Wine appreciation – part science, part philosophy. We all know that Thelema’s reds have a trademark minty character about them – the eucalyptus trees on the Stellenbosch property heavily implicated as the source of this – but the question is whether this should be celebrated or denounced. “How to achieve savoury without becoming lean and green?” asks cellarmaster Gyles Webb rhetorically.
Yesterday vertical tastings from 1999 to 2010 of the Cabernet Sauvignon and from 2004 to 2010 of the single-vineyard The Mint Cabernet Sauvignon.
Ripe black berries and cigar box on the nose. Sweet fruited and rich on the palate, relatively broad compared to previous vintages, moderate acidity and fine tannins. Appears to be more “modern” in conception.
Dark fruit, crushed herbs and a subtle chocolate note on the nose and palate. Great concentration and lovely freshness. Wonderfully dry without being at all astringent on the finish.
Very ripe dark fruit on the nose and palate. Appears slightly hollow and lacks the precision and finesse of better vintages.
Cassis, some leafy character and attractive oak spice on the nose. Full but balanced on the palate with lush fruit, fresh acidity and firm but fine tannins. Has real gravitas.
Red and black cherry plus a pronounced minty note on the nose and palate. Rather lean with acidity sitting a little apart.
Big and rich but somewhat counter-intuitively showing more red than black fruit and perhaps a bit short on detail. Has reached plateau of optimal drinking.
Cassis on the nose and palate. Relatively rich with moderate acidity and slightly coarser tannins than usual. The first vintage that saw grapes from The Mint block excluded.
Colour shows very little advancement. More red than black fruit plus a subtle and an entirely attractive menthol quality. Medium bodied, clean and fresh. Great fruit purity, fine tannins. Remarkably youthful.
Significant evolution evident. Overtly minty plus plenty of developed character. Light bodied and short.
Dark fruit and some leafiness on the nose. Rich, full and already quite mellow.
Red and black fruit plus some herbal character. Medium bodied, clean and fresh with some nice tannic grip still in evidence. All that’s good about the house style.
Red fruit, hints of tomato cocktail and forest floor. Medium bodied with bright acidity and fine tannins. Old-school Stellenbosch red.
Dark fruit with a leafy edge. Juicy and fresh with fine tannins.
Dark fruit with a green edge. Rather straightforward.
Indistinct in terms of aroma and flavour. Relatively dilute and short.
Overtly herbaceous. Very lean and green.
Cassis and intense mint on the nose and palate. Good concentration and freshness – all things coming together for good in this vintage.
Dark fruit, mint and chocolate on the nose and palate. Also slight reductive note. Rich and full.
Red and black fruit, overt green notes – mint and fynbos. Fresh acidity and fine tannins. Very particular.