Back from Cape Town and Wine Country- awesome!!!

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Jun 18th, 2003, 12:12 PM
  #1
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Back from Cape Town and Wine Country- awesome!!!

Just got home! SAA changed our flight to include stop in Cape Verdi to refuel and Jo'berg before landing in Cape Town. Very tedious, but great airline- loved the private TVs with unlimited movies. (747-400)Spent time in Franschoeek, Stellenbosch and Constantia and a day in Cape Town plus a drive along the stunning coast. Hiked up Skeleton Gorge to Table Top as well as hiking to top of Kanonkop mountain. Cathbert Country Inn fabulous- we had the whole place to ourselves! We enjoyed their dogs- Bibi and Missy (who trekked up the mountain with us!) Robert and Ann arranged a dinner for us at Morreaux and a horseback/touring tour. Her dinners and breakfasts were oustanding. They upgraded us to the best suite (Erica) where we had stunning views of valley and mountains on both sides and a great fireplace! Stayed at gorgeous Lanzarac Manor in Manor house with huge vaulted room and private terrace. Pampered here. Enjoyed Cellars-Hohenort in Constantia...more pampering. This is God's most beautiful country, I think! People were warm and gracious. Roads were excellent. Prices were so unbelievably reasonable- about 1/5 of what we spent in Napa/Sonoma and the wines were every bit as good. Excellent meals at Haute Cabriere, Spier,Boschendal, Mariner's Wharf, Vergelegen, Constantia Uitig. Sure I've missed one or two, LOL. Gorgeous flora abound, tropical fruits in season. 70 degrees (20 C) and sunny every day- we were lucky! Roaring fires , stunning gardens, fresh produce, cheeses, seafood, herbs.I'll write detailed report and sent link later- feel free to ask questions, I have lots of info on wine! Thanks to all for all your help!
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Jun 18th, 2003, 12:57 PM
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Can't wait to hear your full trip report. It seems SAA is notorious for unplanned stops. Were you flying from JFK or Atlanta?
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Jun 18th, 2003, 06:45 PM
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We flew from Atlanta. Seems this time of year, due to the winds, you must refuel. Tje Joberg stop was not scheduled previously. They switch the route weekly and change it at will!
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Jun 19th, 2003, 12:49 AM
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Sounds great Linda!
Will you be able to share any photos online?
We were shocked when we went to Napa and Sonoma a couple of years ago and looked at the starting prices to buy a bottle of decent wine directly from the vineyards or from the shops.
We've found that in France one can get a _good_ bottle of wine for about £10 easily and if one spends the amount one spends in CA for an average bottle one can buy a bloody superb bottle in France.
I am always surprised people pay those prices!
: o )
I think South Africa winelands will be fun!
Thanks again.
Kavey
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Jun 19th, 2003, 04:25 AM
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Message: Kavey

I am also sometimes amazed at prices for California wines, but you can get some excellent wines for $10.

We have a shop here in Manhattan (NYC) that sells "no wine above $10" (though over the years they brought some wines in that cost more) and most are Californian. The shop owner feels one can actually find a good wine for $10 and that is what they specialize in. We've yet to be disappointed.

Many years ago a friend brought a bottle of French Medoc for dinner. We were all so impressed, many of us have been tracking it down wherever it is sold and stock up. Granted it's not one of those that you have to hold for 8-10 years - you can drink it "young". Avg. cost $13 (on sale $10, by case $9). Even the French restaurant "Lutece" has it available on their wine list.
The South African wines also run about $10-$12 bottle.

Regardless where we're from, I think we just have to "bend your elbows" alot till one finds the right wine for the budget. And we've been bending those elbows!
 
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Jun 19th, 2003, 05:29 AM
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It's true...we have a friend who finds us good bottles, then sells us a case at 10% discount. We average 10-15 a bottle. The SA wines we get here are much like the cheap commercial CA wines sold in bulk.Obviously, the exporting is killing them. One good SA wine we get is Graceland which is about 20 bucks here- less than half that in SA. However, we bought a 83 Meerlust and a 96 Cab Private Reserve for about 30 dollars, which might have cost around $150 here. I NEVER spend that in the states, LOL! We were so delighted to have the GREAT stuff at affordable prices. The food was incredible too, at a fraction of what you'd pay elsewhere. A lot of Europeans appreciate SA, seems many Americans haven't yet discovered it!
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Jun 19th, 2003, 06:00 AM
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Linda - drink that bottle of Meerlust soon. The one downside about SA wines is that they don't keep well for long periods of time. IMHO anything beyond 20 years is taking a risk. I think the reds reach their peak at 12-15 years. My father was disappointed a few months ago when he opened a bottle (admittedly a white wine) from 1975 and it was salad dressing!
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Jun 19th, 2003, 07:05 AM
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Oddly enough given my post above I don't drink wine! I adore the scent of red wines but I hate the taste. My palate really tends towards the sweet and I find even wines classed as medium dry or medium very dry to my tastes - I can't distinguish them from vinegar let alone from each other - yet I can by smells!

But my Pete has become quite a red wine lover over the years - currently mostly French because it's so easy to get there, but open to others too.

So best bit for him will be that he will have a very willing "designated driver" for the wineland touring!

We're off to France in a couple of days infact!
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Jun 19th, 2003, 07:11 AM
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It's true, the Winelands are a gourmand's dream. On average, a five- course meal for two people including a nice bottle of wine and tip was only $30! I hope you had a chance to try Le Petit Ferme, it was one of our favorite places for food and view. The quality of wines and low prices were hard to resist purchasing multiple bottles at each wine tasting. We were so out of control that we had to stop ourselves from visiting more vineyards. We flew home hand carrying 40 bottles back to Atlanta.
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Jun 19th, 2003, 07:22 AM
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We saw the Meerlust on a menu and were assured it would last until next Friday,when we plan on uncorking it LOL! A good Cab should go 15-20. Pinots are much shorter and the Pinotage the same. A white wine such as Sauv. Blanc, Fume, Chardonnay is ready, usually, when bottled and should never be kept for long times. We never developed a taste for the indigenous Pinotage wine- it has a bitter flavor, IMO. Right on about the 30 dollar dinners- incredible! La Petite Ferme was closed, but we ate across the street at Haute Cabriere and it was fantastic! What views..and the dark, cool castle-like room with the fire blazing was so romantic!
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Jun 19th, 2003, 07:59 AM
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How did you carry 20 bottles each in hand luggage Nicci? The mind boggles!
: o )
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Jun 19th, 2003, 08:15 AM
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Really, Nicci? We were limited to 3 bottles apiece! Beleive me, they were strict. Opened luggage, fully frisked us too.
In NY, we bought an extra suitcase and put bottles in tube socks. In Napa,we carried as much as we could, then we just shipped and shipped!
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Jun 19th, 2003, 11:48 AM
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Nicci can't get her reply to post on this thread so I am pasting it here from her email on her request.
--------------------------------

We were ready to pay the duty with all receipts in order. We even told the
customs agent that we had so much wine and they said to go straight through.

We purchased a duffle bag and stuffed it full of clothes, except for socks.
Then we put the wine bottles into socks, placed them into a rolling carry
on, two should totes and backpack. It was a pain when we had to get off the
plane in Jo'burg and the security check in Cape Verde. Nobody gave us a
hard time.

We were willing to do this because we made two trips to Italy in 2001 and
returned with about 20 bottles each time. We were only questioned once,
after going through the x-ray machine in Atlanta customs. The agent asked
if he could have a bottle and we told him we were not willing to
share($25-60 per bottle). He simply smiled, waved us through and we went
home. Again, with no duty fees.

It is illegal to ship wine into the state of Georgia. If it were legal, we
would still carry as much as possible. Shipping is so expensive.

Thank you,


Nicci
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Jun 20th, 2003, 08:34 AM
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I, too, can't wait to see your full trip report. We leave for SA Sept. 14, and are so excited, we just can't stand it. My fiance, Jon, and I both love good wine and food and hiking, and will spend 4 days in the Cape Winelands, a night in Hermanus, 3 nights in Knysna and 5 nights in Capetown. So, any advice you can give on wineries, restaurants, hikes, etc. would be greatly appreciated, along with the great advice we've already gotten from Selwyn, Waverly, etc.
Also, here's a different type of question. Jon and I have decided to get married while we're in SA (we don't want a big wedding, etc. at home and thought it will be much easier for everyone to deal with if we just come back and say we've done it already!). We're taking the Rovos train from Pretoria to Capetown and the Rovos people suggested getting married at the chapel in Matjiesfontein, one of our stops on the way, at the Lord Milner Hotel. Le Quartier Francais also suggested St. George's Cathedral, between Franschhoek and Paarl. Any thoughts, suggestions, or other ideas on this one?
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Jun 20th, 2003, 09:12 AM
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No suggestions but advance congrats!
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Jun 20th, 2003, 09:34 AM
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LLindaC & KT_Tomlinson,

LlindaC - Can't wait to see your full report. We are in SA for 3 weeks in Oct. and have also booked Cathbert for 4 days. We are total foodies so any hints on wineries and things to bring back are appreciated. I, too, have not had good experiences with any SA wines here, but have recently found a source that carries over 50 wineries...so maybe I will do some homework before we go. Where did the horsebackriding tour take you to?

KT_, Please post when you return about your trip and congratulations!

For all, we have had great luck in Napa and Sonoma with the shipping boxes they provide (styrofoam cooler on the inside) to ship wine as luggage. Have never had a problem with customs, and over here they would not know a Screaming Eagle from a Fetzer, so we were never worried. Do they have these available in SA?

Have already printed out my lists of 'must trys' from Wine Spectator....yeah!!!!! Any info on wine and wineries appreciated!
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Jun 20th, 2003, 12:09 PM
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Kavey and Melissa -- thank you! Melissa, what dates will you be in SA? We leave for SA Sun., Sept. 14 and get back to the US on Tues., Oct. 7.
Kavey -- where are you going in France? Jon & I just got back from Normandy and Brittany, with a few days in the Dordogne to see friends there and, of course, a few days in Paris. In fact, that's where Jon proposed -- on our last night in Paris, while we were standing on le Pont d'Arcole looking at the Seine after dinner.
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Jun 21st, 2003, 12:49 AM
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KT-

We are going to SA Oct 9-30. 3 days safari, then down the garden route and cape town and winelands for the rest of the trip. Can't wait!

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Jun 21st, 2003, 05:44 AM
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KT and Melissa- some more info.KT- we hiked up Kanonkop from Cathbert Country Inn. It is graded, not as steep as other climbs, but a good 31/2 hour trek. Don't miss hiking in Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens in Constantia- southern suburb of Cape Town. Skeleton Gorge is a real stinker- you can get to Table Top mountain from there. They have several other paths there, all clearly marked and gorgeous flora.
KT- we met a couple who got married in an old SAfrican church! They were British, but loved the romantic idea and now live in SA. She is a tour arranger now. Helen Hansen- 021-794-8095 or [email protected] A lovely couple- I'm sure she'd find you a dandy chapel if you write her.Tell her Rick and Linda couple from KY at Vergelegen said "hi". The horseback riding was at Horse Trails next to Mont Rochelle Winery in Franschoeek. Contact Rayanne Schafer at 083-300-4368. She has several types of rides.Robert Morley at Cathbert arranged this for us. There are several stables around wine country.
I also highly recommend a stay/meal at Lanzarac Manor in Stellenbosch. The location is quieter than most, the service and room (in the Manor house) were outstanding. Dinner and breakfasts there were lovely.
I suggest you get a copy of John Platter's 2003 Wine Guide, known as the "bible" in SA. You can purchase it there or at amazon.com. It steered us to some great wine. Some favorites: Rustenberg, Vergelegen, Rust en Verde, Groot Constantia, Groot Uitsig (wonderful lunches)Boschendal (do lunch there! Ducks beg at table), Glen Carlou- try their cheese, Jordan,Muratie, Meerlust,go to Spier and see cheetas- crazy place.The road to Fairview was closed, disappointed. This place has the famous "goat tower" makes great chees and bottles the funny "Goats do Roam" wine. Try to see it.
Melissa, try to get the "Erica" room. It was great!
Don't be afraid of driving over there. The roads are in great condition and clearly marked. Only problem was in city of Stellenbosch- very cute place , but where are the road signs? Also, stop lights are known as "robots" pronounced "rowboats", so this may help you find a turn, LOL!
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Jun 21st, 2003, 05:55 AM
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Forgot to mention- Haute Cabriere was one of best meals- we were there for lunch. Also, in city of Stellenbosch, we ate at the Wijnhuis restaurant, which came recommended by Concierge at Lanzerac. Their seared tuna (my fav)was the best I've ever had. Great place, sits above street, romantic lighting, yet casual. All people were casual in restaurants.Never saw a jacket on men. You will be shocked at the menu prices, too! Keep all your receipts and tax forms; get them stamped at airport or other venue before leaving (have your ticket and passport) and you get the 14 % tax refunded. Even a better reason to do lots of shopping! That tax applies on wine, too. ENJOY!!!
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