Tag Archives: wine

What does “corked wine” taste like?

What does "corked wine" taste like?
Before you think I'm saying it was, this bottle of Shiraz wasn't corked. :) I've never tasted a "corked wine" so I wondered what it would taste like. Here's the description given on thekitchn.com: "Corked wines smell and taste of damp, soggy, wet or rotten cardboard.".

Sounds delightful, hey?

Wine in progress at lovely Belfield

Wine in progress at lovely Belfield
A wine-loving friend and I hopped into the car early yesterday morning and traveled the 70km through Cape Town's mist, and over Sir Lowry's mountain pass to the Elgin Valley's Elgin Cool Wine and Country Festival. We picked up our festival passes at the well-known-well-loved Peregrine Farm Stall just outside of the town of Grabouw and headed off to visit as many of the participating wine estates as we could manage.

Our first stop was at Belfield, a lovely boutique wine estate just around the corner from the Peregrine Farm Stall. The main photo in this post shows the contents of one of about 6 large plastic tubs filled with cabernet sauvignon grapes; the makings of the estate's award winning wine. Since we were the first to arrive at his estate, Mike Kreft (owner and wine maker) spent a few minutes explaining the mechanics around the grapes in the tubs.

What's interesting (and not the obvious from just looking at the tubs) is that the pressed husks, floating on top of of a 100-200mm layer of wine-to-be, are constantly releasing carbon dioxide during the fermentation process. The carbon dioxide hovers in a layer just above the husks and (besides for keeping the wine free from oxygen) effectively serves to wards off insects and other contaminating creatures from indulging in the fruits of Mike's labour.

Click on the thumbnails above to see a few more photos that I took on the wine farm's grounds.

Old, very old, wine bottles

Old, very old, wine bottles

Imagine how long these bottles have been stacked here for! We found these below De Oude Drostdy, in the cellar-area where prisoners awaiting trial by the magistrate were kept.

You may recall that I posted a few photos from our visit to the Van Ryn's brandy distillery in December. Distel, a Stellenbosch-based company that produces wine, spirits, and ciders owns several properties all over the Cape, including the Van Ryn's brandy distillery and De Oude Drostdy.

Now, I completely understand why they hang on to Van Ryn's, but as for De Oude Drostdy - besides for historical and investment purposes, I'm unsure as to why Distel keep her. It's not like they make a great deal of money from the R10 museum entrance fee! Do you perhaps know?

Vines and wines of the Cape

Vineyards of Constantia
After a winter of leafless barren-looking vines, these tiny ones are the first that I've had the pleasure of seeing this spring. In only a couple of months these small vines will be looking absolutely huge with plush green leaves and will (hopefully) be laden with huge and juicy bunches of grapes.

I can't claim to be a wine connoisseur, but I'm very reliably (and perhaps biasly ;) ) told that Cape Town produces some of the best wine in the world. So, if you're not from these parts but would like to try our wines check out wineweb, a local site that allows you to order a huge variety of our glorious wines over the Web.

While browsing I spotted this, well-priced, pack of 6 different wines from the Spier wine estate - doesn't it sound awesome?

Farmlands and wine-country

Wheat and dairy farms are fine, but there's something special about wine farms. Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that wheat and dairy are essential foods whereas wine is a luxury - an indulgence. Walking among the vineyards of a wine farm brings a sense of style, sophistication and an appreciation for the finer extravagances in life that in many ways makes us human.

Of course, the alternative is that it's too late at night and I've started rambling nonsensical nonsense! You be the judge. :)

Wine farms and wine dams

D'Aria Wine Farm
D'Aria, in Durbanville, is one of the lucky wine estates to have their own dam. Can you imagine how much water it takes to keep their grapes plump and juicy?

Incidentally, D'Aria is the home of the popular Poplars restaurant (map). I'm not huge fan of the restaurant, but many people love it, so I do think that it's worth a try at least - perhaps it's your kind of place. :)

Lourensford Wine Estate

Lourensford Wine Estate

Lourensford Wine Estate is a large estate in Somerset West that can trace its history back to the year 1700. We spent some time here watching Prime Circle rock the crowds at the estate's open-air venue. It's a beautiful spot to visit for lunch, so if you'd like lunch on a wine estate, consider heading to Lourensford (map).

Wines of the Cape

Tierhoek's Chenin Blanc

I mentioned previously that friends of ours own Wineweb, an online company through which you can order South African wines.

Jon and Leslie from Wineweb brought a few bottles of Hazendal (map) and Tierhoek wine along to our last Sushiclub meetup. This Tierhoek Chenin Blanc happened to be the closest so I helped myself to a glass or two. I'm by no means a wine connoisseur and really have little clue as to what makes a good wine, but I have to admit that I really enjoyed this one. It's one of those easy-drinking wines that after a glass or two doesn't leave your mouth feeling like the inside of a lemon. :D

The Tierhoek farm lies about two hundred kilometres up our west coast (map), close to the well-known town of Citrusdal. This area is famous for its citrus fruit, presumably because of its good soil, plentiful water, and cool Atlantic sea breeze. The same factors that make the citrus fruit from this area so yummy must be what lays the foundation for the brilliant wine produced at Tierhoek.

The farm does offer tastings, so I'm busy trying to find their GPS coordinates and will post a link to a Google Map below as soon as I have them. If you decide to take a trip up the coast, consider staying in Citrusdal - there are plenty of guest houses in the area, as well as the popular The Baths resort with hot water springs!

Streaming wine from Cape Town

Refraction in a wine glass

You've been on a trip to Cape Town and it was awesome. Would receiving a bottle of our wine in the post remind you of your visit to the Mother City and help you relive your holiday? You're in luck! In 2006 friends of ours started an online company called Wineweb that allows you to order South African wine online. Take a look, and if you really love wine, consider joining the Wine Club. They'll send you a mixed case of wine every second month.

Isn't it ironic that looking at the world through a wine glass brings what's out of focus into focus, albeit upside down? :) I should point out though that this wine glass was in fact filled with white Grapetiser, so perhaps what you need to bring what's out of focus into focus isn't wine - perhaps it's just sitting back and slowly sipping a drink while reflecting on the world around you...

Gimme some of that weed

A toothy horse

We stopped over at the Durbanville Wine Valley Season of Sauvignon 2009 festival on Saturday. Although Jimbo here wasn't part of the festival, he kept a keen eye on the proceedings while munching on ground-greens. I plucked this juicy, yummy-looking weed from my side of the fence and handed it over.

After only a few nibbles, Jimbo's connoisseur's tongue rejected my offering, and he instead demanded a couple of life's simple pleasures: nose-strokes and head-pats. Horses are so easy to please.

Birthday party!

Party girls

When I blogged about Altydgedacht Wine Estate after our recent wine tasting expedition, I had no idea that we'd soon be back for another birthday party. A friend of ours invited us, along with about 25 of her other friends, to celebrate her 30th birthday at the estate... and boy, were we impressed. The venue was beautifully prepared, the food was exquisite, the wine just great and the service impeccable.

We had an awesome time partying the night away between two rows of absolutely huge wine barrels, and the great thing about the venue was that because we were far away from any neighbours, we could play the music as loudly as we liked without having to be considerate.

Thanks for an awesome evening!

The fire(place) at Bloemendal’s Wynhuis

Fire at Bloemendal

No, there wasn't that kind of fire at Bloemendal wine farm's Wynhuis ("wine house") restaurant. This was the last stop on our all-too-fast tour of the Durbanville wine route, and even though it wasn't as cosy and boutique-like as the others, it was larger, offered food for sale, and had this warm fire glowing so that those not tasting the wine could warm up too. :)

I can't say what the wine tasted like - by this time I'd decided that I'd had enough wine (because, to be honest, I'm not as in love with wine as some of you may be). ;)

Take a look at our route map; the Wynhuis is at the end of the route (on the left).

De Vallei boutique wine

The Cabernet Sauvignon of De Vallei

The Durbanville wine route has been the subject of the last two posts, and as long as you're not getting bored, after today I have two final photos in the series.

I took this photo in the cool and damp concrete cellar of De Vallei, a boutique wine producer found along the Durbanville wine route mentioned in my first post of this series.

The subject of this photo, the words "Cabernet Sauvignon", is in fact not (as I once believed) a type of wine, but rather a type of grape. What I'm sure the wine connoisseurs among us already know is that the red Cabernet Sauvignon grape is in fact a crossing of two varieties of grape, the red Cabernet Franc and the white Sauvignon Blanc! Go figure; I guess it should have been obvious, but I had never considered this before.

So now, the question is: don't you think this should make Cabernet Sauvignon a rosé grape? ;)

Altydgedacht on the Durbanville Wine Route

Lilies at Altydgedacht

We arrived at Altydgedacht wine farm in our "fun vehicle" (see yesterday's post), with AC/DC's Thunderstruck blaring. It was a tranquil environment - that is, before our merry crowd arrived. The occasion was a celebration of Guinivea's birthday in the form of a road-trip from wine farm to wine farm. I guess we felt that the occasion warranted at least some kind of commotion on arrival!

The music stopped along with our vehicle, and we piled out, ready for our first tasting. The portion of the farm where tasting is done is unfortunately not particularly pretty. Yet, I captured this photo of the beautiful Arum Lilies that the farm's owner popped in to drop off.

Incidentally, the first title deeds for the land were signed by Simon van der Stel in 1698! The property was called Tygerberg back then and only later renamed to Altydgedacht. Tygerberg is now the name of the the area of which the suburbs of Durbanville and Bellville form part.

In case you're in the mood for a bunch of Arum Lilies, they charge only R10 for a bunch like this one. What a huge bargain!

Durbanville wine route

Wine tasting in Durbanville

I don't suppose that anyone can guess what we spent the afternoon doing? Of course, driving from wine farm to wine farm (in a rather fun vehicle) tasting wine!

Besides for the mode of transport and the fact that we didn't know 4 of the 6 people we went with, what was awesome about this particular expedition was that we didn't do the traditional and well-worn Stellenbosch wine route. This time we stayed close to home (in fact, only 5 minutes away from home) and toured around the Durbanville wine area. I took a moment to draw the short route that we drove - click here to see the map.

Delheim, worth the journey

Delheim wine

Delheim is an old wine estate in the heart of Stellenbosch wine country. It was on Tuesday night that my palate encountered Delheim Merlot for the first time - and I have to say that for a 2006 wine it was pretty darn decent!

Delheim's tag-line is "Worth The Journey", which I guess conveys that even though Stellenbosch is a little way from the City (about 40km I'd guess), a visit is well worth the journey. I browsed their website a few minutes ago and discovered a little nugget of information... it seems as though Delheim's estate restaurant is having a special from 8-12 June. From the advert it sounds as though they will reduce their price to dollar numbers, but charge in rands. Could they really mean that a R150 meal will cost only R15? That's just crazy! I may just have to check if the journey is in fact worth it. ;)

Delheim, this sounds unbelievable; it would be awesome if you'd leave a comment clarifying what's meant by "Come and enjoy meal at Dollar rates!".

The first Governor was coloured?

Simonsig Wine

Simonsig, the wine estate that produces these bottles of wine, is named after the first Governor of Cape Town (then called the Cape of Good Hope), Simon van der Stel.

Van der Stel became Commander at the Cape in 1679, after which he was promoted to be the first Governor of the Cape in 1691. The interesting fact that I learned only today (and something that our apartheid history books conveniently ignored) was that while his father was Dutch, Simon's mother was Indian (in fact a freed slave woman), meaning that he and a large part of Cape Town's population have more in common that I'd previously realised. :)

Keep that wine on ice for now…

Wine bucket

A big thank you to those of you who nominated us for the 2009 SA Blog Awards - we were thrilled to discover this evening that Cape Town Daily Photo has been selected as a finalist in THREE categories: Best Photographic Blog, Best Travel Blog and Best Group Blog (a category for blogs with more than one author).

If you've been reading CTDP for a while, then you might recall that we won the award for Best Travel Blog in 2008. This year we have some truly formidable competition in every one of the categories for which we've been nominated, so we're keeping the celebratory wine on ice for now. :)

Of course I'd love you to vote for us, but at the same time I feel strongly that you shouldn't vote for this blog simply because I've asked you to, or because you're my friend, or because you follow me on Twitter: you should vote for this blog if you believe it to be the best in its category. So please visit the SA Blog Awards voting page, have a careful look at the finalists in each category, and then cast your vote for those you feel are most deserving. And don't forget to click on the link in the confirmation email you receive, in order to confirm your vote!

By the way, voting is open to EVERYONE, not only South Africans or residents of South Africa. So even if you live in the USA or the UK, Canada or Germany, Romania or India, or anywhere else for that matter, you can still vote.

AND ONE MORE TIME: Thank you to everyone who took the time to nominate us - I'm not sure that you realise just how much your support, comments and encouragement mean to us, especially when it's reeeeally late at night, and, exhausted after a long day, we suddenly realise that neither of us has posted yet... ;-)

There’s no place for bad wine

Mathematician, astronomer, and philosopher - Galileo Galilei

I learned a fascinating thing about wine-making in South Africa recently.

Winemakers press the same grapes several times. The first pressing gives the best quality wine, and the last the worst quality (much the same as "extra virgin" and "virgin" olive oil). The interesting thing that the winemaker I spoke with said was that by law he is not allowed to throw any wine away - all wine produced has to be sold.

My first thought was one of admiration for the law-makers, as I figured they must really appreciate the value of a good bottle of wine. This naivety was quickly dashed though, as the winemaker elaborated, explaining that it's not for any environmental or other good reason, but because the government wants as much tax money as possible.

A wry smile what all I got when, in an effort to save us all from bad wine, I asked why the last pressing of poor wine wasn't simply skipped. From his response I gathered that plenty of very juicy grape skins are disposed of each year. :)

If you need a party or conference venue in Stellenbosch…

Lovane Wine Estate

If you've been reading Cape Town Daily Photo for a while, then you might recall us mentioning something called a GeekDinner once or twice before. Normally these dinners happen at a restaurant in the city or the southern suburbs, but last night we held the very first Stellenbosch GeekDinner at Lovane Boutique Wine Estate, located just outside Stellenbosch on the M12.

Please don't read on if you're hungry right now, because you'll just end up hating me. Don't say I didn't warn you. ;-)

Dinner was a-ma-zing. For starters we had fresh beetroot slices filled with goat's cheese; the main course was a buffet of sirloin steak, creamy mushroom sauce, potato slices, baby marrows, carrots, butternut ravioli and walnut salad; and the dessert was an unbelievably moreish helping of homemade toffee/fudge/vanilla ice-cream. The steak had been cooked on an open fire, with some sort of lemongrass basting, and it was done to absolute perfection. I actually don't have enough adjectives to tell you just how good this meal was.

Lovane is a really beautiful place too, both inside and out. We even got taken on a tour of the cellar (which is where this photo was taken, of course), where we learnt a little bit about the process of winemaking.

If you're looking for a party or conference venue in the winelands, I can certainly suggest Lovane. Great service, a really lovely setting, and excellent food... what more could you want?