Friday, January 23, 2015

Laborie - Where good things abound

We were invited to Laborie to stay in the newly refurbished three bedroom, self-catering Jonkershuis this week and, while we were there, we discovered that Laborie’s motto “Where good things abound” is so true. The house is beautiful, spacious, cool and supplied with everything could want if you are inclined to self cater, its own private terrace and access to the pool next door. But, of course should you care not to, Laborie offers all sorts of options...
On the tasting room deck, we look out at the dark green of the burdened vines, the mid-morning heat rises and the harvest has begun. All one can hear is the hum of bees and cicadas in the vines and the cooing of a dove in the distance. So what is on offer there? A tailored wine tasting of 5 wines, Bubbly with macaroons; a wine and chocolate pairing or would you like to do it with biltong?
The tasting room entrance is next door to the conference centre
and group tastings can be organised
Laborie’s full selection of available wines, and their excellent Alambic Potstill Brandy
We went to Harvest restaurant for lunch on the terrace

under the cool oaks
and were welcomed by a bottle of our favourite Laborie Brut Rosé
We were joined by Harvest’s chef patron Matthew Gordon and Laborie’s General Manager, Zelda Oelofse-Cornthwaite for a chat
The specials menu of the day. It changes regularly
It was hot, but there was a lovely cooling breeze
Chef Shirene Patrick also came to say hello
We couldn't make up our mind which starter to have, so we shared both. This is the Franschhoek smoked trout salad with bacon and a poached egg
One we have had before and loved: Tempura prawns and avocado
John had a glass of Laborie Shiraz with his main course. Lynne was still sipping the Brut Rosé, which went perfectly with her food
Rump steak with a green pepper sauce, perfectly crisp chips and a vegetable platter. Portions are huge
Local, seasonal seared yellowfin tuna, so fresh, with a Niçoise salad. Really lovely
The view from Harvest's terrace
Our accommodation – the Jonkershuis
Byron shows us how the alarm works
The very comfortable lounge has DSTV and the house has air conditioning

The main bedroom also has a flat screen TV
its own bathroom
and a small desk area
The kitchen
The well stocked fridge works on an honesty system and you will be charged very reasonable prices for what you drank when you leave
The dining area next to the kitchen
One of the other two bedrooms, each of which can be turned into a double

They share a bathroom with a rain shower
There is a private terrace outside and gates lead to the swimming pool, which is for all guests’ use
A view of the pool and the Jonkershuis
The Jongmanshuis houses all the other accommodation
There is a comfortable bar at Harvest restaurant
Harvested grapes coming into the cellar
The vineyard view
Really good looking bunches of what we think is Shiraz
Bar Di Bar is a new venture for Laborie, it sells craft beers and Tapas and is run by Conrad Harley
The weather stone! White on top is a very rare event
Inside, it is quirky. A 70s VW Microbus and a real jukebox with vinyl records, playing good songs. Conrad started his business with a mobile bar in the 'bus. They are building a brewery in the back, 
but currently they sell a very good selection of local craft beers...
...and Laborie wine
The drinks menu
Customers enjoying the vibe
Beer on tap
served with a smile
Our platter supper, which we had on our private terrace
Some paper wasps building their nest
The manor house at night
You can walk up to the Taal monument through the vineyards
Hot summer vines full of grapes
Breakfast is served at the long table in the manor house
The menu
Fruit, yoghurt and cereals
Excellent smoked salmon trout on creamy scrambled eggs
A cheese and bacon omelette
Resident pusscat examining fried eggs – no she didn’t get any
A hot day Paarl view through the Manor house front door
Beautiful window detail - above the front door of the manor house
Friends joined us for the day and we started with a wine tasting on the tasting room balcony. You choose five wines from those available for tasting and you get your own selection on a tray. Laborie's award winning Alambic Potstill Brandy is included
Then it was off to Bar di Bar 
for the beer tasting for us, some wine for our friends and some tapas
and more friendly service
Colourful local hand-painted trays carry the beer samples and, if you fall in love with them, you can buy them
It was 39 degrees outside, so we chose to eat inside
The menu – very reasonable prices
You taste one local cider and five beers
The tapas was fresh and so inspired. For our British friends a taste of South Africa: Biltong, droëwors, crisps and local olives. Superb tempura hake with sauce tartare
We also had the salmon and dill paté, mini boerewors sausages with chakalaka, magnificent deep fried duck croquettes and grilled calamari with chorizo and red peppers. All fresh, all excellent
The owner of Bar di Bar, Conrad Harley
Cool under the oaks
We said goodbye to our friends and had a simple supper on the deck

at Taste restaurant

with a view of the cork oaks and the vines
Everything we saw at Laborie is wheelchair friendly, with ramps and easy access
Laborie has just released this new Chardonnay Pinot Noir blend and we loved it. It is a perfect summer food wine
Where good things abound
Lynne’s supper of a chicken and mushroom pot pie with a lovely salad
Because of the mushrooms, John had some more tapas
and we watched the swallows soaring as the setting sun painted the sky pink and blue
We could not resist dessert, for once, and had the children’s portion of waffles, maple syrup and ice cream
John was up very early the next morning to get the best light to photograph the sunbirds on the blue agapanthus
Vineyards and hot rocks
Workers examining the vines
The sun birds are so quick that it is hard to get a good photograph. John took hundreds to get these beauties!
Thank you Laborie for a really wonderfully relaxed stay. 
It was so good to try out all you have to offer. As we left, conference delegates were arriving and they were very excited about what was to come
© John & Lynne Ford, Adamastor & Bacchus 2015

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