The 2013 Vin de Constance Natural Sweet Wine was matured in 500-liter barrels for around 36 months. It has a beautiful bouquet with honey, quince, pressed yellow flowers and Mirabelle. It has wonderful definition and purity. The palate is very well balanced with a mellifluous texture and beautifully judged acidity as it just sashays along. It fans out on the finish with honey, quince, a touch of rhubarb and ginger, extraordinarily persistent in the mouth. Matthew Day, current winemaker, opined that he thought the 2012 would be the best ever, but the freshness might see it overtaken. This is awesome. Drinking range: 2016 - 2040 Rating: 96 Neal Martin, www.robertparker.com (Jun 2017)
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Ripe and unctuous, but steely too, with mirabelle plum, apricot, kumquat and quince flavors racing along, enlivened by green tea and ginger accents through the very lengthy finish. Muscat de Frontignan. Drinking range: 2017 - 2033 Rating: 94 The Wine Spectator, www.winespectator.com (Jun 2017)
Matt Day’s second vintage in charge of this iconic sweet wine marks an evolution in style , with the addition of essencia and slightly less alcohol and residual sugar. It’s another lovely VdC, showing flavours of tarte tatin, orange marmalade, baking spices and subtle oak ageing. Rating: 95 Tim Atkin MW, www.timatkin.com (Aug 2016)
Vin de Constance comes from the Klein Constantia estate founded in 1695, just 20 miles from Cape Town at the foot of Table Mountain. Most unusually for a ‘New World’ wine, it was big news in Europe throughout the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Napoleon is said to have shipped over bulk quantities of Vin de Constance to St Helena, to allow for about a bottle a day to see him through his exile there, but he was not alone, Louis XVI, Frederick the Great and the discerning gastronomes that made up the Russian Royal family were all more than partial too. Our own dear Jane Austen recommends it in Sense and Sensibility to sooth a broken heart and the more effusive Frenchman, Monsieur Baudelaire, suggests that only the ‘lips of a lover were more heavenly sweet...’ Following its early success the estate’s fortunes changed in the mid nineteenth century – the dreaded Phylloxera devastated the vineyards and the estate went in to rapid decline. Not until 1979 did life get breathed back in to Klein Constantia when a local family picked up the pieces, planted new vines and started the revival of this once illustrious wine estate – the revival has continued as new owners took the reins in 2010, with deep pockets and huge ambition. You can read David Porter's latest blog piece on the recent 2008 Vin de Constance Tasting with Matt Day the Winemaker Here
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