This year’s Franschhoek Uncorked Festival, took place over the weekend of 15 and 16 September 2018. What a beautiful Spring day it was! There was no wind, a warm spring sun, which warmed your inner soul, and of course, one of the most scenic landscapes our beautiful country has to offer. We all know how stunning the Franschhoek Valley is! The weekend… absolute perfection!
So What is Franschhoek Uncorked All About?
2018’s Franschhoek Uncorked Festival, took place over a period of two days, creating the perfect opportunity to explore one of South Africa’s most premium and iconic wine destination – Franschhoek. You travel from one wine estate to another, uncovering an abundance of new experiences and sampling newly released wines. This two day event, showcases everything Franschhoek has to offer… from MCC’s, white, rosés and red wines.
After winter hibernation the Franschhoek Uncorked event creates the perfect opportunity to stock up on wine! Just a few of the Festival’s highlights include themed tastings, mouthwatering meals, live music, old school lawn games, just to mention a few.
This years New Releases at Franschhoek Uncorked:
- Noble Hill – Mourvedre Rosé 2018
- Allée Bleue – Starlette Blanc 2018
- Boschendal Wine Estate: 1685 Sauvignon Blanc 2018
- Lynx Cabernet Sauvignon 2017 & Lynx Viognier 2018
- Paserene Wines: Union 2016
- Leopard’s Leap Sparkling Chardonnay Pinot Noir
- Glenwood 2017 Vigneron’s Selection Chardonnay
- Glenwood 2017 Sauvignon Blanc / Semillon
- Rickety Bridge: The Printer’s Devil Range (White, Rose & Red)
- Mont Rochelle Sauvignon Blanc 2018
- Black Elephant Vintners – Amazing Grace 2015 or Nicholas Red 2016 or both!!
- Dieu Donné Sauvignon Blanc 2018
- La Bri Double Door White Blend 2017; La Bri Double Door Rose 2018 & La Bri Double Door Natural Sweet 2018
- Haut Espoir Gentle Giant 2014 & Haut Espoir Shiraz Rose 2018
- Boekenhoutskloof – The Chocolate Block 2017 (Please feel free to click here to see more information about each wine)
Our Franschhoek Uncorked Journey
As you may have read in my previous articles, I am not a person who enjoys festivals. The massive crowding, the traffic, and let us not mention the raucous people, especially if they had one to many. I have worked at far too many wine festivals in the past to give me nightmares to last me life-time. THANK GOODNESS, this is NOT Franschhoek Uncorked! .
It is an upmarket, classy and very elegant event, which was an absolute delight spending the day out with friends and family. I am actually embarrassed to say that…. I haven’t been to any of the farms in Franschhoek region. This event was the perfect way to experience on what Franschhoek has to offer. I will be back to explore the beautiful valley. My sister, who visits Franschhoek religiously (was my guide), yet they were also pleasantly surprised how many farms they hadn’t been/ heard of before.
In my mind I had the entire day planned and worked out in which farms to visit. These are the farms I planned and my reasons. Noble Hill – for their unique Mouverde Rose. I don’t think I have come across a blend like this before. Lynx wine farm to experience the whole Mexican/Spannish vibe, I also wanted to taste their Viognier. I absolutely love a good Viognier.
Paserene was definately on my list, soulfully for the Union Blend. You see, Odd Bin #938 (Shiraz/Grenache/Carignan ) is one of my favourite red blends (I love looking for something that is different and unique!). So you can imagine my surprise and excitement to hear that the Union Red Blend is a Shiraz/Carignan/Mouverder Blend!!
Leopards Leap, came highly recommend by my beautiful sister. I also wanted to see the Leopard Sculpture – done by Dylan Lewis. Having worked for Dylan Lewis in the past, I admire his work, and his leopard sculptures are life-like, it is surreal! Oh! Plus wanting to taste their newly released Sparkling Chardonnay Pinot Noir. I mean this is why we go to wine farms right? (I love Chardonnay/Pinot Noir and wanted to compare notes).
Black Elephant Vintners, I mean who doesn’t like a wine and cake pairing?! Glenwood for lunch, the sound of pork belly taco’s or duck caesar wraps is just so tempting that you have to give them a try, with the added wine blending competition, it sounded like so much fun!!
SIGH!! If only that was the case! Your biggest enemy is time, but you know what hey…? The fact we didn’t get to see all these farms, made me appreciate Franschhoek so much more, and in an Arnie’s Terminator voice… I’ll be back! Yes, I will be back to explore the farms I didn’t get to see.
Thanks to Franschhoek Uncorked, I now know what the wine cellars are offering. Next year, if all is well… I do plan to visit again! This time I will make a full weekend of it, booking myself in at a gorgeous Air BnB, and soaking it all up. Nonetheless, here are the farms we did managed to visit.
This 300 year old farm is spectacular. How they have managed to keep true to their heritage, is absolutely remarkable. Seeing the old Cape Dutch Style buildings is like stepping back into time. You can almost imagine yourself living in that time period. You can certainly feel the history. (I am a sucker for history) Boschendal is massive and you can easily get lost. It is so easy to spend hours walking and exploring around the estate. Sadly though, for Franchhoek Uncorked, you just don’t have the time. After getting lost, we eventually found the “Franschhoek Uncorked tasting area”.
Boschendal only had one wine for tasting and that was the Sauvignon Blanc 2018 . ( A melange of yellow and green tropical fruits with hints of citrus. A soft, full-bodied wine with a harmonious –palate and coated acidity adding to the zesty, mineral finish. Good balance between acidity and structure) I love the bottle design of the 1685 range. Once again, true to their heritage, the bottle is designed, how it was during the late 1600’s.
Our time, at Boschendal was a very short one. I don’t know, the vibe at Boschendal, didn’t have that festive feel, it kind of felt slightly stiff, impersonal and cold. Perhaps the crowd was a lot younger than us, maybe it was just me… (we felt slightly under dressed) there was nothing wrong with the event itself but, we felt quite happy to move on. And so we did… Our Next stop:
Plaisir de Merle
We stumbled across this little gem, on our way to Noble Hill, as we drove passed, we thought HEY… let us make a turn here and see what is happening. We were so impressed with this venue . We were indicated by an attendant where to park, from there, a shuttle took all the new arrivals to the venue. Plaisir de Merle is absolutely stunning! Manicured lawns, old oak trees, and gorgeous views, this was the perfect place to chillax for a while.
Big gorgeous cushions on the lawn, while listening to the live band. Their wines on offer for tasting was superior. Plaisir de Merle boast about their 400 year old wine-making excellence, and yes, you most certainly can experience this in their wines. My favourite wine was their Cabernet Sauvignon (can’t remember the vintage) It an elegant full-bodied red wine with notes of blackberry fruit, dark chocolate and sweet notes of vanilla. This was my new firm favourite.
This has to be our favourite spot for the day! The vibe was just perfect, it was relaxed and chilled, families relaxing while the kids run and play on the lawn. First thing, go and taste the Mouverde Rose, (Yay!! One item checked on my list!!) It is a gorgeous color. Best way to describe the colour is pink salmon.
What a beautiful wine it is, with notes of rose water, strawberries, and watermelon. It is a crisp wine with a dry finish. The perfect wine for the summer, relaxing at the braai with friends.
I have to say though, my favourite wine from Noble Hill has to be the Syrah 2016, or should I say “Sarah 2016”. So, My brother in law comes to me and says: “Abby you got to try this Sarah wine! I have never heard or tasted anything like this before!” I looked at him and say: “Oooh, you mean, Syrah?” Well, needless to say we had a good laugh.
You see, there is always something new to learn in the Wine Industry. Anyway, this wine has all my favourite flavours, black cherries, liquorice, and dark chocolate. Even though it rich and full bodies, it is smooth and well balanced. If perfection could be bottled, I would say this has to be it. This wine sells for R114 a bottle at the cellar, now that… is a steel!
Tummies were grumbling, the sneaky feeling of wine was slowly getting to our heads. With all the amazing and mouth watering aroma’s floating in the air, our tummies was now telling us, IT IS TIME TO EAT!! Did Noble Hill have food to offer? Oh man… Oh man! All you favourite Mexican styled food was on offer.
In the end we decided those burger patties being grilled on the “barbie”. You could choose to have “Jy Will Mos…” (Hot); Jack Daniels BBQ Sauce, or Ranch Sauce. I opted for the Jack Daniels BBQ sauce. It was delicious. Sweet, Smokey, and a hint of a bite, it was the perfect sauce for that patty. This had to be the best meat patty ever, it had flavour, juicy, and this beautiful smokiness. Maybe, we were just too starved, but damn that was one of the best burgers I had eaten.
We managed to get a nice place to relax but the dam and under the trees. The late afternoon Spring sun made you feel so lazy and you just wanted to spend the rest of the day, listening to some nice music and enjoying a glass of Syrah.
My sister had a Rose infused Margarita Slush – which was very nice, it had a lovely kick! No questions – Tequila was definitely the main ingredient!! Whooohooo!
We decided to move on, so off to Leopards Leap we go…! Man, we were sad, the time we got to Leopards Leap, the cars was standing bumper to bumper trying to make their way into Leopards Leap, the place was jammed packed, there was no parking.
So we moved onto to Elephant Vintners. Aye – It looks like we arrived too late as well, there was no parking available non what so ever, it was also a struggle to drive up the tight narrow street, with people walking and cars wanting to come down. I was grateful that my brother in-law was the designated driver. So we decided to move on, and moved on we did… We found our way to:
Yay! Another tick! I had to go an taste the Rousanne! As we arrived we were greeted to more tastings of wines. So I opted to taste the Double Door White Blend which is a blend of Roussanne, Chardonnay, Viognier and Semillon. It is a very nice wine.
We went to go and taste the Roussane. This wine has a dessert pear and peach on the nose. A rich creamy palate show-casing the spiciness from old barrels inviting you to take a second sip. I enjoyed it, but personally for me, it was a little too sweet for my liking.
I fell in love with the Double Door Red Blend. For a wine that was 24 months in French Oak could be such a nice easy drinking wine. It has all the complexity, but yet smooth and no “clawiness” feel on your palette. The blend consists of 47% Cabernet Sauvignon, 35% Merlot, 16% Cabernet Franc, 2% Petit Verdot. For R90 a bottle this was an absolutely steel.
And that was it… time definitely flies when you are having fun, and we were sad that it was 4pm and time to go home. It was an experience which we thoroughly enjoyed. My virgin experience on the Franschhoek Wine Route, was a huge eye opener. Festivals like these are important to the Wine Tourism Industry, it teaches people to travel out of our comfort zone and explore a little more. You kind of have this certain perception of Franschhoek, and Franschoek Uncorked, had changed that perception.
So thank you to the event organisers, and all the participating wine farms for all the hard work and effort you did, to make this a relaxed, cheerful and very elegant event.
If you haven’t been to Franschoek Uncorked, be sure to attend 2019’s festival. Make a weekend of it! Seriously explore this gorgeous valley, not only the wine farms, but the quaint little shops down main street, art galleries and world class boutiques. You will not regret your choice. See your next year!