Book Review: "Klein Constantia: The Home of Vin de Constance," by Joanne Gibson and Malu Lambert

Joanne Gibson’s and Malu Lambert’s new book, Klein Constantia: The Home of Vin de Constance, with a forward by Michael Fridjhon, details the estate’s long-standing history, which dates back to the year 1685 when Commander Simon van der Stel was granted approximately 1,880 acres facing False Bay, which he named Constantia.

It has been said that great wines often come with a great view. Along with detailing the long history of Klein Constantia, the book also offers illuminating pictures from Klein Constantia’s archive alongside photos by Heiko von Fintel (, among others, to capture the estate’s magnificence and beauty. Enriched with historic texts, maps, paintings and long-forgotten photographs from a bygone era, the book highlights the historical importance of Klein Constantia and tells the tale of multiple owners and stewardships dedicated to the land during Klein Constantia’s robust history.

Over the centuries, Klein Constantia has crafted some of the world’s longest-lived and highest-quality dessert wines, serving as a guiding light for South African quality winemaking. While the historic estate is planted to a large amount of Sauvignon Blanc, the sweet nectar known as Vin de Constance remains historically important to the property. In Chapter Three, Gibson and Lambert usher in the “Rebirth and Revival” era when Duggie Jooste took over Klein Constantia in 1980 and spearheaded its transformation, planting Muscat de Frontignan on the estate’s lower slopes. Fast forward to the present day, where Matt Day is the resident winemaker for Klein Constantia. More recently, the estate built a new winery in 2015 and added facility upgrades.

Beyond the history of Klein Constantia, Gibson, a wine writer with a Level 4 Diploma from the Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET), and Lambert, a wine judge who is currently pursuing her WSET Diploma, offer several wine commentaries on Vin de Constance, dating back to the 1700s. Additional chapters highlight colorful historical figures who enjoyed and consumed Vin de Constance over the centuries, ranging from European royalty and nobility to French, British and American personalities and modern-day luminaries. Equipped with a chapter focusing on visiting the estate at Klein Constantia, the book winds down with imagery from the estate’s tasting room, restaurant and vineyards before offering parting thoughts about Klein Constantia’s future and revealing a timeline of important dates to the estate’s long history.

Overall, it’s a beautiful book that takes a deep dive into this precious estate's historical importance—not only to South Africa but to the world of fine wine—and it will remain a guiding light for world-class dessert wine.

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