Angela and I with our wine purchases.
Bon Courage winery.
Lori and I tasting at Springfield Estate.
July 7, 2006
I have to admit…these people know how to start this tour off right.
At 8am we departed from Kommetjie en route to Robertson. This might not mean much to most people. But when I say
‘Robertson Wine Valley’, that might mean a little bit more. And most people would probably understand that seeing those
three words is enough to know that I had a wonderful day…
I have to admit that I am a wine tasting veteran (WTV). For the past several years I have gone to Sonoma and Napa more
times than I can count. As a WTV, I can make the following statement. When you go wine tasting, you can have good days and
you can have bad days. The good days are when you can come back home and be excited about the great wines that you tasted
and bought during the day. The bad days are when, no matter how many places you went, nothing tasted good. The bad days
are also sad days. Who wants to come back from the wine country with no wine?
This WTV was now going to be seeking out the wineries in South Africa. We all have heard about wonderful wines from this
part of the world—I was just crossing my fingers that Robertson and the wineries we were going to be visiting would give me a
‘good day’ of wine tasting. I was going to be as unbiased as possible…meaning I wasn’t going to let the fact that I’m in South
Africa sway my opinion regarding South African wines.
Let me just say…these wines did not disappoint.
Our first winery was called Graham Beck. They are most famous for their Champagne-esque wines (a.k.a. sparkling wines).
They had an excellent Blanc de Blanc sparkling wine. But the one I really went for was their Chardonnay that had been aged in
oak for one year. Holy buttery goodness! I already knew that one of those bottles had my name on it. Then it was onto the
reds. I enjoyed the Cabs but there was something different about ‘The William’. This was a blend of Cab and Pinotage – a wine
that is local to South Africa. It was slightly unique and something unlike I could get at home so I decided that one of those
would have my name on it as well. One winery. Two bottles of wine. I was off to a good start.
Next we headed off to our lunch on a boat ride down the Breede River. We were served so many South African specialties it is
hard to even remember everything that was on the table. Just to know that things were made right there on the farm made it
that much more exciting to taste. There were mini snooek (a kind of fish) quiches that I adored. There was chicken pie, spinach
quiche, potatoes, bread and cheese, a hearty bean soup and pumpkin (that could be compared to how yams are served on
Thanksgiving—very sweet and tasty). For ‘pudding’ (i.e. dessert), we had guava, quince and peaches with ‘custard’ (i.e.
cream). The guava was my fave. After our boat ride was over, I wandered a little bit around the farm and checked out the little
Babes (i.e. pigs), horsies and cows. After seeing these cuties, I had a newfound love for the farm. Well, let’s not push it. I now
had a newfound like for the farm.
Our car’s direction was now towards the Springfield Estate winery. This winery was beautiful. It almost looked like it was out
of Provence. There were tables, chairs and umbrellas set up beside the lake. As I said, it was beautiful. Scenery,
schmenery…we were here to drink some wine! The one wine that stood out to me there was the Methode Ancienne
Chardonnay. It was creamy and different from anything else I have had before. It almost tasted a bit like spumoni. Lori
laughed at me. Then she tasted it again and ended up agreeing with me. Because it was the most expensive of any of the wines
there, I decided to hold off on spending all of my South African rands and just make a note of it in case I am ever to find these
wines at home.
Winery #3 was Bon Courage complete with its lovely Cape Dutch architecture. Let me just say that I tasted many wines that
were very ‘bon’ there. Sadly, I have no way to travel around the world with tons of wine. If I did, I would probably have
bought my cases here. I loved the Cabernet Sauvignon/Shiraz 2004…and the price was only…get ready for this...just over five
dollars. The Inkara Cabernet Sauvignon 2004 was excellent as well…though the price was tipping the scales at just over eleven
dollars. Can you believe this? I’m considering $11 expensive for a great Cabernet. I am clearly losing my mind.
Our last stop for the day would be at Van Loveren winery. We didn’t taste too many but the atmosphere was very tropical and
lush with palm trees and birds of paradise all over the property. Overall, it was nice just sipping a few wines and wrapping up
our day of tasting South Africa’s fermented grape juice.
It was just about sunset when we set off for Swellendam – our home for the night. That is where I am right now as I type this.
It is time for me to get to bed as we have an early start in the morning. Tomorrow is going to be pretty packed with some of
our adventure outings. I’m just curious to see how many I actually follow through with…