Following the mountainous curves of the misty Helshoogte road you find one of the winelands’ best kept secrets, the Delaire Graff Estate. The estate is owned by Laurence Graff, an English jeweler. He was the founder of the internationally renowned Graff Diamonds in 1960 and has handled many rare precious gems and diamonds in his lifetime. He is known for his exquisite taste, philanthropy and love of contemporary and modern art. This reflects onto his estate that opened in 2009. Upon arrival one can see that no expense was spared and so much care went into creating what is known as the Delaire Graff Estate. On the estate are lodges, a spa, two restaurants, boutiques and vineyards. Delaire Graff makes its own award-winning wine and an afternoon of wine tasting can be arranged with breath-taking views of the Stellenbosch Valley. Passing the security boom, you follow the carefully pave road embellished with beautifully selected fauna and sculptures to create focal points along the pathway. September to December as especially grand when the Christmas Roses are in bloom. The Hydrangeas grow and stretch to the height of your car on both sides of the path leading to Indochine. The estate prides itself with the biodiversity of fauna in their beautiful tranquil gardens, growing over 350 indigenous and non-invasive imported plants. The reason for this is so that there are always flowers in bloom all year round.
You know you have arrived when you enter the gates guarded by two bronze leopards, exceptional work done by Dylan Lewis. Parking the car, you take your first step into the Indochine experience. The door opens to the lobby and you are met with the warmth and hospitality of 5 start luxury. Everything in the room indulges the senses, your eyes follow the beauty of each painting on the wall, to the sculptures and the tower of flowers in the middle of the room. The sweet scents of the flower arrangement fill your nostrils and the crackling of a lit fireplace adds to the welcoming aroma of the senses. You are welcomed and ushered to a seat next to the fireplace. Looking around, you recognize the works of Vladmir Tretchkoff, Maurice van Essche, Lionel Smit and other valued artists. Enjoy a drink by the fire while your table is being prepared. There is no rush. Take the time to feel your body settle as time stands still.
Moving to the restaurant, you pass a cabinet encasing brilliantly cut diamonds set in a signature Graff Diamond design. It seems everything is aglow as you glance around the restaurant, the bar and tables are encased in copper, glinting off the “Swallows in Flight” by Lionel Smit and Andre Stead. The spiral setting of the flock of birds draping from the ceiling become the focal point. On a clear day, outside seating would be favourable where you can amerce yourself in the beauty of the winelands and greet Dylan Lewis’ regiment of cheetahs. But on a cold or rainy evening the restaurant provides a cosy and elegant ambiance with the option of being seated at the booth close to the fireplace, creating a quiet, intimate atmosphere perfect for two.
The wine menu provides a wide selection of award-winning wines, liquors and spirits. The ever-changing food menu provides a selection of Asian-inspired cuisine, most of the ingredients taken from the estate’s very own greenhouse. Although Asian-inspired, the chef Virgil Kahn puts a South African twist and unique approach to all his dishes. The restaurant is highly accommodating and when making a booking you are asked for any dietary requirements. The menu provides further accommodation as there is something for everyone. The infusion of flavours and aromas can only be described in colours as your palate is made aware of every pleasurable taste bud you possess. Between courses the chef spoils the guests with samples of new dishes he wishes to explore. Small portioned dishes are not the issue here, with the constant tastings between courses you are filled to the brim with food that can only be described as art.
Indochine is an experience for the young and the old, the traveled and home-bodies. It caters on an international standard, if not surpassing it, making it perfect for that special occasion or that important business dinner. Indochine shows the best side of the Cape Winelands and the warm accommodating hospitality that South Africans are known for. Nestled between Stellenbosch and Franschoek with a view that can only be described as Eden, it is definitely a hidden gem of the Cape Winelands and an experience that should not be missed.