Day 721 – Boozy afternoon

Constantia Wine Route. Ostensibly checking out the local offerings to find a suitably special 50th birthday gift for tonight. But also actually checking out the local offerings because a lot of them are really good.

Glen, Beau, Groot. Many boxes ticked. Great afternoon out.

Many thanks to Mrs 6000 for driving us safely everywhere on her day off.


When Julius Malema becomes president and drives all the whites into the sea, it’ll be a real waste. Not least because the outstanding Chardonnay we tried at Groot Constantia yesterday would presumably be among those whites that we’d lose. To be fair, it’s already sold out (much like Julius will if that time ever comes), so there’s limited danger of any imminent loss, but still, it would be a mistake to lose such wonder to an unnecessary salty grave.

We went strictly old skool tasting yesterday. Groot Constantia, Steenberg and Klein Constantia. None of your Beau, Glen or Nest here.

We had a look around the cellars at Groot Constantia, assisted by the informative and interesting Rayno. (Voucher prize from mother-in-law’s church raffle used, so I’m actually not sure how much cellar tour/tasting costs. Professional, ne? Lol.)
As you might expect, it’s a groot operation, but all was carefully explained, and I was delighted to learn that they are releasing a brandy in the (very) near future.
Wine is nice, but I’m more of a fan of red than of white. But that Chardonnay was a revelation. Lightly oaked, butterscotch and toast, just… lovely. I was surprised at myself.

Steenberg’s whites were also really good, their Semillion and the Sauvignon Blanc/Semillion blends particularly so. But it was their Pinot Noir MCC which stole the show. Really fresh, slight blush, fun to engage with. But enough about me – the wine was pretty good too. Stanley was our guide, taking us around the cellar, explaining the processes, answering our questions. All very professional and informative again.
(Flagship tasting @ R70. We also got a free cellar tour.)

And then to Klein Constantia with their rich history and Agapanthus-lined avenues.

Very inviting.

(Standard tasting, R50pp, one tasting waived per bottle bought)
Their stuff is good – no question about it – but generally I felt it rather overpriced. Sure, wine for special occasions deserves a bit more cash to be splashed, but if I were going to splash that extra cash, I’d fancy my chances of finding something better for those additional Randelas.
But then, as always, they brought out their Vin de Constance and nothing else really mattered. SA’s top wine and 10th in the world; it’s like no other. It was the last of [several] wines that we tried yesterday, and what a way to go out. It is unique. And utterly captivating.

We had a great day on the Constantia Wine Route. The farms we visited seemed geared up and ready for the upcoming holiday season and the wine we drank (especially those whites) was really noteworthy.

If you have the time in the near future, get out there and support local business while enjoying some amazing scenery and really world-class products.

Greek Letters

More holiday. More wine.

Back onto the Constantia Wine Route, with the intentions of getting to High and Beau, before lunch at Glen. The latter, we achieved by booking a table there a couple of weeks back. The former, we managed by starting there. But, as previously with attempted wine route planning, we failed to make out second port of call simply by enjoying the first place too much, and staying there.

We’ve done it before, back in 2013, just after I’d mashed my ankle. Again – a quick visit to High Constantia for a quick Groupon pairing, led to us staying for several (or more) hours and having to order pizza on the way home. It was a memorable visit for us, and, it seemed, for the staff, who remembered us from almost 3 years ago. I’m aware that this isn’t necessarily a good thing. But they are evidently non-judgmental, being friendly, chatty, knowledgeable and ever patient with us non fundis. Their MCC is magnificent, and there’s always their HUGE Bordeaux blend – Sebastian – to look forward to at the end of the proceedings.

This (purely ornamental) vine also makes shapes like the Greek alphabet. What’s not to like?

The tranquility of High Constantia sets it aside from all the other Constantia vineyards. I’m putting it firmly in my 6000 recommends category. Wander through their working cellar, out onto the stoop and watch the birds in their small garden while you enjoy tasting 7 or more wines for R50. The prices are high (no pun intended), but the wine is genuinely world class. It’s worth treating yourself every two and half years. Or maybe more often, given that the 2007 Sebastian is out any time now and is supposedly incredible.

Then it was up the road for lunch at Constantia Glen – platters, rosé and some Five. Superb, as expected. And then, back to Eagle’s Nest for the kids to run off some frustration and play in the stream there. After last time (when this got me into trouble with them), I let Mrs 6000 do the talking, and I also sat out on the tasting. It was a world away from the near silence of High Constantia and the elegant Constantia Glen, but they’re certainly not struggling for business.

More photos have been dropped into this set on Flickr, and it looks like tomorrow, when we’re… er… visiting another wine region, there may be even more.
I’m sure you, just like me, can hardly contain your excitement.

Where Eagles Dare

A funny thing happened while I was writing up the Constantia Wine Route post yesterday.

The preamble follows.
Firstly, I wanted to link back to the last Constantia Wine Route post I did. Standard practice there. I had a quick read through it as well.

And then secondly, for some reason (alcohol + lack of an introduction + no name badge + my age (whatevs) + [one last excuse here]) I couldn’t recall the name of the guy who served us at Eagles’ Nest. UCT student, doing Business Science and Commerce, passion for wine, third season working there, favourite Eagles’ Nest wine: Viognier, top knot, possible beard. Nice chap. Nameless.
So I went to the Eagle’s Nest website, clicked on ABOUT and selected PEOPLE BEHIND OUR WINES. Maybe they had a ‘meet and greet our front room staff’ thing. They didn’t.

What they did have was the Executive Director, the Winemaker, the Farm Manager etc etc.
And they had this too:

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That’s Kaylee Stewart. She’s the Brand Manager: Tasting Room, Sales & Marketing (Western Cape).
Says her blurb:

Kaylee joined the Eagles’ Nest team at the end of 2011 to build on her families involvement. Since, she has enthusiastically taken up the role of managing the tasting room, local Cape Town trade and fulfilling certain public relation and marketing roles.

(Families [sic] involvement being her Dad is the Executive Director)
But what would “fulfilling certain public relation and marketing roles” actually entail, though? And how would one prove oneself capable of handling such a taxing role?

Might it include putting promotional comments about Eagles’ Nest on blog posts about the Constantia Wine Route, even when the said blog posts don’t mention Eagles’ Nest?

I doubt it.

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What are the chances that someone called Kaylee Stewart thought that a wine farm run by Peter Stewart was the best of all the wine farms in the Constantia Valley? It’s almost too coincidental to not be the same Kaylee Stewart that now fulfils certain public relation and marketing roles.
And yet, it’s obviously not the same Kaylee Stewart because surely she would have mentioned that she took her family members down from England “because Dad is the Executive Director there”. And she would just have given her Pops a call and asked when the Shiraz was coming out, no? None of this “mid May if I am not mistaken” nonsense.


And yet, even if it were the same Kaylee Stewart (which it isn’t), then there’s nothing illegal about what she did. Rather disingenuous, ethically iffy, sure, but that’s about it.
If it had have been the same Kaylee Stewart (which it wasn’t) she would have known that if she had ‘come out’ as being connected to the Eagles’ Nest estate, readers would obviously have taken everything positive she said about the place with a pinch of salt. And so if it was her (and we’re all aware that it wasn’t) she would have simply omitted any reference to the fact that it was her family’s business anyway. Clever lady.
(It’s worth noting that according to the website, the real Kaylee Stewart wasn’t working for the vineyard when the comment was posted.)

For me, it raises an interesting point with regard to bloggers recommending products. We wouldn’t have believed what the real Kaylee Stewart had said if we’d known about her family’s business, and yet people still read blog posts for which the blogger has been paid or has received free accommodation/food/services or goods and they lap up the positive reviews. It works for the blogger, because they get money and/or free stuff, and it works for the company involved because they get the positive review and the increase in sales. We can all name several (or more) local blogs that do this.

People aren’t going to believe everything that they read, though, are they? Except obviously yes, enough of them do, because otherwise it would all stop. Personally, I can’t understand it. It’s actually fairly depressing that no-one seems to think any deeper than the actual words they are reading when there’s a paid-for review. Most of the time there’s absolutely no disclosure by the blogger anyway, so I guess you’d never know.

These days, when I get asked to do reviews on stuff, I make it clear from the outset that if it’s not very good, I will write that it’s not very good. And suddenly there are very few takers. Maybe because they don’t have the confidence in the product, but more likely that they know that they can get the next blogger they call to write something nice – however poor the actual experience – by just giving them some money or make up or a helicopter trip or a phone or whatever.

Whatever happened to integrity, hey?