Charles Dickens’ favourite tipple

It's not for nothing this sweet wine from South Africa was a favourite of the great novelist, says Matthew Jukes.


2012 Vin de Constance, Klein Constantia, Constantia, Western Cape, South Africa (£42, 50cl bottle, Nickolls & Perks, 01384-394518; £195 in bond per six bottles,; £198 in bond,; £200 in bond,; £400 in bond per 12 bottles,

I am fortunate to have tasted this illustrious wine a favourite of Dickens, Baudelaire, Austen and Napoleon on many occasions back to the 1986 vintage and it always impresses me greatly. One of the frustrating aspects of being a winemaker is that you must exercise Herculean levels of patience when making your wines.

Matt Day started working at Klein Constantia four years ago, so it has been a very long wait for him to show me the greatest release I have ever tasted from this property. I am delighted to report that the first "full vintage"under Matt is officially "off the scale".

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The wine gives off an insane apricot perfume and there is mind-blowing sweetness here (164 gm/l), but that is underpinned with the most precise acidity imaginable. That pleases me as I have long said that this wine needs more acid and zip to balance the phenomenal sweetness from the muscat grapes.

Matt has achieved this balance of sweetness and acid with characteristic lan. The harvest took a record three months to complete, with 26 passes through the vineyards. And he only pressed 500 litres of juice from each tonne of fruit!

The result is the most focused and the most exquisitely balanced Vin de Constance of all patience is truly a virtue!

Matthew Jukes is a winner of the International Wine & Spirit Competition's Communicator of the Year (

Matthew Jukes

Matthew Jukes has worked in the UK wine business for well over three decades and during this time has written 14 wine books.  

Matthew regularly lectures, judges, speaks at wine conferences and runs masterclass tastings for both corporate and private clients all over the world. Matthew is also the creator of his ground-breaking initiative, the One Day Wine School, an indulgent day of tasting and learning first performed in 2006.

He has been the MoneyWeek wine correspondent since 2006 and has written a weekly column for the Daily Mail’s Weekend Magazine since 1999. His four highly-acclaimed, annual wine reports – the Burgundy En Primeur Report, the Bordeaux En Primeur Report, the Piemonte Report and the 100 Best Australian Wines – are published on his website,

Matthew is one of the world’s leading experts on Australian wine and, with Brisbane-based wine writer Tyson Stelzer, runs an annual competition in Australia to find ‘The Great Australian Red’.  He was made Honorary Australian of the Year in the UK at the 2012 Australia Day Foundation Gala dinner. 

Matthew is a winner of the International Wine and Spirit Competition's Communicator of the Year Trophy.  His thoughts, recommendations and tastings notes are followed very closely by the wine world at large.