Dreaming of a Wine Christmas
Elgin Valley Experience 4.0 Wine 4.0

Dreaming of a Wine Christmas

Thursday 7 December 2017

Experience: 4/5
Wines: 4/5

All the grapes at Oneiric come from the estate, Carla said, as she hosted me for my wine tasting. She was a new employee, still daily commuting from the Southern Suburbs in Cape Town and seeking local, affordable accommodation. The 2018 Platter’s Guide advises that tasting is ‘mostly by appointment’ and so I arrived at my appointed time from an earlier tasting at South Hill. Carla’s arrival extends Oneiric’s opening hours from 10am to 4pm from Tuesday to Sunday.



The long narrow gravel drive, passing Spioenkop that I was unable to visit due to bottling, gave clue to the terroir with its dusty red colour. This is ‘cool climate’ country. Oneiric is, but for Iona Wine Estate, the most Southern of the Elgin vineyards and little more than 10 kilometres South of the N2. I was warned to follow the directions on the website rather than use GPS co-ordinates. I did well to follow the advice as I know from previous tasting days in the Elgin Valley that my satnav ceases properly to function along the Viljoenshoop Road. By the time I reach Almenkerk Wine Estate the road and my position on the map part company and I realise too late that I have missed the turning left to Highlands Road.



The heavily branded Elgin Valley signpost, in olive green and white, made the turning into the driveway easy to follow. I parked beside the Tasting Room with stoep and pretty pink Bougainvillea. The room was larger on the inside than it had first appeared and could easily have been a craft shop attached to a padstal on Route 62. Pictures lined the walls and several items made from printed and woven fabrics were for sale. A large open table with hundreds of multi-coloured buttons hand-painted in a Johannesburg factory was in the middle of the room. Carla told how people spend ages looking through them for the perfect set to buy.


There was informality to the setting. New winemaker, Mark, was busy on his laptop and logging radios as I sat down to taste. I didn’t know to start that he was the winemaker. Nor did I know too that at the end of the day I was to meet his mother who was to host me at another wine farm. I sat at the opposite end of the long pine table as Carla poured the first glass of wine.


The Sauvignon Blanc was my favourite wine of the tasting and the bottle I bought. It was pale straw and with a distinct green tinge in colour but it was the nose that got my immediate attention. There was an unusual, though highly pleasant, chalky minerality ahead of green pepper, lime, citrus and asparagus aromas. I was surprised by the prominence and it followed through to an elegant, dry palate with a decent acidity. The wine was also unusual for its age, a 2013 vintage. I commented that many customers surely seek the 2017 wine and that it was refreshing to be offered an older wine, a pattern that followed through the tasting.


I sampled both Chardonnays after. The Oh! Chardonnay is so called to emphasise the name of the estate. I asked Carla how properly to pronounce the name: it is pronounced ‘oh! – ne – rik’ and I correctly guessed the word to be of Greek origin. It roughly translates as ‘dream’ and the Oneiric literature and website refer to ‘what dreams are made of’ and ‘pertaining to dreams’. I was not surprised as I have always enjoyed and admired the intimacy of the landscape in the Elgin Valley. There’s a tranquil beauty that comes from the rolling hills and patchwork of pine forest, apple or pear orchard and vineyard. The roads are quiet and the pace of life slow. It reminds me somewhat of Southern England, specifically South Sussex, where I spent my childhood.


The entry-level Chardonnay was unwooded and slightly green tinged also. It was both shy and delicate on the nose with gentle Granny Smith apple aromas. Clean and without any creaminess usually associated with oak, it was light on the palate and the finish but showed good acidity. I much preferred the Chardonnay from the Copper Collection. Eight months maturation in new French oak gave it a deeper colour. Wooded notes of vanilla well balanced baked apple, lime and white honey on the nose for a rich complexity. The wine was equally clean in mouthfeel as the Oh! to be almost Sauvignon Blanc like or Burgundian in character.


As I tasted, Carla explained the history of the farm and the label colours. It was Matt Pascall who bought the farm in 2007 for both the beauty and a new lifestyle, aided by the advice of family friend Andrew Gunn who owns Iona Wine Farm and who I met during an earlier foray into the Elgin Valley in May. New Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz vines were planted in small blocks that take up just 8 hectares of the 64 hectare property. The remainder is taken up by apple and olive trees, trout dams, a lake and natural fynbos to make for the ‘dreamy’ location. Later, when Carla showed me the new Cellar and Tasting/Function Room, I could see the Pascall family home in the middle distance in a glorious elevated setting with panoramic views from the top of the slope.



I was told and read the story after how 95,000 bottles of wine were made and how Matt realised, after drinking 500 bottles in 3 years, that it was time to take the wines to market. Daughter Shan relocated to Cape Town from Johannesburg in January 2012 and within 8 months the wines were ready for sale. She is very much the driving force behind the operations, sales and marketing of Oneiric – the crafts and the buttons too – and I would have liked to have met her.


The Cousin Jack was a medium to full bodied Rhone style blend of Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon with a dash of Shiraz. The individual red fruit flavours were none too distinct but I liked the smooth and balanced mouthfeel. This was another older vintage (2010) and I wondered how long the 95,000 bottles will last for aged wines to be sold, a rare treat for a South African winery.


The Pascall family has its roots in copper mining in Zambia and Zimbabwe. These are reflected in the unique and eye-catching metallic labels, with the colour for each cultivar playing on a copper derivative: oxidised malachite for the Sauvignon Blanc; golden yellow chalcopyrite ore for the Chardonnay; copper for Cousin Jack (Cousin Jack was the name given to the 18th and 19th century Cornish miners who left for the USA, Brazil, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa, bringing with them their mining expertise and the game of rugby); deep blue oxidised azurite copper for the Shiraz; crimson cuprite, a copper sulphide mineral, for the Merlot; and pale gold for the Quantum blend, named after the 3rd biggest copper mine in the world.


I preferred the Shiraz to the Merlot. Both were full bodied and made by previous winemaker Niels Verburg, now making wine in Botrivier. Smooth and refined, with tannins balanced with the 14.5% alcohol and fruity spiciness on the palate, I picked out softer white peppercorn, blackberry and cassis aromas on the nose.


The Merlot showed similar style being forwards of warm red fruit flavours – redcurrant, red plum and some cedar – and with a balanced mouthfeel albeit with tight tannins. Unsurprisingly at R582 a bottle, I did not get to taste the First Quantum Grand Reserve blend of equal amounts of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot.



Oneiric intrigued for its quirky character and difference, no doubt the brainchild of Shan. There were elements (pun intended) and personal touches that felt almost homely in being – the random, almost unfinished gift shop nature of the Tasting Room and even the ‘button’ stools. Besides was a grand, brand new Cellar with shiny stainless steel fermentation tanks laid out with seating for functions and large numbers of tasting guests. The professional yet trendy wine labels will certainly make Oneiric wines stand out on the bottle store or supermarket shelf. The wines were well made and of good quality, perfect either with food or for a present for Christmas or other occasion.



I sensed a time of transition for Oneiric, from country house to corporate in style. It is one of the youngest of Elgin’s wine farms. I expect it to gain in exposure and is one to watch. Dreams, with Shan’s passion and enthusiasm, certainly will come true …

Wines tasted (bought *):


2013 Sauvignon Blanc – R113* FAVOURITE WINE
2015 Oh! Chardonnay – R113
2013 Chardonnay – R220


2010 Cousin Jack (48% Merlot, 42% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Shiraz) – R188
2011 Shiraz – R220
2013 Merlot – R450


You Might Also Like

Purring at the Wines in Tyger Valley

Saxenburg Puts Heart, Mind and Soul into Its Wines

Sweet and Safe Times Pair Well with the Whales

Franschhoek’s Hidden Gem Is Reluctant to Reveal

Bracing Brakes on the Red Wines at Remhoogte

Wagons to the Cellar at Waboomsrivier

Very Cape Wines at Capaia

Oh-MG at Anthonij Rupert

The Big Easy Tee’s Off in the Vineyard

Kosie Wynes at Groenland

Cabsolutely Frankulous at the Carnival

Wines Merely to Lust After

Onderkloof Beats All the Odds Below The Valley

Wines That Don’t Cost The Earth

K-eynote W-ines at the V-ineyard

Water into Wine at Uitkyk

iWine rather than IMAX at the Cape Gate Mall

Opening the Book at Elgin Vintners

Being Creative at Flagstone

Swiss Family Sauvignons at Eikendal

Individual Quality at Jordan

Mulderbosch didn’t quite Meet the Yardstick

Malverne Dis-Clos-ed

Iona Wines Remain Excellent In and At the Vineyard

I Needed to be Guided by the Angel Gabriel

Waterf-ord More Ord-inary Than Extra-ord-inary

Red Chair in the Morning

Around the (Old) World in 18 Hours – starting with the European Cuvée!

Waxing Lyrical about Canto

Next Time to Taste at Hannay

Magical Wines Star at Dragonridge

Late at Lateganskop

A Warm Welcome in the Cool Climate at South Hill

Boutique de Brendel

Grand Wines at the Big Top!

Wine Notes Composed at D’Aria

How Do You Grow a Vineyard Like Maria?

Heaven Meets Earth at Bouchard Finlayson

Trading Wines in the City Bowl

More Still at Tanagra

Peace but No Rest for Rust en Vrede

Beyond Expectation

South over the Hills in Elgin

Family Fun in Pairs at Four Cousins

Ghostly Clouds Swirl at Spookfontein

Groot Phesantekraal an Unexpected Surprise!

Joy at Really Tasting the Difference at Esona

A Cracker and a Stormer at Paul Wallace

Barrels of Fun at My First Stellenbosch Street Soirée

Colmant Sparkled

Sugar and Spice is Twice as Nice

PicknPay Pairs it again at the Stellenbosch Wine Festival

On Yonder Hill There Stands a Vineyard!

Lithos Wines Soar above Mountain and Forest

One Day, Three Tastings, Five Wines and Seven Sisters

Taking the Garage into the Classroom

Blaauwklippen was Good for a Friday

It’s High Time Again

More than Just a Destination

No Blues at Hillcrest

A Sparkling Tasting at Charles Fox

Simple Spier

Excelsior Blends Quality with Price

Villion Pairs with Barton in Bot Rivier

Value for Money from Angel Gabriel in the Vineyard

Quality Abounds on the Mound at La Motte

No Black Marks at Raka

Wine on the Slopes at Chamonix

Speed Tasting with Sommelier ‘Royalty’ at my First SASA Meeting

In the Highlands in the Lowlands of Elgin

Proudly Keeping it in the Family at Paul Cluver – or Not?

The Darling from Darling Steps into the Vineyard

Four Partners (not Cousins) at the Vineyard Hotel

On the Left, but then on the Right …

An Early Start at Rietvallei

Clouds Reign in Stellenbosch

Neil’s Vines on the Tr-Ellis in Stellenbosch

Relaxing Rosendal

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

Serenity without Worry or Preoccupation in the Chapel

Iconic Steenberg

Fun(ny) Times at Lourensford

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

All Green at Villiera

Family Fun at the Greek Harvest Festival

Diploma Done and Dusted – But for the Final Result – I Passed!

Windfall Offered Unexpected Delights

Better than a Fair View Where the Goats do Roam!

Big Preparations in the Little Vineyard

Sip Sip Sip and Drip Drip Drip at Domaine des Dieux

At the Bend in the Road in Bot River

It’s all Art and Wine at Almenkerk

In the Vineyard with Beyerskloof

Hazendal Fit for a Tsar, a Hare and a God of Wine

Seven Reasons To Visit Seven Oaks Wines

All is Not Lost in a Safe Port

From the Angel Gabriel to the Arch Angel

The Terroir is Honoured in the Bottle at Springfield

In the Garage in the Heart of McGregor

Old Oaks at La Bourgogne

Pastures Anew at Rustenberg

Second Helping – and Tasting – at Oak Valley

Quoin Rock Gently Roars at Knorhoek

Beau-tiful Beau-tique Beau-Constantia

Rain Meets Earth at Newton Johnson

Rivergold is a Gem Waiting to be Discovered

Wacky – not Tacky – in Robertson


Morgenhof in the Morning

Multi-Faceted Wines on Display at the Vineyard

Altitudes with Wine!

British Reserve and Excellence at Sumaridge

Maiden Visit to Lord’s Bowled Me Over

Lothian Left Me Breathless – and Not Only the Wines!

Straw Berry Yields for e-Ver-gelegen

The Gods Come Home to the Vineyard

Au Revoir France!

I-own-a Wine Farm!


Elegant Wines Kiss the Lips in the Vineyard

Wines to Love on Love Street

Sax ‘n’ Berg at the Vineyard

Bon Courage and Bon Voyage

Perfection is Attainable at Boschkloof Wines

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

Warwick Wines Win their Colours

A Family Occasion – the Story behind the Bottle

Grape Expectations are Met at Zevenwacht

Dave Goes Down Under and the Wines Go Up

Mooi Mooi Mooi Mooiplaas

Mutual Attraction

Shiraz Purrs at Manley Wine Lodge

Quality with Style in the Vineyard

Rustic Charm at the Altydgedacht Wine Farm

Elgin Valley is the Cool Wine Tour

From Palette to Palate to Muratie

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

Posh Spice in Franschhoek!

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

Summer Whites …… and Rosés

My Best Blend at Zandvliet

Wines Out of the Barrel at Kanonkop

Class in Glass at Glenelly

Nala Wines are Well Engineered in the Vineyard

Well and Truly Oaked!

Bellville to Bellevue to Belle Wines

The Garagiste in the Garage at Sonklip!

Cabernet Franc – Well Worth a Gamble!

Baby Thrown Out with the Bath Water?

Vista to Verdot at Glen Carlou

Great Value in the Swartland

Lust-ful Reds in the Vineyard

Leaping to the Right Conclusions

Honest, Affordable Family Wines at Landskroon

Tasting Vines at the Vineyard

More-ish Wines at Môreson

Verticle Tasting on the Ridge in Elgin

Where the Lions Roar in the Wild West of Bot Rivier

Linga-ring in a Winery in Malawi

The Phoenix Rises from the Terroir at Thelema


Mixed Spice at the Pinotage Festival

Rijk Tulbagh Gives Name to Cellar and Town


  1. A Cracker and a Stormer at Paul Wallace – Cape Wine Lovers' Society

    […] the farm was as I had already passed it en route to and from Hannay Wines, Highlands Road Estate, Oneiric Wines and South Hill Vineyards. Nonetheless, the Wallovale Vineyards sign made a feeble attempt to […]

  2. Opening the Book at Elgin Vintners – Cape Wine Lovers' Society

    […] It was in early December when I last visited the Elgin Valley to taste at South Hill Vineyards, Oneiric Wines, Highlands Road Estate, Paul Wallace Wines and Hannay Wines. A couple of hours unexpectedly opened […]

Leave a Reply

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