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Fruit from the southern slopes

Our wine columnist Sadé Allcock is relocating to Jozi to manage a boutique hotel in Houghton, but don’t worry, this is a brief hiatus, she’ll be back to fill you in on the best plonk to purchase as our world renowned Cape wines are available in the big smoke.

In the meantime, while she’s waltzing along Jozi’s welcome mat, we scored a wine tasting invitation from Steenberg and trundled along for a treat.

Fruit from the southern slopes

Seated on a comfy couch before a coffee table and roaring glass-fronted fire, we were given the royal treatment with a champagne tasting as well as the full flagship range of whites and red, with even a rosè thrown in.

Steenberg, having been established by the legendary Catharina Ras in 1682, has some of the oldest sauvignon blanc vines in the country which, being situated on the cooler east-facing lower slopes of the mountain which become shadowed relatively early in the afternoon, produces all the characteristic sharp grassy notes celebrated in a sauvignon blanc. Turn this into a sparkling wine, as they’ve been doing for three years with the Steenberg Sparkling Sauvignon Blanc, and you get the racy herbal undertones with tropical notes of litchi and guava bursting over it. The contrast may sound strange but it’s much like a kiwifruit, a deliciously tart tropical taste. This is a sparkling wine for all palates.

With its shady slopes, Steenberg is able to grow pinot noir, and has cultivated one hectare of the varietal, producing 1,000 bottles of Pinot Noir Cap Classique that has won awards for good reason, layering the palate with a range of tastes from cherry to toasted brioche. It is a sparkling wine for connoisseurs, but it’s the Lady R Cap Classique, named after the farm’s original matriarch, that is the pinnacle of the range. The Lady R has almost unfathomable layers on the palate, with an aroma you’d want to dab on your lover’s throat. There is nothing gauche about this sparkling wine, it seems to vibrate with sophistication, combining creaminess and acidity in your mouth while tantalising your senses with almond, coriander, coconut, lime and myrrh. This is a glass you’ll want to savour, slowly.

Beyond the bubblies which Steenberg have mastered, there’s the Black Swan which is Sauvignon blanc hand harvested from the farm’s oldest vines and adds a soft, elegant herbaceousness to the characteristic grassy flintiness of the grape. And the Semillon, of which we had a 2017 vintage, had notes of honey and apricot, and a silky smoothness brought about by spending 21 months in French oak. Then there are the superb reds in their range which are highly recommended.

Excepting for some of the sparkling wines such as the Sparkling Sauvignon Blanc being competitive (for a top-notch bubbly) at R145, pretty much everything else was on the pricier end of the spectrum. The Lady R goes for R540 but she is a beauty. The Semillon, as part of the flagship range, goes for R230 and the Black Swan for R240. Wine tastings range from R80 per person for the Express tasting, to R200 per person for the Flagship tasting. Worth saving for, though.

Alcohol only for people over the age of 18, do not drink and drive.