Opstal one of the game-changers in the Breedekloof – well worth a visit

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IT’S A LOVELY drive through the countryside to the vineyards of Slanghoek Valley. Visitors typically head out along the N1 highway, taking the R101 to Rawsonville just east of the Du Toitskloof Pass/Huguenot Tunnel (or via Worcester) before turning north along ‘The Route Less Travelled’ than most others in the Cape winelands. It’s alongside the Slanghoek Road in the Breedekloof that the Louws’ Opstal Estate has been grabbing attention for all the right reasons of late – with good reviews for the family’s flagship wines, but also with a new deck outside the tasting room and restaurant that affords guests a great view conducive to chilling-out big time.

The food is wholesome, varied and inexpensive – you can have just a nibble or settle down for a three-course meal. Breakfast and lunch Wednesday to Friday and Sunday, with an interesting snack menu available on Saturdays. The wines are the main attractions though – their quality and interest value, their good pricing and the stories behind them.

The ‘Sixpence’ red and white blends are good quaffers at the hard-to-believe price of R40pb. Notable among the seven Opstal wines – R50 to R75 a bottle – include an off-dry white blend of Hanepoot, Viognier and Colombar called The Mill Iron, and a salmon-pink blush from Shiraz and Viognier that is “perfect for sushi”, they say.

Carl Everson was a previous owner of the property whose independent, pioneering spirit is honoured by two wines in his name: a respectable Pinotage-led red combo and a serious Chenin Blanc, both at R150pb. The 2013 Carl Everson Chenin was highly recommended in Platter’s SA Wine Guide a couple of years back, and in 2016 both Platter’s and the South African Sommeliers Association have been trumpeting their praises for the 2015 vintage – a 5 Star rating for this single-vineyard wine that spent 10 months in French oak barrels and which was made from grapes taken off 35-year-old vines.

‘The Barber’ is of the Semillon variety, named after Carl Everson’s son-in-law who after World War II ran a barber shop for the men of Worcester before marrying Ansie Everson, laying down his clippers and scissors and becoming a successful farmer. The 2015 vintage of the wooded wine from 18-year-old vines in a block down by the river was given 5 Stars in Platter’s and, according to winemaker Attie Louw, promises “a reserved citrus freshness of lemon and lime with a lingering and elegantly structured finish”. R250pb.

Besides the producers of wonderful sweet wines from the area, the only other Breedekloof cellars to receive one of the ultimate accolades during the past 10 years are Stofberg, which earned a trophy for the 2016 Mia Chenin Blanc at the Michelangelo Awards, and Olifantsberg, with the 2014 Silhouette raved about in the latest edition of Platter’s and the 2013 vintage of this Rhône-style red blend getting full marks at the Trophy Wine Show in 2015. It’s kinda all of a sudden like! Seems times are a-changing…

 

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