Travel Review: Gorgeous Canto Wines Hits All the Right Notes

The newly opened Canto Wines is the latest addition to the vibrant and increasingly popular Durbanville Wine Valley.

So, when I stumbled across this lovely wine farm online, I couldn’t have been more excited, for I immediately sensed a new and undiscovered wine gem in the making… And I’m pleased to report, our recent visit on the first weekend of February, confirmed it as such.

Getting to know Durbanville Wine Valley

Nowadays, many people flock to the Durbanville Wine Valley, so while it is no longer overlooked for Stellenbosch or Franschhoek – there can be no doubting that most tend to favour the more expensive likes of Durbanville Hills or De Grendel… Which is fair enough, given their award-winning reputations.

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But sometimes, especially when it comes to wine estates, it’s vital to remember that the boutique offerings have their own secret charms, personalised service and equally impressive wines to boast.

I’ve seen and encountered this countless times before, in areas like Stellenbosch, Robertson and even Wellington… and Canto Wines was no exception to this rule! In fact, it’s been quite a while since I’ve been so impressed by both still and sparkling wines from the same estate.

Music to my ears: Canto Wines

Canto Wines is located a stone’s throw away from Durbanville suburbia, although the back road that leads to it has a definite ‘country roads take me home’ feel.

Turn up Canto’s well-paved drive and you find yourself ambling past emerald vineyards, before the impressive, chapel-like Cape Dutch building – which houses the tasting room and winery – grabs all your attention. Here, one will find ample parking space, a vast lawn field – and arguably some of the best views around in the Durbanville Wine Valley!

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Canto Wines came about after passionate wine enthusiast and local owner, Marinus Neethling, seized the opportunity to buy a 48-hectare piece of land (18 hectares of which is planted under vineyards) that used to form part of neighbouring Meerendal Wine Estate.

Today, planted under low-yielding vineyards, which produce beautiful, unwooded Merlot, Chardonnay and MCC wines, this small patch of wine-making heaven is as fruitful as any around, and is now also home to the chic winery-cum-tasting room facility.

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Although Canto’s winery has been producing for some two years now, its elegant, modern tasting room has only officially been open to the public since 3 January 2018… talk about a good way to kick-start the New Year!

Meaning ‘a lyric’ or ‘sung’ in Italian, Canto is well-named, as it does have a touch of musical mastery about it, especially since its wine is both smooth and elegant, hinting at the finer things in life, which, like any good song, take both time and dedication to perfect…

In some ways, Canto is also a bold new chorus to Meerendal’s already fine-tuned, historic wine symphony.

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Photo credit: @jakkalsfontein

Macaroon and MCC Magic

After we had chosen a spot in the chic lounge – dotted with comfy couches, bar stools and centered tables and chairs, impressively set to the backdrop of the interior winery, stylish bar area and well-stocked deli fridge – tasting room manager, Karien Oberholzer, warmly took us through our first tasting: the showstopping Methode Cap Classique (MCC) and macaroon wine pairing.

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Canto Wines’s MCC and Macaroon pairing (R95 per person) offers a selection of the following:

  • Canto Chardonnay MCC Brut 2015, paired with a Hazelnut macaroon.
  • Canto Shiraz Rose MCC Brut 2013, paired with a Red Velvet macaroon.
  • Canto Pinot Noir MCC Brut 2013, paired with a Turkish Delight macaroon.
  • Canto Chardonnay/Pinot Noir MCC Brut 2014, paired with a Salted Caramel macaroon.

The MCC wines go perfectly with each of their corresponding macaroons, and while I enjoyed each to the full, the Shiraz and Red Velvet pairing was hands-down my favourite… It was positively divine, especially after you sip the Shiraz after a bite of the Red Velvet.

Now, as someone who has never been a fan of macaroons, I have to say I think I have just been converted… especially as these are undoubtedly the best I have tasted to date! Sourced from a special supplier, Canto’s macaroons are soft, fresh pure melt-in-your-mouth goodness – sweet tooths, you heard it hear first. 😉

red-velvet-macaroon

In true wine pairing style, the concept of this food and wine pairing is simple: swirl, sniff and taste, then take a small sip to savour each wine on its own before you take a bite of your macaroon. Finally, once you’ve savoured both flavours separately and allowed them to gently mingle together on your palate, take another sip of wine to see how the food enhances the wine – for enhance it, it does!

For me personally, the wines tasted much sweeter afterwards – although I loved both the Chardonnay and Pinot Noir on their own! The Shiraz, however, was like a totally different wine afterwards and, as someone who is not usually a Shiraz fan, I was hugely impressed by the magic the combination of wine mixed with macaroon flavours produced. I absolutely loved it after that – and it was also my boyfriend’s favourite. (And, as I said before, the Red Velvet macaroon is great!)

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The Canto Chardonnay MCC Brut, meanwhile, is a beautiful wine and one of the nicer MCCs I’ve had to date.

Canto’s Pinot Noir is oh-so-good, even before the pairing and, while I don’t have a great love for Turkish Delight in general, the macaroon really embodies the true Turkish delight essence and adds a soft, almost whimsical taste to the wine.


canto-wines-macaroonsPhoto credit: @jakkalsfontein

Last but not least, the Canto Chardonnay/Pinot Noir blend was lovely and fresh and although the Salted Caramel was oddly my least favourite of the macaroons, it was still fresh and good. That said though, I really enjoyed each of the macaroons, particularly the Red Velvet and Hazelnut.

Overall, this beautiful MCC and macaroon pairing was divine and pretty faultless, so I would rate it 10/10. If you want to treat someone (or even just yourself…), this is the tasting to try at Canto!

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Canto’s Still Wine Range

Of course, no wine tasting is complete without trying some of an estate’s still wines too, so thereafter, we enjoyed Canto Wines’s standard wine tasting, which offers a trio of still wines: two whites and one red.

For Canto’s standard wine tasting (R55 per person), you can enjoy the following:

  • Canto Sauvignon Blanc 2017.
  • Canto (unwooded) Chardonnay 2017.
  • Canto Merlot 2015.

We started off with the Sauvignon Blanc… It was a lovely, strong wine, I found – though it was my least favourite of the three…

Here though, I must confess: I am undoubtedly more of a Chardonnay fan in general, so Sauvignon Blanc wines are not always my best preference. Having said that, I am fully confident that many wine drinkers who visit Canto Wines will positively love it, especially as it is typical of the Durbanville wine region and does have a good, crisp taste.

Next, we enjoyed the 100% unwooded Chardonnay, which, in true Chardonnay style, was full of flavour and delicious, citrus fruitiness (I am definitely a shameless fan of the fruity white wines…), which I adored. It really is a beautiful Chardonnay and I thoroughly enjoyed every sip.

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Lastly, we enjoyed the medium to full-bodied Merlot, Canto’s only red wine offering from the standard wine tasting. I really enjoyed this one, it was a very smooth, delicious wine.

I could definitely drink more of that Merlot – and red wines are usually not my wine of choice (I commit wine sacrilege, I know).

For the standard wine tasting, I am pleased to award a 9/10 rating. Again, our overall tasting was great and I think, if you are keen to try Canto’s range without an accompanying food pairing, then you will love this all-wine offering.

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And while you sip, do take a moment to admire the calm, elegant space, which dreamily overlooks the field and valley beyond…

Yoga and Wine… It makes everything fine

Speaking of dreamy fields, on the morning of our delightful visit, Canto Wines had just successfully held its first yoga and wine event. This was hosted by international surfer-turned-model and quantified yogini, Roxy Louw, who owns and runs Greenhouse-heated, Durbanville yoga studio, GreenLeafVitality. 

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This introductory lesson was a great success and, throughout most of our visit, the participants were evidently thoroughly enjoying their glass of bubbly and easy conversation with Roxy… I love the concept of this and Canto definitely has the perfect setting – and instructor – for this kind of monthly event.

yoga-event-roxy-louw

Canto Wines and GreenLeaf’s morning yoga and wine event will run on the first Saturday of every month, and will cost R150 per person.  

For more information or simply to book your spot, email roxy.louw@gmail.com or info@cantowines.co.za.

You can also get in touch with instructor Roxy Louw on: +27 (071) 288 7102.

Canto Wines: In Closing

Overall, our first visit to Canto Wines was thoroughly enjoyable and left me feeling deeply impressed by their offerings and excited for their future. In Karien, they have found a young, yet very knowledgeable and enthusiastic and inspired tasting room manager, who will surely complement every bottle of wine produced by Canto winemaker, Anneke Potgieter.

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Aside from being able to buy wines online off their website, during your quick visit or tasting, you can naturally buy wine(s) at cellar door prices, which range from R75 to R188. (This is dependent on the particular still or MCC wine you’re after.)… And while you’re at it, take home some of the yummy cured meats, cheeses or preserves from the deli fridge!

canto-wines-barPhoto credit: @jakkalsfontein

Despite being pretty busy just before we left, I noted how Karien still took the time to stop by each table to frequently serve and check in on everyone… Something else that I quite liked was how she gave us an overall run-down of the wines (and macaroons) before allowing us to enjoy each tasting on our own. This makes for a great and unobtrusive tasting, especially if you’re clued up on all things wine tasting – but if not, she is readily available to answer any questions you may have and to assist where necessary.

I must also mention that I loved the customised Canto tasting boards, which our macaroons were neatly presented on. Well and that and the gorgeous views, which especially from our spot on the couch, we were able to perfectly enjoy while we toasted and tasted.

Overall, the tasting offered a calming, tasteful space; excellent still and sparkling MCC wines alike; delicious macaroons for the food pairing; and wonderful, personalised service offered by Karien and her assistant. Based on this, I am pleased to award Canto Wines and their ‘wine of origin’/tastings a stellar 9/10 rating.

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And I know that Karien has lots planned for the future, so I am sure there will be plenty of exciting and delightful things around the corner… All of these elements subtly combine to make Canto Wines a highly excited and elegant addition to the already impressive Durbanville wine route – and I can’t wait to see what the future holds for this gorgeous boutique Durbanville winery!

Thank you very much to Canto Wines, Suzanne Coetzee and tasting manager, Karien, for making my first full tasting experience of the Durbanville Wine Valley so memorable, and for ensuring we had a truly gorgeous experience at Canto!

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For more information on Canto Wines and their tasting offerings, please contact: +27 (021) 492 2821 or +27 (082) 578 6821, or email them at: info@cantowines.co.za/suzanne@nuibawines.co.za.

You can also visit the Canto Wines website or find Canto Wines for yourself at: Canto Wines, Vissershok Road, Durbanville, Cape Town, South Africa. (Please Note: Canto Wines is only open from Tuesdays to Saturdays.)

Canto Wines is also on leading social media platforms, Facebook and Instagram, so be sure to connect with and follow them there!

Author: Tamlyn Amber Ryan

Content writer by day and blogger by night, Tamlyn Ryan passionately runs her own travel blog, called Tamlyn Amber Wanderlust, from her home base of Cape Town, South Africa. And, despite a national diploma in Journalism, in her free time, Tamlyn’s preferred niche remains travel writing.

Tamlyn is a hopeless wanderer, equipped with an endless passion for road trips, carefully planned, holiday itineraries and, above all else, an innate love for the great outdoors.

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