– FANTASTIC WINES AND A LOVELY CELLAR EXPERIENCE
Another awesome weekend in Sandbaai – we were actually there on the weekend of the Hermanus Wine Festival, but it looked a little cramped in the tent so we headed for the farms and stopped in at the festival one the way back for some delicious snacks. Eat restaurant had awesome pitas and there was a delectable stand serving sugar coated nuts of all types – mmmm… amazing!!
Bouchard Finlayson wine farm was on our list to visit the last time, but I think they were closed. So this time around they were definitely the first stop. Quite unassuming, I thought the tasting room was the house close to the road, but in fact you drive right up the hill and of course have an awesome view all the way back to the sea (in the distance) when you get to the top (I think the sea view is a pre-requisite in the Hemel-en-Aarde Valley), a pity about the brown vineyards of winter. The tasting building is a simple white painted thatch building with beautifully manicured lawns with a similar looking manor house nearby.
This is a boutique winery specialising in Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc. The Hemel-en-Aarde Valley is particularly suited to these varietals due to the clay soil and cool sea breeze, similar to those varietals’ wine regions in Northern France. Bouchard Finlayson’s Galpin Peak Pinot Noir (unfortunately not available for tasting) has won many an award and accolade, and helped them keep their reputation as one of the top wineries in South Africa.
If you want the private tasting with the wine maker, down the cellar, you will have to book ahead. There was a group there when we went and it certainly looked like a lot of fun in there.
If not, the rest of the tasting room also gives you the feel of being down in a cellar. Barrels and wine lieing in arches in the brick walls and a simple vase full of Proteas adorning the tasting tables.
The folk here are extremely friendly and accomodating – our group all tasted different wines and I think we managed to cover most of them.
While some preferred the Blanc De Mer, others frowned and declared the Hannibal the clear winner of the day, but all were considered very good wines.
Excellent wines and a lovely relaxing cellar experience.
A few wine notes below (compiled using everyone’s comments) …
SAUVIGNON BLANC RESERVE 2012
There is a small compliment of semillon in this wine and you can definitely notice it, there are no hard edges at all, it is utterly smooth. It has that slight bubble effect on your tongue. Lovely tropical flavours with a minerality that leaves some herb flavours lingering at the end.
BLANC DE MER 2012
This is a white wine blend, mainly Riesling, Viognier and Sav B with a few other smaller percentages. It is a light and enjoyable wine, a bit tart and acidic I thought, but a good summertime wine. It smells like fresh cut apples and has mango, apricot and vanilla flavours.
The Missionvale is quite similar to the Crocodile below but has spent slightly less time in the French Oak resulting in more honey aromas and melon and vanilla on the palate. Rich, but light flavours. We also thought it was a bit smoother than the Crocodile.
CROCODILE’S LAIR / “KAAIMANSGAT CHARDONNAY” 2010
This is a limited edition wine which has been 50% wooded, you can tell by the buttery nose. Even so the caramel flavours are not too overpowering and you get more of vanilla, cinnamon and spiced apples with a cream apricot sort of ending. A lovely Chardonnay!
GALPIN PEAK PINOT NOIR 2011
The Hemel & Aarde valley is very good to Pinot Noirs, I always seem to like them when I am there. This one was superb, the best I have tasted! A lighter, browner colour than the usual rich red you find in Pinots (could be the lighting), with quite serious legs. After 10 months in French Oak you definitely notice the floral and toasty wood aromas. It has lovely red berry, somewhere between a cranberry and a mulberry, flavours with quite earthy and dry finish. It is definitely more dark and robust than most Pinot Noirs. Delicious!
(R245 per bottle)
While the name scares me a little, this is actually an excellent wine. It was an all-round favourite. A blend of Sangiovese, Pinot Noir, Nebbiolo, Mourvedre, Barbera and Shiraz where the grapes have been separately fermented. It has a slightly browner hue to it with unusual, soft berry, foreign aromas. It smells like it’s not from around here, like something I would expect from Europe. It has minimal tannins, it is soft and yet somehow complex, light but still robust and very smooth with lovely berry flavours and a little spice. A well deserved 5* in the John Platter Guide. A lovely lovely wine! Excellent!
(R209 per bottle)
Another beautiful day in the Hemel-en-Aarde Valley… Love this part of the world!
BOUCHARD FINLAYSON WINERY
Valley Road, Hemel-en-Aarde Valley
Tel: +27 28 312 3515