I always regard Groot Constantia as the cradle of the wine industry, an estate which in the late 18th Century had its wines in the cellars of crowned heads of Europe and William Pitt the Younger, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. Constantia wine was sent to Napoleon when he was in exile and dying on the island of St Helena. It was written about by such luminaries as Jane Austen, Charles Dickens and the French Writer, Baudelaire. The Groot Constantia Chardonnay 2018 wears the historical mantle of its predecessors. And Boela Gerber, the Estate’s multi award winning Cellarmaster, wears the mantle of his predecessors, Simon van der Stel and Hendrik Cloete. Groot Constantia is situated on the cool slopes of the Constantia Mountains and the vineyards are affected by the cold Benguela Current which runs up the West Coast from the deeply cold South Atlantic and nocturnal breezes from False Bay.
The grapes for the Groot Constantia Chardonnay 2018 come from two vineyard blocks at different altitudes, which are planted in Clovelly soils and cared for by the Estate’s Vineyardist Flo Beukes. Once hand harvested grapes arrive in the cellar, they are destalked and crushed and the juice taken to French Oak Barrels 35% new, 40% 2nd, 11%3rd and 14% 4th fill for fermentation and maturation for 317 days. 20% of the barrels spontaneously fermented, without the addition of yeast. During maturation time, the barrels were rolled frequently to stir up the lees, instead of batonnage. This enhances the mouth feel of the resulting wine. The wine was then prepared for bottling.
From a Burgundy shaped bottle, embossed in glass on the neck with the word Constantia, an indication of its Wine Appellation. The label is classic Groot Constantia with a charming etching of the Manor House. In the glass, the wine is a gem bright golden straw in colour. The aromas are, lemony citrus, as expected, with notes of marzipan and orange flower water. The palate from entry has a delicious balancing line of acidity which runs through the rich and generous middle and into a long, beautifully balanced aftertaste. Flavours of caramel creams, windfall oranges are in perfect harmony with the undertow of supportive oak and its concomitant spice and vanilla. The wine is now two years old and in excellent shape for a couple of years of cool cellaring.
The Groot Constantia Chardonnay 2018 is a fine food wine, whether it is to accompany an organic butter roasted chicken, crispy rustly roast potatoes and real gravy for the traditional Sunday Roast lunch or a simple well-prepared midweek supper, it does very well. Dianne Bibby’s ‘My Perfect Pickled Fish’ is a perfect dish for a post lockdown ladies’ lunch and a great partner to this wine. Click HERE for her recipe.
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