There has been a lot of speculation over the years about the usefulness of the London Wine Fair. I for one am very pleased it moved back to its home in Olympia from Excel, Docklands a couple of years ago. But ultimately, if we want such an institution to succeed, the broader London / UK wine trade needs to support the Fair with its attendance and engagement.
Personally, I found the London Wine Fair 2019 the perfect opportunity to catch up with some of South Africa’s top producers and taste a huge swathe of new releases. By the looks of the below scores, consumers are in for a block busters year of new releases!
London Wine Fair 2019: Highlights…
Cap Maritime Pinot Noir 2017, 14 Abv. – 92/100 GSMW
Rich, creamy and textural. Plenty of foresty bramble berry spice and delicious, ponderous vanilla pod nuances.
Cap Maritime Chardonnay 2017, 13.5 Abv. – 94/100 GSMW
Rich, broad and concentrated. Freshness with glycerol mouthfeel. Class written all over it. One to watch in the coming years!
Reyneke Reserve SB 2016, 12.5 Abv. – 94/100 GSMW
Sweet & sour pineapple pastille, root veg, wet thatch and a long bruised yellow orchard fruit length. The complexity is beguiling!
Reyneke Reserve Syrah 2015, 14 Abv. – 93/100 GSMW
Sweet plummy black berry nose full of peppercorns, wood spice and meaty, blueberry, liquorice length. Young but super impressive.
Boekenhoutskloof Franschhoek Cabernet Sauvignon 2016, 14.5 Abv. – 93+/100 GSMW
Sweet caramelised lick of black berry, cassis and vanilla oak spice. Plush, opulent, finely honed. Classy, pure expression of Cabernet.
Boekenhoutskloof Syrah 2016, 14 Abv. – 94/100 GSMW
Brûléed earth, black berry confit and sweet grilled herbs. Impressive concentration, sweet, suave texture and an intense cured meat and barbecue smoke finish. Delicious.
Kanonkop 2009 Pinotage – 92/100 GSMW
Cool, bright fresh tart acids, bramble berry, freshly cut cedar, suave texture, ripe but also quite a chiselled, vibrant expression.
Kanonkop Pinotage 2017, 14 Abv. – 95/100 GSMW
Piquant and lifted with exotic red fruits, incense, coffee bean and dried potpourri. Oh the perfume! Mesmerising expression.
Kanonkop Cabernet Sauvignon 2014, 14 Abv. – 93+/100 GSMW
Bright, soft earthy violets, lavendar and freshly tilled earth overlaying savoury spicy black berry fruits. Powder fine tannins, bright acids and superb structure. Classical expression of this cooler vintage.
Kanonkop Paul Sauer 2016 – 95+/100 GSMW
Deep and broody full of sweet grilled herbs, cured meats, bloody meat and earthy red currants with bright cherry acids, chalky tannins and a classically dry, mineral finish with just a kiss of blueberry rock candy on the finish. Thoroughly distinguished expression of this South African benchmark classic.
Kanonkop Black Label Pinotage 2017 – 97/100 GSMW
Sweet perfumed black berry, incense, coffee bean and black and blue berry spice. Suave and ultra hedonistic, liquid luxury with very fine freshness, great concentration and a super fine, pinpoint long finish. A new world Grand Cru.
Bouchard Finlayson Crocadile’s Lair Chardonnay 2017, 13.5 Abv. – 94/100 GSMW
Super bright citrus lemon and lime cordial lift, concentrated sweet lemon pastille, green apple, chalky minerality and super crystalline purity. Classy Chardonnay!
De Morgenzon The Divas Chenin Blanc 2017, 14 Abv. – 97+/100 GSMW
Dusty, pithy crunchy yellow apricot, white peach and baked yellow apples in pastry. Lovely tension, bright acids, stony minerality and a fine linear finish. As serious as a £100 bottle of white wine should be.
Rustenberg Five Soldiers Chardonnay 2017, 13.5 Abv. – 94+/100 GSMW
Super lifted chalky lemon and lime complexity with sappy spice, apple cordial and lemon pastille. Lovely concentration, creamy depth and beautiful opulence. Very fine. Best since 2015.
Oldenburg Chardonnay 2018, Stellenbosch, 13.5 Abv. – 92+/100 GSMW
Dusty sweet lemon rock candy, wet chalk and spicy wet thatch. Cool, bright lemon cordial fruit, kiss of vanilla oak and a beautifully long, focused finish. Lovely.
Oldenburg CL Shiraz – Merlot 2017 – 90+/100 GSMW
Super lush and vibrant, mouth filling and rich with bright acidity, attractive sweet black fruits and an enticing savoury, caramelised, meaty edge. Really superb!
Oldenburg Rondekop Rhodium 2015, 14.5 Abv. – 94+/100 GSMW
Rich, opulent and deep with sweet wet tobacco, brûléed coffee bean, buttered brown toast and sweet black currant reduction. Suave, polished and fleshy, this is a very classy rendition of a Bordeaux blend with all the requisite chalky tannin grip, linear acids and a focused, pin point finish. The class of the vintage shines through without doubt!
Elgin Ridge Chaos White Blend 2017, 14 Abv. – 95/100 GSMW
Rich and exotic with delicious sweet white peach, green plum and pineapple pastille. Round, fleshy and long. A whole lot of wine.
Newton-Johnson Albariño 2018, 13 Abv. – 94/100 GSMW
Deliciously fleshy and round, sweet yellow fruit, white peach, green apple, sweet herbs and citrus peel. Very juicy and individual. Just love this wine!
Savage Follow the Line 2017, 13 Abv. – 95/100 GSMW
Soft pulped strawberry, raspberry pith, sweet cherry confit and an impressively tight, focused, pure finish. Profound expression without doubt.
Illimis Chenin Blanc 2016, 14.5 – 93+/100 GSMW
Creamy and glycerol with dried herbs, lemon biscuits and a vanilla pod finish. Impressive.
Stand Alone Gamay Noir 2018, 13 Abv. – 92+/100 GSMW
38 year old vine Gamay planted in 1981. 30% whole cluster layered in tank. Sweet candied red fruit, red cherry zip and a long red currant confit finish. Very juicy. A wine that wants to be noticed! (Fruit sourced from the Villiera farm)
Blank Bottle Little William Ceres Syrah 2018 – 92+/100 GSMW
Beautifully leafy, sappy, ripe and intense with exotic crushed raspberry, cranberry with a fine grained palate of dried guava roll, marzipan and juicy red fruits. A thoroughly amiable wine.
Oak Valley Groenlandberg Chardonnay 2018, 13.5 Abv. – 93/100 GSMW
White blossom, lemon rock candy, green melon Bon Bons and hints of spearmint. Cool, crystalline and pure fruited, this shows distinguished structure, impressive fruit concentration and a long intense finish.
Oak Valley Groenlandberg Pinot Noir 2018, 13.5 Abv. – 92+/100 GSMW
Rich expressive nose of brûléed bramble berry fruits, blood orange and pomegranate earthy red fruits. Sappy hedgerow spice, creamy concentration and pronounced finesse and harmony. Classy. Something very more’ish about this wine!
Tokara Directors Reserve 2016 White Blend, 14 Abv. – 95/100 GSMW
70/30 Sauvignon – Semillon. Creamy and plush, super intense yellow citrus, super glycerol but fresh. Harmonious and elegant texture, this is a very smart blend. Very few vintages of this classy wine I have not fallen in love with.
Tokara Directors Reserve Red Blend 2015, 14.5 Abv. – 93/100 GSMW
71% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Merlot, 4% Malbec, 7% Petit Verdot, 3% Cabernet Franc. Wonderfully suave, creamy and round, saline cassis, wood spice, sappy black berry and sweet tobacco. Another ultra luxurious expression.
Jordan Whole Nine Yards Chardonnay 2016, 13 Abv. – 93+/100 GSMW
Rich and textured, classically pure and punchy with orange blossom, vanilla oak spice and a honied brightness. Lovely classy expression.
Jordan Sophia Red Blend 2014, 14.5 Abv. – 93+/100 GSMW
Freshly rolled tobacco, sweet red currant, tannery hide and sweet bramble berry. Plush, classy and super polished texture. Very smart.
Lowerland Tolbos Tannat 2016, Prieska, 13.5 Abv. – 92/100 GSMW
Another Lukas Van Loggerenberg offering. Ultra plush and sensual, this is full of sappy red and black fruits, freshly cut hedge row and sweet bramble berry confit. Exotic but very fine craftsmanship indeed.
Catherine Marshall Chenin Blanc Fermented in Clay 2017, 13.5 Abv. – 95/100 GSMW
Elgin with a dash of Stellenbosch Chenin. 12 months in amphora. Piquant, savoury Chenin Blanc expression with bruised orchard fruits, apple purée and super broad concentration of pineapple and apple pastille. Really very impressive indeed. One for collectors to seek out!