Groot Constantia is, in my opinion, the Cradle of the South African Wine Industry. Things really got serious here in wine terms when Simon van der Stel, the previous Dutch Governor of The Cape was granted the Estate in 1685. He laid down the rules and laws about wine making at the time. And in 100 years, Groot Constantia Wine was the darling of the crowned heads of Europe, British Prime Ministers and was written about by literary greats like Charles Dickens, Jane Austin and the French writer Baudelaire. Boela Gerber, Groot Constantia’s much awarded Winemaker now wears van der Stel’s mantle and once again Groot Constantia Wines are appearing on the shelves in other countries. The Groot Constantia Merlot 2017 is a perfect example of once of the fine wines now produced on the Estate.
The grapes for the Groot Constantia Merlot 2017 come from south to south east facing blocks of vines which grow in Glenrosa soils. Cooled by breezes which come over the Constantia Mountains from the cold Benguela Current which moves stately fashion up the west coast from the deep cold waters of the south Atlantic. And also, off False Bay. The grapes were destalked and crushed, and the juice pressed into stainless steel fermenting tanks. 18 months in 225 litre French oak barrels, 61% of which were new, such is the seriousness with which Boela takes his Merlot.
From a Bordeaux shaped bottle, closed with natural cork. The bottle is embossed in glass just below the neck with the word Constantia, which indicates that the grapes for the wine come from the Constantia Wine Appellation. In the glass, the wine is a deep opaque bloodplum at the heart which pales out to ruby at the edges. The aromas are of ripe plums, blueberries, dark chocolate with an undertow of oak and its concomitant spice and vanilla. The palate is full and generous, berries and plums abound. The tannins are firm, the oaking supports the fruit rather than competing with it. And it all finishes in a long and harmonious ending. While eminently drinkable now, it will reward you well with a couple of years of cool cellaring.
The Groot Constantia Merlot 2017 is a wine made for food. Do chill it for about 30 minutes in an ice bucket or the fridge. It does make for even more pleasant drinking. As a food partner, there are many suggestions, from seared tuna, to red meats, duck, chicken and cheese. A good idea for a weeknight supper is a cheese dish, with which this wine would be a perfect partner.
A dish like Nadia Graves’s Tartiflette, which you can make with Dalewood Fromage Languedoc, recommends cutting the rinds off. Click HERE for Nadia’s Recipe and to browse through her very French cooking website.
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