Thursday, February 20, 2020

A wine tour to Elgin

A lovely American couple booked a tour, specifying that they preferred cool climate varietals, especially Sauvignon blanc, Chardonnay and Pinot noir. After we presented them with the best alternatives, they chose Elgin, so they were fetched from The Taj and taken there on a lovely summer day. Elgin is a relatively new wine producing area, and is internationally famous as a producer of excellent apples and pears and an equally famous apple drink

We began the experience at Oak Valley, a huge estate whose hundreds of oak trees feed the pigs. The acorns  influence the flavour of the hams for which the estate is famous. Wine is quite a small component in the business of the farm - fruit and cut flowers are the prime focus and Wagyu cattle also play a part in the farm's activity
But we were there for the wine. The wine tastings are held in the Pool Room. Sadly, this is not operating as a restaurant at present, but we hope that a new operator will be found to run it and the deli
Fabio Turilli gave us a a warm welcome 
and gave us very instructive and well- informed tasting through the farm's extensive range of wines
watched by Kevin the peacock
Our next stop was at Almenkerk. The ultra modern winery was designed by the renowned Cape Town architect Derick Henstra
Our tourists loved the beautiful landscape
and insisted on posing in front of it
Malefane "Famous" Moeketsi guided us through a very good tasting of the wines
He has completed WSET Level One, scoring 86%, and has started on Level Two
Dana and Michael were especially impressed with the Chardonnay and the Syrah
As always, we and other visitors had a very warm welcome from owners Natalie Opstaele and Joris van Almenkerk
Natalie was very kind and took us through the cellar, explaining how they work
Next stop was at Paul Cluver, where we had booked for lunch at Craig Cormack's lovely restaurant, SALT
Lynne loves cats, so I took pictures of this one which was drinking deeply from the pond
The Menu
Michael's starter, Salt and Pepper Squid
Dana had Three Flavoured Fish
and Michael had Miso Cured Pork Neck as his main course
while John fell for the excellent Twice-Baked Cheese Soufflé
The Paul Cluver Estate Chardonnay was an excellent partner to the food
After lunch, we went into the tasting room with one objective
Michael had heard very good things about the Seven Flags Pinot Noir and Chardonnay
He loved them and bought them
He had enjoyed the Riesling the evening before

From Paul Cluver, we drove up to Iona,
perched on top of the hill overlooking the Elgin Valley on one side and the Atlantic Ocean on the other
General Manager Brad Gold CWM met us and started with a walk though a vineyard, explaining their philosophy of working as naturally as they can, with minimal chemical interference. In fact, the only factor which prevents them being completely organic is the need to spray sulphur on the vineyards to combat the mildew which results from the frequent mists which cover the farm
Then into the tasting room, which houses owner Andrew Gunn's first Porsche, his immaculate 1958 356C
Brad began our tasting with the excellent Iona Pinot noir,
followed by the other red wines in the range, One Man Band and Solace Syrah
Brad follows the Burgundian practice of tasting Pinot before Chardonnay
The delicacy of Pinot can often be overshadowed by a rich Chardonnay
We started the whites with Elgin Highlands and Kloof Chardonnays
and finished with the Wild Ferment Sauvignon blanc, our Wine of the Week
All the wines we tasted at Iona and most of the wines on the other farms score 4½ stars in Platter
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