My partner and I have an agreement that we each plan each other’s Birthday Day in secret. The occasion doesn’t always involve wine but often does. She likes cars and has a lifelong dream to buy an old MG. I found via Gumtree a 1949 vintage MG TD for hire in Brackenfell, classic open top and resplendent in red. The next part of my plan for the day was to visit the Franschhoek Motor Museum. Pre-booking is required and, whilst doing so, I discovered there’s an all day ‘Estate Package’ for R495 (Museum tickets are R80 per adult). The package includes a visit to the Motor Museum, scenic Tram ride through the estate to the Terra del Capo Tasting Room (the Anthonij Rupert Tasting Room in the Manor House is closed on Sundays), antipasti lunch, and wine tasting in the Terra del Capo Tasting Room.
Brackenfell, even the Cape Gate Shopping Centre, was not my partner’s number 1 choice for her birthday treat but she soon showed a smile when we saw the lovely red MG waiting for us for the day. Pleasantries completed, contact details exchanged, guidance given (no mountain passes and no more than 90 kilometres/hour), and return time agreed, and it was soon time to head off in the bright summer sunshine for the 45 kilometres drive to the Museum.
For those who haven’t been, the Motor Museum shows some 80 cars at a time from its vast collection in 4 large farm outbuildings. The display collection rotates so one will see different cars during return visits. We began our day at the Museum, exploring 2 of the 4 exhibition halls, before taking the tram to the Tasting Room. The 30 minute trip in itself was beautiful, slowly wending our way through verdant vineyards with panoramic views of the Groot Drakenstein Mountains in the Franschhoek Valley.
We alighted at the Terra del Capo building with its slate-faced open façade flanked by bronze life-size cheetah statues. We entered the corporate styled Tasting Room, with white staircase to the upper level swirling above black marble and sandstone tiles below. The tasting was upstairs. Whilst not ‘officially’ wine tasting, I did write some notes from the white and red tasting selections that we chose as part of the package.
I realised, when seeing the Tasting Sheet, the cause of my confusion over the many brands linked to Anthonij Rupert. I had tasted wines from the L’Ormarins range (the Motor Museum is on the L’Ormarins estate) last October at the Vineyard Hotel, Cape Town. You won’t’ find an entry for L’Ormarins in the 2018 Platter’s Guide, nor will you find any wines from Anthonij Rupert listed and reviewed in the book. I saw that Anthonij Rupert is the umbrella for the Anthonij Rupert Wyne, L’Ormarins, Cape of Good Hope, Terra del Capo and Protea wine labels. There’s also an ultra-Premium Rosé called Jean Roi together with an ‘Armagnac’ (called Sagnac) and a Litchi Eau de Vie made by L’Ormarins. I realised that I needed return for a full tasting.
The Anthonij Rupert portfolio extends to some 210 hectares of vines on 4 prime farms in Darling, Swartland, Elandskloof and Franschhoek. They grow a total of 15 cultivars that includes all the noble varieties together with some minor ones such as Carignan, Cinsault, Grenache, Marsanne, Mourvèdre, Sangiovese, Pinot Grigio and Roussanne.
The elegant Cape of Good Hope range – the first tasting selection – sported old postage stamps on the labels, colour matched with the bottle tops: lime green for Sauvignon Blanc; orange for Sémillon; mustard yellow for Chardonnay; and bottle green for the Chenin Blanc-led white blend. My brief notes described the Sauvignon Blanc as having ‘herbaceous and fruit salad notes – superb’; the Sémillon as ‘restrained’ as it had little of the honeyed fruit aromatics I would usually associate with the cultivar; the Chardonnay as ‘buttery, great’; and the Blend as being ‘Chenin led, good’. These were all well made and terroir-specific wines, with a bright and defined style.
The Anthonij Rupert Wynes were on another level in both quality and price (mostly a staggeringly high R500 to R560 a bottle). The Bordeaux-style Blend (cheapest at R200) was ‘thin, woody’ whilst the Syrah was ‘Old World/French style, elegant’. I liked the ‘slightly chilled, very smooth, refined and balanced’ Cabernet Franc the most, and better than the ‘smooth, refined’ Cabernet Sauvignon.
I would have liked to have sampled much more of the selection but lunch in the Restaurant downstairs beckoned. The set antipasti menu (R250 but included in the package) was filling and comprehensive: Charcuterie and Cheese Platter; Caprese Salad with Rocket; Zucchini Fries with Garlic Aioli; Deep Fried Calamari with Caper Aioli; Tomato Arancini with Basil Pesto. Terra del Capo Pinot Gris (fruity/herbaceous with moderate acidity) and Sangiovese (red fruit with tomato, high tannin, high acidity) were served with the meal. We even managed a cake and coffee after.
It was relaxing but all too soon it was time to board the return tram to the Motor Museum to see the final part of the car collection. After, I realised how worthwhile it was to have split seeing the cars into 2 sessions. We ended the day with a brief ride into Franschhoek before returning the car to its owner in Brackenfell.
I haven’t done the maths but the Estate Package was really worthwhile and offered great value for money for the day out. Sure, if you are an oenophile, visit either the Terra del Capo or Anthonij Rupert Tasting Rooms and enjoy the wines alone. The range is wide and varied and more than adequate for a tasting session. But, if you want a day out that is not solely focused on wine – or have a partner or friend who is perhaps less passionate than you are – then I highly recommend the Estate Package. The Motor Museum, the tram rides, the tasting and the Restaurant were al fun and enjoyable.
Wines tasted (bought *):
NV L’Ormarins Brut MCC (55% Chardonnay, 45% Pinot Noir) – R120
2016 Cape of Good Hope Altima Sauvignon Blanc – R180
2015 Cape of Good Hope Laing Sémillon – R120
2014 Cape of Good Hope Caroline (50% Chenin Blanc, 22% Roussanne, 20% Viognier, 8% Marsanne) – R280
2016 Cape of Good Hope Serruria Chardonnay – R260
2017 Terra del Capo Pinot Grigio – R65
2013 Anthonij Rupert Optima Bordeaux Blend – R200
2012 Anthonij Rupert Syrah – R500
2012 Anthonij Rupert Cabernet Sauvignon – R560
2010 Anthonij Rupert Cabernet Franc – R560 FAVOURITE WINE
2014 Terra del Capo Sangiovese – R85