I headed up to the Robertson Valley a few weekends ago to take part in the wine fuelled revelry that is The Wacky Wine Weekend. For those of you who haven’t experienced the occasion, it’s Robertson’s version of the Stellenbosch Wine Fest or Elegantly Elgin Wine Weekend and sees the various farms open up their facilities to the public for one day of drinking and merriment. At each venue there is generally – along with lots and lots of wine – live entertainment, food stalls and activities to keep the kids occupied whilst mom and dad
get tipsy relax. You’re lucky if you can make it past your third farm on the day, as the occasion can tend to get ahead of you.
This year I made it to four farm thanks completely to an itinerary laid out by my mate, who took it upon himself to organise the day. He had scheduled everything to a tee and had organised a 30 strong crew. We were instructed to meet at this mates farm in Robertson at 11h00 sharp for koffie en beskuit – or a beer for those die-hard jollers in the group. I finished up my beer by the time we got onto our magic school bus – our transport for the day – at 12h00 and headed to our first port of call.
What a great way to kick off the day with a couple of glasses of bubbly with the cousins? Van Loveren is one of the most popular wineries to come out of the Robertson Valley and the crowds confirmed this as we trooped off the magic school bus. No one was perturbed, however. I headed straight to the bar to look for a fresh Sauvignon Blanc. As great as bubbly is, it’s not my thing and tends to get me liquored. Quickly. I knew that finding a crisp Sauvignon Blanc may be tough in a valley which doesn’t struggle for heat during the summer and that the likelihood of finding a fruity – potentially sweet – whites was a lot greater. Sweet wines aren’t my thing. Least of all to kick a day of wine-drinking off. I tried their standard Sauvginon Blanc and Pinot Grigio which – although pleasant – didn’t have the zest I was looking for. I reluctantly tried their Tangled Tree Sauvignon Blanc – which is essentially falls within their range of entry level wine – and was pleasantly surprised.
The crisp and fruity Sauvignon Blanc had lovely aromas of melon and guava with a great gooseberry undertones. Its crisp, fresh finish was just what I was looking for and I soon forgot that it came in a plastic bottle. Purchase it on their website (www.vanloveren.co.za).
We clambered onto the magic school bus and took a quaint drive up the drag to Wolvendrift, a farm I had never personally been too. Situated right on the banks of the Breede River the tasting centre is as picturesque as you’ll find in the Robertson Valley. Wolvendrift is something of a smaller producer and slightly off the beaten track, so the crowds had not quite flocked in their direction by the time we arrived. I noshed a quick braai broedjie to help acclimatise and headed to the tasting tent to find a bottle of white to nurse under the willow trees beside the river. Being the small producer that they are, they only had one Sauvignon Blanc on the menu, which was fine by me as I wasn’t looking for a choice. Just something to keep me cool.
The wine’s tropical nose had a hint of green pepper whilst the balanced palate offered a crisp clean sensation with a lively and lingering aftertaste. It was just what I needed as we chilled under the trees. Buy the wine online at the Lavern Wine Boutique Store (www.lavernewines.co.za).
By the time we arrived at our third port of call, I had drunk enough white wine and was looking for something red and smooth to ease me into the evening. With its crisp white buildings, rose bushes and jacaranda trees, De Wetshof has become a well-known landmark in the Robertson Wine Valley and is renowned for not only brining the Burgundian grape varietal of Chardonnay to the Valley but to SOuth Africa too. I’ll admit that I enjoyed the Chard, which had peach and citrus aromas with a zesty palate and lingering finish, but when I tasted their Limelight Pinot Noir, I was blown away.
I fell in love with Pinot Noir after a harvest in Oregon and have searched for a classic Pinot ever since. I’ve found numerous quality offerings from the likes of the The Elgin Valley and the Hemel-En-Aarde Region but have often had to break the bank to enjoy it. I’ve no problem with paying top-dollar for a top wine and understand the reasoning behind some of the exorbitant prices one has to pay. Often times a cheaper Pinot Noir is not worth the money spent and you can immediately taste the difference between said cheap option vs a high-priced bottle. The Limelight Pinot Noir, however showed beautiful rich complexities of fresh, berries and cherries on the nose with velvety-nutty flavours on the midpalate leading to smooth tannins on the finish. It’s price wasn’t too shabby either. R65 a bottle. An absolute steal! Purchase the wine on their website (www.dewetshof.com).
Our final port of call had more to do with the entertainment than the wine and in all honesty I was saturated by the time we arrived so did not indulge to much in the vino on offer. Arno Caarstens and aKING were the evening’s entertainment and boy did they bring it! I consider Arno to be the Godfather of SA Rock whilst aKING is my favourite local band. We had a table situated basically at the front of the stage and rocked out to the two acts harder than anyone at the party. In fact I would venture that we were the heart of the party that evening.
Wacky Wine was one heck of a weekend! I would suggest having an itinerary – as we did – with a designated driver who takes you from location to location. There’s no better way to do it. My advice would be to take it easy up front – as it is and will always be a long day – and to bring Wellington’s. Yes Wellington boots. It’s a thing in Robertson. See you in 2015, Robertson.
Thanks to The Doms for hosting us.
You stay classy,