After a week in the Western Cape region of South Africa I am now back in Germany. It was my first time in this country and I can only say that I was very impressed. First of all by this incredible landscape full of contrasts: the mountains, the vineyards, the dunes, the rough shores and this climate where the warm sun is confronted to the ice cold waters of the South Atlantic.
This fertile land also translates on your dinner table. Numerous restaurants offer excellent quality meat and fish dishes at unbeatable prices for us Europeans. Expect to gain a few pounds when travelling to Capetown. Within the next days, I’ll make sure to describe some of my favorite places and also report about our visit at Le Quartier Francais, one of the most acclaimed restaurants in South Africa.
Then, of course, we were impressed by the wineries. For one who likes wine, the Cape winelands kind of feel like Disneyland. Most of the estates have impressive buildings with avantgarde design tasting rooms – an architecture major would have equally as much fun as a wine geek I guess. Visitors are well serviced and mostly asked for a small compensation for a tasting flight. Yes, this South African industry works by slightly other rules than the European.
And so you could imagine how a big part of my vacation looked like. I armed myself with the Platter-guide for South African wines which I bought at a supermarket and visited a bunch of those wineries. I didn’t always agree with the ratings of the guide, but if everyone had the same taste, life would be boring. What I learned first of all, is that the term “winemaking” couldn’t be more true than here. I was struck by the fact that a lot of wineries, including some of the most prestigious, don’t own vines. But instead, they own a bunch of high-tech cellar equipment and are true masterminds when it comes to the amount of French or American oak they want to implement.
But even though this isn’t a necessarily charming philosophy to me, visiting the estates, meeting the people and tasting the wines was lots of fun and I can only recommend a trip to Stellenbosch. And while I indeed had many (well-made) mainstream wines that were pleasant but didn’t swept me off my feet, I also had a couple of very interesting ones, different ones, who stood out. In the next days, I’ll post my impressions on these winery visits and will wrap-up my report with a short list of my preferred wines.