The wines of Eagles' Nest, Constantia
South Africa revisited part 17


Eagles’ Nest is a new venture, based high up in the slopes of the Constantia mountains. The current vineyards were originally part of the Groot Constantia estate, which was sold in two pieces. The history of this particular farm goes back to 1836, and it has changed hands a number of times. Most recently, it was a fruit and vegetable farm.

We met with owners Jonathan Mylrea (left) and Peter Stewart (right), along with winemaker Stuart Botha (centre).

Jonathan’s father bought the farm in 1984. He renovated it, planting proteas, table grapes and kiwi fruit. But then in 2000 there was a huge fire that caused devastation: only the historic buildings were spared. One of the options for returning the capital value of the property, was to turn it into a vineyard.

‘It has been a long hard slog,’ says Jonathan. There are now 12 hectares of the 38.4 hectare property under vine, with the lowest vineyard at 140 m and the highest part at 400 m. Because of the steepness of the slopes, the vineyards are terraced.

It’s a relatively cool site, with temperatures in mid summer hitting 25–28 °C in Constantia (versus 35 °C in Paarl), and as low as 19–20 °C at the top of the property. The grapes planted are chiefly Merlot, Shiraz and Viognier. Martin Meinert is consultant winemaker here, helping resident winemaker Stuart Botha.

‘Stylistically, these wines have to be classic,’ says Botha, ‘not in a new world style: we aim to emulate the regions where these varieties came from. You can make wines showy or sweet, but these wines are more for the discerning wine drinker.’


Eagles’ Nest Merlot 2006 Constantia
Very appealing aromatic nose with smooth, brooding, pure dark cherry and plum fruit, as well as refined mineral, chalky notes. The palate is smooth and ripe with lovely fine-textured structure under the smooth red and black fruits. Very sleek and sophisticated. An elegant style that’s drinking well now but with potential for development over five years or so. 91/100

Eagles’ Nest Shiraz 2007 Constantia
Aromatic nose is sweet and savoury at the same time with some distinctive floral/meaty notes. Lovely elegance despite the richness. The palate is smooth and rounded with lovely poise and elegance, and distinctive bacon and olive notes alongside the pure fruit. 93/100

Eagles’ Nest Shiraz 2008 Constantia (cask sample)
Very fresh and bright with some floral perfume. Spicy, meaty and focused with bright blackberry and raspberry fruit. Nice acidity with lovely focus, and subtle meatiness. Less bacon character than the 2007. 92–95/100

Eagles’ Nest Viognier 2008 Constantia
It’s a late-ripening variety that does well in cool areas where it retains freshness. Powerful, bold nose of peach, apricot and herb notes. Aromatic. The palate is beautifully focused and dry. Not too rich but with lots of dense peach and pear fruit. Complex and alive with lovely focus. 93/100

Part 1, Tulbagh Mountain Vineyards
Part 2, Cape Point Vineyards
Part 3, AA Badenhorst Family Wines
Part 4, Eben Sadie: Sadie Family Wines and Sequillo Cellars
Part 5, Paul Kretzel of Lammershoek
Part 6, Mullineux Family Wines
Part 7, Vondeling
Part 8, Scali
Part 9, Sterhuis
Part 10, Raats
Part 11, Migliarina
Part 12, Charles Back and Fairview
Part 13, Hermit on the Hill
Part 14, Klein Constantia
Part 15, Paul Cluver

Wines tasted 09/09  
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