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.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Wacky wine festival, Robertson 2011

This year the Wacky wine festival in Robertson was great fun, it wasn't as busy as last year's because there were not as many students around, last year schools, colleges and universities closed early for the soccer world cup which left thousands of students with nothing to do except converge on the Wacky wine festival and ruin it with lousy music.
There was quite a lot of lousy music this year too and that is one of my bugbears, had there been a place selling beer and food and playing music from the 70's and 80's with some country and classic rock they would have made a killing! I must look for a forum or somewhere to voice my opinion. Friday and Saturday night we were in the mood for a party but couldn't find one!
We got away from home just after 2pm on Friday and drove through to Robertson, a long three hour trip but we had to go in the bakkie (pronounced bucky - meaning pick-up or ute) because I buy wines at the festival and also because after a day's wine tasting it's more difficult to fall off a bakkie than it is a bike!
I must say that I found the trip very frustrating, I am not used to having to stay in a slow queue of vehicles but this time I had to and the road was very busy. In any event we made it and by 17h30 we were sitting in the hotel bar having our first beer.
We had a very good meal in the hotel and then drove around looking for a party, we had a couple of drinks in a couple of places but none of them created an atmosphere that invited us to stay and we were in our accommodation quite early.
After a good breakfast on Saturday morning we visited one of the shops in town and then headed out on our wine tasting trip, most of the estates are incredibly picturesque like Springfield pictured here, the only problem is that they were already getting busy and the young ladies at the tasting tables were only prepared to splash a small puddle of wine into my glass, time to move on.

From there we went to Bon Courage, we normally don't bother with this place because it gets so incredibly crowded but we supplied 9000 oysters to them for the festival and I wanted to see how it was going, the place was hugely busy already, there was a queue for the wine tasting and I could see that the oysters were very popular, time to move on.
We prefer to visit the smaller, less popular estates that are "off the beaten track" so we headed for "Wolvendrift", and sure enough we could sit and relax in a place where they poured a more generous taste of their wines.

We sat for a while and tasted the various wines on offer and I bought six bottles of their very good Sauvignon Blanc. By then it was almost lunchtime and we decided to head back to Fraai Uitsigt Estate where we had had the fabulous gourmet lunch last year, on the way we passed Bon Courage again and it was amazing to see how crowded that place had become, the cars were literally parked alongside the road for up to a kilometre either side!
As we were driving across to Fraai Uitsigt it started to rain, just a light rain at first but as we were sitting down to our lunch it began to rain heavily, did we care? Hell NO we were about to indulge in a gastronomic experience, six food courses paired with the most expensive wines produced in the Robertson valley;
Graham Beck Wines Brut Rose 2006  
Teriyaki Salmon and Smoked Tuna Pate'

Springfield Estate Methode Ancienne Chardonnay 2006
Beetroot ravioli and Mini double baked cheese souffle'

De Wetshof Estate Chardonnay Bateleur 2006
Vanilla Prawn and Marinated Pork fillet with spicy marinade
Fraai Uitzicht Merlot 2003
Marinated olives with rosemary and fennel and beef carpaccio with lemon dressing
Zandvliet Estate French Oak Matured Kalkveld Shiraz 2002
Chicken fillet and bay leaf wrapped in Parma ham on Lentil salad and Breaded Springbok fillet
It all looks like small portions but over the hour or so that it takes to eat the meal and drink all of the fabulous wines you realise that you have eaten quite a lot of food and the variety of tastes is fascinating. Then it was time for the dessert;
This was an Arendsig Viognier 2009,  a sweet dessert wine  and I was told that the shape of the flute makes you purse your lips perfectly so that the wine arrives at the correct taste buds! Hey I'm a biker who normally wraps his lips around a Castle bottle neck but what the hell, I'll try anything once.
The dessert was a lovely buttermilk mousse on a berry jus, it was a wonderful experience and at R325 per person it is not cheap but just for the six different wines it is probably worth it apart from the food and we will do it again next year.
The rain stopped and after bidding our host and the chef farewell, after they had taken a major bite out of my credit card, we moved on - there were more places to see and more wines to taste and time was fleeting!
We drove through verdant wineyards freshly washed by the recent rains, gold and green colours against the mountain backdrop and at Kranskop Janet made friends with some huge beast. Here I bought some more delightful Sauvignon Blanc.
From there further along muddly roads through gorgeous mountain passes which would have been terrible on the big red machine we wound our way to Rosendal;
There we were invited to taste wines paired with various Lindt chocolates! We needed no second bidding, "Bring it on!" we shouted in eager anticipation and whilst other visitors delicately nibbled their chocolate and sipped their wines we crunched and slurped our way through all four glasses.
I normally prefer to pair my chocolate with a decent whisky but this was great, milk chocolate with a Colombar, sea salt chocolate with a Sauvignon Blanc, chili with a merlot and dark with a Cabernet Sauvignon - very interesting!
Even biker scum can appear sophisticated sometimes! Chocolate and wine, good stuff. We headed back to the town after that, we visited various venues in search of a party but there was nothing on the go, we sat in Sopranos for a while drinking beer and watching the people while we listened to horrible music. At the Spur restaurant later that evening whilst eating chicken wings I got involved in a dance with the staff, who instead of cooking and serving the hundreds of customers, took time out to do a line dance in the aisles ..... it's a bit of a blur.
Sunday morning on the way home we visited the last of the estates; Rooiberg where I bought some red wines to top up my racks; six bottles of Pinotage Reserve and six 2008 Merlot Reserve which we were tasting at 09h30! It had been a wonderful weekend and we have already secured our accommodation for next year.
We arrived back in Saldanha in the early afternoon and of course headed for the Phoenix Bar to end the weekend off, there were quite a few people there and it was good to see some friends again, Malcolm's really good looking Yamaha Tenere was parked outside and I immediately noticed the rim tape, a nice touch.
So there we are, credit card seriously dented but wine racks full and a great weekend - life is good.  


George F said...

Chocolate and wine, nice combination :-)
Vanilla Prawn and Marinated Pork fillet with spicy marinade? hummm, I could go for that right now ;-)
Nice photos but the best shot is the last one :-)

the rider said...

Thanks George, yes it was a very enjoyable weekend and the third time we have been now. Good food and great wine.

Geoff James said...

What a gorgeous-looking spot Andrew, not to mention the food and drink. I'm with you regarding the music choice but then again, what do we "mature" folks know!

the rider said...

Yes Geoff, the music was that electronic racket concocted by non-musicians designed to destroy brain cells! I cannot stand it, I'm going to check their website to see if there is a "comments" or "complaints" section and let them know how I feel.

irondad said...

Sounds wonderfully decadent and fun ( except for the music ). Guess we'll have to do something like that one of these days. The crowds always put me off, though.

Oh well, time to suck it up after reading your post!

the rider said...

Hey Irondad, yes the crowds did get to be a bit much at some of the estates but we concentrated on the smaller ones, out of the way or off the beaten track and they were great, not so many people.

Lana Groenewald said...

Dear "Rider",

As a resident and Guest House owner in Robertson, it is always wonderful to receive (or rather "find") feedback of the festival!

If you wish to submit any complaints / compliments / suggestions, you may do so via the Robertson Wine Valley. They are the organizers of the festival and are in close contact with all the wine estates and everyone else involved. Their contact details are available on their website: www.robertsonwinevalley.com.

I look forward to your review next year.

Valleigroete and safe travelling,