South Africa’s most iconic sweet wine, world-famous and enjoyed throughout the courts of Europe in the 18th and 19th centuries, is once again on a serious run of form. Klein Constantia’s impeccable historical pedigree is now backed with an impressive level of expertise and investment that has brought the estate flying into the 21st century. Such is the estate’s cachet that high profile new ITV series, The Wine Show, dubbed the Top Gear of wine, featured Klein Constantia as the first winery of its launch episode a couple of weeks ago.
Matt Day was promoted from assistant winemaker in 2011 and this legendary wine is clearly in very safe hands. He described this, his first vintage, as “one of the best sweet wine years ever”.
Vin de Constance is made from 100% Muscat de Frontignan which ripens fully and then raisins on the vine to give juice with intense concentration and flavour. In 2012 there was a three month picking process (always by hand) in six different sweeps of the vineyard. This ensured both perfect balance of freshness, sweetness and zesty acidity and also a fabulously layered complexity. The wine was then aged in a combination of French and Hungarian oak for two and a half years.
The 2012 has been described by John Stimpfig of Decanter as “certainly one of its best in the modern era. It is certainly a clear step up in quality on the impressive 2011” and as “a superb dessert wine” by Neal Martin of The Wine Advocate. Tim Atkin says this is “shaping up to be the best Vin de Constance yet” and simply advises “put a note in your diary to buy some”.
This is an elegant, expressive, perfumed Vin de Constance which deserves a place in the cellar of any serious lover of sweet wine. We also have a limited number of magnums in the same uniquely shaped bottle packed in individual wooden cases.
Please note: Available for delivery in July 2016. Free delivery on orders over £300 inc VAT, otherwise £18.
2012 Klein Constantia Vin de Constance
£198.00 per 6 x 50cl IB | £247.60 per 6 x 50cl inc VAT
£168.00 per single magnum IB | £206.59 per single magnum inc VAT (150cl)
This was winemaker Matt Day’s first vintage at the helm, and how fortunate he says that 2012 happened to be one of the greatest sweet wine vintages in South Africa. Bright, sparkling gold in the glass this wine is scented with blossom, candied orange peel, nutmeg and dried apricots. The Muscat de Frontignan variety is showing its wonderful aromatic profile, and the sweetness (160g/l residual sugar) is perfectly balanced by a fresh and bright acidity. The wine is a blend of 6 separate components, picked between January and April as the grapes raisined on the vine. Skin contact has given texture and concentration, and the two and a half years ageing in barrel has given a subtle toasty note. It has a delectable finish. Drink 2016 – 2040 Goedhuis
The 2012 Vin de Constance won’t be released for another year, but put a note in your diary to buy some when it is. Sweeter and more alcoholic than the 2011, but somehow fresher and brighter, too, it’s floral, pure and focused, with notes of orange zest, tarte tatin and well integrated oak. Shaping up to be the best Vin de Constance yet.
97 pts, Tim Atkin South Africa Report 2015, Overall Sweet Wine of the year
Stunningly intense aromatic nose of fresh stem ginger, tangerine and quince. Fabulously balanced sweetness and zingy natural acidity provide the perfect backdrop for a gorgeous flavour spectrum of Seville orange marmalade, honeysuckle and spicy ginger with complex tertiary notes on the effortlessly long finish. The whole ensemble provides enormous precision, purity and pleasure.
97 points John Stimpfig, Decanter
The 2012 Vin de Constance Natural Sweet Wine delivers 160 grams per liter of residual sugar with a pH of 3.7 and, spent 28 months in French and Hungarian oak barrels. There is actually great similarity on the nose, perhaps a little more floral than the 2011 with mirabelle,and a touch of petrol infusing the honey and marmalade aromas. The palate is unctuous on the entry, nicely balanced as the acidity slices through the rich honeyed fruit that lingers long in the mouth, a touch of orange zest and nectarine towards the finish. I have a preference for this Vin de Constance over the 2011 – a superb dessert wine from Matthew Day.
94 pts Neal Martin, The Wine Advocate
More about the Estate
Situated on the foothills of Table Mountain in a south east-facing valley overlooking False Bay the Constantia Estate was originally established in 1685 just over 30 years after the first vines were planted in the Cape.
There followed a glorious age of winemaking with Constantia’s wines achieving huge fame: mentioned by literary luminaries including Jane Austen, Baudelaire and Charles Dickens and even requested by Napoleon on his deathbed! However, with the devastating arrival of phylloxera in the vineyards in the 1880s, winemaking ceased for almost a century.
The estate was well used in the intervening years. The stunning Cape Dutch Manor House was the setting for extravagant Gatsbyesque parties in the Twenties; peacocks wandered the lawns, caviar, oysters and Champagne flowed. Ownership was transferred a number of times until finally in the early Eighties Duggie Jooste decided to re-engage with serious winemaking. This culminated in the first modern vintage of Klein Constantia’s wines, including the fabled sweet Vin de Constance, being released in 1986.
The future of the estate is ensured with business expertise provided by Zdenek Bakala and Charles Harman, Matt Day at the helm in the cellar, and collaboration from Bruno Prats of Ch Cos d’Estournel fame and Hubert de Bouard of Ch Angélus.