South Africa’s proud wine heritage was recently highlighted when one of our most celebrated wines was recorked to prolong its already venerable lifespan of 198 years. At such an age, the Grand Constance 1821 dessert wine stands amongst some of the Old-World stalwarts and demonstrates South Africa’s comparable winemaking, even 198 years ago.
This noble sweet wine was once known as one of the world’s finest wines and enjoyed acclaim among emperors, kings and soon became a regular feature in 19th century literature. Production of this famous South African wine ceased towards the end of that century when a massive outbreak of the dreaded phylloxera virus caused devastation throughout the wine producing world. Today, only a precious few bottles of the original Grand Constance are guarded in cellars worldwide – making the complex process of furnishing one of these rare bottles with a new cork an incredibly important moment in the preservation of its heritage.
The certified process was conducted by Libertas Vineyards and Estates in association with the world’s leading cork producer, Amorim Cork. Both Libertas and Amorim wanted to focus their attention on safeguarding the Cape Winelands’ proud legacy of fine winemaking for future generations. A legacy at the very core of the Cape Fine & Rare Wine Auction to be held on the 18 and 19 October in Stellenbosch this year.
Although the Grand Constance 1821, once a coveted item at auctions attended by Europe’s elite, is too scarce to be included as an auction item, curators have ensured that the noble era of South Africa’s most famous wine lives on in the fine heritage wines that have been included in the auction catalogue – expertly curated by Master of Wine (MW) Cathy van Zyl, wine critic and columnist Michael Fridjhon, and wine judge and Singita wine buyer François Rautenbach.
Bidders and investors seeking collectable vintages of Klein Constantia’s Vin de Constance, the modern reincarnation of the famous Grand Constance first introduced in 1986, will have the opportunity to bid on the following lots:
Klein Constantia Vin de Constance 1993
Reserve price: R45,000
No. of lots: 2. No. of cases per lot: 1. Case size: 3 x 500ml 1990s Vintages of Vin de Constance are increasingly difficult to find and this particular one is no longer available in trade. It was rated 92 points by Jamie Goode: “Lovely fresh herby edge to the sweet raisin and butterscotch nose. There’s lots of spicy complexity and a hint of volatility. The palate is bright, fresh and citrussy with a deliciously sweet, rounded character countered by spiciness and bright acidity.” (Rated 2009
Klein Constantia Vin de Constance 2001
Reserve price: R40,000
No. of lots: 1. No. of cases per lot: 1. Case size: 6 x 500ml This vintage earned 92 points from Wine Spectator. Its lead editor, James Molesworth, described it as: “Sweet and rich, but also super racy, with fresh-cut tangerine, orange and nectarine flavours, backed by bright acidity and a long, lingering finish of spice, orange zest and heather honey.” (Rated 2007
Klein Constantia Vin de Constance 2007
Reserve price: R10,000
No. of lots: 1. No. of cases per lot: 1. Case size: 6 x 500ml The 2007 vintage was awarded 97 points by Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate, making it the highest rated South African sweet wine in history. Reviewer Neal Martin described it as “superlative… it offers a scintillating bouquet that is beautifully defined with mandarin, wild honey, lavender and Seville orange marmalade vying for attention on the nose. The palate displays …crystalline honeyed fruits and immense freshness and poise on the finish. Brilliant winemaking here – a South Africa legend that does not disappoint.” (Rated 2012)
Klein Constantia Vin de Constance 2012
Reserve price: R8,000
No. of lots: 1. No. of cases per lot: 1. Case size: 6 x 500ml Upon release, John Stimpfig of Decanter noted that this wine is certainly one of its best in the modern era. He added the following description: “Stunningly intense aromatic nose of fresh stem ginger, tangerine and quince. Fabulously balanced sweetness and zingy natural acidity provide the perfect backdrop for a gorgeous flavour spectrum of Seville orange marmalade, honeysuckle and spicy ginger with complex tertiary notes on the effortlessly long finish. The whole ensemble provides enormous precision, purity and pleasure.” It earned 97 points from this publication. (Rated 2016)
Note: Final knock-down prices are inclusive of all premiums and free delivery within South Africa, excludes VAT.
About the Cape Fine & Rare Wine Auction
The two-day event opens with a pre-tasting at the Rupert Museum in Stellenbosch on 18 October 2019. A charity auction on Saturday, 19 October, will be preceded by the main auction. Click here for a full list of the wines on auction.
Buyers interested in attending should register their interest as a buyer on the auction website. Bidders who are unable to attend, but still looking to bid, can do so by phone, proxy or mandate bidding.