THERE once was a bull named Jonathan, who lived at Le Pommier, on the Helshoogte Road in the Banhoek Valley between Stellenbosch and Franschhoek. Jonathan was rather wilful and would frequently break out of his accommodations and into the vineyards – but only one in particular: the Malbec. There he would eat his fill of the grapes which is why today, to honour his impeccable taste, Le Pommier names its 100% Malbec after him.
The story is noted on the bottle’s label, but of course it’s much more entertaining to hear it told orally by Marc Williams, who is the wine sales manager at the farm. I first met him when he pitched up at Eat Play Drink HQ with a three-pack of wines – Sauvignon Blanc, Rosé, and red blend called Mac – and a no-strings attached invitation to visit Le Pommier. Apparently I made some vague promises which I did not keep so it’s just as well there were no strings. However, the planets aligned and I eventually got to pay my respects last week.
That the location is gorgeous goes without saying (which is one of my worst phrases in the English language, along with “needless to say” but there you are). The venue has it all – a restaurant, swathes of lawn, a children’s play area, a tasting room and deck with a view over the vineyards, and even accommodation.
Marketing coordinator Nicola du Toit (who was no doubt behind the initial wine drop) joined Marc and I on the deck for a Summer Food & Wine Pairing (R95). This combines the three aforementioned wines with, in order, creamy whipped feta with garlic and herb roasted cherry tomatoes served grilled bread; smoked salmon and crème fraîche on a cucumber slice; and beef carpaccio, pickled shimeji mushroom, and parmesan shavings.
While each of the wines has its merits, the Rosé must be singled out for being among the more unusual I have tasted. It is in fact 98% Sauvignon Blanc with a discreet 2% Cab Franc skin contact for the soft pink colour. With its fruit-forward strawberry and gooseberry notes, it’s a splendid summer wine.
I’d drunk my bottle of Mac previously with a braai and it was wonderful; I’m such a pushover when it comes to red wines. Therefore I was beyond delighted when Marc revealed Le Pommier makes two 100% varietals, being Malbec (thank you Jonathan) and Cabernet Franc. We spent much time on these two wines to make absolutely sure I adore Cab Franc as much as I believed I do. Nothing wrong with the Malbec, but somehow I always feel I have to make a choice. No one asks me to or expects me to. I don’t know why I am like this.
The Angle Peur Cab Franc, according to its story, pays homage to the history of the Banghoek area and the influence of the French Huguenots who arrived in 1688. Banghoek or “the scary corner” was also known as “De Bange Hoek”. The old pass that ran through this area was dangerously steep, with gangs, escaped slaves, lions,
leopards and other animals roaming wild. In 1972 the old pass was replaced by the new scenic road making it no more the treacherous and frightening route of those early days. I think it sounds rather thrilling. Anyway. The internet is divided on Banhoek and Banghoek.
You can also do a pizza and wine pairing (R95) which is Sauvignon Blanc with Danish Feta, caramelised onions, and olives; Rosé with a tangy barbeque chicken and feta pizza; and the Mac with boerewors, pepperoni and bacon. All these pizzas are available full-size in the restaurant.
Sometimes when something sounds too good to be true, it usually is. But in this case, the prices of Le Pommier’s wines really are unbelievably affordable for such excellent quality. Those reds are amazing, and it’s about time to begin stocking up for winter. Click here for all the details and to buy online if you can’t make it to the farm. Do try though. You won’t be sorry.
PHOTO CREDIT: BIANCA COLEMAN ©