Monday, 30 January 2017

Wine tasting in Stellenbosch, South Africa

There aren't many things that I love in this world more than a chilled bottle of Sauvignon Blanc or a sweet Rose on a warm summer's day, a large glass of Merlot whilst curled up under a blanket in front of a roaring fire - basically there aren't many things I love in this world more than wine.

Coincidence then, that somehow I've found myself back in South Africa for the next few months, home to a variety of the best quality wines in the world. Even better than that, around about a 30 minute drive from my temporary 'home' is the infamous town of Stellenbosch, a place known for its beautiful scenery, stunning vineyards and the oldest wine route in the country. Basically, Stellenbosch is any grape lover's idea of pure heaven.

Recently, my travel partner in crime, Rosie's, family came to visit and after having such a great time amongst the grapes last year in Stellenbosch, it was perhaps the first to be noted down on the list of things to do.

Waking up to a cloudless sky and a forecast of temperatures expected to reach 35 degrees celsius, we knew we were going to be in for the most perfect day to sit back and indulge in a wine or three or twenty seven. Picked up at 8:30am by Wine Flies, who we'd heard a heap of great things about, we were on our way to the first vineyard of the day but not before we were taught a little more about the region of Stellenbosch and South African wine generally.

For example, did you know South Africa is the 8th largest wine exporter in the world?

Ahh see, and you thought this blog was just ramblings about wine and food and a little more wine?

Anyway. Back to the wine.

Villiera was the first stop and we were first taught about the history of South Africa's wine industry, the process of grape picking as well as how grapes were pressed and turned into wine because apparently they don't just appear magically in a nice little ice cold wine bottle on their own.

Who knew.

After being shown how champagne is created and the length of time it takes to be perfect for consumption (hint: a flipping long time), it was time for our first tasting session of the day because I mean, it was getting hot and we needed to keep significantly hydrated so if champagne was the only liquid, who were we to argue? It was about our health, after all.

Now, I will say that throughout the day, our guide did an incredible job of explaining the different wines, the correct way to taste, smell and overall sense the flavours and you really were given a thorough wine education. I will also say that I did try okay, I tried to 'aaahhh' and 'mmmm' and particularly appreciate the grasslike texture and the herb fragrance but what I could really taste was really, really...bloody great wine.

Two champagnes and four wines down, we were back on the road again and our second stop was Remhoogte Wine Estate, a small family owned estate and my personal favourite of the day. On arrival, we were greeted by the most stunning mountain views, a peaceful natural lake and wild animals such as zebras and springboks roaming around the grounds - it was the most perfect setting you could ever wish to have.

As we were seated, we were served our own individual cheese board (I know) and each of the five wines we tasted were perfectly matched to each of the five cheeses. It really was fabulous and made you genuinely appreciate the flavours of the wine more vividly (I mean it!) plus I mean, can you ever have a bad time when cheese is around?

Our third stop was for lunch because yes, on a wine tasting tour you do taste approximately 12 different wines before 1pm, and we had the pleasure of arriving at Middelvlei Wine Estate. We were served a South African braai (a BBQ for us heathens in the UK, US, Aus etc) which consisted of chicken, sausages, skewers, toasties, potato and garden salads and of course, a glass of white wine.

After soaking up at least a few droplets of wine with a heap of amazing food, and most of the group polishing off any water in sight in order to...increase capacity for even more wine, it was time to extract our own wine with each of use using a glass utensil to pour ourself a glass of stunning red wine from the barrel itself. Whilst a tad testing for those of us who were not blessed with great heights, it was another fun way of learning about wines and it's definitely something Wine Flies were great at throughout the day.

Next up was Lovane Boutique Wine Estate which consisted of wine and chocolate pairing, so of course, fabulous and the final stop, which unfortunately I can't remember the name of was perhaps the perfect way of ending what had been an absolutely fabulous day.

With our feet in the pool, glass of wine in hand and the afternoon sun shining down, it was pretty much perfect. Would I recommend a tour with Wine Flies?


To book a tour or find out more information, click here & make sure to tell them I sent you!

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  1. The happy hour beers are listed in red on the menu with about twelve or so to choose from as I recall with some decent choices. Looks like the event venue have a nice little pub menu but we did not try any of that on this evening.

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