La Motte is one of the finest wine estates in the Cape Winelands of South Africa. Situated in the Franschhoek Valley, near the town of Franschhoek (map), against the imposing backdrop of the Wemmershoek mountains, the La Motte wine estate can trace its roots back to the 17th century. These days, La Motte is famous around the world as a producer of fine wines. I first visited the estate during my first trip to South Africa in the early-2000’s. I vividly remember the historic Cape Dutch houses, the mountain scenery and the wine-tasting, in particular their sublime La Motte Millennium red and their crisp Sauvignon Blanc. I even brought a few bottles back home with me. Every sip of the Millennium brought back fabulous memories of that first trip!
Revisiting La Motte wine estate
On my recent trip to South Africa, I was invited to spend the afternoon of my last day at La Motte, which was awesome because my flight was in the evening. I figured that if I spent the afternoon drinking wine, I would have a good night’s sleep on the 12-hour flight back. Right? 😉 Furthermore, it was an opportunity for me to revisit this stunning wine estate. It turned out to be a fun afternoon with gorgeous wines, exquisite food and a smattering of history and art.
As I arrived at La Motte, arguably one of the most beautiful vineyards in Franschhoek, I quickly noticed how different the estate looked compared to my first visit nearly twenty years ago. There was a new entrance and a long driveway past immaculate lawns, rows of vines and rose bushes. When I spotted the familiar Cape Dutch buildings, I began to understand the new layout of the estate and the visitor areas. Despite the changes, the estate maintained its charming yet sophisticated feel, which was my first impression of the estate all those years back.
A classy wine-tasting at La Motte
I was warmly greeted at the reception and led to the private tasting rooms. Along the way, I noticed new annex buildings and gardens. The private tasting rooms are elegant and give visitors a great sense of history of the vineyard.
During the wine-tasting, I tried various wines from each of the vineyard’s collections: La Motte Collection, Classic Collection and the premium range, Pierneef Collection. The wines were superb; my favourites being the Millennium (a tantalising blend of Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec and Petit Verdut), La Motte Syrah and the intriguing La Motte Pierneef Syrah Viognier, a mix of red and white wines.
I especially loved the labels of the Pierneef Collection that feature drawings of South African landscapes and architecture by the South African artist, Jacob Henrik Pierneef (who lived between 1886-1957).
My absolute favourite came at the very end: the very exclusive and simply exquisite Hanneli R from the La Motte Private Cellar. This wine reminded me of an unforgettable meditation wine I once had in Italy. As I lifted the glass to my nose, I smelled rich blueberry and mulberry fruit combined with subtle hints of rose perfume as well as cinnamon and black pepper. It was silky smooth on the palate with rich fruit and heady tones. Every sip was a joy!
Lunch at Pierneef à La Motte Restaurant
After the tasting, I was invited for lunch at the beautiful Pierneef à La Motte Restaurant, one of the best restaurants in Franschhoek. This fine-dining restaurant is bright and cosy, with plush furniture and walls adorned with Pierneef art. The ‘chandeliers’ were gorgeous collages of porcelain plates, cups and saucers. The renowned Chef Eric Bullpit focuses on sustainable and seasonal ingredients from the surrounding region and creates a contemporary take on South African heritage cuisine.
The sight alone of him slowly pouring the wine into the decanter was mouth-watering!
The sommelier introduced himself asked me about my wine preference. I requested the Hanneli R (of course!). He smiled and said, “I’ll see what I can do”. I was over the moon with joy (and gratitude) when he returned with a bottle of this amazing wine and a stunning decanter! The sight alone of him slowly pouring the wine into the decanter was mouth-watering!
I turned my gaze to the menu and noticed exclusively South African and Cape Malay dishes. I ordered the Cape curried seafood with mussels, calamari and octopus as a starter. For the main course, I chose the Karoo springbok loin. The presentation of the dishes was superb. More importantly of course, they tasted fantastic! The curried seafood was especially fragrant and delicious, with well-balanced spices perfectly complementing the fresh seafood.
Other things to do at La Motte
In addition to wine-tasting and dining at the Pierneef à La Motte Restaurant, guests can visit the La Motte Museum, which showcases the history of the estate and has beautiful works of art, or go on a hike around the estate. During the 2-3 hour hike through the surrounding mountains, visitors can enjoy panoramic views of Franschhoek Valley and discover beautiful flora and fauna.
As you can probably tell by now, I had a terrific afternoon at the La Motte estate! Exquisite wines and fine food amidst stunning surroundings… what’s not to love about La Motte! If you’re in the Stellenbosch-Franschhoek winelands (less than an hour’s drive from Cape Town), do make it a point to visit La Motte. If you’re staying in Stellenbosch, Franschhoek is about a 30-minute drive away. Ubers are abundant so please don’t drink and drive.
Note: a big thank you to La Motte for hosting me at your estate. As always, all views expressed above are mine, and mine only.