IT’S been a while since International Sauvignon Blanc Day – a month, to be exact. On May 6, it was the most un-Sauvignon Blancy day you could imagine: chilly, grey, wet and windy. Not the most ideal conditions in which to drink this fresh, warm weather wine, in my opinion – I am deeply motivated by outdoor temperatures when it comes to what’s in my glass. However, since Cape Town is having a few days of Indian summer, this is the perfect time to enjoy this wine and pair it with some light and easy dishes before the real winter begins.
We were a small group, guided on a Klein Constantia cellar tour by winemaker Matthew Day and viticulturist Craig Harris, both of whom were a delight – funny, friendly, down to earth. I have a lovely pic of Matthew showing us his “office” which I’ll post on Instagram for #WineWednesday. The best lesson I learned was that not all Sauvignons are created equal, and how much difference the growing conditions make; we did several barrel tastings which were most educational. Klein Constantia has 43 vineyards of various elevations and slopes. Of these, 42 provide the grapes for the Klein Constantia Sauvignon Blanc, grapes from high and low, grapes that face east and grapes that face south. Blended, the result is a carefully considered and pleasingly elegant wine.
The SB is 100% wild fermentation, and the grapes of each of those 42 different vineyard parcels (sustainable vineyards inspired by organic and biodynamic farming practices) are treated and fermented separately to harness their true characteristics before blending. Plus it’s vegan friendly.
There is also much to be said for the later release of Klein Constantia wines, and it would please me no end if even one person reading this would learn that you can keep your Sauvignon Blancs (especially these). It’s not necessary to open them in their year of vintage, or even one or two years after that. They are only going to get better.
The 2021 is extraordinary from start to finish, says the press release, with these tasting notes, which I’m sure you’ll agree are very different to most SBs: “The nose is immediately enticing with hints of pink grapefruit, tangerine blossom, dried green fig, firm gooseberries and fleshy white nectarine. A touch of vanilla bean and cantaloupe edge through too. The palate has an intensity befitting the nose – simultaneously salivating with salinity and freshness, lively and electric.
“The wine has a texture that reflects the unique Klein Constantia terroir and the finish is particularly long. This Sauvignon Blanc is bold enough to stand up to stronger cooking treatments such as grilling, smoking and charring, not just low-impact methods like steaming and sautéing. This wine can handle it all.”
There have been some cosmetic changes, namely:
- New proprietor embossed bottle.
- A fresh perspective of the Klein Constantia label – continuing with our iconic arches, the new clean label
embodies the traditional through a modern and elegant interpretation.
- An improved look of the Stelvin premium screwcap.
- The paper stock for the label has been upgraded to a more textured and luxurious paper.
- The outer carton has been redesigned and rebranded.
“In the process we have managed to reduce our carbon footprint by selecting a bottle with 26% less CO2 emissions and that is made from 60% recycled glass,” they say. “We have also reduced the cardboard in the carton by 20%, all in our effort to reduce our carbon emissions with the goal of becoming as environmentally friendly as possible.
“Not only has our packaging changed, but for the past 10 years we have been working hard at identifying our pure style of Klein Constantia Sauvignon blanc, experimenting with various techniques in order to create a Sauvignon blanc that is unique, while showing our Klein Constantia sense of place. 2021 marks the culmination
of all our efforts.”
Our lunch at The Bistro @ Klein Constantia that day was classic Sauvignon Blanc pairings – oysters au natural; burrata, tomato and basil salad; beetroot and juniper cured salmon gravlax; grilled kingklip with lemon and herb cream (a very similar dish is on the current menu); and a trio of heavenly goats’ cheeses, ginger preserve and crackers to finish. Here are some more pairing tips.
- The freshest seafood and white meat dishes – shellfish, light poultry, pork and veal, especially when prepared with citrus, capers, garlic, dill, pesto, olives, sorrel, ginger, yoghurt and sour cream which will spike the wine’s flavours.
- Most salads or dishes with a vinaigrette dressing like grilled fish or poultry served at room temperature with vinaigrette spooned on top.
- Vegetarian dishes, especially those incorporating peppers, eggplant, baby marrow, asparagus and leeks. Excellent with most vegetarian soups – particularly minestrones and simple purèes.
- Olives and tomatoes. This Sauvignon Blanc is a “tomato wine” par excellence.
- A variety of Middle Eastern mezze, Spanish tapas, and Italian antipasto.
- Pasta with green beans.
- Dishes emphasizing or enhanced with fresh herbs, such as a salad, a dish grilled with or over herbs, or a dish served with a sauce such as salsa verde, a herbal pesto, or guacamole.
- Pure and “straightforward” ingredients: a plate of oysters, simply grilled kingklip, or a bowl of steamed mussels.
- This wine will most definitely cut through rich cream and butter-based dishes most successfully.
- Any shape, age, and size of goat’s-milk cheese. Green salad and chevin.
- Many other soft-rind, sharp, or lightly-washed-rind cheeses like Feta, Ricotta, Fontana and Jarlsberg.
There is a stunning shop you have to walk through to get to the bistro, with beautiful homeware and wine-related goodies and gadgets; I also learned that day how badly I want a Vin de Constance (one of the most famous wines in the world) scented candle and how much I would be prepared to literally burn money.
For more information, click here.