TN: Paul Sauer 1997 (South African premium Cabernet blend), Kanonkop

Good morning,

I’m not a big drinker of Internationally-styled Cabernet-blends. Some recent experience with older Paul Sauer wines (a premium South African example) has been most instructive. If you know Neal Martin, he just gave the 2015 100 points in the periodical he now works for - thus making it too expensive for me to buy a load!

Paul Sauer 1997, Kanonkop
Now this smells like what you want twenty-plus year old Claret to smell like. Yes, it has all that cigar box, cedar wood, all that stuff, but it does not smell dusty or thin, it smells like you are going to have a good time with it.

Indeed, there is something of the somewhat voluptuous tart, wearing a heady 80s perfume and very strappy lingerie about it. She is a tiny bit sweaty in that get up. And in anticipation.

There is really good, and I mean really good crème de cassis fruit, rich and luxuriant. You also get a hint of the Merlot in it – big, ripe Victoria plums that have softened and intensified with age. This smells so good!

It does smell like Claret, but it is super-charged, super-fun first-growth Claret. The nearest approximation I can come up with is terms of the hedonism-level of the nose is La Mission Haut-Brion ‘75, only younger and with bigger tits. Lovely stuff.

The palate is a little more restrained. Handcuffs, probably. It does show elegance in its tannic structure and acidity, but they too give you a nod and a wink. There is not a hint of it being dried out and dusty, it is not lean and thin, this is a structure that is alive with procreative life.

The ripe, but maturing, fruit is kept perky by good acidity and I love the way it intertwines with the lovely structure. It creates a seamless, full-bodies palate that is just totally delicious. I bet if I tried this on release I would have thought, “Yawn, international Cabernet blends, let us drink up and walk out!”, but this has aged into a truly delicious, seductive, classy and god-damned stylish wine.

It has a great, persistent finish of fruit and mouthcoatingly rich tannins. It is in no way over-blown or heavy, but silken and svelte. Totally, totally delicious, a Cabernet blend from cloud nine.

That is not all. This wine is lovely and mature, but there is not a hint of tiredness or dustiness about it. It fills your mouth with pulsing life. If you have some of this in your cellar, firstly you are a very sensible person. Secondly, you have no need to run for the corkscrew for many a year yet…

This makes me want to revisit some of the huge Cabernet blends I used to like on release when I was a university student, but thought were too massive to age. Ideally they will have some Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot in them, but I feel some of those apparently short-lived monsters might make my old age full of saucy goodness.


Sorry I haven’t posted anything for a while. Unfortunately, I’ve been rather ill (in a :crazy_face: sense, alas), and the few notes I’ve written have been below par for Wine Berserkers.


Glad to see you around Davy!

Thank you, D@vid. You have lovely pussy cats. Also you’ve posted an incredible number of times! I’m impressed!


Loved this tasting note! Thanks for the laugh!


Pleased you enjoyed the note. I hope I was enthusiastic enough to make it clear you’d enjoy the wine even more! Since I had this wine I’ve tried a 2014 Paul Sauer and it was absolutely all over the place. I hope my tasting abilities are accurate enough to judge that it’ll end up being completely brilliant in a decade or so and so I won’t have wasted the money I spent getting three more bottles! I do think the 2014 will resolve and so it is worth picking some up before the 100-point rating the 2015 received starts price increases filtering down from the enthusiastic level that vintage has achieved - but you must wait before drinking! Wait, I say!!


Had the 2000 Paul Sauer just a few months ago and it was singing, very much along the same lines as your note. Really fantastic stuff, and with plenty ahead of it, too.

Ben, quite delicious, aren’t they? They’ve made me believe in international-styled Cabernet blends in a way I never did before!


Your countryman, Tim Atkin, bestowed the triple-digits!

Been a long time since I have had this wine. Sounds like it’s worth circling back.



This is the beauty of South African cabernet and blends, at their best. Old world complexity, married with new world fruit.

By “new world fruit,” I don’t mean like Quilceda Creek or Lewis, but with the kind of fruit you might find in Dunn, Mount Eden, Ridge, and wines like that.

At a low price point and easy availability, Rustenberg John X Merriman is a wine like this. Like a ripe (but not modern / spoofed) Bordeaux.