The Chocolate Block 2012

March 14, 2014
by Christian
in What I Drank Last Night
with 5 Comments


As ever with The Chocolate Block from Boekenhoutskloof, there’s nothing not to like about the 2012 vintage (R219.99 a bottle from Liquour City Claremont). A blend of 70% Shiraz, 13% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Grenache, 6% Cinsaut and 1% Viognier, it shows floral fragrance, red and black berries, peach and subtle spice. The acidity is moderate, the tannins fine. In a word, polished. Score: 88/100.

What is indeed remarkable about this wine is the volumes relative to the price point. 1 735 barrels proclaim the front and back label proudly (up from 15 barrels of the maiden vintage 2002) and you have to conclude money is being made here.

Take retailer’s mark-up of 40% off R220 a bottle and you have a trade price of R157. Take marketing and distribution at around 30% off that and you’re down to R120 a bottle. Allow for production costs amounting to an all-encompassing R60 a bottle and Boekenhoutskloof are clearing R60 a bottle. 1 735 barrels equates to 520 500 bottles (presuming the barrels are 225 litre) which means R31.23 million in profit.

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  1. RyanMarch 19, 2014 at 7:54 amReply

    The retailer mark up is the predatory factor in any wine and the reason more people drink down and not up on quality – CB is R164 with salewine but we are a very small retailer

  2. alexMarch 17, 2014 at 6:15 pmReply

    Yes, this is interesting. As a UK fan of South African wines I am puzzled by the price point this retails at here. It appears to have a cult following and regularly sells out. It is IMHO a very pleasant wine but its price point (£18-22+) puts it in the same league as Meerlust Rubicon, Warwick Trilogy etc and I don’t think it is of the same order. A triumph of marketing or perhaps the others are underpriced?

  3. KwispedoorMarch 15, 2014 at 1:20 pmReply

    I think the wine’s name has a lot to do with its success. It was basically the first wine punting chocolate/coffee/toffee/whatever related flavours and who doesn’t like chocolate? It became very fashionable and the brand grew swiftly and exponentially. It soon became very overpriced and I lost the little bit of interest I had in it. Since then I’ve developed a strong dislike of manipulated wines (coffee Pinotage – ZZZzzzzz) and became increasingly interested in more natural wines where the vineyards play the starring role.

    However, I have tasted The Chocolate Block again in recent years and was pleasantly surprised by the lack of any chocolate on it. I was also surprised by the quality – damn good stuff! I still won’t quite buy it at R220, but I’d damn well drink it! However its popularity started (and I’d guess a fairly large chunk of it is still consumed by people with money, but no real sense of what’s in their glasses), the brand has been managed to almost perfection. It seems like Boekenhoutskloof can’t put a foot wrong. And yes, South Africa needs more wine brands like this.

    Now they just need to use some of that money to preserve the Porseleinberg vineyard…

  4. Tim JamesMarch 14, 2014 at 5:56 pmReply

    The only serious wine that can compete with Chocolate Block in terms of profitability is probably Rupert & Rothschild Classique, made in larger quantities but at a lower price. But, Christian, you’ve unnecessarily taken off a nice whack for “marketing and distribution” – in fact, there’s scarcely any marketing needed, and distribution is done by Vinimark (a substantial factor in the wine’s success), whose owner, Tim Rands, is also the largest partner in Boekenhoutskloof the brand (as opposed to Bhk the farm, in which he’s also a partner). The brilliant Rands-Kent partnership must be unmatched in Cape wine, in many respects.

  5. James PietersenMarch 14, 2014 at 11:17 amReply

    I must say that I am quite impressed with this wine, especially considering the volume. We need more of these wine in South Africa, wines that can penetrate a market with quality and still be profitable. More a 90/100 for me.

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