6 Robertson wine estates that stimulate the senses

Posted by Christi Nortier on 5 April 2019

The Robertson Wine Valley is diverse and this is its strength – it can produce almost anything. This diversity has stimulated the creative juices of the local winemakers and the area offers a range of unique and interactive ways for visitors to learn about and enjoy wine.

Be prepared to taste, blend, hear stories of the land, and be welcomed into homes.

1. Sip, listen and see at Esona Boutique Wine Estate

Esona is made up of an old farm building and a modern elevated deli. Photo: Christi Nortier.

Esona is made up of an old farm building and a modern elevated deli. Photo: Christi Nortier

This boutique winery is run by husband-and-wife team Rowan and Caryl Beattie. It is their personal philosophy that wine cannot be fully enjoyed without some of the other senses being involved in tastings.

That’s why they developed their signature ‘Taste the Difference’ experience. Guests are led down into the kuips (underground cement fermentation tanks) which have been decorated with art, music and light to enrich the atmosphere of every wine you drink.

As you move between the wines, so the music and food pairing changes. Part of this experience is tasting the difference between two vintage versions of the same wine and between wine sipped from a Riedel and from an ‘ordinary’ wine glass. All this effort does, it turns out, make a difference.

The kuips make cosy interleading tasting rooms. Photo: Facebook.

The kuips make cosy inter-leading tasting rooms. Photo: Facebook

Where: Between Robertson and Bonnievale

Cost: The R160 price includes seven wines to taste paired with both a square of Lindt chocolate and a fruit preserve, plus you get to drink out of Riedel glasses shaped to enhance the aroma and flavour of each wine varietal – we didn’t know that was possible, either.

2. Forget biscuits and tea – pair biscuits with wine at Four Cousins

Four Cousins pairings can be appreciated by anyone and everyone. Photo: Christi Nortier.

Four Cousins pairings can be appreciated by anyone and everyone. Photo: Christi Nortier

When you next munch on your Baker’s Breakfast Biscuit or Zoo Biscuit, try to imagine which wine you would pair it with. Have you hit a blank? Not to worry. Four Cousins have figured it out and have designed more than 10 tastings to suit any palate.

There are tastings for those who like their wine sweet, skinny, without alcohol, or with bubbles. There is even whisky, beer, gin and cider. Expect to munch on, amongst others, a Melrose cheese triangle, a Sweetie Pie chcolate, biltong or Liquorice allsorts, reminding you that there’s a lighter side to wine.

Who knew that MCC and Melrose cheese would be such a good combination? Photo: Christi Nortier.

Who knew that MCC and Melrose cheese would be such a good combination? Photo: Christi Nortier

Where: Robertson

Cost: Between R65 and R100

3. Hear the extraordinary stories of Weltevrede’s winemaker

"My vision is for the wines of Weltevrede is to be a pure expression of the terroir in which it is rooted. Our wines should have personality dictated by the soil. It should have a sense of place," says Philip Jonker.

‘My vision is for the wines of Weltevrede is to be a pure expression of the terroir in which it is rooted. Our wines should have personality dictated by the soil. They should have a sense of place,’ says Philip Jonker.

A maze of archways broken into the walls of 80-year-old kuips leads to an underground tasting room illuminated by candles and gleaming champagne bottles gathering dust and age. The wines speak for themselves, but the stories of the man who makes them are just as captivating.

Listen to stories about winemaker Philip Jonker’s time spent teaching Ugandan nuns how to make their own communion wine, building a school for Bonnievale and harvesting and bottling a wine from the vines Madiba had planted on Robben Island. And yes, they did present a bottle to Mandela. It’s a slice of life, and a happy helping of fine wine.

To get to this tasting room, guests walk through a corridor built in the kuips which is illuminated only by candlelight. Photo: Facebook.

To reach this tasting room, guests walk through a corridor built in the kuips which is illuminated only by candlelight. Photo: Facebook

Where: Bonnievale

Cost: R120 per person to taste six wines

4. Appreciate Shiraz and ClemenGold Gin at Zandvliet

Leslie Sipambu, the manager of the Kalkveld Lounge, leads the blending experience at Zandvliet. Photo: Facebook.

Leslie Sipambu, the manager of the Kalkveld Lounge, leads the blending experience at Zandvliet. Photo: Facebook

Visitors have the privilege of blending their own red wine with Leslie Sipambu, the manager of the Kalkveld Lounge, or enjoy a perfectly balanced ClemenGold Gin on the land its citrus base is grown on. Down in the cellar you will taste, measure out and blend a wine that you get to dream up yourself. Don’t worry, Leslie gives advice all along and the maths is not complicated. Bottle it, cork it and style your own wax seal on the bottle you get to take home. ClemenGold citrus is grown on the property, so naturally a ClemenGold Gin should be toasted on the very soil it is “grown” on. Speaking of which, this estate bred the legendary racehorse, Pocket Power.

Where: Between Robertson and Ashton

Cost: R150 for the wine blending experience

5. Savor your own blended red on the banks of Excelsior’s dam

Enjoy a wine tasting on the deck stretching over the farm dam before you blend your own. Photo: Christi Nortier

Enjoy a wine tasting on the deck stretching over the Excelsior farm dam before you blend your own. Photo: Christi Nortier

At Excelsior, the views are always in sight whether you are tasting, blending or drinking your latest purchases. Start your adventure into their wine with a tasting on the deck stretching out over the farm’s dam. As you sip, you’ll have views of the Langeberg mountains, birdlife and vines. Step into the blending room to mix your own red from wooden barrels. Afterwards, there is no reason not to crack open a bottle on the lawns sweeping down to the water’s edge. The Graze @ Excelsior restaurant serves up farm fare under the umbrella of a fig tree.

Where: Between Robertson and Ashton.

Cost: R75 for the wine blending experience

6. Enjoy the bubbly life at Paul René MCC

Henk van Niekerk pours a glass of MCC on the stoep of his home near Robertson. Photo: Christi Nortier.

Henk van Niekerk pours a glass of MCC on the stoep of his home near Robertson. Photo: Christi Nortier

Paul René MCC was started because of Henk van Niekerk’s love of the philosophy and lifestyle of bubbly – that of celebration. ‘We always strive to be happier than the day before, and bubbles make that easier,’ says Van Niekerk.

Together with his wife Monica, he started this line of bubbly named after their first son. Their chardonnay and pinot noir grapes are planted on Monica’s family farm, Wonderfontein, and the tasting room is nestled between the homes of the different parts of the family, swimming pools and rolling lawns.

A visit to this farm is to step into their lives and philosophy – with a view of blue mountains, green vines and glittering bubbles.

Monica van Niekerk designed the MCC's branding and bottling. Photo: Christi Nortier.

Monica van Niekerk designed the MCC’s branding and bottling. Photo: Christi Nortier

Where: Just outside of Robertson

Cost: From R50, by appointment only

Shimmering bubbles, blue mountains and green vines at Wonderfontein Estate, the home of Paul René MCC. Photo: Christi Nortier.

Shimmering bubbles, blue mountains and green vines at Wonderfontein Estate, the home of Paul René MCC. Photo: Christi Nortier

 

Also read about how Tyson Jopson learnt how to drink wine in Robertson

Get a sneak peak into the Hands on Harvest Festival or the Robertson Slow Festival


Images: Christi Nortier

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