(2022) From the decomposed granite of the Polkadraai Hills, a cooler pocket that often harvests three weeks later than the rest of Stellenbosch. Vines rise from 200 - 240 metres above sea level and are aged 31 to 33 years old. It spent 18 months in new and used French oak barrels. Somewhere between ruby and crimson in colour, there's lots of ripe, quite buoyant black and red fruit here; not so much cassis as blueberry and sweet plum, a touch of incense-like, floral lift. In the mouth it is dry and savoury, lots of structure here with grippy, sandy tannins and a keen line of acidity, the plummy and dark fruit re-asserting into a long, spicy and savoury finish.
(2022) From the slopes of the Simonsberg Mountain, Blue Lady is a selection of the best Cabernet Sauvignon from French oak barrels (25% new), where it has been aged for 27 months. Super-heavy statement bottle, the colour is a crimson-black. Again there's a ripe, buoyant feel to the fruit here, blueberry and blackcurrant, but a nice floral edge and slightly exotic spiciness. Ripe and mouth-filling fruit, there's a little more flesh and succulence, but again drying, fine tannins push through the finish, the extra year on this 2017 has perhaps helped to smooth the texture and finish, where acid, tannin and fruit are in very nice balance. Powerful.
(2022) Rust en Vrede specialise in Cabernet Sauvignon, which comprises 60% of their Helderberg vineyards. Soils are granite and Table Mountain sandstone. with small deposits of ironstone. The wine was matured in French oak 300-litre barrels (20% new) for 18 months. Quite a vibrant colour, and into the pure cassis fruit, a very nice quality of oak here adding a touch of coffee and cream, but there is a gravelly, lightly ashy quality in there too. On the palate there is a refined, bright edge to this, partly from its very crisp acidity and tight tannins, but the fruit quality and that fine oak quality gives a long, classy finish.
(2022) Also from the decomposed granite slopes of the Helderberg, at 270 to 300 metres above sea level. It aged 26 months in French oak barrels (70% new). Deep crimson edged with ruby, and what an attractive nose, there's an exotic Sandalwood and almost Lily-like touch of florality, over fruit that spans juicy red plum to firmer black fruits. Rounded, sweet and harmonious on the palate, there is loads of spice here, a depth of coffeeish oak, but the supple weight and concentration of fruit plays against crunchy tannins and acidity for a very impressive, powerful, ripe and vivid rendition of Cabernet. Please note price and stockist quoted are for a magnum (1.5l) and an earlier vintage.
(2022) A third wine from the Helderberg, mostly from estate fruit with a little contract fruit in the blend, it spent 19 months in French oak barrels (40% new). A lovely little whiff of peppery herbal character here, before copious black fruit that is firm and savoury, touched by olive and polished wood. In the mouth plenty of blackcurrant and spicy Asian dried plum giving more savouriness. A very firm edge to tannins and acidity on this one, just softened by a little mocha character from the barrel, and a long, fruit-dominated finish.
(2022) From one of the great names of Stellenbosch, and spending eighteen months in French oak (45% new), there's 10% petit verdot in the blend. Filled with mint, cocoa and super-ripe blackcurrant, this is buoyant and crammed with glossy, deep fruit. The palate has that weight and fat of ripeness, sweetness and texture, with a fine backbone of sandy tannin and pert acidity, all layered over polished, cream and high quality oak.
(2022) What a lovely wine is this blend of Bordeaux varieties, aged 12 months in French oak and made in consultation with Pierre Lurton of Château Cheval Blanc. It has a flood of ripe raspberry-like red fruit, bright and touched with garrigue scents, then a palate that is seductively plush and darkly-fruited, the cocoa and tobacco spice of the barrels set against creamy black fruit, but still with that hint of brighter, red fruit freshness. Real polish to the tannins too, in a long and graceful finish.
(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.