WINE SCHOOL 20 - 26 October 2014

REGION: South Africa > Constantia

Constantia, an affluent suburb of Cape Town, is home to some of the oldest and most esteemed wine estates in Africa. The sweet Vin de Constance was favoured by European royalty in the 18th century and in Jane Austen's Sense and Sensibility, the 'finest old Constantia wine' is referred to for its healing powers on a disappointed heart.

Key red grapes: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot
Key white grapes: Muscat Blanc à Petits Grains, Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon


GRAPE: Muscat

Muscat has a long history and may have been one of the first grapes to be cultivated and used in winemaking. The grapes are strongly perfumed and, unusually for wine grapes, are also grown for eating, both unadultered and raisined.

Muscat is actually a family of grapes and varieties span a range of colours from pale gold to purple. Two varieties are most frequently used for winemaking. Muscat of Alexandria is sweet, strongly flavoured and makes singularly grapey wines. Muscat Blanc à Petits Grains is the more refined member of the family capable of producing wines of stunning intensity and considerable complexity.

Muscat needs warm or hot growing conditions and is utilised in a number of different ways. It is a feauture of accomplished dry wines in Alsace; as a fun, frothy glass of fizz in northern Italy; and in the opulent, luscious sweet wines of Beaumes-de-Venise (France - Rhône), Rutherglen (Australia) and Constantia (South Africa). Lighter, younger wines are characterised by grape, rose and orange blossom aromas; richer, older wines may show honey, figs, prunes, treacle and nuts.

SYNONYMS: a headache for wine students, Muscat can also go by the name of Moscatel, Moscadello, Moscato, Muskateller or Muscadel, but should not to be confused with Muscadet, Muscadelle, Muscardin or Muskat-Silvaner which are different varieties.

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