Hello again! It is I, the world’s most inconsistent blogger. (Chuckles in sadness). It just dawned on me that I have a wine festival approaching – not mine, but one that I shall be attending – and I haven’t even blogged about the last one I went to. In April. This is actually very typical of me. We all know it. So, please just accept my apologies and let us get on with it? Yes? Great.
The Stellenbosch Wine Festival (Presented by Pick n Pay), was held over the first weekend of April this year (I’ve already apologised for the tardiness, let it go) . Over 40 wines from all over the Stellenbosch wine route in the Western Cape were featured and it was EPIC. It’s an annual event and this was my first time attending. I dragged my bestie along – snaps for her for all the snaps she took. (see what I did there?)
As a rule, I prefer more intimate wine experiences that have tables and a relative quiet involved. Wine festivals do require a certain strategic approach. You need to arrive before the crush, have a plan regarding how and where to taste, keep your money (plastic or paper) nearby for impromptu purchases and an easily accessible pouch for your coupons. At some point you mellow out (the wine working) and your strategy goes to the dogs but by then, you’ve probably tasted some incredible vintages and exceeded your budget. Well, I did.
We arrived relatively early so we missed the crowd for the most part. The only rule we had was to taste only wines with which we were unfamiliar. That cut our little tour down by almost half. We started off with the Deux Frères stall – a boutique vineyard near Simonsberg Mountain in Stellenbosch. As the name suggests, two brothers are at the helm of the ship and are doing a pretty awesome job, if you ask me. Their rosé – the 2017 blanc de noir – she’s described as “summer in a glass” by one of the brother’s wives – is delightful. (It’s a family affair. ) It’s a distinctly full bodied rosé and still crisp and dry. We tried the limited release 2014 Mouvèdre magnum – spicy dark fruit and delicious. (The below images are from entering a competition which I sadly, did not win). Regardless, I have a magnum in storage and my birthday will be fun.
Next was Le Bonheur – a recently reopened farm that was bought from Distell in 2016. As they slowly perfect what’s in their cellar, their wines are only available for purchase from Pick n Pay stores. We tried the wooded 2018 sauvignon blanc – low acidity, herbs on thee nose, not creamy (thank goodness) and surprisingly crisp. We also tried the 2018 merlot, (a young red). It was interestingly spicy for a merlot (gave it some character, so yay!) Also, if you’re hopping within a budget, you’ll love their price point! (Between R70 and R100)
I think my favourite stop was the Haskell stall – a wine farm which has been making wine since 2002. They have two range. The first is Dombeya – the entry level range with 5 wines .Fun fact, a Dombeya is a type of tree found on the farm. The premium range is Haskell with 6 wines. This is where I met my prize of the day, the 2013 Aeon Syrah. Dark chocolate and spice on the nose. Wow! A rich, bold shiraz wwhilse managing to be ultra smoooooth.
Of course, no wine tasting is complete without a cheeseboard. This is where the mastery of partnering with Pick n Pay comes in. There was a section where you could go pay for some food – a nice selection of breads, preserves, cheeses and cold meats were available. We plonked ourselves on the grass and I immediately messed my white t-shirt, because inside, I’m a toddler. I also lost my favourite pair of sunglasses and I remain distraught to this day.
I’m definitely doing this again next year and there’s good news if you’re based in Gauteng, the Stellenbosch Wine Festival is coming to Johannesburg on the 5th and 6th of October at the Wanderers Club Cricket Fields! It really is a fun day out that doubles up as 17 wine tastings and wine that gets delivered to your door the following week. I don’t know what more one could want.
Much love and lots of wine!
The Empress. xx