The Vin de Constance


It is by far my most favourite wine. And I’m not just saying that because they gave me my first job in the wine industry! (Greatly appreciated I must say, and I shall forever be indebted to you!)


This bottle of Vin de Constance is the flagship dessert wine from Klein Constantia, and to a large extent, South Africa as a whole. This is so because in the 18th and 19th centuries, under the name Constantia, the wine was sought after all over the world, with personalities such as Napoleon, Fredrick the Great, the King of England and France being known to drink it in bucket loads! What makes it such a remarkable feat is that SA only started producing wine in the 17th century, where as Europe had been in the trade since over 5000 BC; and yet the Constantia could compete with (and in effect surpass) it’s European counter parts!  Ever since, SA has been a major player in the International wine market.


This seemingly unmatched elixir is derived from the grape varietal Muscat de Frontignan, with it’s creation far from hasty. The grapes are hand picked exceptionally late; well after they are fully ripe and have begun to shrivel up into raisins. After a few days left on the skins to macerate (soften and extract compounds from the skins), part of it is placed in steel vats while the rest in oak barrels. It spends a farther four years aging before it is blended together, finally bottled, aged another year and labelled for sale.


MDF raisins

The result is sheer perfection in a bottle! On the nose you get rich ripe peach, apricot and gooseberry fruit flavours with a nutty finish that follows through beautifully on the palate. In additionally, it has a crisp acidity that cuts through the sweetness making it elegant and giving it a lengthy finish. I could personally drink it by itself (glass after glass); however it would be stunning as an aperitif or dessert, or even paired with foie gras (duck liver pate) or some cheese.


Due to the high acidity and residual sugar content, this wine could age in the bottle for a further minimum 20 years; developing into a complex brown viscous drink. Only today I was told about a vertical tasting (a tasting where you go through all the vintages produced of the same wine; giving you the opportunity to taste the differences arising from the aging process year after year and the climatic conditions in each vintage) done of the VDC in a wine estate out in Italy, Querciabella. Only on special occasions, of course. Other than a deep seated feeling of jealousy, I felt proud knowing this wine has made such an impact on wine enthusiasts out there.


So wrapped in wanting to maintain the history, that they’ve even made the bottle purposely kinked as ancient bottles were found to have from the imperfect hand blowing technique. See image below.


To read up more on its full history:


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