THE beauty of travelling to wine destinations is often in the journey to get there.
Like the winding, scenic drive up the Groenfontein Valley just outside Calitzdorp to get to Peter Bayly’s tiny boutique winery.
The journey to the postage-stamp vineyard, signposted with a golden flying pig, takes you past abundant spekboom and aloes, the Nel’s River Dam and several leafy low-level crossings over the river. It’s a lovely drive – or hike or cycle for the more adventurous – and if you need refreshment before tasting Bayly’s wine and ports, the Ou Poskantoor next door hits the spot.
Peter and wife Yvonne fulfilled a life-long dream of “free-range living” when they moved to the secluded valley and began crafting artisanal wines using age-old techniques like foot- treading and basket-pressing.
Bayly grows the three typical Portuguese varieties – Tinta Barocca, Touriga Nacional and Souzao – in a low-yielding vineyard of just 1.2ha, with a unique micro-climate that produces wines quite different to those from “town”. The red wine, aptly called III, is a blend of the three varieties – a really dry, fruity and smooth wine that has complex flavours without being heavy. The Souzao, Bayly says, is “the magic that brings the blend together”.
This is the only wine he makes, except for a straight Tinta Barocca of which he made just 275 bottles a few years ago – and shared one of the last two with us. He calls it the “Pinot Noir of the Karoo” and his description is spot-on – definitely something he should consider making again!
The annual output is low as they don’t buy in grapes – “I want to make wine that is an expression of this piece of land,” Bayly says.
The Cape Vintage Port definitely expresses the area, with hints of fynbos alongside dark, ripe fruit, spice and liquorice flavours – a yummy drink on its own or with hearty, rustic food. It’s made for drinking, and will improve with age over at least the next two decades, Bayly says.
The Cape White Port, the only one for which they bring in grapes, Chenin from De Krans, is a highlight – deep golden colour and flavours of roasted almonds, citrus, peaches and a hint of spice. It’s super as a chilled drink on its own, or served Pimm’s-style in a jug with tonic and mint, or lime and rosemary. It’s something interesting and different and well worth the trip up the kloof.
Their first pink port, released last year after a year of maturing in wood, is full-bodied, fresh and fruity – unsurprisingly a sell-out and another one he should definitely make again. – A Vine Time, with Samantha Venter