Groot Constantia wine estate was recently awarded with the prestigious Chardonnay du Monde prize earlier in March, making this buttery, creamy yet perfectly balanced drink of the gods the official best in the world for the 2015 season.
The 22th international competition of the World’s best Chardonnay wines, Chardonnay du Monde was announced in the week of 11 – 14 March this year in the beautiful Burgundy wine region of France.
Competing against a large concentration of chardonnay wine and vast geographical diversity, 826 wine samples from 41 countries were tasted, and South Africa’s oak barrel aged 2013 Chardonnay took the top honours.
The prestigious Chardonnay du Monde is an international wine competition that has been held every year since 1993.
The winning Groot Constantia 2013 chardonnay also received a trophy at the 2014 annual Taj Awards, a gold medal at the Veritas Wine Awards, a Winemakers Choice Award, as well as a Terroir Wine Award.
The estate has won 86 top accolades since 2003. At the recent 2015 Taj Awards, Groot Constantia walked away with several coveted trophies – including the "most iconic producer".
World renowned status
Describing the estate as "iconic" is a certain understatement, considering just where Groot Constantia's wine have popped up over the epochs.
The exiled Napoleon Bonaparte, for example, had one wish before the drew his last breath: to drink of Groot Constantia’s Grand Constance. And so, this mighty French revolutionary died content after sipping on some world-class Cape dessert wine.
\The exiled Napoleon Bonaparte, for example, had one wish before the drew his last breath: to drink of Groot Constantia’s Grand Constance. And so, this mighty French revolutionary died content after sipping on some world-class Cape dessert wine.
In Sense and Sensibility, also Jane Austen's character Mrs Jennings recommends a little Constantia for "its healing powers on a disappointed heart". In the canonical novel Mrs. Jennings praises the wine saying, "I have just recollected that I have some of the finest old Constantia wine in the house, that ever was tasted..."
Charles Dickens' too, in his last (and unfinished) novel, 'The Mystery of Edwin Drood', has his character serve Constantia wine to the reverend Septimus by his mother. "As,” the novel reads, “whenever the Reverend Septimus fell a-musing, his good mother took it to be an infallible sign that he ‘wanted support,’ the blooming old lady made all haste to the dining-room closet, to produce from it the support embodied in a glass of Constantia and a home-made biscuit."
Also Charles Baudelaire's poem XXVI entitled 'sed non satiata Baudelaire' compares the charms of his beloved to the pleasures brought by Nuits-Saint-Georges and Constantia wine saying, “Even more than Constantia, than opium, than Nuits, I prefer the elixer of your mouth, where love performs its slow dance.”
There’s simply no denying that Groot Constantia’s prestige is cemented in world history, and the new Chardonnay du Monde accolade just serves as a reminder of this legacy.
Cape fire scare
Just three weeks ago, the estate had a near disaster scare when the Cape fires raged on their side of the mountain, and entered their premises.
Some of the vines too – a patch of leafy sauvignon blanc vines – were damaged by the flames. Luckily for Groot Constantia, however, the harvest in this area was completed a week before the fires started, and no fruits were spoilt.
The wine farm can thus uninterruptedly continue on with its 330th year of continuous wine production this year.
Leon Gietzman, floor manager of the Groot Constantia cellar, also explains that these burnt vines will be pruned in their dormant stage in winter, and when new shoots sprout, they’ll show no sign of damage felt in the previous season.
By another miracle of sorts, the estate’s well-loved Uncle Paul’s Castle, where the annual Wynberg Rotaract Christmas Fundraiser is held, was missed by the flames, even though it burned right around the area.
The Uncle Paul’s Facebook liaison made a post saying, “Miraculously, the Uncle Paul's Castle still stands proudly. We have gone up to take a look at the situation and can happily say that the castle was not affected and site is still intact. The fire managed to surround the castle, but somehow the magic of Uncle Paul's kept it from burning.
When on the Groot Constantia estate, one understands why this place is considered in the minds of locals and international visitors in a stately and successful light.
They honour the age old heritage of the farm, not only by preserving the buildings and cellar, but also preserving the wine making heritage that have gained them a spot in the modern world’s history books.
The estate’s Gouverneurs Reserve red wine, for example, is made in the old fashion – by extracting the juice from the grapes in barrels rather than in large stainless-steel mechanical structures.
It’s this personal touch to the wine-making, and the fact that they age the wine themselves in French Oak barrels that make this estates, and the wine that they cultivate, of the best in the world.
When you go
Cape Town Sightseeing
The Blue Peninsula route (the wine one) goes directly to and from Groot Constantia, stopping on an official stop on the farm.
Alternatively, you can drive yourself
Entry to the farm is free, but additional activities cost money
Wine tasting: R40 per person
Cellar Tour: R50 per person (including wine tasting); R25 (cellar tour only)
Chocolate & Wine Pairing: R75 per person
Picnic @ Simon’s Deli: A picnic for two, including wine, will cost approximately R450, depending on the contents
The rest of the Top 5 Chardonnay du Monde wines looked at follows:
Australia DB Reserve Chardonnay 2013 De Bortoli Wines
Switzerland Genève AOC - Chardonnay de Peissy - Elevé en fût de Chêne 2012 Cave Les Perrières
Brasil Casa Valduga Leopoldina Gran Chardonnay Do Vale dos Vinhedos 2013 Casa Valduga Vinhos Finos Ltda
France Champagne Bertrand-Lapie Millésimé Brut 2009 Earl Bertrand-Lapie
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