Visiting L’Avenir Wine Estate
I love all things French, so a trip to this little gem of a wine farm on the outskirts of Stellenbosch was such a treat. Although arriving on a cool winters afternoon a few weeks ago, the sky was crystal clear and the sun was just beginning to set behind the trees, already bare from the winter cold. It still made for a dramatic entrance.
L’Avenir, which means ‘the future in French’, is located on the R44 Stellenbosch and exudes a wonderfully charming French atmosphere, intermingled with real South African hospitality. The farm is owned by a French wine company and this relationship is brought in across the style, feel and even the name and labels of some of the wine. Its no wonder that I enjoyed it so much as it combines the best of two of my favorite worlds.
The rooms are comfortable and clean with all the amenities needed. A wonderful saving grace on a cold winters evening is the under floor heating in the bathroom, which makes the world of difference to cold toes.
On the evening we visited, L’Avenir was the venue for one of Chef Matt Manning’s One Ingredient dinners, with olive oil the ingredient being showcased. We enjoyed a fabulous 3-course dinner, with each course highlighting local Willow Creek Olive Oils.
To whet the appetite, we enjoyed a canapé of pea and ham risotto ball, served with a truffle infused olive oil mousseline. The first thing that struck me was that they were served hot, which makes such a change from most canapés! Often by the time the reach you, having been carried on a tray to lots of guests, they are lukewarm at best. The balls were crispy, golden and totally yum! Paired with a glass of L’Avenir bubbles, it really was the perfect way to start the evening.
The starter was an angelfish dish; pan-fried with baked potato gnocchi, wild mushrooms, white bean purée and coriander oil emulsion – a dish I found utterly delicious. Following this was a slow cooked lamb with Parmesan olive oil infused soft polenta, dried rosa tomatoes, basil gel, cumin roasted aubergine puree, olive oil and saffron lamb jus. For dessert we finished with blood orange olive oil cake, apricot caramel, honeycomb and burnt honey custard. All in all the menu was superb and paired beautifully with estate wines. Winemaker Dirk Coetzee took us through each wine pairing and spoke with both passion and knowledge about the estate’s boutique offerings.
We were taken down to the Pinotage Lounge, a stunning purpose-built room which showcases the farms lineage of this award-winning and uniquely South African varietal. We were privy to the opening of a beautiful vintage bottle of Pinotage which we sipped on while admiring the history of this wine.
Thoroughly full and sated we thought we could not fit in another bite, but somehow still managed to find space to enjoy some gorgeous local cheeses around the fireplace.
After a wonderful nights rest we woke up to a glorious winelands morning and enjoyed a homecooked farm breakfast. The team at L’Avenir know how to look after their guests and the warm, cosy setting of the wine tasting room, which plays host to the One Ingredient dinners, is really tough to match.