A visit to the Anthonij Rupert estate in Franschhoek has many facets. There are the wine ranges – Protea, L’Ormarins, Cape of Good Hope, Anthonij Rupert and Terra del Capo – as well as yummy eating and pairing options, and a lovely little shop and deli where you can buy all sorts of gorgeous goodies for your kitchen, from elegant glasses and pretty tins, to pickled waterblommetjies in a jar, to go with your cheese platter a home. Chef HW Pieterse makes these himself, just the beginning of a what’s still to come.
The seasonal winter menu at the Terra del Capo tasting room, which is served in the small eatery which is separated from the wine cellar by glass windows, delivers a range of Italian-inspired antipasti which pair excellently with the two Terra del Capo wines: Pinot Grigio and Sangiovese. Say them out loud; it will make you sound exotic and interesting. The white and the red are easy-drinking wines, which make them wonderful companions for a relaxed and leisurely meal. They do equally well all by themselves, something to which I can testify from longtime experience. That they are reasonably priced doesn’t hurt either.
With a menu filled with Italian spirit, it makes sense to gather a group of friends and sit at a long table for a feast of shared dishes. Our meal began with L’Ormarins Blanc de Blanc 2013 bubbles before we took our seats for the introductory course (uno) of freshly baked focaccia served with extra virgin olive oil, and olives – both from the farm. Besides the wines, the estate produces lots of other things, including honey and beef. A hearty Black Angus Brodo (broth) shot primed the palate for what was to come.
Duo (second course) comprised three dishes which were served with the Pinot Grigio. Aubergines are one of my all-time favourite vegetables and here they were deliciously baked in an involtini with Ricotta, Parmesan and Napolitano sauce. To clarify, involtini is when something is wrapped; melanzane is when it’s layered. With the sautéed porcini mushrooms with garlic, thyme and Parmesan shavings, you can contemplate how easy it would be to go vegetarian. The third dish was smoked Franschhoek trout with gremolata and preserved lemon, arriving at the table with a touch of drama – under domes made from recycled Protea wine bottles.
Moving to the Sangiovese, we had Angus beef tartare with truffle vinaigrette and a soft quail’s egg. A precious sliver of the highly prized black truffle crowned the dish. Anthonij Rupert Wyne cultivates and produces black Perigord truffles on its Altima Estate near Villiersdorp. This year’s short season is over, but make a note for 2020. The sous-vide pork belly with peperonata pesto melted in the mouth, and the light and fluffy gnocchi with guanciale (cured meat product made from pork jowl or cheeks) and Fontina (cheese) sauce was comfort in a bowl, all salty and soft and creamy.
To finish, the dolce course was irresistible chocolate zeppole – airy cream-filled doughnuts – accompanied by espressos.
Other dishes on the winter menu include a mini Burrata with artichokes, capers and pine nuts, served with a drizzling of white balsamic and zataar vinaigrette; and truffled polenta chips served with truffle aioli. Making a comeback is chef HW’s estate-raised Black Angus beef Italian style sausages as well as the Angus Beef salsiccia meatballs served in a heartwarming beef brodo.
Extend your visit by booking a wine tasting, or hop on the tram to the Franschhoek Motor Museum on the neighbouring farm.
* The Terra del Capo Tasting Room and Antipasto Bar are open Tuesdays to Sundays (10am to 4:30pm), but pre-booking is essential. For more information and reservations, send an email to: firstname.lastname@example.org; or call 021 874 9041.