The winelands to the east of Cape Town are the best and most well known of South Africa’s wine producing regions. The Rust en Vrede Winery was established in 1694 in Stellenbosch, South Africa. The Engelbrecht family produced the first vintages of the modern era in 1978, after decades of no production at the estate. The winery has won a long list of awards and accolades and it is also known for its eponymous restaurant, located on the estate grounds adjacent to the winery. In 2007 the Rust en Vrede Restaurant was included in the Top 100 Restaurants of the world, marking a unique achievement as the Rust en Vrede Estate wine had been previously named as one of the Top 100 wines in the world.
A small group of us from the ship were fortunate while we were docked in Cape Town to have attended an evening wine tasting at the winery, followed by an outstanding private dinner at the Restaurant with the estate’s winemaker. The dinner consisted of five courses, each paired with a Rust en Vrede wine.
The first course was Marinated Mozambican Prawns with a pressing of Roma Tomatoes, Sturgeon Caviar, Basil and Olive.
Accompanying the prawn course was a Stellenbosch Reserve Moederkerk Chardonnay 2014.
The second course was Chalmar Beef “Salad” with Pink Fir Potato, Avocado, and Balsamic. Accompanying the food was a Donkiesbaai Steen 2014. Note that the Donkeisbaai wines are produced by the Engelbrecht family from a relatively new wine property. Family member Jean Engelbrecht explains: “Donkiesbaai on the West Coast of South Africa has been the vacation home to the Engelbrecht family for four generations. Our West Coast is a place that invigorates one’s soul and one’s understanding and appreciation of the simple things in life. For many it is a harsh, desert-like, unknown frontier, but for those who have experienced its energy and unspoilt beauty, it becomes a life-enriching place to be. Crayfish, harders and a cold glass of Steen [Chenin Blanc] is part of the history that is Donkiesbaai and with this wine I raise a glass with family and friends.”
The third course was Crown Roasted Duck Breast with Confit Leg, Fig, Fennel, Coconut, and Cashew.
Accompanying the duck course was a Donkeisbaai Pinot Noir 2013.
The fourth course was Herb Crusted Lamb Loin with Braised Lamb Shank, Parmesan Truffle Risotto, Spinach, and Chicken of the Woods Mushroom. Accompanying the lamb was an amazing Ruste en Vrede Estate Bordeaux Blend wine from 1995 served from a large format bottle.
The firth course was Valrhona Chocolate Pave with Ivorie, Jivara Lactee, Guanaja, Abinao Fig, Pistachio, Pumpkin Seed Macaroon, Red Wine and Fig Ice Cream. Accompanying the food was a Donkiesbaai Hooiwijn 2014 (sweet) desert wine.
A few more notes from Jean Engelbrecht about the estate: “Since 1694 Rust en Vrede has stood peacefully among the vineyards of Stellenbosch. Through centuries there were periods when wine was produced, but since the [nineteen] seventies my family has specialized in producing only red wine with the focus on Shiraz [Syrah], Cabernet [Sauvignon], and Merlot. My parents worked very hard to make Rust en Vrede what it has become and today we reap the rewards.
“Many accolades have been bestowed upon the Estate and some of the more memorable were when Rust en Vrede was chosen by President Nelson Mandela to be served at the Nobel Peace prize dinner, hosting the Queen of Denmark for lunch with my family at the Manor House and when Rust en Vrede was nominated as the first South African red wine in the Top 100 Wines of the World in 2000. This honour was repeated for four consecutive years, and again in 2012. In 2009 our winemaker Coenie Snyman was named Winemaker of the Year.”
Note that Rust en Vrede in 2012 was recommended as the #1 vineyard in Cape Town by Travel and Leisure magazine. So, if you find yourself in the region, be sure to pay a visit to the Winery and Restaurant for a wonderful experience — since the ingredients are seasonal and each vintage of the wines is unique, you won’t have the same experience we had, but it will still be memorable, as was ours.