South African wine has built an enviable reputation with wine lovers across the globe due to the exceptional wines that are produced in the Cape Winelands region. This region in the Western Cape, South Africa’s southernmost province is home to a number of towns and areas where magnificent red and white wines are produced for both domestic and international consumption. There are also a number of wine estates that produce South Africa’s version of Champagne – sparkling wines that have now become known as Method Cap Classique products.
These areas include Stellenbosch, Paarl, Robertson and Somerset West. There is also an area (and town) Franschhoek, which has gained world renown for the production of award winning white wines, including the Cap Classic sparkling wines.
Visitors to Franschhoek are provided with ample opportunity to sample these world class products as well as enjoy fabulous dining opportunities in a region that has become known as South Africa’s ‘Gourmet Capital’.
The Cape Winelands offers a multitude of estates that are open to visitors, so many that it is in fact almost impossible to sample the products of them all during a single visit – Franschhoek is no different.
So if you were to take a day trip to Franschhoek which are the five wine estates that should be on your tasting itinerary?
For those with a love for champagne a visit to Cabriere is an absolute must. This estate is the home of Pierre Jourdan ‘champagne’ and a glass of this sparkling delight is highly recommended. The estate also produces a highly regarded blend of pinot noir and chardonnay. Their ‘Tranquille’ which is a non sparkling champagne is also worthy of attention. There is also an exceptional restaurant in one of the cellars of the estate.
For the wine aficionado who is in search of world class variety this is an estate that should not be missed. Boekenhoutskloof produces four different wine labels. The first is the ‘table wine’ Porcupine Ridge which is excellent value for money everyday drinking. The Chocolate block is a blend of 5 varietals. This red wine is renowned for its rich ‘chocolaty’ nose and has gained a cult following in South Africa. The Wolftrap red is an exciting blend of Syrah (known in South Africa as Shiraz), Mouvedre, and Grenache. Lastly there is the premium brand, Boekhoutskloof which consists of three types of wine, a lineup of Semillon, Shiraz, and a Cabernet Sauvignon. Each of these is worth at least a glass.
#3 Stony Brook.
This small family run estate produces some excellent boutique wines such as its premium ‘Ghost Gum’ which is an intriguing Cabernet Sauvignon. The estates Méthode Cap Classiqu offering ‘Lyle MCC NV’ is also well worth a glass or two. The sparkling rose ‘Bailey MCC 2012’ should also not be missed.The newly released premium offering the Ovidius 2013 is already garnering accolades and should not be missed.
#4 La Petite Ferme.
Another boutique winery, La Petite Ferme has a very well regarded Chardonney (both unwooded and barrel varietals), as well as a Sauvignon Blanc that has garnered a lot of attention as well as notable awards. One of the highlights of any visit should be a meal at the estate restaurant with its sweeping views of the Franschhoek Valley. It is without doubt one of the best in the area.
#5 Graham Beck Estate.
A champagne lover who does not visit the Graham Beck estate is doing themselves a great disservice. This is perhaps South Africa’s premier producer of bubbly. The Graham Beck Brut MCC is simply one of the world’s best sparkling offerings. It has gone head to head with the best that is offered in France and has more often than not emerged with accolades. However those visiting the estates would be extremely foolish not to sample some of the other offerings. The estates ‘Railway Red’ which is its table wine is an absolute delight. Those wanting an everyday tipple that will delight even the most jaded of palettes should have a bottle or two tucked away. The Game Reserve offerings (both red and white) are complex and mouthwatering, while the everyday Waterside Chardonnay is a delight, crisp and refreshing.
A trip to Franshhoek is a delight. Here visitors can enjoy some of the best bubbly in the world and some truly first class dining experiences. It should not be missed.