It’s fair to say that the Constantia Valley is the cradle of winemaking in the Cape. It was here that Commander Simon Van Der Stel arrived and applied his knowledge of viticulture to planting the first vineyards.
This would go on to spark an entire industry for which the region has established a resounding reputation. The original estate of a hefty 763 hectares has been parcelled off innumerable times and today, there are about nine wine farms nestled into the Constantia valley and immediate surrounds. Constantia Glen is one of them and it’s to here that we travelled for a mid-week Sauvignon Blanc and flammkuchen lunch experience.
A flammkuchen is, for lack of a better description, a German pizza and is not only SO much fun to mispronounce but is delicious to eat, even when put together by a bunch of amateurs.
The challenge set for the group by the estate’s effervescent assistant winemaker, Megan van der Merwe, was to handcraft a flammkuchen whose flavour profile is the perfect complement to Constantia Glen’s new vintage of classically-styled Sauvignon Blanc 2018, a fresh, crisp, grassy, and green peppery white wine that has just been unleashed on the market. And to the winner, as voted by the group: a magnum bottle of the Constantia Glen Two, an absolutely delicious blend of Sémillon and Sauvignon Blanc. With such a lush prize up for grabs, I rolled up my sleeves and snapped on a set of latex gloves because the proverbial gloves were off!
Off we go to the kitchen!
It all begins with dough made from high grade, stone ground, and unbleached Eureka Mills flour, which is then rolled into a rectangular shape, thin-based, and fired in a wood oven. Onto this goes the sauce base – a velvety mascarpone cheese spiced with nutmeg, rather than the usual Napolitano sauce. We were then set loose on a bevvy of mouth-watering ingredients to construct our very own flammkuchen with the ultimate goal of creating a perfect match for the 2018 Sauvignon Blanc.
When it comes to food and wine pairings, one can either choose to complement or contrast – a wine can match a food’s acidity, sweetness, and/or fattiness (oily texture) or it can establish a sharp juxtaposition. Given the high acidity and “greenness” of Constantia Glen’s 2018 Sauvignon Blanc, which should mellow beautifully with age if the 2015 and 2016 vintages are anything to go by, I decided to create a flammkuchen that would contrast well with the wine, establishing a nice balance.
So, onto a base of mascarpone cheese, I shredded an entire ball of Buffalo mozzarella cheese and then layered on wreaths of smoked trout, finishing off with capers and fennel. After getting blasted in the oven, I added a generous bushel of fresh rocket and some balsamic reduction for a little sweetness. The cheeses and trout, which are creamy and oily respectively, held up beautifully against the tartness of the Sauvignon Blanc, while the peppery rocket made friends with the wine’s “greener” flavours. I’m thankful to both Charl, Constantia Glen’s fabulous host, for his indispensable advice and to the group who voted my flammkuchen amongst the best, sending me home with a magnum bottle of the Constantia Glen Two.
It was a fabulous experience being able to craft our own flammkuchen – not only did we learn that there was such a thing as a flammkuchen in the first place, but we also learned so much about curating food and wine pairings. We also got to taste each other’s creations and – full credit to the group – I adored each and every one. In my eyes, we’re all winners. Of course, I can say that without sour grapes because I got to take the prize home!
Constantia Glen Wines
Being a cool climate region, Constantia Glen is perfect for growing Sauvignon Blanc, of which they offer several vintages, as well as a Sauvignon Blanc / Sémillon blend. They also have an exquisite Bordeaux style blend (2013) and a Cabernet Sauvignon / Cabernet Franc blend / Merlot (2015). The wines here are made from slow-ripened grapes that have been bathed in the cooling ocean breezes off the Atlantic Ocean. With the insanely talented Justin van Wyk and Megan van der Merwe at the helm of the winery, the combination of spectacular terroir, climate, and winemaking prowess is a range of award-winning white and red wines of exceptional character, quality, and grace.
An all-season destination for wine lovers
Constantia Glen has added a selection of flammkuchen and summer salads to their existing repertoire of tasting experiences, so you too can see just how wonderful a match flammkuchen is to their wines. Food and wine aside, Constantia Glen is an absolutely stunning boutique wine farm, with views that will have you planning your wedding there within five minutes of arriving. There are also a number of beautiful spaces for wine tasting and lunch – both indoors and out – making this gem the perfect all-season destination for food and wine lovers.
Phone: 021 795 5639 or visit their website on www.constantiaglen.com