Following the release of Chateau d’Yquem 2015, we are delighted to offer another truly great sweet wine, the supreme wine from South Africa, Klein Constantia Vin De Constance. In fact, in the 18th and 19th centuries, it was the legendary Vin De Constance that bejewelled European courts, preferred to Yquem, Tokay and Madeira. Kings vied for its possession, much loved by Louis Philippe, Napoleon, Frederick the Great, Bismarck, as well as a favourite of British Parliament and the Royal Palace alike. It also captured the imagination of Charles Dickens, Jane Austin and Baudelaire, all who mentioned it in their literature, making it the sweet wine ‘rock-star’ of its age. After suffering devastation in the 19th century due to Phylloxera, it fell into the dull drums. However, in 1980 the derelict Estate was bought by Dougie Jooste, which has proven the catalyst for its renaissance. Remaining true to its heritage the vineyards were replanted with Muscat Blanc à Petits Grains and with the help of Professor Chris Orferr of Stellenbosch University, winemaker Ross Gower and viticulturalist Stiaan Cloete, re-created the splendour of the past, releasing the first vintage in 1986.
Since then they have not looked back, producing vintages that have consistently featured among the world’s top wines. In 2007, the vintage was awarded 97 points from Neal Martin of the Wine Advocate, thus becoming the best rated South African wine ever. In 2008, it was served to the Queen at the state banquet for Chinese president Xi Jinping at Buckingham Palace and last year the 2009 featured in the Wine Spectator’s top 10 wines of 2015. As such, we are delighted to release the 2014 for £200 per case of 6x50cl in bond. The 2014 is yet untasted by the major wine magazines, however, South African wine expert Tim Atkin MW has awarded it a stunning 96 points, featuring in his Wines of the Year. Its resurgence onto the world stage has meant its demand is growing across the globe, while the price, for such a magnificent wine, remains extremely appealing on release. It comes as no surprise, therefore, that Neal Martin states, ‘As for the prices for Vin de Constance, well, if I happen to taste better value for money than recent vintages I will let you know – but don’t hang around waiting. I mean, under $50 for a meticulously crafted, profound, rare and utterly delicious world class wine? What are you waiting for?” It is a truly inimitable, sumptuous wine of the highest order.
Klein Constantia was the first wine farm founded in South Africa, established in 1685 by the Governer of the Cap Simon van der Stel. He was a keen viticulturist and he chose the spot for his decomposed granite soil, sited amidst ancient trees on the upper foothills of the Constantiaberg in a valley facing the False Bay. As such, it has sea on both sides, taken together providing a cooler climate, helping it retain balanced acidity and minerality. It was the re-factoring of these conditions which drove the new project and it is romantic that Stiaan Cloete’s forefathers owned Klein Constantia in the early 19th century. Today they harvest in January, which helps maintain the acidity, harvesting up to 20 or 25 times through the seasons, with the selection made of 60 to 80 pickers. Fermentation is carried out on the skins, which is a replication of how it was made for centuries. It is aged in 225 litre oak barrels and since 2009, they have used acacia barrels, which have double thick staves and add flavours of spice, famously cloves. It is even said that they selected the original stock used in Constantia 300 years ago when replanting.
In 2011 the Joostew family sold Klein Constantia to Czech-U.S. “zillionaire” Zdenek Bakala and UK banker Charles Harman. Shortly after this acquisition they entered into a merger with Anwilka, which boasts Hubert de Brouard, owner of Chateau Angelus and Bruno Prats,former owner of Cos d’Estournel, as shareholders. This promises a great future, in keeping with its great past.
The 2014 is a beautiful vintage, it is fresh and floral with hints of spice, cloves and a rich, opulent palate of stone-fruits, apricots, nuts, vanilla, marmalade, beautiful honey flavours and creme brulee on the finish. It is balanced with fresh acidity with a long, succulent finish. Priced at £200 on release it offers excellent value, particularly as it rises in price in bottle. The 2012 already costs £295, the 2011 £250, and the 2008 £330.
Klein Constantia Vin de Constance 2014, 6×50 – £200 IB
96 Points, Tim Atkin
This is not the densest or most exotic of recent Vin de Constance releases, but what it lacks in power it more than makes up for with elegance. More Barsac than Sauternes-like perhaps? Quince, pastry and orange zest notes, with lovely tarte tatin acidity, subtle vanilla spice and a long, nuanced finish. 2019-35.
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