The new releases of Kanonkop Paul Sauer and Kanonkop Cabernet Sauvignon are regarded as two of the wine highlights of the year with merchants scurrying around for trade allocations, collectors chasing their merchants for stock and enthusiastic drinkers waiting for the first bottles to hit the retail shelves of their local fine wine shops. While the reputation within the local home market can hardly be higher, internationally, every year sees a new crop of fine wine collectors discovering the exceptional Kanonkop brands and making space in their cellars for these classical age worthy wines. It is no different for the 2019 Paul Sauer new release which has already created a lot of excitement and anticipation in multiple markets.
Winemaker Abrie Beeslaar was recently in London and I had an opportune moment to taste and discuss the new 2019 Paul Sauer release with him. Abrie remembers the vintage being cast in the shadow of the previous years of drought leading to a challenging growing season but one which ultimately yielded a very classically-styled Paul Sauer with plenty of focused refinement.
The cold fronts that arrived during the winter of 2018 were greatly welcomed with spring and early summer temperatures nudging the deep 20°C for a day or three before dropping again. From February 2019 a hot spell settled in but by the time the Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc were ready to harvest, the weather had turned uncharacteristically cool again which helped produce one of the lowest alcohol Paul Sauers in many years. With Kanonkop’s new(ish) optical berry sorter hard at work, only the healthiest berries made it to the concrete fermenters. The Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc components were blended after malolactic fermentation where after the wine was placed in new 225l French oak barrels for 24 months ageing.
Kanonkop Paul Sauer 2019 Cape Bordeaux Blend, WO Simonsberg-Stellenbosch, 13.02% Abv.
3.3G/l RS | 5.8g/l TA | 3.45 pH
This classically styled Paul Sauer 2019 is a blend of 75% Cabernet Sauvignon, 14% Cabernet Franc and 11% Merlot. After noticeably more fruit forward aromatics on the 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018 on release, this 2019 represents somewhat of departure in style with a decidedly tight, broody aromatic profile of inky dark berry fruits, iodine, crushed gravel, Bouquet Garni, dried herbs, sweet clove and graphite before subtle hints of pithy black currant and black cherry join the party and mingle with perfumed notes of pressed violets and lilac. Despite its 24 months in 100% new French Never oak 225 litre barriques, there is only a mere suggestion of wood influence with a beautifully refined cedar spice and unsmoked cigar nuances. On the palate, the results of a cooler and smaller harvest manifest themselves through a distinctly classical Old World restraint, purity, wound spring tension and supremely refined tannins that linger on the palate with seamless precision. As with many longer, cooler Bordeaux vintages, there is more a sense of concentration and power rather than an actual overt textural display, with sinewy black fruits, cocoa powder and earthy, brambly layers concertinaed by lively acids and yet more overt minerality. An impressive creation indeed that will benefit from a good 8 to 10 years in the cellar to fully blossom despite its textural finesse, balance and accessibility.
(Wine Safari Score: 96+/100 Greg Sherwood MW