Groot Constantia’s Grand Dame make reappearance

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In the year of its 320th anniversary, the Groot Constantia Estate has reintroduced a modern version of the natural sweet wine that made Groot Constantia world-famous some 200 year’s ago.

The wine, named after the original Grand Constance, is a blend of red and white Muscat de Frontignan grapes picked during the latest stages of ripeness, barrel-fermented and then matured in old French oak barrels for 18 months.

According to Boela Gerber, cellarmaster at Groot Constantia, the Estate’s original natural sweet wines, also made from red and white Muscat de Frontignan, were bottled under the name Grand Constance. “With our strategy of new plantings and Groot Constantia’s broadening of its wine portfolio it was decided to re-introduce the wine that made the Estate world-famous all those years ago,” says Gerber. “Not only does this wine bring our portfolio closer to the Groot Constantia heritage, but market research has shown that there is an increased local and international demand for South African natural sweet wines.

“And seeing that Groot Constantia is where the South African wine industry was born with the making of these wines, it is appropriate that we continue the work of the founding fathers.

“To be able to launch these wines in the year of our 320th anniversary, adds that special touch, something the Grand Constance can bring to any occasion.”

The Grand Constance 2003 is made from red and white Muscat de Frontignan grapes that, according to Gerber, gain and extra dimension in Groot Constantia’s Mediterranean type climate with it cooling breezes from the Atlantic Ocean and average rainfall of 1100mm per annum.

The vines grow on unirrigated Cartref, longlands, Kroonstad soils and were picked at the end of March 2002 at 43° Balling. Twelve hours skin contact was allowed before the grapes were pressed. The juice was immediately cleaned and inoculated with selected yeast. Fermentation was completed in 300L barrels of old French oak.

After fermentation the wine was filtered and put back into the barrels for 18 months. After maturation the wine went through protein and cold stabilisation before bottling.

The colour is liquid amber colour. Gerber says: “One will find caramel, dried apricots, nutty and raisin on the nose, with hints of pineapple and honey. Dried fruit and honey follows through on the palate. The natural sweetness is well balanced by crisp acidity.

The wine is sold in specially packaged 375ml bottles at a suggested retail price of R150.