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SA’s best luxury red wine?

Vilafonté Series C 2015
Crowd favourite.

Yesterday retailer Wine Cellar held its biannual Luxury Red Taste-off”, 37 paying guests gathering in Cape Town and 32 in Johannesburg to blind taste 10 wines with an average price of R1328 a bottle. The price of a ticket to attend was R595 per person, wines selling for R2 000 per bottle and above excluded from the line-up in order to maintain some sort of affordability.

Those attending were asked to rank the wines in order of most to least preferred and the overall result was as follows:

  1. Vilafonté Series C 2015
    2. Kanonkop Black Label Pinotage 2016
    3. Rust en Vrede 1694 Classification 2015
    4. Anthonij Rupert 2011
    5. Boekenhoutskloof The Journeyman 2015
    6. Waterford The Jem 2012
    7. MR de Compostella 2015
    8. Vergelegen V 2012
    9. La Motte Hanneli R 2012
    10. Leeu Passant Dry Red 2016

Here’s how I rated the full line-up:

1. Leeu Passant Dry Red 2016 – 96
2. Boekenhoutskloof The Journeyman 2015 – 94
3. MR de Compostella 2015 – 93
4. Waterford The Jem 2012 – 92
5. Rust en Vrede 1694 Classification 2015 – 91
6.= Kanonkop Black Label Pinotage 2016 – 90
6.= La Motte Hanneli R – 90
6.= Vergelegen V 2012 – 90
9.= Anthonij Rupert 2011 – 89
9.= Vilafonté Series C 2015 – 89

An observation: Vilafonté Series C 2015 is a wine for those who equate luxury with decadence. I’ve tasted it twice now and have given it the same score on both occasions – I find it overdone (see here for notes on the original tasting). It is mildly concerning when a critic is very much out of sync with the general public but, conversely, it is surely important that said critic be prepared to take a stand rather than trying to please all parties. This taste-off is always a fascinating exercise and in large part comes down to how “luxury” is defined – Tim James provides further reading on the matter here.

Vilafonté Series C 2015 is available from Wine Cellar at R1190 a bottle.

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Leeu Passant Dry Red 2016 is available from Wine Cellar at R1000 a bottle.

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  1. Hi, Christian

    You’re right, a critic will soon lose relevance with consumers if he/she is trying to please producers when rating wines.

    Columella has also “under-performed” in this tasting before. When one looks at the overall results, I think one must be open to the likelihood that the demographics of the tasters that regularly attend these specific tastings might be somewhat different to, let’s say, a tasting with Ryan Mostert or Craig Hawkins. The crowd for this tasting might consist of some usual suspects, plus those who would not generally be able to afford these wines for drinking who take their chance to at least taste them, plus perhaps a few who would just like to boast that they have tasted these uber expensive wines. But a high percentage of the tasters perhaps consist of well-heeled people who can afford to buy these wines – the kind of punters who would also regularly splurge on CWG wines, etc. And although all the wines in this line-up are very good, the tasting theme says it all, doesn’t it? It’s about luxury…

  2. The similarities between the contemporary world (market) of wine and art are striking indication of how social culture has shifted. An esteemed art writer has spoken of art crafted “for the luxury goods market”. Same true for some of these wines. Of course, in both fields, (high) price is everything.

  3. Two points, Christian.
    1) Price of each wine would be of interest.
    2) So, ‘luxury’ also has an affordable ceiling? Does it have a lower ceiling too (see 1) above)? I presume you mean that ceiling was R2000 & above rather than just that figure. I’d have thought price at whatever level, would dictate which wines are tasted. After all, even well-heeled punters want to make sure their R2000 + is being as well spent as R1000. How many do have R2000+ price tag – Longridge Misterie, De Toren Book XV11 (?) & &

    • Hi Angela, Yes, wines at R2000 AND ABOVE were excluded – this now amended in the above. The reason for this, as explained by Roland Peens of Wine Cellar, was that too high a price would have pushed the ticket price up driving attendance down. Other wines above R2000 include 4G, Delaire Laurence Graff Reserve, De Toren The Black Lion and the. Cab Franc…


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