Archive for November 2018

Avontuur Wines

Avontuur Cabernet Merlot

50/50 blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot.

12 months in French Oak

Fruity, easy drinking wine that you can have on its own. A good blend of the red berries often found in the Cabernet Sauvignon, and the trendy, spiciness of the new merlots.

Brut MCC Rose

70% Chardonnay, 30 Pinot Noir

The word “brut” means that this MCC is extra dry. It is a crisp, MCC with a beautiful pink colour coming from 3 hours of skin contact. Probably not the MCC you would serve at your wedding to a mixed crowd of people.  This one is more for the discerning drinker that worked his or her way up from the sweeter bubblies to the drier ones. It is the one you can whip out when you are celebrating with a few people who appreciate a dry bubbly.

It has a distinct acidity that leaves a pleasant sting on the tongue. I tasted hints of orange and orange blossom and maybe a bit of slightly sour strawberries.  I think this MCC will go well with a fruit salad full of different melons because they have a sweetness that will complement it. I can also imagine it with fresh oysters on ice and maybe starters and hors d’oeuvres with seared tuna, smoked salmon and shrimps.

I also tasted the Chardonnay and Pinot Noir Blend of Avontuur wine, and preferred it to the MCC, but that is only personal taste.

Pinot Noir 2016

A good, layered Pinot Noir made from grapes grown on the Avontuur farm, where the warmer climate brings more of a richness than you would normally find in a Pinot Noir.

Kate had a rather funny, but spot-on description of this wine, saying that Pinot Noirs can be “thin, like flat Coke” but this one was not!

Avontuur’s Pinot Noir lives in 2nd and 3rd fill French oak barrels for two and a half years.

It has a smokiness in the taste with red fruit, like cherries, that makes for a dry, full flavoured Pinot Noir.  It will also age well for 3 to 4 years, for those who can wait that long.

Chardonnay Luna de Miel

Avontuur’s flagship white wine was named after the first racehorse on the farm – Luna de Miel.

This blend of 88% Chardonnay and 12% Viognier is my favourite wine in the Avontuur collection.

It tastes like coconut and citrus, with a woodiness that is at the same time subtle yet undeniable.

I would pair this wine with many things, but definitely with my “Wrong Curry” – a unique full-flavoured curry that I invented one day by doing everything “wrong”.  Follow this link to find out how to make a wrong curry…

Cabernet Franc 2014

I can’t say that I have had many 100% Cabernet Francs, and it is unusual to find one. Avontuur has been making Cabernet Franc since 1996, so they know what they are doing when it comes to this cultivar.

It has amazing floral notes; definitive violet, teaming up with sour cherry, and a whisper of mocha.

This wine is great with food or on its own. It will pair well with lamb and tomato.  I can just imagine how well it will go with a lamb shank, slowly braised in tomatoes and Old Brown…

For vegetarians, I would say it will go very well with a rich tomato dish, like a pasta with sundried tomato pesto, or something with heavy cream. Another dish that will get a thumbs up with  the Cab Franc is a melanzane, because  I think the mozzarella cheese and brinjal will bring it a slight sweetness that will work well.

I promised Bev I would make her a great ratatouille and pair it with this beautiful Cab Franc, and after giving it a lot of thought, I know just the way I am going to do this. More about that later…

 Dominion Royale – Shiraz Reserve

The best selling wine from the Avontuur Estate spends 16 months in barrels.

It is fruity and spicy as a good Shiraz should be. Where Shiraz normally has black pepper in the taste, this one surprises with white pepper.

Bev tasted quite a few sips, and I could see her thinking carefully before giving an opinion. Finally, she said that it falls short, and Kate and I had to agree. To me, it is amazing on the nose, and promises a lot. However, the promises are broken when it does not quite pull through to the taste.

Maybe it needs to age a bit…

Cabernet Sauvignon  2013

Awarded Best African Wine of 2017.

Not a wine in the traditional cab sav style. I picked up no thick blackcurrant, but rather more red fruits. It is lighter and reminds of strawberry jam. There is also an earthiness and a tiny bouquet of herbs when you swallow.

It was kept in oak barrels for 18 months, and can mature for a further 5 to 7 years. There are tannins that you can’t miss, and if you, like me, prefer softer tannins, we would have to wait half a decade or so.

As Bev said, these days she is more likely to go for the “road less traveled,” like the Cab Franc.  Having said that, this is a wine that holds a lot of potential, and I would not mind having it again when it has reached maturity.

Dessert Wine 2009

A port-style dessert wine blended from 85% Shiraz and 15% Pinotage, fortified with Avontuur’s estate brandy. It is sweet, but ends drier, like a red wine. There is strong dark chocolate and flowers on the nose, and with the first sip, it was like walking into the rain… I love rain, and I love the petricor smell of rain on dust, and this wine has exactly that, bottled.  It is served cold, and tastes like cold rain, hitting a dirt road.  Needless to say, I loved it!

Spookfontein Wine Farm

We don’t do “wine farming” to give bad “reviews.”  On the other hand, I also have to describe a wine farm experience as it happened, to stay authentic.  So, unfortunately, the post about Spookfontein Wine Farm in the Hemel and Aarde Valley won’t say much, because it was kind of a non-experience. It is possible that we caught them on a bad day, so when I am in the area again, I might want to pop in and see if things are different this time around.

We got there late-ish, with about 35/40 minutes to go before closing time.  The setting was very nice, and we were happy to discover what we thought was a hidden gem.  They have a beautiful tasting room with stylish, creative decor that was arty without being over the top. We were on our way back to Cape Town and sat down for the last tasting of the day.

Three Wines from the Spookfontein Wine Farm

Bev asked what they offered, and we were told we could taste 3 wines. The three Spookfontein wines were preselected and they didn’t really tickle the imagination.  We asked if we could taste some of the others, and were told no, only those three were available for tasting.  The good thing about it was that it was a free tasting.  We even offered to pay to taste some of the other wines, but it was not an option. They said their license didn’t allow them.

The information we got about the wines were delivered unenthusiastically in the time it took to pour the wine into two tasting glasses. It was very generic; things we could probably have read on the bottle.  Questions were answered with a bland, “I don’t know.” I think it was around there that we really lost interest in the tasting. We didn’t discuss the wines much nor did we make any notes. We tasted our three wines – I don’t remember what they were – and left.  I don’t’ think anyone noticed – good thing we didn’t have to pay!

As we drove away, I tasted the name “spookfontein” in my mind, like I would roll an interesting wine around on my tongue.  I wondered about the story behind the name and I wanted the spook to jump out an haunt me.  The name Spookfontein Wine Farm, other than the wines, just sparks a rush of mystery coursing through the imagination.  I kept thinking – there is so much you can do with a name like “spookfontein…” So why don’t they?

Click here to visit Spookfontein Wine Farm’s website:


Onderkloof Wine Estate

Our pictures of Onderkloof Wine Estate


We tried going to Onderkloof Wine Estate in Somerset West once before, following the signs up from Old Sir Lowrys Road, but got to a closed gate.  A few weeks later I happened to drive past, and saw a sign saying that they were open that Saturday for wine tasting.  I let Bev know, because Onderkloof is a stone’s throw from my shack, and we were excited to check in on the Saturday morning.

They are now open for wine tasting every first Saturday of the month, from 11 am to 3 pm.  On weekdays you can visit the tasting room from 11 am to 4 pm.

To visit Onderkloof Wine Estate’s website, click here.

It was busy and the people from the estate had their hands full, but they were friendly and welcoming and served us promptly.  We started asking questions about the Onderkloof wines, but the guy helping us admitted that he was only helping out for the day and couldn’t answer all our questions.  Mindful of the situation, and it being a relaxed Saturday morning, we didn’t mind.  Especially since he promised to send the winemaker, Yves from Switzerland, to us as soon as he got a gap.  I always love speaking to the winemakers themselves!

Yves and his wife, Luanne, came to talk to us, and it was a very informative morning, in which I learned quite a bit about the wines of the unique Schapenberg wine region. They also took us for a quick cellar tour, which was an added bonus. Yves and Luanne were married in the cellar, lending a romantic nuance to the whole Onderkloof experience.

Onderkloof Sir Lowry Classic Blend 2014

Sir Lowry Classic Blend

I bought some of their Sir Lowry Classic Blend 2014 to bring home, and I am enjoying it as I write this post.  It is easily my favourite red from the Schapenberg.  It is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc, 50% of each.  I have to be honest that I don’t know much about Cabernet Francs, but I am making a point of tasting them when possible, and I am liking it more and more.  In fact, I have become a big fan of red blends, and although I can’t always identify a Cab Franc yet, I am noticing that whenever I love a blend, there is some Cab Franc in it, which says a lot.

Tasting Notes

This particular one is smooth, with soft tannins.  It seems like a light, easy drinking wine when you take the first sip, but then you realise, it is not. When you swirl it on your tongue it starts teasing you with a subtle complexity that dares you to try and put it into words. There are chocolate and coffee that hit you first.  and then, for me, just a tiny bit of caramel in the mocha.  I also get a fleeting hint of lavender that disappears just before you can say, yes, there it is. Yet, it is there – or not quite there – with every sip, so I can’t ignore it.  The description on the bottle promises blueberry and cranberry.

I don’t really get the blueberry. Maybe very vaguely, only because I was told it should be there, but the cranberry jumps out with great enthusiasm! I also taste other red berries like strawberry and maybe even cherry.

Now I am going to stick my neck out! I think it finishes with a hint of black pepper, that I can’t ignore. It is subtle, and maybe it is just me tasting it, but I got it in every sip.

All in all, it is a wine that you just can’t go wrong with.

It is the one I will take to a dinner party when I don’t know what is on the menu, and who will be there, because it will satisfy the wine fundi who wants to think about what they drink, as well as the casual wine drinker who just knows that it is going down well.  It is independent enough not to be overwhelmed by most flavourful foods, but also versatile enough to complement many dishes. By that, I mean even dishes that have a unique flavour, and would normally be paired with a specific type of wine.

Paring the Onderkloof Sir Lowry Classic Blend 2014

Crispy fried tofu

Crispy fried tofu

I would pair the Sir Lowry Classic Blend with any beef dish, but tonight I had it with a rather plain, home-cooked vegetarian meal. It worked, and it was more than just enjoyable!  We had crispy fried tofu, savoury rice, a tomato and pesto based stew with onions and green beans, and a green salad with black pepper feta cheese, and it paired perfectly. I would also not hesitate to pair this wine with something like a Chinese or Asian chicken or pork dish; perhaps something in a sweet and sour sauce, or a soya based basting.

I think I need to get back to Onderkloof very soon, and stock up on this wine.  I really could have it every day!

Read more about Onderkloof Wines here.

Find Onderkloof Wine Estate on Google Maps: