I don’t like being called a critic. It sounds like I’m always looking for faults. The truth is, while I do like to warn people away from bad experiences, what I enjoy most is sharing awesome experiences with people so that they can go and enjoy it as much as I did. So I’m excited to be telling you about Pierneef because you need to go and experience it as soon as possible.
The Pierneef restaurant and gallery are new additions and the wine tasting room has been renovated too, but I can’t tell you much about how it was before because but I’ve never actually been to La Motte wine estate before, despite knowing exactly where it is after driving past it so many times. What I can tell you, however, is that it looks stunning now. As you walk into the courtyard, the scene is breathtaking.
Directly in front is a grassy square with long tables laid for lunch, and just beyond that to the right is a stream with a bridge over it leading to the wine tasting room. Past the grassy square directly ahead is the restaurant and to the left is the shop and the path leading to the Pierneef gallery. We chose the right hand path and crossed the bridge to get involved in some wine tasting.
Wine tasting at La Motte is not a case of going up to the counter and choosing some wines to taste out of a crappy tasting glass. It’s a much more sophisticated experience. You’ll be seated at a table and provided with good quality stemware and anything else you’ll need for the tasting. Then the wines will be presented by someone who is knowledgeable and presentable. We took an hour to taste 11 of the La Motte multi award winning wines. The tasting room is quite modern with traditional elements and I found having a musician performing in the tasting room was unusual but certainly not unpleasant. After the tasting we popped into the barrel cellar and took some pics before heading over to the restaurant.
Pierneef restaurant is fabulous. Not a cent has been spared and it shows. The restaurant looks beautiful but also interesting, with chandeliers made from crockery and very unique chairs. When the weather allows, the big glass doors can be folded back so they seat everyone outside, using the inside only when necessary. So no fighting over inside vs outside tables. We sat next to the little stream of water which runs around the courtyard. The kids love it, splashing around to their hearts content. All the colours are light, with a green theme, which creates a serene feeling.
Once seated we received our menu and began to peruse the Cape winelands cuisine (while chomping the lovely home baked bread), which is how they classify the food at Pierneef. Embracing the influences of the region over its history, the menu takes dishes we are familiar with and makes them more interesting by adding elements of local cuisine. For starters we tried the bokkom salad (R50) which reminded me a bit of a Caesar salad with bokkoms instead of anchovies and dried apricots giving it a local flavour. We also tried the terrine of confit chicken (R75) which included eisbein, quail, goose liver and proscuitto. The last starter we ordered was the pumpkin, ginger and walnut cheesecake (R49), a very unusual dish and when combined with the curried gooseberry salsa on the side it was an amazing flavour. The starters were really fantastic so we were excited to see the mains.
I ordered the crisp skinned linefish (R110) with tomato and sardine terrine and sardine parfait. I’m a sardine fan, so my interest was piqued by the sardine accompaniments. They were tasty but the parfait clashed with my wine terribly. The fish was excellent, not overdone and subtle in flavour. My partner ordered the beef prime rib (R185) with black pepper carrot cake and and endive and grapefuit salad. A great piece of meat, and so big!
We really couldn’t fit in dessert so we only ordered one each. I tried the flavours of cape brandy pudding (R60) which was an excellent take on a classic dessert. My partner ordered the textures of chocolate (R65) which was a selection of chocolate desserts, also very good.
We enjoyed a selection of La Motte wines by the glass with the various courses. The La Motte wines are at cellar door prices with a small markup so very good value. I saw options in red at R70, R110, R120 and up to R900 (and more for the French wines).
The service was very attentive and knowledgeable, but we were there under invitation so I can’t say if that’s how it is normally. There is also a chef’s table to one side of the kitchen, perfect for a special occasion.
We had a wonderful experience at La Motte. We arrived at midday and only left (reluctantly) at 5pm. After lunch we browsed the shop and the Pierneef gallery which boasts the family collection of originals. We could have lingered for much longer.
I urge you to visit this restaurant, it’s really a special experience. This is one of the reviews that makes me wish I was a better writer because I feel I haven’t really done the experience justice. Luckily I have lots of nice pics in the gallery here, so that should help.
La Motte estate, Franschhoek
Tel: 021 876 8800