My birthday was fast approaching, and knowing that I was to spend six days in the wild and rugged surrounds of the West Coast, I wanted to enjoy one of my favourite drinks on each of days. I contacted each of the brands, and thankfully my top six all responded and sent me something to make sure I enjoyed my birthday. Here are my choices, and a little on why I love each. If you haven’t tried them, it goes without saying that if they made the list, I think you should consider ordering a bottle!
- Bain’s Whisky
Not having been much of a whisky fan, my exposure to the drink was fairly limited… I might have only got my first bottle of whisky four or five years ago. Around three years a friend asked me to model for a sunrise photo shoot in Cape Town with Bain’s Whisky, and I was captivated by how the early morning light streamed through the bottle, highlighting it’s golden contents, and simple had to try some out.
Delicious notes of cereal, with hints of caramel will impress you with every sip. I was equally impressed by the fact that not only is Bains one of the few locally produced whiskys, but it’s also affordable, retailing around R260. I love the upgraded label – and congrats to the team for winning best Grain Whisky in the world in 2017! Testimony that it’s a drink to be proud of.
- Weltevrede 1912 Chardonnay
My second choice was Robertson wine farm Weltevrede’s 1912 Chardonnay. I first encountered this exceptional wine on a visit to the farm in 2017, when we were lead through a series of underground chambers until we eventually found a candlelit cave for our tasting. Hearing such inspiring stories about the farm and its wine-maker Philip Jonker, paired with the wines themselves, was an overwhelming – even emotional experience, and with every bottle, I’m instantly taken back to that place.
Chardonnay is one of my favourite varietals, and whilst my leaning is towards more heavily wooded options, the 1912 is a perfect balance between the oak and the classically elegant Chardonnay characteristics. Make sure you also try the Vanilla Chardonnay, the 1912’s younger sister, but also an excellent choice.
- Liefmans Goudenband Beer
It was an experimental order of the Goudenband one late afternoon at Den Anker, alongside the Cape Town Waterfront, but one I’ll never regret. Within seconds I knew that this would most likely be my favourite beer for a long time to come. Arriving in a 750ml corked bottle, sheathed in wrapping, I was already hooked. It’s a premium speciality beer and worthy accompaniment for any special occasion.
It’s produced in a very similar way to sparkling wine – a first fermentation takes place in the bottle, and then later younger beer is added for a second fermentation. This results in a marvellously complex taste profile, balancing both sour and sweet notes, with an almost wooded note. It’s taste journey par excellence.
- Wilderer Cape Fynbos Gin
Following the recent gin explosion in South Africa, everyone has their favourites. Wilderer has earned a place in my top few as it’s a perfect base gin for dressing up with tonic and garnishing, but equally strong enough to hold it’s own – even as a sipping gin on ice. You may pick up on notes of some of the key ingredients which include honeybush, devil’s claw, buchu and wild dagga.
Wilderer gets extra points for offering a 1lt bottle of their fynbos gin, but also their range of other drinks to try which include grappa, schnapps and liqueurs. If you’re in the area, be sure to stop by Wilderer Distillery & Ristorante Pappa Grappa at Spice Route for a taste journey of note.
- Beau Constantia Cecily
The discovery of the Viognier, has been a recent one for me and I’ve fallen in love with this white varietal. Beau Constantia is one of the younger wine farms in the Constantia Wine Region – the oldest wine producing region in the Southern Hemisphere – but winemaker Justin van Wyk certainly knows what he is doing with their Viognier, Cecily.
Make sure to give the wine a good nose before drinking – it has one of the most floral and enticing bouquets I’ve experienced. I sometimes have to remind myself to actually drink the wine. It’s silky texture and peachy notes are a sure winner. Enjoy it most in the tasting room at the farm, which boasts some of the most impressive Constantia views.
- Domaine Des Dieux Claudia
The final drink of choice – which was to be enjoyed on my birthday itself – had to be bubbly, and my top choice was Hemel En Aarde Valley farm Domaine Des Dieux’s flagship MCC, Claudia. My introduction to this sultry bubbly was on a recent tasting in this picturesque valley, close to Hermanus. Sitting in the humble tasting room with impressive vistas all around, I met Claudia, and fell in love.
A cool-climate wine region means you’ll enjoy some elegant and enhanced flavours – and this Chardonnay driven MCC is simply delicious. The valley is also known for its Pinor Noir, and an 18% addition of this delicate red helps enhance the creamy flavour, with hints of sultry citrus. Seven years in the making, this bubbly is engineered to impress, and the perfect companion for my birthday celebrations.