Monday, 16 July 2018

#WineRoutingWithLloyd - Ataraxia Wines

Ataraxia - a Greek philosophy term that is used to describe a lucid state of robust equanimity, that is characterised by ongoing freedom from any distress & worry.

And when you arrive at Ataraxia, you can just see & feel why this name is perfectly suited. 

The estate sits on what I believe is a heavenly stretch of land just beneath the peak of the Babylon's Tower mountain range, with a very interesting mix of terroirs to work with. 

I sat down with Kevin Grant, winemaker at Ataraxia & I had one of the most incredible wine tasting experiences. We spoke not only about wine, but also food, travel, reading & life in general. I felt so at home there on the couch in the tasting room, that I honestly didn't want to leave 3.5 hours later.

One very interesting comment that Kevin Grant made, was that he makes white wine & red wine. And that it just so happens that the Chardonnay & Pinot Noir are the 2 cultivars that are the expressions of those red & white wines. But only because he went back to the soil to see exactly what would work best in what he has on the estate, & that dictated what he would plant. Everything that ends up in a bottle of Ataraxia, starts with what is in the soil. The wine is a pure expression of the soil that it is grown in. 

The Ataraxia mission is to get the dirt into the bottle with minimal intervention. 

So, if you've been following my journey, then you know that I am a lover of a Wooded Chardonnay. 

In the words of Kevin Grant - "The most accurate & faithful way possible, our unapologetically wooded white wine mirrors the terroir in which our Chardonnay vines are grown." This is probably one of the best Chardonnay's that I have ever been exposed to. A beautiful complex wine with lots of body that is graceful. Intense fruit flavours intertwined with a beautiful creaminess. A 100% barrel femented beauty!

Then Kevin Grant took out a bottle with no label. It was the 2017 Pinot Noir that had been bottled in January & this was the very first bottle that had been opened for the public. How cool to sit there & literally be the first person in the world to get to drink a glass of the the 2017 Pinot Noir with the winemaker himself.

The wooded red wine, again, is made from a grape that is most suited to express the terroir. It just so happens to be a Pinot Noir. These grapes are the last to be picked in the Hemel-en-Aarde valley. With a glass of transparent red wine that seems to reflect the light, the nose promises a blend of ripe red cherries & fresh earth & a touch of that oak. All of which follow through on the palate sensually as a slightly more medium bodied wine that hits all the right points. A soft fruit aftertaste in the finish makes it a wine that I could drink every day. 

Lastly I need to mention this tasting room, which has aptly been named the Wine Lounge. It is possibly one of the most spectacular & dramatic positions, that has been built in the style of a chapel on top of a hill under the Babylon's Tower peak. It stands out as this incredible little building on the hill that you can spot from a distance. 

First time visitors also get to ring the bell announcing that they have just had their first tasting at Ataraxia. (I'm sure it won't be the last either though.) Check out me ringing the bell here.

Check out Ataraxia here

Thursday, 12 July 2018

#WineRoutingWithLloyd - De Grendel Wine Estate

So actually my very first stop on the #WineRoutingWithLloyd trip happened to be De Grendel Wine Estate. It was definitely a visit that was going to set the bar for the entire trip in my opinion. 

A quick 20 min drive from the airport & you'll find yourself arriving at De Grendel's door & we were only supposed to be spending 2.5 hours, which I thought was pretty much enough time when planning. Well, I think we sat there for almost 4 hours because it was just such a great time. I can see myself sitting there, literally losing track of the time enjoying wine & the view. 

Naturally, I always say one should start the day with some bubbles. Then we can move on over into the tasting. But for now, I'll only be highlighting my Top 5 glasses, in no particular order. (Otherwise this post will get rather lengthy.)

1st up. The De Grendel - Koetshuis Sauvignon Blanc

The original grapes used to make this wine, were grown in the vineyard that is next to the old 'Koetshuis' & now is rightfully been named so. Pale straw in colour, with sweet honeysuckle & granny smith apples on the nose, followed onto the palate with flavours of lime & green figs, finishing off with a lingering minerality. A slightly more complex wine, but easy drinking indeed. 

Then comes the De Grendel Viognier. 

This is quite the unique varietal in my opinion & one that I have really started taking a liking to. With grapes that have been handpicked & destalked, the resulting pale straw colour wine has a perfume of stone fruits (white peaches & apricots specifically) on the nose which subtly follow through on the palate & aftertaste, where a beautiful soft & buttery flavours from the oak barrels & a bit of citrus zest comes through.

Ah, the De Grendel - Op die Berg: Pinot Noir

What a beautiful wine in the glass. A bright cherry red colour with aromas of rose petals & ripe red cherries & raspberries, followed with a subtle nose of clove & fynbos. On the palate you will definitely get that dark red fruit & even a hint or 2 of the black fruit. It then finishes off elegantly with a gorgeous soft velvet aftertaste. 

The De Grendel Merlot.

This wine made me fall in love with Merlot all over again. A light gem-like ruby red colour with initial aromas of berries; red, black & even blue. Then comes a bit of aniseed & liquorice. And everything above on the palate. The French Oak definitely adds support to this wine, with it being so smooth & well rounded. A wine of true balance & elegance. 

Finally, I was lucky enough for a bottle of the 2014 Sir David Graaff, First Baronet of Cape Town to be opened for my visit. 

This wine was produced in tribute & honour the life & legacy of Sir David Pieter de Villiers Graaf, the 1st baronet of Cape Town. Using Shiraz & Cabernet Sauvignon vines from the Somerset region that are all over 30 years old, ensures that vines are given nutrients from deeper soil layers. All handpicked, individually vinified & then matured for 15 months in new French Oak before it is blended in 80% Shiraz, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon & 10% Petit Verdot. It is then returned to the same barrel & matured for another 6 months. That's a total of 22 months of maturation, & in my opinion, that's the epitome of longevity & potential. 

A gorgeous deep ruby red glass with layers of cedar wood, pepper & cloves on the nose, with hints of those ripe dark fruits (mulberry & blackcurrant) that come through. On the palate a distinct rich plum flavour accompanied by some more savoury fruits. And an aftertaste that will have you wanting more of this full bodied wine that oozes so much finesse. (Another very unique wine, that I set out to find.)

Check out De Grendel here.

Totally loving driving the Ford Kuga around the Cape.

Monday, 9 July 2018

#WineRoutingWithLloyd - Grande Provence Heritage Wine Estate (Part 2)

So, in my opinion, Grande Provence is very conveniently situated in Franschhoek. From there it is very easy to explore the city & see what is on offer. And they have one incredible hotel that makes it so much easier. The Owners Cottage should be right at the top of your list when looking to stay in Franschhoek for a day or 5.

So The Owners Cottage has 5 rooms, that are all spread on 1 floor, giving it that real homely feel with luxury trimmings & modern comforts. Exuding grandeur & a sort of contemporary luxury that will have you thinking that you are far away from any city. 

Rooms have pretty much everything you need & more. A built in kitchenette with a fully stocked bar fridge. Television & all common areas have WiFi to keep you connected to reality as you enjoy your break from it. 

On arrival & checking in to your room, you will find a complimentary bottle of wine there for your enjoyment, or just to take home, because you've had a lovely wine tasting with lunch before that. If you missed that article, check it out here

This private cottage has 4 rooms, a deluxe suite, lounge & a conservatory, that leads out onto a beautiful country-style garden & relaxing outside poolside area that would be the perfect place to relax on a hot summers day.

I loved staying here, because it really felt like home. The staff were incredible & so helpful which again just adds to the entire experience & they make you feel so comfortable, you'll want to put your feet up here every day. 

Off to dinner at The Restaurant. Grande Provence becomes beautifully lit in the evenings with lights in the trees & I can just imagine a beautiful candlelit dinner out here on a summer night.

With high-backed white leather chair & recessed windows that frame the view from the inside. Everything feels 5-star & is set out beautifully & we are seated at the table close to the fireplace with flickering lights of a log fire. Joined by the candlelight & adding to the warmth & homely feel. 

Again Chef Guy just brings out the local influence on every plate. A fine dining experience that is not to be missed & will have you reminiscing back to the visit for a long time. 

Oh, so. If you are planning a visit to Franschhoek between now & end of September, you should look into taking advantage of the fabulous Winter Heartland Dinner, Bed & Breakfast offer that they have running. To book your stay, visit or e-mail to now to avoid any disappointments. 

#WineRoutingWithLloyd was driven by Ford South Africa in the new Ford Kuga.

#WineRoutingWithLloyd - Grande Provence Heritage Wine Estate (Part 1)

Nestled just about an hours drive outside Cape Town is Franschhoek. And in Franschhoek, you will find Grande Provence Heritage Wine Estate. With a rich history of over 300 years & spreading out over 47 hectares of the Cape Winelands, it is bound to provide you with very unique experience of the finer things in life, which I have come to love & share.

On arrival, bubbles. It's a must. Always. And the MCC here is something that you could be sipping on for the entire day. 

We had a wonderful experience of extensive tasting & each wine was explained, but not too much, so as to lead you on to make your own tasting notes & connections. So you are not told what you should be tasting, but you can make your own connections. 

The one thing that I am always so impressed with is the knowledge that the staff have about the wine. I love sitting & listening to them & finding out why this estate & what their personal favourites are. But here are my favourites from my visit. 

A varietal, that is so rare in South Africa, that I will highly recommend it, is the Zinfandel. With handpicked grapes that have been fermented in French & American Oak for 12 months, you know you are going to have a winner. A range of ripe black fruits on the nose, a full bodied red wine with a surprisingly fresh palate with a nicely balanced aftertaste of slight spiciness & strawberries. 

So the Amphora has a cool story, & it started when the winemaker imported 2 clay amphorae from Italy. Then selecting a small block of the 34 year old Chenin Blanc, they very best yellow, sun exposed bunches were picked as to maximise the flavours & expression of the wine. De-stemmed by hand & then left to ferment naturally on the skins for 7 months. 

Leaving us with an extremely aromatic & fresh wine. First on the nose you get strong citrus notes which carry on through to the palate, then hints of slight perfume. What a beautifully complex wine that has layers of textures of fruits. 

This unique destination offers exceptional experiences, & not only award winning wine tastings. A wonderful take on modern African Cuisine by Chef Guy Bennett at The Restaurant. A stunning collection of contemporary South African art at The Gallery.

Chef Guy surely has made a name for himself & since taking over the reigns in the kitchen last year October, he has put together a menu that captures his passion for local produce. The à la carte menu, has been individually priced for lunch & is available as a set 3 or 4-course dinner menu. The artistry of Chef Guy comes out on every plate that you are served. You can clearly see that his dishes are influenced by his surroundings. 

Enjoy a sunny winter's day in the Franschhoek winelands, whilst having a hearty lunch being surrounded by the beauty that is Grande Provence Heritage Wine Estate. Or be like me & book in to experience The Owners Cottage & The Restaurant for dinner! Check out Part 2 of the #WineRoutingWithLloyd visit here

Thursday, 5 July 2018

#WineRoutingWithLloyd - La Bri

I can remember the day I 1st discovered La Bri. It was at the Fijnwijn festival in Pretoria 4 years ago, and since that day, it has firmly remained on my list of favourites & was the real reason for the start of my love affair with Chardonnay. So I was rather excited to head to Franschhoek to visit the estate. 

How is the view from the tasting room looking out over the vineyard & up onto the mountains? Definitely a spot that I can see myself sitting & enjoying a day of fine wines with friends. 

Lets start off by just looking at these bottles? How simple, yet elegant right? So there is a story behind these. Every varietal has a specific flower that has been paired up with the wine. (Look at the top of the wine bottles & the colours, they match up with the colours of the flowers.)

- Viognier: Ixia Viridiflora (Green Ixia)
- Chardonnay: Clivia Miniata (Yellow Clivia)
- Syrah: Herbae (Herbs)
- Cabernet Sauvignon: Watsonia Alba (White Watsonia)
- Affinity: Geissorhiza Radians (Wine Cup)
- Merlot: Amaryllis Belladonna (March Lily)

Also, on that note. Ever flower used is found on the La Bri property. So much attention to detail. I love it. Read more here about the pairing of the flowers to the wines, it really is quite interesting.

So when I set out on this #WineRoutingWithLloyd trip, my mission was to find unique experiences to write home about. I must say, I found one at La Bri, that makes me smile every time I think back on it & I thank winemaker - Irene Waller for sitting down & talking me through it. 

- Wine & Lokum pairing.
- Wine & Chocolate pairing.
- Wine & Biltong pairing. 

Each pairing is unique in it's own way. Handcrafted local Lokum, or Turkish Delight as you may otherwise know it. Dark Belgian chocolate, which is handcrafted just down the road at the local chocolatier & then selected by the winemaker. Then a truly South African one, is Biltong.

Each pairing in it's own is something different, in tastes, textures & feels. For those wanting something more informal, the Biltong pairing is just that, where you are able to experiment with each, mixing & matching Biltong & wine to what your palate prefers. 

The Lokum pairing, is not that pink & white powdered turkish delight that your grandma used to buy & stock in the cupboard. This delight is something more crafted & specific with roasted nuts, mint, apricot & even ginger. Don't worry, not all in the same piece though. 

Then the dark Belgain Chocolates are made specifically for La Bri by the local chocolatier & are only available at La Bri. So you won't be able to buy them in store, which definitely makes it unique. (I must tell you that at one point after a bite of chocolate & sip of your wine, the aftertaste will be as if you've just eaten a peppermint crisp chocolate.)

I don't want to give away too much here in the tasting profiles & lead you on to what you should be tasting, as with a pairing I always believe you need to let your own palate tell you what you are experiencing. 

La Bri boasts with a state of the art gravity fed wine cellar. And it it actually open for visitors to take a self-walk tour through. 

One more thing to mention is that La Bri has introduced a new wine under 'Double Door.' Which initially was only a 'glipsie' as Irene says, but was just so good that they bottled it back in 2016 when the 11 rows of Viognier didn't have a good enough yield & the press had to be topped up with Chardonnay. Resulting in a 52% Viognier & 48% Chardonnay blend that is a must try. 

So on a side note, my love affair for Syrah started the day I sat at in this tasting room. This is a interesting experience that gives you enough freedom to arrive not knowing a lot about pairing wines with foods, & play around until the pairing makes enough sense for your palate. 

Check out La Bri here.

And naturally, #WineRoutingWithLloyd was riding through Franschhoek in the new Ford Kuga.