Family Fun at the Greek Harvest Festival
Constantia Valley Experience 4.0 Festivals & Events Vineyards Wine 4.0

Family Fun at the Greek Harvest Festival

AMBELOUI WINE CELLAR
Saturday 18 March 2017
http://www.ambeloui.co.za/

Experience: 4/5
Wines: 4/5

It was a rush to get to Ambeloui from Stellenbosch but I didn’t want to miss today. Ambeloui is the smallest of small vineyards in Hout Bay. The name appropriately translates from Cypriot Greek loosely into ‘little vineyard’. The Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier vines grown on the gentle slopes cover barely half a hectare. However, they produce enough grapes (supplemented by grapes bought in from Somerset West and Elgin) for this family-run MCC specialist to produce around 10,000 bottles a year.

The small scale production of MCC Brut and Rosé is only released on 2 days a year – one being at the annual Harvest Festival in March. I made a sneak preview visit here on Tuesday and bought 2 bottles of each from Alex (son of the family and winemaker) without tasting. This was because I knew stock was limited and wanted to be sure to buy, not knowing if I would be able to travel to Hout Bay from Stellenbosch before Festival end.

As it happened, the third and last day of the Certificate Wine Course run by the Cape Wine Academy finished at lunchtime. It was apt that the final day of study involved the ‘sparklies’. Indeed, it was rather bizarre to finish the course by tasting sparkling wines and MCCs, then to arrive an hour later in Hout Bay and to taste more.

Valley Road was full of cars and so it was easy to find Ambeloui, which could otherwise be any other family home on this quiet road. The festivities were in full swing. Music was playing and blue flags fluttered over the vines. There were long tables on trestles dotted about the garden and on the farm path through the vineyard. I could smell the souvlaki on the coals. The guests were all ages and clearly enjoying themselves – and their glasses of MCC.

The first people I saw were neighbours from my street in Wynberg. They offered the Rosé that they had opened which was refreshingly light and fruity, coral pink in colour, just as an MCC Rosé should be. It was great to relax after the intensity of the classroom and course.

I soon met Alex again and bought a ticket in support of the families made homeless by the recent fire in the nearby Imizamo Yetho settlement. The Rosé soon ran out and so I went to buy a bottle of the Brut MCC and to buy some food. The traditional Greek food was clearly popular and I was fortunate to order just in time before supplies ran out. The mezze platter and chicken souvlaki were indeed tasty and I could have eaten much more. Next year, they will need more food for the hungry drinkers.

Meanwhile, I browsed the cellar that had been transformed from bottling and labelling (on Tuesday) to a sales area for the guests. I noticed that Ambeloui was selling a potstill Brandy too – also made from Pinot Noir and Chardonnay – and was eager to taste. It was delicious and instantly buyable! It was smooth and mellow, made in the French style, and with a caramel sweetness due to ageing in American oak.

In case you don’t know, and I didn’t until the brandy lecture at the Cape Wine Academy course yesterday, there are 3 grades of brandy: potstill, vintage and blended. South Africa has the strictest brandy production regulations in the world. Consequently, the country produces some of the world’s best brandy, as evidenced from the many award winners at the International Wine and Spirits Competition. All South African brandy is required to be distilled from wine, at least 30% using copper potstills, and matured after for at least 3 years. Potstill is the highest quality.

Soon after, Alex introduced me to his parents and vineyard owners, Nick and Ann Christodoulou. It was a real privilege to meet them. Looking around, it was difficult to imagine that Ambeloui was started as a hobby vineyard little more than 20 years ago. People always fascinate and so I was interested to hear the family history from their origins in Southern Cyprus a century before. Ambeloui is very much a family affair. Each MCC release bears a different family name. I notice too now that so does the brandy.

With food eaten, wines drunk and shadows lengthening, it was time to leave. The family atmosphere and camaraderie between the many helping staff, who were extremely busy, was a delight to see. The mix of Greek Cypriot hospitality and (by their admission) some chaos made for a fun afternoon. My partner summarised the occasion as being ‘cheerfulness in someone’s backyard’. I shall return again, either in November for full MCC release or for the Harvest Festival next year.

There was something very intimate and magical to be sitting in a vineyard and drinking wine just a few metres from where the grapes were grown.

Wines tasted (bought *):

MCC:

2014 Cleo MCC – R175* (previously)
Rosanne NV Rosé – R210* (previously)

Dessert:

Theodoro Potstill Brandy – R450*

You Might Also Like

Grand Wines at the Big Top!

Shiraz Purrs at Manley Wine Lodge

A Hidden Gem of Rare Excellence

Robertson – Town by Name, Wine by Name

Lithos Wines Soar above Mountain and Forest

Grape Expectations are Met at Zevenwacht

Where Eagles Care

Tasting Vines at the Vineyard

How Do You Grow a Vineyard Like Maria?

Bellville to Bellevue to Belle Wines

More than Just a Destination

Magical Wines Star at Dragonridge

‘Out of the Office’ at Groot Constantia

From Palette to Palate to Muratie

Sa-Bot-Riveur!

Trading Wines in the City Bowl

The Gods Come Home to the Vineyard

Pastures Anew at Rustenberg

In the Highlands in the Lowlands of Elgin

Taint, Mould, Sweet-Sour, Elastoplast, Stale Honey, Bee Wax and Potato Skin With the Wine Prof

Groot Phesantekraal an Unexpected Surprise!

High Living on the Stoep Sipping Aged, Luscious Red Wines

Iona Wines Remain Excellent In and At the Vineyard

The Garagiste in the Garage at Sonklip!

Onderkloof Beats All the Odds Below The Valley

Rijk Tulbagh Gives Name to Cellar and Town

Clouds Reign in Stellenbosch

More Still at Tanagra

The Vineyard Hotel a Classic Vehicle to Showcase L’Ormarins Wines

Wines Out of the Barrel at Kanonkop

Vista to Verdot at Glen Carlou

Magnifico – Grazie Mille Idiom!

British Reserve and Excellence at Sumaridge

Oh-MG at Anthonij Rupert

Sax ‘n’ Berg at the Vineyard

Wagons to the Cellar at Waboomsrivier

Fun(ny) Times at Lourensford

Intimate, Tranquil and Refined

In the Garage in the Heart of McGregor

Barrels of Fun at My First Stellenbosch Street Soirée

Bon Courage and Bon Voyage

Sugar and Spice is Twice as Nice

In the Vineyard with Beyerskloof

The Terroir is Honoured in the Bottle at Springfield

Baby Thrown Out with the Bath Water?

Better than a Fair View Where the Goats do Roam!

Warwick Wines Win their Colours

Quality with Style in the Vineyard

A Warm Welcome in the Cool Climate at South Hill

Linga-ring in a Winery in Malawi

Saxenburg Puts Heart, Mind and Soul into Its Wines

Always a Favourite – Guaranteed to Delight

Well Hosted and Enjoyable – Even Though I did not Experience at its Best

Excelsior Blends Quality with Price

Mixed Spice at the Pinotage Festival

Lust-ful Reds in the Vineyard

It’s High Time Again

Wines That Don’t Cost The Earth

PicknPay Pairs it again at the Stellenbosch Wine Festival

Pick n Taste Time at Stellenbosch

Grape Fun – Stomping Well Worth the Journey!

More-ish Wines at Môreson

Honest, Affordable Family Wines at Landskroon

Iconic Steenberg

On the Left, but then on the Right …

“Swimming Pool” Wines for Now – or Leave until Later

Seven Reasons To Visit Seven Oaks Wines

Of Female Rugby Players and Ballet Dancers! Let’s Continuously Study Very Seriously: Wines of the Loire and Northern Rhône

Verticle Tasting on the Ridge in Elgin

Malverne Dis-Clos-ed

A Family Occasion – the Story behind the Bottle

Heaven Meets Earth at Bouchard Finlayson

Wines to Love on Love Street

Altitudes with Wine!

Beau-tiful Beau-tique Beau-Constantia

Serenity without Worry or Preoccupation in the Chapel

Late at Lateganskop

Sweet and Safe Times Pair Well with the Whales

iWine rather than IMAX at the Cape Gate Mall

Family Fun in Pairs at Four Cousins

Waxing Lyrical about Canto

Class in Glass at Glenelly

Intriguing and Confusing – An Enigmatic Experience

No Black Marks at Raka

Elegant Wines Kiss the Lips in the Vineyard

Dreaming of a Wine Christmas

Cabernet Franc – Well Worth a Gamble!

Quality Abounds on the Mound at La Motte

Big Preparations in the Little Vineyard

Value for Money from Angel Gabriel in the Vineyard

The Phoenix Rises from the Terroir at Thelema

Hout Bay Vineyards – Simply the Best!

Rustic Charm at the Altydgedacht Wine Farm

Kosie Wynes at Groenland

Nala Wines are Well Engineered in the Vineyard

The Big Easy Tee’s Off in the Vineyard

Did I really spend THAT much on a Bottle of Wine?

Boutique de Brendel

On Yonder Hill There Stands a Vineyard!

The Darling from Darling Steps into the Vineyard

Neil’s Vines on the Tr-Ellis in Stellenbosch

Maiden Visit to Lord’s Bowled Me Over

Red Chair in the Morning

A Quando-ary: When to Drink …?

Blaauwklippen was Good for a Friday

Wine Notes Composed at D’Aria

Bracing Brakes on the Red Wines at Remhoogte

The Early Bird Catches the Wine

It’s all Art and Wine at Almenkerk

Dis-gorgeous at Weltevrede

K-eynote W-ines at the V-ineyard

All is Not Lost in a Safe Port

Straw Berry Yields for e-Ver-gelegen

Blush-endal!

Swiss Family Sauvignons at Eikendal

This Vineyard Touched My Soul (aka, I Bought My First Bottle of Petrus)

Mulderbosch didn’t quite Meet the Yardstick

Multi-Faceted Wines on Display at the Vineyard

Mutual Attraction

Mooi Mooi Mooi Mooiplaas

Four Partners (not Cousins) at the Vineyard Hotel

Beyond Expectation

Wacky – not Tacky – in Robertson

Masses of Fun and a little Chaos at the Ambeloui Harvest Festival

Water into Wine at Uitkyk

Surprisingly Good – and Not Only for the Red Bus Tourists

Wine on the Slopes at Chamonix

Great Value in the Swartland

Pinotage Hits a Purple Patch in Paarl

Perfection is Attainable at Boschkloof Wines

Summer Whites …… and Rosés

SMV, SMG, GSM – BLICS and PAPERCLIPS!

Purring at the Wines in Tyger Valley

3 Comments

  1. Brut Force and Less Ignorance – Cape Wine Lovers Society

    […] instructors, all very different in their manner and approach, was very high. As I left to go to the Annual Harvest Festival at Ambeloui vineyard, coincidentally an MCC specialist, for more tasting I realised that the […]

  2. Six Appeal and More in the Rolling Hills North of Durbanville – Cape Wine Lovers Society

    […] but light on the finish. It was my first 2017 wine (besides some tank samples at Mountain Ridge and Ambeloui that hardly count) and a treat to taste. At R65 a bottle, I wish I had bought some (but see the […]

  3. Masses of Fun and a little Chaos at the Ambeloui Harvest Festival – Cape Wine Lovers' Society

    […] was a return to the Harvest Festival having been to last year’s one too for the first time. Unlike last year, when my morning was spent in Stellenbosch for Cape […]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *