Eagles’ Nest winery lies at the north end of Constantia on the slopes of the Constantiaberg to the south of Table Mountain. The location of Constantia, a suburb of Cape Town, means access for visitors is straightforward and we traveled to the winery by Uber allowing us both to enjoy the wine. Being in close proximity to the Atlantic on the west and False Bay to the East, Constantia is blessed with a coastal breeze giving its wines a cooler climate feel than those regions further inland. I had hoped to make it to the majority of the Constantia wineries, however, due to a last minute excursion to Durbanville I only made it to Eagles’ Nest and Steenberg (link to follow shortly).
The vineyards at Eagles’ Nest were destroyed by fire back in 2000 but have now been replanted with Shiraz (Syrah), Merlot and Viognier in terraces leading up the mountain slopes. Given that Syrah and Viognier grown together leave me thinking of Cote Rotie in the Northern Rhone I had high expectations for these wines. Eagles’ Nest is an idyllic spot, with a modern tasting room opening on to the garden of the estate. If I had more time around Cape Town it is a spot I would certainly return to for lunch and a glass of wine on a sunny afternoon.
Tasting Facilities: Mondays-Sundays from 10:00am – 16:30pm.
Appointments are not required, and tasting is in the gardens of the estate.
The cost of tasting is 50 Rand per person (this is refunded if spending over R500 on wine).
Refreshments: We accompanied our tasting with a superb Antipasto Platter for R165 which was more than enough for 2 to enjoy as a light lunch. I understand it is also possible to arrange for a picnic in the grounds during the summer months.
Wines Tasted: Sauvignon Blanc 2015, Viognier 2015, The Little Eagle Rosé 2015, Merlot 2011, Shiraz 2013
Eagles’ Nest Sauvignon Blanc 2015
Alcohol: 13.50 vol% Sugar: 1.6 g/l TA: 6.8 g/l PH: 3.31
Price: R85 (approximately £4)
This was the first wine tasted at the winery.
Appearance: grassy pale gold.
Nose: Dominant aroma of gooseberry.
Palate: Pineapple dominated, higher than normal acidity crafting a refreshing wine. The alcohol content felt slightly out of balance. Some minerality but insufficient for me to really get into this.
Conclusion: I tend to like my Sauvignon Blanc relatively austere (think more Sancerre’s gunflint than Marlborough’s tropical fruit). This was a refreshing drink and well suited to the climate, just really not quite to my palate.
Score: 87/100 (DT)
Eagles’ Nest Viognier 2015
Alcohol: 13.0 vol % Sugar: 1.6 g/l TA: 6.1 g/l PH: 3.56
Mixed French oak 7 months. Thirds of new 1 and 2 year old (40%).
Price: R145 (Approximately £7)
Appearance: Pale Lemon.
Nose: Delicate and floral, jasmine and pear.
Palate: Both continue on the palate and oak provides structure and subtle vanilla on finish. Sufficient acidity and well balanced with minerality.
We were pleased to have picked out the Jasmine on initial tasting as this is known to be typical of the Viognier from Eagles’ Nest.
Conclusion: This is an enjoyable wine and I feel that it has more than a passing resemblance to Condrieu. Well oaked but not over-oaked. I would give this another year to settle down and fully integrate and would certainly seek it out again. A darned good effort at this tricky grape.
Score: 90/100 (but providing the oak integrates slightly more with another year then 91+/100, DT).
The Little Eagle Rosé 2015
Shiraz and Merlot, Steel Fermentation
Alcohol: 13.50 vol% Sugar: 2.0 g/l TA: 6.0 g/l PH: 3.43
Price: R55 (approximately £3.75)
Unfortunately my tasting notes were slightly incomplete for this wine, but I remember it being fascinating. I felt there was little on the nose but my tasting partner was very much unnerved by an strong and unusual aroma. On the palate this was dry with a slight spritz, with red fruits and mild tannin.
Conclusion: Slightly more like a red wine that what I am used to in a Rosé. I really just didn’t know what to make of this, I’d buy a bottle to decide if I had space.
Score: 86/100 (somewhere between 85-90 but I needed more time to think about it, DT)
Eagles’ Nest Merlot 2011
Alcohol: 14.00 vol% Sugar: 2.9 g/l TA: 5.2 g/l PH: 3.53
8-9 year old vines, 16 months in mixed age barrels.
Price: R145 (Approximately £7)
Appearance: Ruby in colour, slight browning.
Nose: Mixed red and black fruit, rich and intense.
Palate: Sweet,sickly, boozy. Stewed damson, good grip from tannins. Oak on the finish. Sweet and alcoholic but balanced likely due to sufficient acidity and cooler climate.
Conclusions: The team at Eagles’ Nest have done a great job with this one; it lacks elegance but otherwise is pretty top notch. Let it mature for a few years and it will be superb. I do not normally go in for a new world style, but this is a real firecracker of a wine.
Score: 91/100 (DT)
Eagles’ Nest Shiraz 2013
Alcohol: 13.50 vol% Sugar: 3.1 g/l TA: 5.6 g/l PH: 3.61
16 months in French oak
Price: R225 (Approximately £11)
Nose: Aromatic, red and black fruits; a mix of raspberry and blackcurrant.
Palate: Well rounded, dry and balanced, clear fruit but with a delicate nature. Minerality on the finish. The flavours layer nicely on progressive tasting, building complexity and showing a more savoury side to the wine.
Conclusions: Cool climate really comes through on this one. Core Rotie-esque. Perfumed and delicate Syrah with a real sense of terroir. A great wine to finish up the meat and cheese with. I have a feeling this has real ageing potential; as such I picked up a bottle for tasting at a later date.
Score: 91/100 (Clear potential to improve with time, DT)
Overall: Despite being the first winery of the trip this was also one of my favourites and stood out from the crowd. The food is good, the wine is great, and the setting is delightful. I took home a bottle of the Shiraz to taste again in a years or two time and I would definitely pick up a bottle of the Merlot or Viognier if I saw it in the UK. Would highly recommend a trip there if you happen to be in Cape Town.