Steenberg Wine Farm, Constantia

 – A FAVOURITE ON THE CONSTANTIA WINE ROUTE!

This farm has the most beautiful wine tasting, restaurant, lounging setup!  The water features give it a tranquil atmosphere while Bistro Sixteen82 always seems to be buzzing in a relaxed kind of way.  They have an awesome light / chandelier feature over the wine tasting bar and a beautiful outlook onto the mountains.  Even on a cold and rainy day you can still sit on the couches looking out through the floor to ceiling glass doors.  You can enjoy a tasting inside or outside on the couches or even buy a bottle and go enjoy it with some friends on the grass. 

Personally I think it is one of the nicest tasting rooms and atmosphere on the Constantia route and always love stopping in when I am that side of the Cape.  The staff were great as well, well informed and interactive making us feel quite comfortable where we were.  And we enjoyed a lovely afternoon in the Cape’s winter sun tasting some great wines.

On to the wines, Steenberg prides themselves in their Sauvignon Blancs.  The farm has a number of South facing slopes which means the vines don’t get that harsh sunlight.  The soil in the area is also rich in granite and a number of other minerals.  These conditions lend themselves towards great white wines and you can tell that the whites are definitely better quality than the reds.  Most of the white wines are almost a little creamy on the palette and leave a delicious after taste.  It’s very interesting again to taste the impact a difference in terrior has on a simple grape.

All the HMS wines are for some or other reason named after battleships which were used in the battle of Muizenberg. There is quite a colourful history to the farm which dates all the way back to Jan Van Riebeck’s and Simon Van Der Stel’s days.  You can read it on the website or allow the TRH to give you a few snippets as you go through the wine tasting.
I opted to do the Premium wine tasting at R20 and my other half chose the Ultra Premium for R40 /(refundable on purchase of wine).  You can also taste the
Magna Carta 2010 flagship wine at R20 a tasting, this is an unusual White wine blend of 60% of the Steenberg Sauvignon Blanc Reserve and 40% Semillion.

A few tasting notes below…

PREMIUM TASTING
STEENBERG 1682 CHARDONNAY MCC
A lovely MCC, definitely one for the favourites list.  It’s not too dry on the tongue, made from 100% Chardonnay and has almost a biscuit texture with the bubbles.  It is lovely, fruity and quite like crisp apples.  Delicious!

STEENBERG SAUVIGNON BLANC 2012
Your standard Sav B, very nice with more green fig than green grass flavours.  A little like grapefruit sorbet if there is such a thing.

STEENBERG HMS RATTLESNAKE SAUVIGNON BLANC 2011
This wine, unlike the above, has been lightly wooded and you can taste the difference ever so slightly with the subtle (very) oak flavours.  It is actually a very nice wine and the slight oak compliments the usual Sav B flavours.

STEENBERG HMS SPHYNX CHARDONNAY 2012
The Chardonnay is also lightly wooded with a light butteriness to the flavour.  It is quite a light, easy Chard with very slight caramel flavours and a bit more on the dried apricot side.  Very enjoyable!

STEENBERG HMS ECHO RED BLEND 2010
The Echo is a blend of 70% Cab Sav, 17% Merlot and 13% Cab Franc, the grapes have been wooded separately and then again together.  It is a lovely easy drinking blend, but above average when compared with other “easy drinking” blends.  It is quite earthy and doesn’t have the smoothness of a top blend, but it is still pretty good in its own right.

STEENBERG MERLOT 2010
Apparently the area in which these grapes are grown is surrounded by eucalyptus trees and so when the wind blows and the flowers fall they tend to coat the grapes, supposedly giving a menthol influence to the wine.  While you do catch a whiff of menthol on the nose, I probably would not have correctly identified it as it is very slight.  This is a nice Merlot, not amazing, but good.

STEENBERG SHIRAZ 2011
According to the TRH, this Shiraz is not as harsh as your typical “Boland” shiraz from places like Paarl where they pride themselves on the reds.  (We decided not to let him know we’re from that neck of the woods).  The is fermented for some time on the grapes therefore producing more berry flavours.  It has the definite nose of a shiraz with the cloves and peppers coming through but you can definitely notice the stronger berry and plump fruit flavours.  It is by no means as complex or sophisticated as something like a La Motte Shiraz, but it is still an enjoyable Shiraz to drink today.


ULTRA PREMIUM TASTING
STEENBERG SAUVIGNON BLANC RESERVE 2011
Definitely one for the favourites list.  This wine has no tongue cluck to it at all with it’s smooth deliciousness.  You can taste the mineral flavours coming through from the granite mention in the earth where the vines are grown.  Lovely asparagus and grass scents come through on the nose and in the flavours.  We took one of these bottles home for the wine rack.
It must be noted that this is the last vintage that will be made from these vineyards as they are soon to be taken out.  The vines are old and while they still produce the best grapes, the yield is very small.

STEENBERG SEMILLON 2011
We both thought this wine was quite bland, which is not unlike a Semillon I guess, perhaps why it is recommended with any and all food as the food can only enhance the flavours.  Particularly spicy foods where you don’t have to worry about the spices killing all the wine flavours.  It has soft vanilla and wood flavours and if served at the right temperature taste like vanilla ice-cream with a hint of dried apricots, or perhaps an apricot sorbet – which could double as palette cleanser I guess.
Not a favourite varietal for me I must be honest, but I do like its versatility with food.

STEENBERG NEBBIOLO 2011
The Nebbiolo is in fact an Italian grape which our TRH suggested is like a Pinot Noir’s younger and more robust sibling.  And that was in fact quite an apt description as the wine is quite light in colour for a red and it has definite strawberry flavours with a bit of earthy-ness to it.  It does dry your mouth out a little at the end.  It has a little unusualness to it, while it is strawberry jam in flavour, the flavours seem to disappear so quickly, there is certainly no linger after taste or finish to this wine, a strange sensation.  This wine is also recommended as a good food wine and again, you can start to see why.  I would like to have a food and wine pairing with both this and the above Semillon.

CATHARINA 2009
The Catharina is named after the farm’s original owner who plays a huge role in the colourful history of the land.  The wine is a blend of 43% Cab Sav, Merlot and Cab Franc.  As 2009 was one of the better years in the Cape for wine making, I would expect a bit more from this wine, perhaps a smoother blend.  It is a very good, not amazing or comparable with some of our other favourites, but still good.  It is actually surprisingly quite light in colour and on the palette with a bit of a dry finish.  The TRH suggested that this wine can be kept for another 10-15 years, I would like to try it again in a few years and see if it has softened up a little and aged well.

I would definitely recommend the white wines, perhaps not the reds as much, but most definitely a visit, a tasting and something to eat.  An absolutely lovely farm to visit!
STEENBERG VINEYARDS
Steenberg Road, Constantia Valley
+27 21 713 2211
Latitude:-34.071126 Longitude: 18.425272

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