Many South African Wines are referred to as icons. None have the legendary cache of Constantia Wine.
Constantia Wyn was made famous by one of Groot Constantia’s owners, Hendrik Cloete who bought the farm, now Groot Constantia in 1778. He spent 14 years renovating the Estate. One of the earliest buildings was the Winery with its beautiful sculpture on the pediment of the main door, believed to have been created by Anton Anreith, a German Sculptor who worked in the Cape. As an interesting aside Mrs Cloete made a superior Van der Hum Liqueur, the recipe is still with the family today.
Hugh Johnson, one of the UKs most respected wine writers wrote, “From these Elysian ﬁelds used to come one of the very greatest wines in the world — the legendary Constantia. Constantia was bought by European courts in the Eighteenth and Nineteenth centuries in preference to Yquem, Tokay & Madeira.”
Emperors and kings, from Frederick the Great of Prussia to King Louis Phillipe of France all vied for their share, as did William Pitt the Younger at No 10 Downing Street. Dickens wrote of the wine in Edwin Drood, Jane Austen’s character recommended it as a cure for a broken heart to heroine Marianne Dashwood in Sense and Sensibility. Famous French writer, Charles Baudelaire compared Constantia wine to his lover‘s lips in his volume of poems, Les Fleurs du Mal. Before his death in 1821, Napoleon had 30 bottles a month shipped over to St Helena to ease his exile.
Today Boela Gerber, Groot Constantia’s award-winning wine maker, replicates this wine in the Groot Constantia Grand Constance 2014. Made from red and white Muscat Frontignan, which have taken a long slow while to ripen and gather up all the aromatic aromas and flavours. Once fermented the wine is taken to French oak barrels for two years.
It looks like
Bottled under a natural cork closure in a specially made bottled and packed in a wooden case. In the glass, the wine is a delicate amber.
It smells like
Heavy aromas of rose and Turkish delight.
It tastes like
Once in the glass, the aromas reveal themselves. At entry the wine is sweet, mouth filling and complex. It continues through mid-palate where touches of candied naartjie peel, soft dried apricots and peaches present themselves. The full, almost caramel sweetness is perfectly balanced by a crisp acidity.
It’s good with
While most would think of it as an after-dinner wine, it is wonderful with a smooth chicken or duck liver paté. Perfect with dessert, a glass in the afternoon with a slice of cake or at the relaxing moment after a good dinner. Dianne Bibby’s Milk Tart Pancake Mille Feuille is the perfect accompaniment to this wine. Milk Tart is so South African. Click here for her recipe.
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