Two older vintages of what is now known as “Field Blend” from Beyerskloof in Stellenbosch, these made by winemaking “ledge” Beyers Truter. As a general observation, both quite “dikvoet” – I used to think this was pinnacle stuff but we’ve come a long way…
1998 was generally considered good for Stellenbosch reds, a “hot” year producing full bodied, tannic reds supposedly built for ageing. 1999, meanwhile, was another warm year but the conventional wisdom would be that these wines would be ready much sooner.
Beyerskloof 1998 features 71% Cabernet Sauvignon and 29% Merlot (according to the back label). Although only 13% alcohol by volume, I have to say I found it very big and burly. Black fruit plus some malty, earthy notes. Sweet upfront, extracted but not too much so, a touch short of freshness. Not crude but not showing great finesse either.
Beryerskloof 1999 is from 100% Cabernet Sauvignon and ostensibly riper ( 14% abv). As so often in the South African context, a “lesser” vintage seems to have yielded a more convincing wine – weight and power less of an issue, some red fruit as well as black, attractive herbal fragrance, tannins much finer. Perhaps a tiny bit more advanced but equally less monolithic.