Tastes of 2017: a journey of discovery

The Square Restaurant

book now for your Tastes of 2017 wine-paired dinner experience

On 5 May 1798, Lady Anne Barnard and her husband Andrew, secretary to the Colony of Cape of Good Hope, set off from their home at The Vineyard for a month’s journey.

the route
Their route took them over the perilous kloof that is now Sir Lowry’s Pass, via Bot River, to Hermanus and Stanford, then to the Genadendal Mission near Greyton, and then up the Breede River Valley. They went as far north as Porterville, then headed to Langebaan before returning to Cape Town.

Considering the times, it was quite a journey for these intrepid Georgians. It was certainly a great deal more demanding than their trips to Stellenbosch and Simon’s Town had been. But Lady Anne’s diaries and letters show the enthusiastic generosity of spirit that entranced everyone she met, from serving staff to Dutch farmers, from missionaries to Landdrosts and Fiscals.

tastes of 2017 wine-paired dinners
It is this curiosity about our country and sense of adventure that we are celebrating in our Tastes of 2017 wine-paired dinners. Our menus will incorporate the bounty of fresh ingredients available at the Cape, and the dishes Chef Carl designs for each dinner will complement wines from farms along the routes the Barnards travelled.

We hope that you will enjoy them as much as Lady Anne enjoyed the dinner she was served at Klein River Valley Farm (now Stanford Village).

8 April: Hemel en Aarde Celebration Dinner
Dishes will be created to bring out the exceptional qualities of these small-volume, premium-quality wines, and the strong maritime influence of their terroir. “A distant prospect of the mouth of the [Klein] River and a sort of Peninsula which puts into the Sea made one of the finest scenes I had beheld.” – Lady Anne’s description of her first sight of Walker Bay.

The menu features four exquisite wines from two estates: Hamilton Russell Vineyards Chardonnay 2016 and Pinot Noir 2016, and Domaine Des Dieux Josephine Pinot Noir 2013 and Chardonnay 2012.

28 April: Vineyard hotel’s 5 wine partners
This special dinner celebrates the wines of iconic wine estates Meerlust, Klein Constantia, Simonsig, Warwick and Waterford. These estates are our wine partners, who guide the making of our own wine from grapes grown in the vineyard at the bottom of our garden. Chef Carl’s menu will entice guests with five courses to match the wines from each estate.

12 May: Meerlust
Pride of the Myburgh family since before the time of the Barnards’ trip into the interior, Meerlust is recognised for producing wines of exceptional character, made only from grapes grown on the estate. It took the Barnards five hours to reach Meerlust – if you have that far to travel after dinner with us, may we suggest that you reserve one of our beautiful rooms?

26 May: Marianne Wine Estate 
Marianne Wine Estate celebrates the fictional character who personifies the French Republic and its ideals: Liberty, Brotherhood, and Equality. The farm is situated at the foot of the Simonsberg, outside Stellenbosch. Lady Anne was very taken with “the fertile valley of Drachenstead and by the Mountains of Simonsberg with their high marked top”.

16 June: Waterkloof
All wines produced at Waterkloof emphasize restraint, elegance, integrity and length. Waterkloof aims to produce “honest wines” that express the estate’s unique location on Sir Lowry’s Pass Road. Getting up the pass in the Barnards’ day was very dangerous, and Lady Anne wrote that the prospect made her “greatly afraid. The path to the top was very perpendicular and the jutting rocks over which the wagon was to be pulled were so large that we were astonished how they were accomplished at all.”

30 June:  Paul Cluver
A leader in sustainable farming, Paul Cluver Wines is a family owned and family run winery, focused on producing wines that reflect the uniqueness of the cool-climate Elgin terroir. Lady Anne’s delight in the simple meal she enjoyed in the area: “Hide your diminished heads all ye French Cooks … never no never was there so good a pye tasted as that which contained the lamb.”

14 July: Gabrielskloof
Lady Anne Barnard wrote in her diary: “The land Canaan opened before my eyes after mountain upon mountain, hill upon hill … As we drove on we turned on our right to the mouth of the Bot Riviere, which empties itself into the Sea, at the foot of a long range of Mountains…” Today, just outside Botrivier lies Gabriëlskloof, where the focus on quality, from handpicked grapes to meticulous sorting, subtle pressing and maturation in oak barrels, produces wines that leave a lasting impression.

28 July: Hermanuspietersfontein
While the cellar is located conveniently in Hermanus, Sondagskloof is where the grapes for Hermanuspietersfontein wines are grown in the mountains 50km from Cape Agulhas. Would Lady Anne have guessed that the “not steep, but stony and dangerous from the frequent slopings of the road… to the right, a range of hills… to the left, a long row of mountains…” would one day produce conditions that bring out a natural acidity and minerality in the Hermanuspietersfontein grapes that produce elegant, European-styled wines.

11 August: Sumaridge wine estate
The estate produces award-winning Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinotage, Merlot and Merlot Rosé, each cultivar planted in the location best suited to bring out unique qualities. Hospitality has always been the watchword here, even when the Barnards visited: “The sleeping chickens were called up to be broiled, the sheep to be stewed, while the admirable fish which we had wished for in the morning now blessed our eyes in a hamper, and put into the pan, cut in pieces, with a good lump of mutton tail, came forth delicious, a little hot wine and water crowned our repast, and decent beds rendered no trouble in unpacking necessary.”

25 August: Lismore
Chilled by the winter snow and nourished by the African summer sun, grapes grown at Lismore Estate Vineyards produce classic cool climate wines which are rich, complex and lovingly handcrafted. The farm is near Genadendal, where Lady Anne was deeply affected by her experiences at the Moravian Mission: “I doubt much whether I should have entered St. Peters at Rome with the Triple Crown itself present in all its ancient splendor with a more awed impression of the deity and his presence than I did this little Church of a few feet Square, where the simple disciples of Christianity … knew no purple or fine liner, no pride … no hypocrisy. I felt as if I was creeping back 1700 years, to hear … the simple sacred words of wisdom and purity.”

8 September: De Wetshof
De Wetshof Estate produces wines of the finest quality in the rich calcareous soils of the Breede River Valley near Robertson. While the estate is a pioneer of noble white varieties in South Africa, they also make the Bordeaux-style De Wetshof Thibault. This Merlot-Cabernet blend would have paired well with the treats the Barnards received when travelling up the Breede River Valley: “Whatever I looked at or mentioned the two good-natured strange girls brought me with unaffected generosity. I had given them some of my stores  – they could not in return heap enough on me, I even saw they had secreted dried  buck and sausages in the wagon, because I had praised them…”

22 September: Leeuwenkuil
“I long most ardently now to get up the country a little, I shall try hard for it when I am quite well, which I expect will be in a day or two. I have two offers – the offer of good living, lodging, carriages, and civil hospitality from the Landdrost of Stellenbosch”. Lady Anne would surely have passed near Leeuwenkuil as it was founded a century before her trip and was one of the earliest wine farms in the Cape. The Leeuwenkuil Heritage Syrah is one of our favourites. View the menu.

13 October: Mullineux and Leeu
Chris and Andrea Mullineux, Analjit Singh and Peter Dart take a natural, minimalist approach in the vineyards and cellar: apart from minimal amounts of sulphur, nothing is added to or removed from Mullineux and Leeu wines – no yeasts, acids, tannins enzymes or fining or filtering agents. Look out for their terroir-specific range, made only in exceptional vintages from small parcels of vines.

27 October: Friends of the Vineyard
The last dinner of Tastes of 2017: a chance to look back over a fine year, appreciate friends, fine wines, Chef Carl’s exceptional cuisine, and the journeys of discovery we’ve taken together.