In the picturesque Constantia wine valley, just a short drive from Cape Town, you’ll find the city’s’ oldest wine estate, Groot Constantia. Besides it’s beautiful estate, there lies hundreds of years of history, wonderful restaurants and of course an incredible range of wines. Driving through the estate main entrance, you are greeted by luscious and delightful scenery. The Cape Dutch Colonial architecture takes you back in time – long horizontal structures are defined by whitewashed walls, thatched roofing and wooden cottage panes.
Before beginning our wine tasting, we explore the estate Manor House – giving us an eye into the lives of the families who lived and produced wine here – and wonder the estate grounds, finding ourselves among amazing views of the vineyard. A brief cellar tour is given by our guide, explaining how the different wine’s are made and a pithy of the estate history.
The Groot Constantia wine range boasts an exquisite array of wines that pay tribute to the amazing terra and climate that the estate finds itself in. The Chocolate & Wine pairing has unlocked interesting flavor combinations with the help of a team of chocolatiers who came together to collaborate on creating not only a sweet way to taste wine, but also a way in which some of their wines with more complicated notes could be tasted and understood. Each wine is delicately paired with a chocolate and you are aptly guided through the tasting; hinting at the particular characteristics and aromas.
Firstly, a Groot Constantia Sauvignon Blanc is paired with tropical guava white chocolate, showcasing succulent summer fruits with a crisp and fresh finish; then the Groot Constantia Pinotage is complimented with blackberry milk chocolate, an interplay between the bursting flavor of berries and indulgent complexity of the full-bodied wine; thirdly the Groot Constantia Shiraz with secret spices and vanilla chocolate is an aromatic marriage (and in my opinion, an acquired taste) of cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and peppery notes of the shiraz; the fourth wine pairing is that of the Groot Constantia Rood with cherry blossom chocolate, the cherry blossom flavour erupts on the palate showing the intense fruitiness of the Rood and is easily a favourite among the visitors; the fifth and last pairing is the Groot Constantia Gouverneurs Reserve with Morello Cherry Tobacco Dark Chocolate, the pairing is of intense complexity and one of my favourite combinations of the tasting. Our tour guide previously hinted that if available, to ask the guide to taste the Groot Constantia Grand Constance – a sweet Muscat and popular choice of Napoleon Bonaparte during his exiled years on Saint Helena. As someone who does not favour sweet wines, this particular one is deliciously rich in flavour and a bottle surely has to come home with me.
The Groot Constantia Wine and Chocolate tasting is a truly unique experience that should be on every Cape Town bucket list as an experience that is not to be missed. From the views to the food and the wine, this underrated piece of South Africa’s history does a wonderful job in educating and highlighting characteristics of our favorite wines that we so often miss. For R145 per person, you too can experience the Visitor’s Route + Chocolate Pairing which gives you entrance to the historic Manor House museum, the original Cloete Cellar, a cellar tour, wine tasting and souvenir Spiegalau Crystal wine glass.
If you’re feeling peckish after or the wine leaves you with a stout appetite, Groot Constantia has two remarkable restaurants on site: Jonkershuis and Simon’s. While the former serves decadent breakfasts and lunches next to the fire place or under the oak trees, the latter has relaxed Al Fresco or A La Carte meals. Or, if you would like to experience one of the city’s most talked about culinary establishments, a few hundred meters beyond the estates’ gates lies Foxcroft Restaurant at the High Constantia Centre. You can read our review of Foxcroft Restaurant here.