Welcome to my blog, these are the ramblings and musings of an (upper) middle aged biker and if you enjoy braais, (barbeques) beers and motorbikes then hopefully you will enjoy what Janet and I do; we do lots of braais, we drink lots of beer and we tour South Africa on our motorbike, which at the moment is a BMW R1200RT. Join us, read about what we do and please leave us your comments.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Wacky wine festival

We are very fortunate in that we live on the fringes of what is arguably one of the best wine producing areas in the world; the western Cape and this past weekend we went into that area and submerged ourselves in the wine culture, we attended the Wacky wine festival in the Robertson Valley.
We first attended this festival in 2008 and had a spectacular time, so much so that we wanted to return last year but could not find accommodation anywhere in the area. This year we were lucky enough to be able to hire a bachelor flat from a resident of the town and we set off from Saldanha at about 16h00.
I am reluctant to drive anywhere but I would be buying wine so we had to use four wheels, it took us two and a half hours to get there and the last half an hour was like city rush hour with the amount of people driving into the area! We arrived at 19h00 and after meeting our host and getting settled we went back into the town for a bit of action, of which there was plenty!
We spent a pleasant hour or so checking out the local attractions before settling down at "Soprano's" restaurant and piano bar for a couple of beers and a burger.
By the time we returned to our flat that evening I had noticed a disturbing fact: the area and almost all of the pubs and restaurants were full of students! Because of the upcoming World Cup soccer competition all of the schools and universities have been put on early holiday and so the students have nothing to do, they have invaded all of our functions and I was a worried man as I settled into the rather too small bed that evening.
I was feeling a bit better the next morning, and after the first breakfast beer I was actually quite jovial and optimistic. After a good breakfast we headed out to visit some wine farms, we decided that we would visit one or two of the favourites and then head off the beaten track to avoid the crowds, this was to prove a wise decision.
Our first visit was to "Major's Hill" estate and here's an old biker scum beer drinker trying to pretend he knows what wine is all about! We had enjoyed the place so much on the first occasion and it was just as good this time. Because it was only about 10h00 there were not too many people around and the staff were very attentive, they brought us a platter of home made bread and a dish of olive oil and balsamic vinegar as a dip and then the wine list for tasting. I ended up buying six bottles of Sauvignon Blanc and six bottles of 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon before we headed off for the next farm.
Springfield is a beautifully picturesque estate with lush green lawns sloping down to a dam over which the balcony extends, we stood on the edge of the dam drinking a delightfully fruity, dry Sauvignon Blanc while listening to a really entertaining blues combo, it was just too perfect!
The crowds were still gathering and we decided to avoid "Bon Courage" because by the time we arrived the cars were already parked nearly half a kilometre around the place, I did not fancy a long walk and a seething mob so we pressed on. Next was Rietvallei where we bought a couple of bottles of really good muscadel and then we went off the beaten track, along a rutted and corrugated dirt road to visit places with romantic names like "Kanon Kop", "Fraai Uitzicht", "Rosendal" and "Rusticus".
Kanonkop was lovely, with a wooden balcony open to the view of the rugged hill from whence the name was derived and there we sampled a few wines and I bought some more wonderful bottles
of Merlot for my collection.
As we left a mini bus drove in, it was full of students and one of them had a "Vuvuzela" which he was blowing enthusiastically through the window, I was relieved that we had left when we did!
We continued along the dirt road and found ourselves at "Fraai uitzicht", an understated place which at first we thought was not involved in the festival as there were not many people there at all, luckily we went in because it was to prove a highlight of our day!
The owner of the estate took us into his cellar and insisted that we drink some of his 2004 Merlot which was sublime, I bought a bottle at nearly R100 because it was so good and there were very few left. This will not be opened at a braai when my biker friends are around!
It was here that we discovered, and decided to partake in, the "Connoisseur tasting" and it turned out to be the highlight of our weekend, it consisted of;
Graham Beck Wines Blanc de Blanc 2001 accompanied with grilled sushi rice with smoked salmon and a tomato and squid salad.
Springfield Estate Methode Ancienne Chardonnay 2006 with pear and leek soup, croutes with goats cheese and tomatoes.
De Wetshof Estate Chardonnay Bateleur 1998 accompanied by Vanilla prawn and marinated pork fillet with spicy mayonnaise.Each wine was partnered with a food taste that would first enhance its flavour and then one that would challenge its flavour, here you see the vanilla prawn and the bite of marinated pork fillet in spicy mayonnaise. I have never been a fan of Chardonnay but those were fantastic!
Then it was over to the reds; Fraai Uitzicht 1798 Merlot 2003 and marinated olives with rosemary and fennel and beef carpachio with lemon dressing, the olives and the merlot were unbelievable!
Zandvliet Estate French Oak Matured Kalkveld Shiraz 2002 was then the accompaniment to chicken fillet and bay leaf wrapped in pancetta on lentil salad and lamb cubes in a home made Middle East curry mix!
We ended off that excellent repast with an unbelievably delicious, sweet Weltevrede Estate Ovation Rhine Riesling 1999 and Portuguese custard tarts.
At R310 per person it was not cheap, but then neither was it expensive for the absolutely amazing palate teasing and awakening experience and we thoroughly enjoyed it, and if we go to the wine festival again next year we will be back for the Connoisseur tasting at Fraai Uitzicht.I enjoyed the "Rusticus" Estate's dry "Viogneur" wine but I must admit that I went in there only because I enjoyed the name of the place so much, it is a name that invokes the Medievil times as in; "Hail and Good Morrow brother Rusticus!" probably said with gusto by Count Baldric - whatever!
We were both on a good mellow by then and we decided to head back to the town, Janet wanted a sleep and I decided that I wanted to watch the rugby. The pubs were so full that instead I ended up watching some fools diving into a pool of red wine at Roodezandt while I drank a beer to cut the sour taste from all of the wine that I had been drinking and that was being splashed around.
That night we went in search of a party but there was none to be found, not like in 2008 when we had a huge jol with Barry and Annette and we danced in the street outside the restaurant with the red canvas awnings while my spare ribs got cold! Or when we asked the waitress for a taste of Robertsons Sauvignon Blanc and she gave us the whole bottle! And the music was good!No! This year the area was full of students on holiday and wherever we went the music was lousy!
Don't get me wrong, it had been a great experience and an enjoyable weekend and my wine racks are full again, at least until Dick and Frank come for a visit!Lunch on the way home was at "Ed's Diner" at the Barn in Riebeek Kasteel where classic cars and motorbikes are parked in amongst the tables and I had an excellent steak, egg and chips for R60 but that's a story for another time. Ain't life grand?!


Koozie printing said...

Thanks for post. It’s really informative stuff.
I really like to read.Hope to learn a lot and have a nice experience here! my best regards guys!

Anonymous said...

That "Connoisseur Tasting" sounded absolutely great !!! By the way I phoned Frank , and he agrees we will visit you on 4 wheels (2 each) with ties on - and then you have to open that "Fraai Uitzicht Merlot"
Let us know when we can come for the tasting !!!!!! HEE Hee

the rider said...

Koozie printing; Thanks for the visit and the comment, I really appreciate it and I hope you keep on reading my blog.
Dick - you get on up here and I will open that bottle, I don't keep bottles for special occasions, I make a special occasion by opening a bottle!

Geoff James said...

You are clearly a man of great taste Andrew! Good job I've just had something to eat with your photos and description of everything on offer!