LAST month I spent a weekend as a guest of Stellenbosch Wine Routes to take part in its wonderful winter winelands campaign. The format is an A to Z of things to do, wines to drink, and places to go. The result is a series of videos and stills which went live two days ago.
Rolling out over the next week or so, my first letter contributions are A for Alto and Albarosa and B for Brampton. This is what I said about them:
Albarosa Guest House is in the heart of Stellenbosch, in a quiet oak tree-lined road just a few minutes’ walk from the centre of town. The convenient location means you can leave your car in the property’s secure parking and explore on foot. If you wander too far, or end up buying too much wine somewhere along the way, there is always Uber.
The original building, with its thatch roof and massive creeping bougainvillea, was built in 1946, and was owned by Professor Gerrit Kruger, a professor in Greek and Latin Classics for 33 years. The current owners bought it in 2007 to convert into what is now the guest house, with an additional building being added with more rooms. As you might expect for a professor’s house, it was home to a vast collection of books, which inspired the names of the various rooms. These include the self-catering flat, Stories Cottage, and the Mystery Apartment, which is completely self-contained.
In the main house, guests can relax in the lounge with its fireplace and shelves of books. The adjacent dining room is where breakfast is served. There is free wifi, and an honesty bar.
Alto’s pate and wine pairing
Alto Rouge must be one of the most enduring and well-known red wines in South Africa, certainly in Stellenbosch. Here at its home in the area known as the Golden Triangle, only four winemakers have crafted the portfolio of internationally acclaimed wines since 1920, when the Malan family began to transform the land with vineyards.
This must surely bear out the philosophy of doing one thing and doing it well. Alto has kept it simple for nearly 100 years, with just six incredible wines. At the tasting room, visitors can sip by the glass, share a bottle, or of course, buy a case or three to take home. For something more structured, there are four different wine tastings as well as a fabulous pairing with pâtés.
Three wines, three pâtés – the portions of both are very generous and this could easily be a light meal or an in-between snack. In fact, with the variety of pairings available at wine farms in Stellenbosch, you could feed yourself on them the whole day.
Begin with Alto Rouge and smoked chicken Pâté, followed by Cabernet Sauvignon with smoked snoek, and end with Shiraz and chicken liver. Served with crackers, this is something to take your time over.
Right in the middle of the hustle and bustle of Stellenbosch is the fabulous Brampton Wine Studio. Here you can enjoy drinking Brampton’s very reasonably priced and delicious wines in a vibey environment with friends, tasting the whole range to find your favourite, and when the tummy needs some lining, tucking into scrumptious flatbreads.
The convivial young staff echo the fun characteristics of the wines and the creative social space; tables are painted black and jars of coloured chalk are there for you to express yourself in temporary artistic flair. The Studio is all about originality and authentic style – and never boring.
For the brave and adventurous, why not embark on a tasting of the full range? This includes Sauvignon Blanc, unoaked Chardonnay, Rose, OVR or Old Vine Red blend, Pinotage, Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon, and the tasting is accompanied by quirky, colourful humorous cards with notes, jokes, and challenges. The premium tasting comprises the Brut Rose MCC and the Roxton – a big beefy red with a fierce bull on its label. Beer lovers can quaff the Brampton Cape Lager or Cape Weiss on tap.
Snack on nibblies like veggie crisps, spiced nuts or sharing boards of meats and cheeses. The flatbreads are a specialty of the house and highly recommended.
Stay tuned for more stories next week, and follow Stellenbosch Wine Routes on Facebook here.