Monday, October 03, 2016

Visits to some Franschhoek wine estates

A Monday in Franschhoek
What to do in Franschhoek is a rhetorical question, there is so much to do. We decided to visit some places we haven't been to for a long time. So La Lude, Petite Ferme, Mont Rochelle and Chamonix were top of the list, which was longer but one has to be realistic. If you don't like wine did you know that Franschhoek has a chocolate tour, walking, bike tours, riding and superb restaurants. Have a look here http://franschhoek.org.za/tours-activities/
We made a quick stop at serious Methode Cap Classique producer Le Lude as we needed to see the winemaker Paul Gerber. We love their Brut and Rosé bubbles. The gardens are superb and are so well planted. They are all done by the owner's wife, Ferda Barrow. The tasting room is in the style of a classic Orangery
A bee enjoying the orange blossom and hopefully making oranges possible by pollinating them
Then off up the road to the pass to La Petite Ferme is around the corner, just past Haute Cabrière. This iconic restaurant, guest house and boutique winery was owned for many years by the Dendy Young family who sold it last year to THE NEST Co. We were told the owner is Karim Sharaff who is Swiss. General Manager is Riaan Kruger, Wikus Pretorius has taken over the winemaking from Mark Dendy Young. The Executive Chef is Neethling du Toit and the Sous Chef Tanya Rousseau
The gardens have undergone a makeover and we really liked the bright and clever indigenous planting, a mix of flowering bushes. lilies, bulbs and succulents
The entrance
The restaurant has had a huge makeover, but is still the lovely place with the beautiful views we both remember from long past visits. We sat in the tasting room and had a tasting of the wines with one of their well trained wine advisers, Neil Bougaardt; we loved his personality and knowledge of the wines. The wines are interesting, most are still those made by Mark Dendy Young, all are excellent. The 2016 Viognier is made by Wicus Pretorius and has woody dusty linseed nose with some cumin hints. A round mouthful of Hanepoot grapes, white peaches and apricots on its crisp palate. The 2016 Sauvignon Blanc with 2% Viognier and 10% Semillon has limes, lemons, sherbet and a nice roundness. It is crisp and young
Not nice enough to go out young Miss! Tour parties were arriving all the time for lunch
lose
Then up the hills opposite to Mont Rochelle
This farm has quite a chequered history. Developed by Graham de Villiers, an advertising man, it thrived and winemaker Justin Hoy made superb wines. Achim von Arnim of Haut Cabrière was also a partner for a while. When Graham decided to sell it to Millionaire Congolese businessman Miko Rwayitare, it seemed the new purchaser did not realise the commitment and money needed to make wine. The excellent wines (made by Justin Hoy) were in tank, he didn't want to buy bottles. The farm and luxury hotel was bought a few years ago by UK billionaire Sir Richard Branson
They have lovely views of the valley from the terrace
Wine tasting takes place in the Country Kitchen, perhaps a little too close to cooking smells as they do tend to creep into the wine glasses as you taste
The terrace
Our tasting table in front of the kitchen area. They also do picnics to be taken to spots in the gardens
The tasting bar and the restaurant area
We begin the tasting. Dustin Osborne is the current winemaker. A very informed member of staff guided us through the wines. We started with the Chardonnay 2015 which is lightly oaked and has a small amount of Viognier added. It has dry citrus notes on the nose, clean then buttery golden apple flavours, a typical Chardonnay. The Viognier is not visible but obviously adds weight. It has length and some chalky tannins. Enjoyable
We tasted four reds, The Little Rock, a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot, Merlot & Mourvedre. Bloody from the merlot fruit, some violets from the Petite Verdot. Nod a bad entry level braai wine at R65, with cranberries, dark wood & chalky tannins giving it some grip. The 2009 Merlot has elegance, vanilla, soft tannins and is fruit driven with cherries, cranberries and other red fruit. It is quite French in character and no greenness. The 2009 is Minty herbal and balsamic on the nose, cassis driven cab with lovely layers of fruit, warm from 14.5 % alcohol, a nice fireside wine, will cellar well. R145. And finally the 2009 Syrah, filled with fenugreek and other spice, bruléed plums and other fruits, even a little brandied hint with 15% alcohol
A pair of brave UK honeymooners was picnicking and playing Boules outside. Rather too chilly for us. They said they were used to weather like this
Then on the way home a quick call in to Chamonix to see the winemaker Thinus Neethling, who was rushing off to town to collect a Michelangelo award. This is the tasting room
We chatted to Tasting room manager Llewellyn Jepson
John stole a quick photo of the underground wine cellar before we left
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