The Plett Wine Route (Part 1)
THE Stellenbosch Wine Route was launched in 1973 and co-founder Spatz Sperling of Delheim prayed for clouds to appear in the sky. The beaches were deserted and the day was spent tasting.
The Plett Wine Route should be in demand on even the warmest days of this summer.
If, up to 2016, you came to Plett to strut the beach paths, times have changed; 10 wine farms are in production and open to visitors, with seven preparing for the next season. Some of these offer food and distractions for the kids.
I was lucky to be able to ‘do the tour’ – but it took two days of concentrated tasting. The concentration of the wineries on the eastern side is along Rexford Road to the east. Those I will preview next week.
In this article, I am guiding you to the other four stalwarts: Packwood, Plettenvale, Luka, and Bitou.
I tasted the full array of Sauvignon Blanc and MCC – the sparkling wine Méthode Cap Classique made from either Sauvignon Blanc (as pioneered by Bramon), or Pinot Noir, or Chardonnay.
A few red wines are on show, but it is the Sauvignon Blanc and the people whom you meet that will fascinate. The fi ne acids from the cooler maritime climatic conditions and the aged clay show brilliantly in the Sauvignon Blancs, so much so that founder of the Route, Bramon’s Peter Thorpe, decided to produce an MCC Sauvignon Blanc – and be proven a winner.
Don’t be cynical and say that you don’t like acid. It is that very component that sates your thirst and invigorates your palate in the heat of summer.
If you want to question the taste components of apple, white peaches, pineapple, gooseberry, lime or nuances of these, consider that you have rivals: baboons, birds, bush pigs and bushbuck.
By picking earlier, the astute farmer saves his grapes and decides to make bubbles, referred to as MCC.
Between Knysna and Plett, on the N2 at Harkerville, follow the sign for 6.4km to Fisanthoek and Packwood – that most interesting English country farm of Peter and Vicky Gent, where Peter tends the cattle and Vicky does the wines, from planting, to vinifying, to chatting on the Pinot Noir Rosé, the Gent MCC Sauvignon Blanc (that bottle matures!), and an interesting Pinot Noir.
Visitors wanting to see a handsome young man in control could visit Luka Wines, on the N2 turning left rather than turning right to Hunter’s Lodge and Zinzi restaurant.
Entrepreneur Mark Barnard bought the established farm two years ago. As is evident throughout the Route, if you can taste a bottled-matured Sauvignon Blanc, do so.
The great clean crisp and invigorating acids form a rod around which great complexity forms. Luka’s 2015 Sauvignon Blanc will impress you. Mark is tinkering with an MCC but the Chardonnay and Pinot Noir are a tad young.
The Fat Fish restaurants in Plett and in George offer Luka and an array of Plett wines.
Back on the N2, take the newly-conditioned Airport Road, and opposite the ‘drome you’ll fi nd Gloria and Martin Strack’s Plettenvale. Not for this go-getter a retirement of grace and memory…
Four hectares have been planted and from what the bush pigs and the birds do not devour, Gloria produces a popular Dry Rosé and Brut Rosé MCC.
The catch is a unique red ‘Our Blend’, the narration of that name making a great conversation piece. Who are the “our” and what are the components of this fast-selling blend?
To reach the fourth point of call, leave Plett eastwards ‘till you see those glorious stables past Goose Valley on your right. The polo fi elds have given way to newly-formed Bitou Vineyards, where Derek Harvey is developing two hectares focusing on Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon.
Plett Wine Tours offers tripping you around, whether or not there is a cloud in the sky.
• PeeBee has kept his palate alive since 1975 when he met Beejay Lankwarden in the Wilderness. He explores local, national and international wines, looking for ‘the cutting edge’.