Tasting the Swartland

This weekend was a good one for the explorer team.  Well it must’ve been to force me to get up off my lazy butt and actually compose a blog entry.

On Saturday we were lucky enough to be taken along to an invite-only wine tasting at the Sadie Family wine estate in the Swartland. The Photog and I have become increasingly interested/obsessed with wines and wine tasting since I gave him the awesome gift of a wine course you can complete in the comfort of your home, from Under the Influence (great course by the by).

It helped me make sense of all the ‘poncy’ wine talk, tasting notes and what people really mean when they say “this wine has a good nose”.

Sadie Family Wines have the best white blend in the country, as voted by the John Platter guide, Palladius. So my taste buds and I were pretty excited on Saturday morning.

I’ve never been to the Swartland before; in fact I didn’t know it even was a wine region (Cape newbie over here). It is beautiful, and so peaceful.  No crowds of tourists seeing how many wine farms they can fit into one drunken afternoon. No signs advertising ‘free’ tastings or great restaurants.  Just little dirt tracks leading up to simply elegant wine farms.

The tasting was a sneak preview of this year’s vintages, divided up into the old vine series and the flagship series; the Palladius and their red blend the Collumela.

The winemakers are two brothers Eben and Nico Sadie, and they are a fresh, unconventional breath in the wine industry.  Eben believes in creating wines that aren’t like anything else.  He wants to make wines that perfectly express where they come from and that year’s vintage.

All of their wines are blends and contain quite a few varietals I’ve never tasted.  The old vine series was delicious, and the Palladius lived up to its hype. The signature red Collumela was beautiful as well and would age so well, if I can just get the Photog to buy me a bottle to start our wine cellar.

After a lovely afternoon of tasting, chatting and nosing we headed to the nearby town of Riebeek Kasteel to get in some rugby time and eat a good meal to soak up our efforts.

We paid a visit to the Royal Hotel where the locals were filling up the bar to watch the game. The hotel is a refurbished 19th century colonial, complete with verandah, cane furniture and palm fronds. And it has a great barman, Job, who will make you the best Gin and Tonic you will ever taste.  Hendricks Gin with cucumber, elegantly served and the perfect ending to a day of wine tasting.

South Africa won (yay) and we finished our day at Bar Bar Black Sheep. It has a reputation for being one of the best bistros in the winelands and I couldn’t agree with this assessment more. The décor is a rustic hodge podge of old furniture, framed recipes, eccentric paintings and a gigantic vinyl covered fridge. All the ingredients in their dishes are locally grown and organic and you can taste it.

We shared a delicious Fisherman’s Lunch Tin to start, which made me so glad that I have gotten over my dislike of sardines. On a side note the baked lemon is meant to be eaten, if you like, I tried it and well it wasn’t for me. Three of us had pies, chicken and springbok, which were baked to perfection with tender and juicy filings. The Photog had the risotto to be different (and to give me the opportunity to taste something else). I’m glad he did, the crispy, baked balls of rice combined with the tomato sauce and cheese was worthy of quite a few stolen mouthfuls. We were too full for the rhubarb pie – when last did you see that on a menu? But I’m not worried, I know we will be back and I will arrive hungry (after a G&T or two across the road).

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