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The wines of Klein Constantia, Constantia, South Africa

PO Box 375 Constantia, 7848, South Africa
Tel: +27 21 794 5188 Fax: +27 21 794 2464
E-mail: kleincon@global.co.za 
Website: www.kleinconstantia.com 

(Editor's note: See a more recent review based on a visit in November 2009)

Some history. Constantia, just on the edge of the Cape Town suburbs, was South Africa's first wine region, and began making wine as early as the 17th century. Then, in the early 18th century the Constantia estate was split into three: Klein Constantia, Groot Constantia and Buitenverwatching. Confusingly, the current Klein Constantia estate is different from this original estate, which itself had its name changed to Hoop-Op Constantia. Today's Klein Constantia was partitioned off from the Groot Constantia Estate in 1823 and sold as a separate entity. Yet while Groot Constantia carried on making wines that enjoyed an international reputation Klein Constantia went downhill in wine terms. Indeed, the vineyards were in a state of decline by the time the present owners acquired the property in 1980. At this stage just 30 out of 146 hectares were under vine; a replanting programme has since increased this to 75 ha.

When I visited, in mid February, they were harvesting the Chardonnay. Reception was very friendly and easy-going. Its an idyllic location that I doubt is bettered very often by Cape wineries. The success of the Chardonnay meant it was sold out, but I managed to track a bottle of the 2001 down in a local restaurant. The whites are very good here, and the reds slightly mixed.

Klein Constantia Chardonnay 2001
Intense nose of powerful tropical fruit with some toasty, slightly smoky oak. The palate is ripe and rich, with tropical fruit and some spicy oak. Finishes smooth and well balanced, with a citrussy tang. Quite a big wine. Very good/excellent (sold out at cellar door my note is from a bottle tasted at the Steenberg restaurant)

Klein Constantia Sauvignon Blanc 2002
Slightly herbaceous edge to the nose, which is crisp and expressive. The palate is crisp and full with a distinct herby edge. Not as compelling as other vintages of this wine that I have tried. Very good (R43)

Klein Constantia Riesling 2000
Quite a strong spicy nose. The palate is concentrated and rich with a spicy lemon and marmalade character. Some botrytis here? A bit of residual sugar, too. Very good (R31)

Klein Constantia Pinot Noir 2001
Pale colour. Lovely herby edge to the nose with some sweetness to it. The palate is midweight and expressive with a sweet, spicy herbiness. Very good+ (R80)

Klein Constantia Shiraz 2000
Blockbuster minty, liquoricey nose is ripe and rich. Very minty. The palate has a distinctly odd minty, herbal edge to it. Its made in a slightly bizarre, almost medicinal style. Good/very good (R78)

Klein Constantia Cabernet Sauvignon 1999
Minerally nose displays lush, minty blackcurrant fruit. Nice weight on the palate with a spicy edge and refined black fruits. Lovely balance is the key here. Very good/excellent (R70)

Klein Constantia Marlbrook 1999
Really distinctive minerally, earthy fruit here. Classy blackcurrant fruit on the palate with a nice earthy edge. Very refined and well balanced this is not about power, but balance. Very good/excellent (R74)

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