Despite growing up and studying Stellenbosch, I am constantly discovering new spots in the wine valley, tucked behind the popular tourist routes. The smaller wine estates often offer the really unique and special experiences. The wines speak of a passion for the craft, and the food in the restaurants is wholesome, generous and homely. These are the places where you linger.
I’ll confess Bellevue Estate wasn’t exactly on my radar until they sent me an invitation to a media event. If you’re in the upper wine circles, however, you’ll probably recognise them as one of the leading producers of Pinotage – our unique South African grape varietal.
Bellevue is situated in the Bottelary region outside Stellenbosch, run by General Manager and viticulturist Dirkie Morkel. The estate was established all the way back in 1701, and they still have their original Cape Dutch homestead built in 1803, as well as a 155 year old signal canon. While their main focus is Pinotage, they actually produce fourteen different wine grape varieties on the farm.
Say hello to the new Bellevue Estate Restaurant & Tasting Room
The estate recently introduced a restaurant and wine tasting area, which will allow general folk like myself to discover their extensive range. The new restaurant has taken up one of the historic wings of the cellar, done in a country chic style with a large terrace leading onto the lawns. It is a gorgeous space to relax on a sunny afternoon.
The menu consists of comforting classics, from wood-fired pizzas to beer-battered fish & chips, burgers, steak and pork belly ribs. They also have a small selection of salads and one or two dishes that are suitable for vegetarians.
We tried a few dishes created especially for the event, and everything was hearty, generous and beautifully prepared. Our dessert/cheese course, which is also on their menu, was a decadent, oozy Whole Baked Winelands Camembert served with walnuts and honey, and slivers of toasted ciabatta. Just be careful when first cutting into it – it tends to pop. We paired this with the Bellevue Estate Malbec 2014, another beautiful wine that I can highly recommend.
Price wise they’re also really decent, with salads and starters from R65, and mains reaching up to R190.
Parents will also be happy to know that the restaurant is kid friendly and they even have a special menu for the little ones.
Try the Bellevue 1953 Pinotage
The real reason for our visit was the launch of the Bellevue 1953 Pinotage 2016. The wine derives its name from the particular vineyard that was planted in 1953, cultivated as dry land for the past 64 years – that means small berries and concentrated flavours. They only installed drip irrigation in May 2017 to compete with current dry spells.
The wine is a really delicious example of this proudly South African varietal, delivering aromas of plums and maraschino cherries on the nose, and a fruity palette. I would even recommend cooling it down slightly below room temperature.
It is available to purchase directly from the Tasting Room at R525 per bottle.
Bellevue Estate is situated on the Bottelary Road, Koelenhof, Stellenbosch. For more info, visit bellevue.co.za
Pictures: Liezel Malherbe; Supplied