Hermanus, South Africa

Hermanus and Elgin

Hermanus and Elgin are in the same direction out of Cape Town so one would normally combine them into a one day trip.  That was our plan but we started late and ran out of time on the way back from Hermanus to do any tasting in Elgin.  Will have to cover that on another day, see Elgin 2011.


Open Monday to Friday: 09:00 - 17:00, Saturday: 09:00 - 16:00

2 km before Hermanus turn left at the Sandbaai/Hemel en Aarde junction onto the R320 to Caledon. Take the first turn left into the Hemel en Aarde Village and continue for 300m to the Hermanuspieterfontein Cellar on your left (not to be confused with the first wine tasting place that you come to on the right).  www.hpf1855.co.za

This winery won many mentions for producing great value for money wines in the “The Good Value Guru Diaries 2010” (written by Neil Pendock and published by Cupidor Press, Johannesburg) (a well written and intriguing diary of visits to the Cape winelands; the people they meet and the places they visit).  We tasted their Sauvignons - No 3 (R94), No 7 (R80) and Die Bartho (R150).  The first being tropical in style, the second herbaceous (serious green peppers) and the last having a large portion of oaked Semillon that blew away the Sauvignon.  We also tried their 3 Bordeaux-style blends – 2008 1855 Posmeester (R60) (no cabernet, quite fruity and oak chips for oak flavours), the Kleinboet (R93) and the 2006 Die Arnoldus (R179).  The latter spent 26 months in new oak and had good fruit and tannins but struck us as a bit expensive for what it was.


Hamilton Russell winery

Appear to be open 9h00 to 17h00 but phone if you are concerned +27 28 312 3595

Hemel en Aarde valley 5km from the intersection of the R43 and R320 roads.

Hamilton Russell is an iconic SA winery specialising in (pretty expensive) chardonnay and pinot noir.  At the tasting they served the pinot before the chardonnay.  We have only seen this done once before, in Menetou Salon in France.  Their explanation is that the chardonnay is too strong for the pinot.  The proof is in the pudding, so to speak; they have been selling far more pinot since they made the switch.  We tried some pinot after the chardonnay and agreed that it underperformed seriously.  We bought the 2008 Pinot Noir (R250).


Bouchard Finlayson

Bouchard Finlayson winery behind the roses

Bouchard Finlayson tasting room

OpenMonday to Friday 09h00 – 17h00 and on Saturday 09h30 – 12h30 www.bouchardfinlayson.co.uk   Just up the road from Hamilton Russell is Bouchard Finlayson.

Here we tasted their 2009 Sauvignon Blanc (R78) and the 2009 Reserve (R106).  The latter had 12% subtly oaked Semillon that added complexity without overpowering the Sauvignon – very good.  They are also renowned for their chardonnays.  We tasted the 2009 Sans Barrique (R100); the 2009 Crocodile’s Lair (R106); the 2009 Missionvale (R132).  The unoaked showed typical chardonnay fruits and is light and refreshing.  The Crocodile’s Lair is made in old oak barrels and has great complexity without being overly oaky.  Both these wines come from Villiersdorp, a town much further inland.  The Missionvale spends 7 months in 30% new oak and it shows.  We also tasted the 2009 GalpinPeak Pinot Noir (R225).  Very different from the Hamilton Russell – much darker with good fruits, cherries and plums.  We bought the Sauvignon Blanc and the Pinot Noir.


Creation collage - cellar and art in restaurant

Open daily between 10h00 and 17h00, Sunday until 16h00.  Wine & food pairing and lunch 

Daily between 11h00 and 15h00, Sunday until 14h00.  On reaching the Wine Village just before Hermanus, turn left onto the Hemel-en-Aarde Road (the R320). Drive a further 18 kilometers up the dirt road to find Creation Wines on your left.  www.creationwines.com

As we had contacted them in advance (only just - at lunch time for an afternoon visit) they put on a full visit.  We tasted the range of their wines and had a cellar tour and tasting from barrels expertly led by Kevin, the assistant winemaker, who had a fabulous personal story as to how he came by the position.  The 2010 Sauvignon Blanc (R79.50) had good acid and fruit and an herbaceous nose; we bought this.  The 2010 Semillon (R90) was herbaceous rather than lanolin and lightly oaked in old barrels – very good.  The 2010 Viognier (R90) was a revelation – a Rhone style rather than a hot climate style; again very good. We had barrel tastings of the Pinot – very interesting as the samples came from different parts of the vineyard and were completely different.   The 2009 Merlot (R135) was fruity and round as one would hope for.  The 2008 Bordeaux blend (R135) was Merlot dominated but had more structure and tannins than the Merlot; we preferred it.  The 2009 Syrah (R155) was “a cold climate” syrah and the pepper was limited.  The 20% Grenache added something positive to the 2009 Syrah, Grenache blend (R135); most strange as we don’t ordinarily like Grenache too much.  A great new farm with staff passionate about what they do; it will be fabulous when the vines are older.  They have just appointed UK agents – Ellis of Richmond.