South African Cabs really a contender?

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YLee
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South African Cabs really a contender?

#1 Post by YLee » August 13th, 2019, 10:53 am

https://www.winemag.com/2019/08/12/next ... th-africa/

Are their cab wines really worth seeking out?
Speaking honestly I never tried it and always laughed at even the thought of buying one. Has time changed?
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Re: South African Cabs really a contender?

#2 Post by Keith A k e r s » August 13th, 2019, 11:09 am

not just their cabs, but a lot of South African wines overall have been really impressing me over the past year. Even better, is that if one is to spend like $40-50 they are effectively buying the top end of South African wine. If you keep an open mind, you may be more than pleasantly surprised by the quality coming from RSA
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Re: South African Cabs really a contender?

#3 Post by Todd F r e n c h » August 13th, 2019, 11:09 am

I think it's very possible, though it will take some time. I've had great cabs from South Africa, and they are a huge value. Once it gets popular, though, there goes the value
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Re: South African Cabs really a contender?

#4 Post by Ron Slye » August 13th, 2019, 11:33 am

shhhhh

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Re: South African Cabs really a contender?

#5 Post by GregT » August 13th, 2019, 1:08 pm

Since the end of apartheid the wines have become better every year. Shockingly better. And don't overlook Syrah. May be better than the Cab blends.

There's even some good Pinotage, of all things.

And Chenin Blanc of course.
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Re: South African Cabs really a contender?

#6 Post by Hank Victor » August 13th, 2019, 1:20 pm

GregT wrote:
August 13th, 2019, 1:08 pm
Since the end of apartheid the wines have become better every year. Shockingly better. And don't overlook Syrah. May be better than the Cab blends.

There's even some good Pinotage, of all things.

And Chenin Blanc of course.
Some killer Syrah is coming out of SA. Bellinghams Bernard Series SMV is such a great wine.
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Re: South African Cabs really a contender?

#7 Post by Ron Slye » August 13th, 2019, 1:27 pm

Yes on all of the above. I will say that I have some Cabs from the 1990s that are really singing right now. I think in the early 2000s they may have been caught by the Parker bug -- but like most places I think they have swung away from that. My experience is that for the money these wines are some of the best produced. If you are in SA the wines are so much cheaper that it barely makes sense to drink anything else. I remember in the 1990s (when admittedly there was less foreign wine in the local SA market), that you could not find a wine that cost more than the equivalent of $15 -- except for the basic Mondavi bulk wine, which was selling for 40. Yes, over twice as much as the best local wine. Now the wines are a bit pricier -- I don't think they are overpriced, I just don't think they are the amazing value they used to be -- unless you are in SA itself.

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Re: South African Cabs really a contender?

#8 Post by John Morris » August 13th, 2019, 1:32 pm

Keith A k e r s wrote:
August 13th, 2019, 11:09 am
not just their cabs, but a lot of South African wines overall have been really impressing me over the past year. Even better, is that if one is to spend like $40-50 they are effectively buying the top end of South African wine. If you keep an open mind, you may be more than pleasantly surprised by the quality coming from RSA
Yes, there's a lot of exciting wine coming out of SA. As someone who generally leans toward European over New World wines, I've found the best SA wines more to my liking than most New World bottles. That's painting with a broad brush, I know, but for value and balance in a New World wine, I think SA is hard to beat.

I don't have much experience with SA cabs, but a Warwick cab I had ~10 years ago showed very well with 10 years or so of age.
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Re: South African Cabs really a contender?

#9 Post by theocorrel » August 13th, 2019, 2:09 pm

I tasted there in the mid 1980s and it was impressive then. I remember it for white wines, though. What varietals, white and red, are being produced now that are considered very good? (And is the red just a cab, or are there Bordeaux blends considered strong?) It is a very beautiful area.

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Re: South African Cabs really a contender?

#10 Post by Nate Simon » August 13th, 2019, 2:13 pm

Glenelly can stand in with top-rank BDX.

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Re: South African Cabs really a contender?

#11 Post by Ron Slye » August 13th, 2019, 2:18 pm

There are some lovely red Bdx blends. I am a bit out of the scene now, but Warwick as mentioned by John makes some good ones. Vergegelen. Some excellent syrahs -- some are too new worldy for me, but some are lovely. The whites are fantastic -- particularly semillon, chenin, and sauv blanc. Cape Point is worth seeking out. Also Warwick. Another good red to seek is Sutherland, and Thelema. But there are so many now. I am sure there are many others as good or better than what I just mentioned here.

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Re: South African Cabs really a contender?

#12 Post by YLee » August 13th, 2019, 2:23 pm

I am intrigued in trying some now. I will most likely start with Pinotage.
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Re: South African Cabs really a contender?

#13 Post by Ron Slye » August 13th, 2019, 2:25 pm

Pinotage is a tough one. Some of them are excellent. But some are pretty pedestrian. Kanonkop is supposed to make a very good one -- they also do good Bdx blends.

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Re: South African Cabs really a contender?

#14 Post by Chris Seiber » August 13th, 2019, 2:26 pm

Good examples of SA BDX wines have old world character and complexity, but with some more generosity of fruit, and often far cheaper than comparable wines from France and the uSA.

Rustenberg John X Merriman is a huge overachiever in this category.

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Re: South African Cabs really a contender?

#15 Post by julianseersmartin » August 13th, 2019, 2:37 pm

Pinotage is the last place to start. It's an intensely divisive varietal that many people really do not like, and it's not a quality issue IMO.

In answer to the general question, yes SA is producing some top class wine, and has long been a source of great value BDX blends. Chenin and increasingly Chardonnay can be excellent, too.

There are plenty of producers making world class Syrah, too. Porseleinberg for example. Mullineux have long been doing their thing very well, and then many others across the varietal spectrum like Eben Sadie, David Sadie, Boekenhoutskloof, Meerlust, Migliarina, Newton Johnson, Rustenberg, Vergelegen, Foundry, Elgin...the list goes on, and these days it's a very long list.

The Platter awards are one of the few in the world that are really quite reliable, if you need more inspiration.

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Re: South African Cabs really a contender?

#16 Post by John Morris » August 13th, 2019, 3:43 pm

Apropos of this topic, I see an old thread on Hamilton Russell's pinots and chardonnays has come back to life. The winery has a good, long track record of making excellent, balanced wines.
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Re: South African Cabs really a contender?

#17 Post by EHeffner » August 13th, 2019, 4:45 pm

Visited SA almost two years ago for our honeymoon and we fell in love with Meerlust Rubicon, the 2010 specifically. So great that TW always has some in stock. Popped open a 2010 for our 1st Anniversary.
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Re: South African Cabs really a contender?

#18 Post by Peter Kleban » August 13th, 2019, 5:29 pm

I really liked these (see CT for TNs)

2003 Reyneke Shiraz Reserve

2011 Tokara Director's Reserve

also very good
2007 Kanonkop Estate Wine Pinotage
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Re: South African Cabs really a contender?

#19 Post by Keith A k e r s » August 13th, 2019, 5:29 pm

YLee wrote:
August 13th, 2019, 2:23 pm
I am intrigued in trying some now. I will most likely start with Pinotage.


yea, you probably shouldn't start there. Starting with good bordeaux blends from Stellenbosch, rhone varietal wines from Swartland, or Kershaw from Elgin would all be much better than Pinotage.

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Re: South African Cabs really a contender?

#20 Post by Casey Hartlip » August 13th, 2019, 5:40 pm

Visited 3 different times from '98 to '02. My buddy who lives in RSA worked in the biz years ago. (He is now a safari operator/tour director). With his connections we visited numerous smaller producers (I kept no notes) and had lots of fun. I was super impressed with so many dry white blends with Combard/Chenin/SB. Will agree that many of the syrahs were stellar.
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Re: South African Cabs really a contender?

#21 Post by John Z. » August 14th, 2019, 5:01 am

Vilafonte in Paarl. The series M and series C are both very good contenders in my opinion. The M being more right bank/merlot heavy and the C more Cabernet in a Bordeaux sense.
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Re: South African Cabs really a contender?

#22 Post by David_K » August 14th, 2019, 6:39 am

Many good wines. But it's very hard to find the best stuff here in the States.
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Re: South African Cabs really a contender?

#23 Post by Jeff_M. » August 14th, 2019, 7:45 am

I'd love to go visit and spend a couple of days tasting. I would concur that its likely hard to find some of the better wines from there here in the US.
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Re: South African Cabs really a contender?

#24 Post by Keith A k e r s » August 14th, 2019, 8:46 am

David_K wrote:
August 14th, 2019, 6:39 am
Many good wines. But it's very hard to find the best stuff here in the States.
The key is the importers. Take a look on Blue Crane Imports website and hopefully they work in your state. They do a great job bringing in really good stuff

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Re: South African Cabs really a contender?

#25 Post by Ron Slye » August 14th, 2019, 8:58 am

Oh thanks for the tip about Blue Crane! I had not head of them. They carry Cape Point, which are making really great whites. I had heard about Kershaw but have not tried his wines yet,

Another option -- though a bit trickier -- is to buy directly from SA and have the wines shipped here. I have done that through both wineries and a retail store that I used to frequent. The trick is to have it delivered to your local airport and have you go there and get it through customs. A bit of a pain, but that option is about half cheaper than having it delivered directly to your door. It only makes sense for wines that are hard or impossible to find here, as the markup with shipping tends to remove the advantage of local pricing.

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Re: South African Cabs really a contender?

#26 Post by YLee » August 14th, 2019, 10:20 am

Whats the reason behind not starting wines from S. Africa with Pinotage?
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Re: South African Cabs really a contender?

#27 Post by PeterH » August 14th, 2019, 10:44 am

YLee wrote:
August 14th, 2019, 10:20 am
Whats the reason behind not starting wines from S. Africa with Pinotage?
Start there, and you might not get any farther. More than half the Pinotage I've tasted was undrinkable, and the rest I would never buy. Usually in discussions on Pinotage, someone will point out good ones they have tried. In general, sentiment is overwhelmingly negative.

A number of the Cabs I've had are good to excellent, but as yet not great. It is had to pick unknown wines off a shelf with names like Boekenhoutskloof, Mr Mvemve Raats, or Rust En Vrede. Even harder to tell your friends about them. Ernie Els is a well known guy, so probably easier.

The best bargains from South Africa are Chenin Blanc, and to a lesser extent Sauvignon Blanc.
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Re: South African Cabs really a contender?

#28 Post by Ron Slye » August 14th, 2019, 10:56 am

I think Pinotage is an interesting grape, but it can vary enormously in quality -- and it is a different taste profile. It would be like someone trying Petite Sirah to see if they like California wine (or even Zinfandel, which I generally don't like). Or if you tried Jura wines to see if you liked French wines.

But by all means try Pinotage. It is an interesting and challenging grape, with a bit of an acquired taste. You may like it, or come across some of the good ones. But if you don't like it, don't conclude that you don't like SA wines. And since your OP was on Cabs, I would definitely try some of the Cabs I and others have recommended above.

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Re: South African Cabs really a contender?

#29 Post by Paul R. » August 14th, 2019, 11:02 am

+1 on Vergelegen, V is not cheap but a fantastic wine. Also, Thelema, the Rabelais, is fantastic and $50 if you can find it. De Trafford 393 also good, De Toren Fusion V (last vintage was a little oaky, others haven't been as bad).

I have had the syrahs and they are good but I still think I like Rhone better and some of the syrahs are expensive. Sadie for example.

I feel like there is a lot of value in the Bordeaux varietal wines, they can be difficult to locate though. Haven't ordered from Cape Ardor, but they look to have a good portfolio.
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Re: South African Cabs really a contender?

#30 Post by YLee » August 14th, 2019, 11:15 am

So many great suggestions and informations thrown out here. I wont start with pinotage as people suggested. Maybe a cab or chenin blanc?
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Re: South African Cabs really a contender?

#31 Post by Paul R. » August 14th, 2019, 11:19 am

Agree, cab blend or chenin.

Klein Constantia Vin de Constance is a very good sweet wine.
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Re: South African Cabs really a contender?

#32 Post by Ron Slye » August 14th, 2019, 1:06 pm

Where are you located Ylee -- if near Seattle, I am happy to open some older SA Cab blends........

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Re: South African Cabs really a contender?

#33 Post by YLee » August 14th, 2019, 1:10 pm

Ron Slye wrote:
August 14th, 2019, 1:06 pm
Where are you located Ylee -- if near Seattle, I am happy to open some older SA Cab blends........
That's very nice of you unfortunately I'm in New York. Raincheck? [thumbs-up.gif]
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Re: South African Cabs really a contender?

#34 Post by Ron Slye » August 14th, 2019, 3:03 pm

Lol -- sure! I grew up in NY -- miss it. Though Seattle is pretty amazing too!

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Re: South African Cabs really a contender?

#35 Post by Kris Patten » August 15th, 2019, 7:37 am

Raats Cabernet Franc is an underappreciated wine. Lives in the old world, classic style.
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Re: South African Cabs really a contender?

#36 Post by Keith A k e r s » August 15th, 2019, 9:59 am

Kris Patten wrote:
August 15th, 2019, 7:37 am
Raats Cabernet Franc is an underappreciated wine. Lives in the old world, classic style.
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Re: South African Cabs really a contender?

#37 Post by Brandon J. » August 15th, 2019, 6:45 pm

For me personally, they are absolutely worth it and their QPR is FAR better.

Personally, I think paying for Napa/Washington cab and in many cases BDX is not worth it. Forking over $100+ boggles my mind when there's such strong values elsewhere.

As others have mentioned, your dollar goes a long way. Paying $30 gets you a quality wine that'd go for $60-$100 in Napa. Pay $60 and you get a $100+ cab equivalent in Napa. I've had the best luck in the moderate price point, but I just don't spend top dollar on cabernet in the first place.
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Re: South African Cabs really a contender?

#38 Post by Peter Petersen » August 15th, 2019, 7:05 pm

I've had very good ones and also many that had a little too much extra brett or other nastiness in them to be pleasant. Even had a tiff with Neal Martin over this.
My go to Bdx Cab blends at good prices still come from Margaret River (AU) as it is hard to pay more than $40 for even the best bottles. While fruity when young they have nowhere the richness of CA wines as they generally have medium bodied palates even in their youth. That said, I should not bring them in to any discussion for fear that people might buy them!

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Re: South African Cabs really a contender?

#39 Post by Randy Bowman » August 15th, 2019, 8:07 pm

As a retailer, few people seek or consider SA wines here in Napa. If you mention the name of well known winemaker being involved you might get some interest. We bought some Cabs, Pinotage and red blends that were great. They languished in the store for years, purchased occasionally by those who were familiar with the wine and/or we enjoyed the rest of them. A couple of the Cabs were purchased by regulars for blind tastings. Apparently they didn't score well enough to entice the attendees to purchase any here at the store. There was a day when people asked if WA Cabs were contenders. They were outstanding QPRs for the most part and a few became hard to get. SA has wines that are contenders. They just aren't receiving the accolades that are due or not distributed properly.
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Re: South African Cabs really a contender?

#40 Post by Keith A k e r s » August 15th, 2019, 8:28 pm

Randy Bowman wrote:
August 15th, 2019, 8:07 pm
. They just aren't receiving the accolades that are due or not distributed properly.
Spot on! I think for those that have tasted the wines, we know what is there. But, the problem always lies in attempting to sell the wines.

Tbh, your experience isn’t all that too far from mine and we are in quite different markets. I would imagine that it can be tougher than selling non-Napa wines for you, but the overall experience isn’t too different.

To end my ramble, for this forum, give the country a proper chance. I think people would be quite happy with the end result given similar price points.

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