Buitenverwachting literally means Beyond Expectation and this is certainly true in the case of this wine. The wine speaks volumes for itself but, as is the case with many great wines, the degree of appreciation can only be enhanced with a little knowledge and history of the area that it originates from.
Part of the oldest wine growing area in South Africa – originally one farm named Constantia founded by Simon van der Stel – Buitenverwachting was established in 1796 and now shares this area with its two illustrious and mutually indepedent neighbours, Groot and Klein Constantia. Grapes have been grown here since 1825 and Constantia has been associated with the production of wine ever since. The current owners have kept a small block of Hanepoot table grapes that are over 100 years old to serve as a reminder of the farm’s heritage and as a link to the past. Nestled in the foothills and gentle slopes of Table Mountain the region is also world famous for its bio-diversity and many endemic plant species such as the Protea and is where the Botanical Gardens of Kirstenbosch can be found, showcasing many of these plants.
The granite soils are also very good for viniculture while the temperate climate in the area features warm summers cooled by south-easterly sea breezes and cool winters with very little or no frost – ideal for the growing of grapes. The vineyards lie on the valley sides and floors, benefiting from the many different meso-climates offered by the mountainous terrain and diverse terroir. The rugged peaks, multi-directional valley slopes and close proximity of the ocean – in particular the Atlantic, chilled by the icy Benguela current which flows northwards up the west coast of Africa from Antarctica – moderate the summer warmth. Cooling sea breezes blow in during the day while fog and moisture-laden breezes are prevalent at night and due to the Mediterranean climate, there is plenty of sunshine enabling grapes to achieve optimum ripeness. This diversity of topography and meso-climatic conditions result in wines filled with character and complexity.
Once poured in the glass, the wine is clear and bright and has a pale lemon and yellow colour. Aromas of green figs, gooseberries and prickly pear greet you when taking a sniff and on the palate the wine is initially zesty and citrusy fresh followed with a good balance of vegetal – green peppers and grass – and mineral structuring flavours and a long, dry finish. This wine is fairly restrained – nothing is too obvious – and it only really opens up once you have had a glass or two while the alcohol content at 13% means it is friendly but can stand up to a wide range of food accompaniments.
Ideal partners are white fish, shellfish – or better still mixed together as Fish Pie – light chicken dishes and summer salads with asparagus and green olives. It should be chilled slightly to a maximum of 5-6 degrees celsius – any colder the wine will not fully open up all of its charms.
Marks out of 100 – 85.
Available at time of publication from Wine Direct for £ 95.00 per case of 12.