Situated just far enough along the Franschhoek Pass to afford beautiful views of this prime wine valley, the grounds on which you’ll find Haute Cabrière have been producing wines for over 300 years. Pierre Jourdan was one of the first French Huguenot wine makers to land himself a piece of soil in the Franschhoek Valley, and Haute Cabrière’s wine makers still produce these, very sought after, wines.
But today, I’d like to tell you more about Haute Cabrière’s own wines and what a wonderful experience it is to visit the place where they come from. And what better way to start a sunny afternoon in Franschhoek than with three suit-and-tied business men making a rather conspicuous landing in their private helicopter. Yes, the area of grass on top of the cellar roof doubles as a landing ground for just this.
Walking around to the front of the cellar, you first notice the sweeping view over the valley and then realised that, on a clear day like this one, those tasting wines and those dining at the esteemed Cellar Restaurant, can spend the entire afternoon taking in the view. Large wine barrels double as tables for the outside tasting area while the neatly dressed restaurant tables enjoy exactly the same view, just a little more shaded.
Unfortunately, Franschhoek can get rather chilly too, especially in these months, and you’ll be happy to know that the tasting room boasts a cosy fireplace and couches while the restaurant has a very large indoor area and soft, warm lighting.
The building itself is crafted from stone with the curved ceiling extending down to become the walls and pillars. This rustic interior is combined with crisp white tablecloths and smart silver cutlery. And as we’re on the topic of interiors, do treat yourself with a trip to the bathroom, whether you need to or not. The stairs lead down into a spiral, with a low roof and abruptly ends against a gate, almost like a dungeon. But what you see on the other side of the steel bars are rows of beautiful barrels, quietly maturing the wines you’re enjoying upstairs.
I decided to not only taste the wines, but also taste the Cellar Restaurant’s food. The restaurant was recently named one of Newsweek’s Top 100 hundred restaurants in the world, one of only two South African restaurants to make it onto the list. This was all the reason I needed and the specially prepared, Table d’Haute lunch, offered every afternoon at the Cellar Restaurant, was therefore an easy choice. The lunch consists of four courses, specially created by the chef using the freshest ingredients available on the day, and paired with Haute Cabrière three wines and a tasty dessert wine from the Pierre Jourdan range.
The 2012 Chardonnay Pinot Noir was released only the day before my visit and what a treat it was to enjoy this deliciously light, brand new wine along with a parsnip and cumin soup. The Unwooded Pinor Noir is something one doesn’t see very often, but it’s a fantastic, light red that also worked brilliantly with our smoked tomato and salmon pasta. Their final wine, the 2008 Pinor Noir, complemented a risotto and crispy pork perfectly, with a heavier, more complex taste. Our walnut and prune pudding and coffee and tea (with cubed sugar) rounded the meal off perfectly.
The lovely thing about these Table d’Haute meals, is that the folks at the farm decided to make them accessible to everyone, purely because they feel that lunch is has become a neglected event in our lives and people should spend more time enjoying them at leisure, while the sun is shining and the beautiful valley is open for admiration. The Table d’Haute lunch costs R250 with wines and R150 without, an excellent price and perfect excuse to try one of the world’s best restaurants.
Something else that Haute Cabrière and Pierre Jourdan specialise in, is Pinot Noir. Over weekends they offer a five course Pinot Noir Tasting Menu, also in the Cellar Restaurant. Here you’ll learn all about what Pinot Noire is, taking a journey through from wooded to MCC, enjoying cuisine that brings out the individual tastes and leaving with a full understanding of the art of Pinot Noir. Enjoy these events on Friday or Saturday evening, or for a Sunday lunch at R495 a person (wine included).
Even though we’re in the middle of winter, weekends at Haute Cabrière get busy, so book your seat to avoid disappointment. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to secure your place and enjoy a wonderful afternoon of wine, views and world-class cuisine.