Thursday, October 18, 2018

Constantia Royale Sauvignon 2018 launch and Nova Zonnestraal cellar opening

For several years we celebrated special events with dinner at Parks, the restaurant operated in a lovely Victorian house at the foot of the Wynberg hill by Michael Olivier. We didn't know it at first, but it was part of the Zonnestraal Estate, owned at the time by Reg Parker. We'd been told that Mr Parker turned the old house into a restaurant so that he could entertain his friends without having to leave his estate. Most Capetonians have driven through the estate for the last 30 or so years because, when the M3 Blue Route freeway was built, it divided the estate. As this separated the two halves of the farm, a tunnel was built under the freeway to allow access between them. This tunnel has now been transformed into the storage cellar for the farm's wines and we were invited to the opening
The estate now belongs to Parker descendant Lynn Rowland. The property is part of the original Alphen estate, which dates back to the early 1700s. For many years, it produced table grapes, but the decision was made in 2002 to plant wine grapes: Sauvignon blanc, Merlot and Cabernet sauvignon. The cool Constantia climate is not the best for the Bordeaux reds, but is excellent for Sauvignon blanc and this is now the focus of their wine production. Semillon vines have been planted, but these are still too young for the grapes to be used. A portion of Semillon is used in the Sauvignon blanc to enhance it, but the grapes are bought in at present> Olives and thoroughbred horses are also important in the farm's portfolio
We were welcomed at the entrance to the cellar, next to the vineyard
Roger Burton (seen here with Rose, his wife) is the winemaker. Roger is well-known as consultant winemaker for Tierhoek in the Piekenierskloof area. He joined the Zonnestraal team as Constantia Royale winemaker in 2013. Roger has Constantia roots and a good understanding of the terroir, as he worked under Hermann Kirschbaum at nearby Buitenverwachting in the early part of his career
The 2016 Constantia Royale Sauvignon blanc earned 4½ stars in Platter and was a Top 20 finalist in this year's FNB Sauvignon blanc Top 10 competition. It was our wine of the week last week. The 2018 was there to welcome us at the cellar opening
Nibbles to welcome us: Prawn mousse on slices of cucumber
and an excellent selection of cheeses and breads
with chipolatas and a mustard dip
The guests in front of the cellar door before the official opening
The cellar was being used by the caterers as their kitchen for the event
with cases of wine lining the sides of the tunnel
and tables and chairs for anyone who did not wish to enjoy the beautiful Spring evening air
The view from the cellar to the farmhouse
A view of the young vineyards
and the party
The 2018 Constantia Royale
Lynn Rowland tells the guests about the history and development of the farm
and Roger talks about the vineyards and the wine
The party continued; John left early as Lynne was not well and had stayed at home

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