Past the Bordeaux and into the Valley

We ate well. This was supposed to be a restaurant review. But we drank better and more than we ate, so I can’t remember what the food was like, so this will not be a review of food but a discussion on Bordeaux.
For it was Bordeaux that brought us together, in Constantia, at the Jonkershuis Restaurant which is on the Groot Constantia Estate. And we were there, Boela Gerber the resident winemaker, and myself, because I had procured some Bordeaux from Roland Peens at the Wine Cellar. And I thought it was good.
It was Ch?+¦???+¦?+¦-ú?+¦+¬teau Yon-Figeac 2000, a fine St. Emilion meaning Merlot, mostly. Boela arrived with a flint bottle of gold. It was Ch?+¦???+¦?+¦-ú?+¦+¬teau Smith Haut Lafitte Blanc 2004. I was happy, as I do not know white Bordeaux that well, like most plebs considering the region to specialize in reds.
The Lafitte Blanc was cold, but we iced it anyway. We sipped on some Groot Constantia Sauvignon Blanc 2008, which is a fine white wine. It is fresh and lively, and nice to drink.
Boela pulled the cork on the Lafitte. I smelt the wine, and it was an aroma unlike any white wine I had had the pleasure of meeting before. It had a nutty, orange peel aroma and I could smell it was dry, very dry. There was an oxidized character to it, but an agreeable one as this is the way these white wines are made.
It was bone-dry to the taste. So dry it actually shocked by mouth a bit. I turned back to the Groot Constantia Sauvignon Blanc, which now seemed trembling with tropical fruit compared to the dry French wine.
The Lafitte was awfully good to drink. It had a lot of grip on the mouth. The nutty sharpness that I got on the nose carried through to the mouth. It was herby, also, like dried herbs. With a light mouth-feel, that made you want to drink more, which is what we did.
The Yon-Figeac followed, and at this time we were eating, I remember, meat. The wine smelt of fresh blood and wild flowers. It was very good when I had finished working the aroma and allowed it to pass by my lips. It was not tight, this wine. Not tight at all. At nine years, it was of a good age.
There was fruit, black fruit, but it was still restrained. Not tight at all, just restrained, meaning the wine could last another ten years in the bottle.
There was no sharpness of tannins, just an operatic lightness of harmonious red wine flavours. With a hint of leather. It was deliciously easy to drink, this wine.
We finished the bottle easily, talking of wine and France and that pretty river that runs to the west of Toulouse. The one with the heavy trout and the deep ripples.
However, we still needed more wine. So I suggested we drink a wine from Groot Constantia, which was the right thing, the best thing, to do as we were on Groot Constantia. Boela suggested the Gouverneurs Reserve, which he made, and we ordered the 2004. A good year.
The wine is Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, mainly. With Cabernet Franc, and Malbec. And it was fascinating drinking this wine after the Yon-Figeac. The power was enticing and it was haunting. The power of the wine stayed, long after the mulberry and fynbos notes had departed. It was bigger than the Bordeaux, bigger and more robust. There was a gracious elegance we liked so much, we had another bottle to cleanse the palate and really giver the livers a well-deserved bit of working out.
Two good Bordeaux and one fine South African. Throw in a bit of fine conversation between two real men, and this is what wine is all about.
Earl Dexter


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