Marriage of horses and wine makes stud farm a charming lifestyle choice
Driving on the R44 from Somerset West to Stellenbosch, you can’t miss the entrance to Cavalli – sleek and modern, its natural materials blending into the landscape, and graced with an imposing statue of a horse, all giving a hint as to what awaits up the driveway.
Cavalli wine and stud farm is just 10 years old, positioning itself as a “winelands lifestyle experience” with its striking contemporary architecture, art gallery, restaurant and event venue, landscaped indigenous gardens, paddocks and indoor equestrian arena, and below-ground wine tasting venue.
Sweeping views of the Helderberg and down the valley to the ocean 10km away (the maritime influence sending its cooling breezes and lending freshness to the wines) make it a destination well worth visiting – and the wines well worth sampling.
The owners’ passion for all things equestrian – the stud farm breeds American saddlehorses – is reflected in the names of the wines and the eye-catching label designs, aptly modern rather than traditional.
“Horses are in our DNA,” says marketing manager Mark Lester, as is a focus on “telling the story” of their ocean-influenced Stellenbosch terroir, particularly in their flagship chenin and cabernet sauvignon.
But first, to the easy everyday “Passions” range – the fresh dry Pink Pony, a grenache rosé offering structure and some seriousness, with subtle savoury touches from the grenache; and the meaty and fragrant Black Beauty shiraz (just yummy).
In the same range, White Knight opens the journey through the estate’s chenin blancs – this one unwooded, lightly tropical with fresh, cool acidity. Next up, the Filly is a fuller-bodied, aromatic wooded chenin, lightly floral with subtle vanilla and spice – a “food wine” but also lovely on its own.
Cremello is Cavalli’s big award-winning white blend of chenin, chardonnay and Verdelho, around a year in barrel and also some bottle-ageing, giving it full flavour and structure, still with the trademark freshness and a stripe of minerality.
Alongside chenin, cabernet sauvignon is the red grape on which Cavalli “hangs our hat” says Lester, and the Colt 2016, 100% cabernet with 14 months in barrel, is juicy with dark berries and soft tannins, lean and elegant, and relatively light-bodied for a cab. Although young, it’s drinking really well and great for consumption now rather than ageing.
Equally elegant, with some serious “wow factor”, Warlord 2016 is a Bordeaux-style red blend, mostly cabernet sauvignon with malbec and petit Verdot, barrel-aged for 18 months. Aromatic and structured, the wine is dark and intense, with concentrated fruit, typical cigar box and vanilla, and some slightly chocolaty and herbaceous notes.
Cavalli wines are available locally at Life is Grape in Main Road, Walmer, and selected Preston’s and Spar Tops stores...