The Robertson Wine Valley offers some sparkly gems when it comes to wine. The area is particularly well suited for Chardonnay and Shiraz, and you have to stock up on fortified wine and Muscat on your visit. While you’re sipping your way through some delicious wines, you can also look forward to really fun tasting experiences. I attended a media weekend a while back that took us around the valley for tastings by candlelight, pairings with citrus, wine glasses, music, and even one where I got try wine with a Zoo Cookie.
Here are a few really fun tastings to try on your next trip.
Try a citrus and wine pairing at Zandvliet
Zandvliet has recently opened their new tasting room and it is a gorgeous space, with a roaring fire on one end that makes it particularly welcoming during the winter months (although I hear it is also a cool retreat from the sweltering heat in summer).
Zandvliet does an interesting pairing where they match various citrus bites with their wines, including marmalade, chocolate and biscotti.
Try the Estate Chardonnay with their ClemenGold marmalade and see if you can pick up the enhanced citrus notes in the wine. Or sip their very yummy Kalkveld Shiraz with a nibble of the citrus chocolate, which amplifies the bitter coco and fresh citrus flavours.
I particularly loved the Zandvliet Vintage Liqueur Wine Shiraz 2013, a fortified wine that is paired with their Panforté (so good!). I loved how the chocolate added a sweetness to the wine, and the wine again brought balance. And finally you’ll get to try their My Best Friend Muscat with biscotti, which gets dunked in the wine. Yes, like tea and biscuits only better.
All their wines and treats are available at the tasting room so it is definitely worth stopping by (they also make a delicious gin that’s worth tasting). They’re also opening a new underground space that will add to your experience.
The ClemenGold and Wine pairing costs R65 and you have to be at least 2 people. For more, head to zandvliet.co.za
Go underground at Weltevrede
A couple of farms in this area offer tastings in underground tunnels, where they’ve transformed old concrete tanks into intimate tasting rooms. At Zandvliet you can enjoy an art viewing while sipping on their wines. Or try a music, Riedel glass and wine pairing at Esona.
My personal favourite experience is at Weltevrede, though, where you do a candlelight tasting, completely isolated from the outside world. Try a selection of their premium wines including The Poet’s Prayer, Bedrock Black Syrah and Oupa se Wyn while listening to all the stories about the farm. The absence of noise, light and distractions like cellphones means you can really hone in on the flavours in the wine. You can read more about that experience here.
The underground tasting at Weltevrede costs R100pp and you have to be at least four people. For more info contact them on 023 616 2141 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Blend your own wine at Excelsior
This is a fun new trend that is taking off in the wine world. When you visit Excelsior you can taste their Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot from the Reserve Range, and from there you can create your own blend. They have a few suggestions for you to follow but you are free to taste and adjust until you feel you’ve created a masterpiece. You even get to create your own label to go on the bottle. It’s a fun way to make the experience more engaging and interactive.
This wine blending experience is also super affordable, costing only R70 pp including a bottle of wine to take home in the end.
For more info, visit excelsior.co.za
Taste the difference at Esona
What you hear, smell and taste all contributes to your experience with wine. Esona does a really lovely Taste the Difference experience with Riedel glasses, where they show you how a proper wine glass influences aroma and taste, compared to a standard bar wine glass. Upon that they offer two vintages of each wine to showcase the ageing potential. If you thought you can’t age white wines like Sauvignon Blanc, think again!
You’ll also get to pair the wine with some preserves and chocolates, and they’ve created a special music playlist with specific genres that complement the individual wines. So all in all they’re showing you how various sensory stimuli can influence the taste of the wine.
Esona also does some nice cheese platters that you can enjoy on their deck upstairs, a perfect spot to take in the stunning views of the valley.
The Taste the Difference experience costs R130pp and they require at least four people at a time. For more, visit esona.co.za
Discover the lighter side of wine tasting at Four Cousins
Wine tasting can be such a serious business. All that sniffing and whiffing and talk of pencil shavings and forest floor aromas. If you’re keen for a more lighthearted approach, head to the new Four Cousins tasting room. The venue itself is stunning, and you can do all sorts of fun food and wine combinations. Their Family Pairing for instance teams up the original Four Cousins range with fun treats like Liquorice allsorts, Turkish Delight and Zoo Cookies (it actually works really well!). Or try their Scottish Cousin whisky pairing with treats like nougat, toffee and a sweetie pie. These are just two options, there area loads to choose from.
The Four Cousins tasting room also has a really nice restaurant that offers a wide variety of comforting food options. I can definitely vouch for the pizzas, but everything that came out of the kitchen looked delicious.
The wine pairings are R55pp. For more info, visit fourcousins.co.za
Do you know about any other interesting wine tasting experiences in the Robertson / Bonnievale area? Pop them in the comments below, I would love to hear from you.