I do love a good Cabernet. Actually, I think this is one of the varieties which South Africa does better than most and the best area for us to make it – is Stellenbosch.
Before you all cry out in defence of any other region, I’m not saying it is the only good place to grow Cabernet Sauvignon, but the combination of soils and climate just seems to suit this variety very well here and when that is allied to tradition and investment in wineries and vineyards, it’s a pretty good combination.
So here are 5 wines that I think back up my argument – Stellenbosch Cabs FTW!
Kleine Zalze Cellar Selection Cabernet Sauvignon 2012 R58 from major retailers
This wine comes from 3 different sites within Stellenbosch and then a small amount comes from some old vines on warm, north-facing slopes in Durbanville adding an intriguing complexity and freshness. The Cellar Selection range from KZ is getting a big reputation for over-delivery and this could well be my everyday red of choice this year – big, bold and beautiful black berries- yum!
Warwick First Lady Cabernet Sauvignon 2012 Special Mother’s Day price of R60-65
I’ve been teaching WSET wine courses with this wine for some time so it’s a bit of a favourite. And now that they have a special price in honour of Mother’s Day and Norma Ratcliffe, First Lady of Warwick and one of SA’s first female winemakers, I think I shall have to stock up. Excellent varietal charactaristics – all black fruit, hints of cedary oak and balancing acidity and tannins. It’s still a Mother’s Day present if I buy it myself – right??
Neethlingshof Cabernet Sauvignon 2010 R75 from most big retailers
You don’t see this very often and it’s an interesting twist – 30% of this wine was aged in American oak. Most people seem to prefer the traditional, subtle flavours given by French oak but I rather liked the additional spicy hint and sweet tones the wood adds to the ripe black fruit. Easy-drinking (nice, low 12.5% abv) and very enjoyable.
Simonsig Labyrinth Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 R80 from selected outlets
Named after the maze of vines planted in a circular shape, this comes from the really rather tasty 2009 vintage which is beginning to show some lovely reds to go along with the whites we all lauded a couple of years ago. This is an excellent and affordable example of a Stellenbosch Cab with a hint of earthiness, sweetly-fruited black currants and berries and elegant tannins.
Uitkyk Carlonet 2010 R96 from most big retailers
More interesting twists here – not only has this got some American and some Hungarian oak on it, but a portion of the fruit came from dry-farmed bushvines – a phrase most commonly heard about Shiraz, not Cab! But winemaker Estelle Lourens is definitely hitting her stride at this venerable estate and her confidence is helping her make some lovely wines. Dense dark berries, hint of chocolate and spice.
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