Tasting and pairing at Zandvliet

There’s a sort of ‘gentleness’ that accompanies the landscaping views when I took the turnoff into Zandvliet Wine Estate’s driveway on Tuesday morning. A gentle energy is overwhelming as nature unveils itself in its most scenic form. The gravel pathway towards the tasting room felt magical and I knew something wonderful was about to happen.

I was an impatient visitor, I wanted to gobble up all that is esteemed estate had to offer in one big gulp. But I had to mentally curb my enthusiasm, forcing myself to apply some patience. The true beauty of life presents itself mostly in nature and can only be seen with the eyes and felt with the heart. I wanted to make sure that I fully experience all the emotions that accompanied my trip to this special place. And my patience was deeply rewarded.

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The scenic entrance towards Zandvliet Wine Estate.

The Zandvliet Wine Estate is as known for its famous racehorse, Pocket Power, as it is for producing possibly the best Shiraz in the country. And it was the latter that had me knocking on this fourth generation estate’s door on Tuesday morning. Owned by brothers Paul and Dan de Wet, Zandvliet has largely moved away from its horse breeding practises to concentrate more on its winemaking. There are, however, still many horses roaming around the estate.

Before I continued onto the tasting room, I parked my car at the designated parking spot and paused for a moment to truly indulge in the beauty of this magical place, I didn’t want to miss a thing. I was in awe, and like a child, I wanted to drop my little notepad and bag and just make a run for it with my arms spread out wide between the tall, established trees and green manicured grass. This is what the nature-lover’s dreams are made off.

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I drove past the nearby old train station, called Sandvliet.

The tasting room, a double story, wooden floor, old converted building tells the story of rich English and Dutch influences. The old stables on the farm are an indication that horses live here and it adds character to an already scenic haven.

I received possibly the most inviting welcome when Brand Ambassador, Werner Els and Tasting Room Executive Adriana Goliath came out onto the front porch to greet me. It was wonderful. I felt special. I was guided towards the back door which opened up onto a small piece of heaven. A special table setting with four selected wines had been set up especially for this tasting. The largest Plane tree provided more than enough shade, overlooking a charming, little farm dam.

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The breathtaking outside wine-tasting setup was fit for a queen.

“I only have two rules when people enter my tasting room and that is that they should have a great time,” Adriana tells me excitedly. “I don’t want to complicate their tasting, I just want them to relax and have a good time. And secondly, I want to do the best job possible to make them feel at ease.”

Adriana and I hit it off immediately. She was friendly and helpful and had a real passion for the wine, and I loved that. She tells me that she loves this small tasting room as it adds character to the tasting experience but it also allows for her to give that personal interaction when engaging with her visitors. “It’s very intimate,” she says.

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Tasting Room Executive Adriana Goliath and I enjoying a lovely glass of Zandvliet wine surrounded by stunning views.

She comes from humble beginnings and grew up on a small farm not too far from Zandvliet, called Le Chasseur. However, she has since moved to the neighbouring town of Robertson. She loves to work with people and it’s evident in her demeanour. Adriana kicked off my tasting journey with the Zandvliet Shiraz Rosé from the My Best Friend range.

Zandvliet My Best Friend Shiraz Rosé

I’ve mentioned once or twice before that I’m not the greatest fan of Rosé wines, specifically the sweet Rosé. However, the Zandvliet Shiraz Rosé is a dry, and not a sweet wine and it was absolutely delightful. “I believe people do not only buy with their palates but also with their eyes, and this Rosé is such a lovely, inviting colour that you cannot help but just love it,” Adriana tells me, and I completely agree.

It was lovely and soft on the palate and appeals to the simple palate. This wine embodies all the characteristics of an enjoyable rosé and will have you fall in love from the very first sip. I enjoyed it because it presented a lovely solace from the hot summer’s day. It’s a real people’s pleaser.

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The Manor House at Zandvliet Wines.

Zandvliet Hill of Enon Chardonnay

I love Chardonnay and often cannot grasp why there are so many ABC (Anything But Chardonnay) people out there. I was super excited to try their Chardonnay and it did not disappoint. Twelve-months wood matured in French oak barrels, this Chardonnay was a real treat to the palate. Soft yet elegant, this Chardonnay encapsulated the true essence of a good old-fashioned white wine.

Zandvliet My Best Friend Cape Red

Ninety percent Cabernet and ten percent Shiraz, this dark red wine was a lovely treat. Full-bodied but soft, the Cape Red will appeal to both the simple and complex palate. I loved it because it is elegant and contains aromas of red plums with a smooth finish.

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One of the old stables on the farm.

Zandvliet Kalkveld Shiraz

I must admit, I was mostly excited to get my lips onto one of their famous Shiraz wines and finally I was granted the opportunity. Fourteen-months wood matured, in first-fill French oak barrels, this Shiraz is truly a showstopper. I revelled in the delight of this glorious red wine as it completely lived up to its hype. It is incredibly soft and balanced, yet robust and dominating on the palate. A mix of plum and chocolate flavours explode in your mouth from the very first sip, with a smooth, long finish. I truly enjoyed this elegant red wine.

Wine and Olive Pest Pairing

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The yummiest wine and olive pesto pairing.  

If I thought I had a grand wine tasting experience, I had another thing coming. In fact, I had a wine and olive pesto tasting coming. Brand Ambassador, Werner Els spoiled me with some of the very best wines of this beautiful estate, paired with the yummiest green and black olive pesto’s produced at the Olijvenhof Olive Estate just outside of Bonnievale.

Werner’s pairing presentation was filled with energy and his passion was almost tangible. Having spent sixteen years in the wine industry, I was completely fascinated with the wine knowledge he contributed to the pairing. I am always open to new experiences and when he suggested the wine and olive pesto pairing, I was slightly sceptical. Wine pairings have increased over the past couple of years but I’ve never even heard of a wine and olive pairing. But since I absolutely adore olives, I was open to the experience.

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Brand Ambassador Werner Els brought a new, exciting dimension to the wine and olive pesto pairing.

It was, however, not until the moment that I was seated, with the gorgeous array of bottles of wines and olive pesto jars in front of me, that I truly comprehended the intensity of the flavours I was about to explore. How will the wine compete with the dominant olive flavours? But I was delightfully surprised that Zandvliet’s collection of fine wines maintained its superiority amongst these flavourful treats.

“We really wanted to think outside of the box and so I came up with the idea of a wine and olive pairing,” says Werner. “It’s very unconventional and people are often sceptical about the combination but once they try it, they are usually blown away by the combination of aromas from both the wine and the olives.” I also found that the olives exposed the true personality of the wines.

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The tasting room is a historical building with Edwardian and Dutch influences.

First we tasted the Zandvliet My Best Friend Sauvignon Blanc with the green olive pesto with parmesan, and it was an absolute winner.  Refreshingly new, I loved the limey and salty combination that lingered on my palate. The Sauv also added a tropical aroma while I tasted strong apricot flavours dominating. It was a true delight.

Next was Zandvliet’s legendary Shiraz and I was especially curious to know how this icon will keep up with the black olive pesto with parmesan, and it was pure joy. Classical and elegant, this pairing was possibly my favourite. I loved the almost earthy richness that the Shiraz provided. Werner tells me that Zandvliet’s Shiraz is made exactly the same way as it was back in 1976 , when the first Shiraz was produced on the farm.

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Large Plane trees added to the spectacular views of Zandvliet Wine Estate.

The Cabernet Sauvignon paired with the chilli and garlic olive pesto was up next. Yet another lovely pairing, I loved this combination for the full flavours and the medium, warm characteristics that the chilli brought to the pairing. Werner says that chilli is a very challenging ingredient to pair with wine because of its dominating characteristics but I found the Cab Sauv complimented the chilli wonderfully and vice versa. I really enjoyed this one.

The last pairing was the one that completely blew me away. I simply couldn’t fathom the pairing of the Zandvliet My Best Friend Sweet Natural Muscat and the black olive with garlic and chilli pesto together. But I was I delightfully surprised! I’ve mentioned before that I’m not a fan of sweet and semi-sweet wines, but I’m always open to a new adventure and that is exactly what this pairing offered. The natural sweetness of the Muscat accommodated the chilli and garlic flavours of the pesto perfectly which made this pairing a winner.

I loved Werner’s enthusiasm about the wine and the future of the industry in South Africa. He’s very excited about the potential that the African market holds for the local industry. “There are still many cultures where wine is considered a status symbol and this is difficult to overcome. It impacts on the quality of the wine we produce,” says Werner.

And so my visit to the lovely Zandvliet, sadly, came to an end. It was a perfect day spent in great company, breathtaking views and, of course, delicious wine. I promised to visit soon again, and that’s a promise I intend to keep.

Please note that the wine and olive pesto pairings are priced at R20 per person per pairing and prior notice is needed to allow for the freshest ingredients. Visitors are also welcome to bring their own picnic basket and enjoy the beautiful landscape views Zandvliet has to offer.

Many thanks to Werner Els and Adriana Goliath for the wonderful experience I had at Zandvliet. Thanks for making me feel right at home, I truly had a fantastic time. If you’d like more info about the various wines Zandvliet has to offer, please visit their website here. Please also join them on Facebook and follow them on Twitter.

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Till next time, hugs and high5’s!

xoxo

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