Friday, August 16, 2019

Tasting with winemaker Justin van Wyk at Constantia Glen

Our wine club meeting this month was at Constantia Glen with winemaker Justin van Wyk. Welcomed with a glass of RoseMarie and Funa 2014 MCC, named after Rosemarie Waibel whose father, Manfred, acquired Constantia Glen in the late 1950s, and her beloved Welsh Corgi, Funa. Only available from the farm at R290 a bottle. Bready richness on the nose, a lovely tingle and clean apple and citrus on palate, long and satisfying. Because it is made from bought-in grapes, it does not carry the Constantia Glen Estate label or appellation
We began at 6 pm in the Conservatory and it was still light
Its a lovely place for a tasting; you get the views of the valley and they had a roaring fire lit
Justin has been with Constantia Glen for 12 years. He told us that the farm has 29 hectares under vines; 20 are red grapes, 9 are white grapes. They have North facing sunlight exposure but they are cooler, as they are high on the mountainside. There are 420 vineyards remaining in Constantia, of which 195 hectares are planted with Sauvignon Blanc
He told us some history of the farm
and we began the tasting with the newly released classic Eagles Nest 2019 Sauvignon Blanc, crisp and full of figs and green peppers. Stainless steel fermented Clean, crisp and lasting, showing its terroir, just the style we prefer. Then the Constantia Two a blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon. 7 months barrel fermented 15% new, the balance 2nd to 5th fill and there is an element of Amphora. Smoky bacon nose, dusty semillon, a lovely blend of flavours integrated, oily lanolin, with gooseberry and apple with a crisp end
A rapt audience enjoying the wines
We had two tables next to the windows
As the light began to fade over the wines, the rain began and it was quite a downpour
It makes a wonderful sound on their corrugated iron roof and the farm has some of the best views in Constantia
Some exotic touches
Next the Van Wyk wines, Justin's own brand. The Chenin Blanc is dusty and smoky with fennel and asparagus notes, rich fruit on the palate, a lovely rounded mouthfeel, with more richness on the end. Old vine Chenin grapes from Polkadraai in Stellenbosch with the best acidity. The Riesling is immediately identifiable with a touch of terpene on the nose. Non vintage from 2018 and 2017 harvests, Crisp and delicate on the palate, perfumed and enjoyable. 18 months in barrel, the grapes are from sandy soil in the Helderberg.  The final white wine was the Cape Blend, an award winning blend of  58%  Chenin, Chardonnay, Riesling and 2% viognier. Apples and complexity, a layered wine with roundness and some salt on the palate, unconventional but food friendly, with freshness and some peach from the viognier on the end. High scoring on the night
Justin's two Van Wyk Family Wines red wines, the 2018 rich Syrah whose grapes come from Elgin, has beautiful fruit, elegance, power and incense wood. Cherry berry fruit with depth and purity on the palate. Soft and juicy, it then shows some umami flavours, with a hint of white river stone minerality, so interesting, so enjoyable.  The 2018  Rebecca May is a modern blend of 58% Cinsault, 25% Syrah and 17% Grenache. Grapes from Constantia, Houtkapperspoort, Stellenbosch and Slanghoek.  Smoky bacon, wildness from the dusty Grenache and full on fruit in layers with a little lactic on the end. Drink chilled in the summer as well
The final two Constantia Glen wines are known and loved by most members of the Oenophiles wine club and never disappoint; all grapes are from the Estate. The 2016 Three is a Merlot based blend, with umami on the nose, almost soy sauce, then cassis and cherry berries. Rich Cherry berry flavours of the palate, performing so beautifully. The 2015 Five is their award winning Bordeaux Blend using all five of the traditional grapes, so satisfying, so layered and sophisticated, with soft tannins and minerality, a wine to keep and drink with good rich food. We had arranged for food to be provided afterwards and we really enjoyed a vegetable soup, an onion soup and a pot of Goulash soup, made with proper Austro-Hungarian paprika. Perfect to pair with all the wines and great on a cold, rainy evening. Good bread and butter were provided and some toast topped with cheese to float on the onion soup. We left very satisfied.  Contact the farm for details of how your wine club or group of friends could do a similar tasting. There is of course a cost involved. Check out their web pages
Thank you all at Constantia Glen for a very, very enjoyable evening, with loud applause to winemaker Justin
All content ©  John & Lynne Ford, Adamastor & Bacchus

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