Mother’s Day is when you spoil your mother and make her feel special. There’s usually some organising involved, if not cooking and baking as well. The fact that you’re a mom too may get overlooked – although if you’re lucky, you might get some flowers from hubby and a card from the children. The nice thing about Women’s Day is that you get to have it all to yourself and indulge a bit – and that’s just what I did this year at Groot Constantia.
When I saw the invite land in my inbox for a wine and chocolate pairing, I couldn’t resist. “Yes, please!” I responded enthusiastically. For Women’s Month (which, for those of you who don’t know, is the entire month of August in South Africa), Groot Constantia is offering massages and beauty treatments at their cellar, courtesy of Mangwanani Spa. For only R100, you can have a 30-minute head, neck or shoulder massage or a manicure. What makes Mangwanani so special is that the therapists are all rural women whose beauty qualifications have empowered them to earn a decent living.
But, of course, being a Sunday, we were very relaxed and only arrived at Groot Constantia at 4pm, by which time the lovely ladies of Mangwanani Spa had already left. Not to worry – there was a big fire blazing in the cellar, we felt warm and cosy and were promptly handed our slim bars of chocolate and brought our wine glasses. We were all set up for a wonderful afternoon at South Africa’s oldest wine farm (330 years old, to be precise). And it was quite appropriate to be celebrating Women’s Day on this particular estate because way back in 1724, Groot Constantia was owned by a woman and ex-slave, Anna de Koningh, who was a well-known character in Cape society at the time.
Wine pairing is quite a ritual, although you usually picture food being matched with your favourite glass of wine. In this case, the wine was paired with chocolate. Now I’m quite a fan of red wine and chocolate, especially in winter, but I had never imagined pairing white wine and white chocolate, although I suppose logically, it does make sense.
Having all the wine glasses lined up in a row looked quite daunting, but somehow, we worked our way through them. And here were my favourites… Groot Constantia sauvignon blanc with tropical guava white chocolate. Guava and white chocolate is such a great combination on its own, but then to link it up with the fruity crispness of sauvignon blanc was really a winner. It definitely does leave “a delightfully clean palate”, as the menu put it.
My other firm favourite was the Groot Constantia pinotage with blackberry milk chocolate. Naturally, the pinotage tasted good on its own – a very rich medley of flavours – but the chocolate really brought out those deeper notes, especially with the blackberry thrown in. The shiraz was exceptional too, although I found the spicy chocolate a bit too much. I much preferred the morello cherry tobacco dark chocolate, but the Gouverneur’s Reserve that went with it was a bit too musty for me, although I’m sure someone with acquired tastebuds would enjoy it.
It was very hard setting aside some of the chocolate for my two sons, but my caring husband was adamant we needed to share the spoils with them. I could easily have had a few more bars of the guava white chocolate and the cherry dark chocolate, especially if a latte had also been thrown into the mix! (If you want to eat, incidentally, there are two great restaurants on the farm – Simons and Jonkershuis). As it was, though, we had an amazing time sans children, got to amble in the vineyards and soak up the centuries-old atmosphere on the farm and admire the brooding mountains in the distance.
And next time – next time – I’ll be sure to get there on time for a massage.
In celebration of Women’s Month, Groot Constantia is partnering with Mangwanani Spa to offer reasonably priced spa treatments at the estate every Saturday and Sunday during the month of August. For more information, visit www.grootconstantia.co.za.
To enter the competition to win a free massage and chocolate and wine pairing at Groot Constantia, all you need to do is sign up for my free newsletter and “like” my Facebook page. The closing date for entries is 25 August 2015. Good luck!