Whilst Sauvignon Blanc may remain Constantia’s signature grape Eagles’ Nest’s vineyards are far more suited to red varieties, so much so there is no Sauvignon planted at all! On some of the steepest slopes in agricultural use in the Cape, vineyards are located at between 150 and 400 metres above sea level facing north and east, as well as enjoying the only west-orientated slope in Constantia, planted notably with the Bordeaux variety Merlot and, of course, the Rhône specialty Syrah – or Shiraz as they prefer to label. Only ten kilometres from False Bay and in the path of the summer trade winds, because of the cooler influences these wines achieve remarkable balance and vitality as well as power and richness.
Eagles’ Nest has been in the hands of the Mylrea family since 1984; originally from a section of the Constantia estate established by Simon van der Stel in the late 1600’s, wine waking is a more modern venture. The opportunity to grow grapes came in the form of a terrible fire that destroyed the commercially planted pine forests, the Myrlea’s redeveloping the land by planting vineyards in 2000.
Viticulture and winemaking practices have been overseen from the start by Kevin Watt and Cape legend, Martin Meinert, who made the first vintage in his Devon Valley cellar in 2005. Today, young winemaker Stuart Botha is beginning to take the lead. In less than a decade the Shiraz has become regarded as one of the Cape’s classics (including a 5* Platter award winner!) and continues to impress in tasting after tasting. Quite a transformation!
Grapes are handpicked, de-stalked and put into open top fermenters for two weeks. A mixture of pumping over and punching down were employed to extract the perfect levels of colour and tannins from the skins (as with the Merlot). Aged in French oak barrels (30% new) for 16 months – then aged in bottle for another 18 months prior to release.
Ideal with a classic Boeuf Bourguignon or Hungarian goulash. Also matched nicely with venison.