Red Chair in the Morning
Experience 4.0 Festivals & Events Robertson Wine 4.0

Red Chair in the Morning

ROOIBERG WINERY
1 June 2017
https://www.rooiberg.co.za/
http://www.wackywineweekend.com/

Experience: 4/5
Wines: 4/5

It was an early start to avoid the morning Cape Town traffic for the journey to Robertson for my first Wacky Wine Weekend. Darkness gave way to dusk to daylight on a chilly morn. Dense mist, barely more than head level, moulded itself into the soft contours of the Breede River Valley floor.

Arrival

I arrived at Rooiberg Winery in plenty of time and before the 10 am ‘unofficial’ start (officially the event didn’t start until 2 pm on the Thursday). This was deliberate. I planned to spend Thursday and Friday at the Wacky Weekend and so avoid the peak Saturday and Sunday periods. Rooiberg was the optimum start point from which to collect my ‘Passport’ – I had to choose from where to collect it when I bought my online ticket a month ago – as the winery was en route between Worcester (N1) and Robertson.

My gamble that the Rooiberg Winery might offer breakfast paid off. Traders were just starting to set up their stalls as I arrived but the restaurant was open. It was cool, even to the cheery staff better acclimatised than me, but a cup of hot coffee and the flickering wood-effect gas fire warmed me both from the inside and outside. The hearty Red Chair Breakfast (great value at R60) was equally welcome. I very soon realised, and not just because of the piped sockie sockie music, that I was in a majority Afrikaans region.

It all made for a relaxing start but I was excited too as I hadn’t visited the Robertson area before nor tasted its wines. Robertson Winery seemed the sensible next tasting location as the road East from Rooiberg headed into Robertson town. Thereafter, I decided I would ask for opinions from more experienced Wacky drinkers. South-East along the Breede River looked good and especially so as I wanted to try my hand at blending at Excelsior Wine Estate.

Getting Red-dy

I perused the shop while waiting for 10 am. Rooiberg offers an extensive range of wines. The tasting sheet listed close to 40 products: box wine; entry level dry red and white wines; semi-sweet and natural sweet wines; Premium and Reserve Ranges; MCC and sparkling wines; dessert wines; and grape juice. The winery is vast too, with some 667 hectares under vine (65% white; 35% red) that annually produce more than 16,000 tonnes. It sells to Woolworths and exports to several countries under different brand names.

Rooiberg Winery has an interesting history. It is more than half a century old (it was founded on 14 April 1964) and began as a group of pioneer wine farms along the Breede, Vink and Noree rivers. The original band of 11 farmers and 5 directors has grown to a co-operative that operates 20 farms under the direction of 29 shareholders. I didn’t know this at the time but the sheer size of the cellar gave clue to the scale of production. Another clue was the large double tanker, presumably transporting wine or grape juice, that was waiting on the weighbridge as I went outside to see the Big Chair.

Red is the brand colour to fit the Winery name. I scaled the mammoth Red Chair, built in 2012 and the largest in Africa, to get a better view. Ten o’clock came and I was first in the queue to collect my Wacky Weekend Passport. The pack contained my tasting glass, tasting coupons (6 per participating vineyard), bright pink plastic wristband, map, programme and bottle of water. I bought a ‘hands-free’ glass holder (R20) that proved useful throughout the Weekend.

The Wines

Tasting was inside a marquee set up in front of the cellar shop. Mini red chairs were hung beside the lights in the ceiling. Tables were set with red table cloths and proteas to match. Unsurprisingly, and given 6 coupons, not all from the extensive Rooiberg range was available to sample. I began with 2 white wines from the Rooiberg (Standard) Range, complete with bright red splash of colour and modern label logo. The unwooded Chardonnay was nothing special, as youthful and vibrant as the label, but at a price well pitched for the market.

I picked the Cape White after, as I had not tasted Colombar before. The Colombar(d) grape – the ‘d’ is usually left off in South Africa – is one of the mainstays of brandy production. Thus, despite being grown in 12% of total vineyard area, and mostly in the Breede River Valley region, it is not common as a single variety wine. Semi-sweet and light in body, it had tropical guava and pineapple flavours. I bought a bottle for a future Society tasting evening.

I then tasted from the Premium Range (Reserve Range wines were not available) beginning with a lightly wooded Chenin Blanc. It was lightweight on the palate, shy yet drinkable, and with warm fruity flavours. I preferred the Premium red wines. My favourite, of all wines tasted, was the Cabernet Sauvignon. Though light in style and body, the dry tannins enriched by 18 months in French oak balanced the fruity flavours well. I was not surprised it was the Flagship wine from the range. I scored the Pinotage and Shiraz a little lower. Typical in flavour of their cultivars, they were nonetheless dry in character and weak on the palate. Neither particularly excited me.

Graham Beck

My tasting coupons having run out, I asked to taste one final glass. It was a Merlot and, interestingly, made by Graham Beck. I had seen the wine farm listed in the Wacky Wines Weekend programme but without opening times. This surprised. I remember passing the gates en route to Rooiberg and seeing extensive groundwork in the vineyards to put up new trellising systems. My tasting host explained that Rooiberg took over sales of Graham Beck still wines (I thought the winery produced only MCC) in July 2016, as the estate focuses on sparkling wines only.

The Game Reserve name reflects partnership with the Wilderness Foundation, together with practical initiatives for fynbos conservation, the eradication of alien vegetation, and habitat preservation. Each bottle label depicts an animal that is endemic to the region – a Cape Clawless Otter for the Merlot. The wine had classic Merlot blackcurrant aromas that combined with dark plums and black berry notes. Cedar and spice flavours emerged to balance the palate, from 12 months in a mix of 1st, 2nd and 3rd fill French oak. I liked the elegance and bought a bottle.

The Finish

Rooiberg Winery shall forever be my first Wacky Wine Weekend vineyard. I recommend it as a start point for Passport collection for anyone travelling to the event from the N1 via Worcester. The wines matched their market and price. Their style however surprised me. I had somehow expected the climate of the region to be hotter and so the wines more fruity and full-bodied. The Mediterranean-style weather made for wines lighter in body and more to my taste. I was content with the 4 bottles I bought and left for the Robertson Winery with a smile on my face.

Wines tasted (* bought):

White:

2016 Chardonnay – R43
2016 Premium Chenin Blanc – R55*
2016 Cape White (Colombar) – R38*

Red:

2014 Premium Cabernet Sauvignon – R75* FAVOURITE WINE
2014 Premium Pinotage – R75
2014 Premium Shiraz – R75
2015 The Game Reserve Graham Beck Merlot – R85*

You Might Also Like

Seven Reasons To Visit Seven Oaks Wines

Purring at the Wines in Tyger Valley

The Early Bird Catches the Wine

Big Preparations in the Little Vineyard

Wagons to the Cellar at Waboomsrivier

Sax ‘n’ Berg at the Vineyard

Quality with Style in the Vineyard

Wines to Love on Love Street

All is Not Lost in a Safe Port

Where Eagles Care

Rustic Charm at the Altydgedacht Wine Farm

Horsepower in the Vineyard

In the Garage in the Heart of McGregor

Tasting Vines at the Vineyard

Cabernet Franc – Well Worth a Gamble!

Grape Fun – Stomping Well Worth the Journey!

Dis-gorgeous at Weltevrede

iWine rather than IMAX at the Cape Gate Mall

K-eynote W-ines at the V-ineyard

Iconic Steenberg

Value for Money from Angel Gabriel in the Vineyard

The Terroir is Honoured in the Bottle at Springfield

Bracing Brakes on the Red Wines at Remhoogte

It’s High Time Again

Excelsior Blends Quality with Price

Summer Whites …… and Rosés

Warwick Wines Win their Colours

The Phoenix Rises from the Terroir at Thelema

Straw Berry Yields for e-Ver-gelegen

Swiss Family Sauvignons at Eikendal

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

Water into Wine at Uitkyk

A Family Occasion – the Story behind the Bottle

More Still at Tanagra

Class in Glass at Glenelly

Family Fun at the Greek Harvest Festival

Wines Out of the Barrel at Kanonkop

A Quando-ary: When to Drink …?

How Do You Grow a Vineyard Like Maria?

Serenity without Worry or Preoccupation in the Chapel

Family Fun in Pairs at Four Cousins

The Big Easy Tee’s Off in the Vineyard

Magical Wines Star at Dragonridge

The Gods Come Home to the Vineyard

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

Multi-Faceted Wines on Display at the Vineyard

Robertson – Town by Name, Wine by Name

Four Partners (not Cousins) at the Vineyard Hotel

Heaven Meets Earth at Bouchard Finlayson

From Palette to Palate to Muratie

On Yonder Hill There Stands a Vineyard!

Trading Wines in the City Bowl

Quality Abounds on the Mound at La Motte

Elegant Wines Kiss the Lips in the Vineyard

The Italian Collection at the Vineyard

Wonderful Grapes at the Vineyard Hotel

Verticle Tasting on the Ridge in Elgin

Mixed Spice at the Pinotage Festival

Wine on the Slopes at Chamonix

Beyond Expectation

Wines That Don’t Cost The Earth

Malverne Dis-Clos-ed

Maiden Visit to Lord’s Bowled Me Over

Pastures Anew at Rustenberg

In the Vineyard with Beyerskloof

Bon Courage and Bon Voyage

Mutual Attraction

Pick n Taste Time at Stellenbosch

British Reserve and Excellence at Sumaridge

Great Value in the Swartland

Wacky – not Tacky – in Robertson

Beau-tiful Beau-tique Beau-Constantia

It’s all Art and Wine at Almenkerk

Fun(ny) Times at Lourensford

0 Comments

  1. Wacky – not Tacky – in Robertson – Cape Wine Lovers Society

    […] of Wine and Roses – at the heart of Route 62. My destination, at least to start the day, was Rooiberg Winery. This was where I had arranged to pick up my ‘Passport’ for the Wacky Wine Weekend. I had not […]

  2. Robertson – Town by Name, Wine by Name – Cape Wine Lovers Society

    […] took little time to drive the 10 kilometres from Rooiberg Winery to reach Robertson Winery. The Winery is towards the centre of the town with its samename. I arrived […]

  3. Excelsior Excels to Blend Quality with Price – Cape Wine Lovers Society

    […] listing of GPS co-ordinates in the Wacky Wine Weekend vineyards made the short journey from Robertson Winery easy. Fading leaves clutched to vine arms in the bright autumn sunshine on either side of the […]

  4. More Still at Tanagra – Cape Wine Lovers Society

    […] first Wacky Wine Weekend was over and I can barely believe that just 2 days ago I was starting at Rooiberg Winery. Tanagra offered another unique tasting experience and range of wines. I should like to return with […]

Leave a Reply

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