Zonnebloem Cabernet 1965



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?

Score: 93/100.

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  1. Colyn TruterMay 5, 2015 at 3:10 pmReply

    It is really awesome that you have access to these older vintages and can taste them. I assume from Bergkelder?? I wish more Estates saved some more of their wines to taste now.

    • Michael van DeventerMay 7, 2015 at 8:48 amReply

      Hi Colyn
      We have a very special cellar at Adam Tas called the Tabernacle. The cellar was built in the 1970’s and stocked mostly with Zonnebloem, Lanzerac, Oude Libertas, Chateau Libertas and G.S. Cab, vintages ranging from late 1920’s to late 1990’s. We also have an amazing collection of International wines from the 1940’s to 80’s. These wines are part of our wine heritage with small parcels sold exclusively at the Nederburg Auction.

      • KwispedoorMay 7, 2015 at 11:07 am

        The Tabernacle. I need the key – my preciooouuussssssss!

  2. Michael van DeventerMay 5, 2015 at 8:56 amReply

    Hi All, the alc of the 1965 was 13.82%, one of only three that was above 13% in the 60’s and 70’s. The average alc over this peroid was around 12% with the lowest being 10.35% for the 1977 vintage. The 1965 was the higest.

    • Christian EedesMay 5, 2015 at 9:26 amReplyAuthor

      Hi Michael, By all accounts, there was quite a lot of leeway allowed when it came to putting these wines together. Can you let us know what the blends were for the 1965, 1969 and 1970?

  3. EmileMay 4, 2015 at 4:18 pmReply

    And without new wood.

  4. Hennie TaljaardMay 4, 2015 at 1:10 pmReply

    I am always surprised to read about a very old wine that is still drinking well. I don’t have that luck. My experience is that for every 10 old wines opened maybe 1 bottle is still good.

    • Christian EedesMay 4, 2015 at 1:29 pmReplyAuthor

      Hi Hennie, Make no mistake there were some wines which were completely shot among those on show yesterday while I scored most in a bracket of between 84 and 87. The Zonnebloem 1965 was something very special indeed.

  5. Hennie LouwMay 4, 2015 at 12:25 pmReply

    Fantastic. Wish I could have joined in. What was the alc of the 65?

    • Christian EedesMay 4, 2015 at 1:30 pmReplyAuthor

      Hi Hennie, I’m guessing around 12% but if anybody knows for sure, please advise.

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