A GROWING NUMBER of wine lovers today are falling for Groot Constantia’s Grand Constance – a Grande Dame reborn, you might say. The thing is, this unfortified dessert wine is coming of age (again) after some of the vintages following the (re)launch eight years or so ago were met with mixed reviews – down-to-earth cellarmaster Boela Gerber is open about how things weren’t quite as perhaps they should have been. The 2008 vintage made some waves with good performances at the International Wine Challenge in London and on Platter’s tasting bench back home, but it’s the 2010 that marked a turning point with victories at this year’s Top 100 SA Wine Challenge, the International Wine Challenge, then the Michelangelo Awards and now at the International Wine & Spirit Competition in the UK.
Groot Constantia Grand Constance 2010 was one of five South African wines to win Gold (Outstanding) medals at the latest edition of the IWSC, one of the most established of the top competitions contested by wine-producing nations around the world. The other four outstanding SA laureates include the Franschhoek Vineyards Shiraz 2010 from DGB’s FranschhoekCellar, DurbanvilleHillsRhinofields Noble Late Harvest 2012, as well as the Private Bin R163 Cabernet Sauvignon 2008 and Private Bin Edelkeur Chenin Blanc Noble Late Harvest 2007 auction wines from Nederburg– see below for the names of all the Gold medal winners, or click here for more information about the competition plus the full results that extend to Silver (Outstanding), Silver and Bronze.
The maiden vintage of Grand Constance from Groot Constantia was 2003 and that of Vin de Constance from Klein Constantia was 1986. Both are the properties’ recreations of the sweet wines that were famous for their popularity among the rich and powerful or well-connected as well as authors and poets around the world during the 18th and 19th centuries – before the vineyards and cellars of Constantia experienced hard times lasting deep into the 20th century. And both are Natural Sweet wines from Muscat de Frontignan. But there the similarities end – even the bottles are different shapes. Price wise, it would seem that the folk at Groot Constantia are more conservative with their tag of R392 versus Klein Constantia’s R545 – until you remember or discover that the long-necked GC 375ml pack is smaller than KC’s 500ml beauty. And as to which nectar is most like that which Napoleon coveted and which Austen and Dickens mentioned in their books, we’ll probably never know – although the smart money is on the modern-day versions being ever-so-slightly more delicious!