The first wine under the Warwick label was released in 1984, then named “La Femme Bleu” or the “Blue Lady” as it is known today. Two years later, in 1986, the Warwick Trilogy, a three varietal Bordeaux-style blend, was released and has ever since been recognised as one of South Africa’s and Stellenbosch’s top icon wines. Throughout the years, Warwick’s wines have won multiple awards as well as the hearts and minds of not only the local market but also the discerning fine wine collector market internationally, firmly establishing the brand as a true South African icon.
The resurrected Warwick Blue Lady re-emerged more recently as a non-vintage Cabernet Sauvignon made from a blend of the 2008 and 2009 vintages. The then winemaker Nic van Aarde blended the 2010 and made all subsequent vintages up until the 2018 before passing on the winemaking reins to his talented successor JD Pretorius. The Blue Lady, Nic van Aarde informs me, was normally made from Block 14, an old vine block on the Warwick estate, but in later years became a blend of three specific blocks on the farm.
The grapes were hand harvested, de-stemmed and sorted into tanks for primary fermentation with one to three pump overs per day as well as two ‘rack and return’ over the fermentation period. After fermentation and then post-fermentation tank maceration lasting for an average of 36 days on the skins with three or four gentle pump overs per day with malolactic fermentation taking place in stainless steel tanks. After the MLF the wine was racked into French oak barrels (25% new) for a period of 27 months before a strict barrel selection process decided the final expression in the spring of 2019.
Warwick Blue Lady Cabernet Sauvignon 2017, WO Stellenbosch, 14.5% Abv.
The 2017 is a cool, suave, classy Stellenbosch Cabernet at its seductive best, oozing with class and pedigree. The aromatics are picture perfect with intense notes of violets, fresh cedar, lead pencil and spicy pithy black berry fruits. But no classy Cabernet Sauvignon would be complete without the signature notes of iodine and dusty graphite complexity. True to the vintage, this 2017 is rich, plush, suave and super sleek with a characterful weightless concentration of inky, earthy black plum, blueberry compote, black cherry and subtle black currant. Acids are bright and glassy but also finely harmonious on the palate with powdery, creamy, finessed tannins and a gentle but lithe textural physique. Wonderfully classical and truly Simonsberg Cabernet Sauvignon in character, this wine personifies everything great about the regions premium grape growing terroir. Drink from release and savour over 10 to 15+ years.
(Wine Safari Score: 95/100 Greg Sherwood MW)