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Tulbagh – The 6-Part Serial Adventure! (4/6: Wine Tasting)

(An SA Blog Beta post from Your Correspondent)

Part 4/6: Tulbagh Wine Tasting

The Swartland region has the best value-for-money wines in the Western Cape, in Your Correspondent’s opinion, and sampling as much of it as possible is naturally an essential part of any visit.

As mentioned in Part 1 of this adventure, if you drive to Tulbagh via Riebeek-Kasteel, you can start with the excellent wines at Allesverloren and the Riebeek Kelder.

Once you’ve hit Tulbagh, these are the top must-tastes. Most are open 6 or 7 days a week, and keep normal business hours, but it never hurts to call ahead.

Shiraz is a Swartland specialty, so pay particular attention to this varietal when tasting.

Bianco. +27 21 (0) 23 231 0350. Just off the road to Wolseley, behind a large plantation of blue-gum trees. The wines are produced in the Italian style – i.e., not as fruity/juicy as elsewhere – and are incredibly reasonable in price. On my last visit with my lovely assistant, the verdict after tasting was: 8 X bottles Cab, 4 X Shiraz and 1 semi-sweet Muscat. Bianco wines will be SA Blog’s vin de table all summer. The estate also produces olives and honey: its spicy olive tapenade is the best picnic spread in the valley. (We also walked out with three jars of that.)

Twee Jonge Gezellen. +27 (0) 23 230 0680. The last stop on the Twee Jonge Gezellen road, and home to Krone-label wines. The estate’s name means “Two Young Bachelors.” Unusually, sparkling wine is available to taste here, the Krone Borealis, which is excellent. Verdict: 2 X Krone Borealis, 2 X Engletjipipi (a honey-sweet dessert wine whose name means “Angel’s Pee”) and 1 X Shiraz.

Manley. +27 (0) 23 230 0582. Just out of town on the road to the Drodsty Museum. This is a new estate, and definitely something special. The wines are a touch pricey, and a touch young, but Manley will clearly develop into one of the region’s top vintners. Verdict: 2 X Merlot, 1 X Cab. (The Merlot is truly distinctive.)

Rijks. +27 (0) 23 230 1622. Down the Drodsty road from Manley. Rijks estate is the undisputed king of Tulbagh wineries. Its reds win awards left and right (and are priced accordingly), and make the perfect gift for your wine snob friends back home, who will likely start planning their SA visits as soon as they taste them. Verdict: 2 X Cabs, which go straight to the SA Blog cellar, which is actually just a small cabinet in a corner of the SA Blog living room. It does have a lock, though.