Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Harvest Day at Lanzerac, Stellenbosch

It is Harvest time in the winelands, so we were up early to join the arranged transport to Lanzerac in Stellenbosch (for which we are very grateful) and warmly welcomed on arrival by General Manager Barend Barnard
He provided us with reviving coffees before whipping us up the mountain in 4x4 vehicles
We have known the farm for many years, but had absolutely no idea that the Lanzerac vineyards went so high up the mountain. This was the Shiraz vineyard
Fantastic, huge bunches of blue Shiraz grapes were being picked and we could join in
Just a quick explanation of how to do it from Barend and Viticulturist Danie Malherbe. We are old hands and really enjoy picking grapes
Botmaskop mountain. Their green vineyard up on its slopes on the right is the highest vineyard in central Stellenbosch, it is planted with Sauvignon Blanc at 560m above sea level
Lynne starts picking
and in the next row, Leanne “The Wine Girl” Beattie begins to fill her crate
Lovely blue grapes
Our kind helper took off leaves, so we could see where the plentiful grapes were hiding. Apparently the size of the grapes is down because of the lack of water, but the quality is up. And he carried our full crates to the tractor
Now that is a huge bunch
Full crate, NEXT!
It was very hot indeed and it was time to go back the cellar
This is one of the professional pickers, they are so fast!
Views over the Stellenbosch Hills and Stellenbosch
A very empty dam
A tractor bringing the grapes to the cellar for pressing
Pinotage grapes from a bush vine
Looking down the rows
Two of the names of older vineyards, either side of the road
Hand sorting as the grapes come in
The cellar is buzzing with working winemakers
We were extremely grateful for these ice cold damp cloths and the cool cellar after the 34ºC heat in the vineyards
Ah, yes please, we would love a glass of the excellent MCC Blanc de Blanc Brut with its lovely citrus flavours and crisp bubbles, 100% Chardonnay
The wines of the Keldermeester Versameling (Cellarmaster Selection): Bergpad Pinot blanc, Prof (dedicated to Professor Perold, the father of Pinotage) and Dok (in honour of rugby legend "Doc" Craven). The labels are very difficult to photograph, with embossed lettering in a white label
Three of Lanzerac's top wines: Mrs English Chardonnay, Le General Bordeaux blend and the Pionier Pinotage
Are you game to press by foot?
Winemaker  Wynand Lategan joins us for the tasting. Barend talks about the wines
 Wynand demonstrates grape pressing
Volunteers having fun
Very squishy and a good exfoliator of feet
New volunteers, who are joined by Barend
till smiling, but waiting to get into the foot bath
More of the Lanzerac wines
Wynand then gave us some tank samples to taste. First the base wine for the MCC. It’s a good rich Chardonnay
and shares it out
Then the base wine for the Pinotage Rosé, which has lovely summer fruit
Gives Lynne a taste of his Semillon
and some for PRO Pippa Pringle
Barend gets some of the almost black Pinotage
And we get to taste the Pinotage grapes 
with the newly fermented wine. You can see the similarity
In their Vinoteque Lanzerac's famous skittle bottle. While the first grapes came from Bellevue farm in 1959, Lanzerac was the farm that made them into the first bottled Pinotage. This is from the 1992 vintage
We got to look at these old gems. No tasting sadly. The 1957 Cabernet Sauvignon
Handle with care, these wines are rare
Time for lunch, which was served on the Deli terrace under shade. It was served family style
The menu. You too can go and have this lunch
Chef Stephen Fraser had prepared us a feast. They do picnics as well. The new restaurant is being rebuilt after the disastrous fire which destroyed several buildings last year
Hopefully, it will open in a couple of months' time
Killer crisp salted potato wedges, sprinkled with cheese, so hard to resist
Snoek Paté served with Pinotage grape jelly, pickled onions and a Lavash cracker
A mixed salad with Pinotage Biltong, minted courgette slices, pink candy beetroot slices, pomegranate aruls, peppered Caciotta cheese and sun dried tomatoes
A very generous cheese board of great local cheeses, fruit chutneys, dried apricots and walnut nuts
Mini filled farm pies
Slow braised lamb, pulled and formed into patties, then breadcrumb coated and deep fried. Topped with pea shoots and mayonnaise. These were really excellent, full of rich lamb
Hot smoked trout salad
Different shaped mini pies, these seemed to have a sweet and sour filling
We were served some of the excellent Lanzerac wines with lunch
The small desserts were all made by a skilled pastry chef. A mini chocolate mousse with crisp broken meringue, honeycomb and mini choc Maltesers for texture; there was a tiny apple tart and a mini light-as-air lemon meringue tart; both had thin, buttery perfect pastry. We had these with espresso coffees
Lanzerac's main building was devastated by fire last year and is currently being rebuilt. We were taken on a tour to see what is happening. We so admire the skill of building this oak crux frame roof over the reception area, very, very specialised. This was how ships and houses were built in the 16th century, generally in England
The same reception hall, which was about to go through a makeover, when we photographed it in November 2016, before the fire made the makeover even more necessary!
They are building a new fine dining restaurant and we were taken to see the set up
There is some very sexy cooking equipment in this kitchen ...
... a chef's dream
Another nice touch, an espaliered peach tree
In one of the newly decorated suites
Lovely art
And beds the size of football fields; the bathrooms are so huge and luxurious too.
The Lanzerac Manor House, with the renovations going on. Thank you for a really lovely day. We hope to come and see it when it is all finished

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