For our three nights of wine-tasting in Franschhoek, we based ourselves in the middle of a vineyard, surrounded by vines on one side and a river on the other. Nothing else. We were all alone in the middle of nowhere, with nothing but vines and the mountains for company. And the cicadas, who joined us every evening at about the time of the second glass.
|'Exit to the outside world' from La Chataigne vineyard|
La Chataigne is a working winery, with three secluded riverside cottages to let. We stayed in the smallest, the one-bedroomed Chestnut Cottage. You check in at the winery (more of that later), where the friendly welcome includes a big soppy golden retriever and just as soppy rottweiler demanding a fuss.
We had to drive through rows of vines, to find Chestnut cottage nestling under the shade of its trees. The front overlooks the vineyards, the rear overlooks the river. Its setting is perfect and comes complete with a supply of wine in the fridge.
|Chestnut Cottage at La Chataigne|
There is no internet in the cottage, so we made use of the wifi in in the tasting room each morning before setting out – apart from the morning we decided to start our tasting there. This was the sort of tasting I’ve mentioned before, where you sit at the counter and discuss the wines as they are poured. This is what we thought:
LA CHATAIGNE SAUVIGNON BLANC 2012 Fresh and grassy and very nice on the palette. Under £4, we bought a bottle.
LA CHATAIGNE 100% SEMILLON They have only just started producing this and we were one of the first to taste. It was fresh and creamy and we both liked it. A bargain at about £8.
LA CHATAIGNE ROSE 2012 Fresh and dry with only a slight sweet aftertaste. We’re not big rose drinkers, but we liked this one. Under £4
LA CHATAIGNE MARRON 2009 Berries and rubber (I often get rubber on the nose, it normally bodes well), with pleasant smokiness. Under £6
LA CHATAIGNE MARRON 2008 Smoother and more mellow that the above. £5 – we bought a bottle.
We also walked away with some great recommendations for other wineries and restaurants, which will be blogged about separately!
None of the bottles have labels. Instead, each one is indivdually written by hand.