...anyone want to suggest a winery to visit?
That's not the real reason for my post - I figured that South Africa is off the beaten path for most of us (at least it is for me!), so some notes on my experiences might be appreciated here. I'd post pictures, but somehow my Mac hates my new camera's 64gb SC card, so until I make them play nice, I'm stuck with words. The quick backstory on my trip is that I'm here for work, but I managed to sneak in three days early, so I wanted to experience a new wine region. My day yesterday went like this: land from my LAX-LHR-CPT marathon flights, check into the crew hotel in Cape Town, walk to Hertz up the street, grab my little car and head west.
Franschhoek is about an hour east of Cape Town on the N1 and the R45. Its center is a cute little town bursting with restaurants and shops - it actually reminds me a little of Solvang, CA, if you can imagine it with all the Danish stuff removed. And with the cars driving on the other side of the street.
Stony Brook Vineyards
I loved their Sauvignon Blanc somehow. Maybe because it was my first wine of the day, but I thought it was fab. Also loved their Ghost Gum Cab. Way overpriced compared to everything else I tasted today, but I liked it, so I bought it. The price bump comes because their 2006 vintage was one of 2 South African wines to receive 5 stars from somewhere. Wish I remembered where. Also, on a non-wine note, I did my tastings with a group of French ex-pats visiting from their temporary home on Madagascar. Whoa.
I clearly had to copy/paste that name. Too dutch for me. They do three labels, Wolftrap, Porcupine Ridge, and their eponymous label, Boekenhoutskloof. Apparently, their Chocolate Block is a one-off label that has wide(ish?) disto in the US. So maybe 4 labels. Their Boekenhoutskloof label is all single-vineyard varietals (and a blend of singles, I believe), only available through the club because they sell out immediately. That's not 100% true, actually, because they sell a mixed case (4 each of Cab, Syrah and Semillion) for ZAR4000. Seems high for wines I can't even taste. I did like the cab, but I definitely didn't like it enough more than the Porcupine Ridge Cab to risk a bunch of Rand on a mixed case.
Mont Rochelle and the Country Kitchen
I had lunch here, too, which was a great choice. They did a great, sweet, local take on a caprese and a yellowtail filet from the skillet that was almost perfect. It was today's "linefish" which seemed to mean "catch of the day" - yay for learning new cultures! I risked trying a rosé here, which wasn't a mistake, but wasn't very good, either. I feel like there are interesting, talented winemakers (at least in California) doing interesting, wonderful takes on rosé these days (Bouchaine's Rosé of Syrah comes to mind), but that trend didn't extend here. I did like the Cab and the Syrah at Mont Rochelle, however, and i loved my dining experience - the view was great, the pace was relaxed, and the service was friendly.
Anyway, day 1 down.