Klein Constantia 1986 and something topical

Feeling like I have billboarded my blog lately. Am I just a brand? Think I may have to give more esoteric tasting notes and topical stuff and less punting of parties and hotels.

So I had a lunch the other day and Chrisitian Eedes – who is fast becoming a favourite lunch buddy, he likes to bang fists on tables when making philosophical points about wine aesthetics as much as me – generously brought along some brilliant wines. One was a South African cult wine. A wine that the anoraks smile and nod about; an insider wine, a wine that I have been privileged to taste a couple of times.

This bad boy made just around the time I turned two. And it has aged just as well.

It is the 1986 Klein Constantia Sauvignon Blanc. This was the first wine made from grapes crushed in the new cellar (the last time this had happened was in 1930)* We tasted the wine blind amongst 5 other damn good whites. I knew that Christian was bringing the wine so it was easy to spot, that typical tinned asparagus/pea character that older Constantia Sauvignon Blancs display. This time it wasn’t thick and and gloopy as the aroma can be, but came out clean and fresh. The colour was golden. Out of the 4 bottles of this wine that I have tried (this was the first time I could say I drank it) this was one of the best. It was in perfect condition. Still alive, acidity clean and pure with a finish that went on for ages. So complex, with almonds, marzipan, an earthy wet character, and orange peel all there. Does that help much? No, well, here is my initial tasting note:

Wow. Nutty. Goes on forever. Love.

Which I feel sums it up completely. I love tasting older wines. Wines that still show life, life from a time when I was  - in this case – two years old. This wine, a 25 year old Constantia Sauvignon Blanc, is a privilege to taste. And everytime I do I get excited as it may be the last. Thanks Christian.

Ok, tasting bit done. How about something topical? (Sorry Lucy). Nothing more topical than a fresh press release. I really don’t like press releases. And I really didn’t like this one because it started with a bare-faced, bare-assed, butt-naked lie.

The subject shouts:  RMB WineX Cape Town 2011 Best Wines on Show announced.

Now, there were many ways for this to be said, “Most popular wines,” “Cape Town WineX’s Favourite Wines”etc. But to claim that these wines were the best is just silly. And it annoyed me. But I won’t go into that too much. Here are the wines:

Top three white:

1st place: Hamilton Russell Vineyards Chardonnay 2010

2nd place: Springfield Life from Stone Sauvignon Blanc 2011

3rd place: Vrede en Lust Viognier 2011

With the remainder of the top 10 being (in alphabetical order): Ataraxia Chardonnay 2009, Cape Point Vineyards Isliedh 2010, Diemersdal Sauvignon Blanc 2011, Idiom Viognier 2009, Meerlust Chardonnay 2009, Springfield Special Cuvée Sauvignon Blanc 2011, Springfield Wild Yeast Chardonnay 2009, Thelema Sauvignon Blanc 2010 and Vrede en Lust Sauvignon Blanc 2010.

And the top three reds:

Café Culture Coffee Pinotage 2010 (Oh good lord)

2nd place: Diemersfontein Pinotage 2011 (you gotta be fucking kidding me)

3rd place: Meerlust Rubicon 2007 (Phew.)

And the (rest in alphabetical order): Boekenhoutskloof The Chocolate Block 2010, Hamilton Russell Vineyards Pinot Noir 2009, Nederburg Ingenuity Red 2008, Raka Quinary 2006, Reyneke Organic Reserve Red 2008, Rupert & Rothschild Classique 2009, Tokara Director’s Reserve Red 2007 and Vrede en Lust Boet Erasmus 2008.

Quite simply these are the wines that those attending the Cape Town WineX and took the time to fill out the forms provided felt were their favourites. There is nothing wrong with this, and sort of interesting. But it surely is not the list of the best wines at WineX.

What I do think it points to is brand strength. Diemersfontein – that coffee abomination – has a remarkably strong brand, I have no idea why else people would choose it. Springfield similarly has a great attraction with people swearing by the stuff. I find some of their wines a little over the top for me. And, to be honest, pretty pricey.

I also think it shows a skill that some wineries have at Wine Shows. Raka was the top selling wine at the Mercury Wine Show in Durban, and here it is again on the list. Vrede en Lust is always on the list. Which has always confused me because the delight WineX visitors have for the wines has always been at odds with how I feel about them. Ho Hum. Someone at the event suggested it was all the “rooi rokke”.

In your face wines seem to do well at these sorts of events – easily understood, easily remembered. Sadly no Chenin was shown any love – no brand strength.   Sauvignon and Chardonnay dominate – strong ‘brands’ . The Chocolate Block is always up there. Funny, I remember one year someone making a big fuss about tasting The Chocolate Block, and ignoring the Semillon, Cabernet and Syrah. Odd. Brand strength.

Oh well. There you go. Tasting note and topical conversation. Amazing. I feel better now. Did you go to WineX? What was your favourite wine? Best answer wins…. haha just kidding.

*I lifted that info from Angela Lloyd’s blog at Grape.co.za

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Posted in Drunk, General, Opinion, Rants, and Stories
4 comments on “Klein Constantia 1986 and something topical
  1. elias says:

    Hi Harry, I have some klein constantia SB 1988 in my cellar, do you know if this as good as the ’86, have you tasted it maybe??

    • I don’t know. I can ask. But my real advice would be to open that shit and drink it now. If it is as good, it is time to drink it. If not, well it will still be drinking. I’m happy to pop round when you open it. I’ll bring the Champagne to celebrate the opening.

  2. Allan says:

    Hi Elias and Harry

    I am interested to buy a bottle of this vintage 1986 and 1988.
    Gentlemen, you are seller of these wines?
    Thank you contact me at:
    florence.martinat@neuf.fr

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