We are sitting in a valley near Hermanus, South Africa in a place called Hemal-en-Aarde. Literally in Afrikaans this means Heaven and Earth. There are rolling mountains that fold into the sea, with fluffy clouds and blue sky vast and uncompromising. The ocean drips off the end and feeds the lush and verdant valley where the Hermanus wine route begins. Most people who are familiar with South Africa wines have an inkling of those in the Stellenbosch region. Head furthe east between Cape Town and the Cape of Good Hope, and you will find the www.hermanuswineroute.com.
With great wine comes great food. We ventured off for a terrific dinner at La Vierge (the Virgin) winery to be fed and pampered by Chef Shane Sauvage. The property overlooks the vineyard and the valley and has a decidedly modern feel to it. Floor to ceiling windows take full advantage of the view, and a petanque court allows one to sip cocktails and play in the old French way.
Chef Shane was there as a wedding was in full seing. After some introductions we sat down and started with a bottle of 2010 La Vierge Temptation and tapas of smoked mussels. We were invited to enjoy our wine on a small balcony with lounge chairs and watch the sun set. Chef Shane came out to check on us, pouring our wine and telling us a bit about the estate and their methods. Our starters of Steinbok and Strawberry Carpaccio and Karoo (steinbok) Sausages were tasty. The counterpoint of the strawberries was an excellent choice and had the mouth begging for flavour. A brief break meant a brief chat with our neighbours, as we saw them enjoying fresh oysters. We were rethinking our tapas of mussels as our mouths watered at the sight. Just in time our mains were delivered which included Overberg Ostrich Steak and Mozambican Prawns. The prawns had a spicy hit and with the bottle of wine disappearing, we then ordered the Original Sin to finish the meal. Desserts could not be avoided, however, a half dozen oysters were required to cleanse the pallet first – we could not resist! I can never pass on chocolate and feasted on the chocolate terrine which Jacques had the Robinson Crusoe. These were surprisingly frozen concoctions that danced in sweetness in our mouths. All in all a high recommendation for a fantastic restaurant and winery. Excellent and attentive service and brilliant local food.
The next day we ventured further up the wine route to Creation. Wines. We thought we would enjoy a light lunch and the full bounty of the valley. We spied the tasting and pairing menu and knew we were in luck. Our tasting was as follows:
- Aubergine and Goat’s milk cheese cannelloni with the Creation Sauvignon Blanc
- Spicy Chicken and Apricot Satay (gingr hit!) with the Creation Viognier
- Avcado Ritz with Prawn with the Creation Chardonay
- Cauliflower Soup (my personal fav) with the Creation Merlot
- Creation Pinot Noir Reserve (just because the tasting manager Joanne was we were thouroughly enjoying our food and wine and snuck in that something special for us)
- Springbok Rilete with Cherry Jelly accompanied by Creation Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Verdot blend
- Chorizo Espandita, Duck and Sour Cherry Pie with Creation Syrah
- Bobtie Spring Roll, Beef Carpaccio with Prune Chutney with the Creation Syrah Grenache
These were all bite sized canapes with fantastic wine accompaniments. I am typically a white wine (Riesling, Sauv Blanc) drinker but more and more I am enjoying reds.
We has a bit of the Syrah Grenache left over in our glasses, so we ordered the Trio of African Origin Chocolate which had just the right hit of chocolaate, raspberry and coffee flavours to enhance the last mouthful of wine.
Alas we have only had time for two wineries on the route. However, a visit to the Wine Village at the start of the route (and across from the complex of homes we are staying at) allowed us to drink in the knowledge of owner Paul du Toit and we purchased 4 wines from the region for our sundowner or cocktail hour before heading our for dinner. This wine shop is brilliant and houses the best that South Africa has to offer in wines.
As a declared apostle of great food and wine, our travels have led us to the promised land of Heaven and Earth. In a word, DIVINE!