I always think of Groot Constantia as the cradle of the South African Wine Industry. I know that grapes were pressed before the estate was granted, I always think of Simon van der Stel as being the person who really got the wine industry going in the Cape. He was the first owner of Groot Constantia. Here it was that Mr Cloete brought into the world the iconic Constantia Wine, a sweet wine which was the toast of Europe. It could be found in the cellars of King Frederik 14 of Prussia, Prime Minister William Pitt the Younger and was written about by Jane Austen, Charles Dickinson and the French Writer Baudelaire. Napoleon, in exile on the Atlantic Ocean island of St Helena, had regular shipments made to him each month.
The mantle of these great winemakers now rests on the shoulders of Boela Gerber, Groot Constantia Cellarmaster and member of the prestigious Cape Winemakers Guild. The Groot Constantia Shiraz 2015 is a worthy Crown Prince in the Estate’s range of wines.
Shiraz grapes on the vine
The grapes for the Groot Constantia Shiraz 2015 come from a single vineyard on a slope which faces south and south east, which is about 80 metres above sea level. The vines are planted in a mix of Clovelly and Glen Rosa soils. Here the cooling breezes off the Atlantic’s Benguela Current blow gently during the day cooling the vineyards and allow for a longer hang time which brings greater flavour and colour to the grapes. Breezes as a result of nocturnal inversion come up the hill from False Bay to cool the vineyards at night.
The Shiraz grapes for the Groot Constantia Shiraz 2015 were hand harvested and brought to the cellar for destalking and crushing. Pump overs were done every 4 hours during the first half of fermentation. After fermentation, there was a four-week period of on skin maceration. This was followed by pressing and then preparing to go to French oak barrels, 24% of them new, the balance of them were 2nd, 3rd and 4th filled barrels. The wine was then prepared for bottling.
It looks like
Bottled under a natural cork closure in a Bordeaux shaped bottle with the elegant etching of the homestead on the label. In the glass, it is a deep bloodplum purple red at the core which pales out to ruby at the edges.
It smells like
Grand inviting aromas of black berries, like elder and blackcurrant. Oak and its concomitant spices.
It tastes like
Real generous and concentrated red and black fruit flavours, a grind of black pepper and scrunched fynbos herbaceousness. The tannins are firm though accessible and there is a brisk acidity in tail – these are indicators of how the wine will mature. Exceptionally well, I would have thought.
It’s good with
The Groot Constantia Shiraz 2015 is a serious wine which would be the perfect post prandial bottle on the verandah with a light cashmere jersey as the evenings draw in and there is the gentlest nip in the air. It is a perfect match for spicy dishes, such as a mild lamb curry, Sosaties with pork and apricots and a fully flavoured vegetarian main course. However with new season apples on their way in, here is my Pan Roasted Pork Chops recipe.
Pan Roasted Pork Chops with caramelised onions, apples & thyme, is a delicious supper dish and made in one pan. I think pork and apple were made for each other, especially when you have tart little Granny Smith Apples. The Willow Creek Garlic Flavoured Extra Virgin Olive Oil just adds a little je ne sais quoi to the dish like a garlic fairy has danced over the top.
Pan Roasted Pork Chops with caramelised onion, apples & thyme
What you’ll need
Willow Creek Garlic Flavoured Extra Virgin Olive Oil
4 pork chops, 250mm thick, skin off
2 large onions, cut in half then in 6 wedges
2 small Granny Smith apples, cut in four, seeds removed
8 sprigs of fresh thyme
½ bottle Everson’s Pomegranate cider, 175ml
150 – 250ml Chicken Stock
Sea salt and freshly milled black pepper
The oven cooking time is about 30 minutes, enough time for you to prepare a dish of vegetables for roasting. Cut into chunks, sprinkle with Willow Creek Gourmet Squeeze, sea salt and black pepper and rub together to coat all. Put in a couple of whole garlic cloves, skin on and twigs of rosemary. You will be able to squeeze out the sweet roasted garlic and eat it with the vegetables.
What you’ll do
Preset the oven at 180C
Trim the pork chops of excess fat, though do leave a bit on. You will find a silver film over the main muscle, slit it in parts to prevent shrinking while roasting. Season the chops well with sea salt and freshly milled black pepper. Pour a thin film of the garlic olive oil on the base of a non-stick frying pan which will go into the over. Heat the oil to medium heat and brown the chops on both sides without cooking them. Remove and set aside. Add a splash of Willow Creek Gourmet Squeeze oil if you need it. Add the onions, sprinkle with salt and the allow to get soft and colour lightly. Add the apples and continue to cook until well caramelised with the onions nice and gold in colour.
Return the pork chops to the pan and cover with the onion apple mixture. Place the thyme sprigs on top and pour over the cider and 150ml of the Chicken Stock. Keep the rest for later use if required. Bake in the oven for 30 minutes. Remove the chops from the pan. Add more stock should you require it. Thicken the sauce with kneaded butter [half soft butter and half flour by weight kneaded together], return the chops and serve with creamy mashed potato and a crisp green salad.
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