First produced over 300 years ago as ‘Constantia’, Kings vied for possession of this wine; Louis Philippe sent emissaries from France to fetch it; Napoleon drank it on the island of St Helena to find solace in his lonely exile; Frederick the Great and Bismarck ordered it; Charles Dickens’ character Edwin Drood found support in it and Jane Austen recommended Constantia for its “healing powers on a disappointed heart”.
Following its resurrection in the 1980s (phylloxera having devasted the vineyards a century ago) this estate has rejoined the ranks of the world’s elite wines. Not ones to rest on their laurels, though, they continue to invest heavily in infrastructure, vineyards and equipment.
The new management team is aiming to replicate the Bush Vine conditions of the original 1700s vineyard. This has been found to encourage maximum sun exposure for early raisining on the vine, leading to an improved sugar acid balance.
The Muscat de Frontignan is harvested in batches, from the riper berries that have great acidity to the raisins for sugar concentration. These batches form the perfect ratio between sugar, alcohol and acidity, which allows the wine to stop fermentation naturally. Each lot is harvested and sorted by hand, then macerated and vinified separately. After a long fermentation, the batches are then blended together and aged in a combination of 60% new French oak, Hungarian oak and French acacia barrels.