Spring is a time of fresh starts. As September rolls around, winter starts to slacken its grip, colourful blooms begin to flower across the Western Cape, and Capetonians emerge bit by bit from their caves and typically commence the proverbial spring cleaning.
It’s also (more importantly) a time of lolling about outside in the intermittent sunshine with a glass of bubbly in hand and some snacks in the other, all while being surrounded by beautiful views and even better company. Sounds fabulous, right? Thanks to the kindness of the team at the historical Groot Constantia wine estate, that’s exactly how I got to spend the first day of spring this year.
In celebration of a new season, I was fortunate enough to attend my first Insta-Meet where a bunch of us social media lovers, content creators, bloggers and (of course) foodies were invited for a treat of a day out of the office, filled with bubbly, wine and chocolate tasting, a sneaky peak into some of the estate’s latest products and a lazy lunch within the farmhouse-meets-country-chic setting of the Jonkershuis Restaurant. Towards the end of the afternoon, while sat at a cosy table next to an unlit fireplace, it started to feel like I was enjoying this whole new experience with a bunch of old friends. Even though we’d met just hours before, I loved getting to chat books and films and photography and the social media industry with such like-minded and friendly people, while sipping on our favourite of the Groot Constantia wines. It was the perfect Spring Day at South Africa’s oldest wine estate, and it looked a little something like this…
Cheers to clear skies & canapés
Salty, creamy cheeses together with lush, tart fruits is my foodie idea of a good time. That’s especially true when the sun is out, and those two come paired with a sparkling glass of Brut Rosé.
Gathered on the lawn in front of the Jonkershuis Restaurant and overlooking a stretch of vines, we clinked our glasses in celebration of new friends and a perfectly warm day. Moments later, platters of delicate canapés arrived, each with a creative combination of classic ingredients in colours resembling fields of flowers. I so appreciated the attention to detail paid to each one and, while all were delish, the fusion of tangy yellow apple, Chevin goats cheese and a sweet digestive biscuit was a canapé dream I want to recreate in my own kitchen.
There’s also nothing like a bit of highly photogenic food to break the ice and bring a bunch of avid Instagrammers together. Juggling a glass of bubbles, canapés and a camera while trying to hold a conversation and take an awesome shot all at the same time is more of a laugh than a struggle when everyone else around you is trying to do the same. We pinched the last of the snacks before making our merry way to the Cloete Cellar, while chatting about the history of the estate’s beautiful manors and watching seemingly cute ducks chase each other menacingly around the pond.
A lesson in legs and melt-in-your-mouth chocolate
Who knew wines have legs? I certainly didn’t. But, that’s the beauty of a wine tasting experience – you get to absorb all these interesting new things about wine and the tasting process.
While I love a good glass of white, I’m not much of a wine connoisseur (nor do I know how to properly pronounce that word anyway) and don’t know much about the complex tasting process besides the simple look, swirl, sniff, sip scenario (which I was fortunate enough to learn about during an al fresco dinner in Tuscany last year). But, sat in the Cloete Cellar I was fascinated to find that the “legs” of a wine refer to the drops or tears that run in lines down the inside of the glass after you’ve given it a good swirl. The sweeter the wine, the slower the legs will run, and a wine with a higher alcohol content will have more legs. So, there’s a fun fact to share while getting legless at your next dinner party.
What I especially like about guided tastings, though, is that you’re pointed towards the flavours you should be sensing. As a result, I could ACTUALLY taste the guava in the Sauvignon Blanc this time (MIND. BLOWN). Also just out here having a complex palette and etc. This fruitiness was even more pronounced after taking a bite of the zingy, tropical-flavoured white chocolate it was paired with, followed by a sip of vino for the full effect. Each chocolate is infused with subtle hints of different ingredients (like the Shiraz is paired with a spicy milk chocolate that, put all together, reminded me of a taste of a warm winter’s day cuddled up by a crackling fire) to perfectly match its partner-in-wine (*congratulates self with pat on back for being soooo punny*). These not-your-regular-run-of-the-mill chocolates are handcrafted by a chocolatier in Knysna, using high quality cocoa butter for an extra melt-in-your-mouth experience.
Lunch is served
After a sip of sweetness in the form of the estate’s amber-coloured Grand Constance dessert wine (because dessert before a main meal is always a good idea) we headed off to lunch at the Jonkershuis Restaurant.
I could easily have spent the rest of that afternoon sat there happily nibbling on citrus olives, and bits of artisanal baguette dipped in Groot Constantia’s new range of infused grape seed oils. But, after a look at the menu, I had to exercise some self-control because a) I feel very strongly about a good artisanal loaf and have been known to have a little “snack-cident” and just eat it all, and b) there was a whole menu full of dishes to mull over and that I needed to save space for in mah belly. It’s a struggle, I tell you.
After much deliberation, I eventually decided on a starter of fishcakes (I mean, I couldn’t resist sampling the day’s special), followed by a vibrant and colourful salad of quinoa, honey pumpkin, feta and cranberries. I always enjoy restaurants that add an extra chef-y edge to the kind of simple, familiar dishes I love to make at home, and that’s exactly what I experienced at Jonkershuis. The cheesecake came highly recommended as dessert but, because I was teetering on the edge of a happy little food coma, I couldn’t quite manage a slice (it’s a struggle, I told you). I did, however, have a sneaky little spoonful of my fellow guest’s and it was as smooth and creamy and delicious as expected – if not better.
Thanks to Groot Constantia, Jonkershuis Restaurant and Fusion Design for a treat of a day spent wining and dining, and to the other guests for being the most welcoming and entertaining company.
Until next time. xx