As we wound down the hill from Mont Blois, we buckled up for a short drive to Zandvliet Wine Estate, located on the outskirts of Ashton – the second stop on our first day in the gorgeous Langeberg Valley. It is here that I finally got a taste of my own wine. Literally.
Zandvliet Wine Estate generously invited us to indulge in a variety of activities offered on the farm, including exploring their underground cellars, lunch in the Kalkveld Lounge and a wine blending experience as part of our #MagicOfWinter media stay.
As we excitedly chattered away en-route to the “home of Shiraz”, I thought back to the Old Mutual Trophy Wine Show‘s public tastings in Cape Town earlier this year, where I had the privilege of tasting Zandvliet‘s gold-medal Kalkveld Shiraz 2015 (94 points). I remember that it sparked something electric in me; a warm, red-gold flame that flowed straight into my heart-cockles. I’ve always been an avid Shiraz drinker and needless to say, I was excited to visit the home of such a sterling wine.
Kalkveld. Such a beautiful word that describes the huddled range of limestone hills that makes up with southern half of Zandvliet. It’s exactly this rugged, untouched expanse of kalkveld (calcareous earth) that infuses their wine with a magical minerality that is simply unparalleled.
Today, almost 180 years later, ANB Investments (also known for the ClemenGold mandarin brand) is the proud custodian of this magnificent heritage. Whilst some of the lower yielding vineyards had to make space for citrus plantations, Zandvliet is preparing for some exciting new cultivars to be established.
Kalkveld Lounge Manager, Lesley Sipambu, welcomed us with outstretched hands and an award-winning smile. Walking into the Kalkveld Lounge was a silence-inducing moment; our group’s chatter faded quickly as our eyes adjusted to the low-light of the tasting room.
A beautiful blend of modern and authentic, of old and new, the expansive room was truly one of the most aesthetically pleasing I’ve seen. Dark oak barrels lined the far wall, with a roaring fireplace at the head of the room. Plush wing-back chairs soaked up the warmth of the fire, whilst couches and coffee tables lined the opposite wall for smaller groups. An impressive dining room table spanned the length of the room, with a bespoke sand-blasted glass-shard chandelier casting a soft glow on the diners below.
I couldn’t wait to return later for lunch in this spectacular room.
The cellar tour
About two and a half years ago, Zandvliet rediscovered a maze of underground Muscat tanks. Lesley guided us on a tour through a part of the old cellar, which they’ve converted into an incredibly cool information centre. Lesley shared with us a bit on the history of the farm and explained how Muscat was stored in the olden days. The experience also gives you a chance to explore the maze of tanks at your leisure, now all linked with doorways and passages. It’s a really interactive experience, and I thoroughly enjoyed what they did with the space.
The cellar tour is followed with yet another great hands-on activity, where you get the chance to blend your own wine using three of their cultivars (Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon and Grenache, in our case).
Lesley is a master of his craft; he patiently and efficiently guided us through the wine blending process, which involves a lot of measuring, making sums and tasting until you find that perfect sweet spot. He was also our in-house photographer and videographer as we each went through the various steps of blending, corking, labeling and waxing our bottles, all with a giant smile.
The blends of the day were exceptionally Grenache-heavy, without any of us consulting each other beforehand! Having said that, it was a very delicious Grenache. I opted for a 55% Grenache, 30% Shiraz and 15% Cabernet Sauvignon blend which I (very unadventurously, I know!) called, The Red Hedonist. It’s velvety smooth and deliciously juicy, with that signature subtle white pepper spice of a great Grenache. Definitely one for the shelves, at least for another 12 months.
With newly corked bottles of wine in our hands, we headed back to the tasting room for lunch, because wine blending sure is hungry work!
Lunch in the Kalkveld Lounge
We arrived back in the tasting room to a spread I’ve only ever seen in glossy magazines in the food section. Beautiful round breadboards were laden with triangles of cheese, rows of delicately cured meats, fresh fruit slices and all the nuts, olives, preserves and butters a foodie like me could possibly wish for. Side note: the Shiraz preserve/jam is an absolute must! But then there was more; hearty meatballs and chicken skewers, loaves of freshly baked bread and pitchers of fruit juice kept on coming out of the kitchen.
After a slightly inappropriate amount of photographs and flat-lay set-ups of the spread, we settled around the table for lunch and for the second time that day, silence descended on our group as if by magic. We ate and quietly chatted and compared tasting notes on our personal blends. With wide eyes, we appreciated the generous hospitality of Zandvliet’s abundance until we all sat back after having our fill, content with the warmth of the fireplace on our backs.
All too soon it was time to bid our farewells, but only to embark on our next adventure.
Zandvliet Wine Estate is a must for any wine aficionado. The wine blending experience comes highly recommended and would be a fun activity for a group of friends. Not only do you get a glimpse into (the more glamorous side of) wine making, but you also get to take home something that you have created yourself, which left me with an overwhelming sense of achievement.
A big thank you to Zandvliet Wine Estate for welcoming us so graciously, to Lesley for entertaining us so brilliantly and for spoiling us with your incredible experiences.
The fine print
Zandvliet Clemengold wine pairing: R100
Zandvliet cellar tour and wine blending: R150
Zandvliet wine tasting: R50
Phone: 023 615 1146
Address: Zandvliet Rd, Ashton, 6715
The Little Hedonist has made every effort to ensure that the information in this post was correct at the time of publication. However, I do not assume any liability caused by errors, such as price, menu changes, opening times, and contact details.
Disclaimer: I was invited to this event in my personal capacity. There was no expectation for platform coverage in the form of a blog, or social media posts. This is my honest and truthful opinion and review thereof. All thoughts and opinions expressed herein are solely those of The Little Hedonist, given in good faith and in no way influenced by the company or its affiliates. All images, unless otherwise stated/credited, are also my own.