I was invited to the Constantia Fresh Fine Wine and Food Festival held at Buitenverwachting yesterday afternoon. It was a sold out fun event, 44 wine estates (not only from Constantia) presenting their 200 ‘freshest’ and most interesting wines, and chefs (mainly from Constantia) preparing food.
The entrance fee was R400 per person, and included as much wine tasting and food as one liked. The tables were set out by region, with Constantia having the central stage around a massive oak tree in the middle of the large lawn on which the Festival was held. It is always interesting to see how the wine estates market themselves in the relatively small space they have. It was impossible to taste all the wines of all the wine estates represented at the Festival, and it was a pity that one did not receive a leaflet or information about each of the wines and wine estates at the Festival. The Festival is the concept of wine editor, Platter taster, sommelier, and wine consultant Jörg Pfützner, who is known as a Riesling fan.
The Constantia Fresh Festival was preceded by two events on Friday: Jörg led a themed tasting with the interesting title: ‘If modernity is sexy, is tradition passé?’ This was followed by a four course dinner cooked by Chef Bertus Basson, paired with a total of twelve wines from the Constantia valley, which was held at Klein Constantia. Yesterday the ‘walkabout tasting‘ allowed attendees to taste to their heart’s content, and to meet wine estate representatives, although most top winemakers were not present due to the harvest being in full swing. On its website, Constantia Fresh is described as follows: ‘…emphasises freshness in wine’, which did not really explain why certain wine estates were present and others not. Seven Constantia wine producers participated: Klein Constantia, Groot Constantia, Steenberg, Eagle’s Nest, Buitenverwachting, Constantia Glen, and Beau Constantia.
Some of the other top wine estates at Constantia Fresh were Almenkerk, Beaumont, Botanica Wines (such beautiful labels – left), Cape Point Vineyards, Chamonix, Creation, Delaire Graff (with a vase of fresh flowers), Hamilton Russell, Hermanuspietersfontein (with a box of proteas), Jordan, Mount Abora, Mullineux, Newton Johnson, Oneiric, Bouchard Finlayson, Reyneke, Winery of Good Hope, Raats Family, Thelema, Tokara, Waterkloof, and Villiera. I was delighted to meet Pieter de Waal from Hermit on the Hill, his wines having the most interesting labels, and his wife had made a fresh berry and fig display to represent his wines for his table.
The food was disappointing, and the ‘Fine Food’ and ‘canapé’ descriptors relating to it were a misnomer. The chefs preparing the food have such a good reputation, and should not be seen preparing 500 or more portions of food each in less than adequate preparation facilities in 30+° C temperature. Christian Harbeck from Raith in Constantia was added to the list of chefs, but can hardly be called a chef nor placed in the same company as Chefs Bertus Basson from Overture, Brad Ball from Bistro Sixteen82, Edgar Osojnik from Buitenverwachting, and Peter Tempelhoff from the McGrath Collection. Chef Bertus had prepared smoked chicken in his green Egg cooker, which was served with noodles and topped with a fine salad; Chef Peter looked very cool in his shades, and appears to have lost a lot of weight, perhaps due to the stress of opening his new restaurant Mondiall in the V&A Waterfront, serving tacos with a spicy fish filling, as well as a (cold) cheese ball fondue; Chef Brad looked exhausted after already having served 500 of his delicious oven roasted porchetta with salsa verde and wild rocket (in a horrid big seed-topped bun) in the first two hours of the Festival, still having another three hours to go; and Chef Edgar, who was not visible as he was cooking for a function in their restaurant, had made gazpacho.
Dave Ferguson created a fantastic atmosphere with his vibey music, and he was like a pied piper attracting the children to him, dancing with him on the stage.
We have written previously that it is a shame that the Constantia Wine Route and its wines and restaurants are not better marketed collectively. The Constantia Fresh Festival makes an important contribution to addressing this problem, even though the presence of wines from other regions is confusing to some of those who attended.
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter: WhaleCottage