Welcoming Klein Constantia’s winemaker Matt Day back to London after several years of pandemic imposed isolation in the Cape presented the perfect opportunity to unveil the new 2019 Vin de Constance – a wine which I believe represents the culmination of the past 10 years experimentation, innovation and tweaking to create something that reaches new quality heights. Coming from a very long and late harvest, the wine sees a move away from long 6 to 12 month ferments to a quicker, more precise 1 to 3 month fermentation.
The spring of 2018 was cold, wet and windier than usual, which impacted flowering and resulted in smaller berries and a reduced crop. Cooler conditions throughout the growing season meant that ripening was slower than normal, and pushed back the harvest. The late harvest and unpredictable autumn weather conditions forced Klein Constantia’s vineyard team to be reactive and disciplined with their assessment of perfect ripeness.
The 2019 harvest was short, taking place from late February until the end of March in warm and dry conditions that alleviated the risk of disease. In total, 26 separate different passes were made through the vineyards, collecting grapes turning from high acidity to more intense sugar levels with every passage, each being vinified separately. The different lots were aged for 18 months in 50% new French and Hungarian oak barrels, followed by a further 18 months in large foudres before blending and bottling.
Klein Constantia Vin de Constance 2019, WO Constantia Valley, 13.9% Abv.
166g/l RS | 6.1g/l TA | 3.71pH
The 2019 displays an incredibly opulent, powerful aromatic profile brimming full of grapefruit preserve, lychees, white peaches, green melon confit and melted honey on warm white toast. What purity and precision! The wine sticks perfectly to the estate’s mission statement trying to make a sweet wine that tastes not particularly sweet regardless of its actual 166 g/l RS. This is achieved through an incredible balance and harmony with a palate texture showing a sublime equilibrium between acid, alcohol and fruit intensity. Beautifully complex and layered with hints of peach iced tea, pink musk, pear purée, quince jelly and candied citrus bon bons. Very classy indeed and undoubtedly one of the best modern vintages to be made at the estate. Drink now and over the next 30+ years.
(Wine Safari Score: 98/100 Greg Sherwood MW)
To add extra perspective on the quality of the 2019, Matt Day showed a range of older Vin de Constance vintages including the 2016, the 2012, the 2004 and the rare 1991.