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Visit the active LitNet platform at www.litnet.co.za

Leefstyl | Lifestyle > Kos & Wyn | Food & Wine > Rubrieke | Columns > Paul Murray: Murray's Food Trails

The Anura Trail

Paul Murray - 2010-02-09

Commendatore Giulio Maggioni (Lord Maggioni), long-standing friend of Cape Town’s dating back to the time of Chris Barnard’s La Vita Restaurant in Newlands, expressed the wish to visit Anura. The connection between the Commendatore and Anura was established a few years back when winemaker Lance Bouma stayed over at his Hotel Monica Fiera, convenient for its proximity to the Annual Milan Fair. The latest in wine technology is annually on display there as thousands of winemakers around the world venture to view the latest in Italian engineering.

Commendatore Giulio Maggioni and the entrance to his hotel, the Monica Fiera

Before visiting Anura, the Commendatore asked to go into Stellenbosch. The classic Cape morning in the Eikestad was as beautiful as it was in the vineyards outside the town, eliciting comments about the beauty of the landscape … especially in the light of the return, soon, to icy Milan with temperatures below zero. The vine-laden hills surrounding Stellenbosch were likened to Tuscany, bringing to mind Francis Vane’s Walks & people in Tuscany, prefaced thus:

I offer this book with my homage
firstly to my friends and cousins the
Italian people of all classes, in memory
of the many pleasant hours I have spent
while enjoying their hospitality, and secondly
to all those travellers among my own fellow-
subjects who are intelligent enough to wish
to learn something of the people, as well as
the monuments, of Italy, and by doing so
helping to bring into yet closer accord two
countries which in the past have learnt not a
little the one from the other.

With the cultural ties between Italy and South Africa well established, especially after the Second World War, the Commendatore mentioned the members of his family in Worcester, involved in the preservation of the war graves of fallen Italians. It struck one as an irony that South African writer Etienne van Heerden’s novel, The Long Silence of Mario Salviati, which follows the life of one of the Italian prisoners of war, was “born” in the very winelands the Commendatore and I were travelling. After coffee at the Lanzerac, a trip into the town to see the Otto Hager Church, and a search for an ostrich leather belt for daughter Monica, it was time for the planned luncheon at Anura.  

A summer's lunch on the verandah of the Lily Pad Restaurant at Anura

The Lily Pad Restaurant at Anura has a charm of its own, and a selection of fresh Cape dishes and the Anura estate wines to accompany have “created prime conditions for a lazy, relaxing afternoon beneath the beautiful Simonsberg mountain”. So it was. Soon we were in conversation with Lance and Cara, and the staff was unbelievably helpful. Sitting on the verandah overlooking the gardens and the pond brought a refreshing feel to the start of the afternoon.

At Anura the products are delectable and the produce fresh; and they make their own cheeses

Our meal consisted of a choice of cheeses to start with, followed by West Coast sole that flaked off the bone from freshness. The cheeses are from the estate’s own cheese factory and include a selection of camembert and bries. Our “antipasto” was such a selection, named Forest Hill, award-winning, served on a platter with sliced, preserved figs. The selection we had was absolutely unbelievable and Cara explained the absence of fattiness: the Ayrshire milk gives it that wonderful flavour, but without the heaviness, ideal with white or red wine.

Award-winning Merlot - 2009

Many of the wines are award-winning and the Cabernet I had was quite outstanding, complex and viscose, fruity and lasting on the palette. Anura can be regarded as one of the top producers of Merlot in the country, as a result, having scooped up three trophies at the SA National Young Wine Show 2009; for Best Merlot Regional; Best Merlot National; and the third for Highest Scoring Red Wine in Show. In addition, Anura Sauvignon Blanc 2009 received a gold medal at the same show, which is equally pleasing because of its “perfect winemaking style for our Sauvignon Blanc”.

Anura's Gold award-winning Sauvignon Blanc

Anura (from frog, hence the label) has come a long way from its inaugural stages when Tymen and Jenny Bouma and their family started out. The farm is situated in Klapmuts, which is 47 km north-east of Cape Town. It was acquired by the Bouma family in 1989 and for 10 years Tymen developed the farm from the original two blocks of vineyards into 120 hectares of vines, with a production potential of 800 tons. Until Anura’s first own vintage in 2001, all grapes were sold to neighbouring estates. Anura produces two ranges: Anura, the ultra-premium label, meaning “Frog”, and Frog Hill, a high-quality second-tier label, named after the historic Paddabult found on the farm.

Anura’s mission is to “create wines which consistently reflect their origin and the unique characteristics of Anura, its terroir and its people”.
Driving back through the winelands, having spent such a splendid day in the vineyards, in Matieland and on the wine estate Anura, Commendatore and I agreed that the Latin poet Virgil, if he ever could have visited the area, would have found ample inspiration to pen a volume on wine and the vines (and add them to his books on bees and cattle farming respectively). The experimental farm Nietvoorbij just outside Stellenbosch and the agricultural college Elsenberg, and then a whole row of fine wine-producing estates along the R44 (Morgenhof, Kanonkop, Lievland, Warwick, Simonsig and others, not forgetting Anura and our wonderful hosts Lance, Cara and staff), all go to make this a special area for wine, and overseas guests the likes of Commendatore Maggioni (approaching his 30th visit to the Cape), remain in awe of such remarkable achievements.

A wide-angle view of the estate - Anura, with Simonsberg in the background

  • Click here for the Tasting Room, here for more news on the awards, and here for the European Online Store.
  • To book at the Lily Pad Restaurant visit this page.
  • For more on Anura, click here.
  • To visit the website of Commendatore’s hotel go to www.fieramilano.it/.

The frog, the farm's logo

 Photographs: courtesy of Anura’s website