Cool and manicured, the Beverly Hills of the Cape, ladies who lunch, tourist coach trips, souvenir hunters, roads with pavements. Welcome to Groot Constantia. You want desperately to wipe your shoes before you enter the tasting room. There are three hundred years of history here and this is South Africa’s oldest wine producing estate.
Which wouldn’t mean anything to us were it not for the fact that Groot is indisputably making world class wine.
Winemaker Boela Gerber is proud to show us the Chardonnay vineyard whose 2011 vintage was recently voted Best Chardonnay in the world at the annual Chardonnay du Monde competition in Burgundy, beating 800 entrants.
Further up the slopes, as we tour the vineyards in the unforgiving sun, the only respite coming from the critical False Bay breeze, head honcho Jean Naude shows us the recent fire damage. “Jeepers, we were lucky. You’d think you had this thing under control and then sparks would fly 400 yards and would burst into flames behind you. We were up here fighting the flames on the mountain and then we had a phone call from our neighbours in Klein to tell us the fire was at our back door. We thought: “Never mind the vineyards, we have to save the buildings!”
Back in the shady tasting room, after a brilliant tasting which proves just how well Boela is fashioning the wines, Jean shows the artefacts which tell the story of the Grand Constance sweet wine. Apparently, this was Napoleon’s favourite wine.
But then, he probably hadn’t tasted the 2013 Gouverneurs Reserve White.
Which is the taste which stayed in my mouth as we drove back down the mountain past Newlands and into a busy Cape Town Friday night traffic jam.