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.

Find out more

 

Hamilton Russell Vineyards wine promotion at Constance Hotels

At Constance Belle Mare Plage and Constance Le Prince Maurice tonight and tomorrow, 16 and 17 May, we are promoting the highly sought after wines from Hamilton Russell Vineyards, one of the most southerly wine estates in Africa and one of the closest to the sea.

L'Archipel restaurant, Constance Le Prince Maurice, Mauritius

L'Archipel restaurant, Constance Le Prince Maurice, Mauritius

The Hamilton Russell Estate specialises in producing individual, terroir driven Pinot noir and Chardonnay – widely regarded as the best in South Africa and among the best in theNew World.

The history of Hamilton Russell Vineyards

In 1975 founder, Tim Hamilton Russell purchased the undeveloped 170 hectare property located in the beautiful, cool, maritime Hemel-en-Aarde Valley appellation, just behind the old fishing village of Hermanus. He found the property after an exhaustive search for the most southerly site on which to make South Africa’s top cool climate wines from a selection of noble varieties.

His son Anthony Hamilton Russell, who took over in 1991 (finally buying the property in 1994), narrowed the range to Pinot noir and Chardonnay only, and registered Hamilton Russell Vineyards as an Estate, committing to work only with grapes from their terroir.

Extensive soil research initiated in 1994 identified 52 hectares of stony, clay-rich, shale-derived soil as optimal for the individual, origin expressive style they aim for and all plantings have now been limited to this soil type.

La Spiaggia, Constance Belle Mare Plage, Mauritius

La Spiaggia, Constance Belle Mare Plage, Mauritius

Anthony, winemaker Hannes Storm and viticulturist Johan Montgomery are completely dedicated to expressing the personality of the Hamilton Russell Vineyards terroir in their wines.

Tiny yields and intense worldwide demand keep the elegant, highly individual, Estate grown Pinot noir and Chardonnay in very short supply.

 

Special promotional dinner at L’Archipel

Wednesday 16 May – L’Archipel, Le Prince Maurice

Urchin with Granny Smith apple

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Unilateral jobfish filet cooked on the skin, clams chowder with shells from our lagoon

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Beef flank, caramelised onion compote with Jamaican pepper, sweet potato dauphine, mirror sauce

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Cinnamon ango with manjari choclate,coconut sherbet with lime

The Wines

  • Asbourne Sandstone (white) 2007
  • HamiltonRussell Vineyards Chardonnay 2011
  • Hamilton Russell Vineyards Pinot noir 2010
  • Asbourne (red) 2007

 

Special promotional dinner at La Spiaggia

Thursday 17 May, La Spiaggia, Constance Belle Mare Plage

Tuna tartar, wasabi-salmon gravlax-vegetables ‘Croqque sel’ tartlet

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Ballotine of duck foie gras and smoked eel, ‘Surf’ beetroot and dandelion salad, ’Turf’ green asparagus with Harenka caviar

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Roasted cod fish with salted butter crusted with fruits nuts and lemon pulp, glazed carrot with vanilla, passion fruit sabayon

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Pigeon breast, grilled potato, roasted abatis with Colonnata lard, raspberries and raw cherries, “Lapsang Souchong” tea juice

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‘Kumabo’ chocolate tartlet, blackcurrant and violet juice

The Wines

  • Southern Right Sauvignon blanc 2011
  • HamiltonRussell Vineyards Chardonnay 2011
  • HamiltonRussell Vineyards Chardonnay 2009
  • HamiltonRussell Vineyards Pinot Noir 2010 & Ashbourne 2007
  • Southern Right Pinotage 2009