Leaping With The Leopards: Franschhoek Wine Valley

Believe it or not, we were on our way to a birthday braai one Saturday afternoon, when we thought of buying some wine to take with and it so happened that we bought a couple of bottles of Leopard’s Leap Family Vineyards. After cracking the first bottle, we knew we had to make a turn there some time. So, we decided to drift through the notable Franschhoek Valley and did a wine tasting at Leopard’s Leap Estate, what an honor!

Words alone cannot describe how beautiful the estate is. Situated in the beautiful and charming town of Franschhoek, Leopard’s Leap is a family-owned estate that produces wines suitable for every palate. The name was derived from the three resident leopards on the estate that form part of the family’s conservation initiative with the Cape Leopard Trust. Although now six, the original three leopards make the emblem for the vineyard and represents the family’s three original family farms – La Motte, L’Ormarins and Fredricksburg (now Rupert & Rothschild). Leopard’s Leaps source its’s grapes from a variety of places, including Paarl, Durbanville Hills, and Elgin and their two winemakers are proud to select the grapes themselves, based on what they deem quality. Leopard’s Leap boasts the production of four million bottles a year and a fair amount of these make it on to the international market.

If you are looking to enjoy spectacular wines, we can most certainly recommend Leopard’s Leap. Trust us, this is one spot you want to add to your “must do” list for the year. There is a tastefully furnished restaurant with indoor seating and an undercover terrace. The ambiance is relaxed and laid-back, yet so inviting. We arrived around lunchtime and it was already buzzing with guests. It is essential to book the wine tasting which is done on an island bar, just as you enter the restaurant. Food and wine pairing can also be arranged on Fridays, for R295 only – it’s an experience we are certainly going to return for. If you are doing the wine tasting, expect to choose from five tasting ranges, namely, Lookout, Classic, Special Edition, the Family Collection, and the Culinaria Collection. We did a little bit of each range.
From the Classic Range, which is very much designed to enjoy on any occasion, we tasted the following:
Leopard’s Leap Sparkling Chardonnay Pinot Noir – 70% Chardonnay and 30% Pinot Noir, the two were fermented separately and were blended and bottled under pressure with just the right concentration of carbon dioxide for the perfect bubble. It bursts with bubbly flavors of red berries and citrus and has a lingering after-taste.
Leopard’s Leap Chenin Blanc 2017 – 100% Chenin Blanc is a medium to full-bodied wine delivering tropical aromas and golden delicious apples. On the palate, it has a lively combination of ripe summer fruit and fynbos undertones.
From the Culinaria – designed to celebrate the harmony in which food and wine complement each other.
Leopard’s Leap MCC – This MCC is a blend of Chardonnay (59%), Pinot Noir (29%) and Pinot Meunier (12%). It boasts a zesty vibrancy with red fruit aromas and with a lingering finish of gooseberry, kiwi, and brioche. On the palate, it reveals red berries and dried cranberry.
Leopard’s Leap Chenin Blanc 2017 – 100% Chenin Blanc this wine has a pronounced ripe fruit character and white peach and melon aromas. Elegant oak nuances give this wine it’s structure and makes it a unique food companion.
Leopard’s Leap Pinot Noir 2015 – 100% Pinot Noir, this well-aged wine is delicate and flaunts dark and red fruit character and subtle tobacco undertones. Soft tannins can be observed and pairs exceptionally with food.
Leopard’s Leap Grand Vin 2016 – a beautiful Bordeaux -style blend consisting of Cabernet Sauvignon (44%), Merlot (38%), Petit Verdot (10%) and Cabernet Franc (8%). The wine shows aromas of black currant and mulberry and is perfectly integrated with oak spices, cinnamon, and tobacco.

Leopard’s Leap Muscat 2017 – Sweet wine lovers, this one is for you. 100% Muscat de Frontignan and no added sugar or honey, this Muscat is naturally sweet, producing rose-water and Turkish delight flavors on the nose. Very light on the palate and little acidity, this is a versatile wine.
From the Special Edition
Leopard’s Leap Pinotage 2016 – 100% Pinotage, this is their pioneer for the variety and is a prime example of a real South African Pinotage. The Pinotage has an outstanding crimson color with bursting aromas of blackberry, prunes, and dates. Hints of nutmeg and black pepper integrate well with its soft tannins and elegant finish.

From the Family Collection
Leopard’s Leap Cabernet Sauvignon 2016 – A classic interpretation of a New World Cab Sav, this wine shows hints of blackcurrant and blueberry on the nose, cherries on the palate and lingering soft oak and peppermint finish.

While you are at it, dive in deeper and try one of their latest “It Thing”, wine cocktails. The only serve one cocktail type per day. We had the opportunity to taste the Skinny Bellini made with their Chardonnay. Other wine cocktails include Kir Royale, Alabama Summer, Margarita, Chardonnay Shake, and Oreo Churros which seems to be a dessert and absolutely worth a try.
What stood out for us was not only their incredible and easy on the pocket wines but also that the vineyard is family-friendly. There is a jungle gym and lovely lush gardens for the little ones to frolic up and about while you relax and soak in the wonderful atmosphere. Their restaurant hosts events too, and there is a curio shop and a library as well.  All in all, it was a #winederful experience, and we recommend Leopards Leap to any wine lover.

Stay tuned to find out more about our wine adventures as we drift through the wine roads!

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