It may be autumn in Johannesburg, but that still means languorous and sun-filled afternoons that really don’t reflect a city heading towards ‘Winter’.
In fact, there’s no better time to celebrate the array of beautiful venues in and around Joburg where one can sit back, relax and get stuck into some of the finer things in life…so without further ado:
The best places to drink champagne in, and around, Johannesburg
Tsintwalo Lodge, Waterfall estate
A beautiful outside lounging area where you can sit and lap up abounding views over Polo fields. The perfect place to take off your shoes and walk across manicured lawns whilst sipping from their award-winning wine list.
It includes the likes of Veuve and Moet but with some lesser-known, but no less delicious, French variants such as Franck Bonville and Vouvray.
On the MCC front you’ll find Graham Beck, Villiera and Simonsig as well as my personal recommendation: Steenberg 1682 Brut.
Le Sel at The Cradle, Muldersdrift
Champagne in the bush, what could be better? Set in a private game reserve, the views are spectacular and fauna and wildlife abundant. Enjoy a glass of bubbles on the deck and experience a taste of the good life.
The usual suspects Veuve and Moet are showcased, but on the MCC list, I’d recommend the Boschendal Grand Cuvee Brut, it’s simply sublime! FYI: most MCC’s can be bought by the glass and they also offer great champagne cocktails.
The Saxon, Sandhurst
One only expects the best from The Saxon and naturally, when it comes to champagne, the deliver.
They showcase an impressive 42 labels including Cristal, Krug, Dom Perignon and some hidden gems like Larmandier Bernier and Marguet as well as some rare vintages like the 1988 Bollinger RD and the 1996 Dom Perignon Oenotheque, 1999 Salon and 1998 Krug.
They also offer a champagne-paired dinners with a secret four-course double-plating menu know as the ‘Ruinart experience’ at Saxon’s Five Hundred restaurant. Or perhaps you’d like to indulge in champagne and oysters with breakfast…
Southern Sun Hyde Park
The Tsogo Sun group are doing something amazing when it comes to the pricing of their French Champagnes, with Veuve at R720 a bottle, Moet at R690 and Taittinger at R850, they are the cheapest option by far and, paired with gorgeous sunset views over Joburg, how could you resist?
They also offer delicious Laborie Brut and Rose MCC’s at around R300 a bottle.
54 on Bath, Rosebank
Their famous Veuve Bar is a quite simply a little slice of heaven; it has a sumptuous classy-kitsch feel, decked in black and white with Veuve from head to toe and leads out onto an elegant, landscaped terrace where you can sit and soak up the sun all day long or arrive just in time for sunset high above the city below.
You’ll see a refreshingly, multifaceted array of people including, of course, a multitude of champagne-lovers, in fact they sell more Veuve here than anywhere else in the country (and are also part of the Tsogo Sun group so you can expect the same ridiculous pricing of R720 for a bottle of Veuve).
It’s all about the Veuve and the Moet here with a smaller selection of SA MCC’s including Simonsig Kaapse Vonkel and Charles Fox Brut from Elgin.
Roots, The Cradle of Humankind
They’re famous for their 5, 6 and 7 course experiences and their sumptuous views overlooking their beautiful Lake.
They offer a refreshingly different range of Champagnes and MCC’s including Pol Roger Rose and De Rothschild Brut on the French side, and GM & Arendse 2008 from SA (a seriously delish chardonnay/pinot noir MCC).
Al Fiume, Hennops River
Al Fiume – Italian for ‘on the river’ giving you views of surrounding mountain vistas, river and indigenous gardens.
Enjoy a bottle of champagne: Veuve or Moet or perhaps a local Villiera or Italian Prosecco on their beautiful tree-lined, wooden deck on a lazy Sunday afternoon with a saxophonist playing from across the river.
A superb nighttime extravaganza: set above the famous Ritrovo restaurant in Pretoria and open from 6pm, with the kitchen serving until 2am, it’s a first for late-night, fine-dining in Gauteng.
The Champagne and Oyster bar offers undiluted pleasure or you can indulge in a private room. With live jazz offered nightly it’s perfect for all sophisticated night owls.
Champagnes include Louis Roederer, Barons De Rothschild and Billecart-Salmon Brut reserve as well as a gorgeous selection of MCC’s from the Cape: La Motte Brut 2009 from Franschoek and Desiderius 2008 from Stellenbosch.
The Terrace at The Hyatt Regency, Rosebank
Enjoy the afternoon sun surrounded by splendid gardens and ferns in this little oasis in the middle of Rosebank. It’s a lovely little spot for a bit of midweek decadence or after some Saturday shopping.
The Terrace is a cigar and wine bar serving Champagne and MCC’s by the glass including one of my favourites: L’ormarins Brut Classique, and at R60 a glass it’s a steal.
Restaurant Mosaic, Pretoria
It won Diner’s Club ‘Best Overall Wine List in South Africa’ in 2014 as well as countless other wine awards (there are just too many to mention). The wine cellar is the biggest in Africa and houses 145 French Champagnes, of which 12 are under R500 (their value for money when it comes to Champagnes and MCC’s is outstanding). Let, Germain, their veteran Sommelier suggest the perfect bottle to pair with one of Chantel Dartnall’s exquisite menus, and better yet, stay the night at The Orient and get a second bottle sent to your room.
The Westcliff (soon to be Four Seasons)
It hasn’t opened yet, but word has it it’s going to be even more luxurious than its predecessor, champagne no doubt will be flowing…watch this space.
The Grand, Rivonia
Believe it or not this strip club/restaurant has the second widest range of champagnes in Joburg, they offer over 60 different champagnes and MCC’s…I wouldn’t even know where to begin - it’s a truly magnificent list.
So, if you’re into palatial views of naked ladies rather than Joburg skylines, then this is the place for you ;)