jamie goode's wine blog: Day 5 in South Africa: Constantia, Cape Point and sheet rain

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Day 5 in South Africa: Constantia, Cape Point and sheet rain

The final day of my South African itinerary was a really good one, only partially spoiled by some really awful weather. From lunchtime onwards, it poured with rain in true English fashion. This was pretty annoying, because we had left some time free in the afternoon for some R&R – specifically, we'd planned to go down to Boulders Beach to see the penguins. This was not to be.

The day started with a visit to Klein Constantia, where winemaker Adam Mason gave us a tour of their wonderfully scenic vineyards followed by a vertical tasting of the Vin de Constance, their remarkable sweet wine. It acknowledges the great sweet wines of hundreds of years ago coming from this region, which were among the most sought after in the world, but which went out of production. Klein Constantia revived them, and this tasting showed that it's a really serious wine that ages beautifully. The 1999 was my favourite of a very high quality line-up.

Our driver couldn't seem to find our next appointment – Eagles' Nest, a new Constantia producer. But eventually we did, and it was well worthwhile. They're making three wines: Merlot, Shiraz and Viognier, from some steep slopes on the side of the mountain. The Merlot is pure, refined and elegant, the Shiraz very old-world Syrah-style, with meat, pepper and vibrant fruit, and the Viognier is probably the best I've tasted from South Africa. One to watch.

Then, to the final appointment of the trip: Cape Point, with winemaker Duncan Savage (above). We tasted the wines over a really good lunch at the Food Barn, and I was very impressed. Duncan is known for making one of South Africa's top-rated Sauvignons, but he also does great Chardonnay and Semillon. He's currently shifting the focus of his Sauvignon away from the more methoxypyrazine style to one with more richness and depth, and he's stopping doing the Semillon because he wants to use this variety more as a blending component. These already wonderful wines will probably get even better. By the time we finished lunch the sheet rain had set in, so the visit to the beautiful Cape Point vineyard was a brief and damp one.



At 6:48 AM, Anonymous Angela Lloyd said...

Jamie, the rain you experienced yesterday fell (and is still falling) in serious quantities - 80mm between lunch 7/11 and 8am 8/11 (we're about 6 kms north of Constantia). While this is winter weather, it's not unprecedented in November, though after the storm a couple of weeks ago and this, 2010 is going to produce a smaller crop on many varieties.
So glad you enjoyed your trip; you certainly tasted the crème de la crème. I'm delighted you liked the Eagles' Nest Viognier; I agree it's one of SA's best.

At 5:03 PM, Blogger Vinogirl said...

I would love to try that Viognier, one of my favourite varietals but have never had a SA offering.


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