Peak of satisfaction
This wineland destination boasts a restaurant and wines that’ll have you coming back for more tabletop
KLEINE Zalze is one of those wineland destinations I feel safe in recommending to visitors from upcountry and abroad.
There is a wide range of wines, the quality is consistent and the pricing is pleasing. Add to that a top-notch restaurant with a sensibly small menu and a chef who produces trendy fare that’s good to look at and even better to eat.
The service at the tasting room and eatery is professional and friendly, adding up to a combination that, unsurprisingly, attracts awards local and international.
I recently settled down to a tasting with winemaker Johan Joubert who is as dedicated a craftsman as any I have met. He shows the same intense enthusiasm whether he is describing his chenin, chardonnay or sauvignon blancs – or any of the cellar’s reds.
Kleine Zalze’s 2011 bush vine chenin (R35 at cellar door) is one of the bargains of the year: this consumer-friendly wine combines freshness with loads of fruit, strengthened by a mineral core.
Grapes were sourced from vineyards aged between 25 and 64 years.
Stepping up to the second tier, the Vineyard Selection 2010 barrel fermented chenin (R62) is a wine made to last, matured in third, fourth and fifth fill oak. Intense and rich in tropical fruit, it’s not too powerful to drink and enjoy.
We also sampled the 2005 chenin, amber liquid with marmalade flavours, delicious proof of ageing potential and the equally impressive 2008, available from the farm at R62, which alone would be worth the trip.
From the top tier, don’t miss the 2010 sauvignon blanc Family Reserve, winner of the regional trophy for best SA sauvignon at this year’s Decanter World Wine Awards. Grapes from Stellenbosch, Darling, Durbanville and Lutzville contribute a succession of green fig, asparagus, grassy and bell pepper notes, with length provided by Elim berries. There’s a very pleasant 2011 sauvignon at R47 in the entry range as well.
Chardonnay fans should enjoy the 2010 wooded blend of Stellen- bosch and Robertson grapes (R64) with distinctive citrus and limestone. I could not stay for a vertical tasting of Kleine Zalze cabs but sampled the gamay noir and its rosé: both make pleasing picnic partners at R40.
Fans of televised food can look forward to seeing chef Michael Broughton in action in 2012 as he cooks seasonal fare in a new series from Cooked in Africa productions.
His restaurant Terroir, across from the tasting room, is the ideal complement to Kleine Zalze wines, and last month he received his sixth Top Ten Eat Out award. Appetising use of seasonal and local ingredients is a hallmark, as is consistent quality. Start perhaps with his quail pie with juniper and orange sauce, follow with linefish with lemon herb crust, potato gnocchi and green asparagus, and finish with a sublime strawberry sundae.
Kleine Zalze marked its 15th anniversary this year and partners Kobus Basson and Jan Malan must be well satisfied with achievements in wine and food. Winemaker Joubert’s invitation to join the Cape Winemakers’ Guild is personal recognition that nicely supplements the many awards earned.
WELL-TENDED: Kleine Zalze vines at the foot of the Stellenbosch mountains.
GASTRONOMIC HOT SPOT: Terroir restaurant at Kleine Zalze.