Yesterday a vertical tasting of of all six vintages to date of Constantia Glen Sauvignon Blanc followed by lunch to mark the opening of the property’s new tasting room.
The tasting was hosted by winemaker Karl Lambour and consultant Dominique Hebrard, previously of famed St-Emilion property Cheval Blanc and now of Bellefont-Belcier.
There are some 30ha of vineyard planted on this property situated just below Constantia Neck, of which just under 10ha are Sauvignon Blanc: four clones on two different rootstocks, plantings undertaken between 1999 and 2001.
Maiden vintage 2005 and 2006 were made by John Loubser at Steenberg, Lambour and Hebrard becoming involved from the 2007 vintage. Significantly, these first two wines saw the use of ascorbic acid, something commonly added to prevent oxidation during the winemaking process but potentially compromising ageability. From 2007, Lambour dispensed with this practice.
My tasting notes and scores:
2005 – Yellow, brown tinge. Asparagus on nose and palate. Rich and full, lots of developed character. Long finish. Score: 15/20.
2006 – Yellow, brown tinge. Neutral on nose and palate. Very developed, dull. Score: 14/20.
2007 – Pale yellow. Pleasantly herbaceous on the nose. Well balanced palate with juicy fruit and fresh acidity. Lime fruit and just a hint of bruised apple secondary character. Almost saline finish. Score; 17/20.
2008. – V. pale. Reductive on the nose. Lime fruit and bright, almost tart acidity. Light bodied and rather austere. Score: 15.5/20.
2009 – Pale. Greater spectrum of aroma and flavour from grassy through citrus to tropical fruit. Rich and full but well balanced. Mouthwatering acidity, not at all hard or sharp. Score: 16/20.
2010 – V. pale. Gunpowder note on nose. Very primary on palate but shows great fruit purity, freshness. Great potential. Score: 16/20.
Lambour and Hebrard are pre-occupied with achieving “mouthfeel”, and incorporate various methods to achieve this: a portion of the wine fermented in old 600-litre barrels, the addition of Semillon from the 2008 vintage and extended lees contact. “Flavour intensity is a given in Constantia but great wine is about texture,” says Lambour.
Regarding the use of Semillon, it has only featured in minute quantities to date (5% in 2008, 8% in 2009 and 13% in 2010) and Hebrard is sceptical of its value past a certain point: “Semillon tends to make big, dull , wines, the dessert wines of Sauternes being the obvious exception. Sauvignon Blanc is much more capable of greatness. Constantia Glen must be about elegance, finesse, minerality and freshness.”
Both the 2008 and 2009 are available from the tasting room, were assistant Nadine Otto will sell you the 2008 for R50 a bottle if you take a case of six (price for a single bottle: R75). The 2009, meanwhile, goes for R100 a bottle.
For a previous post on Constantia Glen, see here.