SA Winery Visit #3 — Solms Delta

After the 2nd winery, we put the bikes away and took a long enough drive (as in too far to ride) to Solms Delta.

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Here we started with their Vastrap, a white which is a blend of Chenin Blanc and Semillon.  It was a dry white, nothing to write home about.  R50.

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Next we went to the Amalie, which is a blend of Viognier, Roussanne and Grenache.  Smells like chard, has some oak flavors, but I would characterize it as a ‘light’ chard.  R110.

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Third one presented was the Lekkerwijn, which means ‘nice’ or ‘yummy’ wine.  It’s a blend of Mourvedre, Grenache Noir and Viognier and is a Rose.  It was sweet and not great.  R55.

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Reds, finally reds!!!  Langarm, pronounced Long-arm, a blend of four varietals — Pinotage, Touriga Nacional, Shiraz and Mourvedre.  The nose had tobacco and was sweet.  The taste was light and peppery.  R55.

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Next red was one I look for a lot and can be hard to find — sparkling Shiraz.  This one is their Cape Jazz Shiraz.  Subtle, fruity, per them. Light, refreshing, 9.9% alcohol.  Yes, oh yes.  I left with a bottle.  R580.

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We then hit a fortified wine, the Gemoedsrus, made with a Shiraz grape.  The style ‘An entirely new concept in port-style wine; Shiraz desiccated on the vine, then fortified with Shiraz grappa.’  18.5% alcohol, NICE and SMOOTH.  R150.

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Finally we sampled an experimental wine, Perry, a lightly sparkling pear fermented beverage, 6% ABV.  Crisp and refreshing.  The problem here is that you could not taste any alcohol so you could easily just be sitting outside enjoying this on a beautiful summer day and that bottle would be gone quickly…and you would be too…without realizing it.  R50.

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Three down, and since we had such a small group, our guide made sure we hit one more winery before the day was done!

 

SA Winery Visit #2 — Franschhoek Cellar

To get to our 2nd winery, we only had to ride about 5K from the first.  Not too shabby.  Still very scenic!

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This next winery we visited was Franschhoek Cellar.

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For the tasting, we got to pick six to sample from the entire menu (versus being given specific wines).  That was great because between the entire three of us on the tour, we were able to taste almost everything!  And off we went.

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Statue de Femme Sauvignon Blanc — In the top 10 last year.  Light and crisp.  Another typical SA bargain at R50.

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La Cotte Mill Chenin Blanc — Tropical, pineapple taste.  R40!  Really, $4 for a bottle.  Love this place.  Note on the dates on the back labels, they write day/month, versus how we do month/day.

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Club Hose Rose – a blend of Pinotage, Shiraz and Cab.  The best way I can describe it would be powdery rose petals.  GREAT!!!!  R40.

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The Old Museum Merlot — Very berry-y.  NICE, for a Merlot.  There seemed to be quite a difference in SA Merlots.  I don’t normally like them but down there they are quite unique!  R50.

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Stone Bridge Pinotage — Nice, light and smoky, oh yes.  R50.

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The Churchyard Cabernet Sauvignon – Thick, chocolate, tobacco are the best notes to describe this one. R50.

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Last but not least was a limited release.  The Franschhoek Vineyards Shiraz, cellar door exclusive, no info about it anywhere except on the tasting sheet.  “The Shiraz grapes for this wine are from one of the highest most rugged vineyard sites in Franschhoek with singular personality and expression that compelled our winemaker Richard Duckitt to go to great lengths to preserve the tremendous concentration and purity of fruit in this exemplary Franschhoek wine.” — ‘sweet’, thick and smooth. R100.

Mid-way through this tasting after everything was poured, lunch was served and we were able to take our glasses outside to enjoy some great food and drink in the amazing weather.

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SA Winery Visit #1 — Moreson

While in South Africa, one of the days was dedicated to a cycling winery tour.  Sunny, 70s, paved and dirt roads, many grapes, heaven on earth!

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Our first winery of the day was Moreson.   To get there, we had about a 12K ride from our starting point.  Wine was in order!  It was a beautiful outdoor setting with fountains, ponds, little rivers and just a great atmosphere.

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To start the tasting, we enjoyed some bubbly, their One Chardonnay Pinot Noir, which I would describe as a perfect balance between Champagne and Prosecco.  Amazing!  And of course you can only buy it in South Africa (for a rough R126 — about $12!)

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We were given a second round of bubbly, this time Solitaire Blanc de Blancs.  I would describe this as green apples, sharp and crisp, NICE!  Another steal at R110.

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We then progressed from bubbles to the regular stuff.  Our first one was a white, the Dr. Reason Why Unwooded Chardonnay.  Love the name!  Though unoaked, there was a bit of light cream taste.  R89.

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Round 4 of the tasting brought about another Chard, this time the Mercator Premium Chardonnay.  The nose had notes of lemon, lime and toast.  The taste — NICE!  It had a light toast taste but not like a ‘true’ chard (to me — saying this as not a big chard fan).  R168.

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Last but not least is what I love about South Africa the most — Pinotage.  The sinful, powerful, delicious, perfect cross of Pinot Noir and Hermitage.  Have your ever wondered how it came about?  Here’s the quick history lesson on Pinotage.  Thanks Wikipedia!  This brought out all the characteristics of the varietal I expected — smoky and smooth…ahh, what a pour!  R168.

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This was a great start to the winery tour.  Once done, we hopped back on our bikes to the next one…about 5K away.

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Beers from SA and nearby

Not only does South Africa have amazing wine to offer but they have quite a few brews for one to enjoy.  There were many opportunities to sample ales, lagers and more and add some names to my list.

My first, and ultimate favorite, was Carling Black Label.  A bit dark and smooth.  Apparently it’s the biggest selling and most awarded beer brand in SA.

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The most common beer seen and available was Castle Lager.  Light, crisp, refreshing.  After that, Windhoek came around a lot.  This one is from Namibia.  Another light beer.

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Beer has the same health notes as wine.

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On a sunset cruise (while watching rhinos yawn and elephants swim across the river), I tried the Bohlinger’s Lager, made with maize, malt, hops and water.  Pretty simple, just another light lager.  This one is from Zimbabwe, and I was enjoying while in its country, near Victoria Falls.

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The trip also brought a Golden Pilsener.  The label says it’s Zimbabwe’s premier Pils, but per the site it’s brewed in Czech.  It had a unique taste for a pils, just ‘off’ but still good.

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There was also a Zambezi Lager to be sampled.  Fairly traditional lager taste, but fairly light.

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And finally, a cider, the Savanna Cider.  Not super sweet, just dry, which was very nice!

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Non-Domestic Flights/Airline = Free (Amazing) Wine

I have been MIA from blogging for a bit because I spent the last two weeks in South Africa (with a couple days at the end in Zimbabwe at Victoria Falls).  Amazing!  From scenery to culture…to food and wine (and some beer).  I was already expecting an amazing trip but it got even better on the first flight (of 8 over the course of the vacation) with the wine.  As many of us are used to paying for anything other than maybe water on flights (apparently some airlines charge for soda now), it was nice to have the hope of freedom when preparing for a long flight.  So as the flight attendant came around and asked what I’d like, there were various selections, all from South Africa (darn!) and I opted for one of the reds, a Merlot.  I don’t normally lean towards that grape, but why not, it’s free!  So, out came the bottle.  Oh, and before she moved on, she threw another one out there.  Most people were handed several bottles of wine on round 1.  Go South African Airways.  The Merlot was from Stormhoek.  WOW, that did not taste like a Merlot.  Unreal.  I wish I had scribbled some notes down but it just had some unique characteristics.  Their website doesn’t have a ton of info on where we could attempt to find this stuff here.  Darn!

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All alcoholic beverages had messages on the container, which of course are for safety reasons (took pics of most of them).  But this one is the best, and for good reason.  It was on this bottle of Merlot.

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Yes!  Because it tastes SO GOOD!

Another wine sampled just labeled what the trip and the country brought/bring — JOY.  It was a Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve.  Amazing, amazing.  14.5% alcohol — few SA wines go low on alcohol content.  The winery works with a social upliftment project in a local town to improve the lives of residents (see label below).  Can’t find any information on the web about the vintner.  If you happen to come across something, please let me know!

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As the flights progressed, you find out you also get free wine on domestic flights…ahh.  So nice.  So, while going from safari to Cape Town, it was mid-day and I opted for a white and received a Chenin Blanc, Flutterby.  Nice and crisp, fruity.

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Other mid-day flights brought the perfect time to sample some Chardonnay, Liberty Chardonnay to be precise.  It was a traditional Chard, oaked, buttery.  Tough to track down the exact site for this one, too.

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These guys also make a fun sparkling wine.  It has a screw top, which makes it easy to open on the plane!

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On my last flight, back to the US, I had an amazing blend from Spier 1692.  It was Classic Red with Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot and Malbec.  Amazing all around.

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Great way to taste a wide variety of local wine while not on the ground.  Love what South Africa has to offer!

The Tasting Room

DC, March, temps in the 30s, rain and snow.  Ugh.  Call for wine.  I introduced a friend to a local wine shop — The Tasting Room Wine Bar & Shop, owned by Boxwood Estate Winery.

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It’s one of those great wine bars where you buy a card, put money on it and then you can sample 1, 3 or 5 oz. pours of wine.  So many ways to explore the vino!  Let the sipping begin.

I always try to go with something new so my first taste was the Monga Zin Old Vine Zinfandel by Carol Shelton from California  Very nice!  A bit fruity, very aromatic with spices and smooth.  Would recommend it.

 

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Next I opted for a taste of Vinaceous’ 2011 Snake Charmer Shiraz.  Nice.  Definitely a traditional Shiraz from Australia, can’t go wrong.

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Oddly, I wrapped up the day with a quick sip of white (vs. starting with that).  Went with 2011 Malma Sauvignon Blanc from Argentina.  Light body, not much taste/flavor to it.  Not worth writing home about it.  But, I’ll blog about it, right?

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So many wines to pick from there, will be interested to see what I opt for next sampling time around.

Eno

Checked out a (new to me) wine bar in Georgetown (DC) last week — Eno.  It’s part of a national chain with other locations in San Francisco, Chicago, and Southern California.

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They have a both a wine and food menu (oh, beer, too, if needed).  They serve wine in flights and by the glass.  Oh, they have wine on tap, too ($5 during Happy Hour).  They had a special on that day for a blind flight.  If you could identify all three wines you received 10% off.  I had to try it.  I got 1 of 3 right — a very earthy Pinot from Oregon.  They only way I guessed it was from how light it was, color and body-wise.  Otherwise the flight had a Bordeaux and another old world wine I could never have placed.

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Food-wise we went for some amazing olives, a variety of meats and some delicious pizza.

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I would definitely recommend giving Eno a try.  Many options from food to wine and great service!