“Forgive me if I’m excited, but I can’t help it. I want to tell you straight out that South Africa, of all places , is one of the greatest sources for moderately priced cabernet sauvignon on the planet today”. So begins Eric Asimov’s story in praise of this country’s Cabernet Sauvignon wines in the 21 January edition of the New York Times.
Asimov’s verdict resulted from a tasting of 25 South African Cabernet Sauvignon wines, which he generalises as “balanced”, “with a sense of structure and shape”, “with flavours of cassis and violets, cedar and minerals”, “they demonstrated power”, “but also showed finesse”.
Asimov and his tasting panel voted the De Trafford 2004 as the top scorer, followed by the 2004 Rust en Vrede, and the 2003 One Stroke One from Graceland. The remaining top ten Cabernet Sauvignons, as ranked by Asimov, a wine critic not easily pleased, were 2004 Bon Cap, 2004 Thelema, 2004 Neil Ellis, 2004 Bilton, 2005 Waterford, 2005 Alto, and 2005 Stark-Conde Jonkershoek Valley Twin Peak. All but the Bon Cap are from Stellenbosch.
Asimov was less kind to Boekenhoutskloof : ” …the 2006 Boekenhoutskloof cabernet from the Franschhoek region was, at $ 47, the most expensive wine in our tasting. While the winemaker is critically acclaimed, we rejected the wine for its generic vanilla-cherry cheesecake flavours, which I often taste in New World red wines that are intended to please an international audience.”
Wines of South Africa (WOSA) are delighted with the article, and say that it should have a strong impact on marketing South Africa’s relatively unknown wines in the USA.
Asimov is somewhat sceptical about the future of South Africa’s wines. “Yet the track record is slim. We don’t know yet how these wines will age. Many of these producers are too new to have shown consistency over time.” Yet, he says that “South Africa has the potential for greatness. In the snapshot offered by these 25 bottles, we found a region offering wonderful values and lovely wines.”