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Brandy & Wine Tours/Tasting

In cooperation with: Cape Town Tourism
Teignmouth, United...
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Brandy & Wine Tours/Tasting

Hi all.

Coming back for 6th time in February and spending 3 days travelling between Oudtshoorn and Paarl.

We would like to visit a few Brandy / Wine tasting establishments. Any recommendations would be really helpful.

Thanks.

Belfast
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1. Re: Brandy & Wine Tours/Tasting

For brandy tasting I can recommend the Barrydale Distillery and Southern Cellar vineyards which is on the main R62 just as you come out of the town (driving from Oudtshoorn to Paarl). You will be lucky to be able to taste their world award winning 10 Year Old Potstill brandy as they told me a few weeks ago that they would not have another release until 2013 (I found it for sale in Cape Town - the cheapest place was at the back of Mariner's Wharf in Hout Bay) but they have a few other examples in their range - the wines were a bit ordinary IMO.

Better wine (well a good Chardonnay and a rather unusual Shiraz) can be sampled at Joubert-Tradouw on the R62 between Barrydale and Montagu. Also on the R62 at Calitzdorp is the port capital of SA - not my cup of tea so I have not visited much there but De Krans and Boplas seem to be the most highly regarded.

At the western end of the R62 (before it becomes the R60) is Montagu and here you will find a number of wineries which primarily concentrate on making sweet Muscadel styles of wine.

For a much wider and IMO better range of wines you could then drive a loop via Bonnievale to Robertson through the most concentrated area of the Breede River wine area - see

http://www.robertsonwinevalley.com/

http://www.route62.co.za/

for further details

Robertson also has a number of brandy cellars the most famous of which is Klipdrift.

If you really into wine get the Platter Guide

My personal favourites in the Robertson area are Springfield, De Wetshof, Weltevrede and Viljoensdrift - north of the town is Graham Beck

Edited: 30 May 2011, 14:08
Teignmouth, United...
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2. Re: Brandy & Wine Tours/Tasting

Thanks very much, that's really useful. We have been to Boplaas and Klipdrift on a previous visit, and can recommend both. Boplaas also do some very nice wines as well as the port, one of which was trodden by one of the elephants at the Knysna elephant park!

We are staying 2 nights in Paarl and are slightly bemused by the number of wines in the area, so would appreciate recommendations. We love Nederberg so will visit there again, but all other suggestions in Paarl / Franschhoek / Stellenbosch gratefully received. We are also planing to have a 'special' meal on night, so restaurant recommendations would alos be very much appreciated. Are there any recommended restaurants in the Paarl area, or do we need to go to Franschhoek for something special?

Belfast
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3. Re: Brandy & Wine Tours/Tasting

For a special occasion restaurant in Paarl I suggest Bosmans at Le Grand Roche. IMO the best restaurant in the Cape is Rust en Vrede but there are changes afoot with a new chef starting in mid-June

Crikey hundreds of wineries in the PSF triangle to choose from - it partly depends upon what wines you like but I also try and choose a few scenic ones as well because you rarely get to taste the very best wines anyway.

There are lots of previous winery posts on this forum so have a trawl through previous pages.

Cape Town
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4. Re: Brandy & Wine Tours/Tasting

Hi sd

As Belfast says this is a huge question. Belfast has just returned from three and a half weeks in the Cape. I am sure that he was counting (I wasn’t!) but I think he fitted in visits to about 40 wine estates – maybe more!

My visits are not so concentrated but I live here and manage visits to around a 100 to 120 or so different estates each year (including a lot of multiples).

So, as Belfast says, lots of information in these forums if you do searches on wine estates to visit over one, two, three days or a week! This does however tend to concentrate particularly on Stellenbosch and Franschhoek.

So let’s be a little more specific!

IMO the best Brandy visit in the winelands is Van Ryns which, however, is the opposite side of Stellenbosch to Paarl (on the road to Spier and the N2). They have a lovely tasting centre at the distillery and do excellent tours three times a day Monday- Saturday. The tasting options they now show on their website seem a little more limited than when I was last there a year or so ago. I seem to remember tastings of 6 different brandies (but no chocolate or food pairings!) - http://www.vanryn.co.za/home.php

Then Estates to visit around Paarl. I agree that Nederburg is well worth another visit. They have a huge range of wines – you can bypass lots of the bulk ones – but they also have some excellent gems since the rejuvenation of the brand under Romanian Cellarmaster Razvan Macici. You can taste some of their very best wines but you pay an extra fee. If you like desert wines their Noble Late Harvest is stunning. Light and fragrant with underlying sweetness but balanced by excellent acidity. Amazing bargain at R74 a bottle. Also try their Ingenuity White and Red blends (the Red based on Italian Varietals. The only problem with Nedreburg is that it is on the Eastern side of Paarl with few other estates to visit in the vicinity.

Other estates to visit are either on the South (towards Franschhoek) or to the West. To the West and North there are the tourist magnet of Fairview (always full of coach parties), Seidelberg next door is also a bit too touristy – they keep adding new “attractions”. They do however have a couple of good red wines. Landskroon, next door again, is much less commercialised and has some excellent reds sold under the name of long term owner and winemaker Paul de Villiers. Their Port is also good and a little cheaper than the equivalent Boplaas and De Krans offerings from Calitzdorp. Then just a bit further north is a small new estate which is worth a visit if you are in the area. Black Pearl is probably the only wine estate in the Cape with an American lady winemaker! Excellent Shiraz and Shiraz/Cab blend. This is a tiny winery so call before arriving but you will get a great welcome (probably from Mary-Lou herself!) - www.blackpearlwines.com/content/view/23/33/

More to the North I once used to recommend Rhebokskloof as a lovely garden estate wine tasting area. However in the pst year or two this has grown into a huge “Function Venue” – with a car park the size of a Tescos! Give it a miss! Better in this area is Ridgeback. An excellent Cab Franc, a grape which is being found to produce some very good wines in the Cape.. Nice small restaurant here too.

Two places that I should mention on the south side of Paarl itself. Laborie is owned by the large KWV operation and has a lovely Cape Dutch Manor dating from the 1750s. They have a new winemaker and are introducing new wines. I have always liked their MCC sparkling wines. They also make good brandy! Then they make a unique wine which is based on the French Pineau style of wine (made in the Cognac region) which is fortified with a brandy made from the same wine. Pineau de Laborie is unique however in that it is made from Pinotage! So a desert Pinotage fortified with Pinotage Brandy - and actually delicious!

Also in the main High Street in Paarl – lots of historic buildings here and worth a walk on a sunny day – is the very imposing headquarters of KWV. KWV basically ran South African Wine as a government monopoly from the 1920s until the end of apartheid. They are now simply a co-operative producer but do have some good individual wines and also excellent brandy! The wine centre in Paarl is worth a visit you can buy and taste a wide range of wines and brandies and a visit to the KWV cellars (some of the world’s largest) is well worthwhile.

So then the Paarl wine region also extends south of the N1, particularly into the lower part of the Franschhoek Valley. A number of excellent wine estates here. From the N1 at Klapmuts the first estate is Anura – good Sauvignon Blanc, good MCC, good cheese and a very good relaxed lunchtime restaurant. The Glen Carlou, an excellent estate to visit. Modern winery high on a hill with wonderful views overlooking the Paarl Valley, surprising Modern Art Collection, again a good lunch venue and a range of good wines to taste. A good range of reds including worthwhile Pinot Noir as well as excellent Chardonnay – you may be able to taste their Quartz Stone reserve Chardonnay which is a notch up on their standard offering. Backsberg has good wines and a nice garden (with open air lamb roasts in the summer). Noble Hill wines are OK – and they, uniquely have a Mexican Restaurant! Rupert & Rothschild are as upmarket as their name and impressive gates – but are not open to the Hoi-polloi! The final estate in Paarl before the border to Franschhoek at the R45 is Vrede en Lust. Some quite good wines, including their Mocholate Malbec (horrible name – nice wine!) and their Boet Erasmus red blend. A spacious tasting area and comfortable settees on which to relax either inside or on the terrace with lovely vineyard views. And good tasting room staff.

Finally I would like to add a wine estate that hasn’t yet released their fist vintage under their own name – although the have been growing wine since the early 18th century with farm records going back to 1692! Babylonstoren (Tower of Babel) is on the R45 between Backsberg and Noble Hill. An imposing modern gateway leads to the estate. So why go there if they haven’t started yet to produce wine from the new wine cellar? Well a few reasons. They have a lovely new (very expensive) luxury boutique hotel and an excellent restaurant. But if you’re not staying there the number one reason to visit is that they have one of the most interesting gardens, created anywhere in the world, in the past decade! The garden is over 8 acres and is a formal vegetable garden. It is designed after the plans of the Original Campany’s Garden in Cape Town but along the lines of a formal French/Dutch vegetable garden of the 17th/18th centuries – think of the Potager of the Chateau of Villandry in France – but bigger! And that took more than 250 years to develop. Babylonstoren is less than five years from the first planting! There are more than 300 varieties of Fruit and Vegetables. Hundreds of mature trees that have been replanted including an avenue of around 40 ancient Guava Trees.

All surrounded by Vineyards and Mountains. R10 for garden entrance – or free if you visit the excellent restaurant - with lots of fresh fruit and vegetables! Well worth it if you are at all interested in Gardens – or just unique places!

Cape Town
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5. Re: Brandy & Wine Tours/Tasting

Sorry missed off the link to Babylonstoren : http://www.babylonstoren.com/

Click on Garden and Full Gallery to see pictures.

Belfast
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6. Re: Brandy & Wine Tours/Tasting

Just to add to VdC's as usual ultimate thorough guide, I went on the Van Ryn's distillery a few weeks ago and took the guided tour which was interesting if a little brief (unfortunately they had no coopers there to explain the barrel-making) - the cost includes a generous sample tasting of the 10 and 12 year old's. There was also an option to do a chocolate and brandy tasting. I suspect they do not encourage tastings of their whole range as based on the portions served that I got there could easily be a lot of road traffic accidents in the near vicinity.

I also had lunch again at Glen Carlou recently - it really is a lovely spot on a sunny day but make sure your partner likes Kudu before you order the burgers !!!! The wine tasting there comes at different price levels - at the top of the range (50 rand) you will get both the premium Quartz Stone and Gravel Quarry wines (Chardonnay and Cab Sauvignon) as well as some Californian comparisons from Hess vineyards.

As VdC mentions the last winery before you hit the Franscchoek Valley proper is Vrede en Lust - again a very lovely terrace to taste on a sunny day with a very different view than Glen Carlou. I agree with VdC about the Boet Erasmus red but did not like the Malbec. I also really liked the barrel fermented Marguerite Chardonnay and of all the 2011 Pinotage Roses that I sampled recently their's was perhaps the best of the bunch. Here the tasting also has the advantage of being free and the ladies are both attractive and knowledgeable about the wines. In fact one impression I got this year from all the tastings I did was that the staff in the tasting rooms are becoming a lot more professional (the ladies, again, at La Motte were perhaps the best- they really knew their stuff and were also rather attractive!!). Could this be a career move for Wifey (LoL until she sees this !)

Paris, France
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7. Re: Brandy & Wine Tours/Tasting

Just to answer your query about dining at night in Paarl , we stayed there for 3 nights in February and dined at Marc's, Noop and Simonsig - all recommended by Macsym - the first 2 are in the town and highly recommended, Simonsig is about 15 mins drive away but would be my choice from the three for a special night out

Leeds, United...
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for Western Cape, Cape Town Central
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8. Re: Brandy & Wine Tours/Tasting

A second here for Marcs - excellent Mediterranean restaurant with a very good wine list.

Also don't forget north of Paarl, there is Wellington. Just carry on heading north after Ridgeback Some very good wineries in the Bovlei valley - Dunstone and Doolhof. They also have a brandy route, but I can't comment on that, as we didn't try the various wineries producing brandy.

Lisa

Teignmouth, United...
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9. Re: Brandy & Wine Tours/Tasting

thank you so much for going to so much trouble with this reply, we have looked at your recommendations on the internet and hope to try most of them! Thanks again

Stuart

Johannesburg, South...
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10. Re: Brandy & Wine Tours/Tasting

If you want some more help finding some of these places, we've mapped out our favourite wine farms,

maps.google.co.za/maps/ms…

as well as a winelands exploration drive which takes in the best of the vineyards and scenery the area has to offer (we believe):

maps.google.co.za/maps/ms…