Friday, August 12, 2016

Waverley Hills - Organic wines, beautiful gardens and good food

We last met Cellarmaster Johan Delport and Managing Director Kobus du Toit of Waverley Hills winery at the Green Wine Awards last year and we have had to keep postponing acceptance of their invitation to visit the farm. Finally, on a lovely early spring day we got there. The farm is just behind Wolseley on the road to Ceres. Brenn-O-Kem owns the farm. Run by the du Toit family, of which our host Kobus is a director, Brenn-O-Kem is in the old historic Waverley Blankets factory and the wine farm has grown from their expansion. Brenn-O-Kem  recycles wine production waste: skins, seeds and lees and runs this eco-friendly organically certified wine farm. It has a lovely site on the side of the mountain looking down over the valley and they have a really good restaurant, where we had an extremely good four course lunch following our cellar tour and barrel tasting
The very modern tasting and colourful room. All their wines are organically grown and made and are low in sulphur. They have a special range called No Sulphites Added for those with sulphur allergies
We went on a tour of the wine cellars with Johan and Kobus. This is the soaring barrel cellar
We were delighted to be offered some wines to taste from the barrels. First a good 2015 Semillon with fynbos herbs, pepper and buchu with the desired 'mutton fat' mouth, lovely kiwi fruit and maraschino on the end with good wooding. A silky 2013 SMV with cherries, spice and vanilla. Then a 2015 blend of Viognier, Semillon and Chardonnay (VSC) which is beautifully perfumed with peaches with a lovely rich mouthful from the Semillon and peaches from the Viognier with lemony acidity and good fruit sugars to balance this dry wine. The 2015 Chardonnay which is a component of the VSC has the same perfume and tastes of citrus with caramel on the end from the wood. A nice concentration of gentle flavours. We found all these wines to be open and generous rather than tight and restrained. The CW 2015 Reserve Shiraz was made to honour Kobus and Wynand's late father, Chris du Toit. The elegant nose shows herbs, good wood and had delicate fruit, more a northern style of Shiraz with nice soft tannins which give it aging ability
Time for a tour of the indigenous garden below the winery
It has water features, lots of trees and many birds and insects. And there is a children's play area
Lovely views of the mountains beyond. Bains Kloof Pass gave access through them from the Cape to Tulbagh and the hinterland in the 19th Century
Spring daisies lifting their faces to the sun
Red king protea (Protea cynaroides Madiba) named in honour of Nelson Mandela
The winery and restaurant from the gardens. Beneath the restaurant is a conference venue where weddings can be held. They have their own chapel too
The flowers were attracting the sunbirds. This is a southern double-collared sunbird or lesser double-collared sunbird (Cinnyris chalybeus)
This mountain, part of the Witzenberg Mountain Range is sometimes covered in snow in winter. It is at the entrance to the pass to Ceres
Kobus du Toit told us about Brenn-O-Kem. They produce many things from the by-products of the wine industry such as cream of tartar. From the grape pomace: grape seed oil, tannins and grape skin by-products; wine spirits for the distilling industry. They produce pharmaceuticals: Grape Seed Extract, a powerful antioxidant, Sceletium Extract, and a range of Nutraceuticals. Even a natural tempura ingredient for Japan and the cream of tartar is used in bath fizz balls and baking sodas. The pomace waste is used as fertiliser
We began lunch with a glass of their MCC Chardonnay Brut 2013 which spent 18 months on the lees. Yeasty, crisp and dry with cooked apples, a hint of fynbos and a good sparkle
Lunch began with herb crusted salmon trout on a bed of spinach puree, topped with a poached egg and sprinkled with our local wild rosemary flowers. This was accompanied by the 2016 Semillon which is tropical with pears and melon, like a summer fruit salad. Lynne panicked rather when she heard this was the first of four courses. it was quite a large serving
The next course was empanada like, fold over pies of chicken and mushroom served with a divine truffle cream
John had some soy chicken with tempura broccoli instead of the mushroom pie
The main course was good crisp pork belly with creamy mash, pomegranate sauce and aruls, beans and courgette spaghetti. We had this course with the 2012 SMV which was spicy and peppery with full on vanilla ice cream notes then lovely ripe red fruit with a chocolate end. It was a great match as the wine echoed the fruit flavours of the sauce
And then there was dessert. Malva pudding, light and fluffy with a rich rooibos ice cream. Luckily it was not redolent of rooibos, just a nice rich and creamy complement to the pudding. Served with Waverley Hills stonkingly good Red Muscadel 2013 Dark and fruity with caramel notes this would also go so well with Christmas pudding
The meal was cooked by chef Francois du Toit who was previously at the Royal Hotel in Riebeek. We loved meeting him and talking to him about his good food. We think he will go far. We suggest you make a trip to the restaurant to try out his excellent menu and the Waverley Hills wines that are paired with it
Brilliant spring daisies flowering early on the farm.
After a coffee we left for home and an adventurous trip over Bains Kloof Pass, where we saw only two other cars on the entire trip up. Thank you for the kind hospitality, Waverley Hills
© John & Lynne Ford, Adamastor & Bacchus 2016
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