South Africa: A Day in Franschhoek

By John ~ March 6th, 2009.

Graham BeckOn our next South African wine adventure, we headed out to Franschhoek to visit wineries that we were unable to visit earlier in our trip when I was ill. Franschhoek, a village settled more than 300 years ago by the French Huguenots, is a picturesque town full of art and antique shops and galleries, coffee shops and restaurants, a broad spectrum of hotels and B&B’s, and surrounded by wine farms.

Our first stop was at Graham Beck which is a beautiful wine estate and tasting room. One of the wines we tasted was a NV Brut Sparkling Wine that was served at President Barack Obama’s inauguration. As a taxpayer we were happy to see that the Brut served at the inauguration was not a high priced wine given how much was probably consumed.  Unfortunately, we did not feel that the overall quality of the wines at Graham Beck were as good as the facilities and the marketing behind them.

Our next stop was at Boekenhoutskloof, a wine farm in a beautiful setting with the mountains as a background. By South African standards it is a fairly young wine farm having been established in 1996; however, Boekenhoutskloof had our favorite wine of the day, the 2007 Chocolate Block.

Our third and final wine farm stop in Franschhoek was at Stony Brook Vineyards, a 15 year-old wine farm producing 5,000 cases a year.  Our two favorite wines at Stony Brook were the 2005 Ghost Gum, a single vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon, and their 2006 Shiraz/Mourvedre/Viognier blend.

BoekenhoutskloofAfter leaving Stony Brook, we had a late lunch outside on the patio at the French-themed restaurant at Cape Chamonix vineyards which has a beautiful view. After lunch we drove back to Cape Town where we were spending the weekend with LaGayle’s cousin and her husband, Brenda and Conner Bishop. For dinner, the Bishops took us to the Azure Restaurant at The Twelve Apostles Hotel in Camps Bay. We had a delicious meal with an excellent bottle of the 2008 Elgin Vintners Fourth Edition Sauvignon Blanc.

Please remember from my previous posts on South African wines that because we are buying wines here at South African prices based on the rand (R), we decided that it would be misleading and of little value to our core constituency of readers in the U.S. to calculate a QPR rating unless it is a wine we can buy in the U.S. and is of good enough quality to want to buy. Therefore, for the purposes of the wine reviews on this trip, I will only calculate a QPR rating on a wine which I have given a Quality rating of 4 stars (out of 5) or higher and if I can find a U.S. vendor and price on which to base the QPR calculation. Wines that meet these criteria will be set apart from the others by bold type. Otherwise I’ll denote the QPR as Not Calculated (NC) if the Quality rating is 3 stars or higher or Not Recommended (NR) if the Quality rating is less than 3 stars.

Here’s a complete listing of the wines we tasted in Franschhoek:

Quality: 4 stars (out of 5)
2007 Boekenhoutskloof The Chocolate Block (Red Blend), R150, QPR: 4 [ (California), $27.95]
2008 Elgin Vintners Fourth Edition Sauvignon Blanc, R100, QPR: NC
2006 Stony Brook Shiraz/Mourvedre/Viognier, R120, QPR: NC
2005 Stony Brook Ghost Gum Cabernet Sauvignon, R160, QPR: NC

Quality: 3.5 stars (out of 5)
2008 Porcupine Ridge Sauvignon Blanc, R35, QPR: NC
2008 Porcupine Ridge Merlot, R40, QPR: NC
2008 Porcupine Ridge Syrah, R45, QPR: NC
2008 Stony Brook Sauvignon Blanc, R45, QPR: NC
2004 Graham Beck Rhona Muscadel, R55, QPR: NC
2005 Stony Brook The Max (Bordeaux Blend), R90, QPR: NC
2008 Graham Beck Bowedhead Chenin Blanc, R95, QPR: NC
2004 Graham Beck The Joshua (Shiraz/Viognier), R165, QPR: NC

Quality: 3 stars (out of 5)
2007 Porcupine Ridge Cabernet Sauvignon, R40, QPR: NC
2008 Graham Beck Gamekeeper’s Reserve Chenin Blanc, R48, QPR: NC
NV Graham Beck Brut, R85, QPR: NC
2006 Graham Beck The Andrew (Bordeaux Blend), R88, QPR: NC
2005 Stony Brook Syrah, R90, QPR: NC

Quality: 2.5 stars (out of 5)
2007 The Wolftrap (Syrah/Mourvedre/Viognier), R30, QPR: NR
2006 Stony Brook Camissa (Cab/Merlot/Shiraz), R45, QPR: NR
2004 Stony Brook Shiraz, R45, QPR: NR
2008 Graham Beck Pheasant’s Run Sauvignon Blanc, R95, QPR: NR
2005 Graham Beck Old Road Pinotage, R138, QPR: NR
2005 Graham Beck Blanc de Blancs, R149, QPR: NR

Quality: 2 stars (out of 5)
2008 Stony Brook Rose, R45, QPR: NR
2007 Stony Brook Semillon Reserve, R60, QPR: NR

Filed under: Cabernet Sauvignon, Chenin Blanc, Lesser Known Varietals, Merlot, Red Wine, Rose Wine, Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon, Shiraz/Syrah, South African Wine, Sparkling Wine, White Wine, Wine Travel, Wines NOT To Buy (1 & 2 Star), Wines Over $25, Wines Under $10, Wines Under $15, Wines Under $20, Wines Under $25

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