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Klein Constantia Cabernet Sauvignon 1997

Cabernet Sauvignon from South Africa
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    Winemaker Notes

    A serious, generous wine that blends "new generation" fruit with a traditional drier Cape style. Matured in French oak barrels for two years. (In the late 1970's, Ross Gower was instrumental in bringing to South Africa a Cabernet Sauvignon clone that was first commercially planted at Klein Constantia, and has since transformed the Cape's Cabernet Sauvignon plantings).

    Critical Acclaim

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    Klein Constantia

    Klein Constantia

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    Klein Constantia, South Africa
    1997 Cabernet Sauvignon
    While "klein" means "small," Klein Constantia’s reputation is anything but. With its historic Cape Dutch homestead and breathtaking location, it has frequently been described as one of the world’s most beautiful vineyards. In 2002, Wine and Spirits Magazine named Klein Constantia among the Top 25 Vineyards of the World. During the 18th and 19th centuries, "the sweet, luscious, and excellent wine called Constantia" became one of the most legendary and sought-after wines in the world. Prized by kings, emperors, and nobles, the iconic bottling could be found in the cellars of many of the courts of Europe. Napoleon consumed a bottle of Constantia each day during his exile on St. Helena, and the fabled elixir was immortalized in the works of Baudelaire, Charles Dickens, and Jane Austen.

    After phylloxera devastated the vineyards of Constantia at the end of the 19th century, Klein Constantia fell into disrepair. In 1980, the run-down farm was purchased by Duggie Jooste, whose family had been involved in the South African wine trade for four generations. Duggie and his son Lowell began to revitalize the farm and using vines propagated from the original vineyard stock, they sought to revive the glorious Constantia wine of yore.

    The cellar is headed by the energetic young Adam Mason, a Stellenbosch graduate who gained significant winemaking experience in France before joining Klein Constantia in 2004. The recreated "Vin de Constance" remains the estate’s crown jewel. Over the past two decades, the dazzling nectar has received immense critical acclaim and has become a modern-day legend in its own right.

    South Africa

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    An underappreciated wine-producing country currently undergoing a renaissance, South Africa has a surprisingly long and rich history considering its status as part of the “New World” of wine. In the mid-17th century, the lusciously sweet dessert wines of Constantia were highly prized by the European aristocracy. Since then, the South African wine industry has experienced some setbacks due to the phylloxera infestation of the late 1800s and political difficulties throughout the following century. Today, however, it is increasingly responsible for high-quality wines that are helping to put the country back on the international wine map. Wine production is mainly situated around Cape Town, where the climate is generally warm to hot, but the Benguela current from Antarctica provides the brisk ocean breezes necessary for steady ripening. Similarly, cooler high-elevation vineyard sites offer climatic diversity.

    South Africa’s wine zones are divided into region, then smaller districts and finally wards, but the country’s wine styles are differentiated more by grape variety than by region. Pinotage, a cross between Pinot Noir and Cinsault, is the country’s “signature” grape, responsible for earthy, gamey reds. When Pinotage is blended with other red varieties, like Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah, or Pinot Noir (all commonly vinified alone as well), it is often labeled as a “Cape Blend.” Chenin Blanc (locally known as “Steen”) dominates white wine production, with Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc following behind.

    Cabernet Sauvignon

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    A noble variety bestowed with both power and concentration, Cabernet Sauvignon is sometimes referred to as the “king” of red grapes. It can be somewhat unapproachable early in its youth but has the potential to age beautifully, with the ability to last fifty years or more at its best. Small berries and tough skins provide its trademark firm tannic grip, while high acidity helps to keep the wine fresh for decades. Cabernet Sauvignon flourishes in temperate climates like Bordeaux's Medoc region (and in St-Emillion and Pomerol, where it plays a supporting role to Merlot). The top Médoc producers use Cabernet Sauvignon for their wine’s backbone, blending it with Merlot and smaller amounts of Cabernet Franc, Malbec, and/or Petit Verdot. On its own, Cabernet Sauvignon has enjoyed great success throughout the world, particularly in the Napa Valley, and is responsible for some of the world’s most prestigious and sought-after “cult” wines.

    In the Glass

    High in color, tannin, and extract, Cabernet Sauvignon expresses notes of blackberry, cassis, plum, currant, spice, and tobacco. In Bordeaux and elsewhere in the Old World you'll find the more earthy, tannic side of Cabernet, where it's typically blended to soften tannins and add complexity. In warmer regions like California and Australia, you can typically expect more ripe fruit flavors upfront.

    Perfect Pairings

    Cabernet Sauvignon is right at home with rich, intense meat dishes—beef, lamb, and venison, in particular—where its opulent fruit and decisive tannins make an equal match to the dense protein of the meat. With a mature Cabernet, opt for tender, slow-cooked meat dishes.

    Sommelier Secrets

    Despite the modern importance and ubiquity of Cabernet Sauvignon, it is actually a relatively young variety. In 1997, DNA revealed the grape to be a spontaneous crossing of Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc which took place in 17th century southwestern France.

    CVI208981_1997 Item# 55879

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