Wine with heart
By Nicolette Waterford
I am always a touch nervous visiting an establishment that was hyped up on the social networks as without fail I am disappointed. Well, this time I was very wrong. The Maison tasting room and restaurant in Franschhoek reopened on November 16 after a renovation period of seven months. The word Maison means “home” in French, a very appropriate name as one immediately feels well, at home.It felt like I was visiting good friends on a working farm. A friendly dog was lying in the sun and chickens were happily being chickens on the manicured lawns with vineyards and majestic mountains as backdrop. Apparently there is also a pet pig, but he never made his appearance during my visit.
Maison belongs to Chris Weylandt, owner of the well-known furniture and homeware store Weylandts and the “Weylands touch” is visible in the interior of the tasting room and restaurant. Chris is known for his attention to detail and organic design philosophy and therefore the Maison wine collection is made in a very eco-conscious way.The packaging is elegant and simple and I was pleasantly surprised by the quality and drinkability of the wines, given that the vineyard was only planted in 2005.
Winemaker Antwan Bondesio has an impressive CV and he has several international harvests under his belt, including Limerick Lane Cellars in California, Clos Henri in Marlborough. New Zealand and closer to home he worked at Kaapzicht and Spier. I tasted the crisp 2010 Chenin Blanc and loved the lingering aftertaste. The Chenin sells for R90 per bottle; I also enjoyed the Chardonnay and Viognier that sells for R120 and R140 respectively. Both these wines boast winemaker Antwan’s thumbprint on the label, a symbol of his attention to detail and the uniqueness of this special, limited edition wines.
The 2010 Shiraz is a sensational wine brim-full of liquorice and dark chocolate whiffs and is good value at R140 per bottle. A nice Maison touch is that when you taste the Shiraz, you are presented with a little wooden board with a piece of Dalewood blue cheese and some beef biltong made by the chef, a fantastic food and wine match. I am sure most of you would find the straw wine very interesting. Straw wine is made from grapes that have been dried to ensure more concentrated juice. This wine making technique dates back to pre-Roman times and the clusters of grapes are dried on mats of straw in the sun.
This method is very popular in Northern Italy and the French Alps, but several South African producers have started experimenting with the making of straw wine in recent years. The wines are sweet and have a very long ageing potential. The low yields and labour-intensive production method means that they are quite expensive, but well worth it. The Maison Straw wine sells for R120 per bottle. There is no tasting fee at Maison and the estate is open from Wednesday to Sunday for lunch and wine tasting, from 10am to 5pm.
The restaurant at Maison, known as the Kitchen, has foodies very excited and after enjoying lunch there I understand why. It is definitely one of the best wineland lunch spots out there. Ingredients are seasonal and fresh and the menu changes regularly. Chef Arno Janse van Rensburg successfully creates dishes that are simple, yet classy and the presentation is very beautiful, yet down to earth. Dishes are served on wooden boards, keeping with the rustic, organic feeling of the space. Oh, and the bread is to die for! A visit to magical Maison left me wanting to linger a little bit longer and I am already planning my next visit.
* Call 021 876 2116 or send an email to Reservations@maisonestate.co.za for more information.
** This visit was unannounced and Waterford paid for her own meal.