In keeping with the exploration of Shiraz and all we love about it, naturally we needed to dedicate this festive letter to Shiraz. There is so much to love about this spicy cultivar, that we could write about it all year, but is just seems fitting to pair it with Chef Caro’s pork belly with a side of “pampoenkoekies” in this letter. We recommend you do so in real life too. Furthermore, there is so much happening on the farm at the moment that we need to catch you up, so here we go.

Let’s start with Shiraz, though. After all, Rhebokskloof is known for it. It’s as if the gods of wine looked down at this beautiful amphitheater and nodded conspiratorially while saying, “Shiraz it will be” whilst strewing some magic over the valley.

Shiraz and its Spice
In keeping with the magic of the amphitheatre and how Rhebokskloof is just ideal for cultivating a perfect Shiraz, Rolanie Lotz (our beloved and acclaimed Wine Maker) explains that block 16 is where the good stuff is at. She knows block 16 well, as this is where the magic of the Black Marble Hill Syrah is born. The terroir (that means the conditions – soil, climate, location) is perfect for Shiraz, and Rolanie just knows how to work with her berries (as she calls them) to bring them and their spices to their full potential. Oh, and she does it so elegantly, just the way we have come to know and love the wines she gifts us with year after year.

Karin Louw, Rhebokskloof’s other magic-making and greatly experienced Wine Maker, explains the skill in coaxing out the spices inherent in the grapes. She explains that you have a vision for a vintage, and by working with Shiraz, by being hands-on and really being committed to each year’s yield, you see the magic unfold before your eyes.

Sugar and Spice
And talking about magic unfolding before your eyes, something unexpected but wonderfully and sensuously pleasant is the popularity of the spicy cinnamon “pampoenkoekies” rolling out of Chef Caro’s kitchen with every meal. Patrons are ordering it as a “must-have side” to everything! And we totally understand why!

The English translation for “pampoenkoekies” is pumpkin fritters, but that just does not quite convey the heritage that goes with this delectable South African dish. You need to understand that this is something that needs to be dripping with a cinnamon syrup and that the doughy centre is critical to its classification. And Chef Caro has this down to an art.

We mentioned the pork belly earlier in the letter too. This too is a South African favourite. It comes highly recommended from the people in the know (rumour has it it’s the Chef and Wine Makers) that the pork belly and “pampoenkoekies” go especially well together. Needless to say the spice of a good Shiraz (you know where to find that too) and our sweet and sticky pork belly are a good combination.

And All Things Nice
We’ve spoken of some really nice things already, but we have one more in store for you. We need to speak of our picnics. Why? Because they’re a success story, number one (check out our Facebook page to read Eltina’s story). Number two is quite simply this: We know what we are doing. Our picnics work. The food is good, the wine is good, the setting is breathtaking (how often does one sit in an amphitheatre of vine-covered mountains?), and the time is now.

Shiraz, and spice, and all things nice. That’s what Rhebokskloof is made of.