I was meant to be in Victoria Falls this month, riding a stream train across the great bridge, sipping champagne as the sun set over a majestic backdrop but, alas, a catering truck ran into the plane and grounded the fleet permanently. Which precipitated an emergency midweek, mini-break into the Winelands. It’s not easy being a writer, you know.
We booked into Gooding’s Grove, a fully functional olive farm on the outskirts of Franschhoek. The romantic Tuscan farmhouse feel lends a certain Stealing Beauty charm and the manageress, Mareaze, is an absolute star. Their breakfasts (which are open to the public so you can indulge even if you’re staying elsewhere) are the proverbial cherry, making any stay memorable – I’m still craving those fluffy omelettes and delicious homemade muesli.
Franschhoek is the perfect place to eat… and drink! Day one saw us meandering through the quaint village, stopping regularly for coffee, chocolates, cheese and wine – before returning to sit beside the pool, sipping long glasses of chilled Plaisir de Merle Chardonnay while we read and the sun set. Life’s tough in the country. The weather turned on day two so we ditched our hiking and biking plans in favour of the car’s secure warmth and drove over the mountain to soak up the magnificent scenery. Glancing up at the brooding clouds indicated an afternoon road trip into the Overberg was in order. And I had just the place for in mind a long, languid lunch …
We drove through pretty patchwork fields until the road ran out and we found ourselves on the dusty Hemel-en-Aarde ‘grof pad’, descending into the blue crane and vine valley where Creation nestles. By far one of my favourite food/wine tasting wine farms because it has all the trappings: breath-taking views, stylish decor, passionate owners, skilled staff, elegant wines and mouth-watering meals. They also source most of their produce locally; making them a wine farm with heart, integrity and light carbon foot (grape?) print.
Massive glass windows allow you to soak up uninterrupted vista’s of vine, mountain and water. Comfortable chairs invite you to kick back and relax as you lazily sniff, sip and savour a range of heavenly nectars. Their staff are top-notch and incredibly knowledgeable about the wines which makes the leisurely experience wholly enjoyable. You have two main choices when it comes to meals: indulge in a multi-course paired canapé/tapa’s menu or order à la carte. I’m privileged to have done both.
Tapas tasting can easily take over an hour over weekends: you quickly lose touch of time as mouthfuls of unique, fabulous flavours (like duck and sour cherry pie, bobotie spring rolls or chorizo espanadita) are met with the perfect glass, creating an earthy match – made in heaven. Your friendly waitron-sommelier walks you through interesting facts and facets of both wine and food. All in all, a blissful way to wile away a Sunday.
This time, I ordered the slow roasted springbok pie which was so tender and full of subtle game flavours I can safely say it’s worth driving an hour out of Cape Town for! And having already had the ‘paired’ experience, it made for an interesting comparative as I noted how each wine ‘behaved’ against a standard taste. Now I could wax lyrical about almost every one of their wines, given the depth and careful complexity that’s been cleverly crafted into each cultivar. But that would take a long time and ultimately, you’re better off experiencing it yourself, glass in hand. So then, my top 3:
I’m predominantly a red wine girl, hence when it comes to whites, it’s all about chardonnay. Creation’s 2011 is subtly wooded, sun-kissed honey on the nose with hints of spiced fruits (vanilla-pear) on the tongue.
Reminiscent of a young, vivacious blonde in a short, summer dress. Perfect to pack for a beach stroll – so beautifully light and balanced you can quaff a bottle before sunset.
I was literally blown away by the Merlot, a worthy companion for that delectable venison pie. It’s earthy and lusciously complex: warm spices tickle the nose while dark chocolates and a hint of red berries tantalize the palate. A mysterious aroma of eucalyptus (taking me back to the winter comfort of Vick’s Medinite) arose later, impressing me with the layered nature of this red. Much like a good perfume, Creation’s wines develope to display a fine range notes for both nose and mouth.
A brunette with a high IQ wearing an elegant black evening gown. Take her to the opera or enjoy over a red meat meal (the wine not the woman).
Now, I’m really not much a Syrah fan. I generally find them big, brash and a little tacky (they also remind me of one particularly psychotic ex-boyfriend) for my taste. But Creation’s mastery turns this cultivar into a somewhat more serious and stylish red with a gentle nose but feisty, full bodied maraschino cherry and white pepper palate.
Here’s an auburn haired lass you take game viewing on horseback in autumn. Drink beside a blazing fire with biltong and Cuban cigar.
Other notables are their Pinot Noir and Bordeaux style blend (Merlot, Cab Sav and Petit Verdot). If you like whites, you’ll find their Sauvignon Blanc wonderfully refreshing. They also do a mean flat white, a boon for caffeine fiends like me.
Creation uses Riedel glasses to showcase their wines – and you’d be amazed what a difference clear cut crystal and an appropriately shaped vessel make to complex wines like these. Not only are these goblets beautiful to behold (oh yes, I’d love to own a set) but bouquets are fuller and flavours, more readily released. Using one excellent product in conjunction another creates a remarkable synergy, allowing the full bounty of nose, palate and mouth feel complexities to come to the fore. Ultimately, the mark of any master is the ability to achieve that fine balance. And this, surely, is the art of Creation.
To book a stay at Gooding’s Grove olive farm click here.
For loads of great, affordable accommodation options in an around Franschhoek, check out Getaway’s accommodation site.
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