WINERIES NEAR CAPE TOWN-UNSURPASSED!
Posted On May 17, 2020
Wineries near Cape Town are unsurpassed!
During my many years in this beautiful place, I got to visit many, if not all the magnificent wine farms that surround Cape Town, South Africa. My position as executive chef and group food & beverage director of a prestigious group of seven top restaurants provided a certain VIP pass to the inner circle of the regions wine growers
As the seventh biggest wine producing country in the world, South Africa is home to 568 wine estates offering spectacular views and first-class wines.
Considering this, it is extremely difficult to pinpoint the very top wine estates and their wares in one article, so for now, I will concentrate on some of my favorites.
Pick of the best
You will understand any bias if I begin with my home turf, South Africas oldest historic wine estate where my group owned the fabulous “Simons Restaurant“ set among the ancient vineyards.
In 1679 Simon van der Stel was appointed by the Dutch East India Company to govern the Cape of Good Hope. After years of loyal service, he requested land from the Company. He periodically sent out riders to collect soil samples. In 1685, he chose 891 morgen (about 763 ha) situated behind Table Mountain for its wine-growing potential and magnificent scenery. Over the years the wines produced on the estate caught the attention of influential people across the globe – clearly due to its impressive quality. Global aristocracy made sure that they had enough stock of this acclaimed and precious product.
Our founder named his farm “Constantia” after the Latin word for constancy or steadfastness.
His high-quality grapes laid the groundwork for what would become one of the world’s most renowned wines
Nectar for the Gods
The estate is famous for its world-class “Groot Constantia Grand Constance 2014” unfortified dessert wine.
Let me digress awhile to chat about this wine category, under appreciated in my opinion, but one of my passions.
Outside of fortification, the most common methods of sweet-wine production in South Africa include selective late harvesting and partial drying of grapes.
Late-harvest wines are produced from grapes left on the vine well into the autumn, and often infected with Botrytis cinerea, or noble rot (known locally as edelkeur), which causes the grapes to lose their water content. These noble late harvest (NLH) wines are unctuous, with rich textures and luscious flavors of honey, raisin and dried stone fruits.
Thanks to their intense concentration and high natural acidity, South African sweet wines are also ideal for long-term cellaring, often evolving beautifully for decades after release.
With admirers like King George IV of England, King Louis-Philippe of France and even Napoleon Bonaparte—who, legend has it, requested a glass on his deathbed—Constantia became one of the world’s most valued and cherished sweet wines.
Noble rot definition: (no it’s not rich politicians!)
A botrytis fungus (Botrytis cinerea) that infects various usually overripe wine grapes causing shriveling which results in increased sugar and flavor content and is responsible for the characteristic flavor of Sauternes and related wines
Talking of Sauternes, she does still reign Queen of them all!
The Graves, Sauternes and Barsac regions of France are famous for these sweet wines
A Chateau d’yquem Sauternes 2009 will set you back over $5000 if you can get your hands on it.
Not for the folk with deep pockets and short arms!
The iconic goats tower on the estate
Home of the “goats do roam” wines-a humorous take on “Côtes du Rhône”
The legend goes that some errant members of Fairview’s long-established goat herd once escaped from their paddock into the Fairview vineyards after Charles Back’s young son Jason accidentally left the gate open. The little group happily roamed among the vineyards, showing rare discernment by selecting some of the ripest berries from the vines. Inspired by this tale, they now use these berries in the making of their Goats Do Roam wine. Highly drinkable and superb in quality, the Goats Do Roam range is an intriguing mix of southern French and Italian style blends, rich in complexity and at value-for-money prices.
Now established in the traditional heart of the South African wine industry, the Back Family stems from a lineage of great entrepreneurs, innovators and winemakers.
Charles Back II, started farming in 1978, upon completion of his oenological training at Elsenburg. In 1995, he took over full responsibility for the farm upon his father’s passing. From the start, Charles wanted to do things differently – introducing Mediterranean grapes
As a working farm, owner Charles Back’s philosophy is to strive to ensure that everything they do is driven by three key pillars of being honest, honoring their heritage and ensuring that ingenuity perpetually flows from their soils and cellars.
These particular wines stand out:
Double Platinum awards:
Fairview Eenzaamheid Shiraz,
Fairview Extraño and
Fairview La Beryl Blanc.
Double Gold awards:
Fairview Nurok 2016,
Fairview Rose Quartz 2016
Fairview Old Bushvin2016 Cinsault .
Double Silver titles:
Fairview Viognier 2015,
Fairview Caldera 2013,
Fairview Homtini 2015 and
Fairview Beacon Shiraz 2013.
When I last visited the estate back in 2006 the best of the best of their superb wines were completely sold out!
AN EXPRESSION OF STELLENBOSCH THROUGH AUTHORITY AND RICH TRADITION.
Situated on the South Easterly side of the Simonsberg Mountain with elevations 530m above sea level with mainly south-facing slopes, possessing some of the highest elevations in Stellenbosch. The high altitude and the rich red soils are ideal for premium quality wine grape production.
The beginning of a family legacy.
The manor house was restored and the first wines under the Thelema label were released in 1988. By the mid 90’s Thelema’s wines sold out within a month after release, making it one of the most sought-after wine estates in South Africa. The Webb family describe Thelema as “one of the most beautiful places on earth”.
As Thelema in Stellenbosch continued to flourish they embarked on a search for an additional property in order to establish a second vineyard. In 2002, the Webb family purchased an idyllic farm with an undulating landscape, in the cool Elgin region, creating ideal grape growing conditions
King of the castle! Cabernet Sauvignon
Chardonnay reserve-rivals any French!
Back to my sweet wines-Nectar for the Gods
JordanJordan-last but far from least!
My whole team were invited to this gorgeous estate for lunch, tasting and cellar tour.
Gary and Kathy Jordan have been making world-class wines at this top wine estate since 1993 on a farm with a history going back over 300 years. Together this husband and wife team is a phenomenon. Gary’s parents, Ted and Sheelagh, bought the 164 hectare Stellenbosch property in 1982, and embarked on an extensive replanting programme, specializing in classic varieties suited to the different soils and slopes.
Unique by nature’s design, the Jordan slopes face North, South, East and West, with vineyards lying at differing altitudes from 160 to 410 meters above sea level. The vineyards benefit from their close proximity to both the Indian and Atlantic Oceans and enjoy a mild, Mediterranean climate with a maritime influence.
The Jordan philosophy combines the vineyards’ natural assets with innovative management, creating a profound expression of terroir. Jordan Wine Estate – the perfect Synergy between Soul and Soil.
Jordan Chameleon Rosé 2019
A dry classic French “Blanc de Noir” style made from a free-run juice blend of Shiraz and Merlot. Extended pre-fermentation skin contact gives the wine its brilliant cherry pink hue. Harvested earlier to retain fresher acids and treated very reductively in the cellar, this helps to capture the primary fruit flavors of strawberry coulis & dried cranberries with delicate spiciness. Excellent with flash-fried prawns and red-chilli vinaigrette.
Jordan Mellifera Noble Late Harvest 2019 375ml
Delicate and floral with a ripe apricot and spring blossom bouquet and the well-balanced acidity adds elegance to the long, rich finish.
Jordan Barrel Fermented Chardonnay 2018
A variety of chardonnay clones planted on different slopes, harvested at different ripening levels and all of it fermented and matured in French oak barrels. These practices help to achieve natural balance and allows for different textural components which we then blend to achieve finesse and complexity. Bold and graceful with fragrances of lemon biscuit and overripe oranges.
Jordan The Long Fuse Cabernet Sauvignon 2017
Progressive techniques such as overhead fermenters, pump-overs and gravity flow allow for the extraction of fully developed flavors and soft ripe tannins without compensating the tension and elegance captured from the various cabernet slopes. Here especially, the climate plays a significant role to allow great fruit expression and classic essences of cedar, brambles and toasted tobacco.
Thinking of visiting the Cape?
There are a number of highly professional wine tours
The Nederburg fine wine auctions
THE CAPE FINE & RARE WINE AUCTION, PREVIOUSLY NEDERBURG AUCTION, IS RECOGNISED AS ONE OF THE WORLD’S FIVE MAJOR WINE AUCTIONS – ALONGSIDE THE AUCTIONS OF HOSPICES DE BEAUNE IN FRANCE AND KLOSTER EBERBACH IN GERMANY.
After I returned to South Africa from ten years in the Caribbean and personal chef to Sir Elton John, I took up a new position as executive chef to Cape Towns premier 5 star hotel, the President in Cape Town.
I was charged with the catering for the VIP Nederburg Wine Auction lunch, held on the magnificent Nederburg wine estate.
This yearly event was by invitation only and these were not easy to come by. Wine buyers from all over the world came to bid for South Africas finest wines.
Catering involved a 5 course sit down meal for 1500 guests. I pulled it off with the help of some 300 chefs
Wines featured in this article can be found online here
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