Groot Constantia Pinotage 2017, a good match with my Autumn Lamb Casserole…

Groot Constantia Pinotage 2017

In the South African Wine World, Pinotage and Groot Constantia are up at the top. Pinotage a grape created by Professor Abraham Perold in his garden at Welgevallen by cross pollination of the noble Burgundian grape Pinot Noir and Hermitage [say Err mi tajh], a grape from southern France. The idea was to cross the nobility of Pinot Noir and the heavy bearing character of Hermitage, now known as Cinsaut [sin so]. The birth of this grape, led, via a circuitous path to the Pinotage grape which took years to take off here in South Africa.

Pinotage, in the hands of the harvester

I found a number of Capetonians who have loved within a shortish walk from Groot Constantia, who have never visited this historic estate. I urge you to do so and have a tasting of the Estate’s sublime wines, led by very knowledgeable wine ambassadors. The old white washed buildings of the farmstead are a sight, as it the view from the werf down to False Bay, source of cooling breezes which ameliorate summer heat in the vineyards. Also, from over the Constantia Mountain breezes from the cool Benguela Current do the same job. Glenrosa and Cartref soils are to be found on the south to south eastern slopes in which the vineyards are planted.

Boela Gerber with Wine Trophies

The grapes for the Groot Constantia Pinotage 2017 were hand harvested and taken to the cellar to be destalked and crushed and then fermented by Cellarmaster Boela Gerber and his team. During this process there were four pump overs a day to extract colour aroma and flavour from the wine. This also leads to softer tannins in the final product. The wine was then racked to French Oak Barrels for a period of fourteen months. 43% of these were new, with the balance made up of second, third and fourth fill barrels. The wine was then prepared for bottling.

The Groot Constantia Barrel Maturation Cellar

From a Bordeaux shaped bottle, closed under natural cork.  The word Constantia is embossed in glass on the neck of the barrel proving that the grapes come from the Constantia Wine Appellation. The label is classical Groot Constantia with an etching of the Manor House. In the glass, the wine is gem bright, deep bloodplum at the heart of the glass which pales out to a purple tinged ruby at the edges. The aromas and flavours are quintessential Pinotage red berries, plums, fraises des bois, and oak with its concomitant spice and vanilla. Truly elegant glass with cashmere clad tannins interwoven with the fruit and oak in the long and gently waning aftertaste.

An excellent bottle to discuss the affairs of the world after dinner with a bar of snappy dark chocolate.  As a food wine, it loves spicy South African Foods like good boerewors, tomato bredie. My Autumn Lamb Casserole is a great partner.

Autumn Lamb Casserole, before the oven – picture by J Nel

My Autumn Lamb Casserole

You’ll need
2.5kg Lamb Shins, cut into 3cm slices
seasoned flour
4 Tbs Olive Oil
4 Tbs butter
3 onions – roughly chopped
4 fat cloves garlic – finely sliced
125ml good Cape Brandy
375ml full bodied red wine
3 Tbs tomato paste
3 Tbs apple or quince jelly
50ml sherry or red wine vinegar
750ml beef stock, I always use NOMU
25g flat leaf parsley – chopped [weight to include stalks]
2 large sprigs fresh thyme
2 large sprigs fresh rosemary
2 bay leaves
6 medium carrots – peeled and sliced into wine cork sizes
sea salt and freshly milled black pepper.

What you’ll do
Make the seasoned flour by adding sea salt and freshly milled black pepper to the flour, seasoning it really well.  In a heavy oven proof casserole, heat the olive oil and in it melt the butter.  Dip the lamb pieces into the seasoned flour and shake off the excess.  Brown the lamb over medium heat on all sides.  Do not overcrowd the pan.  Set the pieces aside until you have completed the browning.   Add the onions and sauté until just starting to colour.  Slip in the garlic and stir fry for a few minutes.  Add the brandy and immediately set it alight to burn off all the alcohol.  Now pour in the red wine, raise the temperature and reduce the red wine by half.  Stir in the tomato paste, jelly, sherry vinegar, beef stock, parsley and herbs.  You’ll find during the cooking process the herbs will cook off the stalks and you can remove the stalks before serving.  Return the meat to the casserole, add the carrots and season well with the sea salt and freshly milled black pepper.  Bring to the boil and then bake, covered in the oven at 180°C for 2½ hours.  Taste the sauce and readjust the seasoning and serve with Basmati rice and a green vegetable like runner beans.

Serves 6

Mr Cloete’s Cellar at Groot Constantia

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