A sticky start to the week with two outstanding Sweet Wines released already! Although at very different ends of the price spectrum, in terms of history, quality and reputation, these two have a surprising amount in common.
2014 CHÂTEAU YQUEM 1er Cru Classé Sauternes | £2850 12 x 75cl – In Bond
2013 VIN DE CONSTANCE Klein Constantia | £200 – 6 x 50cl – In Bond
There is no delivery charge for customers taking this wine Duty Paid or to any Elephant Storage Account
Chateau Yquem really needs no introduction as the undisputed king of Sauternes. The incredible terroir which is just so reliable for developing botrytis, twinned with a maniacal attention to detail and brutal selection process mean its production is uncompromising and the results are spectacular.
Both of these historic wines have had superb ‘celebrity endorsement’ over the years – with Thomas Jefferson famously ordering Yquem ‘ex-cellars’ and both wines were favourites of the Russian Royal court.
“..you pays your money and takes your choice..”
Vin de Constance too has a extraordinarily labour-intensive selection process with grapes being harvested one by one rather than as whole clusters or bunches. A huge number of different passes are made through the vineyards to ensure all the fruit is picked at the precise moment needed. Unusually for a ‘New World’ wine, Vin de Constance was big news in Europe throughout the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Napoleon is said to have drunk almost a bottle every day of his exile on St Helena. Louis XVI and Frederick the Great were huge fans too. Jane Austen recommends it in Sense and Sensibility to sooth a broken heart and another French fan was Baudelaire, who suggests that only the ‘lips of a lover were more heavenly sweet…’ High praise indeed for something so exotic as a wine from Africa!
Following its early success the Constantia estate’s fortunes changed in the mid nineteenth century – with Phylloxera devastating the vineyards. It was not until 1979 that a revival started, when a local family picked up the pieces and planted new vines – this resurrection has continued as new owners took the reins in 2010, with deep pockets and huge ambition, not to mention some serious wine-business clout in the shape of Hubert de Boüard and Bruno Prats.
We highly recommend both of these great wines. These are fantastic propositions for the long-term – and will reward cellaring for at least 5 years but will continue to give joy almost indefinitely!