As I write this the 10th Robertson Wine on the River is in full swing. Along the banks of the Breede river cheerful crowds chill to live music, small children tumble around adults perched on straw bales, and the air is filled with aromas of shellfish, wors, sosaties and more. As usual the weather is perfect – the organisers nearly always get it right – and in celebrating a decade of October festivals, Robertson Wine Tourism can take a bow as the team behind one of the most successful, enjoyable and well-organised food and wine festivals in the country. I am sure many visitors are also stocking up with their choice from among more than 300 wines from more than 40 cellars to take home for the festive season.
Yesterday, while some of the stalls were still getting organised, we were treated to an informal bubbly tasting: Seated in a marquee with one side open to the Breede river and vine-clad hills beyond, we sampled two Cap Classiques each from six Robertson valley producers. As always, the winemakers and viticulturists who poured their products were great company; relaxed, ready to tell their stories, often against themselves, as they don't shy away from mistakes made as well as successes chalked up. What is it about this valley that produces such talented people from various walks of life, who are modest, hospitable, and who regard neighbours as friends rather than competition.
In no particular order, bubblies that I really enjoyed include Bon Courage’s Jacques Bruere brut reserve 2009 – a classic 60/40 pinot noir/chardonnay that was disgorged just five months ago. It’s beautifully balanced, developing into a stunner that makes it a great buy at R120. This cellar is deservedly renowned for its consistently pleasing sparkling wines that are as delightful aperitifs as they are partners to seafood and a range of summer fare.
Wonderfontein introduced a new brut rosé, called Paul René, comprising 75% pinot and 25% chardonnay, a non-vintage limited edition winner that may have to be limited to regular customers. At R160 its going to be as popular as their all-chardonnay brut which also costs R160.
Peter de Wet poured two delightful MCC’s, while sharing his story of his long, hard journey to reach this point, as father Danie was not convinced that De Wetshof estate should go in for bubbles. At R190 the pinot noir brut 2008 is a salmon-tinted triumph, selling at R190.
No RWV bubbly tasting would be complete without sipping a couple of Philip Jonker’s classics: It was a treat to try his classic Entheos from Weltevrede again, which is a four-star essential for warm weather enjoyment, both lively and invigorating.
Windfall farm tucked away in the Agterkliphoogte sent their viticulturist to pour their all-chardonnay 2007 Mendola cap classique, a characterful chardonnay that is probably at its peak, golden and offering caramel on the palate.