(2021) From a vineyard planted between 1998 and 2000 and a vintage with a cool summer and very little rain, this is 100% Merlot, naturally fermented and matured for 18 months in French oak barrels, 30% of which were new. A bold, youthful ruby- to crimson, the nose is a little earthy and gamy, lightly spiced, the fruit savoury with some tobacco notes. In the mouth there's a real creaminess to the texture, but its a Merlot with some seriousness and substance. Yes, there is a sweet edge to the fruit, plums and tart black berries, but the chocolaty density of tannins and the good cherry-skin acidity gives gastronomic juiciness.
(2021) A Cape blend, majority Pinotage (70%) with 23% Cabernet Sauvignon and 7% Merlot aged 15 months in 80% French and 20% American white oak, 48% of which was new. Rich ruby in colour, there is some nice softening development here in a five-year-old wine, and though there is plenty of custardy oak on show, there's a nice depth of black fruit too, with some spice and tobacco. Nicely mature palate, that for me straddles Bordeaux and Rhône in character and flavour, with plenty of black fruit, some meatiness and a nice balance of pepperiness, smooth, chocolaty tannins and cherry acidity. Drinking really nicely.
(2021) From a very good vintage, berries are hand-sorted and, after fermentation, racked to French oak barrels (45% new) for 18 months. The nose is gorgeous, hinting at mint but suffused with crushed red and black fruits, and so elegantly touched by graphite and Sandalwood, also touches of kirsch and bright cassis, even moving into Parma violet. The palate is pure silk, glossy and ripe, with concentrated black fruit and again that elegance, not just the cedary touches, but huge juiciness to the acids and a real lick of salty minerality. Long and fabulous wine, delivering loads of bangs per buck. Will cellar for a decade surely.
(2019) Love the name of this, the 'Three Halves' being Mourvèdre with 'a splash' of Shiraz and Grenache, "the total being greater than the sum of the parts." A cellar-door release, so not available in the UK currently, this was also the first vintage which Ken kindly opened for me. Aged in second fill French oak barrels for 18 months, it begins to show some lovely tertiary development, a bit of bloodiness and meatiness, pepper and smokiness, a dense and chewy suggestion to the fruit, though through to the palate the fruit has a hint of cranberry and dry redcurrant that gives the wine a fresh edge, good acids and fairly gentle tannins that give this great drinkability.
The Anwilka esate is actually in Stellenbosch, once a separate property before merging with Klein Constantia. This is 52% Syrah, 37% Cabernet Sauvignon and 11% Petit Verdot. Much more minty ripeness, chocolate and mulberry than the Estate Red, a depth of blue-black fruit. The palate has a lot more fruit sweetness too, nicely textured and not heavy or extracted, but full and ripe. Tannins are very smooth and taut, cherry skin dry acids give it a long finish.
(2019) French oak for 18 months, some new barrels. Pure and quite silky blue-black fruit. A touch of aromatic tobacco and loads of spice. The palate has lots of juicy, savoury black fruit, loads of peppery spice and a twist of bitter endive to sharpen it up. Becomes a little rounded with the barrel and spices.
(2019) This spends 20 months in oak, French and American. Bright red fruit with a touch of cool-climate rhubarb and pepper, bright red berries. Just a touch of creaminess from understated oak. Fresh, creamy and bright cherry fruit, lovely floating floral top notes, with a juiciness and good length. A lovely Syrah, on the brighter and cooler side, and in a European style. Price and stockist for a previous vintage at time of review.
(2019) Aged in 10% new Alliers oak, the rest is older oak. Lovely bright fruit character, but also a green, olive and herb-tinged note, definite sense of cool climate/less ripe character. There is some grippy, stony, gravel on the palate, a taut stripe of tannin and bold, pure acidity. A meatiness develops, gives that stalky green nip to the bold black fruit. Very very juicy, and long. Tight, polished tannin finish. One for the future for sure, but 93 provisionally.
(2019) This has 8% Cabernet Franc and 7% Petit Verdot in the blend, matured 17 months in Nevers oak, 65% new. Cool on the nose, but coffee and roasted herbs, a meatiness too, not fruit-led, but there is good black fruit in the mix. The palate has a firm, structured palate, savoury and a bit reserved, but that gives energy and a bit of tannic bite and firmness.
(2019) From two vineyards, the wine on which they made their reputation before the Rubicon cuvée came along. Cedar and sandalwood fragrance, a touch of herbal, olive and leafy herb note, but the clean, firm blackcurrant fruit is lovely. Savoury and juicy, there’s a bit of tart plum skins and liquorice. Dark and dramatic, but the fruit does become quite plush before the acid and taut, polished but grippy tannins push through. Drinking really nicely, and has good light and shade.