Thursday, July 18, 2019

A Riebeeck Valley weekend. 1. Swartland Winery, The Riebeek Valley Hotel, Riebeeck tasting, Old Dalby Restaurant

Once a year, Lynne organises a trip for our wine club to a different wine district. The criteria are always the same. The accommodation must all be together, couples and singles want their own rooms en suite but it must not be too costly. This sadly cuts out several wine areas where the accommodation is sparse. There must be good wine farms and restaurants in the area and the hotel needs to offer us a good breakfast. We have been to Wellington, Robertson, Botrivier and Paarl in recent years and this year we were headed to Riebeek West and Riebeek Kasteel

We set out after lunch and travelled up the very pleasant R302 country road from Durbanville, a good alternative to the N7 Malmesbury road with its many road works. On the way, we decided to stop off and see what Swartland winery was up to; it had been a while since we last called in there
We had a quick tasting as they close at 4 and so enjoyed talking to their tasting room manager
She very generously gave us three bottles of 1999 Shiraz to taste with our wine club members
We had them at dinner on the second night at Mama Cucina
We checked into our hotel, which is now known as the Riebeek Valley Retreat
It reminds one of the hotels of yesteryear and scenes in Agatha Christie novels. Slightly faded in some areas, it once was,
and could be again a 5 star property, if some minor smartening up and a bit of modernising could be applied
The hotel restaurant is now closed, but they do serve good breakfasts
The imposing entrance with its large front door and stoep. The gardens are huge and well planted,
but could do with a bit of weeding and sorting out
We were shown to Suite 3 in the main house with its lovely high four poster bed, comfy seating area and nice view of the garden
The rooms vary in size, luxury and facilities; you can find them on line. They are running a winter special at the moment
They have an indoor pool so take your bathing costume if you go
The weather was very chilly, the pool room was not cold
One of the smaller dining rooms with an open fire, which they lit for us
We had arranged for Riebeek Cellars to come at 6 pm and do a tasting of their wines for the wine club
They have a bar and a lovely roaring fire which was very welcome with the cold weather
There is a large TV and many people were watching Wimbledon at certain times
Lucille from Riebeek and her staff helping set up the tasting
and we began with bottles of their Pieter Cruythoff Brut, a Charmat blend of 66% Chardonnay & 34% Pinot Noir
Biscuity on the nose and dry and crisp on the palate, very refreshing
Lots of discussion while we tasted the wines, They were very generous and brought a large selection for us to taste, all of which was much enjoyed. We especially liked their 2017 Shiraz with their new label, its has sweet fruit in abundance on the nose and palate with smoke hints and chocolate and spice on the berry palate. We also tasted an older Shiraz which really impressed us with its quality. and lovely spicy peppery fruit with a long after taste, a good food wine. If you want to experience the Riebeek Cellars Collection do visit their new Wine Shop on the Square in Riebeek Kasteel.
Time for supper and Lynne had organised a local restaurant, just a few hundred meters from the hotel
and recommended to us by many; Old Dalby restaurant. This is their entrance
They had put us at two long tables in a separate room
After we had ordered, this lovely plate of dark malty bread and potato skins arrived
As we were rather hungry after the wine tasting, this was very welcome
Serving dinner to 17 souls can take a while, especially if you have a popular and busy restaurant on a Friday night
One of the popular starters was breadcrumbed and deep fried camembert with a rooibos and mulberry jam
which came with bread and a small leaf salad
Crisp on the outside, melting cheese inside and a lovely contrast with the berry jam
Luckily, no taste of rooibos was discernible! R48
Lynne was the only one to have fish and this is her Kingklip Washington with Prawn meat and Mushroom Sauce, R 145-00
The fish was fresh, an enormous portion, with lots of good pink prawns; the mushroom sauce had cheese in it and was delicious
Served with crisp chips and lemon wedges
Most people ordered the Old Dalby Fillet, 250g beef fillet, topped with avocado, bacon and blue cheese sauce, R155-00
This comes with vegetables and chips and it was much enjoyed
No one had  room for dessert; it was only afterwards that we found out that Old Dalby is known for unusual ice cream flavours
We tried to come back for them the following night, but were too late after our super somewhere else
Breakfast at our hotel the next morning had cereals, juice, muesli, yoghurt, toast, cheese, ham and salami 
You could order a cooked breakfast from the kitchen: eggs done the way you like them, with bacon and tomato
The chef also provides very good cakes and muffins for breakfast,
particularly popular was his lemon drizzle cake and these egg, bacon and pepper tartlets
Trust a cat to find a sunbeam on a cold winter’s morning
And Fat Cat, the hotel cat is indeed that. We were off to our first winery

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