A wine-drenched journey of discovery.
On the slopes of the majestic Simonsberg Mountains just outside of Stellenbosch, Quoin Rock Wine Estate is a serene sanctuary whose vast vineyard-dotted terrain is a fitting canvas for Gåte, its fine-dining restaurant.
Purchased by the Gaiduk family in 2012, the estate underwent an extensive replanting project: 36 hectares of new vineyards at Quoin Rock, as well as a white grape-farm in the town of Elim. “My father [Vitaly Gaiduk] has a true passion for wine,” explains Ukranian-born managing director Denis Gaiduk. “What appealed to us about Quoin Rock was that it was a blank slate, which offered us the opportunity to create the vision our family had.”
A vision that has certainly come to fruition in the form of a full-package Winelands destination: Superb wines? Check. A fine-dining restaurant? Check. Five-star accommodation? Check. Plus picnics and a plethora of other pleasurable pursuits.
Welcome to Gåte
Upon entering the restaurant, the bold, clean-lined architecture, courtesy of Denis’ wife Julia, creates a striking impression and also maximises the enchanting mountain and vineyard views. Pared-back furnishings and a muted interior palette further conspire to allow the resplendent terrain to shine.
The kitchen is helmed by Jack Coetzee (formerly Urbanologi in Johannesburg) who joined the Gåte team in October 2020, with a mandate to take diners on a voyage of discovery (as his predecessors had). Drawing on his Zimbabwean roots and focusing on the ingredients available in the farm’s immediate vicinity, Jack has put his own stamp on the farm-to-table concept.
“All our dishes are ingredient-led,” he explains. “We conceive and curate each one according to the compatibility of the ingredients, and then make sure it has the wow factor! We’ve called it ‘micro terroir cuisine’ – it’s designed to excite.”
Wine while you dine
There are various menus: a five-course tasting menu (R650); with wine (R950); vegan (R550); vegan with wine (R850), as well as a two- and three-course set menu (with three choices per course: R450 and R650).
If you can afford to, we highly recommend the wine-paired option because the way in which the wine sets up the food – and vice versa – is, well, a match made in terroir heaven.
My favourite dish was the Tomato Tomato Tomato starter, a fresh, beautifully simple version of a Caprese salad, made with a selection of tomato varieties, Belnori goat’s cheese and a pine nut crumb. It was exquisitely paired with the 2018 Quoin Rock Chardonnay.
The quail liver parfait, with a brioche and pistachio crumb, fermented gooseberry and rocket pesto was another successful dish that simply sang when accompanied by the 2014 Quoin Rock MCC.
The wagyu beef with baobab labneh, mopane jus and Baleni salt felt like a hat tip to Jack’s Zimbabwean roots. The meat was perfectly cooked, and wonderfully paired with a 2015 Quoin Rock Red Blend.
Special mention must go to Mimi Kaniki, our bubbly (but not annoyingly so) waitress, who despite the mask managed to convey our courses simply and clearly, injecting humour into her delivery; and sommelier Duane Jansen, whose pairings and style were pitch-perfect.
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