2015 Vin de Constance: "One of the greatest ever...(98 pts)"Wednesday, September 18
As a bookend to the release of 2017 Chateau d'Yquem earlier this week, we have a parcel of the outstanding 2015 vintage of one of the world's other legendary dessert wines to offer to you: Vin de Constance, from Klein Constantia Estate in South Africa.
If the wine world excites your interest and you are unfamiliar with the story of Vin de Constance, hearing it for the first time can involve one of those remarkable shifts in perception which leave you seeing the world (or at least the wine world) differently. In essence, dessert wine production here pre-dates Sauternes by around 180 years (sweet, late-harvested Sauternes was first recorded in the 1830s). The Klein Constantia Estate was established in 1659 by Dutch settlers and rapidly became famous throughout Europe. Notably, Napoleon was a large consumer and was allowed to drink a bottle each day during his exile on St Helena. Jane Austen mentions it 'Sense & Sensibility', Dickens in 'The Mystery Of Edwin Drood' and Baudelaire waxes lyrical about, observing '...only the ‘lips of a lover were more heavenly sweet...'.
Phylloxera put paid to all this in the late 19th century, but in the 1980s the estate was restored and Vin de Constance production began again. New owners since 2010 have brought more investment and a new winemaker, Matt Day, has taken the winemaking here to a new level.
Made from 100% Muscat de Frontigan grapes, the fruit is left on the vine to 'raisin', with the harvest carried out over an agonisingly long three months. Successive selections through the vines pick individual grapes at the optimum time. The wine is then aged in a combination of 50% new French oak, Hungarian oak and French Acacia and is left for 3 years in barrel on the lees before racking out and blending.
The level of attention to detail in the vineyard is increasingly being reflected in the winery, as Matt experiments with vinifying in small individual parcels and blending them to achieve the perfect balance. We remarked earlier in the week on 2017 Yquem's relatively high residual sugar level of 148 grams per litre. The 2015 Vin de Constance boasts an impressive 172 grams per litre, but is still 'perfectly proportioned' according to Greg Sherwood MW (97 pts) and with 'chalky minerality' and a 'finely chiselled' character. Tim Atkin MW finds the freshness 'a thing of wonder', rating it 98 points.
At just £210 in bond per case of 6 (50cl) individually gift boxed bottles, we feel Vin de Constance is one of the great undervalued fine wines of the world. As a Burgundian winemaker said, 'making a fine wine is easy...it's just the first 200 years which are difficult'. 2015 Vin de Constance may be liquid history, but it also one of the most exciting contemporary fine wines available and we recommend adding it to your cellar.
2015 Vin de Constance, Klein Constantia Estate
Crystallised ginger, citrus fruits and orange blossom on the nose, fragrant and fresh rather than in any way cloying. On the palate, the immense residual sugar is apparent but there is also a beautiful mineral character which trickling away like a cool stream at the bottom of the palate, emphasizing the freshness. Impressive now but the complexity will come with age. RKL
"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." Greg Sherwood MW Sept 2018.
"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. 2019-30. 98 points." Tim Atkin MW, timatkin.com, Sept 2018.
£210 per case (6x50cl) in bond
Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to place your order.