This week marks 200 years since Napoleon’s death and, later this month, you can purchase wine that was destined for his collection. The Grand Constance 1821 will be auctioned on 22 May at the Cape Fine & Rare Wine Auction (CFRWA). The wine – reportedly “one of the most precious, scarce and coveted wines in the world,” according to Niel Groenewald, Managing Director of Nederburg and head of the CFRWA – is one of only twelve rumoured bottles in existence.
The grapes were harvested from the Groot Constantia vineyards near Cape Town. Constantia wines are renowned for being favoured by historical figures, including royalty, and for making appearances in classic novels across the years, from Austen to Dickens to Baudelaire. But it was Napoleon who could have been Constantia’s biggest fan. During each of the five years prior to his death in exile on St. Helena, Napoleon had more than 1,000 liters shipped per year for his private enjoyment. Because Napoleon died too early to enjoy the 1821 harvest, this caused a supply of this particular vintage to enter the market and is the reason the bottle is up for auction on 22 May.
Recorked in 2019 to preserve the contents for years to come, the bottle will be auctioned in its original hand-blown black glass bottle. It bears a unique seal and alphanumeric identification to ensure traceability and authenticity.
The Cape Fine & Rare Wine Auction is one of the world’s main global wine auctions. It was established in 1975 as the Nederburg Auction and was relaunched in October 2019 as the Cape Fine & Rare Wine Auction. In partnership with Christie’s, the CFRWA will take place this year for the first time in a hybrid format, allowing for bidding from anywhere in the world. To register as a buyer, or for more info, visit https://capefinerarewine.auction/registration/. kw