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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Interview with Gert Puchtler, General Manager of Constance Belle Mare Plage

I met the General Manager of Constance Belle Mare Plage Hotel during the inaugural luncheon of the Culinary Festival Bernard Loiseau. Even though he has a very busy week ahead of him, the German born hotelier seems relaxed and pleased by the surroundings.

Constance Belle Mare Plage's General Manager, Gert Puchtler

Constance Belle Mare Plage’s General Manager, Gert Puchtler

Mr Puchtler tells me that the Culinary Festival Bernard Loiseau means a lot to the Constance Group. ‘We want to bring an international culinary spirit – not only to our hotels – but to Mauritius in general,’ he says with passion, ‘and it seems to be working. Also, it is nice to see that the event works both ways, as more and more European chefs put Mauritian spices and other specialities on their menus.’

‘It is also obvious that the week of the festival becomes an important feature for our guests – and I am very pleased by the fact that an increasing number of guests return to Belle Mare Plage to take part in the event,’ he continues.
But the competition is not only a matter of image building within the hotel industry and beyond. It is also very much a tool to motivate the employees of the Constance Group.

‘The island contestants are initially hand-picked by their peers, after which they have to pass a rather tough test, both oral and written. The competition is fierce, as everybody wants to have a chance to win a one-month apprenticeship at a European star restaurant. Several of the previous local winners today have important positions in the restaurants of our group of seven hotels,’ Mr. Puchtler happily adds.

We end our discussion by discussing if the Culinary Festival is good business for the Constance Group. ‘Absolutely not,’ he says with a smile. ‘The festival is not about money, but rather about sharing and building friendships across the borders in addition to motivating the staff. Luckily, we have many loyal sponsors to share the financial burden of the event and more are coming on board each year – so we must be doing something right,’ he adds at the very moment his youngest daughter turns up at our table asking him to join her sega dancing. I guess the interview is over…

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Constance Hotels supports Earth Hour 2014

In support of the global environmental movement, Earth Hour, we held a number of candle lit events in the Maldives and Seychelles.

Earth Hour at Constance Halaveli, Maldives

Earth Hour at Constance Halaveli, Maldives

At Constance Halaveli guests celebrated the global solidarity of Earth Hour with a beach barbecue. We turned the lights off in staff areas, guest villas and along the jetty and guests enjoyed the occasion in atmospheric candlelight at Jahaz Bar , Restaurant  and the reception area.

At Constance Ephélia guests were invited to a ‘chilled wine dinner’ at fine dining restaurant Cyann. All dishes for the gastronomic 3 course dinner were prepared in advance and served chilled by candlelight.

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Read how Constance Hotels & Resorts is working to support the environment

 

 

Rising stars head to Culinary Festival Bernard Loiseau 2014

The rising culinary stars of Constance Hotels and Resorts have been battling it out in kitchens across the Indian Ocean in order to make it to the prestigious Culinary Festival Bernard Loiseau.

Will you be seeing dishes like this at the Culinary Festival Bernard Loiseau?

Will you be seeing dishes like this at the Culinary Festival Bernard Loiseau?

The festival, held at Constance Belle Mare Plage from 31 March to 7 April, gives the island chefs the opportunity to cook alongside some of the leading Michelin-starred chefs of the world.

Competition has been fierce as young, inspired chefs seize the opportunity to compete for a chance to represent their hotel or resort in a festival which celebrates culinary passion, and inspires innovation and the sharing of expertise.

The road to Culinary Festival Bernard Loiseau

To qualify the chefs have gone through several rounds of internal competitions with only the winner moving on to the next stage.

Challenges have included a written stage where the chef must describe why they want to be entered into the competition and practical stages including creating dishes following a recipe from classic French cuisine and creating their own dishes from a mystery box of ingredients under timed conditions.

The chefs who have made it through have proved not only their culinary skills but their passion and dedication to creating innovative and inspiring food.

The chefs

The island chefs who have made it through to the final in Mauritius are:

Sasha Dinnoo – Constance Le Prince Maurice, Mauritius

Traditional Indian Ocean flavours with a contemporary twist

Traditional Indian Ocean flavours with a contemporary twist

Sasha started as a trainee at Le Prince Maurice and has worked her way up through the kitchen. She qualified for the final stage of the competition last year and loved the experience so much she’s come back for more, although this year she’s more determined than ever to win.

Emmanuel Fortuno – Constance Belle Mare Plage, Mauritius

Emmanuel loves cooking and is constantly striving for perfection, slowly and methodically improving his skills. It is this dedication and hard work which has taken him through the qualifying stages of this competition and into the Culinary Festival.

Sandy Sokalingum – Constance Lémuria, Seychelles

Mauritian born Sandy doesn’t let being a new father distract him from his passion for cooking or his determination to get to the final. Currently a chef de Partie at The Sea Horse, he describes himself as ‘in love’ with cooking.

Dammika Sarath – Constance Halaveli, Maldives

Used to working under pressure, Dammika brings a sense of serene and calm to the kitchen when he works. He loves everything to do with food and is proud to be part of the prestigious Festival.

Dinushan Patabadage – Constance Moofushi, Maldives

Always keen to learn new dishes and try new techniques, Dinushan is a very creative chef and is excited by the learning experience offered by competing in the Culinary Festival. Both passionate and ambitious, he is keen to put everything he has into the event.

Yogessen Ramen – Constance Ephélia, Seychelles

A chef at Ephélia, Yogessen is passionate about food and keen to add to his expanding skillset with techniques and advice acquired from the Michelin-starred chef he is paired with.

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Stunning new nature trail for guests at Constance Lémuria

General manager of Constance Lémuria, Bruno Le Gac, has signed a deal with the Ministry of Environment and a local landowner to give guests access to the stunning scenery between Lémuria and Anse Georgette.

Stunning views from Lémuria's nature trail

Stunning views from Lémuria’s nature trail

The new nature trail through the beautiful scenery of Praslin will offer guests the opportunity to enjoy breathtaking views across Anse Georgette and Anse Lazio.

A licensed guide will be available to accompany guests to introduce them to the spectacular local flora and fauna they will see along the trail.

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Baby turtles hatch on the beach at Constance Lémuria

A new generation of baby turtles found their way to the ocean under the care of Constance Lémuria’s turtle manager this month.

Baby turtles enter the Indian Ocean for the first time

Baby turtles enter the Indian Ocean for the first time

Having watched the mother turtles lay their eggs in the sand of Grande Anse Kerlan back in November, our dedicated turtle manager has been keeping a watchful eye on the progress of the eggs.

The beaches of Lémuria play host to the nests of hawksbill and green turtles that return to its shores year after year to lay their eggs.

As they hatched, the baby turtles were gently gathered together and held until the conditions were perfect to aid the babies to scramble down the beach and into the water.

At the end of the afternoon when the sea was at its calmest and the wind low Lémuria staff and guests watched from a respectful distance as the baby turtles found their way to the Indian Ocean.

Those who survive their sometimes perilous journey to adulthood will return to our shores in the years to come. It with great pride that we are able to help these turtles, and to watch the cycle of life continue.

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