Groot Constantia VSOP Cape Brandy and Grand Constance tasting at Groot Constantia.
It was a cold and wet winter’s day when we headed out to Groot Constantia for a visit with winemaker, Boela Gerber and marketing manager, Grant Newton. We sat sheltered in the newly refurbished Cloete Cellar, and as I looked out at the much needed rain, I decided it wasn’t a bad way to hide out from the weather. Although, rain or shine, any conditions would be fine for a tasting at Groot Constantia.
We were lucky enough to start off our day with a glass of Grand Constance, South Africa’s oldest wine, bottled in a replica of the original ‘Constantia Wyn’. This beautiful bottle is elegant and interesting, and marries perfectly with the wine inside. The wine has not been fortified, and the naturally sweet flavour is what makes it so unique. Boela explained that the process is very labour intensive, with workers walking up and down the vineyards handpicking the grapes. “All the grapes on Groot Constantia are picked by hand. When making Grand Constance, each raisin gets picked individually as opposed to dry wine for which grapes are picked by the bunch. In this way, picking for Grand Constance is a time-consuming process that sees the vineyards combed up and down every week for two months to pick individual raisins. Each vineyard gets criss-crossed for approximately ten times over two months before all the grapes are picked.”
It’s obvious that a lot of love goes into the creation of each and every bottle. I’ve never been a big fan of sweet wine, so I was pleasantly surprised to find myself constantly picking up the glass for more. It was absolutely delicious. Grand Constance is a blend of 30% red and 70% white Muscat, and the end result is a wine that is golden amber in colour and sweet on the palate. It’s obvious why it has won so many awards.
Charles Dickens celebrated it in Edwin Drood, Jane Austen’s character recommended it as a cure for a broken heart to heroine Marianne Dashwood in Sense and Sensibility and Charles Baudelaire compared Constantia wine to his lover‘s lips in his most famous volume of poems, Les Fleurs du Mal. Visit Groot Constantia and become a part of history.
We were all very excited to be a part of the next tasting, the Groot Constantia VSOP Cape Brandy, a relatively new release at the wine farm. There is speculation that brandy was first distilled at Groot Constantia in the 1700’s, which makes this new initiative all the more exciting. As an acknowledgement to the past, this five year old brandy pays tribute to the history of the farm. There has been a resurgence of interest in brandy over the past few years, and after our tasting it’s easy to believe that this appreciation is only going to grow. The Groot Constantia Cape Brandy is only available on the farm, and a limited amount has been bottled for purchase. We’re excited to see what the response is going to be, and I’m glad that we got the chance to taste it while overlooking the spectacular wine farm.
Constantia means loyalty and steadfastness, two qualities that the farm continues to uphold. Pop around for a visit. It’s a Cape Town must!