STOP 1: Bottelary Hills Wine Center to collect our passes, maps and line our stomachs with a boerrie roll.
STOP 2: Kanonkop. 4 wines, a 1996 and 1993 Pinotage, 2005 Paul Sauer and a 2000 Cabernet. No burnt rubber, just pure clean bright fruit, world class. South African First Growth for sure.
STOP 3: Muratie. For old world charm and atmosphere nothing quite compares. We were warmly welcomed by the beautiful tasting room hostess, maybe it was her charm but the wines certainly didn't disappoint. Ansela van da Caap 2007 the stand out wine.
STOP 4: Tokara. What a view! Needing a breather we settled next to the huge fire and relaxed with a glass of Tokara Cabernet Sauvignon 2001 Reserve. No tasting fee and long list of wines to choose from you could easily spend a few hours just lingering...
STOP 5: Neil Ellis. New tasting venue not yet officially open, but open for the festival weekend. Beautiful venue, lovely view, amazing wines. Sauvignon Blanc consistently one of the Capes best and the Aenigma Red 2007 at R85 per bottle way over delivers, order by the boot load.
STOP 6: Etienne le Riche Wines. The King of Cab. A simple winemaking setup, no smoke and mirrors, just good old fashioned winemaking that works amazingly well. Reserve Cab 2007, Platters may as well announce it as a 2011 five star wine already.
STOP 7: Back to Bottelary Hills Wine center. Had a quick walk around the center tasting some great wine, some not so great. Stand outs: Mooiplass, their wines too cheap I believe, and Sterhuis. We also had the pleasure of experiencing a vertical Sterhuis Sauvignon Blanc tasting with Johan Kruger of Sterhuis. He is a real wine character, quirky and interesting. 5 vintages of Sauvignon Blanc confirmed a house style of Burgundian elegance, minerality and restraint.
STOP 8: Annandale, the home of Hempies du Toit. Having tasted the famed reds of Kanonkop, Neil Ellis and Etienne le Riche we were in a position to compare the wines of Annandale with more fancied producers. I can honestly say I was blown away! I want to drink the wines of Annandale on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday....Try the 2001 Cavalier, try the 2003 Shiraz, try them all. We were even fortunate enough to taste a 1970 Alto Rouge. 40 years young, still fresh, clean fruit, tasted blind I would have guessed a sexy teenager in high heels. What a treat, what a rare pleasure, makes drinking so many crap wines over the years all worth it. I guess you have to kiss a few frogs before you find your princess.
STOP 9: La Avenir, not for the wine but for food, and a big screen TV to watch the Germans thrash the Argentines. By now my wine legs were deserting me and I needed a well earned break. An amazing day had come to an end. With over 50 wines tasted, mostly fine claret, I can safely say Stellenbosch is still the home of the Big Red.
STOP 10: My bed.