Four times four makes sixteen. That is how many times your senses will explode with the unique combination of Piekenierskloof wine and Carmién Rooibos Tea at De Tol writes Marzahn Botha.
At the end of last year, I had my first Piekenierskloof wine and Carmién Rooibos tea tasting at the Piekenierskloof Mountain Resort.
It made such an impression on me that I had to go back in February this year to experience the full and rich experience of different tastes in a newly revamped setting named De Tol, situated after the Piekenierskloof Pass on the N7 heading to the small town of Citrusdal.
De Tol is also the new tasting room for all the Piekenierskloof wines, the full range of Carmién Rooibos tea and a wide array of snacks that makes you feel quite comfortable in “ouma se wynkombuis”.
The Piekenierskloof wine tasting room also moved from the Hebron Farm opposite the Piekenierskloof Mountain Pass to this old heritage building on 12 December of last year. The new owners are the formidable brothers, Potgieter and Oubaas van Zyl, whose family have a fruitful history in the valley of wine and citrus.
The De Tol Farm Deli
De Tol road-side farm stall was built in 1849. The farm stall used to be a toll where farmers in the old days when making the two-day journey from Eendekuil to Citrusdal or just to get together, would stop and enjoy a meal under the big tree.
Thus the name “De Tol Farm stall”, De Tol is Dutch for the Afrikaans words “Die Tol”, meaning “The Toll”. At the back of De Tol, there is an old wine cellar that was used in 1846 and where wine was made for the trekkers to drink. There is also a designated area where the farmers or pioneers tied their horses to rest and drink water. When the cannons fired in Cape Town, a cannon was simultaneously fired over here to motivate the farmers that they should hurry to be the first one on the plain to sell his produce.
About a century ago the pioneers Van Zyl family who would later be the co-founders of the Piekenierskloof Wine Company settled in the valley of the Piekenierskloof plateau. According to history one of the brothers studied viticulture in Germany and when he came back he saw an opportunity to grow Grenache grapes in this unique terroir. Today Piekenierskloof is the home ground for Grenache in South Africa.
When the farm with De Tol farm stall was to be sold, the Van Zyl family knew that this heritage building with its history must grow with the family’s legacy in the valley. The Van Zyl family owns Bergendal Farm (translating to “mountain and valley”) and Heidedal Farm (translating to “valley of Ericas”) is named. It is on these two special parcels of land, that brothers Potgieter and Oubaas van Zyl follow in the footsteps of their grandfather, Johan Abraham van Zyl, one of the pioneering farmers of Piekenierskloof.
According to history Johan Abraham van Zyl praised the beauty of the farmland area stretching over 600 ha of bountiful production of grapes by saying: “We are honestly blessed even in our sleep.”
The sister of the Van Zyl Brothers, Mientjie Mouton (Van Zyl), the founder and managing director of the Carmién Rooibos Tea with the head office at Bergendal Farm , has joined forces with her brothers to provide an enriched wine and tea experience for visitors. Mientjie is also the marketing strategist at Piekenierskloof Wines and actively involved in the family business empire.
Sixteen different tastes
The presentation of this wine and Rooibos tea tasting is beautiful and unlike anything, you have seen before. For every wine glass there is a fine Carmién engraved glass teacup with a savory on the tray next to the beverage.
According to the host and the business development officer of Piekenierskloof and daughter of Potgieter Van Zyl, Bridget, this experience has developed over time by people with an excellent palate and knowledge of pairings. Bridget grew up on Bergendal farm and earned her Masters Degree in Agricultural Economics to help her family with different business avenues on the farm.
“Tea is a great palate cleanser when tasting wine. When we taste a variety of wines we often put a pot of tea in the middle to neutralize the tasters palate” says Bridget.
For the wine and Rooibos pairing we started off with the white wine, rose and moved to the Piekenierskloof reds.
The order of the tasting was as following:
- Taste the wine
- Sip the flavoured Carmién Tea
- Nibble on one of the sourced delicacies
- Go back to the wine
- Enjoy the sensation
#1ste White wine pairing
We started off with 2018 Piekenierskloof Chenin Blanc (R95) and combined it with the organic Carmién Creamy Mint Green Rooibos Tea. The textbook Chenin Blanc shows a range of stone fruits on the nose that follows through on the palate. It is concentrated with refreshing acidity and a long finish.
The tea was rounded off with the strong flavour of the goat’s cheese that deadened the stark taste of the wine and brought the fruitiness forth.
It was an extremely hot day and the combination of the cheese and wine with the subdued taste of the mint, was probably my favourite combination.
The wine rolled smoothly in my mouth, while the freshness of the fruits became all too clear.
#2nd Rosé pairing
We tried the Piekenierskloof 2018 Grenache Rose (R90) next, which is a beautiful watermelon pink Rosé with light floral aromas and pronounced strawberry flavours and a creamy finish. It is crisp and a perfect wine to have on a long wine drinking day with friends.
This combination is paired with Carmién Mint and Watermelon-Strawberry flavoured rooibos tea with a herbal infusion.
The last addition is the cranberries that bring out the strawberry flavours in the wine.
According to my guest, Roel de Haan, he was surprised by the distinct flavour of the strawberry in this wine and how it was complimented with the cranberries. I am not too big a fan of cranberries because of the burning sensation at the back of my throat, therefore this pairing was not my favourite. I rather enjoyed the essence of this typical Spanish grape cultivar, here in the beauty of my own mountainous country.
#3rd Red pairing
The 2017 Piekenierskloof Grenache Noir (R130) is an intense black wine with red cherry flavours combined with sweet spice and hints of vanilla. The wine is creamy on the palate with velvety soft tannins and has a long lingering finish. This is rounded off with the Carmién Creamy Vanilla with a herbal infusion. The subtle taste of the velvety parma ham soothes the palate. When you drink the wine again, the sensation spreads all your palate to give you a feeling of satisfaction. The Grenache Noir can be enjoyed at cooler temperatures and in hot summer months. The Grenache reminds me of a Pinot Noir wine, light, neither full nor rich. According to Bridget they call the Grenache a poor man’s pinot noir. “Our Grenache sells the best because it has very unique selling points, the Rosé is a nice drinking wine, our Piekenierskloof Chenin Blanc is made out of grapes from bush vines so the flavors is highly concentrated, while and our Heirloom Red is a special combination for special occasions.
#4th Heirloom Pairing
This 2016 Heirloom Red Blend (R200) consists of 50% Grenache, 30% Shiraz, 20% Mourvedre.
It has flavours of sour cherry and ripe currants with soft notes of sweet spice and herbaceous characteristics. It is a well-rounded medium-bodied wine with a long elegant finish. The Grenache makes the red wine a bit lighter than a full-bodied Shiraz.
Bridget combines the Camién Very Berry for Kiddies rooibos range to bring out the currents of berry and spice in the wine.
When you combine all the tastes with calamata olives, the well-rounded body of the elegant wine keeps give you a taste of currents, soil, spice and natural tastes that go with the wine.
“You can also mix the order in which you drink your wine, tea, and snack to get the maximum delight of flavours that is best for you,” says Bridget.
After this tasting, you can get a bottle of wine and sit at one of the old oak barrels or tables at the back of the facility. There is even a doggie area with buckets of water for your four paws, or you can treat them with doggy biscuits that you buy over the counter for R10.
I had a burger roosterkoek, one of the best sellers in the shop, to fill my appetite. De Tol also sells craft beer, Citrus Chai or Floral Berry Gin, ice-cream, coffee, pies, peaches, marmalades, olive oil, rusks, paintings and everything home-made.
Changes vs tradition
The mountain vineyards of Piekenierskloof are known to produce outstanding grapes sourced from dryland bush vines, planted between 1962 and 1989. With extreme temperatures and a mix of sandstone and shale soils, these elements blend together to produce a terroir that guarantees each vintage is an icon in the making.
The past twenty months since 2017, have been full of changes and innovation at Piekenierskloof Wines and we are thrilled to see it recognized by one of the wine industry’s most influential tasters, Master of Wine, Tim Atkin. During the course of 2017 the majority of the winery’s shares were brought from Charles Back from Fairview and Spice route, by the Van Zyl family of Bergendal and Heidedal farms. This was followed by the appointment of the dynamic Jaco van Niekerk as winemaker. Some wines did get an exceptional high scoring by Tim Atkin.
The Carel van Zyl Old Vine Grenache Noir 2018 and Samson Straw Wine 2018 received 93/100 points, whereas Heidedal Old Vine Cinsault 2018 garnered 92. This is a true testament to the inherent quality of the terroir as well as the commitment of the people involved. As Jaco adds, ‘It is a rare opportunity to work with such a selection of extraordinary vineyards”.
The next good move was buying the property where De Tol is situated. Nothing of this beautiful heritage structure has been changed, only a new layer of paint was necessary. And with new ideas, one can go a long way.
The Orange in the label
According to their website, the story of Piekenierskloof wine starts with the past. As an ever-expanding colony, the Dutch deployed their Piekeniers soldiers along with the rocky kloof range, ensuring safe passage for all travelers. In light of a new era for South Africa, the Piekeniers no longer need to be guarded, and so we decided to disarm their 8 military poses, placing their efforts into more fruitful actions. The result is one wine with eight different labels – together, telling our story.
As much as our wines reflect the terroir of their established roots along the Piekenierskloof mountains, our labels take inspiration from the soldiers that once protected the pass.
Distinguished by their unique attire and long lances, the Dutch Piekeniers (soldiers) are our selected icons for the expansive Piekenierskloof Pass. With two decades of democracy behind us, we thought we’d effectively ‘disarm’ our soldiers, placing their efforts into more constructive and fruitful actions for our labels. Following an almost balletic routine of stances and gestures, they have disarmed the soldiers to represent a relevant philosophical or practical positive that talks to everything we are about – philosophy, peace, liberty and freedom, new beginnings, foundations, establishing new roots, harvest and enjoying the fruits of our labour. The eight soldiers are as follow: One has A long pick prepares the soil for planting; a spade symbolizes the actual planting; a watering can waters the newly planted vine; an olive branch; a bunch of grapes shows it’s ready and harvest time starts; a glass for the first testing and tasting phases; a scroll.
A bird flies off as we despatch our orders and our customers enjoy the goodness of our product ranges; and the rose for the Rosé.
They have topped their look with a vibrant orange that tips its hat towards both the Dutch origins of our name and that of the region’s history of citrus farming. It also resembles the citrus and the soft fruits, apricots, and nectarines that are grown in the area and on the farm.
If you wish to do the wine and rooibos pairing for a group, you can ask Bridget Van Zyl at T: +27 (0) 67 410 3315/ firstname.lastname@example.org
Visit The De Tol Farm Deli just off the N7 en route to Citrusdal, at the top of the mountain pass, to experience these unique wine and rooibos tea combinations for only R95 per person.
Tastings & Deli: De Tol Farm Deli,
Piekenierskloof N7 pass,
Wine Cellar: Nieuwoudt Street,
022 921 2233/4/5