Stellenbosch wine tour, Cape Town
During our trip to Cape Town a tour of the famous South African Winelands was an essential. We booked our tour to the heart of the Winelands through our hostel (BIG Backpackers). The tour was expertly operated by Wine Flies.
Our charismatic tour guide Légend picked us up at 9am giving us a brief history of Stellenbosch and some of the points of interest as we drove.
There are 18 wine regions in South Africa and we were visiting five wineries in one of the most famous – Stellenbosch. In addition to being the home of many vineyards, Stellenbosch is also the second oldest town in South Africa after Cape Town.
We were promised five wines in each vineyard, which meant a staggering 25 in total. Some self control was definitely going to be needed at the first few places to ensure a ‘sophisticated’ wine tasting tour didn’t turn into a stag do style inebriation!
Vergenoegd Wine Estate
We arrived at the first vineyard Vergenoegd Wine Estate at 10am. And sipped our first wine at 10.05am.
We got lucky and started with our favourite, a Sauvignon Blanc. A 2017 Runner Duck Sauvignon Blanc to be precise. A crisp tropical fruit flavour. The perfect start to a Tuesday morning! On the first one we were taught the Five S’s sight, swirl, smell, sip and savour! And we added a sixth which was swallow!
The setting was a quaint, relaxing and peaceful garden next to the vineyard and a a big table that would be ideal to drink the evening away in.
Wine number two was Runner Duck 2017 Rose. A dry rose, with hints of gooseberry and strawberry.
Wine three was a complex red called Terrace Bay 2015. A blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Blanc and everything else. I got undertones of hazelnut and a touch of cranberry. Well maybe I didn’t, but that’s what the lady said was in it! I am more of a white wine drinker but this was very nice for a red.
Wine four was another red as this vineyard specialise in red. A 2015 Merlot with vanilla and chocolate flavours.
An odd interlude to stop for the ducks to waddle past.
I’m not sure why, but I presume these are the ducks that made the wine……? Very random.
Next was a Vintage 2008, fortified wine with 21% of happiness in it. Old Cape Colony Port, just what you need at 10.45am. Actually as it is nearly December I guess a glass of port is perfectly acceptable. The overriding smell was Christmas cake. Very good.
Back on the bus for a fifteen minute trip to the next vineyard, which was pairing chocolate and wine. To me this sounds awful, but we will see. P.S. unusually I decided to write this blog in real time as I experience it as I don’t trust my memory after 25 wines.
Lovane Boutique Wine Estate
Vineyard number two was Lovane Boutique Wine Estate. The youngest and smallest in the region. Established in 2000 and 5 acres.
This place was stunning. Beautiful setting with a huge and idyllic house with contemporary furnishings and interior design.
After a wander around the vineyards we made our way to a classy underground cellar where a Chocolate flight and wineglasses awaited us.
The sommelier was a young South African girl that had only been working at the vineyard for 8 days. She was supremely knowledgeable but talked about 100mph and it was hard to keep up, especially as the wine numbers increased!
Wine six was Louvane Sauvignon Blanc. This oaky white was paired with a lemongrass and coriander white chocolate. Tres bien.
Seven, Cabernet Sauvignon 2011. The proteins in the wine connect with the proteins in meat rather than your saliva apparently. Surprisingly tasted good along with the milk chocolate with strawberry pieces and cocoa nibs! Chocolate and wine, who knew?
Eight was Isikhati the vineyards flagship wine, which mixes all of their red grapes. The wine is very nice and paired with the Ginger and cinnamon chocolate reminds us of Christmas!
Nine was a Petit Verdot. This vineyard is only one of five places that do a single grape variety. It was served with dried sausage – Droëwors, which Laura refused to eat but I thought was quite nice. A bit like a cold sausage at a party.
Finally at this vineyard, was a Cape Vinatage (Cabernet Sauvignon). An amazing port style drink served alongside a dark chocolate with cardamon. This 16.5% port was so smooth and beautifully sweet. My favourite so far.
Back on wine-mobile to vineyard three for more wine and some much needed food.
Middelvlei Wine Estate
Middelvlei is a 70 acre family run vineyard established in 1919. We were greeted by some goats, chickens and tortoise!
The Braai was superb. 100% beef sausage, marinaded chicken skewers and a cheese and tomato toasty. Served of course with the eleventh wine of the day a simple Sauvignon Blanc.
Twelve. Middelvlei Chardonnay 2015. An oak Chardonnay with hints of tropical fruit. One the nicest chardonnays I’ve tried. Not as acidic as a £4 bottle from Tesco, Asda or any other supermarket.
Thirteen – Hagelsburg. This was described as a Hamotage, or a Rose made from two different vines combined to make a unique grape to South Africa. It tasted good for a Rose. We were starting to feel the effects a little now.
Fourteen was a Pinotage. A fruity red with plum flavours. Quite dry and pleasant red.
For fifteen we headed into a 1941 wine cellar. Légend gave us a bit of the science/artistry behind wine making before serving us a fairly heavy red straight from the oak barrel. This was more like the £4 bottles of that make me not really like red wine so much. Not vanilla flavouring though so okay.
Mitre’s Edge Boutique Winery
Fourth vineyard was the wine makers home, Mitre’s Edge. Already feeling merry now. A young American girl was definitely slightly more than merry, interrupting he hosts and giggling away to herself.
We entered a stately house and walked down to an amazing cellar. A bit into the tour we learnt the colonial looking house was only 19 years old!
The centrepiece of the cellar was a large table which had our wine glasses set out alongside a wooden paddle with five pieces of cheese on. Chocolate and wine might have been better than I expected, but cheese and wine. Now we are in business!
Wine sixteen was a white Viognier. Dry Citrus wine which is really clear in colour as it was stored in a stainless steel vats. It was soft, smooth and perfect with the salty feta cheese.
Seventeen. nvME classic bordaux blend red. A non vintage red tasting of plums and fresh strawberries and with hints of candy floss which I definitely didn’t get. Drunk with Red Leicester cheese. We learnt that a vintage wine just refers to the fact the grape was from a particular year, not from a particularly good year. Always learning.
Eighteen. 2014 Cabernet franc. This was introduced as an oak barrel matured dry red. Very smooth with a soft berries taste and a herby hint. Paired with a Gouda cheese. Easy drinking wine.
Nineteen. The Mitre, a 2014 oak barrel matured dry red. The vineyard’s flagship wine. Cocoa flavours paired with a Camembert cheese.
Wine twenty, a Malbec 2015 was the final taster at this place. Fruity hints and rich wine, which apparently goes well with steak. It tasted great. We even bought a bottle.
The guide here excellent and we got another masterclass in wine. We learnt about the legs of wine along the glass, what an angel’s share was and found out that the deeper the punt the better the wine (in theory). Basically we are going to be fingering wine bottles in supermarkets in future!
There are over 200 wine farms in Stellenbosch alone! This place has been awarded four platter awards due to their quality which is supposedly very prestigious. Bonzer!
Villiera Wine Estate
At 3pm we jumped back on the wine-mobile to drive to the final vineyard – Villiera. A specialist in sparkling wine.
Twenty one was a Traditional Brut produced the same way as champagne. It had crisp citrus flavours and perfect pop when opened. Laura and the American had started snorting with laughter!!!
Légend was getting a tad frustrated and we had to convince him that we were still interested in the wine tippets he was imparting on us.
He split us into two teams and gave us a twenty five question quiz. It was fun and we got to know a lovely Norwegian couple in the process.
Twenty two. A dry sparkling rose brut blend. Unfortunately I was tipsy and distracted by the quiz at this stage so didn’t take notes. I think it was good! In fact, it must have been because we bought a bottle!
Twenty three. Chenin blanc paired with white chocolate and black pepper. Tasted great but after so much wine my taste buds maybe lying. Even the chocolate was good!
Twenty four was Jasmine 2017. A fragrant white blend of three grapes. Sweet and easy to drink. We bought a bottle of this as it was one of Laura’s favourite.
Twenty five a 2015 Pinotage. Paired with Biltong (dried beef). Subtle with a bit of oak spice supposedly good for beef or Braai.
As we drew in the quiz we each shared a surprise 26th on the party bus home! Légend turned up the music and we laughed our way back to the BIG Backpackers.
Stellenbosch, a superb wine tour
It was a fantastic day drinking good wine with new friends we didn’t know at amazing places we had never been to before. Cheers, Prost, slainte, Salud, Gesondheid Stellenbosch. 10/10.Tags: Cape Town, experience, holiday, inspiration, Stellenbosch, Wine tour