South Africa\u2019s Constantia Valley may be renowned for cool climate white wines, in particular, Sauvignon Blanc\u2014but can the Bordeaux-style blends and Shiraz bottlings attract the same kind of attention as their international counterparts?\r\n\r\n\u201cThe difference between the price of these Constantia reds and the international classics is great, but the quality is not,\u201d claims J\u00f6rg Pf\u00fctzner, sommelier and owner of Fine Wine Events. Pf\u00fctzner\u2019s opinion was put to the test last weekend (February 24\u2013 February 25) at the third-annual Constantia Fresh festival, held at Buitenverwachting, where he hosted a fine wine tasting focusing on the region\u2019s reds, comparing them to some sought-after international bottlings.\r\n\r\nThe blind tasting was made up of six flights, each featuring four local and international wines based on common themes, such as \u201cOld,\u201d \u201c2007,\u201d \u201cClassic,\u201d \u201cValue,\u201d \u201cElegance\u201d and \u201cPower.\u201d The tasting was presented by local winemaker, Richard Kershaw, MW, of Richard Kershaw Wines. The first four flights featured Bordeaux-style blends and the latter two, Shiraz/Syrah. Favorites in each flight were voted on by a show of hands from the Constantia winemakers, local media and public who attended the event.\r\n\r\nIn the four Bordeaux-style flights, Constantia mostly held its own. Buitenverwachting\u2019s 1995 Christine, the oldest wine of the Old flight, was an overwhelming favorite, and despite Kershaw saying that its \u201csweet underbelly [was] a giveaway,\u201d many found it indistinguishable from a Bordeaux.\r\n\r\nConstantia was well-received in both the Classic and Value flights: Groot Constantia\u2019s 2006 Gouverneurs Reserve was most popular, followed by the Sassicaia 2005 and Buitenverwachting\u2019s 2005 Christine in the Classic flight, and the Merlot-dominant Constantia Glen 2008 Three was a favorite in the Value flight. On the other hand, the 2005 Ch\u00e2teau Lascombes was liked the least in the Classic flight.\r\n\r\nOther Constantia reds that less performed favorably than their international counterparts included some weak vintages with virus-infected vines that struggled to ripen or vines that were too young. These included Klein Constantia\u2019s 1988 Cabernet Sauvignon, Constantia Glen\u2019s 2007 Five and Klein Constantia\u2019s 2006 Marlbrook. To no one\u2019s surprise, Constantia Shirazes were not favorites when up against heavyweights like Alain Graillot, Domaine Jean-Louis Chave and Domaine Ren\u00e9 Rostaing.\r\n\r\nMany judges found it difficult to select a favorite from the Elegance flight when it came to the 2009 Shiraz tastings from Eagles\u2019 Nest Winery and Steenberg Vineyards, since both showed individuality and elegance.\r\n\r\nBut what made Constantia standout across all flights? Bottle prices. Selling for approximately $30, the region\u2019s offerings cost significantly less than most of their competitors. Plus, local winemakers affirm that once the virus-free vines mature, even better reds will be produced from this cool-climate region.