In my previous post, I wrote about a Perfect Day on the Western Cape that I spent while down on a work trip back in May. Luckily for me I had one more free day and chose to spend it doing 2 things that I do best: tasting some of the region’s best wines and indulging in some fine South African cuisine.
The Cape Winelands counts 6 different regions and choosing where to imbibe can be difficult. There are many companies organizing custom, private tours where you can choose exactly where you’d like to go as well as other small group tours which usually do 5 or so different stops. We have always chosen to go on our own, sometimes hiring a driver and sometimes just driving ourselves (of course if you choose to do the later, the driver will need to employ the spit technique if doing much tasting).
Welcome to Hidden Valley Wines
On this latest excursion, the Carnivore so kindly volunteered to drive us and one of my colleagues to Stellenbosch (and back!) for a day exploring the Winelands. We decided to keep the day rather slow-paced with one leisurely tasting followed by a late, wine-enhanced lunch. We chose Stellenbosch over the other regions for its scenic beauty, unfortunately on this day the weather was not cooperative and heavy rains masked the usually magnificent views.
Hidden Valley Wines
Our first stop was to Hidden Valley Wines. This is a winery that we have visited on previous trips and it remains one of our very favorites. On a clear day the view here is absolutely stunning and the wines are some of the best I have had out of this region. I have yet to see these wines offered anywhere in Joburg so it was a delicious treat to sample these harder to find wines. I am quite partial to the Pinotage and will likely be taking advantage of Hidden Valley’s delivery service in the very near future.
Some of Hidden Valley’s Awards
Wine Tasting at Hidden Valley
Another thing that I really like about Hidden Valley is that their tastings are also available accompanied by well-paired chocolate samples or even better, a sumptuous cheese platter. For this visit we couldn’t resist trying the cheese platter even though lunch was soon to come. And when I say cheese platter, this is a bit of a simplification, as it is so much more than that. The lovely cheeses are also accompanied by fresh grapes and figs, olives, tapenade and olive oil (made on site at Hidden Valley), hummous, ham and turkey rolls, as well as 3 chutney-like toppings. Oh and the bread, the freshly baked bread…
Hidden Valley is also home to the prestigious restaurant Overture. We had an amazing lunch here 2 years ago which remains in my top 5 of all meals ever. We were too late in our planning to get in this year so if you want to eat here (and I highly recommend you do) make sure you reserve well ahead of time to avoid disappointment.
Leaving Hidden Valley, rains clearing just a bit
Following our much enjoyed tasting at Hidden Valley, we headed off to Simonsig and their signature restaurant Cuvée. Simonsig is best known for their Cap Classique or sparkling wine, however they produce a wide range of whites and reds as well.
This was our first visit to Cuvée and the verdict was unanimous that our dining experience was simply delectable. As soon as we were seated in the modernly cozy dining room, our server proposed a glass of their Cap Classique while we perused the enticing winter menu (which we readily accepted of course). The menu is not huge with 5 choices (including one vegetarian option) for each course as well as a few featured specials. Each dish is created using fresh, seasonal products and in my opinion, quite inventive. We each ordered a different starter and main so between the 3 of us we covered a good portion of the menu and each item was superb. We each chose a Simonsig wine by the glass to best accompany our meals and I found their Pinotage to be quite good.
My beetroot salad with orange, whipped goats cheese and a rocket emulsion (starter)
Barley risotto with roasted quail and cranberry pears (starter)
Butternut gnocchi, parsnip veloute, sage and pumpkin seeds. Creamy without being too heavy, this was wonderfully unique.
The Carnivore’s Beef Fillet Special
Huge bowl of veggies to accompany the beef special (potatoes included as well, not pictured)
As lovely as the dessert menu looked, we just couldn’t manage another bite but now it will be something to look forward to for next time. This was a truely fantastic lunch (and very reasonably priced to boot) and I can highly recommend it to anyone looking for a special meal in Stellenbosch.
Sadly our wine adventure came to an end as we had to make our way back to Cape Town to catch our flights home. Despite the bad weather we had a fantastic day in the Cape Winelands and look forward to visiting again on our next trip to Cape Town.