Tuesday, October 9, 2012
Visiting the Cape South Coast Wine Region and Gabrielskloof Winery, South Africa
Sunday, Sept. 23, 2012 – My alarm did not go off, so I barely managed to throw on some clothes, pack my suitcase, and wolf down some eggs before we boarded the bus at 9am to drive to Elgin. This is about an hour outside of Capetown to the southeast and is part of the Cape South Coast Wine area. In addition to Elgin, it encompasses Bot River and all of the sub-pockets of Walker Bay, and is considered to be the coolest wine growing region in South Africa. It’s wine are known for the freshness and high acids.
Baboons the in Mountains
On the drive we passed over some high mountains filled with large grey rocks and protea bushes with red and yellow blooms. It was a cloudy day with light sprinkles, but the mountains and view were still very dramatic and beautiful. The bus passed several baboons along the road, including a family with babies. They apparently enjoy living in rocky areas, and will beg food from tourists who stop to picnic. There are many warnings about not feeding the baboons because they can become violent and then have to be shot. Apparently they are also pests in the vineyard where they eat the sweet grapes around harvest time.
Tasting and Lunch at Gabrielskloof Winery
I enjoyed all of the chardonnays and Chenin blancs from the region, as well as one Riesling from Spioenkop 2011, but the pinot noirs were truly exceptional. My favorites, in addition to the Hamilton-Russell 2010 again were Bouchard Finlayson 2011, La Vierge 2010, and Domaine des Dieux 2010. In terms of more tannic reds, I enjoyed the Gabrielskof Shiraz and Bordeaux Blend, as well as the Barton 2009 Merlot
Lunch was served outside on long tables with beautiful protea flower arrangements – the national flower of South Africa (see photos). It was served family style and included lamb, vegetables, potatos, and excellent breads. Dessert was vanilla ice cream and strawberries. In terms of wine, I focused on drinking the very good pinot noirs. The day was cool with some sprinkles of rain, so after lunch I sat by the fire and enjoyed the warmth.
The Beach at Hermanus – Whales & Seals
Later in the afternoon, we drove to the ocean in the charming seaside town of Hermanus. We stopped at a wonderful look-out point and climbed on the rocks to see one large whale and several seals playing in the surf. The whales of this region are called Southern Right Whales (see photo). Later we drove to the beach and walked on the white sand. I put my finger in the water so that I could claim to have touched the southern ocean. It was very cold and windy – the CapeDoctor wind, they call it around here. The winegrowers appreciate the wind because they say it prevents mildew by drying the grapes and toughens up the skins to produce more color and flavor.