30 of the 40 top wines - scoring 90-95 points - selected in the 2018 Prescient Cabernet Sauvignon Report comes from Stelllenbosch. According to Stellenbosch Wine Routes manager Elmarie Rabe, this proves Stellenbosch's extraordinary ability to forge outstanding Cabernet quality.
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Cabernet Sauvignon, this most widely planted red wine variety in South Africa, requires the perfect terroir, plenty of sun but with moderate temperatures and well-drained, weathered shale and granite soils. Cabernet Sauvignon is the last variety to ripen in the season and is exposed to all the trials and tribulations of the vintage, so it needs the perfect terroir to perform at the highest level.
Cabernet that is uniquely Stellenbosch
The range of soils, elevation and aspects in and around the Stellenbosch Wine of Origin appellation make it the perfect region for cultivating Cabernet Sauvignon that balances the New World’s generosity of fruit with the elegance of Bordeaux.
“There are two paradigms of Cabernet: there’s Bordeaux, and there’s Napa Valley,” says José Condé, winemaker at Stark-Condé in the picturesque Jonkershoek Valley. “I’d say we sit nicely between the two.”
Previous decades have seen winemakers experiment with both Old and New World approaches to wine-making, but local cellars are today putting their own stamp on Cabernet, imbuing each bottle with a character that is uniquely Stellenbosch.
“You want ripeness without jamminess. Wines that are alive, not dead. Viticulturally, we’ve come a long way,” says Morné Very of Delaire Graff, the Banghoek property owned by international jewellery magnate Laurence Graff. “It’s not like Stellenbosch chose Cabernet… Cabernet chose Stellenbosch. There are many properties here with long track records that need to be respected. It’s clear that Cab is Stellenbosch’s calling card and I think the variety has got a great future,” adds Rabe.
Helderberg Ernie Els Wines (Image Supplied)
The top scoring Stellenbosch Cabs are:
• Neil Ellis Jonkershoek Valley 2015
• Delaire Graff Reserve 2015
• Strydom Rex 2015
• Kleine Zalze Vineyard Selection 2015
• Zorgvliet 2016
• Stellenbosch Reserve Ou Hoofgebou 2016
• Fleur du Cap Unfiltered 2014
• Dombeya Fenix 2014
• Spier Woolworths Private Collection 2015
• Thelema 2014
• Tokara Reserve Collection Stellenbosch 2014
• Warwick The Blue Lady 2015
• Kleine Zalze Family Reserve 2015
• Glenelly Lady May 2012
• Glenelly Lady May 2013
• Le Riche Reserve 2015
• Rust & Vrede Single Vineyard 2015
• Glenelly Glass Collection 2015
• Eikendal 2016
• Stark-Condé Stellenbosch 2015
• Le Riche 2015
• Ernie Els Proprietor’s 2015
• Lanzerac 2015
• Neil Ellis Stellenbosch 2015
• Jordan The Long Fuse 2015
• Waterford 2015
• Bartinney Skyfall 2014
• Rustenberg Peter Barlow 2015
• Rudi Schultz 2015
• Erika O. 2015
“Cabernet Sauvignon is the yardstick by which all wine regions are judged, and over the years Stellenbosch has proven to be the most successful area in South Africa for producing great Cabernet,” concludes Etienne Le Riche, cellar master at Le Riche Wines.
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