Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Tasting wines at Groenland and Kaapzicht in Bottelary, Stellenbosch

What to do on a cold and damp Saturday morning in the Cape midwinter? Why not visit some wine farms not too far from Town. Bottelary took us only half an hour on the N1 and Old Oak Road. And we zoomed along not breaking any speed limits with very moderate traffic
 Our first destination was Groenland. They have on many awards, good value and top end. We have passed the farm for years on our way to functions and other wine farms in Stellenbosch and kept saying we must stop one day. Recently, at the top Merlot awards, we met the winemaker, who said, “please come and visit”. So we made the opportunity
It’s a family farm; this, the humble tasting room behind the family house, was a swimming hole for the children fifty years ago. They are talking about building a new one, but this one works. In this area, you won't often find large and luxurious designer tasting rooms; it's all about the wines and the family
The walls are full of award certificates
 We suspect that the original swimming hole was a tank, as the building is loosely circular. We do wish they had lit a fire, it would have been much more welcoming
Another couple was completing their purchases while we took our seats
These are the wines available. There are three ranges; the top range is not available for tasting and the 2017 Chenin Blanc was out of stock, waiting for a new bottling. A pity. We came on the wrong day; we so wanted to taste it
Different sizes of bottle. Often, the larger bottles are very useful for entertaining and can be very good value. The largest bottle on their list holds 5 litres
The price list. We began by tasting the 2016 Sauvignon Blanc. Zesty, tropical with granadilla guava elderflower and green pepper on the end. R40 a bottle, and then moved to the Entry level Shiraz merlot also R40. Tank made, it is lactic with spiced cherries & vanillins on the nose and tannic and green with cherries and more vanillins from the American oak wood chips. The Antoinette Marie named for the owners two daughters is a blend of Shiraz, Cabernet and Merlot. Rich cassis on the nose, perfumed and pretty, it is lovely, a silky mouthful of ripe fruit, some chalky tannins and long flavours ending in licorice and dark toast. We bought a case, well priced at R68 a bottle. The 2015 Cabernet Classic, also R68, has incense wood, cassis leaves, then berries, vanilla and violets on the nose. Lean and mean at the moment with chalky tannins but, given time, it might emerge well. The Shiraz is spicy, then green on the nose, Thin at first, then the palate widens to warmth with long flavours and nice depth. The American oak it is not obvious and does not overtake the fruit
Ma Aap en Pa Aap op die stoep. (Mom and Dad ape on the porch)
The family dog, missing the children who were out
We are old friends with the Steytler family at Kaapzicht and, as they are right next door, we decided to pop in to see them. We found patriarch Danie giving a tasting in the garden and were invited to join. Who could resist
We do like the new labels. We tasted the 2015 Shiraz with its elegant shy nose. The wine is perfumed and the grapes give a sweetness, fullness and spiciness. Kaapzicht’s Chenin has always been very quaffable, this year's is no different. The premium 1947 was our wine of the week recently

We tasted the Kaleidoscope, which Danie calls his braaivleis wine; a 5 way blend with Cinsault and Pinotage. Then the Estate Red 2014, which is a fruit driven Shiraz Cab blend with cherries and berries in expensive French oak. Such good value at R78 a bottle, this is worth more. We could not resist and with a birthday coming up we bought a case. Lynne was keen to taste the 2015 Pinot Noir and was not disappointed. It is soft and gentle and with good fruit, as it should be; elegant with long flavours and structure; two bottles for the cellar at R130 each. And then The Glimpse. 
This is from the same grapes as the Vision, but spends only 12 months in barrel. The Vision spends 28 months in barrel. It is different, with pomegranate and cherries on the nose and palate, soft with chalky tannins with some licorice. R300 a bottle and our wine of the week. We predict it will win awards - we bought
Danie was so generous. He went to fetch two of his Cape Winemakers Guild wines for us to taste (both as yet unlabelled). This was very special indeed and meant a lot to us. The wine he will enter this year is 90% Cabernet Sauvignon with 10% of the grape which is beginning to warrant attention again, Cinsault. This is the acknowledged grape that experts think made or helped those old tannic reds in the 40s, 50s and 60s last so well. Ripe prunes, lovely layers of sweet fruit, chewy tannins, an excellent wine, one to savour now and in a few years time. The second bottle is destined to be Danie's Ultimate Vision. Why Ultimate? Well, he will retire this year, both from the farm and from the Cape Winemakers Guild. He has been farming for 42 years, having taken over the farm from his father Danie, when he was 33. He has recovered from cancer twice and now he says it is time to enjoy life. He and his wife Yngvild will stay on the farm, where they have built a house. We know that his son Danie, now 37, is already doing a sterling job making the wine and helping to run the farm, which will make it a seamless transfer. There have been 5 generations of Danie Steytlers, the 5th is just an infant but, hopefully, will go on in the family business when he grows up 

The Ultimate Vision. This wine is excellent, with an elegant balsam nose with some perfume from the Cab Franc. Silky soft on the palate, so full of ripe fruit which is integrated with the wood, tannins and fruit acids, made to last, this will do very well in the auction. 45% Pinotage, 45% Cabernet Sauvignon and 10% Cab Franc. More about these wines after the Cape Winemakers Guild tastings, which we’ll tell you about next month. Thank you Danie for everything. We love you
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