotland) NZ$75 = R630
 - not offensive on the nose or palate. Definitely the best sipping gin.

Tanqueray No. 10 (USA) NZ$73 = R630
 - pleasant nose, good viscosity, candy and citrus flavours.

Inveroche classic (local) R350
 - Citrus on the nose, nice viscosity, spearmint, alcohol wasn't offensive.

Bombay (England) NZ$48 = R400
 - like a slap in the face after the other gins. Not offensive on the nose however.
Inveroche Amber (local) R350
 - Cola on the nose.

This was a fun exercise! It was nice to be tasting something other than wine and to sit down and really understand the characteristics of gin. It seems the Uncle Vals which we only had a shot left of, was the favourite. Sadly I can't get more of that unless I go back to the US or someone brings me a bottle. The Woodstock was a stand out gin. The Botanist showed as the best sipping wine, the South Gin was a favourite in flavour, and the Hendriks won on viscosity. The Inveroche showed well against all these gins and made us proud to have a high quality local gin on the market. The Bombay was very much out of place!

I would love to get some more gins and do this again in a year's time. I wonder what wonderful gins we can find by then. It might be quicker, easier and cheaper to hit Mother's Ruin in Cape Town!?