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The Beautiful historic west coast farm, sprawled across the hills of darling, ‘Groote Post’ literally translates as ‘the biggest cattle outpost’, which it was in its former heyday. It was also a favourite hunting ground for Lord Charles Somerset, as well as home to the hostess with the mostest , Hildagonda Duckitt. The Pentz family who had been dairymen for four generations was of the opinion that nobody ever drinks milk and comments on the exceptional quality, praising the skills and techniques of the producer. Consequently they opted for something a bit more glamorous and appreciated, a product that would enable them to showcase their abilities and be recognized for their work. Thank Bacchus for this decision!

For the last 11 years they have steadily been working their way up to the cream of the crop, producing dependable, commendable wines and receiving accolades and awards a dairy farmer can only dream of!

The tasting is an informal affair, taking place in a small room past the cellar which is slightly reminiscent of an overachiever’s study, with walls covered in the appreciative feedback (read: awards) that surely spurs the small but dedicated team, guided by their winemaker Lukas Wentzel, on to new heights. The range is vast, and off the bat it needs to be said that Groote Post is a big hitter, a game changer for the darling area that deliver a broad range of great cool climate wines (they are situated only 7 km from the cold atlantic). Notably, the accolades received cover all three the ranges produced on the farm, not just the reserve range as is so often the case.

A quick tasting overview:

The reserve range:
Pinot noir (Platter 4½ Star ): European style, forest floor, earthy, elegant. R133
Wooded chardonnay (Platter 41/2 stars): well-balanced, elegant, toasted bread with butter, zesty citrus. R107
Sauvignon blanc reserve ( Platter 41/2 stars): good minerality, apple and gooseberry, vibrant and refined R104

The groote post range:
Chenin blanc (4 star platter): fresh, green apple, tropical, good length
Unwooded chardonnay (4 star platter): citrus, marmalade, preserved ginger, good food pairing, lively acidity
Riesling (4 star platter): fragrant floral nose, exotic, spicy, peaches, off-dry
Sauvignon blanc (4 star platter): well-balanced acidity, grass and white peach
Merlot (4 1/2star platter): blackberries, smokey, spicy 15% alcohol
Shiraz (4 1/2star platter): A favourite, mulberry and cloves

Old man’s blend range:
Old Man Blend Red (4 star platter) Widely available Super quaffer for heavier orientated palets, white pepper, spice, berry and plum; blend of cabernet sauvignon 50%/cab franc9%/merlot41%
Old Mans Blend White (4 star platter) fresh, citrus, fruity intensity and depth, Blend of Sauvignon Blanc 60%/ Chenin blanc 30%/ Semilon10%
Old Mans Sparkle MCC (3 star platter) yeasty, biscuity , Brut Rose Blend of Chardonnay 34%/ Merlot 53%/Pinot Noir 13%

After all this tasting enjoy some lunch at Hilda’s Kitchen, aptly named after Hildagonda Duckitt, famous hostess and grande dame of cape cuisine who once graced these kitchens. The restaurant is situated in the lofty old manor house and exudes a laid-back country style and hospitality. Hilda’s Kitchen seems almost an extension of the farm experience, in the same way that the herd of goats, game and slave bell you pass on the way into the farm becomes part of the amalgamated whole of Groote Post.

Cordon Bleu chef Debbie McLaughlin had big shoes to fill, and it seems she has acquitted herself of this task admirably, as Hilda’s Kitchen is the star eatery of the darling area, as well as being voted one of the best country-style restaurants in the 2012 Eat out Magazine.

The menu changes daily and is designed to complement the wines.

Haloumi and blue cheese tart, shared…

Starters on this occasion included smoked salmon and rocket tart, butternut and blue cheese tart, west coast fish cakes with caper tartar sauce, Roast butternut, Danish feta and pumpkin seed salad and pan-fried haloumi with lime and caper dressing, all priced at R56.

Old Mans steak roll

The food is fresh, seasonal and filling, with occasional bursts of enthusiasm countered by quality ingredients and a ‘down-to-earth’ approach.

Slow roasted pork belly

Mains consisted of the ‘recommended’ Old man’s steak roll with garlic creme and hand cut chips (R120), Penne with basil pesto sauce (R75), Lemon and herb chicken with a quinoa tabouleh (R95) and slow roast pork belly with a plum sauce, served with noodles (R115). Desserts on offer are chocolate tart, plum tart, chocolate brownies and baked cheesecake, R44 each.

Sitting outside in the sunshine after a day filled with good food and wine, we are reminded of the simple pleasures in life, and the drive out seems insignificant in comparison (given you have a designated dave).

This is an essential stop for visitors northbound or southbound on the west coast route, and even worth a day trip as it is only an hours drive from Cape Town.

In addition to the wine and food, Groote Post also offers beautiful spring flowers, a 2000 hectare game camp and nature walks and farm drives through the vineyards. For more info on their biodiversity and conservation status, visit the website at http://www.grootepost.com

Hilda’s kitchen and reservations: 022 492 2825 or call Shaun McLaughlin on
083 325 4148 or email mclaughlin@worldonline.co.za
Lunch 12h – 2.30pm Wednesday to Sunday
Wine-tasting and sales Open Monday – Friday: 08h00 -17h00
Saturday, Sunday and public holidays: 10h00 – 15h00
Farm Drives Monday to Sunday starting at 10h00. Bookings must be made 24 hours in advance. Cost: R100 per adult and R50 for children under 12. Minimum number 6 and maximum number 10 people
Groote Post closed Easter Friday, Christmas Day and New Year’s Day
Contact Tel: 022 492 2825 • Email: wine@grootepost.co.za
Follow the R27, the West Coast Road towards Langebaan. Turn right onto the Darling Hills Road opposite Grotto Bay turnoff. After 10 km turn right to the Groote Post cellar. Alternatively, take the R307 out of Darling towards Cape Town and turn off at the Darling Hills Road. After 7km turn left to the Groote Post Cellar.
GPS Coordinates:
18° 24′ 38” E
33° 28′ 58” S

From Wine magazine: The significant medals and awards won by
Groote Post in 2011 are:

Wine Magazine Best Value Awards
Groote Post Chenin Blanc 2011 Best Value White R 50
Groote Post The Old Man’s Blend White 2011 Best Value White R 48

Gold/Award Medals
Groote Post Shiraz 2009 Veritas Gold and Michelangelo Gold R 97
Groote Post Sauvignon Blanc 2011 Michelangelo Gold R 70
Groote Post Merlot 2010 Michelangelo Gold R 90
Groote Post Reserve Sauvignon Blanc 2009 IWSC Gold and Best in Class* R104 – sold out
*IWSC (International Wine & Spirit Competition). The 2011 Reserve Sauvignon Blanc has just been released.

Winemakers’ Choice Awards
Groote Post Sauvignon Blanc 2007 Winemakers’ Choice Diamond Award R50 ex farm

Platter’s South African Wines
Groote Post Reserve Pinot Noir 2009* 4½ Stars R133
Groote Post Reserve Chardonnay (wooded) 2009 4½ Stars R107
Groote Post Shiraz 2009 4½ Stars R 97

What others have to say:

Sam Linsell from Drizzle and Dip:

Sometimes in life it necessary to go a little off the beaten track. This is where you find interesting and different places. Groote Post is located about an hour out of Cape Town up the West Coast and near the small town of Darling. Its part of the small but special Darling Wine Route. The terroir and the farm’s location only 7km’s from the cold Atlantic ocean is what creates perfect conditions for the making of Sauvignon Blanc, and the Darling Hills are home to some of the best viticulture sites in South Africa…read more

Once Bitten:

In the ten years since their first release, Groote Post is an efficiently run, established and dependable brand. Their salmon-pink, Old Man’s sparkle is the only méthode cap classique (Brut, R75) in the ward, and most unusual for its 59% merlot base (as opposed to the classic pinot noir). I predict this new wine is going to go places. They do have pinot noir growing on their south-facing slopes, and they have the only bottling of this savoury wine in the region (2008, R112). The Old Man’s red blend, sold also in magnums for R90, is a very quaffable, cabernet-based, red ‘cool drink’ with minimal consequences the next day…read more

Eat out on Hilda’s Kitchen: You’ll find honest country cooking at this restaurant that pays homage to Hildagonda Duckitt, one of the country’s first cookbook authors. The menu at this charming country eatery changes daily, with approachable fare like the old man’s steak roll with aioli and hand-cut chips. The slow-roasted pork belly is excellent too, but leave space for the tempting desserts...read more

Wine magazine’s tasting room review: There’s another dirt road that leads to Groote Post. And indeed, this is better than the one leading to Cloof Cellar. The sign at the turn-off warned that bookings are essential for the restaurant on the Groote Post premises – a steady stream of feet being obviously undeterred by the distance or difficult travelling conditions. And why should they be – Hilda’s Kitchen is obviously worth the drive. But can you say the same for a visit to the tasting room? …read more

Chefmag: Groote Post have released the 2011 vintage of their well-loved Unwooded Chardonnay, as well as their elegant 2009 Reserve Pinot Noir. This beautiful historic Cape West Coast farm, owned by the Pentz family, has its vineyard plantings, overlooking the icy Atlantic Ocean, on the cool sea- and south-facing upper slopes of the Kapokberg in the Darling Hills, an established prime wine-growing area…read more

Spit or swallow: Rating 7.15. Read some taster reviews from Spit or swallow