Those seeking the old Graham Beck tasting room in the French Corner are in for a very pleasant surprise. In its place the Anthonij Rupert Estate has burgeoned into a powerhouse of not one but two tasting rooms spanning from the modern to the traditional.
Most recently, the estate has opened the doors of its shiny new Terra Del Capo tasting room. Designed by Francois du Plessis Interiors, this mezzanine-level space utilizes an open tasting counter over which you can admire the famous Franschhoek scenery or have a private tasting in the plush lounge areas.
Décor and lighting are pointedly contemporary, but retaining an element of old world charisma are the magnificent antique art deco doorways – hand-picked pieces hailing all the way from Indonesia.
The conceptualization behind the tasting room lies in the late Anthonij Rupert’s vision to showcase the estate’s Italian-inspired Terra Del Capo range, to which you’ll find a fitting pairing downstairs: the Antipasti Bar. The dark woods and earth tones in the décor, the jar-lined walls, the wooden boards heaped with fresh-baked artisan bread, and the lilting Italian music in the background all call for a slow enjoyment of these “lifestyle and leisure wines”. What you’ll want to do for a real taste of la dolce vita, however, is sit outside under the olive trees with a glass of the 2011 Reserve Sangiovese. Every bit as warm and drinkable as Tuscany’s signature red should be, it’s hard to imagine these grapes were grown on South African soil.
Small nibbles, mostly fresh or cured, are offered on the menu; after all, this isn’t the time or the space for hefty meals. The Chef’s Selection Antipasti (R 150 per person) gets you a spread of wine-loving foods. For the charcuterie-lovers, there’s prosciutto with melon, mortadella, salami, and variations of Italian cheeses (e.g. caciotta). The calamari comes with herb breading and an extra lemony aioli not to be missed, its heaviness balanced by the satisfying crunch of pickled pearl onions. With the addition of grilled vegetables, the platter presents a good variety of vinegary, savoury, and roasty flavours. The carpaccio can be a bit of a miss – too much sharp rocket, too little parmesan, and beef that begs for more seasoning – but the neat taste of the olive-oil-drizzled white anchovy with lime, fennel, heirloom tomatoes, and hardboiled quail egg is a total hit.
If your preference is for a more traditional tasting venue, just down the tree-lined road is the Anthonij Rupert tasting room where the estate’s “nerdy” wines are showcased. Do prepare yourself for a complete change of scenery as it’s situated in a manor house restored to its mid-nineteenth century Cape Heritage glory. Complete with seating parlours, antique furniture, and art-covered walls, here each flight of tastings presents 2 to 4 premium wines from the Cape of Good Hope and Anthonij Rupert Wine ranges.
Do take heed: these are wines for the oenophiliac. Wines that have a story. Wines originating from trusty old vines with limited yields. Wines that have been artfully crafted and held in reserve until the perfect drinking stage. The 2013 Altima Sauvignon Blanc (Cape of Good Hope) retains its green, grassy tones from a long harvest at high altitude. The 2007 Merlot and the 2007 Syrah (Anthonij Rupert Wines) are only now making their way out of the cellar, offering unrivalled silkiness and dark, tight tannin structures in exchange for the six-year wait.
The great thing about the Anthonij Rupert Estate is that you can get a whole range of light-hearted to serious wines in one go, complete with food and a tranquil view. Just to throw it in there, it’s also a hop and a skip away from other heavy hitters such as Backsberg and Boschendal. Best make it a long, dawdling day trip and bring along a designated driver.
Anthonij Rupert Estate, R45 Wine Route, Franschhoek Valley
Hours: Tuesdays to Sundays 10am to 4.30pm
Contact: 021 874 9041