Exploring the Upper Blaauwklippen Vintners, Stellenbosch

12 Jun

The vineyard view from the tasting room at Kleinood.

 

Once a year, three boutique wineries in the Upper Blaauwklippen Valley, Stellenbosch, open their doors to a limited number of guests to exclusively taste their top varietals along with paired winter canapés. When I received an invitation to join the tasting which took place on the 2nd of June, I was extremely excited. I’ve never visited Kleinood or Keermont before, and have only visited De Trafford once, more than 10 years ago. With an allocation of only 100 tickets to this exclusive event, I knew I was in for something memorable.

Friends, if you have not been on a trip to this valley and you are serious about discovering some proper gems in the Stellenbosch region, this small valley is an absolute treasure trove. With its heady combination of valleys, mountain ranges, wine estates, crisp fresh air and fine wine, the Upper Blaauwklippen Valley offered guests a personal tasting of newly released, handcrafted vintages, rare and coveted vinoteque wines including Tamboerskloof Viognier 2013, John Spicer Syrah 2012, Tamboerskloof Syrah 2006 and Tamboerskloof Syrah 2012 from Kleinood,  first samplings of the upcoming Single Vineyard wines from Keermont and vertical tastings from the De Trafford Vinoteque, served with well-paired culinary treats. Winemakers and owners were all on site to chat to, sharing the stories behind their terroir-driven wines and unique wineries.

The five-kilometer trip up the valley leads along an elevation of 200 meters and a regular shuttle service between the farms ensured that guests could relax and enjoy the magnificent scenery along the untouched slopes of the Upper Blaauwklippen valley.

In order to ensure a personal experience, only 100 tickets were made available at R500 each. To take part in next year’s premium tasting, get your name on the list by sending an email to sales@keermont.co.za or call Juanita at Keermont on 021 880 0397.

Here are a few photographs of my incredible day experiencing Kleinood, Keermont and De Trafford on the 2nd of June 2018. It would be difficult to single out any wines, because there were plenty to taste and they were all exceptional. It was, however, a special privilege to taste the older vintages like De Trafford’s 1996 Cabernet Sauvignon, the exceptional Syrah range at Kleinood, and Keermont’s flagship 2013 Estate Reserve. Although these wineries are not open daily during the rest of the year, tasting can surely be scheduled if booked ahead. Otherwise, take note of their small-windowed tasting room opening hours:

Kleinood: Fridays 10h00-13h00

Keermont: Fridays 10h30-13h30 (closed on public holidays)

De Trafford: Saturdays 10h00-13h00

Upon entering Kleinood’s tasting room.

 

Our first sip of the day at Kleinood: the Katharien rosé made from shiraz grapes. “A rose gold coloured Rosé with strawberry preserve, papaya and hints of fruit salad notes on the nose, supported generously with flavours of tangerine, quince jelly, saffron and elegant white spice on the palate.” – winemaker, Gunter Schultz.

 

The 2013 Tamboerskloof Viognier from Kleinood. “A white gold coloured Viognier with melon, citrus blossom, mango and pollen flavours on the nose with apricot, ripe peach and citrus on the palate. The mouthfeel is rich and creamy.” – winemaker, Gunter Shultz.

 

Kleinood also makes extra virgin olive oil, called Die Boerin – a blend of selected Italian cultivars: Coratina, Favolosa, Delicata, Leccino and Frantoio.

 

The single vineyard syrah from Kleinood: John Spicer 2011. “This is a beautifully structured and balanced, dark-scarlet coloured Syrah with a magenta rim and a deep intensity. The nose develops with medium, but pronounced intensity, showing pure, red and black berry fruit, white pepper, plum preserve and chocolate éclair. On the palate, complex dry spices, loaded with complex plum and mulberry preserve with a white pepper finish.” – winemaker, Gunter Schultz.

 

A bowl of venison with butternut puree and all kinds of wintery flavours – delicious! Prepared by Stir Food at Kleinood.

 

This is what a winemaker’s hands look like! Thank you Gunter Shultz, winemaker of Kleinood, for the personal approach and friendly chat.

 

The picturesque building at Kleinood. this is the one side of the tasting room.

 

Arriving at De Trafford, you are surrounded by French oak barrels.

 

One of the most incredible wines of the day, De Trafford’s Cabernet Sauvignon 1996. “Dense, with purple tint. Intense, creamy blackberry and Christmas pudding aromas. Rich, sweetish berry fruit and spicy oak palate. Fine, firm structure and long finish.” – owner, David Trafford.

 

Gnocchi with wild mushrooms and truffle oil at De Trafford, served by Die Worsrol from their caravan while it was pouring down with rain outside. Winter at its best!

 

More of De Trafford’s iconic barrels that span a few floors on the one side of the cellar and tasting room area.

 

Another stellar cab by De Trafford. “Deep, dark, brooding red colour. Cassis, ripe mulberries and tobacco and cedar nose. Intense fruit flavours and firm persistent tannins follow through to a long dry finish.” – owner, David Trafford.

 

De Trafford’s Vin de Paille – or straw wine. I cannot racall the vintage, but this was an exceptional wine, served with their Italian-style orange cake.

 

The driveway that leads to Keermont’s tasting centre.

 

The stone walled tasting room at Keermont.

 

Keermont’s brand new Sweetwater Rosé. “Ferrari red in colour, this Rosé has a complex nose of cherry, black current, peach, and a hint of vanilla. On the palate it is full and rich with flavours of peach, baked pears, cinnamon, and white pepper. The finish is dry and textured hinting to the fact that it matures for 6 months on the lees in seasoned French oak barrels.” winemaker, Alex Starey. In 2015, they only made 4 barrels of this wine.

 

The Steepside Syrah 2015 by Keermont. “This is an intense wine with a bright strawberry red colour. Spicy, floral aromas are complimented by hints of cinnamon, ripe strawberries and black current. The palate is full and broad with ripe spicy fruit. The tight structure gives the wine a succulent dry finish with lingering flavours of vibrant and savoury red fruit.” – winemaker, Alex Starey.

 

Tasting the Keermont range of wines at Keermont’s cellar. This photograph is a great reminder of a memorable day – many open bottles, many corks, many happy faces, many incredible wines.

 

One of the big wines of the day: Keermont’s flagship Estate Reserve 2013: “Venetian red in colour, this wine exudes complex aromas of sandalwood, ripe cherry, wild berries, and dusty ‘fynbos’. On the palate, the wine has a soft entry and exudes an array of ripe berries, cherry sherbet, crushed herbs and spices. Elegant but firm tannin affords the wine a long dry succulent finish. Drink 2017-2030.” – winemaker, Alex Starey.

 

One of my personal favourites and the perfect wine to end off a spectacular day: Keermont’s Fleurfontein (NV). It exudes dried apricot and marzipan – two of my favourite flavours in the world.

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