South African wines are some of the best in the world. And many of the best South African wines come from the Hemel-en-Aarde Valley outside of Hermanus. Hemel-en-Aarde means “heaven on earth” in Afrikaans and we can attest to the fact that this is not an embellishment. Along the R320, over a dozen vineyards produce some amazing wines. We visited Creation Wines to taste the distinctively elegant wines that come from the terroir of heaven on earth.
On our trip to South Africa, we drove high up in the Hemel-en-Aarde Valley in search of wine perfection. This area a few hours from Cape Town came as a complete surprise to us. The R320 wine route climbed up into the clouds, the tarmac disappeared and became a bumpy two-lane dirt road near the top of the ridge.
Turning off the road into Creation Wines vineyards, the road became a muddy dirt track. The clouds thinned and the Babylon Toren peak could be seen rising over a 1,000 feet above the winery, which scaled the gentle green slopes below. On the shore of a small pond, the large glass Creation Wines restaurant and tasting room lets visitors view the vineyards and Babylon Toren peak while sampling some of the region’s best wines.
Creation Wines offers a remarkable wine and food pairing in the tasting room. The Creation Wines menu features ten distinctive wines with eight original canapés. Our host, Kate, seated us at a large, French country table right by the windows and walked us through the memorable experience.
The first pairing was the Creation Sauvignon Blanc paired with a pineapple and basil gazpacho with scallops. The natural acidity of the Sauvignon Blanc with guava and tropical fruit notes complements the natural sweetness of the scallop bite. This was followed by the Creation Sauvignon Blanc Semillon blend, which was served without a food pairing. This Bordeaux-style white wine has a natural saltiness with hints of lemongrass.
The third wine was the Creation Viognier, an aromatic white wine well adapted to South Africa that has a strong mineral character and accents of summer peaches. This was paired with an apple, camembert and prosciutto tartlet.
The final white wine was the Creation Chardonnay, a lightly oaked Chardonnay with a fine acidity and a strong fruit character. The chardonnay was paired with an avocado and prawn with citrus and vanilla mayonnaise.
With the fifth wine, we moved to the red wines. The Hemel-en-Aarde Valley is known for producing world-class Pinot Noir’s and Creation Wines Pinot’s stack up extremely well. Our fifth tasting was the Creation Pinot Noir, a complicated and well-judged earthy wine with subtle vanilla notes. The pairing with a goat’s milk cheese panna cotta is exceptional! This was followed by the Creation Reserve Pinot Noir – a truly exceptional wine with spicy cloves and strong dried cherry notes.
This was followed by the Creation Merlot – characterized by heavy tannins and dark chocolate elements. It was paired with a bold cauliflower and gorgonzola soup. The soup mellows the boldness of the tannins in the Merlot beautifully!
The Bordeaux-styled blend in the Creation Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot is aged in oak for 18-months and imparts rich tannins with blackberry notes. It was paired with a rare roast Springbok, greens and valley mushrooms. This was our first experience with Springbok and we enjoyed it.
The Hermanus wine region produces a very unique kind of cool-climate Syrah. We sampled the Creation Syrah, which has a round flavor of black cherry and spice. This was paired with a delicious Asian five spice pulled pork wonton with prune and Darjeeling puree.
The final pairing was the Creation Syrah Grenache – a captivating vintage with a strong black pepper bouquet and a slight smokiness. This was paired with the Buchu scented duck confit with Malay aioli. My only disappointment here was that the Syrah Grenache was sold out and we couldn’t take a bottle home! We’re usually not much for Syrah, but really enjoyed them here.
We enjoyed the wine tasting so much that we decided to stay for a late lunch and ordered entrée sized portions of the cauliflower and gorgonzola soup as well as the braised pork belly with five-spice port wontons with potato mash, prune and Darjeeling puree. It was the perfect lunch on a cool autumn day. With lunch, we were able to enjoy the Whale Pod Spyhopping Rose (Whale Pod is the Creation Wines label for some of their blended wines).
When Carolyn Martin and JC Martin bought this land as virgin sheep farm in 2002, they had a vision for a world-class winery. From the very first wines of the 2006 harvest, Creation Wines has been delivering originally distinctive vintages that rank among the best in the world.
We were the guests of Creation Wines (website). All opinions of the delicious are our own.
Monday 28th of July 2014
*Goes to Google recipe for cauliflower Gorgonzola soup* South Africa is definitely on our bucket list and now that we've been on safari, we can focus on wine touring and tasting when we finally make it there!
Tuesday 29th of July 2014
There is SO much wine in South Africa. Creation is amazing, and there are several other good wineries on the same road. Stellenbosch is great too.
Casey @ A Cruising Couple
Friday 25th of July 2014
Touring wineries is one of my favorite things to do! We had a blast recently when we were in Southern France getting to try all the different varieties. I'm not too familiar with South African wines, but I do know they are supposed to be delish! Sounds like a great experience.
Tuesday 29th of July 2014
We loved the South African wines. Many of them are similar to what you'd find in France. And the fun thing is - of course - spending lots of time figuring out what you like best.
Tuesday 22nd of July 2014
Touring wineries is always a great getaway. Those canape dishes look fantastic and I'm sure they paired really well with the wines.
Tuesday 15th of July 2014
Oh my goodness. Those wines. Those pairings. It's not even 830 a.m. here and I WANT.
Giselle and Cody
Tuesday 15th of July 2014
Wow, what a treat. I looooooove wine. Cody not so much. And the scenery is not so bad either!!