Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Tasting the wines of De Wetshof and Arendsig

Saturday morning in Montagu dawned fair but chilly and we set off for our first appointment for a splendid tasting at De Wetshof in Robertson. There are major roadworks on the road through the Montagu pass which will last up to 3 years as they are remaking the road, which was washed away in floods in recent years and they are also widening it, so blasting takes place twice a week, when the road is closed for a few hours. There is a stop and go procedure but we only ever had to wait about 2 minutes at the stop this weekend. SO if you plan to travel in that direction, do check out the situation so that it doesn't delay you
De Wetshof is a beautiful winery set in stunning surroundings. This is the avenue leading to the winery
The front building is modelled on the Koopmans de Wet house in Cape Town, now a National Monument, where the de Wet family used to live in centuries gone by. This holds the tasting room
We received a warm welcome from Sales and marketing Director Bennie Stipp, who first took us on a tour of the cellar. The building behind him is the winery and the front of it is based on the old Cape Town Post office. Both buildings are no more than 25 years old and are very good, accurate reconstructions, down to the measurements, although the cellar at the back of the winery is a very modern addition
We went to the back of the winery to the gravity fed loading deck and admired the vineyards which stretch as far as the mountains
Hearing about the De Wetshof history and enjoying a bit of warm sunshine
The vineyards are resting and they will soon be finished with the winter pruning
Bennie is very informative and amusing guide
Into the winery with lots of questions
Showing us one of the traditional pupitres (champagne bottle racks), where the Methode Cap Classique wines are riddled (turned and slowly raised till they are on their caps) on a daily basis to get the lees into the neck of the bottle, so they can be removed by freezing
Into the barrel cellar
With its impressive number of oak casks
Learning more about De Wetshof red wines
Time for the tasting in the private upstairs tasting room. We tasted through the Brut MCC in its second vintage, a blend of 65% Chardonnay and 35% Pinot Noir. Lovely noisy mousse, perfumed peaches and red berries and full of apples and bread on the palate. very satisfying. Then the 2010 Brut Rosé which is mature with red berry fruit. The Sauvignon Blanc reminds one of how well Robertson grows these lovely wines, full of green pepper and guava with elderflower and ending on passion fruit, so complex and clean
Then to the Chardonnays and everyone had their own favourite. The 2016 Bon Vallon - rounded, crisp and full, unencumbered by wood but with minerality - and the 2016 Limestone Hill Rich and creamy on the nose full of lemons, limes & melons - are both unwooded. The 2015 Finesse/Lesca has a gentle nose but marmalade and toast on the palate, complete and rounded and warm. The Site 2013 has that classic Chardonnay nosre with good yellow fruit, minerality and chalky tannins. And then their flagship, the Bateleur 2014 Perfumed rich intriguing golden fruit, no visible wood but the structure is there. Crisp, subtle limes nutty, lean and satisfying. And then the supple and full Nature in Concert Pinot Noir 2010, drinking so well at the moment. Full of cherries chocolate and liquorice wood, a beautiful expression of Pinot Noir
The tasting room below was busy all day. They close at 12.30 on Saturdays
We descended and kept the sales people very busy for a while as everyone in our group bought wine
Sorting out our purchases. Thank you to Bennie and all at De Wetshof for a superb tasting and morning
Then off to Van Loveren’s restaurant, Christina’s, where we had booked a table for a quick lunch. Well, that was what we had planned. They were busy and the food took a long time to come
We could have sat out on the terrace, but it was much warmer inside
Most of us had the classic bacon and avocado burger
There were Pizzas to share
And then we were off to our next appointment with Lourens van der Westhuizen at Arendsig in beautiful Bonnievale, beside the Breede Rivier which is, thankfully, in full flow after the recent rain
Lourens had given up his Saturday afternoon for us and we are very grateful. He does this by previous appointment only. Not only does this talented man make all his own wines, but he consults with and makes wines for several farms and restaurants in the Breede River valley and beyond. His passion and dedication are obvious
A house in the vines
A Darter, locally known as the Snake bird, perched on a post overlooking the small dam
Lourens pouring the first wine, his 2015 Blok A15 Chardonnay. Cooked apples on the nose and on the palate, rich and full with a nice lean finish and good minerality
Seated on the terrace with that fantastic view; what is not to like about the bonnie vale and its wine? Then to his Viognier, full of peaches and almonds on the nose, clean, dry and orangey first, then apricots and peaches; bone dry, showing some barrel and minerality, a food wine. Inspiration Chenin Blanc followed, full of pineapple and apple on the nose. Pineapple deluxe on the palate a little bitterness of citrus and lime, this is many layered with a hint on honey from botrytis. 22 year old vines
As we watched the Darter spread its wings to get the last of the sun's rays we moved on to taste the Inspirational No.5 Pinot Noir 2015 from the Klaasvoogds area. A velvet nose with almonds and cherries, sweet fruit and then with hints of salty liquorice 'drop' and a kick of warm alcohol. Then the Shiraz, all of which comes from the farm. Spicy cherries, wind notes and incense on the nose. Soft sweet fruit on the palate: concentrated cherries, mulberries and rhubarb. Then 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon; Cassis and incense wood on the nose, pure cassis on the palate with soft tannins and minerality. This will last - we bought some for the cellar. Herbaceous on the end. And finally the Inspiration Cabernet 2014. It has a shy cassis and wood nose but is intensely concentrated on the palate. The fruit is hiding, but you taste the tannins and the mint. Wait 10 years, or decant it a day or two before serving, and this will be bursting out of the bottle
The beautiful Breede River at the bottom of the vineyards in the late afternoon light
Resting vines
These are the wines we tasted. The Arendsig wines are all R115 a bottle. Pinot Noir and the Inspirational wines are R135).
Thank you SO much Lourens for all your time and effort and the wonderful tasting you gave the group
Again, many of us bought more than one of the wines. It was therefore quite an expensive weekend, but very worthwhile. Our car boot on the way home! (Not quite all our wine!) We had also stopped at Ashton winery on the way down and bought some of their Chardonnay
© John & Lynne Ford, Adamastor & Bacchus 2016
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