Among the 21 reds shown at the Old South African Wine Tasting prior to the judging of the Old Mutual Trophy Wine, three vintages of Zonnebloem Cabernet Sauvignon, namely 1965, 1969 and 1970 were probably the stand-out wines.
Steven Spurrier, the man who organised the “Judgement of Paris” Wine Tasting in 1976 and on this year’s competition panel, was effusive about them. “There’s an extraordinary confidence and warmth about these wines. Contrast this with Chateau Margaux, for instance, which released a non-vintage wine in 1965 as it was busy going bust.” Regarding the 1970, he said there would not be “too many Haut-Medocs to match it” while the “vigour and lift” of the 1969 impressed him.
The 1965 was my best wine of the tasting. First of all, most impressive in colour being a clear, bright red. On the nose, red berries, spice and some meat stock. The palate meanwhile still had lovely fruit expression, bright acidity and fine tannins – a fantastic clarity about it. As ever, I was left wondering what precisely did the winemakers back then do to make wines that could mature for 50 years so effortlessly?