If you enjoy sipping quality wines in a sophisticated space, you’ll struggle to top Delaire Graff. Purchased by diamond magnate Laurence Graff OBE in 2003 with the explicit purpose of turning it into ‘the jewel of the winelands’, Delaire Graff is certainly one of the most opulent properties across any of the Cape wine routes.
The imposing property is set atop the Helshoogte Pass between Stellenbosch and Franschhoek and its lofty position is mirrored in its statement features – the rolling gardens are punctuated by lavish artworks; Indochine restaurant serves some of the country’s most spectacular food; there are several plush accommodation options; the diamond boutique in the foyer is home to some extraordinary gems and jewellery creations and the walls are laden with prestige artworks (including works from big names like Tretchikoff).
With such a focus on opulence, you’d be forgiven for assuming that the wines are an afterthought – but a visit to the Wine Lounge quickly dispels that notion. All plush seating, warm wood, copper and floor-to-ceiling glass, the tasting area is part members’ club and part design masterpiece with yet more artworks from the likes of William Kentridge, Robert Hodgkins and Deborah Bell on the walls. You’re almost more likely to see a Kentridge at a high-end winery than you are at a gallery these days – not a criticism, but rather an indication of the aspirations of the country’s producers in associating their wines with the work of probably South Africa’s most acclaimed artist.
Tastings are conducted by enthusiastic Wine Tutors whose breadth of knowledge exceeds fact sheet data – a welcome respite from parrot-fashion recitals of alcohol volumes and cellaring stats. Tastings vary in scale across the excellent Estate Range (2, 4 and 5 wines for R75, R100 and R125 respectively) and the premiere Icon Tasting at R350 for 5 wines. There’s quite a breadth of options (though not all are available for tasting), from the floral and unusual Cabernet Franc Rosé to the bold flagship Laurence Graff Reserve – and a dessert wine that the team will gladly upsell you on for an additional fee of R40 for a significant pour. Winemaker Morné Vrey has an unusually deft touch across both reds and whites, making for some tough choices in the tasting selection.
In keeping with the estate’s cachet, tastings are conducted in Riedel glasses and service is faultless – it’s quite easy to turn a quick pop-in for some wine sampling, into an afternoon languishing on the comfortable couches and taking in the views, while enjoying snacks from an artfully-curated selection. Delaire Graff was rated as the 39th best winery in the world in the 2019 World’s Best Vineyard awards – one of 3 South African estates on the list.
Book ahead for an ultimately indulgent lunch at Indochine, to see how the estate’s wines really come alive when paired with some of the best food in South Africa.
Hellshoogte Pass Road,