A liquid day in Stellenbosch

It rained all day today; fortunately, we spent most of the day in wineries enjoying a different kind of liquid.

Our day started at Cavalli Wine Estate; it’s an interesting place. The owners are interested in horses, art, and wine – all of the wines have horsey names (like Colt Cabernet Sauvignon), there’s an art gallery on premises, and of course there’s wine.

We tasted six wines at Cavalli, and I have to say we weren’t particularly impressed by any of them. The Unoaked Chenin Blanc and the Colt Cabernet Sauvignon were the best, and I’d happily drink either, but I wouldn’t go out of my way to find them.

The tasting room was surrounded by cellars containing wines for their restaurant (all their own label), as well as a room with the owners’ collection. They’re into big bottles.

The art gallery was interesting – the art was quite modern, in keeping with everything else on the property.

From Cavalli, we drove half-an-hour through Stellenbosch to Boschendal Wine Estate (founded in 1685, so it’s a newcomer compared to Groot Constantia, but still quite well-established by my standards) for lunch and more wine tasting. Much more.

We were lucky and there was a break in the rain as we walked to the Werf Restaurant. Our guide, Mark, explained that in Dutch times, one of the few permissible signs of wealth was the gable over the doors – a flamboyant gable with lots of decoration proclaimed that the owners were in the one percent.

The original plan was to eat outside, but the weather made that infeasible. Instead, we had the wine from the Picnic Under the Oaks tasting combined with the food from the Sharing Plates Menu.

I’ll let the photos of the wines speak for themselves – all of the wines were very good; the whites cost R69 (about $4.20) and would easily stack up with $20 wines at home.

The only red included in the tasting was their “baby Bourdeaux blend”, the Lanoy, which cost a full R80 ($4.80). It, too, was very good.

As a bonus, we got to taste their top reds (Manumission and Grande Syrah), which are no longer in their catalog but were available for about R700 ($42) each.

We liked the wine so much that a friend and I considered buying a case and having it shipped home – but the shipping would have cost about four times what the wine cost, so we gave up on the idea! Wine.com carries a few of the wines we tasted, so there might yet be some Boschendal wines in our future.

We left during another break in the rain and strolled across the parking lot to our bus. Boschendal is a very pretty place with lots of shops and restaurants on premises. If I lived here, I’d love to come back and explore it in depth.

On the drive back to the hotel, we got to see a tiny bit of the mountains surrounding Stellenbosch – maybe we’ll see more on the way back to Cape Town tomorrow.

We returned to the hotel and took a quick walk through Stellenbosch. There’s no load shedding planned tonight, which is good, because Dave Natale has scheduled tonight for our official Wine Tour cocktail party and dinner here at the hotel restaurant, and it’ll be much better if we can see what we’re eating and drinking!