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Fairview Winery (Suider-Paarl, South Africa)

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Address: Suid-Agter / Paarl Road / Suider-Paarl, 7646 / South Africa

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      15.06.2012 15:50
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      The Fairview vineyard is based in Paarl a short drive from Stellenbosch in the heart of South Africa's Cape winelands region. It is one of the larger and more established vineyards in the area. There has been a farm on this site since the late seventeenth century, the first wine being produced in 1699. They also make their own cheeses and artisan breads.

      Please note that all prices are in South African Rand which at the time was R11.50 = GB£1 and R7.50 =US$

      As they had a restaurant on site, we decided some stomach lining was the order of the day prior to wine tasting. The Goatshed Restaurant is open daily from 9am to 5pm and offers a range of snacks, light lunches and sharing platters. Not to mention an extensive wine list of course. I do recommend phoning ahead to book if coming at lunchtime as the restaurant was full, even though it was a Tuesday; thankfully our tour guide had the foresight to reserve a table for us. I passed on having wine for a drink as I knew I would be tasting some later. They also had an interesting cheese platter which some people in our group had. Knowing I was going to be trying some cheese later I also passed on this, but they had an impressive range of cheeses with very little overlap. A platter for one (8 cheeses) was R62 and came with plenty of bread. You could pick your cheeses or go with the chef's selection. Platters for larger groups were more expensive and had more cheeses. I think most people would be happy to share the platter for one, judging by the size of it. Most of us went for the butternut squash and red pepper quiche, which was a generous portion that was served with an attractive side salad (R52). It was a massive hit and one person in our group thought it one of the best meals of our ten day trip. They also do breakfasts and cakes if you don't want a lunch.

      There is a small charge of R25 for the wine and cheese tasting (R15 for cheese tasting only) and the tasting room in open from 9am - 5pm (although they recommend arriving in good time so that the tasting experience is not rushed. There is a room for private tastings for groups if you wish. Our R25 allowed us to try 6 wines from their list with the exception of some Limited Release Selections. Fairview also produce under the labels La Capra and Goats do Roam (apparently French Cotes Du Rhone winemakers are unimpressed with the latter name). I prefer white wines and these are what I mostly tasted, overall there were about thirty wines on the list, but not all were available. My comments below are based on the (mostly legible) tasting notes I made at the time. You are only given a modest amount to taste, which I sipped slowly in order to savour whilst sniffing them and pretending I knew what I was doing.

      The first one I tasted was Fairview's Viognier (R70 per bottle). This is a South African grape that I wasn't familiar with, and I found it quite sweet for a wine that was supposed to be dry, but not unpleasant. The Fairview Darling Chenin Blanc (R45 per bottle) was one of my favourites and I thought it very delicious. The 'Darling' part comes from the area the grapes were grown in. One of the more unusual wines I tasted was a Spice Route Chenin Bland (R65) which had a creamy texture that was different from many other wines with the aroma of 'straw and fruit' (their words - I just thought it a bit fruity if I'm honest). The La Capra Viognier (R200 for 6 bottles) was a young wine which was light, crisp and dry and preferable to the pricier viognier I tried first. I also tried a Goats Do Roam blended wine (R40) made up of viognier, rousanne and grenache blanc. Seemingly I was underwhelmed as I just wrote 'OK' next to it, but blended wines can be a bit hit and miss. The last wine I tasted was a La Capra Pinotage Rosé (R200 for 6 bottles) which I noted was 'very drinkable, light and summery'.

      After three wines we refreshed our palate and wandered over to the cheese section. They have a lovely cheese selection as well as other deli products like chutneys etc. I didn't check every cheese available but it would seem they are all suitable for vegetarians. The cheese is in small portions and on any day there are about eight to try. I did go back for seconds on some, I am not sure this was allowed but they were so lovely. One of my favourites was a cream cheese with black pepper, which was creamy and gave a lovely peppery crunch. They also do one with chakalaka spices that was not available on the day we went; according to the lady pouring the wines is was an excellent accompaniment to their chakalaka red wines. They do their own feta and camembert. I also tried Blue Rock (a knock-off Roquefort), but I preferred the mild and creamier Blue Tower. We also tried White Rock with cranberries (a white veined cheese) which was popular with others in the group. Another favourite with me was the unusual camembert with sun-dried tomatoes. They also do Goats' Cheeses.

      They had large, clean public toilets for use by their visitors.

      If you are a wine and cheese fan then I recommend a visit here. Most vineyards will give you a similar tasting experience for free, but this place offered up cheeses and had a really nice restaurant for lunch, as well as having goats in the garden. They have a good, varied range of wines to choose from to. I found the staff knowledgeable, passionate and helpful.

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