Home » Health » Red Wine At the White Horse Inn!

The Meikles Hotel Grapevine wine tour of The Vumba district continued with supper and a red wine tasting at the homely White Horse Inn, about half-way up the mountain.

The night before had been white wines at the Inn on the Vumba and there had been a lunch time finger food snack and roseacute wine tasting at The Castle, which now belongs to Leopard Rock Hotel.

(These events were covered in Friday’s Zimbabwe Independent and yesterday’s issue of NewsDay.)

Some of our visiting foodies had spent the afternoon at Tony’s famous coffee shop, paying an infamous US$15 for what is admittedly wonderful cake and bottomless coffee, but I watched cricket from Bangla Desh in my room at the Inn on the Vumba and grabbed a zizz before proceeding up the mountain to White Horse Inn.

David Graham, managing director of White Horse Inn, has been an hotelier more than half a century, training and winning his spurs with the renowned British Railways’ chain of major hotels which enjoy superb reputations.

He has owned White Horse for about 30 years and has recently taken on a business partner, Frank Marembo (36), who has an honours degree in tourism and hospitality management from UZ and previous experience at Caribbea Bay Resort, Lake Kariba.

Sadly, David was unwell and confined to his room when we visited, but newcomer Frank was truly professional and proprietorial in his absence.

Our wine tasting was on the stoep overlooking the swimming pool on an evening with a bit of a nip in the lovely, bracing, fresh air.

First sampling was of Chateau Libertas 2010, often called the grand-father of South African red wines, which has been made since 1932 and is still a paragon of value and drinkability.

At 13,5% alcohol, it is a reliable consistent mix of Bordeaux grapes, plus Shiraz and Ruby Cabernet, a Cabernet-Sauvignon-based blend.

A beautiful dense ruby red colour with loads of ripe strawberries and plums and more than a hint of fragrant wood spice, it is delicious with pizza, pasta, poultry and cheese. It sells at White Horse at US$15 a bottle.

This was followed by Zonnebloem Cab-Sauv also 2010 from a vineyard established in Stellenbosch in 1893. Dark chocolate and spiced black currant nose with whiffs of eucalyptus and herbs: US$25 at the Inn. We ended with the 2010 Zonnebloem Shiraz (US$24.) Shiraz is possibly my favourite red wine as it goes well with curries and spicy food.

All three labels went extremely well with different elements of the three-course White Horse table d’hote dinner. This started with an excellent coarse, meaty, chicken liver pateacute a la maison with Melba toast and continued with a rich, velvety, intense home-made cream of celery soup.

Our table was about roughly divided between the choice of two main courses: roast impala in red wine sauce (I never discovered whether this was the impala culled fairly recently at Leopard Rock game park, up the drag) or the very fine fall-off-the-bone coq-au-vin I plumped for.

These came with Delmonico potatoes (White Horse cooks arguably the best rosti in the country) and seasonal vegetables and a rosella jelly made locally by the Hayden-Tebbs, who were at my table and owned the Border Streams jam factory before selling out to Cairns Foods (now under judicial management.)

They have recently re-entered professional jam-making and fruit canning.

For pudding, I chose ice-cream and hot chocolate sauce as opposed to a rum trifle, on the premise that it might be lighter and I was heading towards being replete!

We finished with Vumba filter coffee and liqueurs listening to the country and western sounds of Mandeacute Snyman.

There’s something just slightly Alpine about the inn’s architecture, but it is more Tudor English and set amid magnificent mountains, overlooking the Mozambique plains, verdant with tall, mainly indigenous, largely evergreen, trees alive with birdsong and butterflies and home to Samango Monkeys.

Seen fleetingly in Zimbabwe, as opposed to the ubiquitous Vervet Monkey, a single adult male is surrounded by small harem and offspring. They eat fruit, flowers and leaves and make an odd distinctive explosive bark or guttural “unk” sound.

During daylight, on a previous visit, we spotted a troupe, feasting on ripe mahobohobos, totally unafraid, five metres above our heads in the tree canopy. I was afraid knowing what maningi mahobohobos can do to human digestive systems and, assuming they’d have a similar effect on primates, I moved!

The hotel’s bird checklist details more than 110 species which can be seen, between 1 200 and 1 800 metres above sea level.

Candidly, we saw little that particular day of an avian nature on a gentle late afternoon trek.

But I did spot a Collared Sunbird, splendid Cardinal Woodpecker many LBJs of unknown provenance, in the bundu, or back at the hotel, poring over the Larger Sasol bird guide to southern Africa with afternoon tea, scones and cream and jam before a relaxing, steaming bath.

The hotel’s then resident ornithologist showed a stunning photo he had taken of a Narina Trogon. Rarest bird he’s seen in the Lower Vumba is a Bearded Robin he worked with Britain’s Royal Society for the Protection of Birds on conserving Swynnerton’s Robins.

An ideal place to relax for a night, long weekend or even a week, taking in the other Vumba points of interest, bed and breakfast (single) is from US$80-US$90 (double) US$112-US$122 mini-suites (single) US100 (double) US$132 Cottage Suite (for two) US$174.

White Horse Inn, The Vumba. Tel (+263 20) 601386014660325. Mobile 0715 938 388 whitehorseinn@bsatt.com


Source : Zimbabwe Standard