Live Virtual Auction, 14 September 2021

Sold for

R 967 300
Lot 5
Grand Constance; Constantia; 1821; 1 (1 x 1); 375ml

Lot Estimate
R 300 000 - 500 000
Selling Price
Incl. Buyer's Premium and VAT
R 967 300

About this Item

Constantia, 1821
1 (1 x 1) 375ml
By 1821, Constantia wine was arguably at the height of its fame, universally known ‘to soften the temper of ministers, and to sweeten the lips of royalty itself’ – Groot Constantia

A handful of bottles remain from a collection purchased by three South African wine personalities on auction in London in 1983. The late Frans Malan’s share was carefully cellared at Simonsig Wine Estate and Strauss & Co is proud to offer a pristine bottle 200 years after harvest!

The 1983 auction bottles were likely from the cellars of Apsley house, home of the dukes of Wellington. The labels stating ‘décanté en 1883’ suggests that their bottling might have taken place in France in 1883, before being sold to English provenance. Research compiled by Joanne Gibson for earlier this year suggests that Constantia sweets would have indeed changed French hands. From Frederick the Great of Prussia to Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette of France, from American founding fathers George Washington and John Adams to Britain’s mad King George, possession of ‘the sweet, luscious and excellent dessert wine’ was craved by all.

It was sold ‘on allocation’, with much of the 1821 harvest allocated to St Helena, where for five years it had been reserved for the exclusive enjoyment of Napoleon – a bottle a day, in fact! However, the exiled emperor died on 5 May 1821 – his last request a glass of his beloved vin de constance – which resulted in a supply of Grand Constance 1821 vintage to enter the market.

The Grand Constance 1821 is held in its original, hand-blown glass bottle, each of the bottles taking a unique shape, and presented in a wooden case. Bottles from the London auction have been recorked, with a recent note below by Michael Fridjhon and Jean-Vicent Ridon.  

Due to the uncompromised condition of this bottle, the auctioneer has decided not to interfere with the closure and sell in its original state. At the buyer’s discretion, a complimentary professional recorking service can be offered as part of the sale. This service includes alphanumeric identification on the new closure and a seal to ensure traceability going forward.

Deep but still luminescent amber. Extraordinarily perfumed, in a subtle and unflamboyant way: notes of orange rind, molasses, allspice and glacé fruits. Brooding and rich. Multiple layers, each yielding surprising detail and nuance. Remarkably fresh - this medley of aromatic energy stays forever in the glass, a haunting reminder of an era lost in the mists of antiquity. Michael Fridjhon and Jean Vincent Ridon, 2019


Simonsig Wine Estate Cellar.

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