Tuesday 14 December 2021

Essential Snobbery 101: A few whines on wines

The first in the land

We were at Groot Constantia, the oldest wine estate in South Africa established in 1685 when it was built by Simon van der Stel, the first Governor of the Dutch Cape Colony. As we arrived after the restaurants had closed to serving breakfast even though it was well before noon, the prospect for a lunch did not appeal to me and nothing on the menu looked like brunch.

We both had a glass of Groot Constantia Method Cap Classique Brut Rosé, the Méthode Cap Classique (MCC) is the equivalent of sparkling wine from the Champagne region of France, but it cannot be called Champagne outside France.

Sniffing and tasting

Now, whilst I appreciate the work that goes into winemaking, one needs to be excused from the snobbery of liking wine by consensus when one does not find the wine to one’s taste and we have poured a lot more down a spittoon than drank of the wines we have tasted at many wine estates.

Of the five wines that I got to taste, there is not much of the superfluity of the oenophile in my description, it either worked for me or it did not. I suppose my nose is not as attuned to perceiving distinctive aromas as my palate might not be as sensitive as that of a Komodo lizard either.

Groot Constantia Rosé 2020

After the first sip, we found ourselves craving the proximity of a spittoon, for we were not enamoured, the Rosé was pale to a brownish hue and there was no lingering aftertaste. Forgettable was almost too effusive in praising the wine. Yes, it has won prizes, nonetheless not with us.

Groot Constantia Gouverneurs Reserve White 2018

The bouquet was fresh, and it touched the nose delicately. The first taste was good with a hint of elderflower, though I could not say this feeling would endure. Whilst it was vaunted as a flagship wine, for me, the ship has sunk, and all hands lost.

Groot Constantia Merlot 2018

In the glass, this presented long tears, it has been crying for a long time in French oak barrels for 18 months for maturation and distinction. A slight fruitiness, I perceived with a beautiful palate, though I felt it might need decanting to give my tongue the full experience.

Groot Constantia Gouverneurs Reserve 2018

I saw a full dark colour with a strong bouquet. Good enduring taste that was quite thick on my palate. Definitely one for meats and strong flavours. I could buy this, but not today. Best in class, they say, but who’s attending?

Groot Constantia Cape Ruby 2018

Cape Ruby is the designation for port wines in South Africa. This was sweeter and fruitier than what you get with Tawny port. I felt it did not have that strong port provenance that challenges the occasional aftertaste of a Stilton cheese. This would not do; I have to look elsewhere.

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