Thursday, March 25, 2021

MENU visits Franschhoek. Four days of farm and restaurant visits

Heavy rain falling on the GlenWood wine estate, Franschhoek

We were given a very kind gift by friends who live in Carlisle in England. They are swallows and have not been able to come back to their flat here for two summers due to Covid. Every year they also book a self catering place in Franschhoek for two weeks, for which they prepay. They had hoped to come again this year but the UK went into lock down just as they were about to travel. So they offered us and a couple of other people their time at Sunny Lane.....

Three nights at Sunny Lane Guest House

We waited a few days to see if the others had booked it out before phoning, but no one had yet reserved any time. We are wary of booking at weekends, now that we are on Schedule 1 and people can travel. Our Wedding Anniversary was coming up, so Lynne thought we might as well celebrate it there and booked us in on the Monday 8th, departing on Thursday, 11th March. It seems that Franschhoek is very, very busy at weekends, so we had a marvellous time in a rather quiet village, which was exactly what we wanted.  Read on...

We began our days in Franschhoek with a visit to Colmant, one of Franschhoek’s best Cap Classique producers. Owner Jean-Philippe Colmant has won many awards for his sparkling wines. and has renowned winemaker Paul Gerber on board and Pieter (Bubbles) Ferreira as a consultant, a winning combination. Read on...

We called in at La Cotte Inn Wine Sales / Fromages de France, to speak to Ludwig and Lodine Maske and buy some cheese. Life has not been easy for them, prevented, like everyone else in the business, from selling alcohol for so many months. Ludwig is very knowledgeable about wine and he has some interesting wines at the moment, well priced. Read on...

One of the reasons we decided to go to Franschhoek on Monday the 8th of March was that it was our 18th wedding anniversary and this seemed like the ideal way to celebrate to it. We would be there when there were not many people about. Franschhoek is nicely busy at weekends and we are avoiding being with any sort of crowd. The downside is that many restaurants do not open until Thursday or Friday and the weekend, so our choices were limited. We have been to several of the Chef's Warehouse restaurants and were very happy to discover that their Maison restaurant is open on Mondays. (they close on Tuesday and Wednesday). Read on...

Cellar Tour and Tasting at Rickety Bridge

Tuesday dawned damp and grey, so we were pleased that we had invitations to wine farms to fill our day. First to Rickety Bridge, where you can stay at the Manor House, visit the winery to taste the wines and eat in their restaurant, Paulina’s. Read on...

Tasting Mullineux and Leeu Wines with Chris Mullineux

Then a visit to the Leeu Estate to see Chris Mullineux and taste the Mullineux and Leeu family wines, kindly arranged for us by Nicolette Waterford. The grounds are quite magnificent, as are the views... Read on...

Sushi Lunch at GlenWood

It had rained heavily overnight and there was a mist above the valley when we set out on Wednesday for GlenWood, down Robertsvlei Road. We know their excellent wines and had been invited to come and sample their excellent Gourmet Sushi. Everyone in Franschhoek to whom we mentioned that we were going there said you will really enjoy it; the sushi is very good. And it was.. Read on...

Tasting with Irene Waller at La Bri

A visit to La Bri in Franschhoek happened on Thursday morning of our visit. We had not told them that we were coming, as we did not think we would have the time, but we did manage to clean, pack and move out of our accommodation at Sunny Lane by 10 am. We were not due at our lunch appointment until 12. Read on...

Lunch and tasting with the von Arnims at Haute Cabrière

Our final stop on our Franschhoek four day extravaganza was a visit to Haute Cabrière. We have known the family for many, many years and were so looking forward to seeing them after quite a while, doing a tasting with Cellarmaster Takuan von Arnim and having lunch with Achim and Hildegard von Arnim. The rain was over, the valley was looking beautiful. They do have some of the very best views of Franschhoek. Read on...

Wednesday, March 24, 2021

Franschhoek Visit - Lunch and tasting with the von Arnims at Haute Cabrière

Our final stop on our Franschhoek four day extravaganza was a visit to Haute Cabrière. We have known the family for many, many years and were so looking forward to seeing them after quite a while, doing a tasting with Cellarmaster Takuan von Arnim and having lunch with Achim and Hildegard von Arnim. The rain was over, the valley was looking beautiful. They do have some of the very best views of Franschhoek

The restaurant now has a new venue outside, so the space inside is now the tasting venue

It is built into the hill and is cavernous

New furnishings have made it into a modern, comfortable place to chill
while enjoying the great Haute Cabrière Cap Classiques and wines

A wall of Haute Cabrière history

Good space allows for lots of people seated safely well apart

Takuan took us down to see the new function and conference spaces

Useful for indoor events

The barrel cellar is spectacular

Another smaller venue room

A brief hello and an elbow virtual hug with winemaker Tim Hoek, who was very busy with harvest wine making

A rather impressive terracotta amphora

Achim von Arnim's paintings grace many of the walls

The subjects and bright colours do contribute to the ambience

Back upstairs to begin a tasting

We met Hildegard and Takuan in the restaurant first; it's a magnificent glass box with an open seating area on the side

We began tasting with two Haute Cabrière Chardonnays; the 2017 made the conventional way, but with 20% from the amphora. The 2018 was all made in the amphora. It was very interesting to taste them together to see the difference the two wine making methods had made to the wine. The grapes are from one block planted in 1983. Golden fruit on the nose, very pretty indeed and a good whiff of oak. Crisp, full, with good golden fruit and some citrus, the wine had lots of wood structure, so it will last and mature; a 10 year wine. A food wine that gets better in the glass. It was difficult to detect the difference the 20% amphora wine made to the 2017. Lynne enjoyed it so much that she took her glass to lunch with her, augmented by Takuan

The Amphora 2018 Chardonnay is yeasty, and has notes of Brie and yellow fruit on the nose
It spent 10 months in the amphora. Soft and silky texture on the palate with gentle lime and citrus flavours. To drink now

The back label

Takuan pouring us our tasting samples

Next came a wine they are renowned for, their 2018 Pinot Noir. The grapes are planted very densely, as they are in Burgundy. And indeed, on the nose, it does identify as a good Burgundy Pinot Noir. Red berry fruit, perfume; good, gentle, but present, oak and lots of class. On the silky soft palate, beautiful red fruit, freshness, a zing of acidity so necessary, good wood supporting and soft chalky tannins; very impressive. As expected!

The Cellar Door price list

Time for lunch

A rather Mondrian or Rothko art piece livens up the space
The tables are small and well spaced, the chairs are comfortable. We wish they were in all restaurants

A glass of Pierre Jourdan Brut Cap Classique always sparkles up an occasion with friends

A simple menu gives lots of choice. If you want variety, order a selection of Tapas
If you want a large plate of a favourite, go for the Plat du Jour, and you can still have Tapas as a starter

Good to see Achim looking so spry, fit and feisty. Lynne and Hildegard always have lots to chat about
Achim and John were at school together and there was a lot of talk about that

Choose which you prefer, said Achim

A bottle of Pinot Noir Reserve with lunch was much enjoyed

Hildegard and Lynne ordered the Sweetcorn and Spring onion risotto and added the pan-fried prawns, a delicious dish; the rice cooked perfectly, with still a little 'bite', lots of flavour in the creamy sauce and the prawn on top
A huge portion, very filling

John had the Sirloin steak with a Béarnaise sauce,
very crispy Pommes Anna and fine green beans, which he really enjoyed. Achim had the lamb rib

As we left, we saw the Franschhoek Tram arrive; it does a great job, bringing people to the wineries
It was a really lovely day,  catching up with Hildegard, Achim and Takuan and eating and drinking so well
An epic end to a lovely Franschhoek stay
Thank you von Arnims, very, very much

Franschhoek Visit - Tasting Mullineux and Leeu Wines with Chris Mullineux

Then a visit to the Leeu Estate to see Chris Mullineux and taste the Mullineux and Leeu family wines,
kindly arranged for us by Nicolette Waterford

The grounds are quite magnificent, as are the views

The entrance to the winery

These sheep may safely graze on the edge of the dam, they are made of concrete!

Chris Mullineux is the viticulturist on their farm Roundstone, just outside Riebeek Casteel in the Swartland, where they have focused mainly on Chenin and Shiraz, but are now trying out grapes more suited to a hotter climate due to global warming. They believe in non-interventionist farming. They have won many, many accolades, high scores from esteemed local and overseas judges and writers, and many awards for their wine, achieving several pinnacles like Platters Winery of the Year twice; Top Performing Winery of the year twice, and also Shiraz of the Year and Vin de Paille of the Year in 2020. He told us the lovely story of how he and his wife Andrea got together and, of course, it was while they were both doing overseas stages in France during their wine training. Andrea is originally from the USA

Mullineux & Leeu Family Wines’ two portfolios have two distinct stories to tell. The Swartland portfolio encompasses the Signature, Terroir Specific and Kloof Street ranges and the Leeu Passant range is made in Franschhoek from grapes sourced from a variety of regions outside the Swartland

Andrea poses briefly for John in a very, very busy harvest cellar

The farm and winery is full of quirky art and sculptures, we especially like this dog made from old metal pieces

Time to begin the tasting. There would be seven wines to taste

We began with the 2019 Mullineux Old Vines White, a blend of one parcel of 41 year-old Chenin and a parcel of 11 year old Grenache Blanc, and 5 year old Maccabeo and Verdelho, on the stony Schist based soils of the Kasteelberg; two parcels of 40-65 year-old dry land bush vine Chenin, one parcel of 44 year old Clairette Blanche, a 60 year old heritage Semillon Gris vineyard grown on the decomposed Granite of the Paardeberg, and a parcel of 21 year-old Viognier on the iron-rich soils of the rolling hills west of Malmesbury. So we expected lots of complexity and indeed we found it. The wine has a beautiful texture; it is crisp and fruity, with layers of flavours from the different terroirs. Very satisfying and a great introduction to the range

Then two wines that really do show the affect of different terroirs. The Mullineux Quartz 2019 Lieliefontein Chenin Blanc from a single vineyard of 38 year old vines planted in a quartz kloof on the Kasteelberg. Yeasty, biscuity from the natural fermentation on the lees, and then malolactic fermentation. The wine has a hint of gun flint and a faint perfume of summer. Sweet yellow stone fruit with long crisp elegant lime flavours on the end

Then the Mullineux 2019 Granite Chenin Blanc from 43 year old parcel of sustainably and dry farmed bush vines planted in the decomposed Granite soils of the Paardeberg, which is a known excellent area for Chenin, with its flinty decomposed granite soils. It goes through the same fermentation as the Quartz. Smoky gun-flint on the nose, the wine has good rounded flavours of quince, cooked apple, apricots and some lively acidity. Lynne could not stop sipping, and saved her glass to continue tasting, to see how it developed. It just got better

The Kloof Street Swartland Rouge, from their more affordable range, is a blend of 44% Tinta Barocca, 44% Syrah, 7% Grenache, 4% Cinsault, 1% Carignan. 25% whole bunches are added and the total maceration is for 4 to 6 weeks then drained and pressed to barrel for malolactic fermentation. Perfumed fruit, very approachable, with good raspberry notes. On the palate, licorice and spice from the wood; the wine is full to bursting with dark berry fruit, warmth, long flavours and some good chalky tannins, denoting that it may last rather well and be good value

The Mullineux 2017 Swartland Wine of Origin Syrah is from different vineyards of varied soil types, all Swartland and from vines aged between 22 and 30 years. 90% added as whole bunches to tank and the remainder is added destemmed. Naturally fermented, then pressed to barrel for malolactic fermentation and maturation. Then bottled unfiltered and unfined. This requires very careful winemaking and it shows. Perfumed, with a whiff of smoke, there good dark berry fruit and some spice. On the palate, velvety tannins, good bright mulberry and other dark berry fruit, followed by some soft chalk and long flavours. A definite food wine

The interesting back label from the Kloof Street Rouge

Next three different Mullineux Syrahs:

Mullineux Granite Syrah 2018 from Jakkalsfontein in the Paardeberg. The last year of the drought. 24 year old dryland bush vines grown in the decomposed granite, Whole bunches were put into open top 500L French oak barrels and foot stomped to release some juice. 25% new oak, followed by 9 months in 2nd fill foudres. On the nose, spice, good wood, and lots of aromatic dark berry fruit. Rounded palate of sweet berry fruit, a hint of mint, complex and layered with tight tannins. Made to last, but drinking well now

The Mullineux 2018 Schist Roundstone Syrah from their farm in the Kasteelberg, 21 year old vines planted in the stony Shale and Schist soils. Spice, good wood and a hint of violet on the nose. Red berries, mulberries, tight tannins and some chalk, then raspberries appear & more chalk and licorice on the end. Intriguing. Similar wine making to the Granite and the Iron

The Mullineux 2018 Iron Syrah is from the Hughes family farm, 19 year old organically farmed dryland bush vines on the rolling, iron-rich soils west of Malmesbury. This has excellent fruit on the nose, richness and elegance on both nose and palate, spicy red and black fruit, crisp chalky tannins and licorice wood on the end

A most impressive tasting, so enjoyable and educational. A real learning experience to see the different terroirs affect on the wines and the different wine-making techniques. Thank you so much Chris and Andrea and Leeu Estates

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