CRISP AND FRESH WITH NOTES OF THE OCEAN – AN APT DESCRIPTION FOR FRYER’S COVE AND ITS WINE…
Setting off early in the morning from Cape Town we hit the road for Doringbaai! A mini-road trip, about three hours from Cape Town, we travel the N7 and eventually turn-off to traversesome dirt roads (following Google maps), that eventually gets us to Doringbaai. Doringbaaiis best known for its laid-back beach vibes, but we discovered a hidden gem in Fryer’s Cove…
Arriving at Fryer’s Cove the outdoor building looks like a fish factory, which it originally was. Entering via The Jetty Restaurant, which has the aesthetic of a typical restaurant by the ocean, the newly launched Tasting Room is a surprise. It is chic and contemporary yet blends in seamlessly with its surrounds. Design-wise and aesthetically, the building and its features feels contradictory, yet it works.
The nearby and only vineyard within the Bamboes Bay ward – the smallest in South Africa – is a mere hop, skip and jump from the Atlantic Ocean (and about 2km from Fryer’s Cove), which results in the premium Bamboes Bay Range.
Liza Goodwin, Fryer’s Cove Winemaker and General Manager is rushing around as we visit in the midst of the harvest season, but she spares some time to give us some background about the vineyards and the creative and operational process. Considering the proximity of the Atlantic Ocean, I question how this impacts the process and taste of the Bamboes Bay Range.
“The Bamboes Bay Sauvignoir Blanc is unique – I have not tasted another wine with these flavours in South Africa. Fynbos, citrus, and lemon grass come through very easily in terms of flavour and added to this you can pick up notes of kelp and a bit of saltiness. The saltinessis a result of the proximity to the ocean and the wind,” says Goodwin.
Goodwin further explains that due to the Bamboes Bay vineyard location, it generally takes the grapes a bit longer to ripen.
“The temperatures here are cooler – averaging about 18-20 degrees, and while there is sun in the mornings there is generally a mist, so our grapes take a bit longer to ripen. We constantly taste the grapes to know when it’s ready and I would say that our wines have flavours that are a more concentrated and intense.”
Originally a family-owned business based on a passion for wine
Chatting to Goodwin, the history of Fryer’s Cove comes through. Currently owned by DGB, Fryer’s Cove was originally a family-owned business based on a passion for wine.
There is no doubt that any wine farming is challenging, and winemakers in general have to be very agile as the vineyards are at the mercy of nature – but somehow the Fryer’s Cove team use the challenges to not only overcome but innovate.
An example of the ingenuity is that Fryer’s Cove runs stainless steel pipes filled with water from the cool Atlantic Ocean, which then runs through the cooling tanks to regulate their wines temperatures thus being more environmentally friendly.
Additionally Goodwin lets us know that Fryer’s Cove is also looking to introduce a MCC in the near future…
• Doring Bay Sauvignon Blanc: fresh and crisp with fruity notes.
• Doring Bay Pinot Noir Rosé: A dry rose that is refreshing.
• Fryer’s Cove Sauvignon Blanc: Citrus notes come through clearly with a hint saltiness.
• Fryer’s Cove Chenin Blanc: Citrus notes complemented with hints of oak spice.
• Bamboes Bay Sauvignon Blanc: Clean herbaceous flavours that is quite concentrated on the nose. Lemon grass and citrus come through.
• Bamboes Bay Hollebaksstrandfontein (Sauvignon Blanc Reserve): Full-bodied that is quite unique in taste. Hints of fynbos and kelp come through.
The tasting room
Having been to various wine estates I can honestly say that a visit to Fryer’s Cove is a novel experience – a wine tasting practically on the doorstep of the ocean! The aesthetic is tranquil,and the gentle ocean breeze coupled with a magnificent view makes for a chilled experience.
Launched in December 2022, there is an indoor seating area is tastefully designed with earthy colouring complementing ocean tones. The indoor area allows guests to look upon a huge bespoke fish tank with steel fermentation tanks in the background. Goodwin points out that they are doing a bit of an experiment by maturing a few bottles of wine in the tank. The outdoor area allows for panoramic views of the ocean, relaxation and remains authentically Doringbaai.
At the tasting room, visitors can enjoy some fantastic pairings. Chef Allen creates delicate dishes that balance and complement the wine. The dishes are flavourful but not overpowering – it was a bit like bite-size fine dining, which fitted well with the destination.
There is also the option to order some oysters or a cheese board to nibble on while enjoying wine with a view.
A fishy dish
From an empowerment perspective The Jetty restaurant is part of Fryer’s Cove Community Development Project – it is 30% owned by DGB and the 70% by community members.
Chef Allan, who heads up the kitchen, has an impressive background. He has worked internationally at Michelin Star restaurants and made it to the quarter finals of MasterChefUK. Since returning to SA, he has worked as a caterer and started his own ice-cream business called “Delish” and is now at Fryer’s Cove. Considering the location, it is understandable that the menu features fish dishes heavily but no complaints here! The menu itself is simplistic with a twist – guests can order their regulars such as fish and chips, seafood platters, burgersetc. but there are also dishes like risotto with abalone that speaks to his training and passion for fine cuisine.
Chef Allan hints at potentially implementing some changes to the menu to increase diversity and bring to the fore a bit more of his Italian cuisine specialty…
A perfect escape
Granted it is a bit of a drive to Doringbaai from Cape Town, however, a visit to Fryer’s Cove feels like an escape from the daily grind of life – it combines all the favourites i.e. a roadtrip, crisp wine, superb food, and authentic rugged beauty. It’s quite easy to make a full day or even a weekend break with accommodation options a few km away.