MY first recommendation if you’re planning a visit to Glen Carlou, is to ensure you have enough time for a leisurely wine tasting. There are 14 to try (although you will choose five) and if you’re lucky enough to draw the Reyorn card “you can call me Rey” you’ll be in for a treat.
Rey knows his stuff – about wine in general and Glen Carlou in particular, and is able to talk at length on all of them in what actually ends up to be more of a discussion than merely a tutorial, as tips, facts and ideas are shared.
As it turned out, we got about two third of our way through the tasting when it suddenly became busy with lots of guests (a happy sight) and Rey (pictured below) wasn’t able to give us his undivided attention as we had to share him with the other people.
We began with Brut Blanc de Blanc 2018, which is always the best way to open any proceeding. Glen Carlou is famous for its Chardonnay, and we chose the unwooded from 2020. The Quartz Stone was unavailable, I can’t remember why, and there is also Petite Chardonnay and “just” Chardonnay in the range. From there we went onto the Pinot Noir rosé and the Pinot Noir.
Hunger pangs coincided with Rey having to pour elsewhere so we ordered our starters before moving to our table, with its view over the vineyards and the mountains beyond. It’s a truly lovely location. Which is a redundant thing to say because frankly all vineyards and wine estates are gorgeous. Perhaps if you find an ugly one you can let me know and I’ll stand corrected. Me, I find a sense of peace enveloping me whenever I see the uniform rows of vineyards, before I even get to the farm or to the glass.
We rather loved the Petite Classique, a blend of Malbec and Merlot, and I always have a weakness for the Bordeaux-style blends so I enjoyed the Grand Classique as well, which contains all five grapes: Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot making up 85%, and Malbec and Petit Verdot the rest.
What is quite wonderful is that Glen Carlou is not at all pretentious, and its wines – and food – are reasonably priced. In fact, pop on over to the website for some excellent mixed case offers. I wouldn’t say no to the reds, for R714…
At our table, we were greeted by our waitress Muriel. Now, so you don’t get as confused as we were, Muriel has a twin sister, Mercia, who works there too; it’s not like there’s one of them who somehow manages to be in two places almost simultaneously, or has no sooner filled your glass than she’s putting your plate down in front of you.
The menu is one of those from which you’d happily order any or all of the dishes. Starters include fried squid with slow-roasted aubergine and yellow pepper; tomato soup with a goat’s cheese croquette (without if you’re all the way vegan); lamb croquettes with beetroot chutney and pickled pear; and blue cheese soufflé coated in crushed walnuts with spinach cream sauce and parmesan. We had the two latter dishes, and I reckon the soufflé was the bees’ knees.
For mains, we had a pulled pork burger with crispy onion rings, red cabbage slaw, pickled jalapeños, and fries; and an impressive 400g sirloin on the bone served with fries, black pepper and thyme crème. Other mains are ostrich fillet, line fish, lamb shoulder, and a vegetarian dish of butternut, chickpeas, tomato salsa, pomegranate salsa, and poppadoms. If the portions are not generous enough for your hearty appetite, add sides like a salad (basic), vegetables and/or more fries.
The children’s menu includes a crumbed chicken burger, fish cake or fried squid, all with fries or side salad. Their dessert is ice cream or sorbet, which is always a winner. For grownups, the sweet notes are apple crumble, orange malva pudding, classic vanilla crème brûlée. For the savoury palate, finish with a selection of Dalewood cheeses with preserves and fresh fruit. The dairy farm is right next door so if you have time, do pop in and get yourself some real cream, butter, eggs, and a succulent plant.
To complement the experience, there is art in the Gallery @ Glen Carlou, which houses a collection of contemporary, pop and modern art by South African artists. Media are as diverse as installation, photography, contemporary embroidery and ceramics contrast with more traditional painting and sculpture. It was closed the day we were there, so we bought some wine instead. It seems fair to me.
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PHOTO CREDIT: Bianca Coleman ©