Raats Family Wines was founded in 2000 by Bruwer Raats, who decide to specialise in two varietals: Cabernet Franc and Chenin Blanc, with the hopes that his specialized commitment would achieve excellence with these two varietals in the future, well the future is here and Bruwer's long list of accomplishments speaks for itself.
Recently I received an invitation to visit Raats Family Wine from Bruwer Raats. Being one of the most acclaimed wineries in South Africa, having won Platter's Winery of the year in 2018 and known for producing some of the world's finest Chenin Blanc and Cabernet Francs, my excitement was through the roof.
I must confess, I'm still very much a Cabernet Franc newbie, but no better place to start than right at the top and I was eager to sink my teeth or should I say my tongue in.
When I arrived, I was warmly greeted by Bruwer, his wine-tasting assistant Daneel and the sniff brigade with their finely-tuned damp noses, wiggle butts and fluffy coats (Bruwer's friendly dog children).
After the warm arrival Daneel then escorted me to their private cosy tasting room and my journey into wine heaven began, one hour of pure magic and laughs.
I think a visit to their doors should be on every wine connoisseur and Cabernet Franc lover's list. Daneel explained to me that 90% of their visitors are foreign and only 10% are local South Africans, this is not a bad thing but I think our locals are most definitely missing out on something that deserves attention and admiration ~ hopefully if you're a local reading this and you're serious about wine you'll make sure you bucket list a visit for 2019.
A visit to Raats Family wines is an experience with the soul purpose and focus being on his wines, story and vision and you'll really get the opportunity to dive in deep as bookings are private and you'll have Daneel's full attention.
It was such an honour to visit and experience these wines and meet with Bruwer and Daneel. I think I'll cherish my visit for years to come. Its definitely made me want to explore Cabernet Franc more passionately, and I'll be paying extra attention to this cultivar moving forward on my wine journey.
Award-winning winemaker, entrepreneur, wine visionary, father and dog lover
South Africa's very own Cabernet Franc King and ambassador of Chenin Blanc decided not to follow the easy vine more travelled or care when his classmates thought he'd gone bananas for wanting to specialise in Cabernet Franc and quality over quantity. He stuck to his guns and put his heart and vision first. With hard work and passion his dreams prevailed.
There's a great lesson that can be learnt from Bruwer which I believe should serve as a reminder to all of us that great success is not gained through following the crowd or what makes sense to others but being true to your inner calling and the essence of what makes you passionate and evokes your sense of unique purpose in life.
Bruwer comes across to me as a very humble individual, who's down-to-earth, kind and family man with a big heart that shines as brightly as his wine do.
There are three family branches of Raats
Raats Family Wines
Focusing on two varietals: Chenin Blanc and Cabernet Franc.
Raats Family wines has earned a stellar reputation internationally as a new world leader in the production of Chenin Blanc and Cabernet Franc, regularly receiving glowing write-ups by esteemed wine reviewers such as Jancis Robinson, Neal Martin, James Molesworth, Matthew Jukes, Tim Atkin and Olly smith in definitive publications such as Decanter, Wine Spectator, Wine Advocate, Wine Enthusiast, The Observer, Daily Mail and New York Times.
Started by Gavin Bruwer Slabbert and Bruwer Raats, B Vintners gives these two cousins a chance to play with different varietals and wine growing regions to produce the high quality wines of their dreams.
MR De Compostella ‘Composed of the Stars’
An incredibly successful collaboration between Raats himself and fellow Zulu winemaker and long-time friend, Mzokona. MR De Compostella (their wine child) was voted Best Red Blend in 2004 by Wine Spectator.
Raats Original Chenin Blanc 2018
Rating: 4 Stars Platter's
Cultivar: Chenin Blanc
Tasting notes: Unwooded, remarkably fresh and manages to be subtle yet powerful with beautiful tropical notes on the palate coming through, incredibly pleasing mouth full, and graceful mineral finish (Vines are grown on granite soils).
Food suggestions: Mild curry dishes/sushi/oysters
Raats Old Vine Chenin Blanc 2017
Rating: 4 Stars Platter's
Cultivar: Chenin Blanc
Tasting notes: Gorgeous barrel fermented Old Vine Chenin, more complex, liner, rich and mineral-driven then the Original Chenin Blanc coming from three different old vine blocks in Stellenbosch.
B Vintners Fire Heath Chardonnay 2016
Named after the Erica's that flowered when they first were preparing the vineyards
Ratings: 4 Stars Platter's
Tasting notes: Vines grown on Limestone soils in Sondagskloof, Walkers Bay. Very flinty and mineral-driven Chardonnay, subtle citrus notes with gentle wooding with a Lingering finish.
Food suggestions: Salmon Rillettes / Summer vegetable risotto / Fresh oysters
B Vintners Black Bream Pinot Noir 2016
Ratings: 4 Stars Platter's
Cultivar: Pinot Noir
Tastings notes: Vines grown on limestone soils in Sondagskloof, Walkers Bay. Quite a serious, elegant and savoury Pinot Noir with notes of cherry, violet and clove.
Food suggestions; Roast pork with herbs and fennel / Rack of venison served medium / gamefish on the grill
B Vintner Liberte Pinotage 2016
Ratings: 5 Stars Platter's, 92 points Christian Eedes
Tasting notes: Fell head over heels for this Pinotage. Lightly floral, spicy and beautifully structured
food suggestions: Venison dopiaza / Wild mushroom risotto / Aubergine & red lentil curry.
Raats Dolomite Cabernet Franc
Price: R150 excellent value for money
Ratings: 5 Stars Platter's, 90 Points Tim Atkins, won Platter's Cabernet Franc of the year.
Cultivar: Cabernet Franc
Tasting notes: Incredibly moreish with dark berries, spice, liquorice and herbs, savoury with soft velvet finish.
food suggestions: Pork loin with plum and armagnac sauce / game bird with red wine sauce / springbok, ostrich or kudu / Karoo lamb / Hard cheeses
Jasper Red Blend 2016
Rating: 4 Stars Platter's, 93 Points Tim Atkin.
Blend information 60% Cabernet Franc; 31% Malbec; 7% Petit Verdot; 2% Merlot
Tasting notes: Blackberry's, cherry's, chocolate and tobacco, very well-structured.
Food suggestions: Venison dishes / lazy-aged sirloin or rib-eye / Hard cheeses
MR de compostella 2016
Rating: Neal Martin rated this his favourite wine on his visit to South Africa with a 94, 95 Points Tim Atkin, 5 Stars Platter's.
Blend information: Bordeaux 63% Cabernet Sauvignon; 17% Cabernet Franc; 12% Malbec; 6% Petit Verdot and 2% Merlot
Tasting notes: Fragrant blackcurrant and black cherry fruit with hints of violets, cedar and cinnamon. heavenly lasting finish ...a life-changing wine, that grabs your full attention.
Food suggestions: Well-aged sirloin / Rib-eye or Filet mignon / Hard cheeses
Purchase here: raats.co.za/products/
Want to visit Raats?
Visit this highly acclaimed award-winning boutique winery situated in the Polkadraai Hills area just outside of Stellenbosch, a short distance from Cape Town (only took me 25 minutes, via the N2).
Book: By appointment only
Tasting Fee/Group bookings
Flat tasting rate of R500 for groups consisting of 2-10 people. (Fee falls away for group wine purchases of R500 or more). Private Tasting, one hour time allocation, taste 8 wines.
Tasting Room Hours Monday – Friday: 9h00 – 16h30
No, wine only.
Why visit Raats
Raats wines focus on elegance and complexity
Was voted Winery of the year 2018 in Platter's
Produces some of the world's finest Cabernet Franc and Chenin Blanc
Multiple award-winning wines internationally and nationally
Super friendly and passionate family winery
Contact Raats Family Wines
T: 021 881 3078
Learn about Cabernet Franc
A wine for the connoisseur, Cabernet Franc is the parent grape of both Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Carménère.
Blackcurrant fruit, cherry, strawberry, wet gravel, dried herbs, green bell pepper, liquorice, tobacco leaf, cedar, cinnamon, violets and vanilla
Medium-high acidity, medium-low alcohol, low sweetness, medium-low tannin's, very fragrant with elegant mouth feel.
It is mostly used in Bordeaux Blends rather than bottled as a single varietal; the reason being it's ability to enhance a blend and bring perfume and spice (almost how salt enhances a dishes flavour, the same can be said about Cabernet Franc).
In recent years it is now gaining more popularity as a grape that can stand on its own two feet quite proudly.
Known for being a great food friendly companion
Cabernet Franc in South Africa
First planted in the 1980s. Norma Ratcliffe was the pioneer who first bottled Cabernet Franc solo at Warwick in 1988 (the year I was born. I'm clearly a Cabernet Franc baby).
Where it grows (in order of rank)
1. France: Loire Valley and Bordeaux (78% of the world’s plantings)
2. Italy: Tuscany (13% of the world’s plantings )
3. United States: Napa Valley (3% of the world's plantings)
4. Hungary: Villany
5. Chile: Maipa, Maule
6. South African: Stellenbosch (1% of the world's plantings)
7. Spain: Castilla-La Mancha
8. Canada: Ontario
9. Argentina: Mendoza
Watch to learn more
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