Never too Early in the Morning for Wine Tasting!
WALKER BAY VINEYARDS
Sunday 1 October 2017
It was early on a Sunday morning – before breakfast even – when I arrived at the Walker Bay Estate. I was en route from overnight accommodation at the Hermanuspietersfontein farm cottages in Sondagskloof to visit Stanford. It was a random decision to stop by whilst passing. It was early too, so early that the staff had not yet set up the Tasting Room for guests.
The Walker Bay Estate is home to the Birkenhead Brewery and Walker Bay Vineyards. The so-called ‘vinotourism’ in recent years has led to an expansion of non-wine tasting activities at wine farms. Gin or brandy production, craft beers and many more offerings are commonplace. The Walker Bay Estate was a pioneer in the Southern Hemisphere. The Birkenhead Brewery was established in 1997. Walker Bay Vineyards was set up a decade later.
It was a beautiful sunny morning and easy to see how popular the estate must be for families with the restaurant, pub and plenty of outdoor seating, complete with outside bar. Tasting was R30 for 5 wines (the Merlot was unavailable). I did not mind the wait for tasting. It gave me the chance to explore the wine quotes and many wine and beer infographic posters – some of the best I have seen – in the pub-style dining area.
The wines were served on a tray, already poured, with mini descriptors for each one. This was no tutored wine tasting but it did not matter. It was too early for a wine lesson and I was more than happy just to sample the wines alone.
The Sauvignon Blanc was nothing special with simple notes of lemon and lime citrus with grassy greengage. It was light on the palate too showing moderate to high acidity. The Chardonnay was similar in character, showing wooded maturation by nutty, vanilla aromas that layered with baked apple and citrus. It too was light on the palate and needed better balance between flavour, alcohol and acidity.
The Rosé was my least favourite wine. Medium salmon in colour, ripe strawberry, sherbet and candy aromas promised much on the palate. It was refreshingly off-dry on the palate but the flavours fell away all too soon.
The red wines fared much better. The Bordeaux-style blend Amestica – ‘Amestica’ is an appropriate Romanian word meaning ‘amalgamate’, though I never discovered the Romanian connection, if any – showed a decent intensity of aromas. Dark cherry, black plum and loganberry flavours supported prominent tannins on the palate.
My favourite wine was the last, the Shiraz. This was the best balanced wine. Tannins were overt but not so much that they masked flavours of blackberry, blackcurrant and white peppercorn spiciness.
Breakfast was beckoning and so this was a brief but no less enjoyable tasting. I have tasted better wine elsewhere, and at the same price range, but that did not matter. Walker Bay Vineyards offers the ‘Big 6’ of wines but seeks not to be among the top Award winners. I am sure that in just a few hours time the rolling lawns, with their open views over the mountains, will be packed with families enjoying a glass of beer or wine and some food. That is at it should be and worth a return visit to experience on another occasion.
Wines tasted (bought *):
2016 Sauvignon Blanc – R80
2015 Chardonnay – R105
2016 Rosé – R65
2015 Amestica (57% Petit Verdot, 25% Cabernet Sauvignon, 18% Merlot) – R130
2015 Shiraz – R145 FAVOURITE WINE