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I'm in Franschhoek, SA...

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#1 flicman

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Posted 03 May 2013 - 02:43 PM

...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.

#2 ChrisTaylor

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Posted 03 May 2013 - 03:38 PM

Nice. Keen to see the photos if you eventually find a way of posting them. Are you staying in Western Cape for the duration of the trip or eventually moving on? When I was over in Zimbabwe I tried a few South African roses and found that they were consistently a better product than, well, anything else I could find. That said, I never got the chance to buy anything more expensive than $15USD (the supermarkets didn't stock anything else).

Chris Taylor

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I've never met an animal I didn't enjoy with salt and pepper.

Harare, Victoria Falls and some places in between

#3 flicman

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Posted 03 May 2013 - 03:48 PM

I'll be all over Europe for a couple months immediately after doing Cape Town and Joburg back to back.  I won't have much time for wine, unfortunately, but hopefully I can sneak in a day or two somewhere interesting and tasty.

#4 Ranz

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Posted 04 May 2013 - 05:07 AM

I'm in Durban, welcome to SA :) Will be in CT later this month, probably will visit some winefarms in Stellenbosch.

#5 flicman

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Posted 05 May 2013 - 01:19 PM

I've been told that Stellensbosch is the bees' knees - I didn't get to visit, but if becoming shark bait falls through on Wednesday, I'll head out there post haste.  I *loved* Franschhoek, though.

#6 eternal

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Posted 05 May 2013 - 08:03 PM

I remember having a good time at the Fairview winery. It's a pretty big place and a bit touristy but still had some nice cheese and wine. There were some others and some great food but I'm having a hard time remembering any of them. Wish I could be of more help!

#7 flicman

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Posted 07 May 2013 - 02:42 AM

Just for the heck of it, here's the second write-up I did on the second short day I took in Franschhoek.  I'll link to it rather than post it here because I'm not sure that links and photos will post up correctly here.




Anyway, hope it's enjoyable and maybe helps out in someone's future South African winery plans.