Edgebaston GS Cabernet Sauvignon 2008

Not for the faint-hearted.

As featured in the May issue of Business Day WANTED: “The G.S. Cabernet Sauvignon is made in honour of George Spies and his legendary wines from the 1966 and 1968 vintage,” reads the back label of the Edgebaston GS Cabernet Sauvignon 2008. Spies was winemaker at what was then Stellenbosch Farmers Winery and his wines really are benchmark stuff, the few  remaining bottles shown these days to demonstrate that South Africa really is capable of classic wine.

David Finlayson, previously of Glen Carlou and now owner of Edgebaston in Stellenbosch was inspired by these wines to create his own top-end Cabernet Sauvignon and hence the GS. The 2008 is from the eight best rows of the variety on the property and spent 24 months in French oak, 100% new. “There’s not much technical about it,” say Finlayson. It shows dark fruit and attractive toasty oak on the nose while the palate is marked by huge concentration and smooth texture. Rich and powerful, it nevertheless remains balanced and is some six to eight years off drinking at its best. Price per bottle: R350. Tel 083 263 4353, david@edgebaston.co.za

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5 Comments

  1. KwispedoorJune 2, 2011 at 8:55 amReply

    Thanks, Chris – I saw it. If it keeps well for 50 years, it’ll make an old man happy (or his friends at his funeral very drunk). I don’t much like the 2005 vintage… In general, the red wines in this country are too ripe – we don’t need vintage to accentuate the lack of subtlety. I know I may seem upstream in this respect, but I was perfectly normal on my home planet.

  2. Chris WilliamsJune 2, 2011 at 7:40 amReply

    Kwispedoor, your wish has been granted! Taste the Meerlust Cab 2004 and refer to Christians recent write up on the wine. I take his “grudging respect” of the wine as a compliment and invite you all to tuck some bottles away in your cellars. For drinking a bit earlier, our 05 Cab is the better option. Who says we don’t have vintage variation in the Cape…

  3. KwispedoorJune 1, 2011 at 6:33 pmReply

    Thanks, David – nice story. What I meant by my reference to budget and style was simply that it’s likely that, when young, the 1966 GS had some rough tannins from grapes picked earlier than nowadays in Durbanville, likely producing a wine with very little sugar, sturdy acid, low alcohol and perhaps less extraction (than your offering). Certainly, it never saw the inside of new wood barrels, much less two years of it. According to certain sources, a bigger than normal SO2 addition was also part of the package, which would go some way towards explaining its longevity. Shrouded in mystery, we’ll possibly never know – my point was simply that an attempt at producing the most likely style the wine was made in, would probably render it close to undrinkable in the first years after production. Hence a big budget would be needed to bankroll some cash flow.

    It’d be really cool to see someone with deep pockets and a love for great wine seriously attempt to make fine red wine that’ll last for half a century!

  4. David FinlaysonJune 1, 2011 at 1:05 pmReply

    Actually, there is a long history behind why I named the wine GS . It will probably be longer than the article written above but suffice to condense it into the following: As a kid growing up, I was fascinated by the wine with the shocking pink/maroon label simply stating ” GS 66″ in my father , Walter’s wine cellar. He never said anything about it until I was studying winemaking . Then one night when I was about 19 ,he opened it alongside a Chateau Margaux 1979 for an English wine importer and it ( now predictably) blew the Bordeaux out of the water, something it has recently done against a number of bigname old Bordeaux’s including a 66 Haut Brion. When I started making the wines from the young Cabernet Sauvignon vines at Edgebaston , I reduced the crop levels to 2 bunches per vine in the first 2 years and that yielded wines with immense concentration and pure Cab character. At this time I met Ronel Spies, a label designer and it turns out, George’s daughter. We talked about her fathe’s wines and she gave her and her mother’s blessing for the top Cab I was making to be named after her father’s wines. The fact that I showed the 66 GS to Wine Spectator by chance at a dinner in 2007 just to show James Molesworth how good old SA reds can be and he then scored it 95 points is probably what then caused so much noise and interest in this wine. The fact that I wanted to bring back the legend has nothing to do with money , as I have never made a big noise about my version and there’s no marketing schpiel either. The total annual production of around 2000 bottles sells to avid collectors and Cab freaks each year. I aim to be drinking the early vintages in 10-15 years time

  5. KwispedoorJune 1, 2011 at 8:31 amReply

    It would have been great to have someone with the guts and budget to try and re-create the style of those iconic oldies. This merely sounds like commercial “flagship-type” wine in the modern idiom, utilising the marketing benefits of the classic stuff’s reputation. Alas, they’re probably interested in selling it. Sometime this decade.

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