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How to get drunk while being a tourist!

SOUTH AFRICA | Tuesday, 28 January 2014 | Views [358]

Any day that starts with brandy must be a good one, right? Today we were touring the wine regions outside Cape Town on a hop on/hop off style wine bus. We were also joined for the day by one of Amy’s oldest friends, KP and all in all we had a pretty damn good time.

First stop was Van Ryn’s distillery where they make the best brandy in South Africa. This is not just their opinion and they have won awards around the world to prove it. We did a tasting before our tour and we opted for the chance to taste their 12, 15 and 20 year old varieties, with accompanying chocolate and a coffee as a palate cleanser between tastes. I’m not the biggest fan of neat spirits but I have to say I thoroughly enjoyed all the brandy we tasted and would recommend Van Ryn’s to all.

After the tasting we took a tour of the distillery and were taken through the brandy making process. This was very interesting and seeing the still room with its gleam of copper from the 8 stills was pretty cool. The highlight of the tour had to be the barrel making demonstration. The cooper, Jackson, was amazing and took us through the entire process from shaping the wood right through to finishing the barrel and fitting the base/lid. The variety of tools used was impressive and they had all be hand/purpose made by the cooper himself. When finishing off the barrel there was an almost musical moment as we got to hear what was referred to as the Cooper’s Tune, a moment when the craftsman and his craft combine to produce a melody out of their work. I have some video so I’ll get it posted when I can.

After Van Ryn’s we headed to Klein Zelze for lunch and another wine tasting. We sampled 5 different and interesting wines and, due to our interest, were given a sixth one to compare which had been opened for a VIP tasting the day before and would not normally have been available to us. The lunch here was also very good indeed and the wines we had with it were amazing. Amy selected both wines and one was a rosé which we had tasted earlier and the other was a red called Luddite which looked interesting. It was around £35 per bottle with the current exchange rate but worth every penny. I know people say you can get some perfectly good cheap reds but this one was definitely a case of getting what you paid for!

Our final stop on the trip was at Bilton which specialises in matching wines with chocolates. Four more wines later meant I was getting pretty tiddly and I was glad in a way that this was the last stop on our tasting trip. The wines and chocolates worked well together though and it was a very pleasant end to an amazing days tasting.

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