For me, chocolate is something to be savoured at the end of a meal, maybe with coffee. But I’m certainly not strict about all things wine and food and so when I was invited to try Constantia Glen’s chocolate and wine pairing, I jumped.
But first we asked to try their award-winning flagship white blend Constantia Glen Two. The 2016 vintage hit the spot for James Molesworth of American Wine Spectator who earlier this year gave it a 91 point rating. It also received a gold medal from the 2017 International Wine Challenge (IWC) in London. With over 15 000 entries from around the world, the judges gave it a score of 95/100 and they described this 70% sauvignon blanc and 30% semillon blend as a “ripe style” with a “rounded mid-palate and fresh vibrant acidity with clean long length”.
Constantia Glen has been operating for just 10 years, making it the youngest wine farm in the Constantia Valley.
At 60ha, half over to wine, it is known for its Bordeaux-style red and white wines which are well-suited to the Constantia Valley’s cool climate.
As part of the pairing, we tasted three of Constantia Glen’s red wines starting with Saddle Red 2015, a blend of cabernet sauvignon, cabernet franc, merlot and malbec, with a 60% cocoa chocolate.
The range of chocolates has been specifically crafted over a period of time to accompany Constantia Glen wines and is produced by a Paarl chocolatier. It is also diabetic-friendly.
Second up was Constantia Glen Three 2013 with a 70% cocoa and the third was their flagship Constantia Glen Five and an 80% cocoa. The wine is excellent, the chocolate too, but we were not sure about tasting them at the same time.
I did some research. It seems that wine and chocolate have some things in common. For example, most cacao trees grow in a narrow belt on either side of the equator. Basically they grow well in humid tropical climates. Vines do not. But cocoa beans, like wine grapes, undergo fermentation in order to soften and round them out and also to remove tannins and to change their colour. Chocolate also has tannins, the darker the chocolate the higher the double digit percentages. In fact, when you pair chocolate and wine, usually red wine, you don’t want to go for a delicate pinot, rather go for a robust wine with a darker, 80% cocoa as opposed to a sweet, fruity one, although a fortified wine, like a good port, would work with super-dark chocolate.
At the end of the pairing we tasted winemaker Justin van Wyk’s limited edition Van Wyk Family Wines. The labels depict a ram as Van Wyk hails from a Karoo sheep farm, and three daffodils, a homage to the Welsh heritage of his wife and two daughters. The grapes are not sourced from Constantia Glen but are only sold on this
At the end of the day, it’s the experience. Buying a bottle at a bottle store or supermarket cannot compare to sipping a good quality wine surrounded by vines from which the wine has been tenderly crafted. To top this, the person pouring the wine is passionate about their product, knowledgeable about the terroir, the winemaker and how and why he or she produced the wine. It’s also about the company you are sharing the tasting with… the experience.
The Constantia Glen red wine and chocolate pairing costs R90 a person and is served daily at the tasting room. To pre-book, call 021 795 5639 or book online booking at www.constantiaglen.com/contact.