Continuing the saga of our wine and safari excursion to South Africa…
With a Cape Dutch style manor house that dates to 1812, rolling lawns and oak trees, Boschendal is a magnet for wine tourists visiting South Africa. We started our second day of wine tasting in Franschhoek at this iconic location.
Most notable for me was the beautiful woodwork, with the most commonly used indigenous woods being stinkwood and yellowwood.
After touring the werf (farmyard) and seeing the location of the slave quarters (slavery was abolished in SA in 1838), we decided it was time for some wine. We strolled to the tasting room and chose a nice table outside under the trees.
Since it was before noon, we decided to focus on the famous Methode Cap Classique wines. These are sparkling wines made in the traditional Champagne method. Boschendal has won world-wide acclaim for their sparkling wines.
Keith was our server and he first served up the Brut Non-Vintage. For quality sparkling wines, non-vintage wines are the rule rather than the exception. Winemakers blend from different vintages to ensure that the quality remains consistent over the years. Many Champagne producers only make vintage wine when there is an exceptional harvest. The NV is made from Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grapes. It is a spritely wine with light flavors of lemon and nuts. The bubbles dissipated quickly.
Our next taste was the Brut Rosé. This is a light-bodied wine that tart and fruity yet dry. It’s pink color is exceptional. It is made with Pinot Noir grapes with a small quantity of Chardonnay. This is a food friendly wine as well as being rewarding on its own.
The 2009 Grand Cuvee Brut is a frothy wine that offers a fuller body than the two previous wines. This is accomplished through extended contact on the lees. It has bottle aging for three years.
This is a bubbling triumph of green apple, citrus and minerality. It’s a refreshing wine that would do well with salmon dishes.
Jean Le Long is the top of the line MCC wine, but it wasn’t available for tasting. We moved on to a pair of reds.
Anchoring the tasting in the final position was the 2011 Cecil John Reserve Shiraz. Fifty percent of the grapes come from nearby Stellenbosch and the other half comes from Swartland. This is a smooth and elegant wine. In the glass it is a deep cranberry color. The flavors are concentrated with the oaking highlighting some substantial tannins.
The flavors were deep and rich with dark fruit and a dash of spice. I was impressed and we purchased a bottle.
As I was purchasing the wine, Keith made an interesting comment. He said the naming of the Cecil John Reserve was controversial. I asked him how so. Cecil John Rhodes was a colonialist who figured prominently in the history of South Africa. He owned the Boschendal property at one point and exported fruit to Britain. It is Rhodes for whom the Rhodes scholarship and the country of Rhodesia were named (Rhodesia is now Zimbabwe and Zambia).
Reminders of colonialism are not always welcome in a country still coming to terms with its past, with the curse of apartheid being eliminated finally in 1994 after more than 40 years of officially sanctioned discrimination. As a country South Africa is making remarkable progress – but there is much still to be done.
Boschendal is a world class tourist destination and winery. Since we had several other wineries to visit, we didn’t tour the winery or their main tasting center. There is plenty to do (and taste) to fill a whole day or afternoon.