Following the release of Chateau d’Yquem 2016, we are delighted to offer another truly great sweet wine, the supreme wine from South Africa, Klein Constantia Vin de Constance. This year’s release is the exciting 2015, exciting because the vintage is drawing parallels with the stunning 2007 vintage for Vin de Constance. Tim Atkin, who released his South Africa report last week posits that in the 2015 and 2017 vintages, the Cape has produced a series of wines that surpass anything in their long history. Resultantly, Vin de Constance 2015 has been awarded 98 points by him, winning the title of Sweet Wine of the Year. We are delighted to release this today for £210 per 6x50cl, or £540 per case of three magnums, 3x150cl. To put this in perspective the 2007 costs £375 per case. The offers utterly superb value vs quality, a case for less than the price of one bottle of Chateau d’Yquem!
In fact, in the 18th and 19th Centuries, it was the legendary Vin de Constance that bejewelled European courts, preferred to Yquem, Tokaji 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 the 2009 featured in the Wine Spectator’s top 10 wines of 2015.
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 Jooste 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.
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