Ninety-six wines, 10 MCCs, six varietals, 40 winemakers, 18 wine estates: this is what you will encounter at The Wine Glass in Hermanus.
Born of a love and passion for wine, the idea was to create a venue where one could experience wines of the region – from the drier, warmer Bot River, which produces excellent Shiraz, to the Sauvignon Blancs from the cooler Agulhas, and world-famous Chardonnay and Pinot Noir of Hemel-en-Aarde Valley. The two other wine-growing areas are Stanford and Elim.
“The concept is horizontal tastings all under one roof,” says partner Jacques le Roux. “All wines are available for tasting within flights, which are arranged in sixes according to price.
“The introductory lifestyle/quaffing flight is the affordable entry level of light, easy-drinking wines; the intermediate savoury dinner/lunch ranges have wines which are more serious, have more thought, more wood and so on; and the premium flights, where you’ll typically find the Platter five-star wines, and typically the best of the area,” he explains.
Then there is the Apex Selection, which is a tasting journey through 10 premium wines, spread over seven varietals, that represent the best in South Africa and, in some cases, the best in the world.
When you order your premium flight – Pinot Noir is a no-brainer in these parts – you get the tasting notes, as well as a copy of Platter’s guide to help you on your way. There’s also a paper placemat on which you can make notes.
It’s easy to look like a serious wine expert here, but it’s not essential you be one. While the staff are well trained to answer your questions, there’s no information overload. Rather, you’re invited to allow your palate and preferences to guide you, and let the wine do most of the talking.
Like Le Roux, you may well have some of these wines at home but you’ll never open them all at the same time. “It’s just too expensive,” he says. “Here, instead of presenting and pouring in the way we normally do it, you can do a blind tasting to play around, test your palate and see how true you are to your own palate,” he suggests.
The Wine Glass is a safe space to truly delve into the pleasures of the grape without feeling intimidated. It’s fun and it’s educational.
“We only do the main varietals, which visitors from all over the world will immediately recognise as standard – Sauvignon Blanc, Chenin, Chardonnay, Rose, Pinot Noir, Pinotage and Shiraz,” says Le Roux. “But then you look at blends. There are some amazing white blends but very few that are comparable with each other, so I’d rather leave that for visitors to taste at the farms,” says le Roux.
Foreign tourists love it because of this convenience. For locals, it’s a onestop venue for tasting, drinking more ardently by the glass or bottle, to stock up for home, and to enjoy a sociable meal of platters or small plates. There’s also craft beer on tap – from local breweries – and excellent coffee.
There are four criteria for a wine to be listed at The Wine Glass, says Le Roux, “The wine must grow here, it must be made here, it must be accessible and there has to be good delivery service from the winemaker.”
Winemakers love spending time here too, entertaining clients, buyers and sommeliers, as well as themselves. On the evening we visited, the team from Creation Wines in Hemel-en-Aarde were having a fabulous party with a long table filled with jolly guests. Not to make any promises on behalf of others, I do know winemakers generally love talking about their wine, so there’s probably a good chance you’ll bump into a few of them while you’re here, and I’m sure they’ll be happy to chat.
The Hermanus outlet is a prototype, and Le Roux and his partners are looking to open three more in Cape Town, Stellenbosch and Franschhoek, which will no doubt please oenophiles and connoisseurs everywhere.
The Wine Glass is at 2 Harbour Road, Hermanus, phone 082 082 0007. Open Mondays to Saturdays from 8am till 11pm, Sundays from 11am till 9pm. For more information, go to www.thewineglass.guru