South Africa 25 — Wine & Chocolate Tasting at Waterford Estate, Stellenbosch


Traipsing through several vineyards a day may not be the ideal activity for an 18 year-old on holiday, but our daughter was a good sport about it. Mrs. MM had arranged for a special wine tasting at the Waterford Estate that we hoped would amuse the Teen a bit more than usual…


A relatively new vineyard established in 1998, the 120 acre Waterford Estate has a stunning main structure built around a courtyard and fountain that houses the wine tasting area, offices, storage rooms, cellars, and the actual areas where the wine is made. The drive up the main path lined with orange trees in full bloom was a harbinger of good things to come.


Though a totally new building designed by architects and probably interior decorators, the place still had a feel of an upscale barn. The wooden ceilings (storage areas above) were stunning, the rooms spartan yet luxurious at the same time, and bottles of award winning wine, next to beautiful plants, comfortable couches, etc. made it clear that entertaining guests was a big part of the set-up.


I took several snapshots of their “still life” arrangements on display and side tables, on the mantles of large fireplaces, and even the hallways and bathrooms as they were so creative, new and inspiring. It really made me want to “zhugge” up our own restaurants and even home spaces…


Size doesn’t necessarily impress, but I must say there is something appealing about magnums, jeroboams and methuselahs etc. that really make you wish you had a much larger luggage allowance on your flight back to Manila. I would have loved to bring back 3-4 ginormous bottles of what turned out to be pretty darned decent wine!


We discussed the wine and chocolate tasting, were briefly told about the wines and chocolates for the pairing, and as they prepared that, they offered us a quick tour of the winery and cellars, which we gladly agreed to…


The gleaming tanks where freshly made wine was stored (and aged for several months) was a bit of a surprise for me. I have been to other vineyards (older ones) and everything didn’t look so styled perfectly! At any rate, this was supposedly state of the art stuff, and I guess it was a luxury to design the winery just a decade or so ago and have the resources to do it all with top notch equipment and facilities.


You could tell what kind of wine was in a tank by the clear glass pipe outside (red wine in this one) plus a little signboard telling you what type and vintage of the tank’s contents.


I just thought this room was amazing. A perfect venue for an eyeball, or perhaps a meal for 20 on a long table set up between the tanks of wine…


We also got to see barrels of wine recently filled and starting to age their contents…


…as well as an above ground (as opposed to underground) cellar with temperature and humidity conditions controlled with machinery and natural tricks of the trade. For example, the barrels rest over gravel which is over soil, so natural humidity and moisture come into the dark room from the ground below. The tiles in the path above are just for the folks walking around, but its gravel under the barrels. Also, the center of the barrels are color red to denote red wine within.


After the quick tour, we headed to an outdoor seating area with walls and hallways decorated with fresh plants and flowers…


…a quote from Ernest Hemingway on a blackboard…


…and more branches with fresh oranges and bunches of lavender on the way to our table that was set for our wine tasting and chocolate pairing.


Comfortable seating areas in the “lanai” surrounding the courtyard and fountain…


…and I even took a photo of the roof, simple clay tiles over exposed wooden beams. The roof at old churches in Cebu and elsewhere in the Philippines used to be done the same way, and I wish it had never changed. It is so charming, natural and cool (temperature wise) to have roofs like this.


The tasting had begun in earnest, with three wines presented… a shiraz to be enjoyed with a masala chai dark chocolate, a cabernet sauvignon paired with dark chocolate and salt and finally, a dessert wine with a milk chocolate flavored with rose geranium.


The short of it? Fantastic! I wouldn’t have really thought to pair chocolate and wine specifically, as at meals in our home, chocolate emerges long after the meal proper has been consumed. But this matching of flavors and wines were a joy on the palate. We all enjoyed this experience immensely. And it really makes you think again about what to have with your wine.


At most tastings, I only had a few sips of the wine, and often didn’t finish the glass (or I would be tipsy by noon everyday). But at Waterford estate, I finished every last drop, and any extras of the others it was that enjoyable. We also ended up getting a couple of bottles of their Kevin Arnold Shiraz and several boxes of their chocolate and have saved them for a special dinner in the months ahead. Visit Waterford’s website, here.

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on pinterest

11 Responses

  1. Cocoa is basically a spice and if you use it, preferably non-dutched, say, with a beef tenderloin, it would go very well with any full bodied red. Cocoa becomes overwhelming once it turns into chocolate with the added sugar and vanilla.

  2. talking of chocolates… my little sister mixes ‘tablea’ into her chili con carne with very very good results :)

  3. Never regarded it that way but yes, a spice, in its narrow function as flavouring and powerful colorant as best shown in the most celebrated variety of mole, mole Poblano.

    Apparently, he learned about wine and spirits while serving as a Red Cross ambulance driver during the WWI and the quote must have been likely lifted from A Movable Feast, his memoir of younger days in Paris, because it is pleasant. He later hardened into a contentious and combative macho troll as his curt reply to Fitzgerald’s “the very rich… are different from you and me…”, illustrates, “… they have more money.” It irked him that he had to half-hide his newly acquired pleasure back in his hometown, prompting him to describe Oak Park, Il as where “the streets are wide and minds are narrow.”

    And oh, speaking of wines and ambulances, in the same war, just one of the outstanding pompous asses of history, Lord Kitchener, used ambulances for transporting wine instead of the wounded on top of other equally outrageous tactical blunders prompting his countrymen to suspect God was on their side when Kitchener drowned halfway through the war.

  4. Did I hear chocolates? I have these in my nightstand all the times: Godiva white chocolate vanilla bean, Ghirardelli squares, and Reese’s , My husband have these in his nightstand all the times: See’s chocolates, Hershey’s chocolate w/ almonds, and M & M.
    My husband’s birthday is coming up, I think I will serve some wines and chocolates. Gaya-gaya ako, he he he :)

  5. everything is just so classy and elegant, even the ones that try to look like barns ;-)

  6. millet, I agree, we were totally bowled over by each place we visited. And the wines, so darned reasonable in price! Most bottles from $5-15 range, though there were others that commanded higher prices.

  7. I bet none of the wines tasted like acetone ;-) Remember the common observation RE: the local fruit wines I brought to the beach house eyeball? Ha ha!

  8. Kitchener! Perhaps the only blog in the world that is able to discuss food, wine and the bold Lord Kitchener. I am quite sure that some of our Afrikaner friends in South Africa would toast Kitchener; the man who sent Morant to see his ‘maker’. The irony is just so delicious and sweet!

  9. Ah the Breaker Morant affair, but Aussies and Kiwis have an even more overwhelming cause to execrate Lord Kitchener’s name for, the utter disaster that was Gallipoli, also much later made into an equally great and heartrending movie starring a young and callow Mel Gibson with musical backdrops Oxygène and what everybody thought was an adagio by Albinoni but in reality, is a contemporary composition of his biographer, Remo Giazotto.

  10. ditto on cocoa as a spice. i had once bookmarked a gingerbread recipe with just a hint of cocoa (1 teaspoon i believe) along with the usual ginger/cinnamon/clove (etc) trio, am thinking of trying that out now.

Comments are closed.



Subscribe To Updates

No spam, only notifications about new blog posts.