Vin de Constance, Klein Constantia, South Africa 2015 (50cl) - single bottle

Vin de Constance.jpg
Vin de Constance.jpg

Vin de Constance, Klein Constantia, South Africa 2015 (50cl) - single bottle


Klein Constantia's Vin de Constance is one of the great treasures of the wine world, a sweet wine with over 300 years history and as important to the pantheon of sweet wines as the finest Sauternes, Trockenbeerenauslese and Tokaji Essencia. The amount of work involved in its production is mind-boggling (15 passes in the vineyard and 23 separate vinifications), and although it is rightly priced as a luxury wine, it still represents incredible value. A tiny sip is enough to turn your tastebuds into an ‘Ode to Joy’ flash mob, so a little goes a long way and an open bottle will last weeks, if not months, in the fridge.

The 2015 vintage was ‘picture perfect’ in South Africa, for reds, whites and sweet wines alike and the Vin de Constance from that bountiful harvest is incredibly intense, with a rich, but elegant nose of apricot bloom, orange marmalade, lemon curd and ginger marmalade, all animated by a streak of spine-tingling acidity. It is a lively, vibrant style of sweet wine, with a bright golden colour, not a cloying, brown-coloured, toffee-nosed clodhopper. 13.9%. Drink now-2030.

Reviews for the 2015 vintage:

Tim Atkin: “Even better than the 2014 release - and that was a spectacular sweet wine - the 2015 Vin de Constance is one of the greatest ever vintages of this iconic sticky.”- More Barsac than Sauternes in terms of weight, it’s fresh and refined, a bit like the 2012, with citrus and orange zest balancing the 172 grams of sugar. The oak is perfectly judged, the length and freshness things of wonder. Drink 2019-2030.” 98 points

Greg Sherwood MW: “Very pure crystalline and fragrant nose with a really complex aromatic profile seamlessly knitted together. Beautiful peppered white peaches, honey suckle, yellow grapefruit, pear purée, barley sugar and a most enchanting under vein of chalky minerality. The palate is crystalline and pure, taut and polished with absolute harmony and balance. The incredible blending precision delivers an amazing texture, impressive tension, mid palate restraint and a finished wine that is perfectly proportion and finely chiselled and near faultless. A very grown up Vin de Constance that flirts with lightness, freshness and elegance.” 97+ Points

The 2015 vintage

In his efforts to bring out the freshness and aromatics in the wine, winemaker Matt Day (who worked a vintage at Chateau d’Yquem) has made some important changes in the way in which the wine was harvested and aged. He harvests in batches, as they do at Yquem, only picking the grapes when they are at peak ripeness. “When I first started here in 2007, we used to harvest bunches in just three passes,” Day explains, “but in 2015, we made 15 passes, selecting the Muscat de Frontignan grapes berry by berry”

“The drought prompted a shorter harvest, which resulted in faster ripening fruit, yielding berries with concentrated flavours and well balanced acidity. With the renovated cellar, we could make use of dedicated tanks intended for perfect maceration and fermentation of the Muscat. Throughout the season we harvested in batches - from the riper berries that have great acidity to the raisins for sugar concentration. Each batch is kept separate and treated differently. These batches make up the perfect ratio between sugar, alcohol and acidity which allows the wine to stop fermentation naturally and without intervention.” 

What is it?

Unlike many of the great sweet wines of the world, Vin de Constance is not made from grapes affected by noble rot, but is made from 100% Muscat de Frontignan which ripens fully and then raisins on the vine to give juice with intense concentration and flavour. Harvest takes months and the fermentation can last from six months to a year. The wine is aged for 3 years in a combination of new French and Hungarian oak as well as French acacia barrels.

A Little Bit of History Between Your Lips 

Three hundred years ago the Muscat-based dessert wines of the Constantia region, just on the southern outskirts of modern-day Cape Town, were treasured around the world: Thomas Jefferson and Queen Victoria were both known to savour this golden nectar. In his unfinished novel The Mystery of Edwin Drood, Charles Dickens wrote of “the support embodied in a glass of Constantia and a home-made biscuit,” while in Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility, Mrs Jennings recommends Constantia for “its healing powers on a disappointed heart.” The most famous fan of Constantia was said to be Napoleon, who found solace in his lonely exile on the island of St Helena where he had regular shipments sent to him.

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