Matt and Lita planned a wine tasting tour for us all today around Stellenbosch and the surrounding area. Our driver picked us up at 7:30am and took us to the first winery – Warwick Estate – home to the first women to make wine in South Africa. Matt and Lita had some Warwick wine at their wedding so this was an ideal place to start the day. We had a guided tour through the vineyards during which they explained why they have paired each of the grape varieties with one of the “big five” with similar characteristics. For example, Cabernet Franc is like an elephant – the grapes have a thick skin and have a high resilience to pests. The actual tastings took place at the highest point of the vineyard which has great views of the surrounding area including Table Mountain and Paarl’s Rock – the second largest in the world after Uluru in Australia. Our guide also told us the legend of the Warwick wedding cup. A king set the silversmith who wanted to marry his daughter the challenge of creating a cup that the couple could both drink from simultaneously without spilling a drop. Matt and Lita successfully drank from the cup and we all contributed to buy one for them to keep.
Our next stop was Fairview where we had a combined cheese and wine tasting. This was undoubtedly the best value of the day – the equivalent of just £2 for six cheese and wine pairings!
We then moved from wine to MCC which is the South African equivalent of champagne, and is made using the same process. The tasting session at Haute Cabrier included a talk in the private cellar and a demonstration of sabrage – the process of opening a bottle with a sword. Perhaps this is something not to try at home! Matt’s birthday is on Sunday so he was presented with the cork as a memento.
We ate lunch sitting on the veranda at Le Petite Ferme – a winery and restaurant in Franschhoek. Although this wasn’t one of the official tasting venues on our schedule, there was obviously more wine with lunch!
Our final tasting was at the Asara wine estate where we tried three wine and chocolate pairings. The grounds of the estate are stunning and there was a nice shady area of grass where at least half of our group took some time for a recovery nap from all the wine drinking.
We finished our day in the outdoor bar at the Asara wine estate, which was particularly appropriate as they also provided some of the wine for Matt and Lita’s wedding. I think everyone will be getting an early night tonight!