By Durbanville standards, this is a big farm, covering 840ha, supporting grain, cattle and sheep and, more recently, 50ha of vines. It joins others in the region which have celebrated their tercentenary, as first owner, that prominent pioneer Olof Bergh of the VOC was granted the land by Simon van der Stel as the 17th century drew to a close.
It has taken present owners, fourth generation Brinks, André and Ronelle, years of hard work, renovation, restoration, and wine production to reach the stage when they held a media day recently, partly to mark 120 years of Brink family ownership. Simultaneously they celebrated the release of the new vintages in rebranded packaging, and of their maiden cap classique and pinotage.
Unlike some of its fellow farms, Groot Phesantekraal is really rustic, with suburbia still some way from its boundaries (long may this continue). The family occupies the main farmstead, while the private tasting room still retains reminders of its early role as hen house. If the weather is kind, visitors can settle on the terrace for wine and order a cheese and charcuterie platter.
The airy restaurant – one of the oldest buildings - spent its first 250 years as a stable – and the feeding troughs attest to that, as does the old stone floor – where 10cm heels are not recommended! ChefJean van Deventer presented an early spring menu, that included braised pork belly with Dauphine potatoes, roasted onion puree, apple chutney and fried polenta with beer-battered veggies as a vegetarian option. There was well spiced kabeljou paired with chorizo and a sweet potato risotto, and dessert of apple frangipani tart with roasted apple cinnamon icecream made a fine finale. I would head to this venue for their Saturday morning brunch, as the menu is tempting, and prices, while not in the budget category , are acceptable given the quality of fare.
As I arrived at the farm late, I missed out on a flute of the new cap classique (R120) made by winemaker Etienne Louw, formerly of Altydgedacht. But my colleagues all enjoyed their welcome bubbly, as I did my tasting sample.
Louw also made the 2017 Groot Phesantekraal sauvignon blanc 2017, (R72) which has already garnered a Veritas Double Gold and made it to the Top 10 in the Sauvignon Blanc awards. It is a beautiful wine, presenting a complex mix of fruit, both tropical and citrus blanced by crisp but not over-acidic mouthfuls – there's less of the distinctive dusty Durbanville verdancy which characterises many of the valley’s sauvignons.
I only managed a couple of sips of the 2017 chenin blanc, sourced from 55-year-old bush vines , but I wish I could have tasted more of this dry, fruity, heritage wine, selling at R50. Ditto the 2015 cabernet which has attracted gold from Michelangelo and is, by all accounts, both accessible yet elegant, and priced at R120.
The farm’s flagship white is their Anna de Koning chenin blanc 2016/7, a barrel-fermented single vineyard limited release that is rich, offering concentrated fruit and nuts , opulent, elegant, and a worthy addition to the present generation of fine wooded chenins. mostly found in the Breedekloof and Swartland regions. Its a wine that could well complement Middle Eastern specialities where fruit and nuts add flavour and crunch to layered rice and chicken or lamb. At R120 its an affordable addition to our ever-increasing choice of champion chenins.
I did not get to taste the farm’s pinotage Berliet 2016.
Groot Phesantekraal is off Klipheuwel Way, and its contact number is 021 825 0060 It’s great to have another beautiful Durbanville farm to add to the hospitable collection across the Tygerberg, and this destination is one that both history buffs and wine lovers will enjoy immensely.