New Release Review – Tasting The Super Premium Kanonkop Black Label Pinotage 2018…

The Kanonkop estate in Stellenbosch is synonymous with not only one of the most premium Cabernet Sauvignon based Bordeaux blends in South Africa, the Paul Sauer, but also the most serious expression of Old Vine Pinotage produced in the country.

This super premium Kanonkop Black Label Pinotage is made from one of the oldest Pinotage vineyards in South Africa planted in 1953 on a site that has over the years continued to produce fruit of specific excellence, deemed special enough to be bottled under its own label.

This new Kanonkop Black Label Pinotage 2018 was matured for 18 months in French oak, of which 100% was new.

Kanonkop Black Label Pinotage 2018, WO Stellenbosch, 14% Abv.

Fantastically dense, brûléed and opulent, this plush textural expression shows complex notes of black plum compote, mulberry, powdered mocha, cinnamon powder and a sweet sappy cedar spice. With the senses reeling, the palate gets assaulted by a plush, fleshy, round weight of black and red berry fruits, spicy brûléed vanilla notes, charred barrel spice and a grippy, youthful tannin on the finish adding a perfect frame and structure for the fruit concentration. Beautifully open and upfront, round and expressive, this wine shows a real accessibility, a soft cool acidity and a perfect amount of grip. Not quite the precision and fresh perfumed purity of the 2017 but certainly not far off. Another very well endowed beauty. Drink from 2022 to 2040+.

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

Tasting the Special Limited Release Salt River Sauvignon Blanc 2020 from Duncan Savage…

Duncan’s previous life at Cape Point Vineyards is certainly well documented, for it was during his tenure there as head winemaker that he pretty much perfected the art of producing iconic Sauvignon Blanc. In 2019 Duncan happened to stumble upon a 32 year old block of bush vine Sauvignon Blanc in Stellenbosch. The elevation, wind and vine age all pointed in the right direction and after a bit of experimentation, the Salt River Sauvignon Blanc label was born.

It seems Duncan fell in love with the wine and vineyard and along with his UK importer Swig Wines, decided to create a new brand and style separate from the rest of the Savage Wines range. Salt River is in the heart of the city of Cape Town, and is of course where Duncan’s trendy urban winery can be found. As Duncan’s UK importer Swig Wines points out, “Salt River is very reminiscent of an edgy Shoreditch in London a few years back.”

Duncan in his Salt River winery in Cape Town’s city centre.

This Sauvignon Blanc was fermented in a combination of stainless steel tanks, concrete eggs and old barrels. The wine spent four months in these vessels before being bottled, followed by a further two months in bottle prior to release. Only 500 cases of this wine were produced.

Savage Salt River Sauvignon Blanc 2020, WO Stellenbosch, 13.5% Abv.

RS 2 g/l | pH 3.3 | TA 6.4 g/l

This has all the hallmarks of an expert Sauvignon Blanc master negotiating the ripeness and pungency of this variety with extreme precision. Beautifully complex and intense, the aromatics show notes of freshly cut fennel, green asparagus, yellow baking apples, waxy lemon peel and hints of fresh wet thatch. On the palate, it’s just as impressive with nervy, pithy yellow grapefruit peel zest, white citrus spice, tangerine and glycerol peach liquor nuances on the saline finish. This is next level Sauvignon Blanc that will appeal to novices and connoisseurs alike. Pop and pour!

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

The Phoenix Rises Once Again – Tasting the New Release Naude Family Wines Grenache 2019 Red…

This is a journey that all started in 2014 with one experimental tank of Grenache from a special 18 year old vineyard parcel in the Agter Paardeberg, that Rosa Kruger had identified for Ian Naude. I just happened to be visiting Ian to taste his new Chenin Blanc and Cinsault vintages in barrel when I noticed this large stainless steel tank fermenting away in the corner of Ian’s cellar. When I enquired what it was and whether I could taste it, Ian suddenly appeared rather nervous and seemed quite reluctant. In the end, I did taste this magical wine that finally blossomed into one of the finest Grenache single varietal wines ever produced in South Africa.

But don’t take my word for it. There have been at least three large blind tastings carried out that I know of where the Naude Family Wines Grenache 2014 trumped the competition, coming out top against some of the finest Grenache examples from not only South Africa but also France and Spain, including twice beating the legendary Chateau Rayas in a blind line up. So the credentials of this vineyard as well as Ian’s winemaking prowess cannot be doubted. But not all stories have a happy ending. After only one vintage, Ian unfortunately lost the contract to the fruit from this vineyard, and with the maiden Naude Grenache 2014 red riding high in the market, no further releases were forthcoming… that is until 2019, when Ian managed to once again agree access to the fruit from this vineyard that was now nearing 24 years old.

In 2019, the Grenache crop was unfortunately one of the smallest ever due to the ongoing effects of a four year drought. Severe weather fluctuations during bud break and flowering also contributed to an already challenging season. There were some small positives however, with the small crop yielding exceptional fruit quality. Ian points out that the winter preceding the 2019 harvest received a high, drought busting rainfall allowing the vineyards and soils to start their long road to recovery after almost half a decade of drought conditions.

With healthy fruit beckoning, Ian consciously wanted to produce a red that moved away from the jammy, heavy, earthy ‘barnyard’ style that Grenache wines so easily orientate towards. After many visits to the vineyard and picking at a ripeness that would make a lighter, more elegant style of Grenache, the grapes were naturally fermented with minimal intervention. A combination of whole bunch, destemmed grapes and stalks where utilised during a natural fermentation in stainless steel tanks. After one or two soft pump-overs per day, the wine was left to settle for two weeks before being pressed and transferred into older 225 litre small French oak barrels where the wine was aged for 12 to 15 months.

Due for general release in mid-December 2020, this wine will almost certainly find an instant fine wine audience not just from those Grenache lovers that were lucky enough to savour Ian’s legendary 2014 release, but also from new consumers who have subsequently got to know Ian through his exceptional Chenin Blanc and white blends as well as his highly lauded Old Vine Cinsaults from Darling. This is yet another tantalising new release from a winemaker that is currently reaching new heights of fame and popularity both at home in South Africa but also internationally.

Naudé Family Wines Grenache 2019, WO Western Cape, 12% Abv.

RS 1.2 g/L | TA 6.1 g/L | pH 3.2 g/L 

There are many wonderful styles of Grenache around but one thing you can be assured of is the “Naude style” will always offer plentiful notes of perfume and fragrance, tart bright lively acids, red earthy fruits, pinpoint precision and above all, pronounced purity. This 2019 is vibrantly youthful allowing the aromatics to sing in unison with complex notes of violets and rose petals, bright red berry fruits and subtle notes of ruby grapefruit and red bramble berry spice. Cool, crystalline and wonderfully pure, the palate is steely and classically focused with a tart tangy acidity, zesty hints of blood orange citrus, cranberry and red plums and a backing mineral undertone of stony grey slate and fine grained gravelly tannins. Comparisons with Ian’s iconic 2014 Grenache expression will be inevitable but in many ways, the 2019 release is more polished, fine boned, focused and self-assured with more of the signature Naudé purity, tautness and light touch intensity in evidence. Once again, this impressive new release ranks amongst the finest single varietal Grenache reds produced in the Cape. Drink on release or age for 10-15+ years.

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

The Fine Wine Safari’s KWV ‘The Mentors’ New Release Range Review…

KWV was founded in 1918, the same year South Africa’s first democratically elected president, Nelson Mandela, was born. In the space of just over a century, the country and its wine industry have seen many changes, and KWV, as the company who united wine farmers during the industry’s fledgling years, is now one of South Africa’s leading international wine brands.

When I was growing up all around the world as the son of a diplomat, the letters K-W-V were enough to lend a massive amount of reassurance and a total stamp of quality. Needless to say, post-1994, the KWV brand was inevitably promoted to great heights in the home market with varying amounts of success. Today, the company produces a very broad array of wines and brands under multiple wine makers with their Mentors range leading the quality charge.

KWV The Mentors Orchestra 2017, WO Western Cape, 14.5% Abv.

This 2017 shows full opulent aromatics with rich notes of blueberry and black berry fruits, creme de cassis and cherry kirsch liquor spice. The palate shows multiple layers of plush black creamy fruits with subtle nuances of liquorice, graphite and a salty bite on the finish. Textural, generously fruity but also displays a classical minerality, muscular tannins and a long expressive finish.

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

KWV The Mentors Pinotage 2018, WO Stellenbosch, 14.5% Abv.

This wine seems to exhibit a more narrow, tightly focused array of aromatics and flavours. The more overt, exotic Pinotage characters seem to have been reigned in somewhat to show much purer black berry fruits, black currant, blueberry with a stony wet river pebble minerality. Sumptuous, plush and textured, given a good decant, this wine becomes very generous, creamy, seamless and approachable. If only they made Pinotage like this in the 1980s and early 1990s, it may have become far more of a signature variety for South Africa.

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

KWV The Mentors Petit Verdot 2018, WO Stellenbosch, 14% Abv.

Rich and savoury on the nose, this expression shows layers of black and blue berry fruits, black olive, black plum and freshly tilled earth. Dense and sleek, the tannins are muscular yet supremely polished lending a full glycerol mouthfeel with all the tell tale glassy, tart crunchy acids of Petit Verdot balanced by ample fruit concentration. Not surprisingly, this wine is profound and intense in its youth but should potentially blossom into something really special with 5-8 years of extra bottle age!

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

KWV The Mentors Canvas 2018, WO Coastal, 14.5% Abv.

This KWV ‘blank canvas’ is decorated with 38% Shiraz, 19% Grenache Noir, 12.5% Petite Syrah, 12.5% Tempranillo, 12% Carignan, 3% Mourvedre and 3% Tannat sourced from Wellington, Paarl, Swartland and Stellenbosch. The aromatics are pure, clean and delicately black fruited with hints of blueberry, sour black plum, cassis and savoury mulberry without any standout aromatic pungency. But on the palate, the wine and its blending really come into their own with an intense concentration, piercing crunchy acids and a cool, seamless, slightly saline tart black berry finish. A complex blend executed with precision. Might be a bit of a fruit salad blend but it is certainly a lot more drinkable than many Cape blends on the market.

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

KWV The Mentors Orchestra 2018, WO Western Cape, 14.5% Abv.

A blend of 33% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Petit Verdot, 11% Cabernet Franc, 10% Merlot, 10% Malbec and 6% Carmenere aged for 18 months in 70% new French oak barrels. The youthful nose displays opulent notes of cocoa and mocha, vanilla spice, black plum, tannery leather, sweet tobacco and floral hints of violets. On the palate, the wine exhibits its more flamboyant style with soft creamy tannins, dense textural black fruits with bright acids, a buttered brown toast complexity and a sleek, harmonious, vibrant black and blue berry fruited finish. This is ready to go now but will improve with 3 to 5+ more years ageing.

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

KWV The Mentors Petite Syrah 2018 Limited Release, WO Paarl, 14.5% Abv.

Another well made wine from KWV and the Mentors range. But this limited release, 1000 bottle Cuvee of Petite Syrah is a little more wild and exotic than some of the more traditional blends in the range. This wine is full of multiple layers of black berry, blueberries and tart sappy plums with a wonderful supportive aromatic floral note of lavender and rose petals and a tease of black pepper spice. The palate is assuredly dense and textured with plenty of zesty acidity, pithy sandy tannins and a spicy but tart leafy finish. Plenty of polished density and opulent fruit intensity make this a very enjoyable glass of red. Drink now and over the next 8 to 10+ years.

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

KWV Abraham Perold Tributum 2015, WO Coastal, 14.5% Abv.

This Perold Cuvee is an exotic Cape blend consisting of Pinotage, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz. As you’d expect from a premium cuvee, it is dense, ripe and punchy with notes of sweet stewed plums, molasses, Christmas cake, tilled earth and earthy red currant notes. This bold density is carried to the palate where the rich, slightly baked plum notes announce their presence and flirt with stewed black currants, winter fruit compote notes and an oak spice finish. Super plush, opulent and generous, this is a very impressive “Cape Blend” in the context of the current market’s offerings.

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

An Iconic White Rioja – Tasting the Current Release Lopez de Heredia Vina Gravonia 2011 Rioja Blanco…

I will never forget my Vina Gravonia vertical tasting evening with Maria-Jose and Jose Luis in November 2018. Beforehand, Jose Luis had apologised that Maria-Jose would unfortunately have to go to Hong Kong and would not be attending the tasting with him. Fair enough, they are one of the most high demand power wine couples in the world. So when the evening eventually arrived, it was an extra wonderful surprise for Maria-Jose to arrive, announcing her schedule had changed. This augured well for an exciting evening.

One of the most interesting points taken from the evening was that Vina Gravonia blanco, while not one of their most expensive wines, is certainly one of their rarest, especially the old vintages, as it is the only wine in the Tondonia range that the estate does not really hold back any archive stock. So for Maria-Jose to taste older back vintage verticals is quite a true rarity.

So her advice was buy all you can and cellar them as they can age equally as well as many Reserva or Gran Reserva whites! After this evening, the Vina Gravonia earned an even more special place in my icon ranks and remains one of my favourite food whites.

Lopez de Heredia Tondonia Vina Gravonia 2011 Rioja Blanco, 12.5% Abv.

This is yet another wonderful Vina Gravonia white Rioja. It just seems this estate can do no wrong. Coming from a warmer year with lower yields, the wine still retains its hallmark freshness, saline dried orange peel zest and an incredibly complex aromatic array of crushed almonds and walnuts, waxy lemon peel, oxidative rancio notes, dusty grey slate minerality, chamomile and a faint kerosene touch. The palate is fairly taut and nutty, showing a fine textural polish, a bitter saline nutty melange, hints of brine, sherry, honey, bruised yellow orchard fruits and a piquant finish of stony bitter orange. Perhaps not quite as intense or piercing as some previous vintage expressions, this 2011 is nevertheless a slightly more serious, austere, mineral driven food focused wine that should continue to develop further mouth-watering complexity over the next 8 to 12+ years. Buy every bottle you can find!

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

Naudé Family Wines Prepares For The Release of One Of Their Boldest Wines Yet – The 84 Year Old Vine ‘La Colline’ Rooigroendruif Franschhoek Semillon Gris…

There are few places more beautiful than an ancient old vine vineyard perched high in the mountains above a beautiful hamlet like Franschhoek. But that’s where you’ll find the magical 84 year old vines that have produced the fruit that made the new release Naudé Family Old Vine Semillon Gris 2019 bottled exclusively in magnum. In fact that’s actually a godsend as the wine is so delicious, at 12% Abv, one regular 75cl bottle will hardly touch sides!

This famous vineyard has over the years supplied fruit to such iconic producers as Alheit Family Wines, Boekenhoutskloof, John Seccombe of Thorne & Daughters and Adam Mason of Raised By Wolves. Now Naudé Family Wines joins this elite club. When chatting to Ian Naudé, he requested that I taste and review the wine over several days. Having done exactly that with incredible results for some of the Leeu Passant old vine reds recently, I had no objections what so ever in doing so. Also, tasting from magnum surely demands it!?

My impressions of this profound wine are captured below over three days of tasting.

Naude Family Wines La Colline Groendruif Semillon Gris 2020, WO Franschhoek, 12% Abv. (Bottled in Magnum)

Day 1…

Rich and fleshy with a broad glycerol weight and textural harmony. Lots of white peach and yellow orchard stone fruits with a spicy, grassy, herby peppery finish. There’s a lot going on here. Certainly a contemplative wine.

Day 2…

The wine seems to have really tightened up to show nervy white citrus, white pepper, liquid minerality, pithy peach stone, lemon iced tea with textural spice, phenolic grip, grape skin tannins and a dry bitter lemon persistence. Lovely wound spring tension with a stony pure focus on the finish.

Day 3…

Super excited to taste this again on day three and see what direction the wine has travelled. The nose is now full of pithy citrus and hints of crunchy green fruits with exotic notes of unripe tangerines and naartjies. The palate remains steely and crisp, bright and super taut with tart green apple, white peach and complexing layers of dried herbs and crushed granite minerality. Piercing and super focused, this is a very serious fine wine expression of majestic old vine Semillon bottled exclusively in magnums. Drink now and over the next 10-15+ years.

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

The Original West Coast Misfit – Tasting Sakkie Mouton’s Full On Misfit Blanc 2020…

Sakkie Mouton has become a bit of a cult figure ever since I reviewed his maiden vintage of Revenge of the Crayfish 2018 back in April 2019. The public response was indeed spectacular with the traffic to my review almost crashing my website on several occasions. But there’s nothing like a big entrance to build the pressure on ones shoulders and to ensure the mind is focused and ready to produce a second edition!

With the 2020 release of the Revenge of the Crayfish Mark 2, Sakkie proved that the 2018 wasn’t a fluke and that he was in control, had a plan, and was here to stay! The Rooigety (red tide) edition 2019 of the Crayfish has and continues to woo customers and critics alike. This lad can just do no wrong. With Chenin, Sakkie understands his local vineyards, his roots, his neighbourhood and what he wants to achieve with his wines.

But of course there is no holding a good man down and new projects and new wines were always on the cards. That brings us to the Full On Misfit Blanc. Off piste and esoteric for sure, it still amazingly captures the “Wes Kus” spirit and style with a glassy crystalline purity, coastal salinity and of course lovely freshness.

This is not a Crayfish style wine, but it deserves equal attention and most definitely a place in your cellar for Christmas!

Sakkie Mouton Family Wines Full On Misfit Blanc 2020, WO Western Cape, 12% Abv.

Ever so slightly eccentric but definitely esoteric, this new white blend from Sakkie Mouton is a bold mix of 56% Chenel (the Chenin Blanc / Ugni Blanc cross), 24% Colombard and 20% Sauvignon Blanc sourced from West Coast vineyards in Vredendal, Lutzville and Koekenaap. Initially on opening, the wine was a little tight and reticent, revealing more of the Colombard’s green apple and cream soda notes. But with a few hours to open up, the wine slowly starts to unfurl a much more animated expression of crunchy white peaches, white pepper, green pears, sea breeze and a subtle chalky minerality. On the palate the wine definitely shifts into fifth gear, revealing a mouth wateringly vibrant tangy acidity, waves of green apple zest, crunchy white peach, fresh pear puree and just the most subtle hint of tangerine peel. The mouthfeel is full, round, glycerol and confident showing an impressively fleshy weight and an appealing crystalline purity with perhaps a very faint grassy complexity on the long, intense finish. The Colombard DNA is clear to see in this wine but the dark horse that is the Chenel certainly marks the wine with its own unique fingerprint. I suspect that as the wine ages in bottle, the Sauvignon Blanc portion will slowly but surely start to assert its premium varietal character with a little more spicey gooseberry, cut grass and picante green citrus. A wine to drink on release but certainly worth hiding a few bottles away for 3 to 5+ years for further interest. A fine addition to the Sakkie Mouton Family Wines portfolio.

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

Ken Forrester’s Stunning Chenin Blanc Threesome Setting a Fine Benchmark For Stellenbosch Producers…

This famous winery is situated on the premium slopes of the Helderberg Mountains in the heart of South Africa’s most famous wine region Stellenbosch. Over the years the range of top quality wines from Ken Forrester has acquired a massive national following along with a bountiful amount of international acclaim with literally hundreds of awards and accolades amassed over time.

Ken Forrester’s philosophy has always been to create a range of handcrafted, individually made wines that suitably complement a wide variety of lifestyles and food styles especially with the restaurant trade being another industry very close to Ken’s own heart.

Ken Forrester with his lovely wife Teresa

The Old Vine Reserve Chenin Blanc 2019 from Ken Forrester Wines is an impressive allrounder that exhibits concentration, intensity and depth. The grapes come from 39-year-old vines which are fermented in both tank and barrels of which approximately 20% were new, followed by a further maturation of circa nine months before bottling.

Ken Forrester Reserve Chenin Blanc 2019, WO Stellenbosch, 13.5 Abv.

This pretty Chenin Blanc shows fabulous tension and minerality from the start with complex aromatics of crunchy white peach, quince, yellow grapefruit and sweet green herbs. The palate is full and dense, tight knit but fresh and admirably chiseled with intense notes of green apple pastille, peach and white citrus. Glycerol and round, this wine shows very impressive purity, balance and focus. A really delicious mouth watering offering. Drink now to 2028+.

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

Ken Forrester’s iconic FMC is widely considered one of the country’s leading examples of old vine Chenin Blanc and is fermented and aged for 12 months in 400 litre French oak barrels creating a profound expression that is wonderfully rich and layered with ripe stone and tropical fruit flavours and just a subtle hint of botrytis on the finish.

Ken Forrester FMC Chenin Blanc 2019, WO Stellenbosch, 13% Abv.

The 2019 FMC Chenin Blanc is yet another monumental effort from Ken Forrester and co. Superbly rich, layered and wonderfully textured, this new release with an exotic RS of 8.9g/l boasts a complex aromatic profile with notes of honeysuckle, white peaches, warm buttered white toast with honey and an exotic hint of wet straw, dried herbs and mint leaf. Considered by many as one of the finest examples of old vine Chenin Blanc in South Africa, year in and year out, the 2019 expression boasts an opulent rich palate layered with hints of botrytis, fleshy textural yellow orchard fruits, intense apricot, nectarine, passion fruit and white peach purée together with a pronounced granitic minerality on the rich, long unctuous finish. Very impressive benchmark quality as you’d expect! Drink now to 2030+

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

The Dirty Little Secret first release made its mark in the premium Chenin Blanc category with its punchy price tag raising a few eyebrows but with its quality ultimately silencing the critics. The second edition changes to a 2016-2017 dual vintage blend made from grapes sourced from a very old dryland vineyard in the Piekenierskloof region planted in 1959. The wine making was handled as gently as possible using 7 x 400 litre barrels with the resulting wine bottled unfiltered and unfined.

Dirty Little Secret Chenin Blanc Two NV, WO Piekenierskloof, 14% Abv.

Not to be confused with the vastly different style of the FMC Chenin with its hints of RS and botrytis exoticism, the Dirty Little Secret is a serious, rich, dry and textural wine with aromatics of toffee apples, apple crumble, baked pears and subtle yeasty, bready nuances. The palate adds further notes of pithy tangerine, yellow peaches, old honey and bruised apples with a well rounded glycerol balance. But impressively, the finish remains taut, tight and mineral with a bright tangy acidity and a peachy, stony finish.

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

A New Californian Icon Estate Launches their Wines in the UK – Tasting the Daou Estate 2017 Cabernet Sauvignon Release…

The greatest challenge any producer in today’s fine wine world can submit themselves to is a comparative tasting pitching their pride and joy against their primary piers. For those participating, it is an announcement of confidence and intent. That is exactly what the brothers George and Daniel Daou (pronounced Dao… like the Portuguese Region) did to pitch their impressive estate to the UK market.

Coming from the Lebanon, the first rockets from the civil war in the 1970s landed in front of their house, leading to the family deciding to flee to France and then to the USA. George and Daniel eventually started a business, Daou Systems, an intranet system for the US health care system and so created the financial means to realised their American dream.

They recently launched their wines in London to a discerning crowd of journalists and aficionados with full confidence, pitching their wines against the world’s very best! Here’s how their wines performed against the competition!

Cyril Henschke 2015, Eden Valley, 14.5% Abv.

Warm broody black fruited nose full of sweet tobacco, tannery leather and stewed black plums. Sleek and polished texture with bright glassy acids, intense concentration yet admirably light on its feet. An ambitious wine that succeeds through superb restraint and balance.

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

Cullen Diana Madeline 2017, Margaret River, 13% Abv.

81% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Merlot, 6% Petit Verdot and 3% Malbec. Cool dusty nose with blueberry and black berry fruits, hints of graphite and a slight leafy, sappy vegetal note. The palate is cool and sleek, ultra restrained and fine with gravel, graphite and wood spice nuances on the long finish.

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

Leoville Lases Cases 2017, Saint Julien, 13.28% Abv.

79% Cabernet Sauvignon, 11% Cabernet Franc and 10% Merlot. Shows beautiful aromatics of blueberry, sweet cedar, aniseed root, cedar spice, hedgerow and a brambly undertone. Dense and compact, the textured layers are folded over one another with seamless transition and a long, dense core of rich, taut black fruit. Very classy, sophisticated showing great potential.

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

Chateau Montrose 2017, St Estephe, 13.5% Abv.

76% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Merlot, 3% Cabernet Franc and 1% Petit Verdot. Dense dark and broody, this is archetypal Montrose with taut layers of creamy black fruits, creme de cassis, black cherry and hoisin plum sauce. Incredible tannins, fabulous blueberry length and a fabulous supple freshness. Very classy but approachable now.

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

Vina Sena 2017, Aconcagua, Chile

52% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Malbec, 15% Carmenere, 10% Cabernet Franc and 8% Petit Verdot aged for 22 months in oak. Rich and lifted, this has a much more intense aromatic overt attack with opulent layers of cassis, salted black currant and an intense finish lined with kelp, blue berry and black cherry.

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

Vina Chadwick 2017, Maipo, 13.5% Abv.

96% Cabernet Sauvignon and 4% Petit Verdot. Deep savoury aromatics revealing forest floor, black currant, blueberry and graphite restraint. Cool and elegantly textured, this must have the most sophisticated palate balance in South America.

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

Opus One 2016, Oakville, Napa Valley

77% Cabnernet Sauvignon, 8% Petit Verdot, 8% Merlot, 5% Cabernet Franc and 2% Malbec aged 18 months in French oak barriques.Sure dense dark and compact, it smells expensive and tastes expensive. Subtle hints of creamy blue and black berry fruits coat the palate and overwhelm the senses. Sublime acids, a subtle mint leaf lift and a long, creamy opulent finish. Serious effort.

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

Daou Soul of a Lion 2017, Paso Robles, Adelaida District, 15% Abv.

Rich dark broody expression with plenty of opulent rich Cabernet fruit characters with notes of sweet black currant, blueberry, vanilla pod spice and a plush long length showing hints of molasses, blackberry compote and an exotic caramelised fig complexity. Multi-layered and textural, this is a serious Californian offering.

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

The Ups and Downs of Great Sauvignon Blanc – Tasting the Thorne & Daughters Snakes & Ladders 2019…

Made from fruit sourced from another Skurfberg vineyard owned by grower Basie van Lill, this Sauvignon Blanc vineyard planted in 1997 used to be sold off to a co-operative winery before John Seccombe secured the fruit for his maiden vintage of the Thorne & Daughters Snakes & Ladders Sauvignon Blanc.

Made from tiny yields of around 2.2 tons per hectare, the grapes were whole bunch pressed and fermented with wild yeast in mix of 225 and 600 litre old oak barrels where the wines remain on their gross lees for 9-10 months before blending and bottling. John Seccombe favours malolactic fermentation over early additions of sulphur dioxide, and the wines only see a first addition of SO2 in the early winter as they look for wines that show tension without losing their suppleness and core, and wines that will reward time in the cellar. The finished wines were bottled unfined.

John Seccombe succinctly sums up… “My natural inclination was to have little interest in working with Sauvignon Blanc, but seeing the vineyard and the soils, I felt compelled to work with it.”

Thorne & Daughters Snakes & Ladders 2019, WO Citrusdal Mountain, 13.5% Abv.

From the first sniff, you know this is something special in the glass showing a beautifully complex nose of lemon grass, lime peel, white citrus and black currant leaf, crunchy white pear and subtle hints of bergamot. The palate is equally unique and utterly mesmerising showing a nervy steely liquid mineral core, oyster shell water and West Coast sea breeze nuances, a grassy sappy textural wood spice intensity and a fabulously tart complex finish with subtle hints of granadilla, naartjie peel and briney rock salt. Not really like any other Sauvignon Blanc on the South African market. Drink now to 2026+.

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

Now distributed in the UK market by Liberty Wines.