Winter has taken its sweet time in arriving in Cape Town; the solstice was on Wednesday and the days are already getting longer, minute by minute, just as we’re settling into chilly temperatures and some blessed rain.
In cold weather, thoughts naturally turn towards comfort food and you don’t get more comforting that a bowl of soup. Unless it’s three bowls of soup. That’s exactly what’ you’ll find at Constantia Glen, from now until the end of August.
Constantia Glen has a tasting room and restaurant perched high in the valley with truly magnificent views, which assault me with their beauty anew every time I visit and demand multiple Instagram posts. The stylish fusion of European and Cape design is by sought-after South African interior designer Graham Viney. Taking cues from what already existed on the site, the former stables and cow byre have been converted into light, eclectic spaces featuring a chic contemporary wine bar.
Fresh design elements include Cape Georgian cellar doors with their klompie brick surrounds, spaansriet ceilings and a great cast iron pavilion created out of the juncture of three verandahs. Arts and crafts-inspired chandeliers hark back to the stable origins, while pale French oak and raffia lamps are enlivened by splashes of vibrant earthy oranges and animal prints interspersed with miniature washboard surfaced coffee tables.
The love of art and sensitivity to the estate’s history by present owners, the Waibel family, is reflected in their collection of pottery by Hymie Rabinowitz, who for years had his studio there, and is juxtaposed with rare vintage African cloths.
As wonderful as all this sounds, it is not easy to compete with the natural surroundings, although holistically, they are entirely complementary.
In the cool climate vineyards, Bordeaux-style red and white wines are created, among them the Constantia Glen TWO 2015, Constantia Glen THREE 2014 and Constantia Glen FIVE 2012, which broke the 90-point barrier in Martin’s South Africa Report published in the April this year.
The 2012 vintage of its flagship red, the Constantia Glen FIVE, an elegant expression of the five Bordeaux varieties grown on the upper reaches of the Constantiaberg, has recently been released. Every Friday between 5 and 8 pm visitors can enjoy 25% off Constantia Glen FIVE by the bottle or glass.
In addition to the current 2012 vintage, sit-down guests will be able to purchase some older vintages of the Constantia Glen FIVE to enjoy at the special #FridayFIVE@5 tasting room prices. To be frank, this wine is not “cheap”, but it’s worth every cent; I justified buying a bottle by notching up some excellent red wine bargains elsewhere. It’s all about balance.
But let’s get back to that tummy-warming soup. Along with the usual menu of delicious breakfasts and amazing cheese and charcuterie platters which are ideal wine accompaniments on any day, a trio of homemade soups is the perfect reason to get cosy at this picturesque boutique estate just 20 minutes from the Cape Town city centre.
Tuck into Constantia Glen’s famous traditional Austrian beef goulash, roasted butternut and sage or traditional French onion soup served with crispy gruyere toast. All are available as single servings for R90 (with amazing bread on the side, which will tempt even the most hardened low-carber), or as a trio for R95. This is what we had and I can highly recommend it – not only for the wonderful hearty soups, but for the excellent value for money. We accidentally ordered two three-soup tasters as well as a cheese and charcuterie platter, and honestly, the soup alone was more than enough, and very filling. Ask your waiter to recommend a wine pairing; I had the Constantia Glen FIVE because it’s just so yummy. Plus a bottle to take home of course.
* Constantia Glen is open Sundays to Thursdays from 10am until 5pm and on Fridays and Saturdays from 10am to 8pm. Look out for the Constantia Glen signs towards the top of Constantia Main Road.