Today, the 1st of September heralds the highly anticipated series of new vintage releases of some of the world’s most prestigious wines hailing from “Beyond Bordeaux” which are released each autumn via La Place de Bordeaux. This morning we are delighted to commence the offerings with one of the world’s most storied sweet wines, South Africa’s Klein Constantia Vin de Constance 2018 or Vdc as it is often known. The 2018 vintage has already triumphed with its highest score to date of 98 Points from critic James Suckling, who is in raptures, Extraordinary aromas of white peaches, apricots, vanilla and flowers. Full-bodied and very sweet with so much sweet and dried fruit, such as apricots and tangerines, yet it maintains citrusy freshness and texture, with a long, very sweet finish. Always energetic and vivid. Great length to this. Goes on for minutes. It’s a sweet wine to drink when young, to marvel over the intensity and verve, yet also one to age for decades.’ It is available today in its iconic 500cl bottle, a design which has been registered and globally protected to further emphasis its utter uniqueness, at the price of £246 IB per 6x50cl, but with each individual bottle packaged in a gift box. Considering that Vdc has earned its place alongside the most famed sweet wines of Sauternes and Barsac yet remains a mere fraction of their prices which explains Vdc’s fervent global following. We are also delighted to offer cases of three magnums, 3x150cl for £405 IB, with each magnum within its own individual wooden box.
The history of Klein Constantia goes back for centuries, although it was its height of acclaim during the 18th and 19th Centuries, when it was preferred by the European courts to Yquem and Tokaji. Kings vied for its possession, and it was loved dearly by the likes Louis Philippe, Napoleon, Frederick the Great, Bismarck, as well as being a favourite of the British Parliament and the Royal Palace alike. It also succeeded in capturing the imagination of Charles Dickens, Jane Austen and Baudelaire, all who mentioned it in their literature, cementing its sweet wine ‘rock-star’ status at that age. After suffering devastation in the 19th Century due to phylloxera, it fell into the doldrums, however, in 1980 the derelict Estate was bought by Dougie Jooste, who provided 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 their 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 highest 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 Wine Spectator’s top ten wines of 2015. Although the 2018 vintage has yet to be scored by The Wine Advocate or Neal Martin of Vinous who is a steadfast fan of this magical elixir, we have no doubt that the vintage will soon earn its place as a vintage which will be remembered for decades to come.
Klein Constantia was the first wine farm founded in South Africa, established in 1685 by the Governor of the Cape, Simon van der Stel. He was a keen viticulturist, and he chose the spot for its 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 they provide 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 begin harvest in January, which helps maintain the acidity, harvesting up to 20 or 25 times through the seasons, with the selections made by 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.