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Hartenberg Cabernet Sauvignon 2003

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All things coming together for good.
All things coming together for good.

“Cabernet Sauvignon is the ‘underdog variety’ relative to Shiraz at Hartenberg,” says winemaker Carl Schultz before presenting a multi-vintage tasting of the wine. That might be so, but it didn’t stop the 2010 vintage from winning the international trophy for Bordeaux varietals under £15 at this year’s Decanter World Wine Awards.

Wines on show yesterday where the 1997, the 2000 through the 2012, unbottled samples of the 2013 and 2014 plus the CWG Auction 2010 (grapes from the vineyard set aside for the super-premium red blend known as The Mackenzie, the wine fetching an average of R1 000 a bottle when it was sold earlier this year).

The Hartenberg Cab is typically full bodied and a little rustic, the wine showing earthy, malty notes to go with black fruit and firm tannins. “You want power but you also want grace,” says Schultz – he often succeeds in achieving the former, less so the latter.

The most convincing vintages for me were as follows:

2003
Ripening conditions were generally viewed as ideal and it shows. Blue and black fruit plus an attractive olivaceous note. Good concentration, fresh acidity and fine tannins. Has balance and finesse – much more complete than any other vintage of the 2000s.

Score:  90/100.

2005
A hot vintage. Red and black berries on the nose and palate. Good fruit expression before a savoury finish. Full but balanced, already quite mellow although it should stay on a plateau of optimal drinking for a while.

Score: 89/100.

2009
Thought by many to be the vintage of the decade. Red and black fruit plus a little milk chocolate. Medium bodied with fresh acidity and fine tannins. Gently savoury on the finish.

Score: 88/100.

The 2007 was controversial – this is a much hyped vintage on account of how late picking was and while it does have an Old World feel to it, I’m not sure it will ever come around. Cassis, fresh herbs and some leafiness on the nose. Quite lean with extra-fresh acidity and still very firm tannins.

Score: 87/100.

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