Kanonkop Cabernet Sauvignon 2015 Blazing It’s Own Trail of Greatness in the World of Fine Wine…

I can’t deny that I have said it many times across many media platforms that when it comes to truly great, great red wines, nothing beats a blend. Well, ok… maybe a bottle of Domaine de la Romanee Conti Grand Cru Romanee Conti is about as famous and site specific as you can get for a single varietal icon.

But with Bordeaux blends, the whole is almost always greater than the sum of its parts. So when you consider a phenomenal wine like Kanonkop Paul Sauer 2015, rated 98/100 GSMW on this site (and also South Africa’s first 100/100 point wine from critic Tim Atkin MW), it does make you ponder the greatness of the Cabernet Sauvignon component of this famous wine. Always set for a release at least 12+ months or more after the Paul Sauer blend, I managed to get a sneak peak of the newly bottled Kanonkop Cabernet Sauvignon… set for general release in October 2019 in the local South African market.

 

Kanonkop Cabernet Sauvignon 2015, Stellenbosch

A wine with this level of anticipation needs time and consideration. This wine was opened and tasted several times over a matter of hours and my conclusions were all the same. We are in the presence of greatness, a creation that is an absolute thing of vinous beauty that is certainly unrivalled in quality since the famous 2004 Kanonkop Cabernet Sauvignon that controversially trumped the Paul Sauer 2004 to win the Platter Red Wine of the Year. At this super youthful stage of its development, this wine is all about the future potential and not many other South African red wines have the track record that Kanonkop has. From the block buster 2015 vintage, the newly bottled Cabernet Sauvignon reveals an incredibly restrained and self assured bouquet of black raspberries, fallen leaves, wet tobacco, freshly tilled earth and a tantalising note of graphite, Chinese black tea, dried violets and cigar box. Despite its intensity in the mouth, the wine retains a classy and classical textural demeanour with a medium bodied weight but also silky smooth sweet tannins and layer upon layer of crunchy red and black fruits. Incredibly finely proportioned and crisply chiselled, the palate slowly shows extra dimensions of saline cassis, baking chocolate, espresso roast, sweet cedar spice and just the most subtle hints of red plum skins and thyme spice on the finish. Architecturally, this has the shape and precision of a majestic Sir Norman Foster sky scraper that towers above its neighbours. Never over worked, never over oaked, this is surely one of the greatest single varietal Cabernet Sauvignon’s produced in South Africa.

(Wine Safari Score: 97/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

The Fine Wine Safari’s South African Wine Stars at the London Wine Fair 2019…

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!

The Iconic Magnificence of Chateau Lafleur – Tasting the 2018 Barrel Blend and Older Vintages with Omri Ram…

I’m very fortunate to meet up with some very gifted and highly talented winemakers who oversee the production of some of the great icon wines of the world. As a bit of pre-En Primeur 2018 campaign orientation, I caught up with Omri Ram from Chateau Lafleur in London to contemplate the true potential of the 2018 vintage and also reflect on some older classics over lunch.

Omri Ram presenting a selection of 2018 Barrel Samples in the Justerini & Brooks cellars

My initial Chateau Lafleur 2018 Barrel sample rating came in at a lofty 97-98/100 GSMW for what almost certainly must rate as one of the top wines of the vintage. But more interestingly, after the 2018 sample we got to drink some older vintages over a superb lunch laid on by Chateau Lafleur’s UK agent, Justerini & Brooks.

Pensees de Lafleur 2009, Pomerol, 14.5 Abv.

A very small vintage for Pensees, the nose is superbly fragrant, perfumed, earthy and expressive with layers of black currant, sweet tobacco, lavendar and earthy cassis. The palate is super polished, elegant and an all round uber suave crowd pleaser with a very sophisticated manner. Does not put a foot out of place. Classical, elegant yet open and overt, this is a wine for Bordeaux lovers looking to start tucking into a very smart, earlier drinking icon wine!

(Wine Safari Score: 93+/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

Chateau Lafleur 2007, Pomerol (Magnum), 13.5 Abv.

Along with 1999, Omri Ram’s favourite wine to drink. The end of an era where there was more Merlot that Cabernet Franc. An underestimated vintage for sure that in many ways breaks the stigma of the “7s” curse. 67, 77, 87, 97… etc. This wine is now beauty personified. Fragrant ethereal perfume wafts from the glass with intense nuances of cedar spice, caramelised cranberries, plum liquor and black berry depth. Underpinning the whole expression of the wine is dusty, stony minerality with the most incredible elegance, satin soft tannins and sublime harmony. If the Queen was coming for dinner and you knew she loved Claret, this would be the dream ticket to seal the relationship! Benchmark Pomerol.

(Wine Safari Score: 95/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

Chateau Lafleur 2000, Pomerol, 13.5 Abv.

This block buster vintage displays a wonderfully expressive nose of gunpowder, struck flint, graphite, piquant black berry and herby grassy spice notes. Quite soft, fleshy and accessible, this wine has density, gravitas, concentration and weight of fruit with a subtle soft rounding acidity with a plush, creamy mineral tannin texture. Still youthful but deliciously opulent and seductive now. Start drinking but no rush at all. An iconic vintage from an iconic winery.

(Wine Safari Score: 98+/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

Pio Cesare Launch Only Their Second Ever Single Vineyard Barolo with Their Maiden “Grand Cru” Mosconi 2015…

The Pio Cesare winery is renowned for producing consistently rock solid Piedmont wines vintage after vintage. While they may not have the rock star status of Giuseppe Rinaldi, Bartolo Mascarello or Giacomo Conterno, their wines can be every bit as good. Their Single Vineyard Ornato Barolo has always been one of their stand out wines and now, for the first time, Ornato will be joined by a fabulous new “Grand Cru” in the form of Mosconi.

2015 is the first vintage of this Barolo produced from a vineyard purchased in December 2014 by Pio Boffa in the commune of Monforte d’Alba just a few days before his 60th birthday. With perfect soils and an exceptional micro climate, the Mosconi vineyard yields Nebbiolo fruit capable of making rich, powerful, structured wines with pronounced, opulent tannins from old vines planted in 1947 and 1971. The 2015 Mosconi marks exactly 30 years since the release of Pio Cesare’s first cru Barolo, the Ornato.

Tasting with Cesare Benvenuto (5th generation of the family) in London.

Having already garnered a notable if slightly over-punchy 98/100 from James Suckling, this is nevertheless a noteworthy wine for Piedmont and specifically Barolo collectors to track down and buy for further cellaring.

Pio Cesare Mosconi Single Vineyard Barolo Cru 2015, 14.5 Abv.

A fine pale cherry ruby red, this wine is deceptively intense and expressive and explodes out the glass with real old vine concentration and perfume. There are fine aromatic layers of earthy botte oak, sweet cherry, red bramble berry, grilled herbs, Pastis aniseed, dried rose petals and succulent orange cordial. The palate takes the intensity and concentration up another few levels higher compared to the Pio Cesare Barolo Classic cuvee showing extra layers of sweet baking spices, crystallised cherries and melted black liquorice. Acids are focused, precise and classically bright and the tannins more chalky, mineral, dense and wonderfully textural to balance the fruit concentration and acid lift. With only 5,000 bottles of this wine produced from this individual terroir, this seems a good one to pop in the cellar for 8 to 15+ years ageing.

(Wine Safari Score: 96/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

UK maiden release price for Mosconi 2015 is circa £120 per bottle compared to Ornato 2015 at £99 per bottle. But it seems to be worth the old vine premium. UK Agent – MMD.

Tasting The Magical Sweet Wines of Moulin Touchais Through The Ages…

This property has been in the Touchais family for eight generations since 1787, and the estate, located down a side street in Doué-La-Fontaine, is amazingly characterful and has so many stories to tell. Indeed, the famous labyrinth of cellars were bricked over during the German occupation of France during World War 2 to protect the mountains of vintaged stock buried deep in the estate’s cellars. Moulin Touchais is of course famous for the late releases of their Chenin Blanc sweet wines which demand cellaring for at least ten years before a bottle is made available to the market.

Their wines are as famous for their quality as they are for their incredible value for money and have become the “go to” offering for many connoisseurs looking to buy a birth year wine gift. The tasting notes below will serve as a solid and safe guide for years to come for people looking to check on a specific vintage. All bottles barring the 1947 (auction bottle) were sourced from the estate’s cellars for this incredible tasting.

Moulin Touchais Vertical

Moulin Touchais 2016 (Not Yet Released)

Lemon and lime cordial, melon and grapefruit confit. Hint of cream soda and apple purée. Tight and focused, crystalline and pure. Lovely intensity and balance.

(Wine Safari Score: 95/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

Moulin Touchais 2007

Dusty lemon and lanolin nose with dried herbs and mint leaf. Finely textured, creamy palate weight, wonderfully harmonious with a pithy orchard fruit finish.

(Wine Safari Score: 94+/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

Moulin Touchais 2006

Sweet honied nose with subtle damp cellar notes, wet chalk and waxy lemon peel. Quite light and elegant, fine piquant acids, sleek texture and spicy yellow confit finish.

(Wine Safari Score: 92/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

Moulin Touchais 2005

More herby, spicy, sappy resinous stemmy nose with hints of crushed leaves. Quite full and ripe with glycerol weight but with fairly restrained flavours of melon confit and ripe amarula fruits and herbal botanical spices.

(Wine Safari Score: 91+/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

Moulin Touchais 2004

Lemon and lime cordial, yellow grapefruit confit. Plenty of lifted melon fruit aromatics. Fine boned, sleek texture, very elegant with spiced apple purée, lemon marmalade and pithy, chalky finish.

(Wine Safari Score: 93+/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

Moulin Touchais 2003

Ripe exotic aromatics with yellow orchard fruits, chalk and lemon confit. Plush, broad and fleshy texture, opulent, quite showy, unctuous and mouth coatingly sweet made in a more ‘obvious style’ with softer acids. Retains lovely purity of fruit.

(Wine Safari Score: 93/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

Moulin Touchais 2002

Earthy, savoury lemon peel notes, wet chalk and dried baking herbs. Finely balanced with delicious bright green apple and yellow orchard fruits and a fine vein of juicy acidity. Less sweetness, quite focused, but showing great potential for aging.

(Wine Safari Score: 95/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

Moulin Touchais 2001

Ripe pithy tangerine peel and Seville oranges complexity. Notes of marmalade on white toast and subtle sappy herbal nuances. Sleek, cool, fine harmonious palate, lovely fruit – acid equilibrium.

(Wine Safari Score: 93/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

Moulin Touchais 2000

Musty? Corky? Rot? All three bottles. Buyer beware.

(Wine Safari Score: N/S Greg Sherwood MW)

Moulin Touchais 1999

Sweet lemon and grapefruit confit nose, honied and opulent, very expressive. Palate is linear and taut, steely and fresh, plenty of core tension and purity of citrus fruit with subtle chalky finish.

(Wine Safari Score: 94+/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

Moulin Touchais 1998

Cheese rag, melon pastille, apple purée and chalky lift. Palate is pure and plush, wonderfully balanced, creamy and polished with an impressive purity and harmony.

(Wine Safari Score: 92+/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

Moulin Touchais 1997

Sweet rich opulent nose of brûléed lemons, citrus confit and 60/70% botrytis honied complexity. Rich and powerful, dense, sweet and textured with dried peaches drizzled in honey. Delicious and opulent with a long finish.

(Wine Safari Score: 96/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

Moulin Touchais 1996

Sweet lemon cream biscuits, herbs and sappy, leafy complexity, but fine, pithy, fresh tart core. Nice intensity, finely poised, showing great appeal. Lovely and youthful.

(Wine Safari Score: 94/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

Moulin Touchais 1994

More evolved, tertiary notes of lanolin, lemon, waxy apples and a mealy dog biscuits note. Palate show piquant grapefruit marmalade, spice and freshness. Lovely harmony and balance. Palate outshines the nose.

(Wine Safari Score: 93+/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

Moulin Touchais 1991

Complex spicy nose of old honey, botanical herbs and wet chalk. Palate is soft and fleshy, more loose knit than many preceding vintages, with an overt resinous sappy spice and sweet, warming finish.

(Wine Safari Score: 90/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

Moulin Touchais 1987

More tertiary and honied, showing root veg, earthy, bruised orchard fruits and lanolin wet dog notes. Palate is fresh, piquant and quite spicy with a slightly drying barley sugar finish.

(Wine Safari Score: 89/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

Moulin Touchais 1986

Ripe earthy brûléed yellow bruised fruits, cheese rind, peach tea and a slight iodine note. Palate is sweet but very fresh, with lovely depth, effortless balance and superb honied depth. Exotic but deliciously vibrant and fresh.

(Wine Safari Score: 94+/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

Moulin Touchais 1985

Sweet honied peach and citrus notes, caramelised orange peel and honey. Palate is vibrant and fresh, quite tart and pure with green apple purée, quince and grapefruit confit. Lovely length and finesse and a slightly tighter finish.

(Wine Safari Score: 95/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

Moulin Touchais 1984

Rich, brûléed peachy honied nose with earthy, nutty, mealy dog biscuit nuances, and sweet herbal peach tea with a spoonful of honey. Complex, sleek texture, vibrant acids holding this wine together beautifully.

(Wine Safari Score: 93/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

Moulin Touchais 1983

Rich cognac gold colour, showing alluring teritiary notes of earthy root spice and hard cheese rind. Palate is tart and focused, fresh and taut with a vibrant energy and acid brightness. Lovely crystalline purity, mouth watering and juicy. Impressive.

(Wine Safari Score: 95/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

Importer Richard Kelley MW pouring a flight of wines.

Moulin Touchais 1982

Rich, brûléed lemon biscuit notes, custard, puff pastry and peach parfait. Lush, bright, and quite taut, lovely piquant depth, opulence and good botrytis characters. Certain leanness and linearity, but finely balanced and focused.

(Wine Safari Score: 94/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

Moulin Touchais 1981

Subtle tertiary notes of earthy bruised orchard fruits, brûléed green figs, citrus confit. Plush and broad, bright fruits, peach tea, grapefruit confit, vibrant youthful palate and a long, sweet – sour apple pastille length. Delicious.

(Wine Safari Score: 95+/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

Moulin Touchais 1980

Pronounced dusty, crushed slate, chalky, herby nose with vermouth botanical notes. Earthy, exotic, dusty with hints of peanut brittle and caramelised salty toffee.

(Wine Safari Score: 89+/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

Moulin Touchais 1979

Beautiful rich golden toffee colour, has lovely lifted aromatics reminiscent of a serial Madeira, with nuts, toffee, cheese cloth, brine and brûléed peach and quince. Palate is fresh and ultra lush, dense, with brûléed sweet / sour plum, melon and an elegant, drying, classy long finish. Superb.

(Wine Safari Score: 95/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

Moulin Touchais 1976

Earthy wet chalk nose with herbal hints and spicy lift. Quite shy and restrained nose with a slightly more expressive palate. Tight, broody, spicy honied yellow fruit.

(Wine Safari Score: 90+/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

Moulin Touchais 1975

Dusty, chalky brûléed nose with burnt sugar, piquant spice, reduced root veg notes, cabbage and sweet bruised orchard fruits and grape jelly. Spicy, tart, slightly lean.

(Wine Safari Score: 92+/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

Frederik Wilbrenninck from the Moulin Touchais estate pouring a flight.

Moulin Touchais 1971

Waxy green apple, mealy biscuit and earthy lemon peel. Palate is sleek, retrained, quite mineral and taut, showing crushed gravel, chalk spice and a piquant depth. Linear, non-showy but quite finely textured.

(Wine Safari Score: 94+/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

Moulin Touchais 1968

Brûléed, rich oxidative nose similar to Adrian again but perhaps in a more Bual or Terrantez style. Vibrant salty acids, lovely briney focus and rich, pithy length brimming with cognac spice, sweet orange peel, marmalade and nutty cheese cloth complexity.

(Wine Safari Score: 93+/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

Moulin Touchais 1964

Corked.

(Wine Safari Score: N/S Greg Sherwood MW)

Moulin Touchais 1959

Pristine and pure nose of lemon and herbs, nutty, brûléed pineapple, molasses and salted caramel. Pure, sleek, cool and regal, this is truly profound. Vibrant salty fresh acids, piercing length and mouth wateringly youthful. Wow!

(Wine Safari Score: 97+/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

Moulin Touchais 1955

Brine, tangerine peel, citrus, naartjie and pithy spicy herbal lift. Rich, sweet / sour tartness, bright, vibrant, deliciously juicy. Great salty opulence. Superb.

(Wine Safari Score: 96/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

Moulin Touchais 1953

Sweet herbal, honied root veg, lanolin and wet wool. Sleek, nutty, bright and saline with very fine. Fine texture, crystalline palate. Lovely.

(Wine Safari Score: 94+/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

Moulin Touchais 1947

Soft subtle nose of caramelised lemons, salted caramel, orange peel and honied white peaches. Suave, sleek and ultra elegant, dancing across the palate with ballerina finesse and profound concentrated depth. So pure, so bright, so much youthful energy. Truly wonderful as you’d expect from the ‘vintage of the century.’

(Wine Safari Score: 98/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

Moulin Touchais Century Reserve NV

Exotic nose of sweet yellow peaches, quince, kumquat, passionfruit and caramelised fig. Palate is bright and tart, combining the spellbinding opulence of blended vintages from 1847 to 1899. Lovely salty sweetness, purity, clarity and intensity. Profound.

(Wine Safari Score: 97+/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

Exploring Bordeaux Second Wines – Part 8: Chateau Montrose La Dame de Montrose 2015 from St Estephe…

Chateau Montrose is synonymous for the finest age worthy reds from St Estephe on the left bank of Bordeaux. But their La Dame de Montrose second wine is also made to the same rigorous standards as their first wine, from grapes grown in the same vineyards. Consistently reliable and reaching maturity sooner, the wine was created in 1986 in tribute to Yvonne Charmolue, who ran Château Montrose single-handedly from 1944 to 1960. Production varies from one year to another but accounts on average for 30% of the total production of the Montrose vineyard. It is matured for 12 months in 30% new oak barrels.

While you often encounter the La Dame with a few more years of age (the 2005 is currently very popular among independent merchants), it was lovely to revisit this 2015 at the J.P.Moueix negociant tasting in London, from a vintage which I almost certainly have not tasted since En-primeur at the Chateau in 2016. Tasting alongside the famous Steven Spurrier, he too was full of praise for this attractive wine.

“A modern left bank vintage full of charm.” Steven Spurrier

In 2015, four months of drought including a hot June and July produced tiny, intense grapes with thick skins that resulted in plenty of tannins. Rain came at exactly the right time to revive vines stressed by temperature and dryness. Then, cooler than normal weather in September and October allowed vignerons to pick most vineyards when the grapes were perfectly ripe. A really superb expression that is both accessible to drink now but has the stuffing for at least 10 to 15+ years of additional cellaring.

Chateau Montrose La Dame de Montrose 2015, St Estephe, Bordeaux, 13 Abv.

Out the traps with speed. This super second wine shows wonderful aromatic complexity to dazzle and tease the drinker with fine perfumed violet and cedar spice notes, tilled earth, cured meats, black bramble berries and the faintest hints of eucalyptus menthol lift. The palate is super generous and fresh with a noticeably piercing intensity, saline cassis purity, bright crystalline acidity and a fine long classical finish with linearity and sufficient structural frame. The sweet pockets of black berry fruit on the mid palate are super delicious and really make this wine stand out from its neighbours. As ever, what not to love about Chateau Montrose, whether it’s their iconic first wine or this super attractive second wine. Buy now while it’s still affordable. Drink now to 2030+

(Wine Safari Score: 93/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

Majesty and Power with Sublime Beauty – Tasting the Monumental New Thelema Rabelais 2015 Red Blend…

Starting life out as the prestigious Thelema Cape Winemakers Guild blend, this famous South African red wine changed to the Rabelais label with the 2007 vintage, being produced originally from only Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. From 2009, Petit Verdot started to replace the Merlot portion and now the blend appears fairly settled at approximately a 90% Cabernet Sauvignon and 10% Petit Verdot mix.

 

With most 2015s already long since released, there can’t be more than a handful of epic Cape icon reds from the 2015 vintage that have not yet been proposed to the market. The iconic Kanonkop Cabernet Sauvignon 2015 is one such wine but undoubtedly, others will emerge. But what they don’t all have is a rock solid track record and of course a historical producer prestige worthy of the finest global collector. They just don’t come much more famous than Thelema, and without doubt, I can see this wine reigniting the engines of passion and collectability for this winery yet again on a global scale.

 

Thelema Rabelais 2015, WO Stellenbosch, 14.5 Abv.

What must surely be among the last of the great renowned 2015 Cape reds to be released, the Rabelais 2015 Bordeaux blend is an epic rendition of this classic Cape wine. Supremely dark, dense and almost overwhelming, this wine speaks loudly, boldly but also incredibly intelligently and at no point courts excess or any extremes of style. The nose is fantastically deep, dark and intense with hints of campfire ember smoke, black currant pastille allure, maritime salinity and a subtle note of freshly cut hedgerow. There is an oak imprint, but finer and more integrated at this “youthful” age it couldn’t be with the vanilla pod spice melting into seductive notes of cedar, cassis, graphite, granitic minerality and stony quarry dust tannins. I loved the 2013 expression of this wine and in preparation for this rating retasted the majestic Rabelais 2014 for added perspective. In the end, it is as clear as day that the Thelema Rabelais 2015 not only represents a benchmark of quality within their range but also a high point of hedonistic, compact opulence that may not be repeated at this level for a decade or more. A reassuringly bold, restrained, classical 2015 that will undoubtedly serve to move the market for this great vintage ever upward in desire and demand. Drink from 2021 to 2042+

(Wine Safari Score: 96+/100 Greg Sherwood MW)