Cape Town - Travellers headed to the Cape south coast have an excellent mix of cellars to visit in Walker Bay and the Cape Agulhas area, where Lomond vineyards are situated.
Both their Pincushion and Sugarbush sauvignon blancs are of star quality, as are the two syrahs, and a merlot rosé has just joined the range.
As there are no tasting facilities at the cellar, the winery joins up with Farm 215, a neighbouring nature reserve beyond Gansbaai, which boasts a restaurant and guest house.
On the menu are original events for January visitors that include an art exhibition which has its opening today, accompanied by live music, wine tasting and a generous buffet at R155 a head.
Vegans can pair courses of a meat- and dairy-free lunch with wine on January 12, while a week later, a three-course lunch and fish braai with wine tasting will take place.
Booking is essential for all events. The recent fire in the area has not caused damage to farm or cellar, but at time of writing the internet was still down.
The icy Atlantic is as inviting as a crisp sauvignon blanc when the mercury soars way above 30°C. New year is traditionally a great time to chill at our Weskus bays, beaches and lagoons – where wine farmers from the Olifants River region dive, braai snoek and kreef and drink fruity white wines.
From a tiny cellar perched above the waves at Doringbaai an impressive 2011 sauvignon blanc (R120) emerged. It was the first Fryer’s Cove wine to be made there, previous vintages having been produced in a Stellenbosch cellar. Like its predecessors, it’s intense, bone dry, with green fruit and a salty minerality that lingers. It’s one of only three sauvignons to be rated as five-star in the new Platter guide, which probably helps to account for the fact that cellar stocks have sold out.
Its successor, the Fryer’s Cove Bamboes Bay 2012 sauvignon, is now available. My immediate reaction on tasting this was that it was surely made expressly to partner West Coast rock lobster. While it’s lean and green, with the same briny flintiness, there’s something more, a fruitiness that offers an illusion of sweetness, making it the ideal complement to the succulent sweet flesh of the legs and claws of freshly bagged kreef, preferably grilled over spider-gum coals.
The vinous journey of brothers-in-law winemaker Wynand Hamman and viticulturist Jan Ponk van Zyl in transforming a dream into reality makes good holiday reading.
Nearly 30 years ago they were together at the Van Zyl beach cottage at Strandfontein, plotting to plant a vineyard so close to the ocean that salt would be an integral component of berry minerality.
But 14 years were to pass before this project was realised and three hectares were planted 650m from the sea. Mists envelop the vineyard year round. The well-drained soil of limestone topped with red sand and seashells lends welcome flint, but lack of water proved to be a major stumbling block, as the groundwater was too salty.
The solution was a pipeline from the reliable Olifants River, which provides irrigation for the Van Zyls’ Vredendal farm.
The vineyard expanded to its present 6ha, four of sauvignon blanc and two of pinot noir. Hamman made the maiden wine and the subsequent eight vintages in Stellenbosch, but was not happy about transporting his grapes 350km in late summer heat.
Six kilometres south of the vineyard the fishing village of Doringbaai had seen better days, as had its former crayfish packing shed at the ocean’s edge. It proved to be suitable for a cellar, its water cooled by the sea water under the pier.
The winery took shape in time to make the 2011 sauvignon blanc in appropriately maritime surrounds.
A tasting facility has been added and the local community have opened a kiosk serving freshly cooked seafood to happy visitors seated outside. Jan Ponk van Zyl told me the kiosk keeps the same hours as Fryer’s Cove winery, and the menu is based on snoek, hake and calamari, served with chips or roosterkoek.
Both facilities are open from Monday to Saturday. Visitors can also meander along a seaside walking trail between Strandfontein and Doring Bay. See www.fryerscove. co.za or call 082 800 7367. - Weekend Argus