Food & Wine
Groot Phesantekraal – the discovery of a hidden rural gem
Fourth generation owners, André and Ronelle Brink, are in celebration mode at Groot Phesantekraal: celebrating the 320th anniversary of their historic farm which dates back to 1698, just over 120 years of Brink family ownership, the launch of their maiden Cap Classique and Pinotage, and the release of new vintage wines in rebranded packaging, including the 2017 Sauvignon Blanc (winner of a 2017 Veritas Double Gold and a prestigious place amongst the 2017 FNB Top 10 Sauvignon Blancs).
Just 20 minutes from Cape Town, tucked within the Tygerberg Hills, the drive into the estate is along a farm road alongside vineyards and beautiful green fields where sheep and cows are grazing. It’s dead quiet except for a few farm animal sounds. All traces of city life are forgotten as you reach the end of the road. A wonderful welcome awaits you: beautiful gardens, historic white-washed buildings and spectacular views across the valley. Here and there a farm dog lolls in the shade while hens and chicks potter around. This is tranquillity at its best. This is the historic Groot Phesantekraal, where you are about to be spoilt with an excellent selection of wines and exquisitely presented gourmet food in their beautifully restored restaurant housed in the farm’s original stable.
Enter the recently renovated tasting room where the central feature is a wall of shelves lined with classic glass bottles containing a vast selection of herbs, spices and teas. Sip Groot Phesantekraal wines and awaken your tasting senses by comparing your experience with over 100 scents stacked up against the wall: black cardamom, szechuan pepper, eucalyptus, nougat, cut-grass, coconut, cloves, ginger, vanilla, cumin seeds… to name just a few. In addition to the range of wines, Groot Phesantekraal’s very own extra virgin olive oil is available at the tasting room for R70 a bottle. Next door is the original chicken coop where private tastings are held. Or perhaps you prefer an informal outdoor tasting on the grassy terrace where you can enjoy a delectable cheese and charcuterie platter while sipping your wine and gazing across vineyards and farmlands.
One of the oldest farms in Durbanville, the rich heritage is woven into the very fabric of the estate, most notably in the elegantly rustic restaurant located in the original stable that dates back to 1767: a charming mixture of past and present. The white-washed plastered walls, original stone floors, open-beam thatched roof and original feeding troughs blend seamlessly with modern touches and wonderful views over the rolling hills and mountains beyond. The menus, based on a combination of contemporary country style and traditional cooking, provide hearty, wholesome meals; a perfect foil to the farm’s wines. The small but eclectic menu changes according to seasonal availability as much of the produce used is sourced on the farm. Current favourites Slow-Braised Pork Belly; Boneless Lamb Loin Pan Fried in Rosemary, Garlic and Butter with a Herb Crust; and Pan-Seared Line-Caught Catch of the Day with Pea and Spinach Risotto. Run by husband and wife team, Maret and Juan van Deventer, the restaurant is very popular for its Saturday brunch, the only wine farm in the valley to offer one – and offers breakfast and lunch from Tuesdays to Fridays.
GROOT PHESANTEKRAAL WINES
With four generations of grape farming weaved into the Brink family’s story, André and Ronelle fulfilled a life-long dream in 2005 when they launched their own family wine brand, Phizante Kraal Wine, in very small quantities: Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz, Sauvignon Blanc and two Chenin Blancs. The wines were made for the Brinks by family friend, Thys Louw (Diemersdal Estate). Blessed with great terroir and skilled winemaking, the wines were very well received, earning Durbanville Terroir Awards, Michelangelo medals as well as Top 20 and Top 10 Sauvignon Blanc awards. The past couple of years have seen some changes. Etienne Louw of Altydgedacht has taken over as winemaker and all the wines have been rebranded. Phizante Kraal, one of the names of the farm during its long history, has been changed to the current name of the farm, Groot Phesantekraal, and the new wine labels include the Brink family crest. The current range of wines includes:
Groot Phesantekraal Blanc de Blanc MCC 2015: NEW
This maiden Cap Classique was made by Etienne Louw, who is well-versed in MCC, having made the overall winning Cap Classique at the 2015 Amorim Cap Classique Challenge. Made from 100% Chardonnay, gorgeous aromas of green apple and citrus combine with biscuity notes from the lees maturation, to create a wine that is both complex and refreshing. The full mouthfeel can be attributed to malolactic fermentation and the 17 months of lees maturation in the bottle. The tantalising delicate bubbles in the wine rounds off the taste experience. Enjoy with deep-fried calamari, steamed crayfish, sashimi, sushi and even pan-fried Cob. A touch of butter holds up wonderfully to the biscuit notes. It also likes cheese, holding up against the creaminess of most cheeses.
Cellar door price: R130
Groot Phesantekraal Sauvignon Blanc 2017:
Made by Etienne Louw, this newly released wine has already been honoured with a Veritas 2017 Double Gold as well as Top 10 status in the 2017 FNB Top 10 Sauvignon Blanc Awards. This year was the fourth year in a row that their Sauvignon Blanc was placed in the Top 20, and the second time in the Top 10. The first time was in 2013 when three of the Top 10 Sauvignon Blancs came from the very same vineyard, a small block planted in 2007 on high ground on the farm which consistently delivers exceptional grapes. Clear pedigree and regional suitability of the variety shows in an abundance of boldly aromatic fruit. The complex and intriguing nose displays a melange of cool, crunchy tropical fruit, with passionfruit and guava dominating. The palate is still very youthful, with mouth-watering grapefruit and lemongrass notes along with cut grass and gooseberries. A distinctive, structured, elegant Sauvignon with a range of flavour and nuance and a layered, lengthy crisp finish. This Sauvignon Blanc becomes better with age, with the tropical nose tending to develop on the palate after 6 to 12 months. It stands up beautifully to strong flavoured shellfish (like mussels) and goats cheese salad.
Cellar door price: R72
Groot Phesantekraal Chenin Blanc 2017:
Made by Etienne Louw, this wine was a recipient of a 2017 Gold Wine Awards Medal. Clean and crisp with summery stone fruit, pineapple, quince and some spice on the nose. Unwooded and fresh, yet intensely fragranced thanks to 55-year-old bush vines offering effortless fruit concentration and complexity. Appetising, lip-smacking, bone dry finish. Ideal al fresco summer sipper, great on its own, but also with scallops, fried calamari or smoked chicken salad.
Cellar door price: R50
Groot Phesantekraal Cabernet Sauvignon 2015:
Made by Thys Louw, this rich and complex wine was awarded a 2017 Michelangelo Gold Medal. Durbanville’s typical dusty, herbal notes are well supported by red and black fruit with a hint of spice and vanilla and cigar box notes. The medium-bodied palate shows Cabernet’s cooler flavours including spearmint, red berries and plum, supported by a bright line of acidity. Well-integrated élevage in French oak and fine, soft tannins makes for a rounded, seamless finish. Accessible now, but better in 3 to 5 years. Allow breathing time to open up or decant an hour before serving. Enjoy with grilled lamb, hearty vegetable stews or risotto, or beef carpaccio with parmesan shavings.
Cellar door price: R100
Groot Phesantekraal Shiraz 2016: New vintage not yet released
Groot Phesantekraal Anna De Koning Chenin Blanc 2016/2017:
This flagship white wine made by Thys Louw is named after the beautiful Anna De Koning, daughter of a freed slave who became the wife of the farm’s first owner Olof Bergh in 1676. Much of this farm’s history and legacy is linked to Anna who rose above her circumstances and went on to inherit Groot Constantia once her husband died. Thanks to her intelligence and beauty, she became a distinguished member of the Cape of Good Hope elite. This barrel-fermented, single vineyard expression on limited release is a flag bearer for Chenin Blanc of Durbanville origin. Concentrated, elegant sweet melon fruit with honeyed almond, nougat, candied nuts and citrus notes on the nose follow through onto the palate. Richness derived from lees contact and barrel maturation impresses on the weighted, textured palate that has opulence well captured in firm acidity and a dry finish. Serious yet refined, powerful yet elegant. A worthy dinner companion that will complement rich, buttery grilled gamefish, and a salty charcuterie spread. It also makes a good companion for a baked cheesecake, slightly infused with lemon, or even an apple almond tart.
Cellar door price: R120
Groot Phesantekraal Pinotage Berliet 2016: NEW
This flagship red wine was made by Thys Louw and Etienne Louw, who between them have amassed ten Absa Top 10 Pinotage awards. The farm’s maiden Pinotage is named after the recently restored 1927 French Berliet that belonged to André Brink’s late father. Etienne believes that the unique elegance and fruit-structure of Durbanville Pinotage will cement the ward’s position as one of the leading production areas for this variety. This limited release Pinotage exudes characteristics of this uniquely South African variety – ripe red fruit, subtle toasty oak and an elegant tannin structure. This wine will develop further complexity with careful cellaring for 8 to 10 years. It makes a beautiful accompaniment to slow-braised pork belly or hearty game dishes. For the more adventurous, seared salmon or even a dark-chocolate based dessert is recommended.
Cellar door price: R125
To purchase Groot Phesantekraal wines, please call 021 825 0060 or visit www.grootphesantekraal.co.za/our-wines
(Being newly launched, the wines will become more widely available in due course)
Durban Get It Magazine April 2018Caroline Beary’s Ink Passion