I took a trip of a lifetime in September of 2012 to South Africa for two weeks and of course had to visit some of the wineries along our journey. One of the stops was at the Spier Winery in Stellenbosch surrounded by the beautiful Helderburg Mountains. Spier has been producing wine there since 1692 and it was a beautiful estate with plenty of areas to sit and relax on the patio or near the pond. They used to have a Cheetah Sanctuary there, but it had relocated earlier that summer after serving as a sanctuary since 1997 starting with 2 cheetahs and growing to 10.
Upon entering the estate was a gorgeous chandelier made out of 300+ wine bottles and two large rooms for retail and wine tastings. You could chose from a large variety of tastings, but with us not in the area long we wanted to experience at least a few wineries before our next destination, but they have a lot to offer. After our tasting we grabbed some lunch from their cafe' and sat on the patio. It's a tough life, but someone has to do it!
While there I tasted from their 21 Gables line of wines, named after the Cape Dutch gables of the historic farms in the Cape, and also their Signature line, which was their single vineyard wines. The other night I decided to relive my time there and open the bottle that I brought back of the 2011 Signature Chenin Blanc. I prepared a scallop dish with my other items brought back from my honeymoon, sundried tomatoes from a market in Nice, France, along with mushrooms and Pici pasta from Montepulciano, Italy. Such a great night cooking and enjoying this Chenin Blanc. The Chenin Blanc had a very aromatic nose of tropical fruits that was also prevalent upon tasting the wine along with a citrus and acidic zing. It finished lovely as well. This would be a perfect wine for some warms days or with any seafood dish.
When I started learning about wine and had tasted South African wines for the first time I was not impressed. The wine I had tasted (don't recall which one it was) had completely turned me off as it tasted strongly like a burnt rubber tire, which is known to be prevalent in some South African wines, but in this particular wine it didn't do the wine any justice. I decided to attend another tasting at a later point with multiple South African wines and was pleasantly surprised. After visiting this beautiful wine region with stunning, scenic views, it turned my opinion right around of wines from this country. That's why it's so important to taste wines from multiple producers of a country or region so you get a feel for what is typical of a grape, country or region. Never judge by a couple wines, you may be missing out!