Constantia Glen South Africas great wine

Looking out across Constantia Glen’s vineyards in the magnificent Constantia Valley, one immediately senses a difference. Cultivated with dedication and a singular vision, Constantia Glen’s 31site-specific blocks are unique in the Constantia Valley. 

Each block is meticulously hedged, carefully thinned of superfluous shoots and limited to allow only one perfect bunch of grapes per shoot.

There is a high regard for precision in the way the vines are established, cared for and harvested that saturates each unique vintage with constant class and a distinctive reference to the preceding year’s climatic influence.

Skilful winemaking has its origins in the vineyard. At Constantia Glen, time-honoured techniques are respected and used wherever they perform best. Constantia Glen uses the Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) process, which captures both visible and infrared light emitted from vineyards to create a colour index describing variances between cultivated sections.  This enables us to identify areas of uniformity within our vineyard plots and therefore areas of comparable ripeness.

Before the onset of harvest they allow for at least 4 phenolic ripeness assays. This permits them to track the physiological ripening of each individual plot and the eventual determination of ripeness acts as a point of departure for tasting. The parameters is colour, tannin, sugar and acid accumulation with the desired flavour profile.

The grapes are hand-sorted at four points before reaching the stainless steel fermenting tanks. Hand-harvesting sees the first selection of the very best grapes. After 12 hours in a cooling cube the grapes are bunch sorted before being destemed using custom-made equipment dedicated to whole berry work.

A vibrating sorting table allows for leaf and other material to be identified and removed where after meticulous berry sorting is performed on an illuminated conveyor. Here imperfect grapes are discarded. Only conveyor belts are used to move the berries through this sorting process into the stainless steel fermenting tanks that provide a cool and gentle beginning to the fermentation process.

Constantia Glen makes only three distinctive wines. Because of this each tank can be dedicated to a single lot of grapes. The generous number of tanks at disposal means that each tank is used only once during harvest. At Constantia Glen they do not believe in rushing the art of winemaking.

A long, cool prefermentation maceration allows for the gentle extraction of colour and aroma.  Once satisfied with the extraction the winemaker  Justin Van Wyk gently warms the tank and initiates spontaneous fermentation, using naturally occurring yeasts. A long, warm and temperature controlled fermentation draws out the structure and balance that are required for fine wines. 

When it comes to extraction methods, Constantia Glen employs a careful combination of pump-overs, punch-downs and délestage (rack and return) to ensure a wine that is deep in colour, fruit that is alive and tannins that are soft and persistent. Upon completion of fermentation they retain the wine together with the skins for a further 8 days for added complexity and structural development before the free-run wine flows to the lower-level cellar and into new French oak barrels. All this makes a wine that is ready for the market early but isn’t compromised in terms of quality or ageing potential.

In a further measured step, the skins are pressed in the state-of-the-art computerised basket press. As is the case with the free-run wine, the press wine is barrel aged, later providing a component that the winemaker may blend in for structure and persistence.

All wine transfer activities after fermentation are carried out in the hoist tank that allows for gravity assisted conveyance. This ensures a gentle handling of the sensitive wine.

Once the wine is safely in barrel, the topping, racking and fining processes begin. the winemaker constantly monitors the development of each barrel and evaluates the need for racking and fining.  The wine ages from 14 to 19 months in new French Oak before it is bottled.

Now you can buy the wines thru Gastro-Import in Sweden and Denmark.

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