Haute Cabrière may already be known for its classic 'Chardonnay Pinot Noir' and the panoramic views it offers of the Franschhoek Valley below from its perch on the Franschhoek Pass, but don't be surprised to now hear its name mentioned as a breakfast venue, as the recent additions of infinity deck and glass-encapsulated 'outdoor' area mean you can savour those sights and tastes any time of day, at any time of year.
Haute Cabrière exterior. All images provided © Charles Russell.
As Haute Cabrière has been the epitome of French elegance with a Cape twist since opening its doors a quarter of a century ago, we were thrilled to make the road trip to Franschhoek for breakfast with an MCC (that’s Methode Cap Classique, of course) tasting in the newly renovated space.
It was the perfect way to get into the holiday spirit, with breakfast in the ‘glassy’ tasting room offering a view of guests scrambling for their turn to pose on the slowly swivelling yellow National Geographic frame on the Haute Cabrière front lawn, and the mottled greens and beiges of the Franschhoek valley below and beyond relaxing us from the stresses of the year.
AD Muller, lead architect at A3D, and Christiaan Barnard of Christiaan Barnard Interior and Design succeeded in creating a lighter ambience overall by literally bringing more light into the indoor space, while creating a powerful sense of arrival.
The flow of the property then guides guests through the different spaces.
Takuan von Arnim, director of wine and second-generation cellar master, says the renovation journey was aimed at building on the past 25 years and setting the scene for the next.
All this while continuing to bring to life the original Haute Cabrière vision of creating an occasion for people to enjoy the art of life, in all its different forms.
The (renovation) project has been about honouring the legacy of our heritage; while celebrating the beauty of evolution. Even though the wines and the destination are ever-changing, it will never lose its essence. Every element of the project was ultimately designed to allow and inspire our guests to create and celebrate their own beautiful food and wine experiences.
We took this to heart as a quick explore of the ‘hobbit hole’ caves to the original European-inspired underground stone cellar added a sense of excitement to the morning as the tunnelway delight has chandeliers lighting the way as you take in the sights first this way, then that.
Before, you could pop in for lunch or tapas with your wine tasting, but frequent guest requests for a wider ‘morning munchies’ offering resulted in the creation of a breakfast menu.
Nic van Wyk, Haute Cabriére’s chef and head of destination, explains it as elegant comfort food aimed to both satisfy locals and impress international guests with something completely unique.
Chef Nic van Wyk. All images provided © Charles Russell.
There’s also a new bakery and deli area for take-home treats, ranging from freshly baked artisanal pies and pastries to fresh produce from the vegetable garden, and even condiments from the menu to savour later.
But first, coffee…
If our breakfast is anything to go by, guests will be smiling at their piping hot coffees served in red cups while choosing morning delights from a menu; or the sure-to-fill-you steak and eggs served with sautéed potatoes, roasted onions, tomato relish, crispy bacon and buttered sourdough toast.
Two of the most mentioned meals on social media we’re available on the day:
The sweet-and-sour kidneys with sourdough and fried egg; and the lighter double-thick yoghurt with homemade granola and fresh banana, but I can vouch for the absolutely moreish twice-baked gruyere soufflé served with chili and tomato crème; as well as the perfectly formed toasted flapjacks, served with Canadian maple syrup and a side of melted butter.
The soil is the soul of Haute Cabrière
My table also made light work of the scrambled eggs served with smoked salmon crepe and zesty hollandaise sauce; as well as the smoked hake served bowl-style with a piping cheese and mustard sauce, potatoes and poached egg. Yum!
While eating, we marvelled at the bright paintings in the new space and learned how original estate proprietor Achim von Arnim discovered the “soles that discovered the soil which is the soul of Haute Cabrière”.
This is a framed pair of old Levi's sneakers von Achim was wearing when he realised the Franschhoek estate’s soil offered the perfect growing conditions for Haute Cabrière's now signature Chardonnay and Pinot Noir varietals.
Von Arnim’s winemaking philosophy is thus, “Sun, soil, vine and man,” which links to the ‘vine man’ sculpture on display at the new entrance to the estate, a popular stop for local and international tourists alike, especially as Haute Cabrière is a key stop for the Franschhoek Wine Tram.
Magical MCC tasting
While still savouring those views, we were also treated to a tasting of the four MCCs from Haute Cabrière’s Pierre Jourdan range, named for the French Huguenot to whom the original farm was granted.
These include the original Brut, Blanc re Blanc, Belle Rosé, and the latest addition – the sweeter Belle Rosé Nectar.
Haute Cabrière’s Pierre Jourdan Brut, first produced by Achim von Arnim in 1986, is a blend of 85% Chardonnay and 15% Pinot Noir, and the citrusy crisp, clean taste is said to be just lovely with sushi and oysters, or even something sweeter, like apple pie.
The Haute Cabrière Pierre Jourdan Belle Rosé is full bodied and the prettiest pink, just the thing to put sippers in a relaxed mood.
The Haute Cabrière Pierre Jourdan MCC Brut and Belle Rosé Nectar. All images provided © Charles Russell.
While the Haute Cabrière’s Pierre Jourdan Blanc de Blancs and Belle Rosé Nectar are also flutes of white and pink MCC, they’re by no means a taste repeat of the first Brut and Belle Rosé.
Instead, the 100% Chardonnay Blanc de Blanc is a crisply creamy, with the Nectar the result of guests repeatedly asking for a ‘sweeter MCC’. It is a 100% Pinot Noir-based demi-sec Rosé, with a strong Turkish Delight aroma that would make it the perfect flute to sip over high tea.
The MCC brut is dry, the view stunning and the food delicious – you won’t regret making the trip, even if you only have time to pop in for breakfast. For those looking with a flair for the dramatic, this is a must-stop on the Franschhoek Wine Tram – especially if you stay on for the sabrage demonstration…
*Leigh Andrews was a guest of Haute Cabrière, situated on the Franschhoek Pass (Lambrechts Road), Franschhoek. Wine tasting is open from Monday to Saturday from 10am to 7:30pm with cellar tours on offer from 11am to 4pm, offering insights into Haute Cabrière’s history and winemaking process, including a tasting of six wines and sabrage demonstration. Breakfast with MCC tasting is available from Monday to Saturday, from 8am to 11am, with tapas served from 11am to 7:30pm; while the bakery and deli are open from 8am to 4pm and the à la carte menu is available from noon to 7:30pm. Haute Cabrière is open on Sundays, closing at 3:30pm. Visit Haute Cabrière’s Twitter, Facebook and Instagram feeds for the latest updates.