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by Jean Wethmar
 
Must do, must see, must taste… While in the Helderberg
 
Early travellers to the Helderberg were glad of the landmark – a stone peak rising above the low cloud and valley mist. They called the place ‘clear mountain' or Helderberg. Today the Helderberg is both a destination and a starting point.

Wine estates in the Helderberg Region

Vergelegen, meaning ‘situated far away', was granted to the Governor of the Cape in 1700 and the property has had a long and fascinating history since that time. Willem Adriaan van der Stel was a man of divergent interests who transformed the uncultivated land into a veritable paradise. He planted vines, camphor trees and oaks, laid out fruit orchards and orange groves, and introduced cattle and sheep.

Lourensford, which was founded in 1700, has a proud history together with a dynamic new vision to create a giant among South African wine producers. Utilising unique technology and reaping the benefits of global expertise, the wines of Lourensford are becoming well-recognised icons of true style and sophistication.

Morgenster Estate is a popular Somerset West wine farm in the Helderberg region. The farm produces lovely Bordeaux-style wines as well as award-winning extra virgin olive oil. Morgenster's extra virgin olive oil has been the recipient of the L'Orciolo d'Oro prize in Italy for seven consecutive years since 1999 and was voted by Olive Business in Sydney, Australia as the best olive oil in the southern hemisphere.

Alto is situated high on the slopes of the Helderberg mountain in the Stellenbosch wine of origin district. Its trellised vineyards cling to the high granite slopes that rise from 100 to 500 metres above sea level are ideal for the cultivation of red grape varietals. Unsurprisingly, Alto is, and always has been, red wine country. Alto produces the Alto Rouge every year.

Overnight

Various options for accommodation in Somerset West are available: Parrington Manor, the Lord Charles Hotel and the Erinvale Estate Hotel are recommendations.

Winter is Coming: Get To Know Your Reds

CABERNET SAUVIGNON

Big, full-bodied red wines with flavours of blackcurrants, cassis, cedar wood and tobacco. Can have minty/eucalyptus characteristics especially in Australia. Small berries means bigger tannins than other grape varieties.

PINOTAGE

Most popular at the moment is the ‘chocolate or coffee' style – lots of toasted oak with chocolate, coffee and hazelnut notes. Other cooler-climate wines might have elegant black cherries, dark plums and licorice. Bad examples taste of bitter bananas, but thankfully these are getting less and less!

MERLOT
 
Fat black fruit flavours of plums and damsons often give way to chocolate, mint and hints of coffee. Much fleshier berry than either of the cabernets and often used in blends to provide fruit and to counteract Cabernet's stronger tannins.

SHIRAZ

Dark, brooding, full-bodied red wines with spice, pepper (both white and black kinds) and sometimes cloves. Black berries with some strawberry notes and sometimes meaty, funky, earthy aromas as well.

Fat black fruit flavours of plums and damsons often give way to chocolate, mint and hints of coffee. Much fleshier berry than either of the cabernets and often used in blends to provide fruit and to counteract Cabernet's stronger tannins.

SHIRAZ

Dark, brooding, full-bodied red wines with spice, pepper (both white and black kinds) and sometimes cloves. Black berries with some strawberry notes and sometimes meaty, funky, earthy aromas as well.

 

 
 
 
Posted in lifestyle |
Posted by Jean Wethmar
08 Jun 2010



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The Cape wine regions are arguably the worlds most beautiful, most visually arresting. Tuscany has its own special beauty, the Loire has chateaus, Mendoza has distant mountain scenery. But the sheer mountains of the western cape, often snowcapped, with the lush valleys and historic and beautiful towns, so close to Cape Town - well, it is unbeatable. Enjoyed my trip there so much, I am going back to spend 2 weeks in the wine country. Hunter valley, eat your heart out!
Rating: 3 / 5
 
by Neil on 23 Dec 2010

 
 
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