Vin de Constance, one of the world's great sweet wines

vin de constance

Yesterday I had the chance to taste, for I think the third time, the 2008 Vin de Constance. I didn’t spit my sample.

This is one of the world’s great sweet wines. It’s made by Klein Constantia, and it’s a wine that has been made to replicate, as closely as possible, the famous Constantia wines of old. You can read all about it here, in a report on a visit.

Interestingly, some of the inspiration for the current set of winemaking techniques came from Tokaji – most notably, the way that extended skin contact with the raisined berries is practised. The tannins are an important element of this wine style, and there’s lots of good stuff in the skins of the Constantia-style ‘aszu’ berries (picked separately, as in Tokaji) that needs a bit of maceration to bring it out.

I’d always thought that the Tokaji aszu berries are all botrytised, but on a recent visit to Tokaji I learned this isn’t always the case. Some of them are, some of them aren’t. And Vin de Constance is not a botrytis-style sweet wine, but rather a late-harvest wine.

Klein Constantia Vin de Constance 2008 Constantia, South Africa
Wonderfully complex, spicy and marmaladey with sweet, pure apricot fruit. The palate is fresh and sweet with grapes and raisins as well as spiciness. Lovely intensity here, and a long, warm, spicy finish. Remarkable. 95/100

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