I remember going on holiday with my family when I was younger. I was nervous of where we were staying, silently hoping it would be a ‘nice’ place, but preparing myself to be disappointed, just in case it wasn’t! That feeling though, when it turned out to be a really awesome place, man it was hard to beat!
The Bottelary wine area of Stellenbosch has a few of these ‘moments’ and Kaapzicht Wine Estate is one of them….
As you track the dirt road, you would not be blamed for missing the unassuming turnoff. The signage is humble, and turning right into the driveway, you are greeted by some loose brick paving and some old steel wine tanks on the right hand side and warehouse doors open on the left with plenty of work underway.
As people we generally make a judgement based on the outside appearances, at this stage I was not expecting much to be completely honest….
Not quite sure where the tasting room was located, I wandered past the conference centre signage and on to the tasting room in the direction of the arrow.
Old and quaint, I pushed open the door and responded with a smile and a nod and a smile when asked by the tasting assistant if I wanted to taste their wines. Looking behind me I noticed the wine bottles resting above the old tasting room door lintel and wondered what secret farm history those dusty bottles were hiding.
I swirled my glass which had just been drizzled with their 2015 Pinot Noir. Looking at the colour I was somewhat intrigued as it was darker than a typically styled Pinot Noir. I took in the aromas and then a first sip…. it was heavier than expected, medium-bodied, but with a fresh berry nose and lovely follow through on the palette. It was superb!
After quizzing the tasting assistant, she mentioned that the winemaker was not very proud of his Pinot Nior that I had just savoured. I would have to have a word with him!!
Next up was the Bush Vines Kliprug Chenin Blanc 2016. Again, my senses were sent on a rollercoaster of discovery. A medium body Chenin, with fresh, crisp fruit on the palette and an delectable finish. Funnily enough I now seem to reminisce about this particular Chenin rather often!
I moved on to their white blend which is the Kaleidoscope White 2016, comprising 33% Chardonnay, 19% Verdelho, 19% Roussanne, 19% Semillion, 5% Chenin Blanc and 5% Sauvignon Blanc. It was just as remarkable as the rest of the range. I tasted three out of their full range of wines.
Danie Steytler Jnr is a soulful, family character who has taken over the winemaking responsibilities from Danie Senior, at Kaapzicht. As we talk about his wines he brings out a number of vintages to compare the new ‘junior’ with the older ‘senior’, swirling, smelling and sampling! Recalling his experience of when he was overseas working at Chateau Grand Mayne, in France, it becomes clear that this is more than just winemaking for Danie, it’s his lifeblood. Every bottle is an extension of his personality, from the bold, heavy bottle, the old style sealing wax to the distinct label of his design! His focus is singularly on producing the best wines, his knowledge and passion evident in both the conversation as well as his wine.
Walking to one of the large steel tanks I am handed a taste of his next vintage red blend. He comments that despite it being a well-priced quaffable red, the quality is super important.
Talking more about wine and the wine industry, the joke about “how to make a small fortune in wine farming……start with a large fortune” came to mind.
You have to love making wine, you have to take it personally, you have to enjoy the lifestyle. And what a lifestyle!
We drive up to where various farms border each other in order to take in the view…
The views are picturesque views, but the realities are, as with most things in life, nothing comes easily.
Hard work makes a stellar wine and then comes about the challenge of selling your wine in an already crowded market!
For the wine farms to continue to make wines of the style and quality that Kaapzicht (and many other great wine farms) make, it requires infrastructure and capital investment which comes from turning a good profit on every bottle of wine sold, not always easy when every person along the chain takes a cut!
What I learned from my day with a winemaker is that as the general public we should aim to stock up on wine direct from the farm. That way they manage to make much more of the profit that’s usually lost along the way to the supermarket shelf!
So next time you’re planning to stock your cellar (or modest wine rack like mine) why not take a drive out to a few of your favorite farms, make a day of it, and support the wine farms by buying directly from them giving them the best opportunity of developing the local wine industry.
Visiting Kaapzicht you aren’t going to get served up a fancy lunch that could cost you a fortune or go for a walk in a finely manicured garden, nor are you are not going to get a wine and chocolate tasting, but my goodness the wine….. the wine is truly spectacular. Well done Danie.
Cheers to that!