Groot Constantia Newsletter – June 2006

  • Post category:Blog

As tradition has it due to the late ripening of our grapes, the Groot Constantia harvest for 2006 extended well into April.

Especially now that we are once again making a sweet wine – Grande Constance – that sees cellarmaster Boela Gerber waiting for the last grapes while his other vinous comrades are already heading off to Namibia to go fishing.

It would seem, however, that Boela is having the last laugh after this year’s harvest. ‘Looking at the quality of the wines fermenting and in barrel, I am like a kid before Christmas!’ he says.

What seemed like a frustrating harvest that was never going to end, turned out to be an absolute magnificent vintage. The only downside is that due to the driest summer in 9 years our crop volume is down by 25%.

The Groot Constantia Estate had a rather unusual ripening season, with relative low temperatures until the end of December, as well as very little rain and a lot of wind. January saw temperatures increasing a bit with the mercury rising into the low thirties on three occasions during the harvest, perfect ripening conditions. The combination of little rain and lots of wind resulted in the healthiest grapes that the Estate has seen for the past few years.

The 2006 harvest was also characterised by a lot of unevenness, from budding to veraison, through-out the South African industry. This put a lot of pressure on viticultural maestro Calie Bröcker and the vineyard team. By innovative canopy management this problem was addressed from an early stage, and any unevenness that was still to be found after veraison was removed to ensure that only the best bunches were left to ripen. It proved to be the correct approach as the quality of the fruit that got to the cellar eventually was absolutely superb.

Another encouraging trademark of the 2006-vintage is the phenomenon of ripe fruit at relative low sugar levels, which will obviously mean slightly lower alcohols. We’ve been working on this particular aspect in the vineyards as well as the cellar for the last few years, and the result is beautiful balance on the 2006 wines.

A quick summary of the whites and reds are as follows:

White wines:  An amazing mixture of tropical fruit with typical green grassiness on the Sauvignon’s as well as the Semillon’s. The Chardonnay’s are also very promising with loads of ripe summer fruit. We have experimented with natural fermentation on a portion of the Chardonnay’s, and the results are amazing.

The reds in general have very good fruit expression and are pitch black in colour. The Pinotage is very elegant, while our Merlot’s are surprisingly powerful this year. The Cabernet Franc is nothing short of magic. Shiraz is showing great potential again this year, but the real star of the harvest at a very early stage seems to be the Cabernet Sauvignon. I am extremely excited about the Cab’s. Awesome fruit on the nose as well as the palate, well structured, elegant wines. Save your money to invest in the 2006 Gouverneur’s Reserve!

NOW that the Gouverneur’s Reserve, Groot Constantia’s flagship wine, has been mentioned, it is apt to state that this wine is mustering up a huge reputation. Our Bordeaux blend of 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot and 10% Malbec grapes was recently adjudged Best Red Wine at this year’s prestigious Swiss International Airline Awards held on our doorstep at the Cellars Hohenhort. This year’s competition attracted 631 entries, 59% more that the previous year. As Marilyn Cooper, CEO of the Cape Wine Academy says: ‘This is the most strict, yet most credible awards programme in the country.’

For the Groot Constantia Gouverneurs Reserve 2003 to walk away with the award for Best Red Wine is no mean feat.

‘Looking at the credibility of the Swiss International Airline Awards as well as the calibre of entrants the show attracted, this is a major achievement for Groot Constantia,’ says General Manager Jean Naudé. ‘A few years ago a national magazine asked when Groot Constantia was going to make a great wine again. Well, here it is!’

Proof of this wines stature was also found outside the panel of Swiss International Airline judges.

Last month the Gouverneurs Merlot 2003 came second getting a good score at a tasting organised by the Wine Tasters Guild of South Africa, a very well established wine tasting club that has been swirling and sniffing since 1938. Today the Guild has a membership of 75 people and a half a dozen of them live in the UK and Europe. They have their wine tasting on a monthly basis as well as doing outings on a Saturday to the various wine regions.

Last month our Groot Constantia Gouverneurs Merlot 2003 was tasted and there were 10 wines in all, and our wine came in second getting a good average score of 16.04 the highest score being 16.85.

BUT wait – there’s more!

Writing in the Sunday Times of 14 May this year, wine critic Neil Pendock said: ‘…it is no surprise to note that Bordeaux blends make the best local reds, and they don’t come much better than this (Gouverneurs Reserve 2003) elegant beauty from Boela Gerber, the most underrated Winemaker in the Cape.’

Gouverneurs Chardonnay 2004 has also received some wonderful accolades, ‘Gold’ at Sante Classic Wine Trophy 2005 as well as a ‘Gold’ for the Juliet Cullinan Wine Awards 2006. Come and tantalize your taste buds with the wines of the Estate.

Not to be outdone, Groot Constantia PRO Mery Uribe attended the national INDABA tourism showcase in Durban as part of the Cape Town Big 6 Destinations, of which the Constantia Vineyards is one. Well, the Big 6 Stand won the Gold Award for the Best Stand!

The stands were judged for excellence in stand designs and marketing promotions by the Exhibition Association of South Africa (EXSA) in terms of size and classification according to percentage scored.

No stranger to INDABA, Mery said this year’s event was the best ever. ‘The show attracts many tour operators and travel agents from across the world,’ she said. ‘It was a very successful trip in that a substantial amount of new and renewed business was made. It is also showed that by harnessing our energies as part of the Big 6 with five other Western Cape tourist attractions, namely Cape Point, Table Mountain, Kirstenbosch, Robben Island and the V&A Waterfront, the Constantia Vineyards is able to attract a lot of interest and attention. I am positive that this will translate into good business for the region.’

There are, as usual, many reasons to pop into Groot Constantia. The Historical bath has been tastefully renovated and has to be visited. Under the new ownership, the Jonkershuis is cooking-up a storm. They had a great summer season and the appealing venue promises to be a cosy respite from the winter chill.

Contact any of our two Restaurants on the farm Jonkershuis and Simon’s for their wonderful Winter Specials.

CAPE WINE 2006 went off without a hitch, it was held at the Cape Town’s Convention Centre, this show is held every 2 years. It is a good place to showcase your wines and to reinforce existing clients as well as new ones. This is where wine buyers from all over the world come together, seeing, tasting and experiencing what the wine industry has to offer. It also makes us all proud to be part of the South African Wine Industry.

Come and taste some of our Award Winning Wines on our comfortable couches in front of a lovely roaring fire.

At our wine sales counter we have a box where clients leaving their business cards stand a chance to win a case of wine. Our first winner of our lucky draw is: Mr Steve Myles

THE list goes on-and-on.  But everyday is a good day to VISIT GROOT CONSTANTIA

Remember we are open 7 days a week from 09h00 till 17h00.