Constantia Red 2003

It’s a real luxury when you can launch your new red by inviting guests to a lunch at La Colombe (recently voted one of the world’s 50 best restaurants) where each course is then tailored to showcase the wine. It’s pretty seductive stuff, and a sure-fire way to get people to leave with a pretty positive impression. In this case, the reason is that La Colombe is one of three fine eating establishments on the wine farm Constantia Uitsig, home to said red wine.

Almost upstaging the red, however, was the blended white that was served on arrival. The Constantia White 2004 is a semillon-sauvignon partnership of great finesse and stature, adding to the weight of opinion that the Cape’s blended whites are a very exciting category.

The Constantia Red 2003 is happily an equally classy act, a Bordeaux blend of elegance with pure fruit flavours, and a ripe alcohol that is just this side of refreshing. Selling at under R100, this wine will upstage many of the pretenders to the serious blended red category, and marks the arrival of the Constantia Uitsig reds, just as the recent whites do justice to their cool climate vineyards. The world-class restaurants now have equal wines “in house”.

For posterity, the menu on the day:
Constantia poached oyster with buttered red wine
Poached bone marrow on toast with thyme
Sole, Kassler and Constantia terrine in aspic with cold tarragon cream
Seared salmon on red wine lentils, braised lettuce and garlic Hollandaise
Pigeon and foie gras pastilla with Constantia salmi jus
Autumn fruits with red wine and cherries with “childhood” ice cream

All the courses were successfully served with the Constantia Red 2003. The “childhood” ice was a whacky allusion to Wicks chewing gum…