2015 Klein Constantia Constantia Estate Red Blend

Year: 2015
Appellation: Coastal Region
Country: South Africa
Wine Spectator: 90
Wine Advocate: 91
James Suckling: 92
Red Wine
Alcohol by Volume: 14.5%
Price :
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"This has depth and weight but is subtle and refined, with light sage and menthol threads amid a core of gently mulled black currant and plum fruit. Tobacco and singed cedar notes underscore the finish, with the fruit lingering. Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz, Malbec and Petit Verdot. Drink now through 2021. 2,000 cases made. -JM " (WS)

"The 2015 Estate Red Blend comprises 48% Cabernet Sauvignon, 32% Shiraz, 13% Petit Verdot and 7% Malbec (the Cabernet Franc and Merlot having been pulled out). Deep in color, it has a very composed bouquet, the 40% new oak neatly integrated with luscious blueberry and black cherry fruit. The palate is medium-bodied with lush tannin, a keen line of acidity, blackberry, boysenberry with a touch of soy. It is modern in style perhaps, yet well balanced and with the substance to suggest a long ageing potential. This is very promising.

This year I met up with Klein Constantia's winemaker Matthew Day at a communal tasting of Constantia wines. For more information on the vineyards and investments made at the historic estate, readers should check out my previous South Africa reports. Following the tasting, I asked him about the differences between the growing seasons apropos the Vin de Constance. "In terms of the difference between the 2012 and 2013 Vin de Constance, there are a couple of factors that come to mind. Firstly, 2012 was a very long, drawn out harvest due to a cold and wet season. It was both the earliest we have ever started picking Muscat and the latest that we have ever finished; whilst 2013 on the contrary was a warm dry season that started late and ended fairly late in the season. Secondly, 2012 was probably one of our smallest crops due to the vines recovering from quite a dramatic change from conventional farming to a more sustainable approach. In 2013 the vines seemed to have adapted and produced a more balanced crop. Thirdly, our new bush vine trellising system came into full production in 2013 and as a result, 30% of the Vin de Constance crop came from bush vines. The benefit of the new system is that due to the shape, you get far higher sunlight exposure that results in raisining happening much quicker, resulting in much better acid levels. Lastly, in terms of winemaking our technique was still fairly similar to 2012, the only exception is that we had stated phase one of winery renovations, which meant that we had some new toys to play with. Ferments were slightly quicker only taking three months to finish as opposed to six months in 2012, as well as a three-year barrel aging period. For me these were the most notable differences."

I then asked Matthew about his Sauvignon Blanc program. Klein Constantia is not just about sweet wine, even though it has always been what you might call the headline act. "In terms of Sauvignon Blanc, the 2015 season was again dry and extremely early; everyone was super excited this vintage right from the start. It was the earliest that we have picked Sauvignon Blanc since 1986 and it was a very quick harvest season ending mid-March. It is also the first year that we have started with our single vineyards program with the idea that we want to express what our true Klein Constantia terroir is all about." The estate has also undergone major renovations. Last time I was there, most of the people seemed to be wearing hard hats. "The construction work in the cellar is now 100% complete and we are very happy with the results. There were three main goals when it came to the design: it needed to be practical, state of the art and hygienic, with the main focus being on making Sauvignon Blanc and Vin de Constance. I feel that the results have been incredible and we are starting to have a more delicate, but focused winemaking approach, which is allowing us to express a more defined Klein Constantia style. The Vin de Constance now has its own designated barrel aging section where we have reintroduced the use of 4,200-liter foudre to compliment the aging in 500-litrr barrels. The next phase is we are going to renovate the tasting room and there is also a plan to put in a small bistro style restaurant. This should all be starting in the next few months, so we are really excited." (WA)

"This is serious. Wonderfully fresh blackcurrants, brambleberries, smoke, tobacco, cedar, dried herbs, iodine and graphite. Full body, tight and grainy tannins, and a chewy finish. Drink in 2020. A blend of 44% cabernet sauvignon, 29% shiraz, 15% malbec and 12% petit verdot." (JS)

Winery Notes:
Our Estate Red Blend 2015 was made as elegant and terroir specific as possible. Using our new reverse tronconic tanks has allowed for maximum fruit expression during the fermentation process. Optimizing barrel selection and aging of the wine has also been a big focus in 2015.

Each parcel is carefully identified and blocks are split into multiple portions in order to harvest at the perfect ripeness. The grapes are then bunch and berry sorted to ensure that only the healthiest berries are selected. Malolactic fermentation takes place in 40 % new French oak barrels after alcoholic fermentation. The wine is then aged for 12 months before blending and bottling.