A holiday dinner with best friends Cathy and Conrad, Diana, me and all our kids concluded with this special surprise. Vin de Constance is a very storied sweet wine from South Africa that we thorougly enjoyed.
Dinner was classic Chanukah, with roast chicken, potato latkes and green beans. Simple is very very good. And one more lighting of the candles.
A mysterious bottle was there. Something I had never seen before, Vin de Constance, by Klein and Constantia, South African wine maker of great repute since 1685. Yes 327 years.
Our bottle was historic in itself, being a 1995 vintage. We soon discovered that Cathy had purchased the wine in Paris some 15 years ago and had set it aside for a moment like this. Its time had come.
This glorious wine of 100% Muscat de Frontignan presents "Golden amber colour with wafts of apricots infused with muscat. Complex. Lingering sweetness. Beautifully balanced." Winemaker.
This creation is a more recent version than the storied wine of the 18th and 19th century, as Constantia ceased production in the late nineteenth century after a phylloxera epidemic devastated many South African vineyards. Fortunately Klein Constantia took up the challenge and began production of this precious wine again in 1980.
Coveted by kings, emperors and prime ministers; 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 sought it out.
In literature like Sense and Sensibility, Jane Austen's character Mrs Jennings recommends a little Constantia for "its healing powers on a disappointed heart".
Charles Dickens wrote in The Mystery of Edwin Drood, wrote that "whenever the Reverend Septimus fell a-musing... his good mother made all to produce a glass of Constantia and a home-made biscuit."
In Charles Baudelaire's ( Les fleurs du mal) poem XXVI he wrote “Even more than Constantia, than opium, than Nuits, I prefer the elixer of your mouth, where love performs its slow dance.”