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Stellenbosch the custodian of world-class Cabernet

SA’s historic wine route rules 2018 Prescient Cabernet Sauvignon Report

When it comes to world-class Cabernet Sauvignon, Stellenbosch has it all. Its unique combination of soils, sites and skilled winemakers was yet again attested in the 2018 Prescient Cabernet Sauvignon Report, with 30 of the 40 top wines selected, hailing from this historic wine-growing region.

“We are so proud that so many renditions of the Stellenbosch district made it into the top 40 wines that scored 90-95 points. It proofs yet again that Stellenbosch has the extraordinary ability to forge outstanding Cabernet quality. Renewed focus and excitement around this king of wine varietals confirms our tenacity, provenance, legacy and exceptional track record” shares Stellenbosch Wine Routes manager Elmarie Rabe.

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. And Stellenbosch ticks all of these boxes.

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.
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.

The top scoring Stellenbosch Cabs worthy of your #CaberMay wine collection 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.

To keep up with the latest from the King of Cab, follow @StellWineRoute or visit www.wineroute.co.za. Also join and explore the online conversation @StellenboschCab.