We had another beautiful, relaxing weekend in Sandbaai last week. Board games, early morning sea swims, beach walks and braais. The Hemel & Aarde Valley is also so close and stunning, we usually manage to pop into at least one wine farm. On this particular weekend, we decided instead to explore the Stanford area – thanks to Lanalou Style for the inspiration. What a quaint little town! The main road (Queen Victoria Street) can’t be longer than 200m and yet it is full of stunning little shops and eateries. The local market was happening on the Saturday too with some scrumptious looking eats from Hovercrafts restaurant as well as other homemade treats and fresh produce.
After a stroll down the main street we headed to the surrounding winelands, first stop being Birkenhead Estate and Brewery. We actually wanted to go to Brunia (having previously won their wines at a cricket festival), but decided not to after realising it is a bit further out of town than we thought and along a fair stretch of gravel road. Perhaps next time if we make a weekend of it, I would stay at Brunia and enjoy their wines and estate activities. On to Birkenhead – although you can do wine tasting, we opted for the beer tasting after reading an article about Birkenhead being one of the upcoming breweries to visit. It is a lovely spot, beautifully positioned to look onto the mountains, tables and benches spread across the lawn and resident husky dogs who are very friendly. Personally the decor reminded me a little of an old school hotel dining room, but maybe that’s how they would like to create the relaxed environment. Worth a stop, if you want to sit outside and enjoy the view with a cold one. For the beer tasting you are supposed to start with the light colours and go darker, but we went the other way thinking we would save the ones we prefer for last. I think in doing so, we may have carried a bit of the malt flavour across all the beers, but nevertheless. The Honey Blonde was an interesting taste, slight banana essence vibe to it – but still nice. The Malt Stout smelt just like marmite and had some coffee flavours in it. The Pilsner was definitely the favourite as well as the special blend (you’ll have to ask the waiter what makes up the blend when you visit). It’s always fun to do a beer tasting, even if it’s not your first choice of beverage.
Our next stop was Sir Robert Stanford Wine Farm – what a treat! We’ll definitely be back and hopefully for lunch at Madre’s Kitchen next time. It has that awesome family farmhouse feel to it, with pretty gardens and a dam full of ducks. Madre’s kitchen menu looks superb and the restaurant is just so inviting, especially for a long leisurely lunch. We decided we’ll have to bring a bunch of people back with us to enjoy an afternoon there next time. This time we just perused through “ONS WINKEL“, the lovely little country shop on the estate and enjoyed a wine tasting.
The wine shop is a quaint, cosy room with two tables, two couches, a short bar counter and a floor to ceiling window overlooking the farm and Stanford village. It was a really lovely wine tasting, relaxing in their quiet country-style. The wines were really enjoyable too. Interestingly, their grapes are grown on the farm and therefore have all the benefits of the sea breezes and mountain slopes, but the wines are actually made by Johan Joubert at Kleine Zalze in Stellenbosch.
Sir Robert Stanford is quite a historic figure in the area and there are a few history books you can page through while tasting. The entry level wines go by the name of Cutter’s Cove. Robert Stanford used to ship fresh produce from his Estate to Cape Town in his own cutter from Stanford Cove, hence the name. We only tried the red today, the Cutter’s Cove 2012 Shiraz Viognier which is a good balance of blackcurrant fruit and french oak spice, smoothed out by the Viognier. Easy drinking and above your average entry level wine, at a good price. We took two bottles home with us for the braai that evening.
With regard to the Sir Robert Stanford wines, I thought the 2012 Sauvignon Blanc (John PLatter 4*) was deliciously smooth, smelt like summer and tasted like floral fruits. E preferred the 2013 Chenin Blanc which was more citrusy with a hint of wood, also quite delicious. The 2013 Rosé has a Sparberry red colour and is full of berries with a dry finish from the 100% Shiraz composition. The 2012 Pinot Noir the was really nice! Darker than usual, still quite young, with typical light earthy notes, toasted pecans and a rubbery dry finish – perfect for a chicken pasta. The 2010 Shiraz (John Platter 4*) has a purple-red hue, the aromas are the type that will take you back to the farm next time you drink it at home. The spice gives it a bit of a Cab Sav feel, but still the purpleness of a Shiraz – delicious! We love a good Shiraz. The flagship is a Bordeaux Blend (not uncommon in the Western Cape), the 2010 Hansom, which is surprisingly fruity and extremely smooth, definitely a wine that you can keep on your rack for a few years. It gets better with each taste and I am sure with each year. It smells like an underground cellar tour, dust and wood. There is something metallic or sharp olive flavoured in the aftertaste that we couldn’t quite pinpoint. It Certainly grows on you and will probably be surperb with a good steak, but the Shiraz was our favourite of the day.
If you are in the Hermanus/Stanford I would definitely recommend popping in to this wine farm, it is quite lovely!
BIRKENHEAD ESTATE & BREWERY
R326, Stanford, Western Cape
Tel: +27 28 341 0013
ROBERT STANFORD WINE ESTATE
R43 (Road to Gansbaai), Stanford
Tel: +27 28 341 0647