What an occasion it was. An inspired gourmet weekend hosted by Bouchard Finlayson’s winemaker, Chris Albrecht with menus curated by Bushmans Kloof’s Executive Chef, Wilhelm Maree. An irresistible lure for dedicated gastronomes, oenophiles and adventurists, and it did not disappoint.
Bushmans Kloof is one of the South Africa’s most celebrated lodges, an oasis in the Cederberg that is ringed by russet crags and an environment possessed of a haunting, brittle beauty. Owned by the Tollman family and managed by the Red Carnation Hotel group, the property delivers an exhilarating experience in a place anchored by ancient landscapes, heritage rock art and prehistoric boulder formations. With a sensitive commitment to conservation, community upliftment and sustainability, Bushmans Kloof is where luxury travel meets gracious hospitality and inspirational South African cuisine. It’s an enviable sanctuary embedded deep within an evocative, remote location, a predator-free haven flush with indigenous fauna and flora.
Bouchard Finlayson is one of the most celebrated boutique wineries in South Africa that was established in 1989 in South Africa’s Hemel-en-Aarde valley above Hermanus. The union between acclaimed winemaker Paul Bouchard from Burgundy and a trailblazing South African counterpart, Peter Finlayson, was welcomed with delight in the industry. With a shared passion for Pinot Noir, the duo transformed virgin soil into vineyard and laid the foundations for the Bouchard Finlayson cellar that is now dedicated to making the latter as well as, among others, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc. In 2000, the Tollman family purchased the estate, thus realising a long-held dream to own a vineyard in Africa and they have without a doubt taken both global boutique brands to new heights.
Chris Albrecht has been the winemaker ‘in chief’ since 2017. He joined the multi award winning Bouchard Finlayson fold in 2011 as assistant to Peter Finlayson and today steers a stellar team whose approach to their craft is dynamic and particular.
SETTING THE SCENE
THE KADORO long table on our first night was exceptional. A twenty-minute nature drive through the veld got us there at a particularly beautiful time of day that netted us a few zebra sightings en route. We spied the rustic cabin, a repurposed shepherd’s dwelling, from far off, the flickering lanterns and glow from within like a welcome beacon in the middle nowhere, quite literally. Stepping off the game vehicle we were met by the organising team and service crew who, clearly so delighted to have us there, ushered us into the cottage.
The interior setup was utterly magical, a room lit entirely by candles, in every nook imaginable, thick layers of solidified wax shaping many a candlestick holder, a testimony to the multitude of festive banquets that had preceded ours. Old farm tools and other found objéts were scattered around the periphery, a further nod to a bygone era.
The second tasting profiled the Hannibal 2005, 2014 and 2019. Combining Sangiovese, Pinot Noir, Shiraz, Nebbiolo, Mouvédre and Barbera, these blends deliciously matched a Cederberg beef ribeye aged for 18, 22 and 28 days respectively. Innovative sides included rooster koek with bone marrow butter, aspatat (ash cooked potato) with a dollop of chive sour cream, fire roasted wall garden vegetables (from the Homestead garden), Kokerboom Velddrif Veta, whole cumin baked cauliflower, hummus, raspberries & toasted almonds and the staple everyone loves, corn on the cob (braai mielie). Needless to say, we rolled out of there, satisfied beyond measure.
SATURDAY evening we dined in the Homestead, the heart of Bushmans Kloof, replete with an intimate bar area (the wine cellar holds close to 3000 bottles from 700 producers in South Africa and abroad), a library, and a Heritage Centre dedicated to the prolific San rock art that is spread across the 7500 hectare reserve and that has landed the lodge prestigious Grade 1 South African Heritage Site status.
To borrow from Victoria Tollman, It was a delight to be able enjoy two of the greatest pleasures in life: the restorative healing powers of the wilderness and the joy of discovering well-crafted wines and fine cuisine, all within the beautiful Cederberg mountains.