Sweet and Safe Times Pair Well with the Whales
Experience 4.0 Walker Bay & Bot River Wine 4.0 Wine Tour

Sweet and Safe Times Pair Well with the Whales

Saturday 30 September 2017

Experience: 4/5
Wines: 4/5

It was time to put into port after spending a long time on my feet in The Village just outside Hermanus. My partner and I had already returned from our overnight Hermanuspietersfontein farm cottage in Sondagskloof – some 40 kilometres away – and spent time at the Hermanuspietersfontein Saturday market. I explored too the fabulously stocked Wine Village bottle store whilst waiting for the boutique Whalehaven winery to open.


Whalehaven is owned by the Bottega Family, of Idiom Wines fame in Helderberg. But, since opening of the new Tasting Room and Restaurant at Idiom in June 2016, the cellar focuses exclusively on Whalehaven wines. The grapes nonetheless continue mostly to come from the Bottega Family Da Capo vineyards near Stellenbosch.


The Tasting Room or, as I have never seen described before, the ‘Wine Experience Centre’ has been recently refurbished. It was bright and airy, perfect for tasting. Chris was our attentive, knowledgeable host throughout and made a good impression. I passed on the regular tasting of R40 for 4 wines. My partner and I opted instead to enjoy the Jam Pairing (R60, 3 wines) and Chocolate Pairing (R75, 4 wines).



The pairings started with the Abalone, a blend of Chenin Blanc and Viognier in unusual proportion (60%, 40%). The unoaked wine from the Abalone Range showed characteristics from each varietal. Fresh citrus and asparagus aromas mingled with pale honey and tropical fruit salad notes to make for an interesting wine with fresh, smooth, crisp acidity. I favoured pairing with the Orange Blossom & Pineapple jam more than the Orange Blossom white chocolate, the latter being too overpowering for the wine.


I tasted after the single variety Viognier from the Old Harbour Range for comparison. The wine was a blend from 3 vintages to smooth out differences of the individual years. The palate was thin and so did not show characteristic Viognier oiliness but had a decent complexity of lemon, lime, naartjie and smoky white pear aromas on the nose.


All the reds I tasted were from the Classic Range. To start, the Pinot Noir was delicate almost to the point of being too shy on the nose and too light at the finish. The fruitiness was sweeter than many – showing flavours of strawberry, cherry, redcurrant and cranberry – and soft to smooth on the palate. Unsurprisingly, I found both the Rose Geranium & Strawberry jam and the Rose & Rooibos 37.5% milk chocolate swamped the wine. The jam flavours were too strong and showed up the lightness of the wine whilst the oiliness of the chocolate flattened it.


Far better was the Merlot that competed strongly with the Cabernet Franc to be my favourite wine. Full bodied and high in tannin with a slight astringency, the wine was more pronounced and showed good flavours of redcurrant, loganberry and cassis. Chris, on hearing of my studies with the Cape Wine Academy, offered me the wine ‘blind’ with the teaser that it was not entirely typical of its variety. Thankfully, and sticking to the taught method of selective decision-making, I correctly identified the wine as a Merlot. The pairings fared best too and particularly with the Blackberry, Viola & Merlot jam that balanced well with the wine. The tannins in the wine made a better match for the Lavender & Rosemary 60% milk chocolate.


Paired with the final chocolate was the Pinotage that was matured in 70% French and 30% American oak. The wine itself was typical of the varietal showing aromas of dark plum and blackcurrant with a moderate level of tannin and finish. It made a decent match with the Fynbos Blend Rich Dark chocolate.



I ended the tasting by picking out 2 further wines. I much liked the Cabernet Franc that was full bodied and garnet red in appearance. Warm ripe cherry, redcurrant and raspberry aromas showed good intensity on the nose. The wine was slightly chilled which suited the lighter style. In contrast, my last wine – the Pinotage Rosé – was lighter in body and weight on the palate. Sweet fruity strawberry and candy floss flavours hinted at sweetness in the mouth but the wine was pleasantly dryer than the aromas hinted at.


Whalehaven was fun. The pairing of pairings, even if they did not totally work – chocolate is notoriously difficult to match with wine, as I also recently found out at launch of the pairings at Groot Constantia – made for an entertaining tasting with my partner. More so, since we did not agree in our preferences. Chocolate pairing, jam pairing, other novel and more adventurous pairings besides, have one great benefit. They are not meant to excite the wine purist and that is there point. They help remove the mystique of wine and bring the experience down from the all-too-often snobby or refined level. Tastings are fun and so they should be. We like what we like and it matters not what anyone else thinks or their preferences.



Whalehaven Wines offered a good range of classic South African cultivars, mostly as single variety wines in the limited selection that the winery makes (I did not taste the Sauvignon Blanc or Bordeaux-style and Cape Blends). It did the basics and it did it well. The experience put a smile on my face – oh and it rested my legs for an hour or so too!

Wines tasted (bought *):


2014 Abalone Chenin Blanc/Viognier (60% Chenin Blanc, 40% Viognier) – R100
NV Old Harbour Viognier White – R48


2015 Old Harbour Pinotage Rosé – R67


2015 Pinot Noir – R195
2012 Merlot – R183*
2013 Pinotage – R150
2011 Cabernet Franc – R150 FAVOURITE WINE


You Might Also Like

Beau-tiful Beau-tique Beau-Constantia

Summer Whites …… and Rosés

Bon Courage and Bon Voyage

Saxenburg Puts Heart, Mind and Soul into Its Wines

Pastures Anew at Rustenberg

Wines to Love on Love Street

Mixed Spice at the Pinotage Festival

Straw Berry Yields for e-Ver-gelegen

Groot Phesantekraal an Unexpected Surprise!

Family Fun at the Greek Harvest Festival

In the Garage in the Heart of McGregor

Peter Puts into Hermanus

Family Fun in Pairs at Four Cousins

Quality Abounds on the Mound at La Motte

www: W-arm W-olseley W-elcome

Maiden Visit to Lord’s Bowled Me Over

It’s High Time Again

Iona Wines Remain Excellent In and At the Vineyard

Tasting Vines at the Vineyard

Barrels of Fun at My First Stellenbosch Street Soirée

Rijk Tulbagh Gives Name to Cellar and Town

Purring at the Wines in Tyger Valley


Wines Out of the Barrel at Kanonkop

K-eynote W-ines at the V-ineyard

Waxing Lyrical about Canto

Grape Expectations are Met at Zevenwacht

Grand Wines at the Big Top!

Linga-ring in a Winery in Malawi

More-ish Wines at Môreson

The Garagiste in the Garage at Sonklip!

Clouds Reign in Stellenbosch

Four Partners (not Cousins) at the Vineyard Hotel

Magical Wines Star at Dragonridge

Big Preparations in the Little Vineyard

Tram-Way to Heaven in Franschhoek

Mooi Mooi Mooi Mooiplaas

Boutique de Brendel

Lust-ful Reds in the Vineyard

Elegant Wines Kiss the Lips in the Vineyard

Heaven Meets Earth at Bouchard Finlayson

Wine Notes Composed at D’Aria

Wines That Don’t Cost The Earth

Mutual Attraction

Mulderbosch didn’t quite Meet the Yardstick

Wine on the Slopes at Chamonix

Oh-MG at Anthonij Rupert

Quality with Style in the Vineyard

Neil’s Vines on the Tr-Ellis in Stellenbosch

Water into Wine at Uitkyk

From Palette to Palate to Muratie

Peter Has a Whale of a Time in Hermanus

Rickety Tram Passengers at Rickety Bridge

On Yonder Hill There Stands a Vineyard!

Swiss Family Sauvignons at Eikendal

Class in Glass at Glenelly

Altitudes with Wine!

British Reserve and Excellence at Sumaridge

Wacky – not Tacky – in Robertson

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

Iconic Steenberg

Beyond Expectation

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

Bizarre in Swazi

1 Night, 7 Oaks, 3 Wine Tastings for Visit 2!

Warwick Wines Win their Colours

Multi-Faceted Wines on Display at the Vineyard

Wagons to the Cellar at Waboomsrivier

Seven Reasons To Visit Seven Oaks Wines

Cabernet Franc – Well Worth a Gamble!

Onderkloof Beats All the Odds Below The Valley

The Phoenix Rises from the Terroir at Thelema

In the Vineyard with Beyerskloof

Perfection is Attainable at Boschkloof Wines

A Family Occasion – the Story behind the Bottle

In the Highlands in the Lowlands of Elgin

Never too Early in the Morning for Wine Tasting!

iWine rather than IMAX at the Cape Gate Mall

Kosie Wynes at Groenland

Verticle Tasting on the Ridge in Elgin

PicknPay Pairs it again at the Stellenbosch Wine Festival

No Black Marks at Raka

The Gods Come Home to the Vineyard

It’s all Art and Wine at Almenkerk

Lithos Wines Soar above Mountain and Forest

Shiraz Purrs at Manley Wine Lodge

Lemberg Punches Above its Weight

Bracing Brakes on the Red Wines at Remhoogte

Late at Lateganskop

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


The Terroir is Honoured in the Bottle at Springfield

Value for Money from Angel Gabriel in the Vineyard

House Wine from the Wine Tram

Rustic Charm at the Altydgedacht Wine Farm

More than Just a Destination

The Big Easy Tee’s Off in the Vineyard

More Still at Tanagra

All is Not Lost in a Safe Port

Sax ‘n’ Berg at the Vineyard

Serenity without Worry or Preoccupation in the Chapel

Trading Wines in the City Bowl

How Do You Grow a Vineyard Like Maria?

Nala Wines are Well Engineered in the Vineyard

Fun(ny) Times at Lourensford

Great Value in the Swartland

Bellville to Bellevue to Belle Wines

Red Chair in the Morning

Malverne Dis-Clos-ed

Dreaming of a Wine Christmas

Excelsior Blends Quality with Price

Log Cabin-et Sauvignon in the Hot Tub!

Leave a Reply

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