Meerlust Rubicon 1995

November 9, 2015
by Christian
in What I Drank Last Night
with 3 Comments

It’s a heretical position to take but I’m not sold on the 2010 vintage of Rubicon from iconic Stellenbosch property Meerlust. A blend of 62% Cabernet Sauvignon, 24% Merlot, 12% Cabernet Franc and 2% Petit Verdot, it was matured for 21 months in French oak, 60% new.

Winemaker Chris Williams has done his best to come up with sufficiently luxurious to justify the R333 a bottle price tag and the wines does have plenty of red and black fruit plus some attractive oak-derived notes of cigar-box and chocolate. There is, however, no getting around a definite pyrazine quality on nose and palate which evidently many love but I don’t – it’s just plain green rather than “leafy” or “herbal” for me. #WinemagRating: 89/100.

Meerlust Rubicon 1995


Williams showed the wine as part of a tasting to commemorate 40 years of Meerlust – a 1975 Cabernet was the first wine to bear the property’s name – and also showed the 1995 vintage of Rubicon which was splendid.

Extraordinarily fragrant on the nose with notes of violets and fynbos before red and black fruit as well as more tertiary qualities like mushroom and earth. Some heft on the palate – sweet fruited on entry but the finish suitably savoury. #WinemagRating: 94/100.

The two wines made a fascinating juxtaposition. Why is pyrazine character sometimes a good thing and other times a bad thing? Is that green-ness part of Meerlust terroir? Will the 2010 become like the 1995 with time in bottle? It’s the kind of stuff to keep wine geeks chatting for hours.

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  1. Stephen BarnardNovember 13, 2015 at 9:10 pmReply

    As a winemaker in America, we were thrilled at the chance of visiting one of the most iconic wineries in south Africa [Meerlust] and left with a wonderful impression of both the wines and the Estate. We are caught in making wines that satisfy consumer demand and tend to make wines that are fruit driven, since they tend to appeal more to the wine consumer, at least in this part of the world. I personally found the Rubicon, Cabernet and Pinot Noir wines to be wonderfully complex and utterly thought provoking, for is that not what wine is supposed to do. Pyrazines aside, i look forward to drinking these wines in the future and reminiscing on a wonderful time spent at the winery and in a beautiful country.

  2. Chris WilliamsNovember 9, 2015 at 4:35 pmReply

    Hi Hennie, I often find a pleasantherbal note on some of our wines, and whether it is enjoyed or not is, I guess, a matter of taste. For me, its all about balance and does one particular grape-derived character exist in harmony or not. A few years ago someone claimed that powerful green characters in reds are a fault which I can’t agree with as they are grape-derived flavours and aromas. Its a stylistic and terroir trait. The only way to find out for yourself whether you enjoy the Rubicon 2010 (which you correctly pointed out is a Platter 5 star for 2016) is to come and taste it at our tasting room. I must say, the day that everyone agrees about what is good and less good in the wine world, is the day I go into craft brewing!

  3. Hennie TaljaardNovember 9, 2015 at 10:54 amReply

    I read a similar thing somewhere else (in the Wineland magazine I think) about a “green” note on the 2010. We had a bottle a couple of weeks ago but it did not strike me as “green”. I do remember thinking it was fairly restrained. I would love to hear the winemakers take on it. By the way, Platter awarded it 5 stars?

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