Constantia & Noordhoek, South Africa
Cape Point Vineyards
Cape Point; Mondays – Fridays: 09:00 – 17:00, Saturdays: 10:00 – 17:00, Sundays: 10:00 – 16:00
Chapman’s Peak road near Noordhoek
Cape Point has a cheap range called Splattered Toad. The 2010 Sauvignon Blanc (R38) was made from grapes sourced from the west coast. You get what you pay for. The 2010 Cape Point Sauvignon Blanc has 10% Semillon and is lightly oaked (R90). We have had their Sauvignons previously and have always been impressed; can’t really say why we weren’t this time. Maybe we are getting allergic to wood in Sauvignon. The flagship Sauvignon, the 2009 Isliedh, had 15% Semillon and was 100% oaked, 50% in new oak. A cynic might say that the oaking is used to justify a significantly higher price (R235). We say we don’t like it, whether it be in SA, France or New Zealand; in our view it destroys the Sauvignon and is like the overoaking movement that almost destroyed chardonnay.
We then went to Constantia via Chapman’s Peak. If you haven’t done this drive it is a must; quite spectacular.
Just over Constantia Nek on the way down to Constantia are new estates Constantia Glen and Eagles Nest, both of whom established their vineyards in 2000.
Constantia Glen homestead
Constantia Glen cellar door view
Constantia Glen; no cellar door times on the website – probably Mondays – Fridays: 9 to 5
Main Road, Constantia
An impressive place; great view and money no obstacle. We tasted both the 2008 (R75) and 2009 (R100) Sauvignon Blancs. Both had a slightly sour taste, perhaps because of the young vines. We then tried their 2007 red blends named Three (R150) and Five (R245) because they had varying proportions of the 5 grapes used in a bordeaux blend. Young vines and high prices I am afraid. They will probably be worth it when the vines are 10 years older.
Eagles Nest; Mondays – Sundays: 10h00 – 16h30
Main Road, Constantia
The tasting rooms are near the main road so one does not get to see what must be as spectacular a place as Constantia Glen. The 2010 Sauvignon Blanc (R75) is sourced from the west coast. Why Eagles Nest bothers to dilute its brand like this only they will know. Apparently they don’t have space for Sauvignon grapes but then they can plant Viognier?? The 2009 (R125) was a bit too oaked for our taste; more south of France than Condrieu. The 2008 Little Eagle red blend (R65) was outstanding value for money. The 2006 Merlot (R120) had good fruit and tannins. The bordeaux blend, Verreaux 2008 (R145) was one of the better merlot dominated blends that we tasted. The age of the grapes was evident in both; maybe in five years time. The award winning 2008 Shiraz (R190) was sold out.
Constantia Uitsig Mon – Fri: 09h00 – 17h00; Sat, Sun & Public Holidays: 10h00 – 17h00
Their tasting rooms are at the entrance to the farm. Their Sauvignon Blanc has always been one of our favourites. We tried the 2010 Sauvignon Blanc as the 2009 was almost out of stock and they did not have any in the fridge. We also tried the 2009 Chardonnay. Both were a touch too sweet for our taste.
This was all getting quite depressing – 4 quality vineyards and we didn’t like anything enough to buy it. Hopefully the last, Steenberg, would not disappoint.
Steenberg cellar door looking up the hill
Steenberg cellar door
Steenberg; Mondays – Fridays: 9h00 – 18h00, Saturdays and Sundays: 10h00 – 18h00
Very impressive restaurant and tasting complex and, of course, the views. We tried their 2008 (special offer R70) and the 2010 (R76) Sauvignon Blancs. They told us that they had held back some 2008 just to show how their wines could age. A cynic might point out that 2008 was a really duff vintage for white wines in SA. However, we liked both. The 08 was more restrained, perhaps a winter Sauvignon whilst the 10 was ideal for 33c which it was at the time. We then tried the 2008 Merlot and Shiraz (both R102). They were both pretty good but completely outclassed by the Catharina 2007 (R149) which was stunning – great fruit and nice soft tannins. There is a good story to accompany this wine. Suffice to say, there are grounds for arguing that Steenberg is the oldest vineyard in South Africa; established even before Groot Constantia which ordinarily lays claim to being the oldest. We bought the 2 Sauvignons and the Catharina.