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Celebrating Boplaas at Groot Constantia

A couple of weeks ago Boplaas invited me and a number of other bloggers, writers and media representatives to taste their wine and enjoy a three-course lunch at Jonkershuis Restaurant at Groot Constantia.

Another brand of wine I have to admit I had never heard of before, I was excited at the thought of taking a trip to Groot Constantia – the oldest wine farm in Cape Town – and experiencing the wine with no previous experience.

On arrival, we were greeted by a choice of Boplaas gin (they make three varieties) as a welcome drink: Cape Gin, 8 Citrus Gin and Cape Pink Gin), a glass of bubbles or tea/coffee.

We all sat around the tables outside in the sunshine enjoying the view, mingling and catching up before we were welcomed inside a private function room set up for the first wine tasting (followed by a three-course meal and more wine).

Once inside we were addressed by the Nel family, Jeanne, Carel, Rozannel and Daniel, who are the owners of Boplaas wine. They gave us some background into the wines and the Portuguese connection, as well as a little about the wines we were going to taste and the food we were going to eat.

First up, we had the opportunity to try four of their wines and two vintage ports on their own. These wines included:

  • Cape Portuguese White Blend 2018 (R70) – This aromatic lighter bodied wine with its combination of tropical fruit flavours, citrus, yellow pear, granny smith apple, lemongrass and crisp acidity,
  • Family Reserve – Gamka Branca 2017 (R177) – This maiden release combines the Portuguese variety Verdelho – a recent addition to the Boplaas plantings, but one which has a bright future – with cool climate Chardonnay, exotic Viognier, Stellenbosch Grenache blanc and old dry land bush vine Swartland Steen. This barrel fermented & matured white blend displays an exotic mélange of citrus blossom, tangerine & lime marmalade, toasted oats, ripe pear, mild tannic grippiness and long saline finish with undertows of subtle white spice, preserved lemons & melon.
  • Tinta Barocca 2016 (R89) – An aromatic medium bodied wine with its combination of ripe plum, mulberries, juicy raspberry jam, bright spice and tell-tale undercurrent of cocoa powder typical of Tinta, all wrapped in soft tannins.
  • Family Reserve – Gamka 2015 (R259) – Bright garnet red wine billowing from the glass with black hedgerow fruits, tart cranberry, ripe plum notes, spice, and fynbos. The fruit buttressed by fine oak tannins on the savoury palate with hints of fynbos, charcuterie and bacon fat rounding out the wine. This wine only reveals its true underpinnings with time in the glass and tempts one to return for more.
  • Boplaas Cape Vintage Reserve Port 2016 (R415) – An inky black wine with hints of fiery garnet on the rim; with a bouquet of crushed blackberry, tart cranberry, kirsch and purple plums with bright all-spice top notes intermingled by fynbos and savoury undercurrents. The bouquet unfurls onto a bold palate with liquorice, red fruits and cocoa hints to the dry finish. Time will temper the fiery fruity exuberance of youth, slowly unfurling the complexities of this fine Cape Fortifieds.
  • Cape Vintage Reserve Port 2006 (This year is not available on their website and was a taster given to us in order to compare what a decade in age can do to port).

Each wine stood out for its own reasons, with the port being my absolute favourite. Its depth of flavour and sharp sweetness caught my tastebuds by surprise and making it incredibly moreish. I have a thing for the sweeter things, so ports will always stand out for me.

You can read more about each of the wines and ports by clicking on the links above.

After the first tasting, it was time to eat (and drink some more)!
Jonkershuis Restaurant worked with the Nel family to curate a three-course meal that paired with the next three wines we were going to taste, giving us the opportunity to test their wines accompanying food.

The three-course affair started with a bowl of creamy mussels and freshly baked bread paired with the Boplaas Bobbejaanberg Sauvignon Blanc 2018 (R116). Confession: I have never eaten mussels before because they gross me out a little bit but, in the spirit of tasting the pairing the way it was intended, I tucked into the mussels and can firmly admit that I have sadly been missing out on a whopper of a dish simply because I have a habit of eating with my eyes first. Lesson learned!

The Boplaas Bobbejaanberg Sauvignon Blanc 2018 paired delightfully with the creamy mussels and is made from a single vineyard located on decomposed sandstone soils at an elevation of in excess of 650m in the Outeniqua Mountains of the Upper-Langkloof ward. The grapes are hand-harvested in the cool of the morning, skin contact, cold fermented in stainless steel tank and allowed lees contact prior to bottling with a light filtration, its tasting notes include lime leaf, subtle white peach, lemongrass, sugar snap pea and hints of zingy green chilli, capsicum and green asparagus aromatics. Yum.

For mains, we had the choice between farmed salmon trout (served medium) with broccoli mops, potato and parsnip puree and tomato hollandaise, or slow-roasted lamb with Touriga and rosemary reduction, crispy potatoes, vegetable garden and paloise sauce. As someone who isn’t fond of lamb, I chose to go with the salmon and I wasn’t disappointed.

The mains were paired with the Boplaas Touriga Nacional 2017 (R92),
which is regarded as the “King of Portuguese vines”. The hardy Touriga Nacional with its small dark berried bunches, a penchant for low-yields and fulsome tannins, enables thoughtful winemakers the ability to craft powerfully elegant wines possessing incredible longevity. Tasting notes include aromatics with ripe black plum, kirsch, vibrant five spice, fynbos & notes of cocoa nib and charcuterie on the palate.

Last, but certainly not least, dessert was vanilla pod pannacotta with a seasonal berry compote and fresh strawberries.

Dessert was paired with Ouma Cloete Straw Wine 2015 (R154), which is named after Carel Nel’s great grandmother whose family left the Constantia valley in the late 1800s due to flagging farming fortunes forcing them to seek a better life in the Klein Karoo. This medium-bodied golden coloured natural sweet dessert wine brims with exotic fruits, dried apricot, peach and melon with honeyed top notes and was my absolute favourite of the entire day as it’s sweetness was something I could not resist.

The whole experience was incredible. Not only did the menu compliment the wines to perfection, but it was so interesting to hear about the Nel’s family history and learn about their wines. Thank you so much for having me and giving us all a window into your world.

If you’re interested in buying a bottle or two of Boplaas‘ incredible wines or enjoying some of Jonkershuis Restaurant‘s food, visit their websites.

Disclaimer: Although I was hosted by Boplaas wines, all opinions and thoughts are my own.

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