The world celebrates Cabernet Sauvignon Day on September 3. Clifford Roberts highlights Worcester as an area to explore an alternative expression of the variety.
The Worcester wine region has become a champion of Chenin Blanc. So much so that it isn’t popularly associated with Cabernet Sauvignon as much as it once was. To disregard it completely however, is to make a serious mistake.
The region lies within the Breede River Valley, with the regional town of Worcester being 110km from Cape Town CBD. A broad swathe of vineyards fills the banks of this large river, rising up against the slopes of surrounding mountain ranges of the Langeberg, Riviersonderend and Drakenstein. The promotion agency Worcester Wine & Olive Route should be your first stop for information not only about the dozen or so wineries of the area, but its olive estates too.
The agency is the first place you’ll learn that Worcester is acclaimed for both Chenin Blanc and Cabernet Sauvignon. What follows is a selection of locations to try the variety.
1. Meet the winemaker
Having been founded in 1946, De Wet Cellar claims the title as oldest cellar in the Worcester area. Among its offerings is a single variety Cabernet Sauvignon, which can be tasted at its visitor centre or on a pre-booked experience with one of the winemakers. Visitors get to learn more about the wine, but the region and the winery too. The price begins at R50 for five wines. It is advisable to book at least two days prior to your expected arrival.
Tel: 023 341 2710
2. Taste Cab while zebra spotting
Eagle’s Cliff is open to suggestion – whether a visitor would like a personalised wine tasting with the winemaker or exploring what’s happening in the barrels. It’s essential to enquire and book ahead of time. Keep in mind that Eagle’s Cliff is another of the area’s Cab royalty. Owner and winemaker Christiaan Groenewald is one of only five winemakers to have won the Diner’s Club Winemaker of the Year award twice and his Arendskloof Cabernet Sauvignon has won at IWSC, Vitis Vinifera, Gold Wine Awards and the Old Mutual Trophy Wine Show. Tossed into the visitor experience are Springbok and Zebras that often graze alongside the tasting room. There’s a veranda where you can enjoy light meals or cheese and meat platters. Booking is essential.
Tel: 023 340 4112
3. Platter and wine
Stettyn Family Vineyards lies in the eastern foothills of the Klein Drakenstein Mountains, 15km north of Villiersdorp. The farm on which the winery is situated, is steeped in history and dates to 1714. The restored Cape Dutch homestead built in 1777 was the original house occupied by the first permanent settlers and is a national monument. White wines are its focus these days, but it has reds available, including the Cabernet Sauvignon, which has garnered awards from amongst others the Michelangelo International Wine & Spirits Awards, Veritas, Old Mutual Trophy Wine Show and Vitis Vinifera. Alongside wine tastings is the offer of cheese and meat platters.
Tel: 023 340 4220
4. Chocolate and wine
Try a Cabernet Sauvignon with chocolate at Brandvlei Cellar, otherwise known as BC Wines. The wine was a top performer in the National Wine Challenge, SA Women’s Wine Awards and Veritas. The tasting line-up of four wines and handmade chocolates, crafted for the winery, costs R50pp. Featured alongside the Cab, paired with pistachio cranberry dark choc truffle, are: Sauvignon Blanc with a lemon-mallow; Chardonnay with macadamia-and-lemon nougat; BC Wines’ Bacchanté, served with a pecan and orange-spiced nougat; Shiraz with dark chocolate flavoured with almond, berries, cherries and a hint of Himalayan rock salt.
Tel: 023 340 4215
5. Food and wine
Learn to make pasta the Italian way while finding out more about local wine. That’s the invitation from Picardi Place Guest House in Rawsonville. Owner Jaco Brand does weekly pasta cooking classes himself – passing on the skills he discovered during a sojourn in Italy. Of course, the wines featured often include local Cabernet Sauvignons, served with the meal that includes vegetables and herbs from Jaco’s own garden. Winemakers from the greater Worcester and Breedekloof regions attend the events to talk about their wines. Sessions can be arranged for lunch or dinner.
Tel: 082 788 9019
6. Wine tasting at home
One of the old family-owned and run properties of the Nuy region, Leipzig farm is a favourite getaway with its guest accommodation and extensive activities. These include tractor rides and wine blending. If you’re unable to get to the farm to taste its Cabernet Sauvignon, the wine is included in a special home-delivery box on offer along with the Leipzig Sauvignon Blanc. For the price of R360 you’ll also get a branded bottle opener, olives, olive oil and crackers.
Tel: 023 347 8422