Six Sauvignons from South Africa's Constantia presented by Oz Clarke
The Constantia Wine Route is serious about Sauvignon Blanc. And so is Oz.
For this tasting, Oz presented six of his favourite Constantia Sauvignon Blancs to explain out why these wines are a firm favourite on top wine lists.
Joined on-screen by the winemakers behind each of the wines, they discussed why the unique cool microclimate in the foothills of Table Mountain produces such elegant wines of inimitable structure and finesse that have the ability to bottle-age, developing even further in complexity and truly expressing their terroir.
All the wines in this tasting were complex and elegant with savoury saline-minerality.
The sweet wine of Constantia was historically one of the most highly-regarded in the world, along with Tokaji and Madeira.
It fell out of fashion and eventually disappeared completely, but just as Tokaji has reinvented itself with dry Furmint, so Constantia now makes dry wines, and especially Sauvignon, following the template of New Zealand more than Sancerre.
A small region of less than 10km by 2 km with ancient soils and views of False Bay, cooled by icy Antarctic winds off the coast, it can be 10C cooler than just a few kilometers away.
The focus here is much more on quality than quantity.
Constantia Royale Sauvignon Blanc 2020 – Roger Burton
A smaller, newer winery in the area, growing 100% Sauvignon Blanc; lower altitude, in a valley with two banks, one producing steelier wines, the other lusher.
cidery bruised apple, elderflower and grapefruit; ripe yellow stone fruits with savoury brazil nut and brioche, fresh acidity and saline minerality; very elegant and poised.
Groot Constantia Sauvignon Blanc 2021 – Boela Gerber
vineyards at between 40m and 280m altitude; their Sauvignon tends to be from higher locations; they add around 5% Semillon to the blend and use some skin contact to extract more flavour
aromatic and lifted with orchard blossom; tropical citrus fruits with pineapple and passionfruit, lemongrass, lemon pith and lime zest, herbal and leafy, saline mineral. Intense and complex, can be aged.
Klein Constantia Sauvignon Blanc 2021 – Matthew Day
Focused on terroir, they make wine in a slightly oxidative style for greater aging potential using wild yeasts and skin contact; their east-facing vineyards ripen much earlier and producer riper, plusher wines vs south-facing.
ripe leafy green fruits - apple, greengage and figs - with yellow stone fruit, passionfruit, verbena and hedgerow flowers; fresh, flinty, savoury, saline-mineral and complex
Constantia Glen Sauvignon Blanc 2021 – Justin van Wyk
200m - 275m up the hill, 11km from False Bay, historically too difficult to farm and was used for grazing cattle; bought by an Austrian family in 1960, vineyards planted in 2000; a mixture of red Bordeaux varieties plus Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon planted on cooler south-facing sites; cold fermentation to retain aromatics.
aromatic lemon verbena and orchard blossom; greengage plums, zippy lime, graefruit and boiled lemon sweets with a concentrated, persistent salinity.
BuitenverwachtingVineyard Selection Sauvignon Blanc 2021 – Brad Paton
Blended from a selection of slopes with different aspects, all affected by cooling winds from the Atlantic and with significant diurnal temperature variation; between 2% and 4% RS to round out the acidity with around 12 hours' skin contact
herbaceous and leafy with nettles, gooseberry and ripe green fruits; scented, citrussy-minty and textured, savoury and persistent with roasted nut and minerality.
Steenberg Sauvignon Blanc 2021 – Elunda Basson
The estate dates back to 1682, originally settled by Germans; lower lying site, cooled by south-easterly winds; reductive winemaking, aged on the lees.
lemon verbena, spearmint and nettles; grapefruit, brioche, salty roasted nuts with savoury lemon pith complexity and leesiness.