Easter weekend is fast approaching, presenting the perfect opportunity to indulge in a few of my favourite things – wine and chocolate, a decadent treat, yet surprisingly healthy as both contain resveratrol which boosts your antioxidant level.
Many of the wineries that offer chocolate and wine pairings source delicious handmade chocolates from local artisanal producers. Before you set out though, remember that no matter how much you love your sweet fix, the order of the day should be wine first, then a brief pause before popping that chocolate into your mouth.
Let’s start in Stellenbosch at Waterford Estate, where it all began. The sublime Chocolate and Wine Experience is a guided tasting which pairs the estate’s wines with chocolates crafted by master chocolatier Richard van Geusau in Greyton. The Kevin Arnold Shiraz pairs spice with spice in the form of a Masala Chai Dark Chocolate; the Waterford Estate Cabernet Sauvignon is paired with Rock Salt Dark Chocolate; and the Heatherleigh Noble Late Harvest with Rose Geranium Milk Chocolate
This tasting trend caught on and there’s now a concentration of wineries offering wine and chocolate pairings in the district. At Bilton, Belgian chocolate is paired with their wines, and at Hidden Valley the Chocolatier’s Platter sees their wines partnered with handmade Belgian truffles. If it’s Swiss chocolate that you’re after, Eikendal offers Lindt chocolate and wine pairings. At Lanzerac, try the pairing of five selected chocolates with five premium wines. Saxenburg is holding an Easter Wine Hunt for Adults along with its usual pairing of three wines and chocolates. At Spier, the Signature Méthode Cap Classique and Creative Block blends are accompanied by complementary handcrafted chocolates. And at Zevenwacht, four chocolate truffles are matched with four wines.
For a different spin, Blaauwklippen pairs a noble late harvest, potstill brandy and an aperitif with chocolate; at Muratie port is paired with chocolate; or you could try an award-winning brandy, handmade Belgian chocolate and Brazilian coffee pairing at Van Rijn’s Distillery.
At Lourensford in nearby Somerset West, three red wines and their Winemaker’s Selection Honey Liqueur, for a double dose of sweetness, are paired with fine chocolates by Tomes. These are made from African cocoa beans, which are renowned for their rich flavour and highly sought after by the top European chocolate houses.
Moving on to Paarl, at Laborie four handmade chocolates from Chocolats Marionnettes in Knysna, which uses cocoa beans sourced from West Africa, are paired with four wines. At Spice Route, DV Artisan Chocolates offers a tutored tasting of their ‘bean-to-bar’ handcrafted chocolates partnered with Spice Route wines or you can enjoy the pairing in the tasting room if you prefer. Simonsvlei also offers six wines paired with three chocolates; and the KWV Wine Emporium both a wine and chocolate, and a brandy and chocolate, tasting (chocolates are from Huguenot Fine Chocolates in nearby Franschhoek).
At Franschhoek Cellar, wines selected from the range are paired by the winemaker, Richard Duckitt, with handmade Belgian chocolates, also from the village’s own Huguenot boutique chocolaterie. Also in the Franschhoek valley, La Couronne pairs four wines with four chocolates from the same premier BEE handmade chocolate producer.
Closer to Cape Town’s CBD, in the northern suburbs, Durbanville Hills’ pairing of five wines with five artisanal chocolates is so popular that it often sells out, especially over busy weekends, so be forewarned that it may be best to book. If you head towards the southern suburbs, you can visit Groot Constantia for a taste of history and five wines paired with handmade chocolates, also by Chocolats Marionnettes.
If you feel like a drive up the scenic southern Cape coastline to Hermanus, stop en route in Bot River at Gabriëlskloof to enjoy healthy raw organic dark chocolate from Honest Chocolate paired with five of their wines; or at Benguela Cove, where master chocolatier Jane Stuart created four ‘one-off and bespoke’ chocolates to pair with four of their wines for a special experience. Closer to Hermanus, Newton Johnson in the Hemel-en-Aarde Valley pairs handmade chocolates from DV Artisan Chocolates with their wines.
Further up the valley, Creation presents a playfully named Paradoxical Wine and Chocolate Pairing, a partnering of four wines with four specially profiled chocolates (or three at a reduced tasting fee currently, as the Viognier is sold out). This includes an unusual fennel and liquorish milk chocolate, Déjà Vu, which works perfectly with their complex Syrah.
Wanting to go further afield and venture over the mountains for the weekend? In Robertson, stop in at Graham Beck for wines paired with chocolates from Chocolats Marionnettes (and don’t leave without doing a bubbly tasting too). At Robertson Winery, fine quality Tomes chocolate is paired with five of the cellar’s top wines; Van Loveren also offers five wines with five chocolates, this time made by Chocolats Marionnettes; and Rosendal matches three wines with Lindt chocolate in some interesting flavour combinations.
If you continue on Route 62, the longest wine route in the world, you can pop in at Boplaas in Calitzdorp for a tasting of their Chocolate Cape Vintage Port, which takes care of the pairing in one hedonistic sip!
That’s as comprehensive a roundup of chocolate and wine pairings as I could come up with but do check individual winery websites if you are planning on going to a specific area to see if any others offer something similar.
Many wineries are featuring special Easter menus and some are also hosting activities such as hunting for Easter eggs or decorating your own ones to keep the children happy and occupied. So gather your family and friends together and visit a winery this long weekend, it will be well worth the drive.
– Lindsaye Mc Gregor