With the process of blending that will determine the 2011 vintage of Constantia Glen Five nearing completion, winemaker Justin van Wyk today presented three versions for discussion, blend one consisting of 42% Merlot, 14% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Petit Verdot, 17.5% Cabernet Franc and 11.5% Malbec, blend two of 33% Merlot, 26% Cabernet Sauvignon, 17% Petit Verdot, 14.5% Cabernet Franc and 9.5% Malbec and blend three somewhere in between.
The first two wines were both excellent in terms of quality but significantly different in terms of style, the former elegant and the latter fuller and more dramatic. Constantia Glen consultant Dominique Hebrard has his roots in St-Emilion, where Merlot performs so well and therefore no surprise that he preferred wine one with its extra percentage of this variety. “It’s in my blood,” he said.
I liked wine two more on account of its extra grunt, but then I do tend to gravitate towards Left Bank Bordeaux. Curiously, all agreed that wine three wasn’t really in the running, a well-intended compromise that didn’t work in practice.
More generally, it’s fascinating to observe how this wine seems to get better year on year, these improvements to my mind the result of greater fruit concentration as knowledge of the vineyards grows as well as less new oak being utilised – down from 100% in the case of the maiden 2007 to 70% in 2011.