The flagship red blend from Stellenbosch property Thelema called Rabelais came about in the aftermath of Gyles Webb’s resignation from the Cape Winemakers Guild – he’d already put together a wine from the 2007 vintage for sale at the annual auction but after giving up his membership, had to find a new route to market and so Rabelais was born.
Yesterday a vertical of all vintages released to date:
Thelema Rabelais 2007
80% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Merlot. Red and black fruit, a certain weedy quality, tomato cocktail, forest floor and spice. Also a hint of VA. Medium bodied to the point of lean with a long, dry finish. Old fashioned Stellenbosch red and not without charm.
Thelema Rabelais 2008
79% Cabernet Sauvignon, 12% Petit Verdot, 9% Merlot. Red and black fruit, mint, crushed herbs, a subtle olivaceous quality and Xmas pudding. Full bodied but balanced by fresh acidity. A little heat on the finish but remarkably accomplished for what was generally regarded a difficult vintage in Stellenbosch.
Thelema Rabelais 2009
80% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Petit Verdot, 5% Merlot. Cassis, fresh herbs and violets and attractive oak notes on the nose. A powerful wine which has been much lauded it but I find it a little hollow on the mid-palate and generally heavily worked, the tannins soft and smooth.
Thelema Rabelais 2010
Current release – price: R380
86% Cabernet Sauvignon, 14% Petit Verdot. Wonderfully engaging aromas of red and black fruit, the leafy note so typical of this farm present but subtle and entirely likeable, violets, pencil shavings and some milk chocolate. Excellent flavour intensity, bright acidity and fine tannins – extremely well balanced and lovely length. One of the most confident and sophisticated Bordeaux-style reds tasted in a long time.