Sunday, July 4, 2010

Stellies Wine Festival 2010

I love wine festivals, it's a great way to meet "wine people" and try so many wines in a relatively easy way, if you can stomach the crowds that is. This years Stellenbosch Wine festival was a little different, no more at Paul Roos School but rather each farm doing their own thing like vintage tastings, barrel samples etc. You really would need to spend a week going from farm to farm in order not to miss anything, we only had one day! It became an amazing wine race against time:

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.


  1. Oh my dear, what a lovely story! I wish I was there with you to share all the pleasure :-)

    Cheers, Dusan

    PS. I WAS actually there, gently following His Wine Excellency Dionysus

  2. Have to agree on the Annandale wines - have been a huge fan of Hempies' work since tasting it a few years back. The man makes reds the way they were meant to be made.

    Had the good fortune to experience a Le Riche vertical a few weeks ago at Caroline's. The man is a genius.

    Did you manage to taste Sterhuis Astra white? A classic that no one seems to know about!

    Nice job on the blog. Would love to see more regular posts.


  3. Hello Hennie

    I was also booked for the Le Riche Vertical and then something else came up...pity. The Astra White I did taste, I would love to go to the farm and retaste it. You are so right about the Astra White, a friend of mine ZaWino swears by it, and on his recommendation I made a point of seeking out their wines. Sterhuis in general is not a winery that makes huge waves yet the guy makes classic stuff.

    I will try and post more often!!