Tuesday, 12 January 2010

Stellenbosch wines and Magical Montagu

Today Amrita and I met Horrid Henry the Hyundai – our car for our 7-day roadtrip along Route 62 (aka the Garden Route). (Horrid Henry got his name for being a bit wet under the bonnet: push your foot down to the floor and all you got was a lacklustre attempt at acceleration.)

We headed out of Cape Town, past the townships and airport and inland towards rolling hills and the picturesque university town of Stellenbosch. As we came off the motorway we were greeted by the regimented green expanses of vineyards draped across the countryside as far as the eye could see. At the end of each line of vines, rose bushes flowered to help keep insects at bay. Emerging unapologetically from amongst the vines were luxurious estate buildings and cellars where people can pop in to taste the wines.

The first vineyard we stopped at was Asara. Here we enjoyed a wine tasting of 5 reds and 5 whites. The tasting glasses and samples were bigger than at most wine tastings I’d previously been to which was unfortunate as we were driving. We tasted them all working out which were our preferred wines (the Merlot was a particular favourite) before having a wander around the estate.

The scenery in this part of the world is pretty spectacular and the Asara estate had a particularly beautiful setting against a mountainous horizon. We had lunch in a French cafe in Stellenbosch: a quaint little town replete with tiny boutique bookshops and funky designer stores.From there it was back in the car for a rather long drive to Montagu. We wound our way through the hills, over mountain passes and past countless wineries before finally arriving at The Mystic Tin and (Karoo)brewery (a very pleasant B&B / backpacker cross) where we were to spend the night.

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