Tag Archives: Franschoek

The South African Winelands Low-down – Franschoek


The drive through the valley to the estate is lovely and the ultra modern tasting room with terrace has a great view over the vineyards and mountains of the valley.

We bought the Wolftrap Viognier/Chenin Blanc/Grenache Blanc blend, which on tasting was light, floral and refreshing, perfect in the heat and we thought for our salad later. Although, it was a tad more aromatic than we had expected when we opened it on another evening, just goes to show the difference there can be between tasting a wine amongst others, the environment when doing so and then drinking the wine in its own right.

Having had, and enjoyed, our first taste of The Chocolate Block back home we were a little disappointed by this tasting, maybe we expected too much, with each vintage the proportions of grapes change and so there is bound to be variations, and we were advised it needs a bit of age on it but none of the wines we tasted made a huge impression, a little disappointing.

We also tried the Boekenhoutskloof Syrah, Porcupine Ridge Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah/Viognier. 

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  • Boschendal (£2 to taste 5 wines or under £1 each to taste the limited release wines)

Beautiful, large grounds, with an outdoor tasting bar set under a huge tree. You are left to your own devices with the tasting and not given much information unless you listen in on a nearby tour tasting that is. We decided to try some of the limited release wines so plumped for the following (no vintage dates listed on the information given):

  • Le Grand Pavilion Brut Rosé Non-Vintage – A light pink, sweet glass of bubblyness, strawberries and cream says it all!
  • Shiraz Reserve – Strawberry bonbons, mulberry and sage.
  • Grande Reserve – Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon, herby and violet fruits. 


  • Chamonix (£4 to taste the reserve wines – fee waived with purchase)

A quite unassuming, boutique wine estate which you could easily drive past on the steep road out of Franschoek, with a cosy and friendly feeling. Relax at the beautifully crafted wooden tables and benches whilst enjoying a wonderful selection of beautifully well made wines.

Our Shining Stars:

  • Pinot Noir Reserve 2011 – I often struggle to truly understand when is the right time to use the word elegant, but this was definitely the right time. This had a wow factor! Hints of savouriness and earthiness, cherry, strawberry and raspberry. Chocolate. Light and elegant! Lovely acidity too.
  • Chardonnay Reserve 2011 – In one word ‘yummy’! Not very technical I know but the creamy, citrus, roundedness of this wine in my mouth was something I didn’t want to end, like a like lemon soufflé, so delicate but full of flavour. 

Also tasted:

  • Sauvignon Blanc Reserve 2012 – Well balanced blend of Sauvignon and Semillon, lovely smoky aroma, hints of lemon and herbaceousness, but not overpowering. Very smooth.
  • Troika 2010 – This was a good example of South African Bordeaux blend, cassis, perfumed notes, pencil and cedar, red fruits on the palate. Nicely integrated tannin.
  • Sadly the Greywacke Pinotage 2010 – 100% Pinot Noir, was sold out so we will have to find some as it is produced using the ripasso technique and we were intrigued to taste that. 


Definitely one of favourite wine estates to visit. The drive up the valley and onto the estate, surrounded by horse enclosures and vineyards was spectacular. The house itself stood proudly overlooking all, shining white in the sun, dappled by the shade of the trees nearby. Once inside, it was like being transported to Cuba, with large wooden bar, terracotta coated walls and cosy wooden tables side by side. A very relaxed feel to the place and many back editions of the Platter guide to browse if you so wished.

The Wow Factor:

  • Miko Chardonnay 2009 – Complex and subtle, I would agree. Apricot and tangerine, white pepper, greengage. Nicely integrated oak, allows mineral notes balance. Delicate nutty flavours. Wonderful body and texture, silken. Not dissimilar in style to Hamilton Russell’s Chardonnay, praise indeed I feel.

Also tasted:

  • Sauvignon Blanc 2011 – Nicely flavoured and aromatic, distinct pineapple and tropical fruits, herbaceous undertones. Clean, crisp acidity balanced with a full mouth feel and creamy finish.
  • Unwooded Chardonnay 2010 – Clean fresh citrus with tropical aromas of melon and peach, a little lacking on the finish. 
  • Barrel fermented Chardonnay 2008 – Intensive citrus, bruised apple and pear aromas, knitted with butterscotch and mineral undertones. 
  • Merlot 2006 – Unpretentious and good at what it does best! Juicy red fruits, plums and mulberries, full and rounded mouthfeel. Suggested to drink with red meats including balsamic braised lamb shanks served with creamy mash and caramelised seasonal veg – anyone salivating at that? I certainly was.
  • Cabernet Sauvignon 2006 – Well integrated even at 15.5% alcohol.  Cassis, black cherries, cigar box on the nose. Richly textured, lush and ripe blackberry, cassis and velvety juicy tannins. Thoroughly lovely drink.
  • Syrah 2006 – Black fruits, blackberry and violet, mint, pepper and spice, hints of cedar and dark chocolate. Quite powerful and seductive.

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Impressively large grounds, extremely well manicured and designed. Restaurant and tasting area you could spend hours in, cleverly built with glass walls to see into the cellar and the winery. There is also a fascinating Art Gallery and cosy area where you can sit and listen to Hanneli Rupert-Koegelenberg, one of South Africa’s leading mezzo-sopranos and owner of the Estate. You feel quite spoilt here.

Wines of Choice:

  • La Motte Shiraz 2009 – Lovely juicy berry fruit, sweet liquorice, violet and peppery spice. Hints of coffee, chocolate, strawberry and cream. Very smooth, soft, ripe tannins. An easy drinking Shiraz.
  • La Motte Pierneef Sauvignon Blanc 2012 – Made with organically grown grapes from the cooler Walker Bay area, this Sauvignon has ‘oomph’. Intense lemon, melon and green apple, herbaceous – described as the natural flora ‘fynbos’, tomato vine, all aligned with very crisp acidity.

Also tasted:

  • La Motte Sauvignon Blanc 2012 – Easy drinking, aperitif style. Tropical fruit and soft character.
  • Le Motte Millennium 2010 – Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Shiraz, Malbec and Petit Verdot – a bit of everything Bordeaux! A dusty, earthy nose with jammy raspberry fruit, velvety and juicy. A little confusing as it smells of Bordeaux and tastes of Australia. 
  • La Motte Chardonnay 2010 – Quite light in texture, pineapple tropical fruit and citrus, tinge of creaminess although tales off on the finish. 
  • La Motte Cabernet Sauvignon 2010 – Very much wild berries, cedar, cinnamon and dark chocolate on the nose. Full bodied with gripping tannins, a dry aftertaste. 
  • La Motte Pierneef Shiraz Viognier 2009 – Inspired by the Côte Rôtie blend this wine has received 5 stars from John Platter. The Viognier (10%) certainly adds a lively element to the spiciness of the Shiraz. It smells hot and spicy. 
  • La Motte Pierneef Shiraz Grenache 2008 – Shiraz, Grenache, Mourvèdre with 2% Carignan, fruitcake flavours and spice, hints of bonfire wood, quite feisty but expected more body.

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