Haute Cabrière reasserts itself

Haute Cabrière reasserts itself
Three of Haute Cabrière’s still wines sporting a new, simpler label. Photo: Christi Nortier

Franschhoek went from small town to local wonder to world foodie destination in a few years. Haute Cabrière garnered national attention when it was on Cabrière farm offering wine and food pairings. It relocated to a subterranean cellar and shot up the rankings. But the glory shifted to rivals like the Tasting Room at Le Quartier Francais. But its rivals should look out — Haute Cabrière has a remodelling up its sleeve.

The next time you come to Haute Cabrière you might not recognise it, warns chef Nic van Wyk. The menu, interiors and service will all be redone come September 2019. But this wave of change for the notable Franschhoek eatery is nothing out of the blue. At the end of 2018, the estate’s wine range underwent a subtle branding shift to emphasise simplicity and stability.

Takuan von Arnim describes cooking and winemaking as principally the same, and this is why when the wine changes, the food needs to keep up.

At the end of April 2019, Haute Cabrière restaurant will be closing for renovations, a menu change and skills training until the beginning of September 2019.

The restaurant, whose entrance is seen above, and the terrace are also due to be refreshed. Photo: Christi Nortier

I didn’t want the wine, the destination and the food to get too far apart from one another. If one goes forward, the others must also stay in tune and in touch,” is how Van Wyk explains why the renovations are necessary now.

The renovations will affect the restaurant and tasting room space as well as the terrace, which frames the iconic view from the estate.

In the time that the restaurant has closed doors for renovations, Van Wyk and fellow Haute Cabrière chef Westley Muller will continue with their pop-up dining experience series and will train staff “to take things to a different level” when they re-open.

A duck liver parfait on brioche with pear and saffron chutney is the kind of fare served at Haute Cabrière — or at its pop-up restaurants during renovations. Photo: Christi Nortier

When asked how the menu may change, Van Wyk said:

Our style will always be similar — we are not set in our ways, but we know what we like to cook and what we are good at cooking.”

But, the core shall not be shaken. As Von Arnim explains:

Style distinguishes the famous houses of Champagne. We have our own style and we are fulfilling that.”

The Pierre Jourdan MCC range features the Von Arnim family crest, linking it to the Haute Cabrière range. Photo: Christi Nortier

When you next sip wine or enjoy a meal inside the Haute Cabrière cellar, try to imagine that space as the landfill it would supposedly have been had the Von Arnim family not bought the land and built that cellar into it in the 1980s. Then stretch your mind further still and imagine it with different interiors and menu, and wine which tastes the same, but looks different. Luckily, the latter imagining will soon be a reality.

The new Haute Cabrière label look has been on the shelves since the end of 2018. While the wine may still be the same, the label has been simplified by keeping all information “short and sweet” because “the most powerful statement my father [the estate founder] ever made was: ‘sun, soil, vine, man’. That philosophy of simple, but meaningful, is why the labels are less cluttered”, explains Takuan Von Arnim, the current cellarmaster.

The iconic butter yellow of the estate’s signature blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir is now the brand’s own icon.

A lot of people don’t know how to pronounce the name. I have friends from the Czech Republic who only speak about ‘yellow cap’. People look for the yellow cap,” explains Von Arnim.

The Von Arnim family colours of white and red feature on the new, simplified label. Photo: Christi Nortier

The estate’s first icon, the Pierre Jourdan MCCs, have not been left behind. The Pierre Jourdan Tranquille still wine now sports a lighter shade of green. The slight rebranding is meant to show the two wine brands as being like “twins”, as Von Arnim describes them, which have their own strengths and needs. The slight change in branding is to emphasise that they are wines which deserve equal attention as two wines from one home.

Wine and food, food and wine. In the Von Arnim tradition, these things complement each other like horses and carriages; neither is at its best without the other. We’ll be watching with interest. DM

With additional writing by Tony Jackman.


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