Thursday, October 26, 2017

Robertson Wine on the River Festival

This year we were invited to this, one of our favourite festivals, for just the opening day which was a pity, as we really wanted to go for longer - there is so much to do at the festival, but we were told that there was no accommodation available; it is very popular. We were transported by minibus from the V&A Waterfront with an early start planned for 8am (it is a 2½ hour plus drive). We had taken an Uber to get there as parking at the V&A all day would cost rather a lot. We actually left an hour late because we waited for late-comers, which compromised our limited time in Robertson. We arrived back in town at 7.45 pm. And, because we were delayed waiting for someone to collect something from us which they had left on the bus, we finally arrived at home at 9h20. It was an interesting and fun but very, very long day
The beautiful Breede River at Goudmyn Farm in Robertson on the banks of which the Festival is held. So good to see the River so full, but so sad to report that it is all going into the ocean. They tell us the river needs to clean itself out
We started in the Tasting Tent ...
... with a tasting of seven Mèthode Cap Classique bubblies from the area
ably guided by Philip Jonker, winemaker and owner of Weltevrede
First a word from Peter de Wet of Excelsior; he is the Chairman of the Robertson Wine Valley. Peter told us that, as this was International Champagne Day, they thought that a bubbly tasting would be a very appropriate way to start it. We all agreed
The line-up: Paul Rene Brut, 100% Chardonnay; Philip Jonker Enthios from Weltevrede, 60% Chardonnay 40% Pinot Noir; Graham Beck Blanc de Blancs 2012; Jacques Bruère 2010 Blanc de Blancs; Philip Jonker The Ring from Weltevrede; Villion 2009 Blanc de Blanc from Viljoensdrift and De Wetshof Cuvée Brut, 65% Chardonnay and 35% Pinot Noir, 20% in barrel. It certainly is a valley that makes good MCCs
Then after a short comfort break, we went straight into a tasting of Chardonnays, guided by Johann de Wet of De Wetshof, a farm that makes several superb Chardonnays. This is the first flight, all unwooded: Rietvallei 2018; Springfield’s Wild Yeast Chardonnay; Langverwacht Kelder NV and Limestone Hill 2017 from De Wetshof
Johann told us that there are many variations of Chardonnays, which are either unoaked or oaked, with natural fermentation or inoculated - and he explained how it works. Then the area plays its part, as does the winemaker using his skills. Robertson is a long valley with huge variations of soils, some with limestone, others none. There is the wind effect which plays its part; this is not a warm area, it has heat during the day, but frost at nights sometimes gives it the coldest nights in the Western Cape. The cold protects acidity and freshness
The next flight poured was all wooded Chardonnays
 De Wetshof Bateleur 2015; Arendsig 2016 from Bonnievale; Mont Blois 2016; Bon Courage 2016 and Robertson Winery's Constitution Road from McGregor (where there is no limestone)
Another short pause to admire the river and finish our Chardonnays
Then lunch was served which consisted of tapas on long boards
This was chicken with chakalaka
Smoked salmon mousse with grated beetroot
Olives and a snoek paté
Black rice topped with radish, carrot and ginger
Broad beans and udon noodles, bacon and prune Devils on horseback
Beef, sliced and topped with hollandaise sauce
More salmon served with gherkins
Biltong paté and chicken in mayonnaise
Sundried tomatoes, cheese and butter with roosterkoek
Following lunch, a tasting of Cabernet Sauvignons of the area, guided by Peter de Wet. Cabernet comprises 10% of the vines in the area, 1040 hectares. Black and red fruit without massive alcohols
The line-up of the first flight: Jan Harmsgat made by Lourens van der Westhuizen of Arendsig; Arendsig's own 2015; De Wetshof Naissance 2015, 90% new oak and Goedverwacht's Maxim 2015 from the cooler end of the valley
The second flight: Kranskop 2014; Incara 2013 from Bon Courage; Excelsior’s Evanthius 2013 and Springfield’s Methode Ancienne 2011. We learned that Robertson will soon be dividing into individual wards, 9 in all when agreed
Then, suddenly, it was nearly 3pm and time to go and quickly see something of the festival, which opened that day. This is one of the food trucks
This is why it is such an enjoyable festival. Sitting under a huge umbrella on the riverbank enjoying good wine with friends and finding good food to enjoy too
A golden hippo called Mr B on the Fat Bastard stand
Tasting Arendsig's lovely wines with Colyn Truter
And getting a pour from Elzette Steyn at Weltevrede’s stand
Fanus Bruwer of Quando looking serious, or is that seriously interested?
Just chilling
Time for our riverboat trip.
The media took over the top deck
And we had a jolly time seeing the festival from a different viewpoint
Maryna Calow of WOSA taking a group picture
Further up the river
Lovely views of the riverside
Enjoying the late afternoon
Turning around, you can see how full the river is
Downstairs passengers also having fun
Just enough wind to snatch that hat off
And the pretty barn swallows were using the prow of the boat to launch themselves off to catch insects flying over the water
Back to the festival to get a wave from friends
A quick tasting from Fanus of his lovely Rosé
Take a picture in the Graham Beck Frame and perhaps win a prize
And a final friendly farewell from the lovely girls, Elbè Nortje and Lisa Keulder, on the Graham Beck stand before boarding the bus for the trip back to Cape Town

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