Constantia Uitsig Semillon 2009

André Rosseau and Francois Theunissen of Constantia Uitsig

André Rosseau and Francois Theunissen of Constantia Uitsig

One of the producers I will be reviewing for Platter’s 2011 is Constantia Uitsig and on Monday, I joined viticulturist and winemaker André Rousseau as well as marketing manager Francois Theunissen for a discussion of the new-release wines followed by lunch at La Colombe, twelfth on this year’s list of the world’s 50 best restaurants drawn up by Restaurant Magazine out of the UK and sponsored by S.Pellegrino. My job does not completely suck.

Gold at the end of the rainbow - a view of the Constantia Uitsig vineyards

Gold at the end of the rainbow – a view of the Constantia Uitsig vineyards

Most observers would agree that the property’s stand-out wine is its Semillon – the 2002 won John Loubser the title of Diners Club Winemaker of the Year title in 2003 while the 2007 rated 5 Stars in Platter’s 2009. Grapes come from a 1.5ha block planted in 1991 and winemaking is carried out at neighbouring Steenberg with input from John Loubser and JD Pretorius.

It’s the 2009 that’s next to hit the market, a vintage generally touted as being of exceptional quality, but when I was presented with it,  I was taken aback by how closed and tight it currently it is. How to rate it? The wine spent seven months in second- and third-fill barrels, so it’s hardly over-wooded…

Still marvelling at the Reserve 2003 encountered at Caveau at the Mill over the weekend (see here), I mentioned this to Rosseau and he immediately suggested we open a bottle to compare with the 2009. This was not going to be uneventful as the first one we tried suffered from random bottle oxidation, but the second one was in excellent condition with lime, thatch and honey on the nose while the palate showed wonderful texture and a pleasing note of nutty development.

Consult the WINE magazine ratings database and you will note that over the course of its life, the Reserve 2003 rated 1 Star in November 2004, 3½ Stars five years after vintage in April 2008 and I would suggest that it is not far off 5 Stars right now.

A couple of points: firstly, when I asked our La Colombe waiter Alex Heim at what price he might sell the Reserve 2003 to punters in the restaurant, he suggested around R700 a bottle. I therefore urge you to head to Caveau at the Mill in Newlands were it sells for a mere R145 a bottle and drink as much of it as you can.

Secondly, rating the 2009 blind as opposed to sighted, it would be easy to make the wrong call. It’s the sort of wine with which you need to spend time as it changes in the glass. Platter’s 2010 suggests it “begs fine food” and it certainly started to reveal a lot more when paired with my starter of warm salad of prawns and sweetbreads and even stood up to my main of Karoo lamb and other bits (including a side plate of smoked tongue!). Ultimately, however, you need to know the wine’s pedigree and realise that it’s going to take a good couple of years to show at its best.

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