Lourensford Road in Somerset West is home to a number of fairly significant wine farms. First there’s Vergelegen with its ancient camphor trees opulent Cape Dutch buildings, sprawling arboretum and fine dining — not to mention its impala and leopards. Then there’s Lourensford — where delectable bubbly and weekend harvest markets reign. Tucked away to the right of Vergelegen’s entrance is Morgenster, a tiny farm that’s far less talked about than its larger neighbours. But Morgenster is a star in its own right, blessed by its secluded location between its dam and the Schapenberg.
European elegance infused with the beauty and heritage of the Cape
Giorgio Betrand is Morgenster’s Italian owner who fell in love with the estate’s beautiful farmhouse in 1992, and then planted olives and vines on the farm’s 25 hectares as an afterthought. Entering Morgenster’s tasting room — a sublime infusion of modern architecture with the old-style touch of its long, worn tables and furniture — you can sense the understated style and sophistication that Italian design seems to get just right.
Taste your way through three Italian operas
For the wine tasting, you’re seated and given a choice of five wines. They’re brought out all at once, after which the knowledgeable tasting room manager talks you through each one. As well as creating what has become my favourite Bordeaux blend (and I’m not usually a Bordeaux blend fan), the Lourens River Valley, Morgenster produce their Italian and Nu series. The three wines in the Italian series are named after notable Italian operas (Caruso, Tosca, Nabucco) – the Tosca is a superb blend of Sangiovese (native grape of Tuscany), Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. Their Nu series includes Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Sauvignon Blanc, as well as a lovely unwooded single varietal Sangiovese.
Fresh, moist mozzarella swimming in a chilled tomato soup – yes, please!
Besides wine tasting, you can also indulge in an olive oil tasting. But since the olive oils are offered at your table, it’s best to skip the latter if you’ve booked lunch at the restaurant. A relatively new restaurant, 95 at Morgenster was opened in September 2015 with the owner of the Carne and 95 Keeroom restaurants, Giorgio Nava, at its helm. Like his Keerom street establishment, the menu at Morgenster is influenced by Milanese cuisine. My starter of fresh, moist mozzarella swimming in a chilled tomato soup was an incredible reinterpretation of your standard Caprese salad, and the seared tuna steak main course was near perfect.
It might not be perfect, but how many of Cape Town’s restaurants are?
Previous reviews of Morgenster have not always been favourable, and there were a few points on which our Saturday lunch was lacking. Three pieces of ravioli is hardly enough for a main course, and we waited 45 minutes for desserts that arrived melted (the service was otherwise excellent, which is a hard thing to come by in the Mother City). But with a few decent bottles of wine on the table, fresh desserts and an unabridged view of the Helderberg Mountain, I didn’t kick up too much of a fuss.
To see Caroline in action and learn more about wine, check out her YouTube channel The Glass and Barrel.