I’ve never heard a bad thing about Babylonstoren. I’m sure none of us has. We’ve heard how incredible the food at Babel is, that everything you eat is grown and harvested on the farm – everything, even the grain that makes the complimentary bread – but the selection of wine is pretty fantastic too.
Babylonstoren is a Cape Dutch farm that’s situated in the Drakenstein Valley. Surrounded by the breathtaking mountain range, it holds vineyards and orchards on its 400 ha land. The farm dates back to 1690, and the current owners have taken special care to preserve and honour its history and the inhabitants and farm workers that came before them. The restaurant, Babel, is supplied by the fruit and vegetable gardens that the farm grows. There’s a wine cellar, an olive oil distillery, a bakery, a spa, gym and exclusive hotel.
Before losing yourself in the immaculately maintained gardens, it’s always optimal to begin any great adventure with a glass or two of wine. And that we did. After an informative cellar tour and vineyard walk, we settled in the hotel lobby for a wine tasting, before making our way to Babel for lunch. The newly upgraded tour to the Babylonstoren wine cellar is ideal for novices and knowledgeable oenophiles alike. Insightful and paying tribute to the farm’s rich history, the hour long tour is the perfect introduction to the varietals you are bound to taste.
The Babylonstoren flagship range comprises a Chardonnay and a red blend named Nebukadnesar. Since this Bordeaux blend is made from five different cultivars, it is considered a celebration of Babylonstoren and its garden. But, red aside, I’m a Chardonnay girl through and through. The 2012 Babylonstoren Chardonnay is in its second vintage, and oh is it delicious. I like my Chardonnay buttery and rich in vanilla, with light citrus notes to balance it out, and this I experienced.
Also available is a crisp, unwooded Chenin Blanc with fresh notes of tropical fruit; a delightful 2014 Babylonstoren Mourvedre Rosé, that’s as petally in the mouth as it is pink on the eye; the Viognier – also a go-to choice for this Chardonnay fan – exudes fresh notes of apricot that paired perfectly with our in-season nectarine appetiser.
If you’re a fan of reds, the 2013 Babel Red Blend is a fusion of red berry flavours and chocolate, rounded off with a hint of spice. We ended it all off with the 2013 Babylonstoren Shiraz, where red cherry is the order of the day. I opted for the red salad to pair with the Shiraz; a smoked trout and pickled candy beetroot terrine with tomarillo, slow-roasted strawberries, raspberries, watermelon and peach. I repeat, all these ingredients are grown on the farm.
From start to finish, a day at Babylonstoren is unlike any other – from farm to plate, from vineyard to wine glass, it’s exceptional. When I return, I think I’ll have the green plate. Or shall it be the yellow?
The Babylonstoren cellar tour begins every day at 12 noon (booking recommended). Join the wine club for regular vinous updates. Bookings at Babel need to be made two months in advance (yes, it’s that popular)
Where R45, Simondium
Contact + 27 21 863 3852, www.babylonstoren.com