Thursday, February 14, 2019

Overnight at Tierhoek wine estate, Piekenierskloof

Our friend Shelley Sandell owns Tierhoek wine farm in the Piekenierskloof and, when she heard we were going to be in the area at the weekend for Saturday night, she offered us a stay at the farm afterwards, which we were very happy to accept. She and her late husband Tony bought the farm in 2001 and discovered very old Chenin and Grenache bush vines, which they have cultivated. They are part of the Old Vines Project. Tierhoek wines have won several good awards. They also modernised the old farm buildings, but in a very respectful way, to preserve their heritage
We were joined by Ryno Kellerman, the Farm Manager, who gave us an extremely good tasting of the Tierhoek wines. He makes the wine with Roger Burton. We tasted several vintages as well. Because it was very hot outside, we did the tasting in the kitchen, filled with echoes of a bygone age and lovely period furniture, as is the rest of the house. We began with the 2018 Chardonnay. Typical, elegant, buttery, clean and crisp with limes and lemon and soft tannins and length. The 2017 is sweeter, more lemon and naartjie flavours - a food wine. The 2018 Sauvignon Blanc is also typical with green pepper and figs. Lively and exciting on the creamy palate with classic crisp Sauvignon Blanc flavours of English gooseberries, lemon.. Surprising for this warm area, but then we were on the second highest wine farm in the country. They are at 760 metres above sea level and only 40 Km from the sea. Old barrels are used to give just a hint of smoke. The 2017 Chenin Blanc is shy with some gooseberries and golden fruit, crisp on the palate with apples, ripe apricots, and lovely long flavours. The 2015 is full on the nose with incense wood smoke. Sweet apple and pear on the round mouthful with length and depth. Nice to see what the 2017 can become; the 2018 has just been bottled. The 2016 Chenin has honey notes with yellow apple. More Golden Delicious apple on the full palate, a food wine which would be perfect with rich food like a duck liver mousse
Then time to taste the red wines. Ryno is actually a lot friendlier than he looks when his photo is being taken! We began with the 2016 Grenache. Candy, pomegranate and cranberry on the nose, with wood smoke. Cranberry fruit, some cola and cough candy flavours, lovely sweet fruit on the end.  The 2017 Grenache has rich cherry with smoke hints; very appealing. Soft sweet berry fruit, cranberry, cherry, long sweet and sour flavours; needs time, but becoming good. The 2018 is light rose in colour, it has had skin contact, but is from a lighter year. Cranberry and incense wood on the nose. More a rosé with body: fruit, warm alcohol and sour sweet flavours, then some cherry. Intrigued to see how it will develop. The 2017 GSM has 45% Grenache, 43% Shiraz, 12% Mourvedre. Spice. incense wood, white pepper; lots of soft tannins and full of plummy  fruit. We had it with our braai. Which, sadly, was a bit of a disaster. We had bought rump steaks from Woolworths and they were so heavily spiced with hot smoked paprika that they tasted like bacon. NOT what we wanted. And the Grabouw wors from Checkers was also badly over seasoned.  Luckily we had salad, cheese and ham as a backup
Old copper moulds
Wow, lots of 'legs' on the red wines and lovely clear Grenache colour
Not just garlic!
The wines that we tasted
A view over the vines to the dam. Tierhoek is very high in the mountains, about 760 metres above sea level;
your ears pop when you drive down to the valley
Early evening; we sat outside while we waited for the fire for our braai to reach the hot coals stage
Local wood and wingerdstokkies (old vine stumps) make excellent coals
Lovely evening light
The old house has been opened up. This is the comfortable lounge with, at the end, the en suite bedroom we slept in
The view through to the kitchen and, on the right, the passage to another twin bedroom and the front door
It was so warm that we slept with only a sheet
Shelley tells us that the only thing in the house when they bought it was the stove! They put in everything else
We visited two years after they bought the farm and remember having supper in the much more simply furnished kitchen
The lab processed our slide film as negative, hence the strange colour
A large kitchen table
The view of the back of the house
Early Sunday morning; the mist lifts from over the Cederberg mountains
More vines in the distance
Harvest began this week, the grapes hang heavy on the vines and Ryno has to keep frightening off the baboons
with loud bangs. They want to invade and gorge themselves, and the destruction is expensive
A view over the vines to another house on the farm
An interesting albino plant
Beautiful trusses of Chenin Blanc in the old vineyard
As we departed on Sunday, you could see the heat rising over the farm
We drove across from Piketberg to the coast road as, when we drove up on Friday, we discovered that the N7 before and after Malmesbury is a nightmare of road works which have gone on for years. We see no finish in sight and the works are scattered all along the road, now even after Malmesbury. It adds a lot of time to your journey. We reached Laaiplek at Velddrif at nearly two and needed to stop for a cool beer and some lunch. The Riviera Hotel has historic meaning for us, so we stopped here. Perhaps not a very wise choice
It is right on the bank of the Berg River estuary on its way to the sea, where it washes the salt marshes
There are lots of sea birds on the vlei. Sadly, the South Easter was howling, so we had to sit inside
The bridge over the Berg River is old and has to take lots of heavy traffic, especially the huge double dumper trucks going to the Saldanha steel works
Lads having fun in the sun on the water
The estuary is very popular with speedboat pilots and fishermen
They have a Sunday buffet for R145. Sadly it did not attract us. Too much food for us and it was also not very appealing. Their market seems to be local
Lynne had Hake and chips. It was a very large piece of hake in soggy batter and was probably several years older
than when it was caught. Comes with chips, salad and tartare sauce
John had a hamburger and chips. We each had a refreshing Windhoek 'draught' beer in a bottle, Service was very slow
Then we headed home down the R27 which was quick and surprisingly free flowing for Sunday afternoon. We were home by 5

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