Boekenhoutskloof’s New Release 2019 Reds and Whites Impress at their London Launch…

While some of Boekenhoutskloof’s headlines might have been stolen by its successful Swartland Porseleinberg Syrah project in recent years, its new releases remain a highlight on the wine calendar especially in the South African home market. With much of the fruit for the range now coming from several top properties in the Swartland as well as Stellenbosch and Franschhoek, quality can always be assured to hit an impressively high nouveau.

The 2019 vintage involved one of the earliest pickings to date with their Swartland Syrah vineyards exposed to extremely dry conditions during flowering resulting in earlier than normal bud break. The dry 2019 conditions also resulted in smaller berry clusters and reduced overall yields without compromising quality.

Good to catch up with Marc Kent.

Boekenhoutskloof Semillon 2019, WO Franschhoek, 13.2% Abv.

Pristinely pure nose displays all the complexity and exoticism that collectors have grown to know and love on this benchmark white. There are beautiful layers of wax and incense, subtle notes of muscat and multi-dimensional layers of lanolin, white peach and buttered white toast. The palate offers excellent balance and a vibrantly fresh, taut texture with yellow pithy citrus, lemon oil, almond skins and orange peel on the long, bright, concentrated finish. A very classy rendition of this classical grape. Drink now and over the next 15 to 20+ years.

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

Boekenhoutskloof Stellenbosch Cabernet Sauvignon 2019, WO Stellenbosch, 14.86% Abv.

Always a wine with depth and power but this 2019 also displays wonderful precision with pure perfumed aromatics of violets and sappy cassis leaf, sweet tobacco and hints of blackberry, fynbos and cedar spice. Deliciously cool and fresh, this wine shows a lovely acid frame on which there are opulent fruit layers of black currant, black cherry and black chocolate generously draped. An extremely elegant, classy fine wine. Drink from 2024 to 2040+

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

Boekenhoutskloof Franschhoek Cabernet Sauvignon 2019, WO Franschhoek, 14.86% Abv.

Distinctly different to the Stellenbosch cuvee, the aromatics are fleshy and plush, overtly generous on the nose with purple flowers, mulberry, black currant and subtle hints of milk chocolate, salted toffee and creme brûlée. The palate is elegant and polished with fine gravelly tannins, soft black berry compote and a long, chalky finish with espresso and graphite nuances. Deliciously regal as always. Drink now to 2035+.

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

Boekenhoutskloof Syrah 2019, WO Swartland, 13.95% Abv.

The aromatics are initially shy, slowly releasing notes of brûléed coffee beans, grilled herbs, cured meats and underlying hints of garrigue and sweet red and black berries. The palate is cool and broody with notes of liquorice and tar, barbecued meats and sun raisined cherries and a touch of smoky bacon fat and coffee beans on the finish. A slightly more restrained expression than other previous drought vintages. Drink now and over 10 to 15+ years.

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

Boekenhoutskloof Noble Late Harvest 2018, WO Franschhoek, 10.85% Abv.

Made from grapes grown along the Franschhoek river on alluvial soils, this 100% Semillon achieves excellent levels of botrytis every year from its own unique meso-climate. Using several traditional tries or passes through the vineyard to pick the fruit, the results are impressive revealing a nose of lime and grapefruit marmalade, honeycomb, buttered warm brioche and cool creamy pineapple pastille with creme brûlée notes on the finish. Certainly shows a punchy sweetness that is more than adequately tempered by fresh tangy acids and harmonious vanilla pod oak spice. Drink now and over 10+ years.

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

Taaibosch – One of the South African Wineland’s Most Exciting New Wineries Releases Their Crescendo 2019 Second Vintage…

There have arguably been few more exciting new releases on the South African wine scene recently than the resurrection of the fabled Crescendo Cape Bordeaux red blend by winemaker Schalk Willem Joubert and the team at Taaibosch, the Helderberg wine farm previously known as Cordoba.

One of the most striking features about their maiden release from the 2018 vintage was the wines notable structure, power and tannic frame which suggested that the owners were not particularly bothered about pandering to a modern aesthetic of instantaneous accessibility with an early drinking styling.

Read my 2018 review here… https://gregsherwoodmw.com/2021/07/03/taaibosch-crescendo-2018-recreating-a-legendary-stellenbosch-wine/

Tasting the maiden 2018, 2019 and 2020 Crescendo red blends with Schalk in the Taaibosch winery.
Revisiting the highly acclaimed 2018 Crescendo.

Classically constructed, the Crescendo 2018 is an age worthy creation that will reward extended cellaring in a style that many modern-day wineries have actively shied-away from recently in search of instant opulence and high critical ratings on release.

Walking the Taaibosch vineyards in the Helderberg where they are among the last to pick red grapes.
The view from the top of the Taaibosch farm overlooking newly planted vineyards.

In my most recent visit to the Cape winelands in March 2022, one of my first ports of call was of course the Taaibosch winery to see cellar master Schalk Willem Joubert to learn more about their vineyard replanting programme and to see their impressive new cellar on the farm. This is a winery experience not to be missed if visiting the Cape.

Visit: http://www.taaiboschwines.com

The impressive new Taaibosch winery.

Taaibosch Crescendo 2019, WO Stellenbosch, 13.2% Abv.

pH 3.55 | RS 1.8g/l | 13.2% Abv

Fermented in cement and stainless steel followed by full malolactic in 100% cement. After the base blend is made the wine is aged 13 months in 225 litre French oak barriques with a 30% new oak component, where after 70% is moved to large oak foudre for 12 to 13 months and 30% to cement for additional ageing. Once the final blend is assembled, the wine returns to concrete for 3 months. After being bottled unfiltered and unfined, the wine is then aged for a further 5 to 6 months in bottle with a target pre-release offer date of the 1st of May annually.

The large foudre where the Crescendo blend is married and aged.

A right bank blend of 65% Cabernet Franc, 26% Merlot and 9% Cabernet Sauvignon, the 2019 Crescendo shows a big, dense, complex nose with deep dark aromatics of black berries, creme de cassis, sweet cedar and grilled herbs intertwined with graphite, macerated black cherries and a dusty crushed gravel minerality. On the palate the wine is incredibly cool, broad and creamy showing immense power and dry extract concentration on the mid-palate together with wonderfully fine grained spicy mineral tannins and a very long, harmonious focused finish. A superbly complete and texturally pinpoint Cape Bordeaux red blend with a truly Grand Vin classical footprint. An iconic block-buster of the future. Make space in the cellar!

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

The Taaibosch open top fermenters.

Lokaia Wines – A Project Exploring the Exotic Side of the Franschhoek Ward…

The great thing about the wine trade is that whatever side of the fence you work, whether producing, buying or selling, everyday beckons new discoveries and new experiences. Clayton Reabow and Craig McNaught are the winemakers behind this new innovative Franschhoek-based label and for the owners of the Lokaia brand, it was exactly this driving force that led them to believe that there was more to explore in the potential of the Franschhoek Valley with varieties like Semillon, Chardonnay and Cabernet Franc at the forefront of their endeavours.

Clayton has been behind the wheel of Franschhoek’s Moreson winery for fourteen years and counts both the Diner’s Club Young Winemaker of the Year and Winemaker of the Year awards among his many accolades. Craig on the other hand is the second-generation winemaker and co-owner of Stony Brook Vineyards in Franschhoek’s Bo-Hoek region and his focus for many years has been on producing traditional, old-world influenced wines with the Lokaia project affording him the opportunity “to delve in to the postmodern.”

The Lokaia range includes a Semillon from Franschhoek’s Bo-Hoek, a Chardonnay from the Franschhoek Valley Floor and a Cabernet Franc from the Dutoitskop Peak grown on sandstone and clay soils. All three wines are vinified with a strong emphasis on the use of Terracotta amphora that allow the wines to breath and evolve slowly with out any oak influence. Each wine also has a varying degree of skin contact during and post fermentation.

Lokaia Call of the Void Dutoitskop Peak Amphora Cabernet Franc 2020, WO Franschhoek, 11.98% Abv.

1.1 g/l RS | 5.9 g/l TA | 3.24 pH

This unique Cabernet Franc expression was fermented and matured on its skins for four months in amphora yielding a meagre production of a mere 530 bottles. Produced in a more natural leaning style that is unfined and unfiltered, the aromatics yield an intriguing expression of crushed leaves, grey slate, green coffee beans, black tea, spicy green peppercorns, sweet cedar and a freshly cut hedgerow spice. On the palate, the theme of cool sapidity and minerality continues with notes of wet river pebble minerality, tart black currants, sweet and sour black berries, crunchy bright acids and a long, tangy fresh finish that is deliciously mouth-watering. The energetic freshness makes this an attractively easy to drink red, yet beneath the wine’s slightly obvious, linear, fruity veneer lie multiple layers that genuinely challenge the senses. Despite the super low alcohol, the wine possesses an impressively fleshy, glycerol texture, soft powdery stony tannins and a long glassy, crystalline finish. Drink on release and over the next 3 to 5+ years.

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

The Resurrection of the Meerlust Red Blend – Tasting the 2019 Vintage Release…

I have made no secret over the years that I love the concept of premium second wines, whether from Bordeaux, Napa Valley or Cape Town. The Meerlust Estate Red Blend last made a local South African market appearance back in 2011, when the Meerlust Estate declassified their Rubicon flagship wine. To avoid confusion, a ‘Meerlust Red’ is made every vintage but only for the international export market where second wines are well entrenched as viable alternatives for mid-week drinking or for less serious occasions but do not cannibalise the sales of the premium cuvee. However, this wine is not normally sold in the home market unless a specific vintage of Rubicon is declassified into the Red Blend like in 2011, 2002, 1990 and 1985.

Inevitably, when the wider market realises that the premium Rubicon Red Blend has not been released, the Meerlust Red acquires a massive and immediate following, such is the pedigree and reputation of the Meerlust Estate. Sold in the local home market for half the price of the Rubicon, the Red Blend is always an exceptional value wine and drinkers would be well advised to fill their cellars to pad out their drinking of the more age worthy vintages of Meerlust Rubicon.

Meerlust Red 2019, WO Stellenbosch

The 2019 Meerlust Red is a blend of 43% Cabernet Sauvignon, 31% Merlot, 21% Cabernet Franc and 5% Petit Verdot. Initially a little reticent on opening, this wine quickly sheds its broody, sulky, spicy veil to reveal a wonderfully complex aromatic array of black plum, black berry compote, orange peel, Christmas pudding over hints of pressed violets, sweet cedar spice and graphite nuances. The palate is plush and fleshy from the word go, showing an open knit, expressive opulence of red currant, bramble berry, black currant, sweet oak spice, black tea and a sleek texture that simply embraces the palate and makes you go back again and again for another sip. Refreshingly vibrant and impressively generous, I suspect this wine will age surprisingly well for over 10+ years even though it’s simply a cracking drinker right now on release. Hats off to the entire Meerlust crew.

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

Tasting the New Release Saumur Champigny 2020 from Thierry Germain…

The 50-hectare Domaine des Roches Neuves is run by Bordelais Thierry Germain who is regarded as one of the most respected producers in the Loire Valley and is an avowed practitioner of organic and biodynamic viticulture where from his estate near the town of Saumur he makes some of the most expressive Cabernet Franc red wines in the region.

Harvesting at the domaine is all manual and vinification is done in small batches with optimally ripe grapes which leads to wines with plump and generous Cabernet Franc fruit flavours. Wines are bottled unfiltered and unfined. His painstaking attention to detail and quality has earned Thierry an enviable reputation around the world especially with Chenin Blanc and Cabernet Franc obsessives.

Thierry Germain Domaine des Roches Neuves Saumur Champigny 2020, 13.5% Abv.

This is yet another fabulously seductive young Cabernet Franc bursting with mouth watering aromatics of violets, red currants, black currants, sweet cedar spice, peppermint crisp black chocolate and a subtle hint of cherry cola. The palate displays an impressively elegant textural harmony, supple seamless creamy tannins and a very fine seam of acidity bolstered by exotic blueberry fruits and a subtle stony minerality on the finish. Lovely precision, fruit purity and weightless concentration really help this wine hit the bullseye! Classy Cabernet Franc like this is certainly a thing of beauty. Drink now and over the next 5 to 8 years.

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

Taaibosch Crescendo 2018 – Recreating a Legendary Stellenbosch Wine…

It must surely be one of the most captivating stories to emerge from the Cape winelands in the past decade – the resurrection of one of South Africa’s most famous wines, the Cordoba Crescendo Cape Bordeaux Blend originally made famous by talented wine maker Chris Keet in the mid to late 1990s. For many, drinking a bottle of Crescendo 1995 ranked as one of the pinnacles of local fine wine experiences and then all of a sudden… the winery disappeared.

I started filling my cellar in South Africa in the mid to late 1990s and was fortunate enough to purchases a number of cases of the Cordoba Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and of course the Crescendo from vintages in 1995, 1996 and 1997. While I did drink and enjoy a majority of the bottles, a number of them were left to mature in my cellar. I certainly had no idea what became of the famous Helderberg estate and what the reasons were for its demise, but when the Oddo family who also have wine ventures in Sancerre, Provence, and Sicily, purchased the famous winery in 2017 and recruited cellar master Schalk-Willem Joubert of Rupert & Rothschild fame to oversee proceedings, the scene looked set for the resumption of quality winemaking.

The first new 2018 release from the estate was launched in South Africa under the Taaibosch Crescendo label earlier this year. As I understand it, the owners are not in a position to use the original Cordoba name anymore and thus moved to the Taaibosch title. All grapes on the estate were hand-picked and once received in the cellar, the grapes were gently transferred by means of gravity to both stainless steel and cement vessels for fermentation. A period of cold soaking followed which enabled a rich extraction of colour, aromas and flavours. Extended maceration followed at the conclusion of fermentation, which assists in providing the wine with a soft texture, increased colour intensity and complexity.

The soil of the Helderberg region is fertile and mostly homogenous across the region. It consists predominantly of Table Mountain sandstone resting on Cape Granite. The soil has excellent water and nutrient holding capacity and is rich in kaolinite, iron and aluminium oxides, causing the distinct red colour, associated to the region. Taaibosch is situated on a lens of withered Malmesbury shale, setting it apart from the other vineyards in the region. The Crescendo 2018 was matured in a combination of 225 litre oak barrels, 9000 litre Foudre vessels and traditional 4500 litre cement tanks for a period of three years. These different vessels each add their own personality to the finished wine, ranging from fruity characters to subtle wood influences. All these elements were then brought together selectively to form a harmonious blend.

Taaibosch Crescendo 2018, WO Stellenbosch

pH 3.57 | RS 3.7g/l | 13.5% Abv

This wine conforms to the classically defined Crescendo blend (Cheval Blanc inspired) of 65% Cabernet Franc, 30% Merlot and 5% Cabernet Sauvignon harvested from vines of 20 years of age or older. On opening in the early afternoon, the Crescendo 2018 was dense, tight and grippy with mouth coating tannins drying the front and sides of the palate. Nevertheless, the over-riding sensation was one of underlying elegance, purity of fruit and intensity sitting in the clutches of a youthful fist clench. Tasting the wine over the following 4 hours started to reveal its true pedigree which admittedly could easily have been missed on the initial pop and pour prognosis. With a little time to open its shoulders, the aromatics really start to unfurl classic notes of sweet cedary briary spice, saline inky black currant fruits, buttered brown toast, rose oil, dried violets, hints of graphite and led pencil shavings. The palate is decidedly mineral and classical with stony, textured fine grained tannins that are powerful and imposing yet ripe and supple enough to allow the layers of black and red berry fruits to slowly emerge. There is fabulous density, plenty of dry extract and concentration all pointing to a power-packed wine that is built with extended ageing in mind. In many ways, the design and texture of this wine harks back to a bygone era where immediacy and complete accessibility on release were not always the winemaker’s primary objectives. This wine has wonderful gravitas, an individual character and a real palate presence and continues to tantalise the senses right up to the very last sip that is loaded with a lovely broad blood orange acidity and mouth-watering salinity. I feel confident this wine is something really special to bury in your cellar for drinking over a good 15 to 20+ years. An impressive homage to the original Crescendo blends of the late 1990s.

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

Another Vintage and Another Iconic Cabernet Franc Release – Tasting the New Raats Eden Single Vineyard Cabernet Franc 2018…

No two single wines in South Africa signal a higher quality ambition than the production of the Raats Family Wines’ Eden high density red Cabernet Franc and white Chenin Blanc. Coming from a 0.2ha high density vineyard (8,000 vines per hectare) meticulously planned and planted 9 years ago by Bruwer Raats at his Polkadraai property in Stellenbosch, the grapes were fermented in tank and then aged for 9 months in new French oak followed by a further 9 months elevage in older French oak barrels.

Ever since tasting a barrel sample with Bruwer Raats back Cape Town in February 2020, I have been awaiting this impressive new wine release. It is now quite simply the leading single varietal Cabernet Franc in South Africa and continues to gain an obsessive following among collectors and connoisseurs across the globe.

In reality, the only thing holding back its even faster success and popularity is the impossibly tiny quantity of wine produced. One single barrel or 365 bottles. This is a true unicorn wine offering and certainly a fine wine that should find a happy home in any of the greatest wine cellars around the world.

Raats Family Eden High Density Single Vineyard Cabernet Franc 2018, 13% Abv.

The 2018 vintage yielded another impressive expression of Cabernet Franc and who better than Bruwer Raats to perform his own kind of magic and conjure up another enchanting, seductive rendition of this iconic single vineyard wine. The nose is initially discreet and classical, leaning towards a purer, black and blue berry fruit driven expression with delicate floral notes of violets and rosemary with a youthful backing chorus of fresh brown toast, mocha, sweet tobacco, black currant and sappy cedar notes. Medium bodied but fabulously concentrated and intense, this sleek textured wine shows plenty of power with smooth mineral granitic tannins, mouth watering vitality and simply awesome persistence. This has all the finesse and pedigree you could ever want from a benchmark Cabernet Franc. Give this wine 3 to 5 years to mellow and then enjoy over another 10 to 15+.

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

A Decade on From the Iconic 2008 Vintage, Bruwer Raats Releases the Impressive MR de Compostella 2018…

It seems quite fortuitous that the very week Bruwer Raats and Mzokhona Mvemve choose to release their new vintage of MR de Compostella 2018, the most famous and influential wine reviewer in the world, Neal Martin chose their MR de Compostella 2008 as his Vinous Cellar Selection and scored it 96/100, matching the original rating he gave this iconic wine exactly 10 years ago.

I was of course lucky enough to host Bruwer Raats in London in October 2019 when we tasted through the first ever complete vertical of MR vintages from the maiden 2004 until the 2017. Then, when I managed to visit Bruwer at the winery in Feb 2020, long before the pandemic struck, he was already talking about another exceptional vintage that was different to many of the others but was perhaps one that clearly reminded him of the famed 2008 vintage. As it turned out, the 2018 ended up spending approximately 27 months in barrel compared to the usual 22 to 24 months for an MR de Compostella, creating another similarity with the famed 2008 vintage.

Whether this extended ageing enhanced the 2008 or whether it was just an exceptional vintage to start with, what I do see are the clear similarities between the 2018 and the 2008 vintages. This is sure to be a very stable, slow burning vintage and undoubtedly, a release you are going to want to have in your cellar.

MR de Compostella 2018, WO Stellenbosch, 14.5% Abv.

The 2018 MR de Compostella is a blend of 54% Cabernet Franc, 23% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Malbec, 5% Merlot and 3% Petit Verdot. Deep garnet-purple in colour, one sniff of the bouquet reveals another truly towering effort with incredible perfume lift, a complex melange of red and black berry fruits and the most fabulously integrated oaking imaginable. The nose is loaded with black cherry kirsch liquor, black truffle, crushed violets, crème de cassis, mulberries, graphite and freshly tilled earth nuances. Despite an extensive elevage in French oak barriques, the sweet cedary wood spice and vanilla pod notes play very much a subtle supporting role allowing the bold multi-dimensional fruit intensity to take centre stage. While only medium-bodied, the palate is super sleek, laser focused and intense, washing over the senses in energetic waves of saline cassis, black cherries, black plum and baked blueberries. This is classical winemaking at its very best where a harmonious freshness combines with beautifully silky poised tannins to deliver a wine with not only overt mouth-watering appeal but also plenty of latent structural depth. Undoubtedly another individually monumental wine that displays the brilliance of the special Mvemve-Raats winemaking partnership clearly for all to see. Old School and New World all at the same time, this is a wine that will appeal to the classicists as much as to the New World connoisseurs. Drink it on release or bury it in your cellar for 25+ years for further rewards.

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

Chateau Tour Baladoz Produces Another Stand-Out Saint Emilion Grand Cru in 2018…

Château “Valados” first appeared in “Le Producteur” in 1841, and was included in the first edition of “Cocks and Feret” (Bordeaux and its Wines) in 1850 under the name of “Baladoz”. From 1874 to 1922, the estate was known as Château Baladoz until a tower was erected and adopted into the name.

In certain parts, vines are grown at an altitude of up to ninety metres, almost the highest in the appellation, with more vines planted on the clay and limestone plateau that dominates the estate. Originally categorised as between the first and second crus of St Emilion, the estate later settled in the Grand Cru category.

Anthony Crameri from Chateau Tour Baladoz alongside the Chateau’s ancient limestone cliffs.

The property, located in Saint-Laurent-des-Combes, was purchased by Belgian wine trader Emile De Schepper in May 1950 and included 5.56 hectares of vines. The new owner spent his first year renovating the cellars and making improvements to the vineyard. In the early years, the wine was exclusively exported to Belgium, in barrel, where it was bottled in the owner’s cellars in Ghent. The current cellar master and manager is the ultra talented Jean-Michel Garcion, who was appointed in 1992 and now also overseas production at sister estates Chateau La Croizille next door and Chateau Haut Breton Larigaudiere in Margaux.

The 2018 is a blend of Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon.

70% of the Tour Baladoz vineyard is planted on the plateau, with the remaining 30 % situated on the slopes of the valley over deeply submerged rocks. Here, the challenge lies in making a wine that is as mineral as the geological environment in which the vines grow. The soil base varies from pure chalk and marl, which reminiscent of certain terroirs in the Champagne region, to freestone that appears occasionally and is noticed because of the colour variation in the clay. Here, the Merlot grape thrives and comprises 70% of the vineyard planting with Cabernet Franc (20%) and Cabernet Sauvignon (10%) making up the remainder.

Chateau Tour Baladoz 2018 Saint Emilion Grand Cru, 14.5% Abv.

A beautiful vineyard with a few pre-phylloxera vines, a collection of ancient Bordeaux varieties and spectacular limestone caves with vine roots growing through the ceilings. This 2018 is garnet purple and already quite explosive in the glass revealing waves of violets and lilac, black plum, mulberry, salty black currant and buttered brown toast nuances. On the palate it shows an accessible opulence of red and black berry fruits, fine chalky mineral tannins and a steely vein of acidity that guides you to a long, fresh, nervy finish with further notes of vanilla spice, graphite and crème de cassis. A really wonderful, high quality expression of Saint Emilion that will seduce a legion of Bordeaux lovers. Drink now and over the next 10 to 15+ years.

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

Seriously Old Dirt 2019 – Vilafonte Release the Newest Edition of Their Sought-After Second Wine…

The success and popularity of the Seriously Old Dirt label by Vilafonte has undoubtedly been one of the most significant success stories within the South African wine industry over the past 5 years. Just when you thought the global wine market, both locally and internationally, was over traded and over supplied, along comes an incredibly exciting brand that has been crafted with expertise and vision and constructed around the basic principles of accessible structure, youthful intensity and an underlying feel and character of uncompromising quality from premium Stellenbosch and Paarl terroirs.

While the Seriously Old Dirt second wine from premium boutique cellar Vilafonte based in Paarl, can no longer lay claim to only use the off-cuts from its bigger brothers Series M and Series C, the growth in the demand for this label can nevertheless be directly linked to the stylistic precision and expertise honed and perfected within the Vilafonte winery. With unused blending components from the Vilafonte vineyards forming the basic building blocks now joined by additional specially selected premium parcels of Cabernet Sauvignon fruit, the Seriously Old Dirt production has been allowed to grow in order to meet an insatiable demand.

Following on from three drought affected vintages in 2016, 2017 and 2018, the preceding winter to the harvest 2019 had a late start with good rainfall with fluctuating weather conditions resulting in an uneven budbreak. Weather conditions improved at the onset of summer and by November, warmer weather was conducive to healthy vineyard growth.

Malbec grapes being off-loaded at Vilafonte from the 2020 harvest.

As a testament to vineyard resilience, wines from the 2019 vintage from across the Cape winelands show impressive freshness, concentration and elegance but also an underlying minerality and structural classicism. The 2019 Seriously Old Dirt blend was matured for 18 months in older French oak barriques and consists of 86% Cabernet Sauvignon, 6% Malbec, 5% Merlot and 3% Cabernet Franc. The wine is scheduled for a mid-February release date in the home market.

Vilafonte Seriously Old Dirt 2019, WO Western Cape, 13.5% Abv.

This wine casts an attractive plummy purple-black colour and offers up vibrant notes of candied Parma violets, crème de cassis, sun raisined black cherries and hints of blueberry confit with an overlay of graphite and cedar spice. There is a lovely youthful maritime salinity and black liquorice nuance that melts into notes of iodine and Chinese five spice. The palate is medium bodied, fresh and supple but slowly unfurls to reveal a solid frame of creamy mineral tannins, ample Cabernet Sauvignon extract and a long, pleasingly drying grippy structure that is bolstered by salty cassis, taut black orchard fruits, stewed black cherries and hints of complexing bay leaf herbal spice. The 2019 vintage yielded wines with freshness, structural classicism, mineral tension and harmony and this superb new release from Vilafonte speaks honestly of the vintage and continues to fly the flag for premium second wines that offer exceptional quality, value for money and age-ability. Drink this on release with some lovely slow roasted lamb or age for 2 to 3+ years to allow it to open its shoulders further. A great wine for the savvy fine wine drinker.

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