Journey into South African wine country Part 2

Continuing on the trail of our Constance sommeliers’ journey in South Africa to source some of the finest wines from the country to bring back for our guests, Jerome Faure reveals what they found on the final days of the tour.

South African wines: Jerome meets the team at La Vierge Wines

South African wines: Jerome meets the team at La Vierge Wines

Day 3

Having stayed at the Hamilton Russell vineyard in the morning we had a tasting of the Hamilton Russell range. Selected from 3 terroirs (Southern Right, Ashbourne and Hamilton Russell) the wines included the Chardonnay 10, 11, 12 Hamilton Russell and the Pinot Noir 10, 11, 12 Hamilton Russell. Amongst the white wines the 2011 stands out for its lively wine with a fresh taste and good minerals. For the reds the highlight was the 2012, an intense wine, complex with good concentration.

Staying in the Hemel-en-Aarde region next we visited Creation, where Swiss winemaker Jean Claude Martin and his wife Carolyn Martin of the Finlayson family create a wide range of wines which each nicely express the terroir.

From there we ventured to the Upper Hemel-en-Aarde valley to visit Newton Johnson, a family run business. We tried the 2012 wines from the new terroirs – Mrs M with sandy soil next to a river, Block 6 with a combination of sandy and clay soil, Windandsea with clay soil on the top of the slope. We found that the sandy soil gave the wines elegance and finesse and the clay gave roundness, structure and freshness.

Next we visited one of the Alheit Vineyards where the Cartology they produce may be the best wine in South Africa. Now in its third vintage it is a very exciting wine with complexity and freshness. At Alheit their ambition is to create the best Chenin of the Western Cape so the 2012 Radio Lazarus uses only old vines, 18 barrels from a single vineyard.

At Crystalum Wines we tasted the Pinot Noir which had body and structure but was still fine and elegant. The Chardonnay had a nice balance with finesse and complexity. Definitely a winemaker I will be following in the future.

Day 4

Staying in the breathtaking Hemel-en-Aarde Valley our last stop was to La Vierge Wines. A new winemaker joined this still very young vineyard last year and made his first vintage in 2013. Having worked for 10 years in Martinborough, his focus is very much on the terroir. During our tasting we discovered wines of elegance and finesse on top of intense fruit aromas. This is another winemaker to follow.

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Journey into South African wine country Part 1

At a time when South African wines are soaring to new heights of sophistication, Constance head sommelier Jerome Faure toured the country to seek out the best of this new breed of exciting wines.

Wine country: Enjoying a glass or two with Anthony Hamilton Russell.

Wine country: Enjoying a glass or two with Anthony Hamilton Russell.

Here is Jerome’s diary of discovery around the wine regions of South Africa.

Day 1

I arrived in South Africa with Jerome Carlier, head sommelier at Constance Le Prince Maurice, and Gaetan of Constance Moofushi. Together we visited the Raats Family winery in Stellenbosch for a tasting with Gavin. Raats wines are very famous for their Chenin and Cabernet Franc. We really liked the quality of the Cabernet, it was lively and fruity with soft tannins – I would say one of the top Cabernet Francs in South Africa. The Chenin was beautiful as well.

Later that day we visited the Marianne Estate also in Stellenbosch which has a nice range of wine, especially since the arrival of François, the new winemaker. He has added a fresh touch to the wine with more elegance and less extraction. This is definitely an estate to watch.

Day 2

We visited the Colmant Estate in the Franschhoek Valley. Run by Jean Philippe Colmant, it is a very young winery dedicated to cap classique with a small production of about 45,000 bottles a year. This is definitely one of the best cap classique producers, its sparklings are crisp and balanced with a nice acidity and could certainly be mistaken for champagne in a blind tasting.

Also in the Franschhoek Valley is the famous winery Chamonix where we ventured next. Its range of products are presided over by winemaker Gottfried Mocke. Most people associate Pinotage with South Africa and Chamonix makes one of the best in the region with a nice body and structure, a long finish and beautiful tannins.

Later that day we travelled south to Hamilton Russell Vineyards, one of the most southerly wine estates in Africa, where we had a fantastic night with owners Olive and Anthony tasting 3 top wines. The first was the Chardonnay 89 which slightly oxidises on the nose but overall is very charming with a surprising amount of freshness.

The second wine we tasted was the Pinot Noir 85, the third vintage from Hamilton Russell and an amazing bottle, elegant and silky with a mid-mouth with hints of blackcurrant, black wild fruits and undergrowth aromas balanced by a perfect acidity and smooth tannins. It is a wine ready to drink now but still has ageing potential. The third wine was a Pinot 01, still a young wine despite its 12 years, it has a dark colour with richness, elegance and body. The balance and harmony of the wine could be compared to a Vosne Romanée.

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Constance sommeliers seek out France’s finest wines

Following his successful trip to VinExpo in Bordeaux last month, Constance head sommelier Jerome Faure has been meeting some of France’s finest winemakers to seek out new and exciting wines to add to the Constance wine lists.

Head Sommelier Jerome Fauré at Clos Vougeot

Castle Clos Vougeot

Jerome reveals the highlights of his tour and the exciting wines he’s bringing back with him to the cellars of Constance Hotels and Resorts:

• Domaine Mas Amiel at Rousillon Village

We visited the winemaker Nicolas for a barrel tasting of all his dry white and red wine for Cotes du Roussillon appellation and Maury Sec, followed by a tasting of his vintage red wines (1973-2000) on the Maury appellation. The sweet red wines have the same style of port wine but with more freshness, red and black fruit flavour with elegant and soft tannin. This wine will be a perfect pairing for some mild spicy food such as the deer dry curry served at the Deer Hunter Restaurant at Constance Belle Mare Plage.

• Domaine de la Grange de Pere at Aniane near Montpellier for the VDP L’Herault appellation

This is a domain which has a big reputation in the wine industry. The owner and winemaker Laurent Vaille welcomed us to his cellar. It was great to taste the white and red wines of 2011 from the barrel. Vaille believes it is one of the best vintages he has ever produced. It was a marvellous tasting wine with different grape variety (Syrah, Mourvèdre, Cournoise, Cabernet Sauvignon) and very elegant, red fruit flavour, fine tannin and beautiful freshness. Vaille also makes a very small quantity of white wine with different grape varieties (Roussanne, Marsanne and Chardonnay) which is very rare to get but you can find it on all Constance hotels’ wine lists.

Tasting the Rousseau at Castle Clos Vougeot

Tasting the Rousseau at Castle Clos Vougeot

• Domaine de la Vougeraie at Primeaux Prissey, Burgundy

In 1999 Domaine Vougeraie was born through the combination of five wineries. They believe in biodynamic viticulture so the first place we visited was their garden where they grow herbs for treatment in the vineyard (lemongrass, lavender etc.). After that we had a great tasting with Pierre Vincent, the director and wine maker. Seventy per cent of the production is red with a typical Burgundy style – fresh, without too much acidity and a very fine-valved tannin. The white wines give a beautiful fruity and crisp taste with a minerality, a very soft touch of cotton Charlemagne which gives an elegant taste.

• The famous Castle of Clos Vougeot

We had the great fortune to participate in the famous music and wine event at the Castle of Clos Vougeot. We were able to taste from different references of Burgundian winemakers such as Faiveley, Grivot, Meo-Camuzet, Rousseau, Dujac, Simon Bize and De Montille. After the tasting we attended a beautiful classical music concert followed by a private diner in the Clos Vougeot castle dining room with all the winemakers and the musicians.

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Wine tasting at Grange de Pere

Wine tasting at Grange de Pere

 

Mas Amiel

Mas Amiel

Constance sommeliers at Vinexpo 2013

Head Sommelier, Jerome Fauré reports from Vinexpo 2013, currently taking place in Bordeaux, France.

Rotem and Mounir Saouma

Rotem and Mounir Saouma

I am at Vinexpo in Bordeaux with Jorald Julie, Assistant Chief Sommelier at Constance Le Prince Maurice, and Sathia Rau sommelier at Constance Ephélia.

Lucien Le Moine Winery

We had very nice tasting at Lucien Le Moine Winery with Rotem and Mounir Saouma.

They bought two hectares in Chateauneuf du Pape area in 2009 and are showing their wines for the first time: 2009/2010/2011 white and red.

These are spectacular wines…. it’s one of the most exciting tastings.

The white comes from Grenache white and Clairette and they are like a burgundy white.

Barrel fermented, they lie for 2 years, depending on the wines These wines are fresh with a beautiful balance – certainly, one of the top white wines coming from Chateauneuf du Pape.

Red Chateauneuf du Pape. 2009 is their first vintage. The wine is great with Garrigues notes which we find most of the time in Chateauneuf.

The 2010 is wonderful, complex and looks like a vosne romanee but made with Grenache noir.

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