Napoleon’s Favourite Wine Sold at Online Auction
Hundreds of years after his death, Napoleon Bonaparte is still making waves in the global wine scene.
Napoleon, one of the most celebrated and controversial political leaders in human history, enjoyed a particular brand of wine during his exile at St. Helena: the Grand Constance 1821. Recently, a bottle of the said blend was auctioned off.
The Wine Conqueror
A single bottle of Grand Constance was auctioned last July 15th on CataWiki, which started with a bid of $221, and went up to a final bid of $1,717. The bottle came from a private French collection and was auctioned by qualified viticulturist and wine auctioneer, Patricia Verschelling.
It’s physical description is that of a mouth-blown bottle with a weathered but intact wax capsule and a label that is largely intact and recognizable. With less than a dozen bottles of this particular vintage preserved, it has become an extremely rare collector’s item.
While exiled at St. Helena, Napoleon apparently enjoyed Grand Constance so much, he had around 30 bottles shipped to his prison every month. He also had bottles of Claret (red Bordeaux wine) and Champagne, which he enjoyed with his staff on a daily basis. Not bad for the former emperor of the world capital of wine.
The Vin of Kings and Poets
Napoleon wasn’t the only monarch or historical celebrity who enjoyed Grand Constance.
Known throughout the world in eighteenth century as “Constantia wyn”, it was enjoyed by historical figures like Frederick the Great of Prussia, King Louis Phillipe of France, and even Charles Dickens.
Grand Constance was also mentioned in the Jane Austen novel, Sense and Sensibility, as a cure for the broken heart.
South Africa’s Famous Wine Estate
The Grand Constance comes from South African estate Groot Constantia, which has been in business since 1685, making it the oldest wine estate in South Africa. It is also one of the country’s most visited tourist attractions. The estate is situated on the Cape Peninsula overlooking False Bay, with its vineyards tucked in the steep valley on the eastern side of Table Mountain.
British author and wine expert, Hugh Johnson once wrote: “From these Elysian fields used to come one of the very greatest wines in the world — the legendary Constantia.”