Carla van der Merwe tells of her adventure at the official launch of the Hermanus Wine Route.
Hermanus will soon be filled with teenagers and tourists seeking sunshine and a good time. But this coastal town is not just a whale trail and offers more to visitors this summer. The now officially launched Hermanus Wine Route is packed to the brim with vinous adventures.
The launch of the Hermanus Wine Route took place at Creation Wines on Thursday, 1 December where a few new members were welcomed to the region bringing the total number of wine farms to fifteen. The evening included a tasting of wines from the different farms on the route as divided into four categories; Sauvignon blanc, Chardonnay, Pinot noir and Red Blends. Each category was introduced by a Hermanus Wine Route winemaker who broadly defined the varietal and style of the valley. The four categories were also paired with canapés made from local produce by Season Restaurant in Hermanus.
Bartho Eksteen from Hermanuspietersfontein (and recent Cape Winemakers Guild inductee) introduced Sauvignon blanc and made the bold statement that South African consumers drink Sauvignon blanc too young and that “we don’t have to force Sauvignon blanc down the throats of consumers in the first year, it should be left to age”. Many of the Hermanus Wine Route producers share Bartho’s sentiments and release their Sauvignon blanc’s later.
Jessica Saurwein, assistant winemaker at Bouchard Finlayson had the following say about Pinot noir; “Pinot noir is the most fickle of grapes that flourishes in a cooler climate with the correct terroir, both of which we have here”.
The task of talking about Chardonnay fell on Kevin Grant from Ataraxia, who recently placed in the top ten Chardonnay’s in South Africa in Christian Eedes Chardonnay Report. Kevin stated that Chardonnay is; “the queen of all white varietals and the most expensive wines in the world are made from Chardonnay grapes”. He further commented on the change in Chardonnay winemaking style in recent years, saying that “consumers prefer the lighter style of Chardonnay due to Chardonnay plantings moving to the coast where this style is best suited”.
Creation Wines’ winemaker JC Martin spoke about the region’s Red Blends and the use of Rhone cultivars to produce these wines in Hermanus Wine Route wines. He continued by saying that the Rhone cultivars, especially Shiraz, has flourished in the coastal climate. This is not hard to believe as the Hermanus Wine Route R320 charity blend consists of predominantly Shiraz.
In addition to the official launch of the Hermanus Wine Route, the evening also saw the launch of the Hermanus Wine Route R320 charity blend. The blend is made from grapes donated by eleven producers from the valley; Southern Right, Bouchard Finlayson, La Vierge, Newton Johnson, Sumaridge, Spookfontein, Ataraxia, Creation, Mount Babylon and Domaine des Dieux and Whalehaven. Hermanuspietersfontein donated funds towards the production of the wine.
The Hermanus Wine Route R320 blend is made from Syrah (73%), Malbec (9%), Pinotage (9%) and Merlot (9%) and is available at R100 per bottle at a number of local stores and restaurants in Hermanus (see below for a complete list of stockists). The proceeds from the sale of the wine will be used for social upliftment of the Hermanus community and the Hermanus Wine Route aims to raise between R150- and R300 thousand by the end of February 2012.
On Friday, 2 December a few members of the media and I were treated to a tour of the Hermanus Wine Route with local wine enthusiast and tour operator Percy as part of his tailor-made Percy Tours packages. Percy Tours specialise in organising completely individualised tours (and transfers) of Hermanus, Cape Town and Western Cape regions, with a fleet of luxury VW minibuses (and Cars) with Chauffeur Tour Guides on board. Each luxury minibus is able to transport up to nine persons per minibus, which you will have exclusively to yourselves, therefore allowing you loads of space to spread out in comfort while on tour with Percy Tours. For more information on what Percy offers visit his website at www.percytours.com.
We visited six wine farms on our tour that included Hermanuspietersfontein, Southern Right, Hamilton Russel Vineyards, Bouchard Finlayson, Newton Johnson and La Vierge. Our personalised tour started off with a scenic drive to the top of Hamilton Russell Vineyards where we were treated to a breathtaking view of Hermanus and a pair of Blue Cranes feeding on the indigenous fynbos vegetation.
Next we headed off to Bouchard Finlayson where Peter Finlayson conducted a tasting of his multi-award winning wines. Peter even opened a bottle of his 1991 (his first vintage) Blanc de Mer for us to taste and compare to the latest release 2011 vintage. Both wines are Riesling driven and it was amazing to see the evolution of flavours that the wine had undertaken over the past twenty years. The 2011 was fresh, zesty with a dominant fruit and floral character whereas the 1991 has settled into the secondary characteristics associated with an aged white, peas and vegetation were dominant.
Our next stop was a brunch at La Vierge where winemaker Marc van Halderen entertained us with his cheeky humour and equally cheeky wines. After lunch we headed to Newton Johnson where we enjoyed a tasting of their newly released 2008 Full Stop Rock paired with the Sao Tome DV chocolate.
When our tour ended I collected my bags from Sumaridge where I had the fortunate pleasure of spending the night on Thursday. The incredible view and African inspired decor is well worth the visit as the guest house has five bedrooms and can sleep ten people. The staff (and rescued animals) were very welcoming and I even got a send off from Daisy the donkey when I left.
I had an amazing time exploring all that the Hermanus Wine Route has to offer and would recommend a visit to all wine enthusiasts. If you’d like to find out more about the wines and wine farms on the route please visit www.hermanuswineroute.com.
The fifteen wine farms that make up the Hermanus Wine Route are; Ashbourne, Ataraxia, Bouchard Finlayson, Creation, Domaine des Dieux, Hamilton Russell Vineyards, Hermanuspietersfontein, Jakob’s Vineyards, La Vierge, Mount Babylon, Newton Johnson, Southern Right, Spookfontein, Sumaridge and Whalehaven.
To view more pictures from my trip, please click here.
The Hermanus Wine Route R320 blend can be purchased from the following stockists:
Shops: Wine Village (call 028 316 3988 or email firstname.lastname@example.org), Hermanus Liquors (call 028 312 3660 or email email@example.com) and Wine & Company (call 028 313 2047 or email firstname.lastname@example.org).
This article was first published on WINE.CO.ZA, please click here to see the original article.