A weekend in the Drakensberg

This last weekend we went to the Drakensberg to celebrate the upcoming birthday of my darling spouse. It was beautiful, peaceful and rejuvenating.

After a quick 6 hour drive we arrive at Witsieshoek Mountain Lodge which lies on the borders of KwaZulu Natal, the Free State and Lesotho. It is certainly the closest one can come to heaven on earth, but don’t take my word for it look at these photos…

The bunch of usDrakensbergDrakensbergSentinel ValleyWitsieshoek

Photos taken by my very talented father in law. All rights reserved.


Groves & Vineyards 2014 – Casalinga

This past Sunday we went to an absolutely delightful olive and wine festival called Groves and Vineyards at the picturesque Casalinga Ristorante Italiano in Muldersdrift.

I am a foodie through and through, it was an absolute delight being able to immerse myself in wine tasting and delicious food. Having young kids has somewhat curtailed the number of events I have been able to attend but we are finding our groove with managing naps, getting out and about, and having the kids enjoy it too. DW was a superstar and played with the kids while I did tastings and got into passionate discussions on the making of chèvre.

My first stop was at the stand of my all time favourite vineyard, Creation Wines.

I have a long standing love affair with their wines which began in 2009 when we went to visit a friend who had moved to Hermanus. We knew nothing of the various wine farms in the area other the names of some of the famous ones like Bouchard Finlayson & Hermanuspietersfontein. On the spur of the moment, we decided to go for a wine tasting and drove into the Hemel-en-Aarde (Heaven and Earth) Valley until we found a place that caught our eye. As we drove past Bouchard Finlayson, we were a bit intimidated by the austere look of the farm. Other farms looked too commercial and garish. Finally we saw the turn off to a beautiful farm that looks more like a little bit of heaven fell to earth than a wine farm. We had an amazing experience. The people were warm and inviting and the wine absolutely sublime! We bought an entire box of their 2008 Syrah Grenache (of which one lone bottle remains) which is hands down the best wine ever to cross my palate.

At the festival I tried their 2012 Syrah Grenache. It is as rich and smooth as I remember with all the spice and berries that I love, like an explosion of Christmas in your mouth. It has a slight hint of sweetness in the finish that makes it an incredibly easy wine to drink, and while it is full bodied and satisfying as a red it certainly isn’t an overwhelmingly heavy wine. My love affair is reignited!

Creation Syrah Grenache 2012

The other find of the festival was Spice Route Chakalaka 2011. Named after the quintessential South African spice mix, it is an unusual blend of cultivars (Syrah, Mourvedre, Carignan, Petite Sirah, Grenache and Tannat) which, together, make a wine that is a delight to drink. I love the unapologetic spiciness of this wine, beautifully balanced and rich with hints of cinnamon and clove. I have not drank enough of it to give a full description yet, but further comment will come when we open the wine and chocolate.

I ended up chatting to the marketing manager Jean-Baptiste Cristini, (who has the most delicious smelling business cards) and found out that not only do Spice Route make amazing wine, but also the produce my favourite craft beers Jack Black lager and CBC Amber Weiss, as well as make their own chocolate and roast coffee at their tasting room/farm in Paarl. He is also involved at the Fairview Farm which is next door to the Spice Route.

The wine farms are in Malmesbury and Darling, while the tasting room is in Paarl. I could wax lyrical about their farming techniques but I think it may bore you, dear reader, to tears.

I am already planning a weekend of wine and food in Paarl, come January.

I bought the paired chocolate to go with the wine; it is a spicy dark 70% cocoa.

Tonight I am off to the Fine Brandy Fusion event. Expect lots of excited blogging as soon at the hangover has worn off!