It’s Buiten­verwacht­ing for Yule­tide cheer…

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Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - GOODDRINKING - MYRNA ROBINS

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.

PIC­TURE: JOHN FORD

SHADES OF GREEN: Vi­nous views from Buiten­verwacht­ing’s restau­rant.

PROGRESS CHECK: Buiten­verwacht­ing wine­maker Brad Pa­ton draws a sam­ple of his 2011 Max­imus.

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