Spacious, modern, open, light, leopard. These are the words that spring to mind when I think of Leopard’s Leap Family Vineyards.
Most of our South African wine estates are steeped in history, housed in buildings dating back 100 – 200 years, and I absolutely I love that.
But I also love our newer wine estates, and Leopard’s Leap is one of those.
The great thing when starting a wine estate is that you have a blank slate.
Want a modern feel? Check. Want a family-friendly space? Check. Want to help the Cape Mountain Leopard in the area? Check. Want to create an international wine brand? Check. Want to offer fantastic food? Check. Oh, and want to create fantastic wine? Double check!
What To Do At Leopard’s Leap
When visiting Leopard’s Leap in Franschhoek, you are presented with a bunch of options.
Of course, there is the wine tasting. But you can also spend the day there, grab some food from the Rotisserie Restaurant, and relax in the huge dining area, patio, or on the lawn.
If you have kids, they can happily play outside or even have fun on the bicycle pump track.
Those are all fantastic options and things we have done before. Well, except for the kids bit.
Something we haven’t experienced before is the South African Table. But, what is the South African Table? Glad you asked!
The Leopard’s Leap South African Table
In a nutshell, the South African Table is a 20-seater table in the heart of the Leopard’s Leap kitchen.
Here, you can watch Chef Christiaan Visser and his team prepare a South African-inspired three-course meal. Chef Christiaan talks you through the dishes, sharing stories and occasionally offering hints on how to make certain dishes.
Of course, there is also a wine ambassador on hand to talk you through the Leopard’s Leap wines you’ll be having and share info about the estate.
The South African Table takes place on select days starting at 13:00 and ending at 15:30.
The cost is R395 per person (plus a 10% service fee) and includes a welcome platter of nibbles, a three-course meal plus wine, and of course, Chef Christiaan’s undivided attention.
Seats at the South African Table book out quickly, so be sure to make a reservation online.
Our South African Table Experience
We joined Leopard’s Leap and their South African Table for a special braai-inspired event. Woohoo!
Of course, as all good things start with bubbles, we were welcomed with a glass Culinaria Méthode Cap Classic Brut. Containing mainly Chardonnay, these delightful bubbles are some of my favourite!
The South African Table really is in the Leopard’s Leap kitchen, and it’s always fun to be somewhere you’re usually not allowed to be.
As we chose our seats, Chef Christiaan introduced himself to us and asked for any dietary requirements. I asked if it was possible to have a low-sugar desert, and he immediately had a plan! Yay!
After enjoying the bubbles, exploring the space, and doing a little shopping at the gift shop, we headed back to the table to start our adventure.
One great thing about these big tables is that you get to meet some interesting people and have the most fascinating conversations.
After all 20 of us had taken our seats, Chef Christiaan wished us a warm welcome and introduced our first course. Going full South African, we started off with the most delicious roosterkoek. Homely, warm, and satisfying, this was perfection in a bun.
Joining the roosterkoek, we had some skuinskoek. These are like little deep-fried mosbolletjies and totally reminded me of Christmas with ginger and aniseed.
Of course, being South African, there was also some smoked snoek pâté. This hot-smoked pâté was divine and subtle in flavour.
Then there was the curry bokkoms butter. Both curry and bokkoms scare me, so I can’t report on these, although I’m sure that they were great. And finally, a dollop of garlic and apricot purée completed this dish.
Served separately, we also had a smoked red-hot beef sausage with peppadew sauce. The sausage had been smoked for two hours and was then braaied. Sounds good, right? It was spicy but oh-so-good, and I really loved the smoky flavour.
So far, we were off to a great start!
It was time to move to some wine. Leopard Leap’s own (now retired) winemaker, Eugene, told us all about their wine and ethos.
Being Leopard’s Leap, the estate supports the Cape Leopard Trust.
Eugene also spoke about how Leopard’s Leap focuses on “elegant” wines that “taste like more”, and I couldn’t agree more.
After tasting the wine, our starters were served while Chef Christiaan explained the dish.
We were presented with a deboned chicken thigh and chicken breast that had been marinated, smoked, and then braaied. The chicken was so soft and flavourful, and I especially enjoyed the deboned thigh.
Served with it, we had aubergine purée and smoked sliced aubergine. I’m not a huge fan of aubergine, but this purée may have changed my opinion of it.
Some roasted, or, should I say, braaied, almonds topped the dish.
While enjoying our starters, Chef Christiaan came around to each of us detailing how the smoked aubergine was prepared using coal and wood shavings.
The starter we had was best served with a Chenin.
But because wine is so personal, we were served two different Chenins: the 2022 Chenin Blanc as well as the 2021 Culinaria Chenin Blanc.
Eugene explained both wines in detail, but ultimately, it was up to each person which Chenin they preferred to pair with the starter.
For me, that ended up being slightly wooded Culinaria Chenin.
The “stage” was passed back to Chef Christiaan, who presented our main course.
The dish consisted of delicately smoked stuffed kudu loin. Tender and tasty, this smoky kudu was perfection.
The loin was nestled on a bed of smooth and creamy cauliflower purée together with the most divine Hasselback baby potatoes.
Adding some colour and flavour was some beetroot chutney. A perfect South African inspired dish!
For our mains, Eugene again presented us with two options, the 2021 Special Edition Pinotage, and the 2019 Bordeaux-style Culinaria Grand Vin.
I was torn.
I really enjoyed the complex Bordeaux-style Grand Vin, but I also loved the absolutely perfect Pinotage. In the end, I enjoyed both wines with my main course.
Dessert and Bubbles
As good things also end with bubbles, we delighted in the Leopard’s Leap Sparkling Chardonnay Pinot Noir.
This is one of my favourite easy drinking go-to bubbles, and I was super happy to have some.
Chef Christiaan had also prepared a special desert for me, and I really loved the dark truffles with fresh berries and macadamia shavings.
Everyone else had Malva pudding with butterscotch sauce, poached guavas, and macadamia shavings.
Of course, I pinched a bite of the Malva and some of the poached guavas. Perfection!
If you want to enjoy a great meal and great wine and make an event of it, the South African Table really is a fantastic option.
I enjoyed the interactions with Chef Christiaan and Eugene. I also loved that I could ask questions and that they shared so much info. Watching the kitchen prepare our meals was fun, too.
Interacting and meeting the other guests at the table rocked. And, let’s be honest, South African food really is fantastic and should be indulged in and celebrated.
And when paired with Leopard’s Leap wine, it’s even better!
A huge thank you to Chef Christiaan, Eugene, the entire team at Leopard’s Leap, and Danné from Hatch Communications for putting the entire day together and for ensuring that we could travel safely with Magnas Tours.
Contact Leopard’s Leap
You’ll need to book ahead of time to experience the South African Table at Leopard’s Leap.
You’ll find all the details below.
Address: R45, Franschhoek
Call: +27 21 876 8002
Article Date: January 2023
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