Klein Constantia is one of South Africa's most famous wine producers, located in Constantia in the hills above Cape Town. It is most famous for its flagship wine, the naturally sweet Vin de Constance made from Muscat Blanc à Petits Grains. This historic wine was a favourite of the courts of Europe in the 19th Century, and is mentioned in the literature of Charles Dickens and Jane Austen. It was famously requested by Napoleon Bonaparte on his deathbed.
The estate was once part of a larger estate called Constantia, established in 1685 by Simon van Der Stel, the then-Governor and namesake of Stellenbosch. In 1817, the estate was broken up into Groot (big) and Klein (small) Constantia, the latter of which was already under vine. Unfortunately, Constantia was hit by phylloxera in the later part of the century, and the vineyards were forgotten until the 1970s, when they were revived and a new era of winemaking commenced.
Although Vin de Constance is Klein Constantia's most important wine, the estate makes a range of dry wines from grape varieties like Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon. The vineyard is subject to cooling influences from nearby False Bay, and sits on decomposed granite and limestone soils, leading to intensely aromatic wines. The Muscat for the Vin de Constance is left to raisin on the vine before harvest, making a lusciously sweet wine with flavours of pineapple, quince and spice.