January 2018 – so it must be South Africa – Part 3

Sunday 21st January 2018: rest day in STELLENBOSCH 

A lazy start in the familiar hotel after a week of early rising,  and a morning enjoying the town’s distinctive architecture – and saddened by an alarming security feature of South African life

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David’s researches had produced a table at nearby and very busy Delaire Graf in its second restaurant –  Indochine. The gardens, the views, the scuptures make this a very special place, as the photos demonstrate

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Clint, the sommelier, took enormous trouble to offer wines which would work with the Asian-inspired fusion style food — and flourished a very distinctive decanter!

It was a delight to have a day to ourselves in such a beautiful place

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Monday 21 January 2018 – ELGIN and HEMEL EN AARDE

The drive from Stellenbosch via Somerset West and over Sir Lowry’s Pass  delivered  spectacular views, as well as our first sighting of slightly menacing baboons, en route

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to Elgin, a high plateau surrounded by fells and a small lake at Shannon vineyards. We met James Downes who drove us round the estate, affectionately referred to by Richard Kershaw as the ‘Lake District’ – only a kilometre or so from another long-established large township by the  main road

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After a delightful tasting, we moved on with Ronnie to the old distillery at Paul Cluver wines to taste, and eat lunch with other Elgin valley producers before driving on to the Harbour House hotel in Hermanus with its wonderful sea views,

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and its dassies, seals, dolphins and cormorants – though no whales or sharks

After finding our room and enjoying a short walk by the Indian ocean, we drove on to the uplands of Hemel en Aarde – Heaven on Earth – to Hamilton Russell vineyards where Anthony hosted our tasting, along with the maker of Tesslaarsdal

before joining Olive Hamilton Russell (and their four large dogs) for a delicious dinner she had prepared at Braemar, built by them in the style of Capetown’s fine

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historic town houses, and with a breath-taking view from their verandah.

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Tuesday 22nd January 2018 – HEMEL EN AARDE and STELLENBOSCH

Newton Johnson vineyards are close neighbours, on the slopes of the same beautiful region – with perhaps the most breath-taking views from any tasting room. Gordon Newton Johnson the agronomist, gave us a fantastic tasting and a detailed summary of the challenges facing wine-growers and makers in the vineyards and the cellar.

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Restless River wines nearby are part of Craig and Anne Wessels’ ambitious project building the house and the winery from scratch… and there’s a rescued 1927 Aga ….

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Our final visit was to Villiera Wines where Cathy Brewer and Jeff Grier made us very welcome with a tasting of their MCC – Methode Cap Classique – sparkling wines  AND provided a mechanic to help Ronnie with his flat battery.

We returned to Stellenbosch to meet Christo Le Riche, one of a growing number of ambitious and talented next generation wine-makers and to make a final tasting with him and Maryna Calow of Wines of South Africa – who with Lesley Achilles were primarily responsible for organising our spectacular tour. Thank you! Thank you!

March 2018

 

 

 

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