The weather has been fabulous- we had just a few drops yesterday, the first rain since last July. And the visits have been just as fabulous. Yesterday we revisited Brad Patton, winemaker at Buitenverwachting aka Bayten for the American market. The winery was closed because May 1 is a big bank holiday in South Africa but Brad opened the winery just for us. He’s a great winemaker and is proud that his sauvignon blanc was selected #63 in the 2014 Wine Spectator Top 100 Wines of the Year. He brought us on a cellar tour where we tasted two tank samples, including the 2015 sauvignon blanc. We also tasted the 1769, his version of Klein Constantia’s Vin de Constance, made from late harvest muscat de frontignan. We had 6 wines in all and the sauvignon blancs all expressed subtle aromas, very unlike the typical New World, but the taste was powerful. His wines are more like Sancerre and you should make a point of looking for them.
Back again to Steenberg where we had a private conducted tasting of 5 wines from their Ultra Premium range: 1682 Pinot Noir Méthode Cap Classique, abbreviated MCC; The Black Swan sauvignon blanc ’13; semillon ’13; nebbiolo ’13; Catharina ’13, a bordeaux blend of merlot and cab with 5% shiraz. We also had lunch in their very nice dining room where everyone could select from the menu, so we did a lot of sharing: half of this for half of that, all accompanied by the Rattlesnake sauvignon blanc ’14 and the shiraz ’12.
We ended the day at Klein Constantia whose claim to fame is the world-famous Vin de Constance. We tasted 5 of their wines, including a rarely produced riesling, and culminated with the pièce de résistance, Vin de Constance.
Our last day only had one visit: Groot Constantia, which means big Constantia, and at one time included Klein (small) Constantia and Buitenverwachting, which were subsequently divided into 3 parcels. Groot is a National Monument but the winery is operated by a private foundation. The other two wineries are privately owned. Groot makes outstanding wines and we had 6 of them after a private tour: Blanc de Noir ’14 made from merlot and cab; sauvignon blanc ’14 with crisp, fresh acidity; Gouverneurs Reserve White ’13; pinotage ’13, Groot being the only Constantia winery to produce a pinotage; shiraz ’12; the Gouverneurs Reserve Red ’12, a bordeaux blend; and we ended with their version of Vin de Constance which they call Grand Constance.
This was followed by a ‘light’ lunch: tomato & pecorino tart with chardonnay; salmon trout or loin of venison with pinotage; aged Huguenot or chocolat nemesis with port.
We now have had the 3 versions of vin de Constance so I think I should explain: this is a sweet, unctuous dessert wine that dates back to the 1600’s! It was famous throughout the world and enjoyed by royalty. It was Napoleon’s favorite wine and he supposedly drank 1 bottle a day when he was in exile. Then the wine stopped being produced and was only reintroduced in the 70’s by Klein Constantia, and they claimed the right to call it Vin de Constance. But the other 2 wineries that were part of the original estate: Groot and Buitenverwachting, produce their versions, only with a different name. Do they taste the same? Many similarities, but since our group had the privilege of tasting all three, the unanimous consensus was that Buitenverwachting’s ‘1869’ was the clear favorite, and the least expensive.
We ended a glorious stay in Capetown with a 7 course wine and food pairing at Myoga. Each course had 4 possible selections, each paired with a different wine so the wait staff had the unenviable job of coordinating the correct wine with each person’s selection. It made for slow service: a 4 hour dinner but I think everyone agreed it was quite a good experience. We all had amuse bouche, accompanied by Simonsig MCC, a blend of pinot noir and pinotage. I’ll just give my 7 course selections: country rabbit truffle terrine with Sijnn Saignée; butternut stinging nettle naartjie risotto with Secateur chenin blanc; poached egg, crispy pancetta, sourdough toast crumb, olive caviar, asparagus salsa, truffle chantilly paired with Marvelous White Blend; kalamansi sorbet cleanse; boer spiced blackened ostrich, smoked butter spinach phyllo parcels & tomato pomegranate salad with DeGrendel pinot noir; Alota chocolate (chocolate streusel, chocolate pot de crème, burnt white chocolate, white chocolat sorbet, milk chocolat granache, brandy snap, perles craquantes paired with Boplaase Cape Vintage port.
And they still weren’t finished: the grand finale was the dessert version of the amuse-bouche only with a sweet slant. They also brought out a special treat for the three people celebrating birthdays and a wedding anniversary.
I’ll submit my final blog tomorrow where I summarize the essence of our visits, and why I think all wine lovers should add Capetown to their bucket list.