The tradition in wine tasting circles is to stand when the contents of your glass is older than you. Something I’m doing less and less of these days, but a practise which would have had 22 year old Vergenoegd social media and marketing manager Matt Callcott-Stevens (below, under the horse) standing for most of Friday morning. But fortunately one taster didn’t pitch (rumoured to have been the father of freebees Mr. Min) and so there was one empty riempiestoel in the sacred circle of twelve, assembled like the disciples, to taste 40 vintages of Vergenoegd Cabernets. Foodie sources say marvellous Mr. Min wasn’t at the clashing Du Toitskloof Waterblommetjiebredie tasting in the Boland either, so hedonism’s hacks will be hoping he’s not indisposed.
Was this the best wine tasting ever in SA? Well if not the very best, certainly up there with Duimpie Bayly and his legendary line-up of sixties Pinotages or the house party hosted by Beyers Truter in Onrus to celebarte 350 years of SA wine.
The opportunity to taste forty vintages of Cape Cabernets is not something that drops into your inbox every day and award winning wine writer and “man in the kitchen” Stormin’ Norman McFarlane (below) had bought a velvet jacket specially for the occasion. Although it didn’t have leather “academic” elbow patches (he has one of those at home) so any hack confused with Oscar Wilde would have been Tim James.
Wine of the day was the second bottle of 1982 (my scores and abbreviated tasting notes below), an opinion seconded by Sanlam’s Cabernet guru, Christian Eedes (below, chewing on a bunch of fives and looking pensive).
On the subject of digits, winemaker John Faure (below) had a hand in all the wines – literally – as he lost the tip of his finger in the pump when his dad was making the 1972 vintage. Tim put this down to divine retribution as John was bunking church that Sunday morning, helping dad in the cellar. Although Lucifer got the last laugh as the 1972 was blood red and brilliant.
I asked John why he hadn’t waited a month to host the tasting in September when WOSA fly their fashionable friends to the Cape for that piss up (surely party?, ed.) called Cape Wine 2012. “Most of our sales are local” commented John “so it doesn’t make any sense.” Certainly when the great SA wine drinking public are banned from the private affair on which WOSA is blowing R4.5 million of desperately needed industry marketing moolah. Heck, they even spent R100,000 on the jol last year already, even though they were R2 432 351 overspent! Not only do they struggle to market SA wine, they can’t even balance their R35 million budget. Hopeless!
So the answer to the question, “Are SA Cabernets age-worthy?” will remain pretty much an SA mystery, up there with the location of President Paul Kruger’s millions and who killed Rhodes scholar, Santam employee and National Party election candidate Dr. Robert Smit in Springs in November 1977.
1972 old furniture nose, remarkably fresh and dense flavours, not separated at all, ripe strawberries 17
1973 more austere, minerals, tea and spice, drying out a little 15
1974 barnyardy nose, earthy palate, sweet and tangy red fruit (plums) 17
1975 mushroom nose, some oxidized character 15
1976 pongy nose, some sulphur, eggs 14
1977 clean fruit, light and fresh 16
1978 complex nose, perfumed, elegant, sea shell minerality, tannins appear 18
1979 herbal fynbos, rooibos tea 17
1980 fruit driven, touch of earth 16
1981 marmite, sour cherries 15
1982 superb; fine and elegant cab 19 (second bottle)
1983 vegetal, tropical fruit and mint 15
1984 spicy, minty, rich and ripe 18
1985 coffee and chocolate, light palate 15.5
1986 dense red and black fruit, sweet fruit, rich 17
1987 light, veggie 16
1988 dense flavours, powdery tannins 16.5
1989 spicy oak, still very woody 16.5
1990 fresh red fruit, vibrant acids 17
1991 thinner, more tannic, cold tea 15.5
1992 sweet fruit, tannins, long future ahead 17
1993 meaty, bretty, oops! 14
1994 sweet fruit, blackcurrant pastilles 17
1995 vanilla, light fresh fruit 18.5 john’s best vintage?
1996 finesse and elegansie, tangy fruit 17.5
1997 dense fruitosity, lactic, long lasting 18
1998 lighty fruited , powedery tannins 16
1999 fresh and elegant 18
2000 sweet intense fruit, some baby sick 16
2001 intense, fine red and black fruit 18
2002 tomato paste, lighter and livelier, flavours move from plums to tomatoes 16
2003 big wine spicy palate, savoury, tangy minerality 18
2004 chocolate, coffee, popular commercial style 16
2005 intense tangy red fruit, complex layers of fruit 17
2006 tangy, fresh minerality, salty 16.5
2007 intense, vanilla, back to red plums from tomatoes like Amy Winehouse 18
2008 xmas cake nose, rich and ripe fruit 17
2009 power, oak dominant 18
2010 vanilla, tutti frutti 17
2011 barrel sample: black currant fruit to the fore
Amazing, I had no idea that a vertical tasting like that was possible in SA. Any idea if the estate still offers some of the older vintages for sale?
Mister Min not attending waterblom as he has wet stem.
Hmmm – interesting that you mention brett on the 1993. Nobody else that I saw report on this tasting mentioned anything similar, but then – it is an under-the-carpet-type (or worse: a head-in-the-ground-type) issue… In the last year or so I’ve had two older vintages of Vergenoegd wines on blind tastings where the tasters agreed it was bretty. I also had a current vintage at a wine show that was bretty. This past Saturday at a tasting the issue of bretty wines came up and a fellow taster mentioned that he had to chuck an old Vergenoegd earlier that week because of excessive brett. I’m actually a fan of Vergenoegd’s wines and love that they’re structured differently and age so well, but right now I must confess I’m just a bit less confident of the ones left in my cellar.
Paul. Yes the Estate still offers older vintages, you can find the 98 Cabernet Sauvingon in the Tasting room and at a couple of outlets.
I have a bottle of the 1995 at home so I am really looking forward to opening it!