* This article first appeared in The Traveller, Kenya
It’s a few minutes to sunset and both garden and the distant Table Mountain are awash in an ethereal golden light – an enticing yellow glow not dissimilar to the estate’s honey-coloured Chardonnay resting in my glass. The air is gently flooded with the scent of the blooming lavender. I now see why Quoin Rock has earned such an enviable reputation.
Meet Quoin Rock
Mention the name Stellenbosch abroad and you’ll get nods of acknowledgment and appreciation. The region hosts a variety of enticing food and wine experiences, pair with luxury places to lay your head after a long days’ imbibing.
Quoin Rock is one such space and has had a rather exceptional new lease of life breathed into it after being purchased by the Gaiduk family in 2012. After several years of planning and renovations, in 2018 the farm was again opened to the public and very quickly became the talk of the town.
Driving in guests are first greeted by lines of roses – the first mark of the family’s influence, with the flower being a firm favourite of the family patriarch Vitaly Gaiduk. It is then daughter-and-architect Julia’s time to shine, as the mastermind behind estate’s extensive renovations.
First in sight is the glass-fronted and double-volume venue hall. The glass has been coated so that the giant façade perfectly mirrors the surroundings – a stunningly modern and theatrical effect that has become an iconic feature of the farm. Alongside the building is the Quoin Rock’s tasting room and celebrated Gåte Restaurant.
Gåte’s most acclaimed food offering is the Journey Around the World; a 14-course set menu that is simply put, epicurean ecstasy. From Italy a caffe macchiato with Gate cigar, from France foie gras with cranberry and cocoa, from Canada upstream salmon with maple syrup and bacon dashi and from Vietnam octopus, rice paper and teriyaki… to name a few. During the both daytime and evening, shorter dégustation menus are also on offer, with menus changing seasonally.
The estate produces a bouquet of premium still wines under the Quoin Rock label, a Methode Cap Classique and then also a range of affordable wines under the Nymsto label. Of particular interest to this article however, is the recently released Vine Dried Sauvignon Blanc.
The estate’s Viticulturist Nico Walters explains the rather meticulous and time-consuming process to make this wine: “Each individual grape bunch is pinched at the stalk to stop the flow of water and nutrients. This process causes the bunches to dry whilst hanging on the vine.This takes approximately one month and results in a bunch filled with flavour and sugar. This method is applied to one particular Sauvignon Blanc vineyard, selected because of its exposure to the sun, which contributes the rich tropical flavours” he adds.
I asked fellow journalist and wine-writer Llewellyn Lambert why he’s a recent covert to the wine. “It’s small batch varietal due to its production complexity which when drinking is mirrored by its multilateral palette; sun-dried tropical fruits and pineapple with remnants of stewed fruit compote.
The balanced sugars ensure that it is not sickly sweet. Ideally served chilled at around 6-8 ̊C, it can also be enjoyed as an aperitif. Its character comes to the fore when paired as a complement to foie gras, fruit-based desserts and cheese, and can even be used as an ice-cream topping.”
The bottle itself is exceptionally beautiful with its elongated shape and refined gold embossed label – an elegant addition to any discerning wine collection.
The Manor House
From behind the winery a private road leads up to perhaps one of Stellenbosch’s best kept secrets. The road winds higher and higher through the vineyards, until it feels as though you’ve left earth and entered a heavenly viniferous wonderland.
Leaving behind the modern styling of the winery, the Manor House embraces the classic elegance of the Cape Dutch styled architecture. Even though the Manor House is less than 20 years old, in her regal position overlooking the winelands below you’d imagine that she has sat here for centuries safeguarding the vineyards below.
The Manor House spaciously accommodates up to 14 guests in seven suites, where L’Octane amenities and plush interiors confer an air of opulence befitting such a grand home. When you’re not dining at Gåte, a private chef is on standby to serve up a meal in one of several dining spaces.
The acres of perfectly manicured gardens continue lavish theme. Walking from the front door to the edge of the garden alone is a five-minute stroll through a myriad of green enclaves and secret garden sanctuaries. The layout is arranged in that the hedges seem to point towards a break in the hedge, where the entrance gate perfectly frames a distant Table Mountain.
In turning around and walking back, the grandeur of the Manor House is dwarfed only by the towering Simonsberg Mountain, which provides a constant and impressive backdrop to the property. It is a landscape and setting that simultaneously calms the soul and stirs the imagination. A thoroughly lavish experience that will remain, quite possibly my most impressive ever winelands escape. quoinrock.co.za