Wine News – Page 4

Chardonnay Experience with our Winemaker rocks!

A group of twenty wine lovers were fascinated by winemaker Jan van Rooyen’s presentation at last month’s Chardonnay Experience tutored tasting when fun facts and a vertical tasting of our premiere Luna de Miel Chardonnay range from 2005 to 2015, was an eye opener for many.

Here is Jan’s presentation, complete with maps and a music link!

The barrel fermented Chardonnay of Avontuur Estate is named after the Argentinian thouroughbred mare Luna de Miel, foaled in 1974. The name is Spanish for “honeymoon”. She was purchased as a broodmare in 1982 by the late Mr. Tony Taberer and brought to Avontuur Estate thouroughbred stud where she graced Avontuur for 18 years before she passed on at the age of 27, and is now buried on Avontuur soil.

Today, we will taste and experience 5 vintages of this special wine: the 2005, by Willie Malherbe, the 2006 by Willie and Adéle v d Merwe, then the 2013, 2014 and 2015 by Jan van Rooyen.


Before we start let us also involve the sense of sound by listening to the piano sonata #14 in C sharp major composed by Beethoven (also known as The Moonlight sonata…)

Although Beethoven called this piece “sonata in the manner of fantasy”, the name Moonlight sonata was given by the german music critic and poet, Ludwig Rellstab in 1832, when he likened the effect of the first movement to that of moonlight shining upon Lake Lucerne, 5 years after the death of Beethoven.

(note: Beethoven’s first name was also “Ludwig”)

Beethoven composed the sonata in 1801 and in 1802 dedicated this piece of music to his pupil, the Countess Giulietta Guicciardi…it was not a commissioned work, but simply beautiful music dedicated to a woman…he was in his thirties then.

Taste the 2005 and 2006 LdM

Luna de Miel 2005 – Alc 13.5%, R.S. 10.4, T.A. 5.2 pH 3.7 – 75% natural ferment, 8 mo in barrel

Luna de Miel 2006 – Alc 13.7% R.S. 6.5 T.A. 5.7 pH 3.6 – 75% natural ferment, 8 mo in barrel

2005 vintage report – warm and dry weather up to January, a heatwave hit Stellenbosch in the middle of January, followed by a cool spell and thunderstorms a week later

2006 vintage report – early summer winds, gale force in the Western Cape, plus heat waves late Feb were preceded by a cold, wet winter and a cool, damp spring

Origin of the Chardonnay grape:

We know now that this grape and the wine from it has been made famous by the Burgundy region in France. Also, infamously, some RSA winemakers smuggled some vines back home, thinking that it was Chardonnay…BUT, it turned out to be Auxerrois…!

Now this is interesting, because both the Auxerrois and Chardonnay grapes are siblings from the same parents. i.e. Gouais Blanc (now extinct, but originally from Croatia…) and good old Pinot Noir.

As a matter of fact, to this day, wine is made from Auxerrois in France, Luxembourg and Germany along the Mosel river – and in one of those areas, the name “Chardonnay” is used as a synonym – as Asterix, the Gaul, said once: “these Romans are crazy…”

Mosel river on map of Germany

(I say this, because it is said that Gouais Blanc was brought to France from Croatia, by the Romans…!)

Back to Chardonnay: apparently the grape was named after a village called Chardonnay, in Macon, Burgundy. The earliest reference to Chardonnay wine was made by the Cistercian Monks in 1332. They planted Chardonnay en masse and wanted to distribute the wine all over France.

BUT: a winemaker from Israel claims that the Chardonnay grape actually hails from the Samaria region (or Shomron) in Israel and that the French crusaders brought it over to France. Furthermore, he explains that the name Chardonnay is derived from two Hebrew words meaning “the gate of God”

Map of Israel for Chardonnay Experience

Taste the 2013, 2014 and 2015 LdM

Luna de Miel 2013 – Alc 14%, R.S. 1.9, T.A. 5.3 pH 3.4 – 10 mo in barrel

Luna de Miel 2014 – Alc 13.5%, R.S. 2.6, T.A. 5.0 pH 3.4 – 10 mo in barrel

Luna de Miel 2015 – Alc 14%, R.S. 5.0, T.A. 6.3 pH 3.37 – 10 mo in barrel

2013 vintage report – a cold, wet winter followed up by a cool spring and the warmest December in 48 years gave an earlier and shorter harvest

2014 vintage report – again a cold and wet winter preceded a cool growing season with widespread rainfall in November and January gave an outstanding harvest with regard to crop size and quality

2015 vintage report – the driest and earliest season since many years, after a cold, wet winter, the above average warm weather in August resulted in earlier bud break, the crop was smaller, but of a very good quality

The Lunar calendar

This calendar is based on the cycles, or phases of the moon, whereas the Gregorian calendar is solar based on the revolutions of the earth around the sun.

Although both calendars are very ancient and their use dates back to centuries BC, a German biodynamic practitioner, Maria Thun, developed a biodynamic planting calendar based on the lunar cycles in the 1950’s.

According to this calendar there are root days, leaf days and flower/fruit days…

It was subsequently discovered (?) that our sensory ability to appreciate wines is also affected by these cycles, and that on a fruit or flower day, white wines will taste better, than on root or leaf days… (root and leaf days are ok for reds…)

“Passionate about Cab Franc” – Avontuur’s Michael Taberer

“At Avontuur we planted the first Cab Franc vineyards in the mid-eighties, soon after the varietal was brought to this country,” says Avontuur owner Michael Taberer.  “Take this passion further to some of our best wines like the flagship red, Baccarat which always contains a percentage of Cabernet Franc,  and you have a clear reason for Avontuur’s involvement as the sponsor of the second Cab Franc Carnival which takes place at the Estate on Saturday, 21 May”

17 Wineries are presenting their Cab Francs for tasting and for sale at the event which takes place on the terrace in front of the winery, weather permitting. The wineries are: Avontuur Estate, Cape Chamonix, CK Wines,  Druk-My-Niet Estate, Hannay Wines, Hermanuspietersfontein, Holden Manz Vineyards, Jakob’s Vineyards, KWV,  Lynx Wines,  Mitre’s Edge,  Oldenburg Vineyards, Ormonde Vineyards,  Raats Family Wines,  Romond Wines, Whalehaven and Warwick Wines.

Over and above the fact that fans can interact with winemakers and owners at this intimate event, live music, food trucks, breakfast or lunch from the Avontuur Estate Restaurant an tutored tastings of the best 6 Cab Francs SA has to offer, makes up the day.

Six wineries celebrated their Awards as the Top 6 in the first inaugural Cabernet Franc Challenge. The Top Six are in alphabetical order:  Hermanuspietersfontein Swartskaap 2012, Holden Manz Cabernet Franc Reserve 2014, Jacob’s Vineyards Cabernet Franc 2012, KWV The Mentors Cabernet Franc 2012, KWV The Mentors Cabernet Franc 2013 and Whalehaven Cabernet Franc 2010.  The Top Six Cabernet Francs are exclusively available through as a mixed pack selection, whilst stocks last. Click HERE  for deliveries anywhere in SA.

Tickets: or +27 21 855-3450.





Avontuur hosts 1st Cab Franc Challenge

As the second Cabernet Franc Carnival, sponsored by Avontuur Estate, draws near, the organisors decided to create a matching award mechanism to further highlight the quality of the varietal as produced in South Africa.


Cabernet Franc Challenge logo smallerAll Cabernet Franc producers are invited to enter as many of their wines as they see fit, as long as it contains a minimum of 85% of the varietal for the Cab Franc Challenge 2016. The closing date for entries is 4 March 2016.

A blind judging process will take place on Wednesday, 6 April at Avontuur Estate under the capable direction of Panel Chair Christine Rudman with the assistance of four expert judges, and the top 6 wines will be announced on 20 April at an intimate early dinner at the Farm.

The six winning wines will be available at tutored tasting sessions at the Cabernet Franc Carnival at Avontuur Estate on Saturday, 21 May from 11h00-17h00. After the Carnival, a limited quantity of the winning wines will be for sale as a 6-bottle gift box from . The price will be confirmed once the winners are announced.

Challenge Coordinator Celia Gilloway said many suggestions had already come from entrants as the competition gathers momentum. “One suggestion is that we choose one winner and runners-up and award a first prize medal next year for example. Quite a few wineries have shown an interest in a “older vintage” category as well,” she says.

To find out more and get hold of an entry form, contact Celia at or 082-782-1977.

Pinot Noir/Chardonnay on special this month

We have a real winner on our hands this month with a great special in our tasting room.  Buy 2 bottles of the Pinot Noir/Chardonnay 2015 and get an extra one free!

It all started out as a “Valentine’s ideas brainstorm” and we just thought the soft pink blend would be a perfect fit for the theme.

With its melon and strawberry aroma and interesting smoky palate, this wine is one of the more serious blends on the market, falling within that popular Chard/Pinot category.   It’s also a great food wine, pairing perfectly with sushi, smoked meats, grilled salmon and seafood in general.

Make sure you pop into the tasting room this month, and for only R136 you get to take 3 bottles home.  (Normal price:  R204).   Valid until 29 February 2016.



Winemaker’s blog – all about the harvest!

Winemaker Jan van Rooyen chats about the harvest on 11 January with the first grapes arriving in the cellar on the 13th.

Winemaker’s Blog…

It so turns out that this harvest is another follow-up record-breaking one because of the very early starting date: in 2015 we experienced the earliest date, i.e. 16 January, in the history of Avontuur and this year we will bring it forward by another 3 days…to 13 January !!

This, together with the early heat waves we experienced end 2015/early 2016 as well as later than normal snowfall in the northern hemi-sphere is surely a sign of our changing climate, or what ? (El Niño and the human effect on global warming seems to be a reality…)

We have been told that in the near future there will be new “virgin” soils planted to wine grapes and that traditional areas will become unsuitable, so these forecasts were perhaps not just “spook-stories” after all ?

So, what does this mean for us winemakers?

Well, I remember that many years ago (was it in the 1980’s?) it was said by one Evita Bezuidenhout, that we should “Adapt or die”, (and I thought this was a satirical-political comment…did not know that Pieter-Dirk Uys was such a forward thinking “Boerseun”.)

I think that it simply means we have to do what the situation requires:  apply your mind, don’t forget the basics and think creatively to adapt to the task (and climate) at hand.

We should change the way we have been treating our beautiful vineyards for the past decades, keep looking for the ideal combination of cultivar/rootstock/terroir so as to embrace and use what we have been given to work with. (Pity that the researchers have not given us more ideas on this…)

At Avontuur Estate we have a great team and we are still in an area (or climate) that is excellent for premium reds, plus, there are some cool pockets of terroir for whites, so never fear, your winemaker is still here, same-same but with a difference, as should be expected.

Cheers to the 2016 wine harvest and what it will bring to us – I am ready for it: and if I do things differently, then so be it…!!


Countdown to 2016 with Avontuur bubbly!

Avontuur Estate’s annual summer wine campaign started on 1 October and ends today. We’re hoping to entice wine lovers into trying our premiere range wines, either instore or at the tasting room, where we will  be running weekly specials in support of the store drive.

For the last few weeks we’ve been promoting our speciality wines as well, with the sparkling and MCC at the top of the list as we count down to 2016 tonight!  Pop into our tasting room at the Estate, or visit one of the stores below stocking our wines to pick up a few bottles now.

The premiere range of wines are available in selected stores in the Western Cape at reduced prices during the campaign, and wine lovers will get the chance to taste the wines in a store close by, as an extensive programme of instore tastings has been planned.

Every purchase of two or more premiere range bottles, are rewarded with a coupon worth R60, redeemable till 31 January 2016, at the Estate. This makes an outing to this scenic winery on the R44 between Stellenbosch and Somerset West, a must on your winelands meander this festive season! All coupon holders are also entered into a lucky draw where a winner per store will walk away with a Premiere range gift pack worth R1000.

(Updated on an ongoing basis)

Blue Bottle, Kalk Bay 2/10, 3-6 pm. 3/10, 1-4 pm. 31/10, 12-3pm.
De Jonker Spar 2/10, 3.30-6.30 pm
Vredehoek Spar 9/10, 4-7 pm. 31/10, 4-7 pm.  16/10, 4-7.  17/10, 2-5.  23/10 3-6 pm, 24/10 12-3 pm. 7/11 12-3. 4/12, 11/12, 18/12.
Paradyskloof Tops 16/10, 3.30-6 pm. 17/10,12-3pm. 31/10,12- 3. 23/10, 3-6.  24/10 12-3. 6/11 3-6, 7/11 12-3.
Welgedacht Tops 9/10, 3-6 pm.  10/10, 12-3 pm.  23/10, 4-7.  31/10, 4-7 pm. 13/11 3-6. 11 & 12/12, 18 & 19/12.

Kleinmond Wine Barrel 9/10, 3-6 pm.

Tops at Spar, Kleinmond 10/10, 12-3pm.

Blue Bottle Alcon Liquors Gordon’s Bay 9/10, 4-7pm,10/10, 12-3.  16/10, 4-7.

Tony’s Liquor Boutique West Beach.  17/10, 2-5 pm.  30/10, 4-7pm, 31/10,  2-5 pm.

Tops Aurora 16/10, 3-6 pm, 17/10,12-3.  24/10 3-6. 11/12, 19/12.

Royal Ascot 16/10 4-7, 17/10 12-3. 14/11 12-3. 4 & 5/12, 26/12.

Alphen Spar 23/10, 3-6, 24/10 12-3.

Spar Observatory 20 & 21/11, 18 & 19/12.  18 & 19/12.

Liquor City Claremont 14/11, 2-5pm, 21/11, 2-5pm, 5/12 2-5 pm, 18/12 4-7pm.

Wine Concepts Newlands 16/11 4-6 pm.

Tops Sunrise Circle, 23/10 3-6. 6/11 4-7, 7/11 12-3.  11/12.

Village Discount Liquors, Gordon’s Bay, 6/11 4-7, 7/11 12-3.

Tops Rosmead, 18 & 19/12.

All Avontuur wine lovers are invited to share their #AvontuurMoments on our Facebook, Twitter or Instagram pages and each interesting or fun post, will receive a digital coupon worth R60 to redeem at the Tasting Room on the Estate with your next visit.

Every month we will choose the two best, funkiest, highly unusual or just most gorgeous posts and they will each win a Premiere range gift pack worth R1000, to be delivered free anywhere in South Africa!

So, get some wine, organise some friends and start sharing! Make sure you use the #AvontuurMoments so that we can track your efforts.

F – Avontuur Estate, T –@AvontuurEstate, I – avontuurestate.

Visitors to the Estate have not been forgotten either and we will be highlighting one of the Premiere range wines per week, and give you the chance to buy it for a special price too! Watch the tasting room blackboard for more info, or check our social media posts regularly.

Schalk Honeyman:
Cobie van Oort:

Guided Farm Walks at a Glance

Avontuur Estate Guided Farm Walk Poster smaller

Guided Farm Walks launched at Avontuur

Avontuur Estate, owned by the Taberer family, is best-known for its award-winning premiere range wines named after its race horses, stunning setting against the Helderberg and the internationally acclaimed race horses bred at its highly rated stud operation.

Now visitors have the opportunity to experience the Estate with a guided tour which will take in some of the best parts of this scenic business.

Each tour starts at the tasting room and takes in the vineyards, paddocks and horses, and interesting sites like the historic manor house and the Taberer family memorial bench. It ends off with a seasonal speciality tasting like a biltong and wine pairing, a nougat and wine pairing and the ever-popular chocolate cup with a shot of Avontuur’s Liqueur wine, Above Royalty.

The walk will take 30- 45 minutes, with another 30 for the tasting. The cost is R120 pp, which includes the tour, tasting and a take-away illustrated map.

Kids welcome, but obviously alcohol will not be served. Walkers must be moderately fit, wear comfortable shoes and be protected against the sun. Not suitable for wheelchairs.

The guided walks are available only during week days, and pre-booking at least 24 hours in advance is essential at or +27 21 855-3450. A minimum of 6 paying persons and a maximum of 20 can be accommodated. Smaller groups are welcome to do a self-guided option @ R50 pp.

For a more substantial meal, the Avontuur Estate Restaurant is open daily for breakfast and lunch and dinner on Wednesdays and Fridays.

“Pinotage Deconstructed” on Pinotage Day

With our “national” grape, Pinotage being honoured on Saturday, 10 October on International Pinotage Day, Avontuur Estate is planning a fun morning to celebrate one of our favourites too!

Winemaker Jan van Rooyen has called in some friends to help make the experience special and will start off at 11h00 with a vinoteque tasting of three Avontuur Pinotages and three Minelli Pinot Noir’s to show off the “genetics” of the varietal, and specifically how it has developed at Avontuur over the years.

After the tasting, guests will enjoy a Avontuur Pinotage Chorizo skewer, which was created by the team from the well-known Bird Street Butchery in Stellenbosch.

Owner Bert Desseyn explains more about the process. “We’ve been around for 60 years as a family business and I love experimenting with different meat products. My favourites are the smoked meats and I pride myself in the quality of the products we offer our clients. So this invitation to play around with wine when making the sausage was a great deal of fun,” he says.

The Chorizo is mildly spiced with a definite wine tang, which makes it a perfect match with the Pinotage. Guests will be able to purchase the Chorizo to take home on the day. The skewer will be served with a freshly made “braaibroodjie” and a glass of Pinotage in keeping with the home grown theme.

The light lunch will be finished off with a very special ice cream made of our Minelli Pinot Noir. Ella Grimston from our tasting room is very handy in the kitchen and created the recipe for the event. “It’s a very light pink colour and is creamy and sweet like an ice cream should be, but ends off with a dry note,” she says. To try the recipe for yourself email Ella on and let us know what you think. Follow Ella on face book at Bake Your Day to see more of her yummy baking skills.

Minelli and Minelli Ice cream (427x640)

The cost for our “Pinotage Deconstructed” morning is R120 pp, and bookings are essential at +27 21 855-3450 or as space is limited.

It’s Gold medals galore at Avontuur!

We started off the week on a high when the Vitis Vinifera awards were announced and Avontuur Baccarat 2010 won  a Double Gold  and Luna de Miel Chardonnay 2014 was awarded a Gold Medal!  These wines were released this year, and we’re hoping that this is the start of many more accolades for winemaker Jan van Rooyen, GM Pippa Mickleburgh and their teams, who manage the process from vineyard to cellar.


Both wines are available for tasting in the tasting room and are hugely popular amongst wine lovers and experts. Don’t miss out on experiencing the wine when you visit the Estate.