A James Bond like introduction in the title? Where do I start with my wine review of this celebrated vintage. The Groot Constantia Chardonnay 2013! It was judged best Chardonnay in the world in 2015. 800 wines were entered from across the globe, so this is a big deal. Groot Constantia is the oldest wine farm in South Africa, and and it’s not simply because their vineyard is down the road that I am sharing this review. It’s because this chardonnay is something to write home about.
If I could usurp an adjective, used as a noun, to describe this Groot Constantia Chardonnay 2013, it would be Golden Delicious. I can’t remember apple notes when I tasted it, but the colour of gold and delicious flavours in my mouth, as I savoured each sip of this wine, is why golden delicious came to mind.
In November of 2016, I finished the last of my bottles of the vintage. I did make tasting notes on the night, with my bestie, and fellow wine club member, Chomba (or Choms as I affectionately call her). If you do get your hands on this particular vintage, do not wait any longer, simply indulge.
Chardonnay is not a popular wine in South Africa, when I compare it to the Sauvignon Blanc. I am not going to knock those who love their Sauvignon Blanc, but my preference for wine is a drink with a complex structure and a touch of colour for my eyes to enjoy before my other senses get evoked.
The wine is an unmissable golden, yellow colour. Even though we opened it at supper time, and there was no bright natural day light, we were left in no doubt about the colour. The temperature was also just right.
A word of advice, living on South Africa, our hot climate can be very tempting for people to chill their white wine to super cold. Don’t! I have experimented with this and when you have your bottle so cold that the condensation effect on the bottle leaves a layer of frost, your wine structure changes completely, leaving you with less to enjoy, in terms of flavours… In fact, you can barely pick up aromas or flavours.
It wasn’t our first time drinking this particular vintage. Sipping the wine was better than memory served me. “Stone fruit” Choms said with excitement… “It’s peachy!”, now more confident in what she was experiencing. I was still undecided as to what was happening in my mouth.
I was trying to figure out the sensations as I was having them, not what I heard. I definitely thought it was fruity… Choms did not know what the wine was that I had poured to go with supper, so she was in a sense blind tasting. She definitely approved, and our glasses kissed with a gentle ting sound, as we made eye contact and said cheers, then sipped again.
Chardonnay can sometimes fly off the handle with an inhospitable, buttery tone. Not this Chardonnay! It was a smooth and easy drink, all the way down your throat, with the sensation on your tongue after you have swallowed rather cordial. It was a long finish, still fruity in the mouth.
South African wines are spectacular, and the wine farms just add to the journey of the grapevine. The strength of a wine for me is clear when you sip it, away from the ambiance of the wine estate, and still find the experience pleasurable to your senses.
When I travel outside of South Africa, it’s not our premium wines I see out there, or even our great everyday drinking wines. On the one hand it upsets me, as we are not putting our best foot forward. On the other hand though, that gives me a lot to write about. My wish is to share our country’s wines with you, making it worthy of your eyes, your taste buds and your wallet to explore.