28 February 2007

Oh Dear, Auberge!

L’Auberge du Paysan Pinotage vineyards Increasingly wineries are opening restaurants ( see Red Leaf and Green Pinotage ) but how about a restaurant with its own vineyard?

I have long been keen to visit
L’Auberge du Paysan because it owns the small vineyards growing on three sides of its attractive old Cape Dutch building. Pinotage bush vines produce the house wine for the restaurant, and it is the only place where one can get the wine.

But, sad to say, although just a few paces separate the vineyard from restaurant, the wine does not travel. But it is not a question of distance in metres but in years. Because the wine being served in 2007 is from the 2000 vintage and frankly, it is way too old. It has a stinky volatile nose, and although the wine doesn’t taste quite as poor, it is thin and lacking in fruit or life. The problem is the wine is oxidised; I returned the following day and tasted another bottle which was the same. The corks used are twin-tops which are designed for wines for early use not for being aged this long. The policy of the restaurant – they told me – is to wait until they have sold their entire stock of 2000 before bringing out the next vintage.

Somewhere there are store rooms full of later vintages. The 2007 Platter guide rated the 2004 L’Auberge du Paysan Pinotage as 3.5 stars and said the 2005 has “lively strawberry fruits and savoury overtones”, and the 2006 is currently being bottled. But when these wines will be available in the restaurant I can’t guess, because I can’t see anyone ordering the 2000 vintage a second time.
Beef Mignons and L’Auberge du Paysan Pinotage house wine

The French accented food is tasty and well presented, and the service is competent. But no wine represents a restaurant more than its house wine, and when it is not only has the restaurant’s name on the label but its own home grown wine inside the bottles it should not disappoint. I do not understand why their entire vintage range is not available. Why not let diners have the choice of young and old and the opportunity to buy a couple of bottles for comparison.

Oh, and please get some decent wine glasses - cheap thick Paris goblets are just not good enough for a restaurant of this calibre.


  1. Anonymous16:45

    Hi Peter,

    What a great blog - I must visit more often. Sorry to hear of your disappointment with this Pinotage - I thought the label and name of the place were most attractive; very rustic and homey which are very positive traits in my mind. You are correct in that the place ought to make more of its wines available to patrons - what, for example, if you want a Chardonnay or a Chenin (assuming they make these)?

    Paul B.

  2. Paul -- they have a full wine list. Their Pinotage is the house wine, and the wine we specifically went to drink.

    If you wanted a Chenin, Chard or whatever -- they have it