Review: Franschhoek Winter Wines

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Food and wine pairings come as standard now.  But wine and cars?  What a bonus!  The second annual Winter Wines Festival, hosted at the Franschhoek Motor Museum on the L’Ormarins wine estate, provided the perfect occasion for an afternoon’s indulgence in palate-pleasing wines and food while surrounded by eye-wateringly elegant historic motor vehicles.

The collaboration of the Winter Wines Festival and the Franschhoek Motor Museum created an atmosphere of sheer luxury.  Much to my delight, we were transported from the parking area to the entrance of the museum in a beautifully maintained 1940s Buick Super Eight, instilling an excited anticipation before we’d even set foot in the door. The tasting hall proved a wonderfully warm sanctuary from the biting wind outside, and with live music floating through the air and impressive antique motors gleaming between the wine tasting stands, it seemed we were not alone in being on a high.

After tasting La Bri estate’s spicy, silky Syrah 2010, followed by La Chataigne’s cherryish pinotage/merlot blend Marron 2009 and the Vrede en Lust Boet Erasmus 2010, which has as much personality as the man it is named after, my growling stomach enjoyed the culinary offerings of the Anthonij Rupert Winery chefs, who offered a choice between a steak sandwich with pesto, rocket and Dijon mustard, or a spicy Tuscan bean and sausage casserole: great winter fare. The hall had plenty of tables and benches so that visitors could take their time over their meals and enjoy the acoustic songs or catch up with old friends. And as if they hadn’t already thought of everything, there were even two large televisions for rugby fans.

Replete, happy and relatively sober again after my casserole, the tasting experience begged to resume with the berry and tobacco leaf tones of the Anthonij Rupert Optima 2009, a smoothly textured, seductive blend that quickly made the top of my FWTSF (favourite-wines-tasted-so-far) list.  Moving on with the pure Cabernet Franc 2012 from Lynx Wines, I was particularly charmed by the winemaker as we enjoyed an informative and friendly conversation regarding the wine-making process of this exceptional Cabernet. Being my first experience of a Cabernet Franc, I was curious as to how the perfect balance of sweetness and acidity is achieved. It certainly has become my personal favourite of the red wines and gave my former FWTSFs some stiff competition. I recommend it highly to anyone wanting a nice change from their regular red selection.

The time flew and the crowds thinned in the tasting area as visitors moved onto the other halls. In search for a renewed appetite for dessert, we too opted for a bit of a stroll, and braved the wind to view all three motor display halls containing between them over 100 years of motor history.  Our smiles of delight at the exhibits were echoed in the faces of children, parents and grandparents in every hall.
The day finished off with some irresistible desserts: a cheese platter with strawberries and a smooth crème brûlée served in a quirky glass jar. A water and coffee stand became increasingly popular as it neared five o’clock, providing much needed hydration and a caffeine kick. Yet the crowd remained, lounging on the benches and tables, sharing their purchases with friends and family. The relaxing and friendly atmosphere lingered til the very end.

This charming festival is a wonderful opportunity for some of Franschhoek’s wineries to showcase their finest selection of winter reds to an enthusiastic and intimate gathering, and of course allow wine and motor enthusiasts to indulge in their passions – an annual event not to be missed!

Jacqueline Midgley

The Winter Wines Festival 2013 took place on 17 August 2013.

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