Here’s to Wine Wednesdays!

As a Joburger, I find time out in Stellenbosch quite a treat. Oak trees line streets flanked by sky piercing mountains of the Jonkershoek and Simonsberg ranges, the silhouettes of which are reflected in the lines of the Cape Dutch architecture. Art galleries.

And wine. Glorious wine, in an almost unlimited array of varietals, one for every mood and meal, not to mention budget.

As a Joburger, it’s not that easy to pop off to the winelands when the mood takes you. But, drop in at the Indaba Hotel, just outside Fourways in northern Joburg, and this social injustice is remedied. 

Today’s Indaba Hotel started life as the Little Rose Neath Hotel some 70 years ago, then out in the countryside. Little Rose was well known for Sunday lunch served from a small restaurant on the property. The thatched hotel proudly boasted 14 rooms. Fast-forward 70 years and she is now a grand dame that also offers a state of the art wine-tasting room.

Launched in October 2021, the Spier Wine Experience at the Indaba Hotel is the first of its kind space opened by the Stellenbosch wine farm. Voted as one of the 100 World’s Best Vineyards in 2021, they offer a tasting of the Spier Creative Block premium wine range, just the remedy for that bout of Sunday indecision.

The Creative Block Project sees Spier invite artists to create works on small, blank blocks. The artworks are submitted and critiqued, with the best items bought from the artists. 

Spier took it a step further, recognising the synergy between its wine blending process and the creation of the artworks, naming its blended wine range after the project. These are the award-winning Creative Block 2, 3 and 5 wines, available at the Spier Wine Experience at the Indaba Hotel.

Beneath oak trees as old as the City of Gold, in the heart of the Indaba property, I came across the tasting room. My heart did a happy dance at the oak tree-inspired nod to the Stellenbosch aesthetic. Inside, the space is decorated using warm woods and textured fabrics, accentuated by bright pops of colour, owing to the yellow-framed seating found around each tasting table. Weather permitting, you have the option of enjoying your tasting on the terrace in the dappled light of the trees.

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The mottled light of the old trees make for a great outdoor space at the tasting room. Credit: Ryan Enslin
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The refreshing hues of the interior of the tasting room. Credit: Ryan Enslin

Bring on the Chocolates

I met Katleho Maunye for my Creative Block Tasting who said that each wine would be paired with a chocolate crafted by a top Cape chocolatier. We started with a glass of the Spier Cap Classique Brut 2018. 

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Katleho Maunye doing what she does best, sharing about wine. Credit: Ryan Enslin

Creative Block 2, a Bordeaux-style blend featuring the sauvignon blanc and sémillon varietals with a small portion of the sémillon fermented in French oak barrels. This adds a dash of complexity to a herbaceous blend and left me with a creamy, buttery feel on the palate. The wine was paired with a cape floral white chocolate bursting with white peach and orange blossom, which I was advised not to chew on but to allow to mix with the wine in my mouth. I was pleasantly surprised at how the chocolate enhanced the creamy, buttery feel experience, adding to the overall boldness of flavour.

Creative Block 3, yes, you guessed it, a blend of three cultivars, was initially deceiving on the nose relative to the smooth finish I experienced. A Rhône-style blend, marrying shiraz, mourvèdre and viognier, the exotic spice notes came through in this one. What I enjoyed about this blend was its pleasant acidic balance brought on by the addition of viognier. The blend was paired with a coastal spice dark chocolate brandishing notes of nutmeg and undertones of cinnamon, a rather surprising pairing for me.

Creative Block 5 saw a blend of cabernet sauvignon, merlot, cabernet Franc, petit verdot and malbec. The merlot worked well to tone down the cabernet sauvignon, known to be a rather full-bodied and expressive varietal, to deliver a blend I could picture myself enjoying on a mid-winter Sunday afternoon next to a fire with a good book. This blend was paired with an orchid berry dark chocolate and I found the berries became more pronounced on my palate as they mingled with the wine to truly enhance the experience.

The Spier Wine Experience is open Wednesday to Sunday and booking is essential. In addition to my Creative Block Tasting, you can also enjoy one of the other two Signature Wine Tastings (21 Gables or Seaward) or the Winemaker’s Selection Tasting.

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The Creative Block tasting set up and waiting to be experienced. Credit: Ryan Enslin

The Indaba Hotel was recently upgraded and is ideal for last minute staycations, or a spot to rest your head when you take wine tasting seriously. The thatch roof of the original building is still in evidence, only now with the addition of clean, contemporary lines throughout the public spaces, the yellow and gold pallet a subtle nod to her countryside roots. 

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The original Little Rose Neath thatch structure has been retained in the upgraded Indaba Hotel building. Credit: Ryan Enslin
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Sleek modern lines and hues now define the upgraded Indaba Hotel. Credit: Ryan Enslin

The hotel’s ample grounds made for great late afternoon strolls. With the never-ending urban development taking place all around, such a large tract of open land in this part of Joburg is unusual.

The Indaba offers a wide range of eating options. The Courtyard Café, located beneath trees, made for a great daytime spot from which to plan a staycation. In the warmer months their leaves provide respite from the relentless African sun, while during the autumn months, such as my visit, they made for a kaleidoscope of rich, warm colours, signalling the change of seasons.

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The country feeling continues into the courtyard at the Indaba Hotel. Credit: Ryan Enslin

Lunch and dinners can be taken at the African-themed Chief’s Boma restaurant, but I would recommend visiting in the evening hours. Live music fills the boma as the mood escalates through increasing levels of festivity. As part of the upgrade, the bar now includes a cocktail lounge. In keeping with the countryside motif, be sure to ask for a lavender pina colada, one of the hotels signature cocktails.

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The revamped bar where cocktails are the order of the day.
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Don’t forget your Lavender Pina Colada in the lounge. Credit: Ryan Enslin

There is plenty to occupy your free time at the Indaba Hotel, including the Mowana Spa, a Gin School and the Spier Wine Tasting Room. Or you could just while away the afternoon hours in your room.

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Downtime in a room never looked so good. Credit: Ryan Enslin
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The luxury continues into the bathroom of your suite. Credit: Ryan Enslin

The spa, which is named for the Baobab tree, offers a wellness journey, complemented by the tranquil countryside surroundings. Treatments are designed to restore tired souls. The Gin School is a clever concept to enhance your experience, which sees you making your own bottle of the juniper-inspired delight.

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Ryan Enslin
Ryan Enslin sleeps with the proverbial fully packed camera bag by his side. Storytelling flows through his veins as he connects with people and their stories.

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