Mvemve Raats is a critically acclaimed collaboration between friends and winemakers Mzokhona Mvemve and Bruwer Raats. Bruwer is of course the owner, winemaker and mastermind behind Raats Family Wines, where he has earned a reputation for producing top notch Chenin Blanc and Cabernet Franc over the past 20+ years.
Mzokhona Mvemve, the first Indaba Scholarship recipient, is a graduate of Stellenbosch University and one of South Africa’s first qualified black oenologists. Together, since the 2004 maiden MR vintage, they have created one of South Africa’s most consistently high scoring premium quality icon Bordeaux blends in the Cape.
Assembling a new vintage of MR de Compostella is a massive feat of precision winemaking, organoleptic assessment and blending to create a wine whose whole is clearly greater than the sum of its parts. It is for this reason that utmost attention is paid to all blending building blocks from all varieties to ensure that the finished wine has the density, intensity, structure and finessed power to age for at least 20, 30 or 40 years in bottle. If these prerequisites cannot be met, the MR wine will not be bottled, like previously in 2010 and 2019, when the wine was declassified into the Raats Family Jasper red blend.
With the 2018 MR receiving the highest of international critical scores yet, and then no 2019 bottled, all eyes were on the 2020 to see what Bruwer and Mzokhona could create using their winemaking magic. With the international global release scheduled for late November, I recently met up with Bruwer Raats to assess the new 2020 edition of this Cape icon Red.
MR de Compostella 2020, WO Stellenbosch, 14.5% Abv.
Never made with exactly the same blend in any two vintages, the 2020 is a classic Cape Bordeaux assemblage of 30% Cabernet Franc, 28% Cabernet Sauvignon, 21% Malbec, 16% Merlot and 5% Petit Verdot with a total production of only 1,000 x 6. The wine displays a real intensity in the glass with a ruby red rim and a red / black plum heart. The aromatics are vibrant and fabulously perfumed, bursting from the glass with expressive notes of red and black berry fruits, black currant, raspberry, red and black cherry, before notes of earthy blueberry emerge with suggestions of pressed violets, lavender, sweet sandalwood, star anise and graphite spice. On the palate, the vintage’s regal elegance emerges with exhilarating acids framing the plush opulent red and back berry fruits, saline cassis, tart red cherry and a blueberry confectionary generosity. Tasting the wine with Bruwer Raats, inevitable comparisons were made to the iconic 2017 MR, with both wines sharing a beautifully bright acid freshness and a weightless concentration of pure berry fruits with only the slightest suggestion of vanilla oak spice. This really is a wine with a mixed palette of colours, flavours and fruits and the most seamlessly elegant, finessed velvety tannins. Following on from the 2018 blockbuster, with no 2019 MR produced, this 2020 is a bold, enchanting, characterful wine full of precision that trumpets the return of this incredible benchmark Cape classic. A breathtaking wine on so many levels. Drink from 2024 to 2045+.
(Wine Safari Score: 98/100 Greg Sherwood MW)