Attendees of the 2016 #FUncorked festival celebrated Heritage day in style: a weekend pass with 18 participating wine estates in and around Franschhoek. The festival programme listed the participating estates according to geographic location, reminiscent of a treasure map where X marks the spot of some of SA’s best wines.
Although it is technically possible to visit all 18 over the course of the weekend, we decided on a more leisurely approach: start at number 1, pick a few off the list that we really want to visit and see where the day takes us.
The first stop was Noble Hill. Their Syrah is a black pepper delight, no doubt thanks to the extra oomph provided by the less than 14% blended Mourvèdre and Viognier. Their Estate Blend consists of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and Petit Verdot. As these hard-hitters suggest, the blend is full bodied and speaks of a cold winter’s evening curled up in front of the fire after a venison dinner and dark chocolate based desert.
Next up, we visited Allée Bleue. The 2015 Merlot is enchantingly light in colour with a cherry palate. Their striking blue owl label was inspired by a group of workers’ discovery of owlets on the farm. Although not offered as part of the official Uncorked tastings, festival goers could purchase tickets to taste some of their other wines. Of these, the MCC Brut Rosé, a Pinot Noir, Pinotage and Chenin Blanc blend, was a treat with its grape mouthfeel.
Making our way down the list, our next stop was Boschendal. Here, the Brut Non-Vintage is a Pinot Noir and Chardonnay blend that has a light, honey-like texture. The 1685 Chardonnay is lightly wooded, making it the perfect wine for the spring-time transition from cold to warm. It has all of the comfort of a barrel fermented wine but with enough of the lightness of taste more suited to warmer days. Their Sommelier Selection Pinotage is aptly named, with a delightful pecan nut palate.
Somewhat off the beaten track, Glenwood was the next stop on the treasure map. Their 2014 Merlot is softly rounded and would pair well with spicy or piquant dishes. We were sipping on this one while enjoying the wine blending competition hosted by the estate. Participation was enthusiastic and the winning team were as jubilant, no doubt, as any winemaker after a successful first tasting.
The day’s standout and our last stop was Rickety Bridge, where the Sauvignon Blanc is somewhat sweet with strong notes of tropical fruit, while the Chenin Blanc is similarly sweet but more full bodied. The 2015 Pinotage was my favourite of the day with a sophisticated plum palate. The Foundation Stone Red is spicy, with notes of black pepper. Their clever solution to keeping track what you are tasting (or have already tasted) was a paper ring that fits around the stem of your glass. This was very useful, as festival goers tended to wander off to sit and relax in the shade, make use of the props at the selfie booth, play with the huge set of Jenga blocks, or to peruse the food stalls in between tastings. Key to the atmosphere was the live band; talented musicians that nonetheless let a young boy in his Rickety Bridge uniform sing a song with them to general applause from the crowd. No wonder we decided to spend the remainder of the day right there, enjoying the sunset, wine, company and live music.
With the weekend an undoubted success, we enjoyed our treasure hunt and look forward to next year’s event to explore and discover even more of this beautiful valley.
Franschhoek Uncorked 2016 took place in the Franschhoek Wine Valley on 24 & 25 September 2016.