“ A prestigious vineyard located on the Helshoogte Pass in South Africa. „
So what does one do on a rainy day in Stellenbosch, South Africa? Well, taste wine of course! After the weather had put paid to a planned hike on Heidelberg Mountain, a further visit to a winery was in order. After all, we were in the heart of South Africa's wine-making country - it would be rude not to. The one we visited this time was Tokara, about 5km from Stellenbosch. I believe there is a restaurant on site but we didn't eat here. The wine tastings are free and you just pick six wines to try. It is very comfy here with armchairs round a fire, but I stood at the bar. At the time of writing there was R11.5 to GB£1 and R7.50 to US$1. You are given a list of wines with their descriptions and get to pick which ones you fancy. For a small charge you can try the brandy. I didn't but others in our party did and really liked it and some made a purchase. The first wine I selected was Tokara Zondernaam Sauvignon Blanc 2010 (R55) which was described as a 'stunning pale straw colour' which may have been a tad optimistic. Saying that, it was very drinkable and I picked up the notes of asparagus. The second one was my favourite; it was a Tokara Reserve Collection Walker Bay Sauvignon Blanc 2010 (R86). It won a silver award in the recent Decanter awards, and was drier then its predecessor. I picked out the flavours of nettles and cut grass and it had an unusual salty tang to it Keeping on the Sauvignon Blanc theme, I next tried another Reserve Collection, this time the Noble Late Harvest 2009 (R198). Again an award winner, this time in the 2010 Veritas awards, this was a fruitier wine, and I think I picked out a hint of gooseberries as opposed to the nectarines and apricots I was supposed to pick out. It was quite an unusual wine in that it had no aftertaste and did not linger on the palate. I also tried the Reserve Collection Elgin Sauvignon Blanc (R86). Once again I could pick out an asparagus aroma, and a discretely sweeter taste of cassis. It was quite dry but I liked it very much. Next I decided to branch out to a Zondernaam Chenin Blanc 2009 (R57), as I had generally found South African Chenin Blanc's to be very reliable. This one didn't disappoint with subtle peach and white pepper aromas. On first tasting it gave a sweet kick, but left a drier aftertaste. Next on my list was the Zonderaam Grenache Rosé 2010 (R55) which was awarded 3.5 stars in the 2011 John Platter awards. It was a fresh smelling wine claiming "hints of sea air". Possibly I had drunk too much or else I was getting good at this wine tasting lark, but I could see where they were coming from on this. It had subtle fruit flavours, but not over-powering. As well as wines and the aforementioned brandy they also do small bars of posh chocolate which I purchased (approx R15). I chose a dark chocolate with orange, a white chocolate with lemon and a milk chocolate with Cape Malay spices, the latter of which was disappointing, but the other two were delicious. I do recommend a visit here if you get chance, the tastings are free and you can taste even the pricier wines (a small surcharge on the brandy though). The atmosphere and décor is pleasant and whilst they don't have the most extensive selection, they have some very good quality wines.