But first let me introduce Beau Joubert:
Beau Joubert is a wine farm situated out in Stellenbosch. They have a long and proud South African history, which lasted until the turn of the millenium when a bunch of families from Wisconsin, USA fell in love with Cape Town, settled some roots and starting making wine. Have you ever! Luckily for us this cross hybrid USA-South African farm produces some pretty fabulous wines, on a gorgeous venue run by a wonderful team.
The name Beau Joubert combines the French word for ‘beautiful’ with the name of the family who originally put the farm on the wine map. A blend of old and new, of tradition and fun – Beau Joubert is exactly what a new world wine farm should be.
So here’s the deal: we were not at Beau Joubert to be wined and dined but to be put to work! Luckily we were wined and dined too! This is Stellenbosch after all – the deep south of South Africa.
The picking of the grapes started with a brief overview:
STEP ONE: Locate a big bunch of ripe-looking, midnight blue Cabernet Sauvignon grapes with minimal sunburn (No, the farmer in charge did not call them midnight blue – this is my creative license being exercised),
STEP TWO: Take secateurs and cut of located bunch.
Step Two came with a caveat – be careful of the secateurs; they are sharp and you can cut yourself. We had some oopsies but then we had some wine so it was no big deal.
Now you may think this is pretty easy stuff, but the skill of the grape pickers is not in the cutting alone but the speed of the cutting. Grape pickers can fill a crate in 5-6minutes, we were given 20 minutes… And we took longer than that.
It was an absolute treat to look through the vines for beautiful bunches of grapes. I have a great appreciation for the final product, but it’s lovely to be able to see some of the behind-the-scenes work. We’ve made sauvignon blanc and malbec before, but the grapes have always been picked early in the morning and are ready waiting for us after our casual breakfast. So now I feel my wine making education includes all the steps!
The varietals on the farm include Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chenin Blanc, Merlot, Pinot Noir, Sauvignon Blanc and Shiraz. All of which mean lots of work and lots of wine.
We were very pleased with our crates of grapes and even more pleased with the fact that we didn’t need to carry them back to the cellar! Those guys were heavy, weighing in at about 20kgs each! Look how beautiful my grapes were! I hope they make wonderful wine!
And then came the serious stuff! Wine swimming! We had a quick run through of de-stemming the grapes with the gorgeous grapes ending up here! Next up was clothes off, bikinis on and into the grapes! And goodness how magical it was! The grapes are cold and squishy, kind of like a cold mud bath with serious exfoliating power. It is so difficult to move through the grapes because of the viscosity; it was kind of like walking through honey. And then when you sit down its like a trip to outer space – zero gravity!! You just float there with grapes all around you! So I’m ticking off go to space and dead sea from my bucket list, no?
During my jumping around, my grape squishing and squashing and stomping I lost my diamond ring. Yes. I know. They TOLD us to take aaaall jewellery off. But ya. I have worn it every single day without fail for almost two years. If I had to choose between going out without my make up or without my ring, I would be barefaced. I completely forgot I was wearing it and I have been kicking myself all weekend! So ya – dumbass of note. Now, my sparkly ring is sitting in 8 tons of Cabernet Sauvignon grapes. BUT they are trying to save it! All hope is not lost yet, but this depends on who you speak to. All the ladies tell me we will definitely find it. All the men laugh at me… Unfortunately the men are the wine marker, the farmer and the financial director. But there has to be a brilliant marketing spin out of this!
Once we had been hosed down in the cellar and made ourselves a little more presentable it was time for the wining and dining! The wining came first, of course! We were privileged to be the first tasters of a few of Beau Joubert’s wines. The MCC was so new the winemaker himself had yet to try it! The young wine tasting was brilliant and it was fantastic to taste the potential in a bottle that was not quite ready yet.
The MCC still has another 12-24 months on the lees and is 100% Pinot Noir. It is a brut style MCC, which is very dry but will soften with time. I’m very interested to try this MCC when it is ready for public release.
Next up was the 2014 Sauvignon Blanc; it was green, fruity and acidic. I think in time the acid and green flavours will soften and allow the fruit to shine through. Be warned: I like an older Sauvignon Blanc !!
The 2014 Chenin/Sauvingnon Blanc was still acidic but softened by the Chenin. Pineapple and tropical fruits were in the glass and that’s a good sign!
The 2013 Old Vine Chenin Blanc was one of my favourites with that gorgeous caramel popcorn flavour. It is, however, very light and will benefit from further aging. All as you’d expect with a young wine tasting!
The 2010 Ambassador is their flag ship wine made up of 80% Merlot, 15% Cabernet Sauvignon and 5% Shiraz. Sadly I found it to be a little oversold with the black berry and currants flavours on the bitter side. The wood was too present and smokey. I like a reaaally old red so I would be interested to try an older year of The Ambassador.
My favourite red was their 2010 Shiraz which was lightly spicy with white pepper but fruity, with plums and blackberries. The Shiraz was sexy, smooth and easy to drink.
And then after aaaall that wine consuming they finally fed us! And what food it was! Cheeses, fresh breads, buttery quiches, lentil salads, roast chicken wrapped in bacon, fresh vegetables! It was absolutely delicious and we felt after our ‘hard’ work we definitely deserved it!
And then dessert – it was gooey deliciousness! Soft, fluffy almost steam pudding texture with sweet apples, whipped cream and PORT!! I am not an old lady; I do not drink port. BUT I do drink Beau Joubert’s port! The 2009 Fat Pig Port is really quite something – sweet and sticky and plum crumble and honeydew and good good things!
Thank you so much to the wonderful Beau Joubert and her incredible team for looking after us! Special thanks to Elzanne van Zyl and Lydia Coetzee for making the whole day run so smoothly and taking such wonderful care of us. To Ian Engelbrecht for allowing us to hack at your vines. To Christian Kuun, the winemaker, who is hopefully hatching an amazing ring recovery plan. And finally to Andrew Hilliard for taking us through your wonderful range of wines.
Elzanne and Lydia both have blogs and it is wonderful to get a sneak peak at the hard work behind putting this all together:
I made a new blogger friend and I must suggest a visit to her site: Rookie Wino. She’s on an adventure of learning to make wine with no formal training – and it’s brilliant to share her journey.
- Location: Old Polkadraai Road, (off the M12 – Polkadraai Road), Stellenbosch
- Contact details: 021 881 3103 or firstname.lastname@example.org