My Wine Route South Africa (MapStudio), by Mike Froud
Most of the country's winemaking, as introduced in Mike Froud's guide My Wine Route South Africa (MapStudio), happens in the winelands of the Western Cape province at the 'bottom' of the continent, ranging between roughly 31.5 degrees south (up the West Coast) and around 34.5 degrees south at the tip of Africa (Agulhas).
THE WINELANDS OF SOUTH AFRICA
The Wine of Origin (WO) scheme adhered to by the South African wine industry dates back to the 1970s and is based on the traditional classification systems of Europe's Old World wine-producing countries. Essentially, the WO system recognises various geographical areas as regards the role that Mother Nature plays in determining the various characteristics and the quality of a wine. How flat or steep the vineyards are and how many sunlight hours they get, the various grape varieties and clones thereof, the people who tend to the vineyards using whatever practices that they do and the people who transform the grapes using the various winemaking techniques that they do in the cellars... all play crucial roles. However, the collective influence of the soil, the climate and the weather are such that they are generally regarded as the most important factors comprising what wine aficionados refer to as the terroir. [...]
Top 100: Altydgedacht Estate, Durbanville (see map page 167)
Authentic winemaking the traditional way on a property where vineyards were first established way back in 1698. There are quaint old buildings, artefacts and memorabilia, with the fifth generation of a family who have tilled the soil since taking ownership in the 1850s involved hands-on in virtually everything that takes place on their spread. Etienne Louw has been in charge of the winemaking since 2006, but Oliver and John Parker have steered their operation in the winery and fields respectively ever since the first bottling under an Altydgedacht label in 1981. The original homestead has been replaced, but what remains is the original white-washed 'ring wall', a slave bell and the cellar which dates back to 1702. The name of the estate means 'always in your thoughts' or'forever contemplative'. At Altydgedacht you'll find a restaurant serving meals that are literally home-made and which gives you the option of a table in a shady area outside or in a room over 300 years old, a romantic setting between some large oak barrels and with one of the more unusual winelists to be found in the Cape winelands. Aromatic varieties are among theirwhite wine specialities, and one of their red wines is from a grape more readily associated with Piedmont in Italy. Altydgedacht's Barbera isn't just selling as an oddity - it's won over some of the toughest critics, and often enough to be the only wine of its kind in the Top Wine SA Classification spanning the past 10 years. All in all, 100 ha under vine and a total production of 100 000 litres a year under their own labels.
ABOUT THE WINES: The Pinotage has been good pretty much since day one, as has the Barbera, unusual as it is, and the estate's flagship red features both varieties in a Cape Blend underthe Tintoretto label. The Cap Classique bubbly from Chardonnay impresses for a maiden vintage, and when it comes to their whites the Parkers are among the few to offer good dry Riesling as well as Gewurztraminer in a range that includes The Olio, a combination of four varieties with Reserve status.
WINE TASTINGS AND SALES: Mon to Fri 9am to 5pm, Sat 9am to 3pm, closed Sun. Tasting fee of R15pp. Tours by appointment.
Restaurant: Eat @ Altydgedacht: breakfast and lunch Mon to Sat. Rustic lunches under the trees or inside a centuries-old barrel-maturation cellar. Main courses R65 to R100. Signature dish: Chicken Pot Pie with vegetables at R85. Wines from R65pb. Some wines offered by the glass. Tel+27 (0)21 975 7815 Farm food with an Italian twist is what's proffered by the proprietors of the restaurant at Altydgedacht. If the Pinotage Steak Pot Pie doesn't grab you, alternatives include a couple of linguini options and The Barbera Burger.
Other Atractions: Pampoenkraal: function venue specialising in weddings, tucked underneath ancient oak trees with an open-air lapa. CHILD-FRIENDLY RATING: 3/5
This is an excerpt from My Wine Route South Africa (MapStudio), by Mike Froud.
Title: My Wine Route South Africa
Subtitle: Mike Froud
Cape Town, South Africa 2013
ISBN 9781770265127 / ISBN 978-1-77026-512-7
Softcover, 17 x 24 cm, 160 pages, throughout illustrated
Froud, Mike im Namibiana-Buchangebot
MapStudio's My Wine Route South Africa is an all-inclusive guide featuring the top 100 wine farms of South Africa in an easy-to-use alphabetical format.