Yesterday the 2017 Winemag.co.za Prescient Cabernet Sauvignon Report awards were presented at the colorful The Stack, a well attended function, and offering good lighting for photography. Winemag goes to great lengths to find interesting venues to host its awards. It is the sixth Cabernet Sauvignon Report presented by Winemag.

The Stack offers meals in its restaurant, has a funky bar upstairs and downstairs, and the whole upstairs floor is dedicated to the members’ Club, which can be utilized by its members to meet friends or business associates. The decor was done by Sarah Ord, known for her strong use of colour, and colour combinations. She and husband Nigel Pace own The Stack. The venue is ideal for events. Nigel and I spoke about his new chef, Matt Finch replacing Chef Warwick King temporarily, who departed recently. Nigel and Chef Matt have previously worked together at the Cape Grace, when Nigel was the GM. He told me the good news about a new addition expected for the
family. 

Restaurant Review: The Stack Cape Town’s most exciting interior, food design understated!

We were welcomed with Klein Optenhorst sparkling wine, made by winemaker Pieter Ferreira for Jane Eedes and her family, related to Pieter. It was lovely to see so many familiar winemakers, and their presence signals that their wines had won an award. It was particularly special to see Neil Ellis there, having been my classmate at Huguenot High School in Wellington. We could never have dreamt in our school days that Neil would become one of our country’s most awarded and recognised winemakers. It was his birthday yesterday, as well as that of Jordan winemaker Sjaak Nelson, so we sang to each of the winemakers when they collected their awards. Neil received two awards, making it a special birthday present. Karl Lambour of Tokara, Sjaak Nelson, Johann Jordaan of Spier, Rose Jordaan of Bartinney, and Rianie Strydom of Haskell and making her own wines too, were among the first winemakers to arrive. 

We were welcomed by Winemag Business Manager Jax Lahoud (right), and she encouraged us to help promote South African wines in general, and the winning wines recognized at the awards specifically, by sharing the results on Social Media. She told us that Cabernet Sauvignon is the third most widely planted cultivar in our country, representing 12%. She introduced Craig Mockford, CEO of Prescient, sponsors of the Cabernet Sauvignon (as well as the Chardonnay) Report.  Craig said that his company is proud to be involved in the awards, referring to their sponsorship of the reports about the ‘King and Queen of grapes’.  He told us that Prescient was established almost twenty years ago. It has a global footprint, but is proudly South African, he said. He said that winemaking is like an art, requiring skill, hard work, and perseverance, much like their work in investments. He quoted Ernest Hemingway, who said that ‘my only regret was not drinking enough wine’

Jax introduced her Winemag business partner Christian Eedes, who is its editor, and chaired the judging panel, which also included Roland Peens and James Pietersen, both of Wine Cellar. A total of 65 wines was judged, the winemakers having been invited to submit their wines, and all wines were evaluated blind. A total of 15 out of the 65 wines scored 90 or more points out of 100, and were recognized with an award. 

Christian said that he had been involved in the judging of the Trophy Wine Show recently, giving him an even better feel of the Cabernet Sauvignon category. He said that he has seen many Cabernet Sauvignons released too young, and winemakers flattening out the tannins in their wines. He expressed relief that the wines entered were not guilty of these problems. He described the winning wines as having fruit concentration and structure. He said that a great Cabernet Sauvignon must be age-worthy.

The Cabernet Sauvignon wines which scored 90 points or more out of 100 were the following:

92 points

Neil Ellis Jonkershoek Valley Stellenbosch 2014
Price: Not yet released.

Strydom Rex 2014
Price: R220

91 points
Bartinney 2014
Price: R179 (Rose Jordaan on the right)

Jordan The Long Fuse 2014
Price: R160

Kleine Zalze Family Reserve 2013
Price: R335

Le Riche Reserve 2014
Price: R500

Peter Falke 2013
Price: R140

Rustenberg Peter Barlow 2012
Price: R400

Tokara Reserve Collection 2013
Approximate retail price: R315

Waterford Estate 2014
Price: R295

Warwick Blue Lady 2014
Price: R275

90 points 
Groot Constantia 2015
Price: R201

Neil Ellis Stellenbosch 2014
Price: Not yet released

Spier 21 Gables 2014
Price: R260

Vergelegen V 2012
Price: R1 300

The media release described Cabernet Sauvignon as the ‘world’s best traveled dark-skinned wine grape. In its traditional home of Bordeaux, it is a component of some of the world’s greatest wines and it has been taken up far and wide as producers seek to emulate this‘.  

The canapés served after the award ceremony were very generous, and included Duck bombs (right), beef cubes on rosemary skewers, lamb chops, and delicious crispy polenta chips with a ratatouille dip. 

Prescient Cabernet Sauvignon Report 2017, www.winemag.co.za Twitter: @ChristianEedes @Winemag @jaxlahoud Instagram: @christian.eedes  @jaxlahoud

The Stack, Leinster Hall, 7 Weltevreden Street, Gardens, Cape Town. Tel +27 (21) 286-0187 www.thestack.co.za. Twitter: @The StackCPT Instagram @TheStackCPT. Wednesday – Saturday Lunch and Dinner.

Chris von Ulmenstein, WhaleTales Blog: www.chrisvonulmenstein.com/blog Tel +27 082 55 11 323 Twitter:@Ulmenstein Facebook: click here Instagram: @Chris_Ulmenstein