Wines of the Cape west coast
Here are four Cape west coast wine estates – and a few key varietals – that should be on your radar now.
Dry, flinty and best served with seafood, the wines cultivated on the Cape west coast are immediately recognisable for their mineral appeal.
And with summer now at its zenith, there’s no better time to acquaint oneself with the wines produced on this coastline.
Thanks to the ocean that shapes their terroir, white varietals grown on the west coast have a distinct sapidity – a strong mineral base provided by the Sandveld soil in which most vineyards are established, coupled with salt spray and sea mists off the icy Atlantic.
Known as “cold weather white wines”, varietals such as sauvignon blanc, chenin blanc and chardonnay grown in the area tend to mature better than their warm-weather counterparts. The colder climate means that the sugars naturally found in white varietals take longer to materialise, thus allowing the wines to mature at a gentler rate.
Whether you are visiting the area for the weekend and wanting to return with a souvenir, or ordering online for delivery wherever you happen to be, a sip of any of the wines from these estates is sure to conjure up memories of sun-kissed skin, seafood braais and summer feasting.
FRYER'S COVE VINEYARDS
Teetering on the edge of a rocky outcrop that seems to be crumbling into a wild ocean, Fryer’s Cove winery has all the romance of a poem by John Keats.
Occupying what was previously part of a crayfish factory (an abalone farm still resides next door), the winery cellars grapes from surrounding estates such as Kookfontein and Die Kraal.
PS About Doringbaai:
Best accessed from a dirt road out of Lambert’s Bay, this small coastal town makes for a very enjoyable outing – and Fryer's Cove winery’s The Jetty restaurant serves up some of the most delicious fried snoek on the West Coast.
A well-known name in South African wine, Groote Post is a sauvignon blanc stalwart. Boasting a range of different soils thanks to its hilly location, the farm is so close to the ocean that from the highest point, one can see waves breaking on nearby Grotto Bay beach.
It’s this proximity hat birthed Groote Post’s most famous wine – Seasalter.
A blend of 90% sauvignon blanc and 10% sémillon, Seasalter encapsulates typical West Coast minerality coupled with hints of kelp and a vibrant saline acidity.
But Seasalter is far from being the only jewel in Groote Post’s crown.
The Sir Lambert vineyards' sea-facing location means that ocean mists cool the grapes
The wine of choice for anyone enjoying lunch in this bustling fishing town, Sir Lambert is an offering that no one should overlook. This boutique winery only offers two varietals – sauvignon blanc and shiraz – from their 10ha vineyard.
Specialising in wines full of character and integrity, the Sir Lambert vineyards’ sea-facing location means that early morning ocean mists cool the grapes, while the summer heat of the Sandveld ripens the fruit each afternoon.
As with many farms based in the Sandveld region, Kookfontein’s predominant crop is potatoes. Cultivars like the Electra, Mondial, Sifra and waxy Nicola share soil space with a single block vineyard specialising exclusively in sauvignon blanc.
Owner Joos Engelbrecht and partner Theunette van Heerden planted the vineyards in front of their ancestral 19th-century farmhouse – a move that is not only picturesque but also allows the vines to be irrigated by the nearby Jackal’s Creek as well as the ancient aquifer for which the farm is named.
The soil itself lies on farocrete bedrock, which also lends a flinty minerality to the wines, giving them a distinctive salty, dusty flavour that provides the ultimate pairing with seafood and shellfish.
Kookfontein began bottling its single vineyard sauvignon blanc in 2010, with the wines cellared at Fryer’s Cove winery in nearby Doringbaai. The grapes are harvested by local farmhands, making the entire process a truly west coast endeavour that results in a fuller-bodied wine with a citrus undertone.