It was a surprise to see that Antonij Rupert Wines (correctly speaking Antonij Rupert Wyne, as per the gates, there not being an English translation) has started operating from its new tasting room in the previous Graham Beck Wines premises outside Franschhoek, and an even bigger surprise was to discover the Antipasto Bar, which opened five days ago.
More than a year ago Johan Rupert, owner of the neighbouring Antonij Rupert Wines, bought the Franschhoek Graham Beck property, and moved into the property mid-year. On the surface little has changed, but the tasting room has been moved upstairs to the light and spacious landing, and the Antipasto Bar has been created downstairs where the tasting room was. The security guard at the boom is much stricter than the Graham Beck Wines one used to be, and initially did not want to allow me to enter at 16h35, because they close at 17h00! I promised to not do a tasting, and on that basis I was allowed in. It was a surprise to meet Gidi Caetano there, as the Hospitality Manager, having left French Toast about six months ago, to help set things up. She was previously the manager of Salt Restaurant.
The Antipasto Bar seats about 35, and faces the tanks through a glass window. It looks cosy with neutral decor greys and browns making the space look sophisticated. The Chef is HW Pieterse, who moved across when Café Dijon closed its restaurants in Stellenbosch, and was at Delaire Graff and the Grande Roche before. The menu has a small selection of dishes, but this list will grow, Gidi assured me. Three different olives, in three different marinades, cost R30; Artichokes marinated in thyme, lemon and olive oil cost R48; Caprese salad costs R60; Parma ham and melon costs R50; a selection of Italian cured meats costs R55; a platter with four Italian cheeses and fig preserve costs R75; artisanal bread is R20; a mixed antipasto platter R50/R85; and Biscotti costs R25. I ordered the Franschhoek smoked salmon trout bruschetta, which was served with crème fraiche. lemon, and pink peppercorns (R60). The restaurant will be sourcing supplies from the new L’Omarins (belongs to Johan Rupert too) organic herb and vegetable garden, and in future they will serve carpaccio from their own Wagyu cattle. Marinated white anchovies will be added to the menu in future. All dishes are offered with the L’Omarins olive oil, which won Silver in the recent Olive Oil awards, and the Terra del Capo olive oil range, which is still made for them by Willowcreek. They bake their own breads, and marinade their own olives. A new dessert special which is not yet on the menu, is Burrata, honey and strawberry, drizzled with balsamic, costing R35.
With one’s meal one can enjoy a glass or bottle of wine, very reasonably priced at mainly cellar door prices, at R13 – R21 per glass/R41 – R80 per bottle for the Protea range, R17 – 28/R59 – R115 for the Terra del Capo range, R17 – R43/R85 – R190 for the Cape of Good Hope range; and R30/R125 for the Antonij Rupert Optima.
The Tasting room opened three weeks ago, and the staff manning it looked professional, with white shirts, black pants and black aprons. The 2013 Platter’s Guide is on the tasting counter. The tasting offering is unusual, one tasting a choice of flights: Protea whites (Sauvignon Blanc 2012, Chenin Blanc 2011, and Chardonnay 2010) for R10; Protea reds (Cabernet Sauvignon 2010, Merlot 2011, Shiraz 2011, and Reserve 2011) for R15; The ‘TDC’, which is the Terra del Capo range (Pinot Grigio 2011, Sangiovese 2009, Arne 2008) for R15; ‘The Blends’ are Protea Reserve 2011, Terra del Capo Arne 2008, and Antonij Rupert Optima 2008 at R20; ‘The Unusual’ is a collection of Terra del Capo Pinot Grigio 2011, Sangiovese 2009, Cape of Good Hope Semillon 2010, and Pinotage 2008, at R30; The Cape of Good Hope whites (Sauvignon Blanc 2012, Chenin Blanc 2010, Semillon 2010, and Chardonnay 2010 at R30; ‘Merry Merlot’ comes from the Protea 2011, Cape of Good Hope 2008, and Antonij Rupert 2007 ranges, at R40; and the Antonij Rupert range, being Optima 2008, Merlot 2007, and Shiraz 2007, at R60. Some typos are unforgivable on this list.
Gidi shared that they are keeping the opening low key until they have completed setting up the late Mr Beck’s manor house, in which tastings of the Antonij Rupert and Cape of Good Hope wines will be done from the end of January onwards, ‘paired’ with High Tea. The idea is to offer a ‘whole day package’ to visitors, Gidi said.
Antipasto Bar, Antonij Rupert Wines, R45, Franschhoek. Tel (021) 874-9004. www.rupertwines.com (Restaurant website under construction). No Social Media. Monday – Sunday 10h00 – 17h00.
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage