Klein Constantia Vin de Constance 2015 vs 2016

By , 19 September 2019



Party on!

At the recent Cape Town lunch function to launch the 2016 vintage of Vin de Constance from Klein Constantia,  managing director Hans Astrom said “We’re making like they do in Champagne and serving the same wine throughout the meal” – the maiden 1986 with duck terrine, the 2007 with crayfish, the 2012 with pork belly and the 2016 with cheese.

Astrom and winemaker Matthew Day make no secret that they are attempting to take the property’s famous late-harvest sweet wine Vin de Constance in a relatively lighter, fresher style. Why, you might ask? Well, the wine is something of an anomaly in that it is succeeding precisely at a time when the world’s other great sweet wines are faced by declining demand in the marketplace. Of course, Vin de Constance has got plenty of heritage, which accounts for some of its appeal, but what the astute KC team have realized is that it’s important to make the wine in such a way that it gives it more rather than fewer drinking opportunities. In a good vintage, total production can be as much as 35 000 bottles and you don’t want punters only drinking it on milestone birthdays…

My impression of the 2016, however, was that while the pursuit of elegance ostensibly makes sense, there might come a point where Vin de Constance is too pared down…  Tasting notes and ratings for the 2015 and 2016, both previously unreviewed on this site, as follows:

Klein Constantia Vin de Constance 2015
Wine Cellar price: R1 095
An amazingly complex nose of orange, apricot and caramel plus notes of floral blossom, mint and other fresh herbs, ginger and other spice. The palate is rich and full yet energetic thanks to a cracking line of acidity, the finish long and savoury. Impressive but perhaps not as nuanced or complete as 2013 and 2014.

Editor’s rating: 95/100.

Buy This WineKlein Constantia Vin de Constance 2016
Price: TBC
A delicate and quite primary nose – lemon, a certain leafy quality, some floral perfume and a little ginger. The palate is clean and fresh – remarkable fruit purity, the finish long and pithy but definitely slighter, less opulent than other vintages of recent times.

Editor’s rating: 94/100.

Read Joanne Gibson’s article on how Constantia sweet wine was resurrected here.

Find our South African wine ratings database here.


5 comment(s)

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    Jonathan Snashall | 20 September 2019

    style to be sacrificed on commercial pyre?

    Mark Allan | 19 September 2019

    Are they saying they are moving to a lighter style because of the vintage or is that now going to be a trend. I hope it’s not a trend – the VdC stands out amongst its competitors because of its opulence it’s as good as any great Sauternes including Chateau d’Yquem. Please don’t dilute a tradition that is older than most of us…..

      Christian Eedes | 20 September 2019

      Hi Mark, Not much information about the 2016 vintage other than it was “earlier than anticipated”. The move to a lighter style is very definitely a stated intention of the new management team (post the sale of KC by the Joostes in 2011) and I think its largely a sensible move. At the launch function, the 2007 (famously rated 97 by Neal Martin) looked particularly unctuous and even a little foursquare relative to the nicely balanced 2012. The 2016 seems, to me, a little underdone, whether due to vintage or over-refinement, I’m not sure…

    David Jorgensen | 19 September 2019

    As a “punter” I prefer leaving the VdC in my cellar for a minimum of ten years and honestly 20 or more years for a “full” experience of it’s potential. Reading any release tasting notes are always a bit confusing when it comes to sauterne like wines. However they often prove worth the wait, while new vintages rarely live up one kept in the cellar in the respect of a “tasting experience”.

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