There are few wines in South Africa, if indeed any, that have the pedigree and historical significance of this one. Typically, you would find bottles of Constantia Wine in the cellar of Frederick lV of Prussia, William Pitt the Younger, British Prime Minister, and in the cellars of Longwood House, the mansion on St Helena where Napoleon lived out his last years of exile. Napoleon had a monthly shipment of wine from the Cape.
Constantia wine was written about in the works of Jane Austen, Charles Dickens and Charles Baudelaire, the well-known French poet and essayist. The wines of ‘Mr Cloete’ of Constantia performed on the stage of Europe in the late 1700s and the early 1800s. It was the golden era for Cape Wines. Mr Cloete’s mantle is now worn by Boela Gerber, Groot Constantia’s Winemaker.
The cooling breezes from the Atlantic Ocean’s Benguela Current have a major effect as they drop down over the Constantia Mountains, ameliorating Summer heat in the vineyards. The White and Red Muscat de Frontignan grapes for this wine, delicious as table grapes as well, come from a vineyard next to the famous Manor House, which was planted on a duplex soil with sandstone-based topsoil on partially decomposed granite. The yield of 4 tons per hectare is very small.
A long ripening period ensured that the sweet berries were allowed to fully ripen and desiccate without botrytis. The raisined berries are selected and fermented on the skins with daily pump overs. After a week, the fermenting must is pressed, and allowed to ferment to the desired sugar balance in barrel. The wines are racked back into previous fill French Oak Barrels to mature for 24 months before blending and bottling.
The current vintage available is the 2016.
From a bespoke bottle, closed with natural cork and sealed with wax. The wine is presented in an elegant wooden box. There is a seal embossed just below the neck of the bottle. The label is ultra-simple and elegant. In the glass, the wine is a rich pale amber. The aromas are of caramelised coconut blossom sugar with an undertow of soft dried apricots and peaches and white flowers. These aromas flow naturally on to the palate where they find a zippy fresh acidity, which perfectly counterbalances the wonderful rich sweetness of the wine. There is a whisper of oak and its concomitant sweet brown spice and vanilla in the long lasting and gently waning aftertaste. A truly historic impressive glass. A wine like this can age beautifully if cool cellared for a number of years.
With what does one pair a wine like The Groot Constantia Grand Constance 2016. Or do you have a chilled glass at the end of a meal? It is a great partner to a smooth chicken or duck liver paté. It works well with an old-fashioned soup like Mulligatawny or a spicy carrot or butternut soup. Great with rich creamy desserts too. Perfect with a piece of buttery shortbread or a slice of plain cake….
CLICK HERE to listen to my podcast about the Groot Constantia Grand Constance 2016
Read more about Groot Constantia Wine Estate – CLICK HERE
Wines purchased off the website now will be delivered once the COVID-19 ban is lifted.