Darling and Durbanville, South Africa

Swartland vineyards

The Swartland

Sauvignon Blanc is the star near the coast but as you move inland Chenin Blanc and Shiraz star (and also Pinotage).  Needless to say most places also produce the typical cultivars.  They are doable in a day if you start at 9am.  The nicer, relaxed way to do it is to go up to Darling, taste there in the afternoon, stay overnight and do Durbanville the next day on the way back to Cape Town.


Ormonde homestead

Ormonde homestead

Open Mon to Fri 09h00 - 16h00, Sat 09h00 - 15h00.  Mt Pleasant Street, Darling  www.ormonde.co.za

They make 3 ranges; Alexanderfontein, Ondine and Ormonde.  We tried the Sauvignon Blancs.  The 2010 Alexanderfontein (R38) was fruity and herbaceous; very pleasant.   The Ondine was far more complex but was in the green pepper camp and so not to our taste.  The Ormonde (R90) was blended with oaked Semillon that, in our view, blew away the Sauvignon. We bought the Alexanderfontein.  We also tried the 3 chardonnays which had increasing percentages of new oak (from none to 100%).  We preferred the medium oaked 2009 Ondine (R54).  With a little encouragement from a very pleasant person who was pouring the tastings we tried the 3 shiraz and the 3 cabernet sauvignons.  We preferred and bought the 2008 Ondine shiraz (R59); this was great with the braai (South African for barbecue) of lamb chops and fillet steak that we had that night.  The 2008 Ondine Cab (R61) had such soft tannins that we wondered if there were any at all.  We tried the 07.  Much better; the same great fruit but with soft tannins.  We bought this.

Groote Post

Groote Post

Great old Cape Dutch homestead at Groote Post

Open Mon - Fri: 08:00 - 17:00, Sat & Sun: 10:00 – 16:00.  Darling Hills Road, Darling www.grootepost.com

They have a well regarded restaurant 022 492 2825.  We tasted the 2010 Sauvignon Blanc (R62), 2008 Shiraz (R87), 2009 Old Man’s red blend (R45) and Old Man’s Sparkle (R75). The Sav Blanc had good structure and acid and herbaceous tones rather than the green pepper that we had been expecting.  The shiraz had good fruit and structure with reasonable tannins.  The red blend was light and fruity with very soft tannins and was ready for drinking – no wonder it had earned a mention in the ‘Good Value Guru’ write-up.  The sparkling wine had a pink tinge, contained merlot in the blend and was constantly referred to as champagne by the person pouring the tasting.  In our opinion a classic example of why the French do not want people who use their method of making sparkling wine to call the output champagne. We bought the Sav Blanc and the Shiraz.

Bush vines

Darling area bush vines

Darling area bush vines

single bush vine

A single bush vine

Many of the pinotage and chenin blanc vines in South Africa are grown in the old fashion bush vine style.

DC Cellars

DC Cellars

DC Cellars' cellar door

Open Mon–Fri: 9h00 until 17h00, Saturdays: 10h00 until 14h00.  Between Malmesbury & Darling on the R315  www.darlingcellars.co.za

We had run out of time when we reached their tasting rooms so only tasted their Sauvignon Blancs; the 2009 Onyx (R62) from their Groenkloof vineyard and the 2010 DC Reserve “Bush Vine” (R35). We bought both as neither was in the green pepper camp.  The Onyx had hints of green pepper but was more herbaceous and had great depth and complexity.  The DC came from bush vines from many growers so had, in the words of the wine maker, a broad but simple palette.  This wine was in the Top 10 Sauvignon Blancs list for 2010.


Diemersdal homestead

Diemersdal homestead

Open Mon–Fri: 9h00 - 17h00, Sat 09h00 - 15h00.  Adderley Road (M58), Durbanville  www.diemersdal.co.za

A great old farm homestead complex where we tried their 2010 Sauvignon Blancs and the 2009 Shiraz.  The ordinary Sav blanc has tropical fruit nose with a mineral palate and fruity finish (R46) – real value for money.  The Single Vineyard Sav (R75) is an unfiltered, complex wine; full flavoured with citrus and green herbs.  We bought both as we couldn’t decide which we liked best; perhaps the ordinary for quaffing and the single vineyard with food.  The Shiraz (R86) was also good with classic black pepper nose, savoury on the palate and a spicy finish. We also bought this.


Bloemendal gardens

Bloemendal gardens

Located on the M13, Tygerbergvalley Road, Durbanville  www.bloemendalwines.co.za  The wine tasting is conducted in their restaurant.  After the great historical homesteads and designer wineries this was underwhelming – the best part being the pond area in the photo.  They also seemed to be more geared to the restaurant than tasting.  We tasted their 2009 Sauvignon Blanc (Suider Terras) (R60) that has won loads of awards.  We were singularly unimpressed – the wine was insipid and watery.  Had it been a proper tasting we would have asked for another bottler to be opened as there must have been something wrong; will have to look out for this in wine shops.


Ntida tasting room

Ntida tasting room and barrel cellar

Open Mon - Sat: 09:30 - 17:00, Sun: 11:00 – 15:00.  Tygerbergvalley Road (R13), Durbanville  www.nitida.co.za

Just up the road from Bloemendal is Nitida where we tasted the wines they were most proud of, the Sauvignon Blancs.  The ordinary 2010 (R75) was gooseberries and lemons whilst the Club Select (from selected tanks) (R115) had greater complexity and mineraliness.  Both nice wines but, as we had bought too much already, we passed.

de Grendal

de Grendal's spectacular view

de Grendal's spectacular view towards Table Mountain

Open Mon - Fri: 09:00 - 17:00, Sat & Sun: 10:00 – 16:00.  N1 North, exit 18 onto M14 (Plattekloof Road)  www.degrendel.co.za

This has got to have one of the finest views from their tasting room anywhere in the world.  We tasted their 2 2010 Sauvignon Blancs – the ordinary (R65) was fruity but also minerally – they called it their “French style” whilst the Koetshuis (R85) was more “New Zealand” in style.  The latter wine was in the Top 10 Sauvignon Blancs list for 2010.  We were really impressed by both and so bought both.