It’s Buitenverwachting for Yuletide cheer…
WHEN planning visits to the birthplace of our wine industry, Buitenverwachting is usually my first destination; it’s impossible to tire of the timeless beauty of this historic farmstead and its original cellar, deep in the valley against the Constantiaberg.
Earlier this month, taking the road that loops around former paddocks to reach the modern cellar and restaurant complex, I noticed that horses had been replaced by a small flock of sheep, knee-deep in lush grass. Beyond expectation indeed – more luxurious grazing would be hard to find.
On a cool Thursday, the tasting room, coffee shop and restaurant were buzzing. Lars Maack, trailed by his faithful ridgebacks, moved between tables, greeting and meeting in his usual relaxed and friendly fashion.
“I have to open the CoffeeBloc before seven these mornings” he told me, as so many come for coffee after gym, or for breakfast.
Inside the main restaurant, executive chef Edgar Osojnik and his team were busy with early lunches. In the tasting room, cellarmaster Hermann Kirschbaum retained his composure after digesting news that his son’s wedding, taking place at the farm two days hence, was likely to be accompanied by 80mm of rain.
Winemaker Brad Paton switched the focus to our palates, pouring the new vintage of 1769, the cellar’s delicious, elegant dessert wine, oaked muscat de Frontignan, due for release next month.
As are two of Paton’s other limited edition non-conformist labels: his 3rd time Lucky 2012, a moreish viognier, fresh and flavour-packed; and 2011 Maximus, a sensuous sauvignon/semillon blend.
Turning to the wines for which the farm is renowned, the current Buiten Blanc 2013 (R50) is more complex than predecessors, offering delectable mouthfuls of fruit and friskiness: earlier that day I noticed customers loading bottles into their trolleys at a Constantia supermarket as fast as the packers were putting them on the shelves.
The current sauvignon blancs, both 2013, are worthy of their fame, the Constantia (R80) a fine but reserved balance of citrus and grass, while the Husseys Vlei (R100) is full-bodied, as sophisticated and complex as fans expect. Both will reward cellaring.
Chardonnay makes up 80 per- cent of the non-vintage Brut (R110), a fine Cap Classique for festive aperitifs, light and creamy with citrussy aromas. Those looking for a Bordeaux-style red blend suitable for summer fare should try the value-for-money Meifort 2009 (R65), savoury and spicy.
Where to eat? The farm’s picnics are perennial favourites, especially with those who prefer alfresco meals served at tables and chairs. The stylish CoffeeBloc serves delectable pastries while extending menus to present Continental and classic British breakfast. Lunchtime patrons can contemplate Caesar salad, fish and chips, beef burger, schnitzel, rib-eye steak and a vegetarian pasta. Tapas selections make a further option.
The enclosed balcony of the formal restaurant presents a breathtaking panorama of terraced vines through glass walls. Osojnik presents lunch and dinner choices grouped under headings like Classics, Rustic Affairs, and Indulge. Gourmets are catered for with his Fine Bites menu, four or five courses paired with wine at R395 and R475 respectively.
I relished a Med starter of bell pepper, brinjal, courgette, tomato and feta, sparked with pesto and tapenade and paired with parmesan shortbread and followed with grilled yellowtail on tomato risotto, sauced with bouillabaisse jus, teamed with capers, fennel, leek and celery. TGW and Buitenverwachting have fine prizes worth more than R5 000 for Weekend Argus readers.
● Two readers will win a Fine Bites gourmet menu with wines.
● Two readers will win breakfast at the CoffeeBloc for two.
● Two readers will win a fivepart tapas selection for two
● Two readers will win picnics for two.
● 15 readers will each win two Buitenverwachting fine wines.
To enter, e-mail sandybailey@ telkomsa.net by close of business on Wednesday. Include your full name and daytime contact number. Multiple entries from a single entrant will be deleted. Winners will be phoned. Usual competition rules apply.
SHADES OF GREEN: Vinous views from Buitenverwachting’s restaurant.
PROGRESS CHECK: Buitenverwachting winemaker Brad Paton draws a sample of his 2011 Maximus.