Last night a six-course dinner cooked by Peter Tempelhoff of the Cellars-Hohenort Hotel in Constantia to mark the start of the fourth annual Constantia Fresh festival. With each dish, a Constantia wine up against one or two international wines.
And so, for instance, an intricate and beautifully plated yellowtail, octopus and oyster dish, three examples of Sauvignon Blanc – the lean and precise Buitenverwachting Husseys Vlei 2012 next to crowd-pleasing Cloudy Bay 2010 from Marlborough, New Zealand and the weird but wonderful Francois Cotat Les Monts Damnes 2010 from Sancerre, France.
Onto the reds and here a key insight for me is that while the local wines more or less match their international counterparts for fruit quality, they still show unnecessarily heavy-handed use of oak.
Andre Perret Les Grisières Saint-Joseph 2010 just shaded Groot Constantia Shiraz 2010 because in the case of the former, no need to see past all the toasty, tarry notes derived from barrel.
Similarly, Sandrone Nebbiolo d’Alba Valmaggiore 2009 showed great lightness of touch – medium bodied with great purity and liveliness ; the Nebbiolo 2009 from Steenberg, meanwhile, suggested that in time the property might make very good wine from this variety but in the case of this particular vintage, the fruit struggled somewhat to come out from under its veneer of wood.