Uitkyk’s Carlonet, first registered in 1957, was one of the top wines during the 50s. Production ceased during the 60s and reintroduced with the 1973 vintage. I have tasted the 73 and it remains one of the best old wines I’ve ever had the pleasure to drink. Subsequently I’ve had the 74 and 76 of which the latter was the better of the two but not on the level of the 73. A 1982 opened recently showed very well indeed. Whereas the 73 has an old-world elegance and sternness, the 82 is more new-world and showing definite Cabernet characteristics. I would rate it a very close 2nd to the 73 perhaps for the only reason that I find the old-world style more appealing.
It was with interest that I read a newspaper article from 1927 referring to Constantia wine being reproduced under wine merchant P. B. Burgoyne. It reminded me of an image in KWV’s book, of a bottle, shown below, which I think closely fits the description given in the article and is likely the same bottle. Burgoyne was the same company that gave Alto its first contract to supply Alto Rouge.
Register (Adelaide, SA : 1901 – 1929), Saturday 15 January 1927, page 4
ORIGIN OF CONSTANTIA
Messrs, P. B. Burgoyne &. Co, Limited, the Empire wine Merchant, of London, have forwarded to the Register Office a bottle of Constantia. It is a clever and artistic copy on one of two old bottles in possession of Messrs. P. B. Burgoyne and Co., Limited. These— containing Constantia of the vintage year 1795 – have rested quietly for some 125 years in the cellars of a famous Norfolk country house. The wine they contain is still in excellent condition, and is perfectly palatable. The antique ”finish” of the bottles, which it the result of many months labour of love by the foremost glass chemist in this country, is perfectly permanent, and will stand ordinary treatment. This bottle has caused immense interest in the English glass industry, and the method of its production remains a mystery. Constantia was famous in England and on the Continent well before the end of the 18th century. It was, in fact, supplied to the Kings of France. It maintained great popularity for many years in England, and was one of the favourite dessert wines Queen Victoria. After 1861, however, the demand for South African wines suffered serious dislocation through the removal of the preferential tariffs into the United Kingdom. Since the war South African wines have been returning rapidly to favour, owing to the efforts made by Messrs. Burgoyne & Co., at the request of the South African wine industry. The Constantia district is centred around the large property of Constantia, behind Table Mountain, and its history dates back to the seventeenth century. Groot Constantia has been from the earliest days of the old Dutch colony connected with wine, and is now the experimental wine farm of the Government of the Union of South Africa. The original name of the vineyards of the Constantia Estate was ‘Constance’ (a family name, dating back to Governor van der Stel, the original owner). This name appears as a seal on the original eighteenth century bottle, and on the reproduction. A pen drawing of the dwelling house on the Groot Constantia Estate appears on the label of the bottle. This building was unhappily damaged by fire recently, but is to be rebuilt in its original state by the South African Government.
Photo taken from KWV: 1918 – 1993, by D.J. van Zyl.
Last night a vertical of the 2010 – 2016 hosted by winemaker Callie Louw.
2010 – showing some tertiary age. slight oxidation. pungent lift. and again those tannins!
2011 – love the nose but cannot explain it…iron. stony. grainy. raised only in concrete. tannins starting to relax… still prominent. My favourite.
2012 – chocolate. lovely. soft fruit. only aged in concrete. tannins.
2013- smoky. detailed, pure, chalky tannins. classic. Callie’s favourite. must agree.
2014 – biggest vintage on account of rain in the growing season. meaty nose but more penetrating than 16. rich. relaxed (for a Porseleinberg!).
2015 – more subdued on nose. elegant. lingering chalky tannins. Callie thinks vintage not very exciting. I disagree.
2016 – meaty olive (opulent) nose. tight palate. liquorice. biggest alcohol. very warm vintage.
1. Porseleinberg vintages get better with age. 10 to 13 showing real interest and personality.
2. Tannins on every vintage a hallmark.
3. 10 and 11 – dry-land farming. 12 onward post-harvest irrigation.
4. Porseleinberg has a characteristic flavour profile showing meat, iron, blood, game, olive..
6 June 2018
The line-up (from left to right): Kanonkop 1976, Middelvlei 1982, KWV Roodeberg 1977, Zonnebloem 1970 (the wine in the glass), Nederburg 1973.
Yesterday a tasting of some of the great old names of Cape wine.
Overall the wines showed very well with elegance and purity and that vinous quality that only comes with age. Notes:
Zonnebloem 1970 – Had the richest colour of the lot and showed the most body and flavour. Also slightly less acid than the others. Excellent
Nederburg 1973 – Very elegant with good acidity. Excellent
KWV Roodeberg 1977 – Typical old Cape wine and not unlike old Chateau Libertas. 1977 was said to be a poor vintage but this wine was excellent.
Middelvlei 1982 – Showing more modern profile and Cabernet leafiness. Very good.
Kanonkop 1976 – My first impression was that it was spoiled, but with time becoming better although it showed a foreign-tasting sharpness. Good.
Extract quoted from “Military Reminiscences by Colonel James Welsh”
14 March 1829, Constantia
This garden is well worth going thirteen miles to see. The road, which is generally good, passes through a beautiful country, and by many delightful rural habitations; which are here, as in England, scattered all over the plains ; though I have seen nothing elsewhere to rival Constantia in neatness and picturesque beauty. The house is uncommonly clean, and well furnished; and the gardens are laid out in squares, with walks and myrtle hedges on both sides. It is situated at the fool of a hill, haying a grove of chestnut-trees at the upper extremity; and while we were walking round, admiring the many inviting-trees, covered with apples, peaches, pears, medlars, apricots, &c., and small dwarfish bushes, only three or four feet high, bending with rich clusters of purple grapes; the gentleman of the house had ordered a cold collation to be prepared for us: and leading us into his extensive warehouse, insisted on our tasting in succession the red and White Constantia, Frontignac, Pontac, and Steine ; the latter a very light wine, and only half the value of Constantia. Indeed, so extremely civil and obliging was he to us, that before our departure a few of the Benedicts of the party purchased some twenty pounds worth each, of the first sort, for home consumption. I remarked that the wine was kept in immense butts. I should suppose containing a dozen of pipes each. We then adjourned to the dwelling-house, and having had a long walk in the keen air, enjoyed a delicious repast of the finest fruit, just plucked from the trees, with wine, of the same produce; and when obliged to take our departure, it was with real regret we left this delightful retreat.
Photograph depicting Anreith’s pediment on the Groot Constantia wine cellar
The museum at old Matjiesfontein station holds an interesting bottle of White Leipzig from pre-Union (pre-1961) days. Complete with contents and label it is very rare to find such an old white wine from South Africa.
According to Leipzig’s website wine was produced there from the 1890s to 1963 and enjoyed by the British Royalty during their visit to South Africa after World War 2. They sipped on a luxurious white blend called “The White Leipzig”.
Lawrence Green wrote in “I heard the old men say” (1964) the following interesting account:
I must put in a good word for White Leipzig. It is nearly thirty years since I visited the Rabie brothers at Leipzig, Nuy, and saw the light railway used to rush the wine grapes from vineyard to cellar during the vintage. Many a bottle of their dry white wine have I enjoyed since then.
The current owners once again produce a “White Leipzig” and the 2017 vintage is a blend of Chenin Blanc, Chardonnay & Viognier.