Constantia Glen winemaker embraces a decade of evolution

Winemaker Justin van Wyk, the sage behind Constantia Glen’s acclaimed cool climate wines, is celebrating a decade of winemaking prowess crafting South African benchmark Bordeaux-style wines.

Constantia Glen is the perfect fit for van Wyk, who cut his teeth on Bordeaux wines while spending a harvest at St Emilion in France, exactly 10 years ago during his early winemaking career. His love for this time honoured wine culture has stood him in good stead after joining Constantia Glen as assistant winemaker in 2008.

“It has been incredible to see how far all aspects of Constantia Glen have grown over the past 10 years. From the vineyards, the winemaking, wine sales and the hospitality offerings at the tasting room – everything has been evolving and developing to a point where we as a team are truly proud of what we have achieved,” says van Wyk, who considers himself extremely privileged to have been part of this growth.

He believes in respecting the terroir to enhance the quality of the wine, whilst maintaining its identity and sense of place: “It is an honour to make wine in the oldest wine region in the country where there is so much heritage, working with phenomenal grapes and incredibly diverse soils. It provides a wonderful adventure to produce the best possible wine from our estate grown grapes.”

The first Constantia Glen vines were planted in 2000 with the very first vintage of Sauvignon Blanc harvested in 2005. The first two Sauvignon Blanc vintages were made at neighbouring cellars until the completion of Constantia Glen’s very own cellar in 2007 just in time for the harvest season.

Constantia Glen Sauvignon Blancs have exceptional ageing potential attributed to the signature cool climate that bestows a deep concentration of flavours, low pH and good acidity to the grapes. These elements add freshness that gives the wine longevity. “We use lees contact and add a small portion of Semillon to coat the acidity and add weight and texture, which also contributes to the ageability of the wine,” explains van Wyk, who has been at the helm of the winemaking team since 2011.

“Showing the coolness of the vintage with such clarity that it becomes tangible from the first sip,” is how van Wyk describes the Constantia Glen Sauvignon Blanc 2018 vintage just released from these dryland vineyards on the upper reaches of Constantia Nek.

“This was a particularly cool vintage and a very long ripening period for our Sauvignon Blanc vines. This allowed for good concentration of flavour and phenomenal acidity in the grapes, resulting in a punchy, zesty and vibrant wine despite the severe drought that Cape Town suffered during the 2018 season,” says van Wyk.

This Sauvignon Blanc intrigues with upfront whiffs of lemongrass and lime, while one swirl of the glass unlocks a broader tropical spectrum of grapefruit and wild peach aromas. Expect a glimpse of blackcurrant, star anise and elderflower to grab your senses before taking the first sip. “It’s a perfect fit for poached scallops with wasabi lime granita,” adds van Wyk.

The Constantia Glen Sauvignon Blanc 2018 is available directly from the estate, as well as fine dining restaurants and boutique wine shops. It sells at a cellar door price of R180 per bottle. Known for exceptional cool climate Bordeaux-style red and white wines, Constantia Glen’s dryland vineyards are farmed without any irrigation.

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