In Food, MCC, McGregor, Robertson, Tasting, Travel, Wine, Wine Route, Winemaking

A long weekend breakaway is always a pleasure, and this escape to the Robertson region was no exception. My main intention for the trip was to experience the newly established and remarkable Silverthorn wine cellar and tasting room, and to visit its creators, John and Karen Loubser whose classic MCC bubbly range and company I’ve enjoyed for several years.

Silverthorn, the pride of John and Karen Loubser

A bit of history

Silverthorn, one of my favourite Méthode Cap Classique wines, was produced by John Loubser while in his position as winemaker at Steenberg Estate. He later became Steenberg’s general manager, before choosing, in 2017, to take on an even bigger challenge of further establishing and building the Silverthorn brand. As he so beautifully put it: “After an incredible journey at Steenberg, for which I am eternally grateful, I am thrilled to channel all my passion and energy into Silverthorn Wines. This is the culmination of a lifelong goal and dream. I have finally conquered my Everest, now for the stars …”

Karen and John Loubser

Silverthorn Farm, for which the wine is named, is situated outside Robertson on the Breede River and was originally bought by Karen’s family in 1976. In 1999, however, John and Karen took it over. Detailing their story over social media, the Loubsers rezoned the farm from agricultural to industrial use, the end result being their magnificent cellar and tasting room.

The tasting room and cellar

John Loubser shares his vast wine knowledge.

On the banks of the Breede River and overlooking both the river and the Riviersonderend mountains, Silverthorn is a well-positioned and beautifully decorated. Its energy and warmth need to be personally experienced for full effect – and so do the wines!

The complete range of Silverthorn MCC wines are available for tasting at the tasting room, which is open six days a week (Monday to Friday between 09h00 and 15h00 and Saturday 10:00 – 15:00). The personal tasting, which is presented by John and/or Karen Loubser. They give a fascinating first-hand account of the terroir, soils, fossils found on the farm and the captivating stories of how the names for each of their bubbles were found, making the visit truly worthwhile.

The Méthode Cap Classique tasting

The four MCC bubbles themselves are some of the best on offer in South Africa and we tasted the following, The Green Man, The Genie, Jewel Box and the new kid on the block River Dragon.

River Dragon is Loubser’s latest offering to the portfolio – an MCC from the Colombard grape varietal. Jewel Box, however, remains one of my favourites and the 2017 vintage does not disappoint. Light straw in colour, with fine, delicate bubbles, this MCC is 70% barrel-fermented chardonnay and 30% pinot noir. John explains that the style of the wine-making process for Jewel Box was inspired by his all-time favourite champagnes: Krug and Bollinger. It sits 44 months on the lees, has gorgeous aromas of marzipan and roasted almonds. It’s taste is full, dry and rich.

Important information about Silverthorn

Graham Beck Revisited

On route to our destination in McGregor, our first stop was Graham Beck tasting room, which is a must for lovers of MCC like me. The Tasting Room’s architecture is fascinating and blends elegantly into the surrounding nature. Luxurious leather couches and sumptuous artworks lend themselves to a relaxing afternoon of admiration and enjoyment.

Pieter Ferreira, cellar master and vintner of note, has been with the Graham Beck team from the very first vintage in 1991 and has produced a range of eight exciting MCC bubblies to suit all tastes.

We were hosted by the informative Merle who took us through the bubbles. I loved the attention to detail in presentation – the first four bubbles served in Riedel stemware and the last bubble in a hand-blown Lehman glass. 

Pieter Ferreira and I enjoying the tasting

Our favourite from that tasting was the Clive, named after the deceased son of the Beck family.

Cuvée Clive 2015

Cuvée Clive is 100% chardonnay and golden in colour with a greenish tinge. A big cuvée with delightful fine bubbles, this MCC is ripe in citrus fruit on the taste, with subtle lime flavours with traces of nutty brioche. The creamy, delicate mousse gives a clear indication of the calibre of bubbly. Cuvée Clive sits 60 months on the lees – to my mind, time worth spending!

Important information about Graham Beck

Tel:  023 626 1214

Tim Atkin, a leading UK wine writer who does an in-depth annual report looking into the wine sector in South Africa, named four “Sparkling Wines of the Year” in 2019: The Clive from Graham Beck and Jewel Box from Silverthorn were two of them.

Accommodation for the weekend

McGregor, part of the Breede River Valley, is a small village two hours outside Cape Town. It is home to many artists and offers numerous activities: wine farm visits and tastings; mountain bike trails; hiking; and birding (at the last count at Vrolijkheid Nature Reserve there were 172 different species of birds to find).

Tanagra Wine & Guestfarm

Cottage at Tanagra

Our accommodation for the weekend was the all-in-one quaint The Garden Cottage, on the Tanagra Wine and Guest Farm, situated 6 km outside McGregor.

It is equipped with all the amenities, including Wi-Fi making for a comfortable weekend.

Owners Robert and Annette Rosenbach, originally from the Moselle area in Germany purchased the farm in 2009, developed and styled the cottages and took over the farm activities and winery.

Important information about Tanagra

Tel:  023 625 1780

Tebaldi’s at Temenos

Tebaldi’s restaurant on the main street in the heart of the village, was our choice for lunch on the Sunday, having briefly explored the town and visited the local market on Saturday. There was also the added charm of a local band performing while we ate.

We enjoyed a traditional delicious roast chicken, with some of the best roast potatoes I’ve tasted, as well as a selection of vegetables. The meal was served on the back stoep, and we accompanied it with a Tanqueray gin and tonic.

Tebaldi’s also caters to vegans and vegetarians. It is closed on a Monday.

Important information about Tebaldi’s

Tel: 023 625 1115 or 023 625 1871

Opening hours

Tuesday 8h30 – 16h00

Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday  08h30 – Closing

Sunday 08h30 – 15h00

Please note in the evenings, when there are no COVID lockdowns, orders need to be placed before 21h00.

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