2018 Klein Constantia, Vin de Constance, Constantia, Western Cape, South Africa – 500ml bottle (approx. £60).
100% Muscat de Frontignan
172g/L Residual Sugar
6.2 g/L Total Acidity
I am informed by the top man at Klein Constantia that the price will be the same as last year’s superb 2017 and all of the likely candidates in the UK are likely to hold stock. It will require a little effort on Google and you will see that a large number of wine merchants will list 2018 Vin de Constance and while the prices swing around like no other wine I know, at £60 or so, for a half litre, it certainly makes sense to me and when you consider the sheer quality of this vintage, it is a bargain for this celestial experience. Stock is likely to arrive in September 2021, but do feel free to register your interest with your preferred wine merchant now.
Vintage reports suggest that the build-up to the 2018 harvest brought the highest summer rainfall of the last six years and, combined with some of the coldest night-time temperatures on record, the vines were granted a very long and very slow growing season. These conditions have imbued extreme delicacy of perfume and flavour and also staggering concentration and length in this wine. It also means that the 2018 vintage has otherworldly characteristics and I cannot remember a young vintage tasting so refined and demure. Light bunches and tiny Muscat de Frontignan berries underline just how unusual this vintage was and with a harvest that was a fortnight later than average and crops down by about 15% all of these facts make sense when you taste this ethereal wine. Aged for three years in a combination of 50% new French oak barrels, a small number of acacia barrels, as well as large format foudres, this is both a sensual and also sensitive wine. For a start, the colour is incredibly pale – think a young Sancerre! But the viscosity is amazing when you pour a glass because the liquid moves ever so slightly slower and more deliberately into the glass. The lights come on and the brain fires up immediately and it takes you by surprise just how quickly your olfactory system senses that you are in the presence of greatness. I was in a state of heightened anticipation, long before I raised the glass to my lips and the reward is exquisite. The perfume and palate combine in an astral haze of delight with orange blossom, fig, lemon verbena, wild honey and acacia notes caressing your senses. The texture is super-smooth, incredibly long and unnervingly gentle. It certainly possesses the longest finish I can remember on a Vin de Constance and I have, very fortunately, a tasted huge number of vintages of this wine. If you have never tasted this wine before, please start with this vintage – it will blow your mind. If you have and you are a fan, this is a critical purchase for your collection. I cannot wait to add this wine to my cellar later in the year. 19.5++/20 (Drink now – 2070)