I’ve said before that I regard Groot Constantia as the cradle of the wine industry in South Africa. Founded by Governor Simon van der Stel in 1685, it can’t really be described as a new world wine industry. The Dutch had only recently drained the marshes of Bordeaux when Groot Constantia was already making wine. The mantle of Simon van der Stel now lies firmly on the shoulders of Boela Gerber the Estate’s Award-winning winemaker. Chardonnay is one of the tricks up his sleeve and the fine quality grapes produced in the vineyards by Floricius Beukes and his team.
The grapes for the Groot Constantia Chardonnay 2018 come from two vineyard blocks planted in Clovelly soil. Once hand harvested, the grapes were taken to the cellar where they were destalked and crushed. Fermentation and maturation took place in French oak barrels for 317days. 20% of the wines underwent spontaneous fermentation with yeasts from the vineyards. The mix of barrels was 35% new, 40% 2nd, 11%3rd and 14% 4th fill French oak barrels. A perfect selection to allow the fruit to shine.
From a Burgundy shaped bottle closed with natural cork. The livery is simple and elegant with an engraving of the Manor House. The bottle is embossed in glass with the word Constantia, announcing the appellation in which the wine is made. In the glass, it is a pale citrine in colour, and brightshining. The aromas and the palate run one into each other in the smoothest of segues, with the most delicious line of acidity running through from entry to the long and gently waning creamy aftertaste. Lemons, sweet tropical limes, windfall oranges, a touch of barley sugar and support from the oak. A truly impressive glass. You will be amply rewarded if you cool cellar a couple of bottles for a couple of years.
The grandness of the Groot Constantia Chardonnay 2018 is, for me, an indication that it is deserving of a plate of well-prepared food. Brilliant with a buttery roasted organic chicken. Just wonderful with a tranche of good cheese, like the Dalewood Fromage Languedoc, after a meal – I think whites are better with cheese than reds. Dianne Bibby’s Ginger & Turmeric Chickpea Stew is a perfect vegetarian option for a midweek supper to accompany a bottle of one of the Cape’s finest.
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