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Cape Point Vineyards Isliedh 2005

It's getting better all the time.
It's getting better all the time.

The fifth annual Wine Judging Academy run by Wine magazine in conjunction with leading wine critic Michael Fridjhon was held this past weekend, its aim since inception being to help raise the standard of local wine judging.

During a module presented by international guest lecturer Peter McCombie MW, the Cape Point Vineyards Isliedh 2005 was poured in a flight of top wooded Sauvignon Blanc and Sauvignon Blanc blends, other wines including Chamonix Reserve Sauvignon Blanc 2007, Strandveld Adamastor 2009, Tokara Director’s Reserve White 2009 and Quoin Rock Oculus 2007.

The Isliedh 2005 is nothing if not highly decorated having won the trophies for best wooded white blend and best white wine overall at the 2006 Old Mutual Trophy Wine Show before being rated 5 Stars in Platter’s 2007.  Drama, then, when the bottle poured at the Academy appeared well past its best. Very much a rarity now, there was no second bottle available and the 2009 had to substitute.

Anxious that our few remaining bottles of 2005 might have expired, we opened one last night and I am delighted to report that what was encountered at the Academy appears to be an abnormality, the product of “random bottle oxidation” to use the catch-all term for older wines that mysteriously aren’t up to scratch.  Our 2005 was in excellent nick, no longer primary but neither showing any signs of decay. I suspect it is a wine set to become the stuff of legend much like the Sauvignon Blanc 1986 and Blanc de Blanc 1987 from Klein Constantia.


  1. Unfortunately, I’ve had numerous cork issues with Cape Point (perhaps my favourite SA white wine producer) wines, but they were all TCA-affected. Bought some 2010 Savvie from them last week – FINALLY under screw-cap. Looking forward to them having the whole range properly preserved.
    Their white wines do age spectacularly – in a South African context – though. Looking forward to taking a 2001 Semillon to my club’s Semillon tasting next month, but trepidacious about what possible scars the cork might have left on my beauty…

  2. It would be nice to stop bashing cork at ever possible chance as it’s getting a tad tiresome! Screw-caps are not infallible nor are their linings and nor are myriad of other alternative closures. If you could develop the “100% fool-proof best of the best” closure, you’d make quite a pretty penny.

  3. Of course I know that there’s no such thing as a perfect closure, Affieplaas. For me personally it’s about using the best possible closure available at a certain time. I open a lot of bottles and cork is by far the biggest culprit of faulty wines. Why would I defend it? It’s the oldest form of closure, but still – even after such a long time – has a terrible track record. Other closures are still in their infancy i.t.o. development and already provide better results – plus they will get better. Since o.t.r.’s on corks are entirely random/unpredictable and most bottle maturation happens anaerobically anyways, what exactly is cork’s big advantage? I’ve had countless fantastic old wines sealed with cork, but that can never make me ignore the many bitter disappointments.
    Maybe other people are in a perfectly good mood when they have to chuck that treasured, old wine down the drain because of cork-related premature oxidation or TCA and always have another bottle of the same wine handy to open, but not me. And maybe some people aren’t really all that sensitive to TCA, but I am. And the miniscule amount of other origins of TCA doesn’t cover up cork’s shortfalls either. Maybe other people find as many undrinkable wines under alternative closures (some of which I admittedly hate, like synthetic cork), as they do under natural cork, but I don’t.
    We’re already getting better quality cork worldwide because of the advent of alternatives, so at least overall quality (regardless of closure type) is improving. Cheers to having good wines all-round!
    Incidentally, I had a srew-capped 2001 Flagstone Poetry Collection Pinot Noir the other day and can just shake my head at people that speculate (that’s all it is) that wine doesn’t age well under screw cap.

  4. Just for interest sake but what about DIAM corks. Not 100% natural but I don’t think I ever heard of a fault wine under these enclosures? Any feedback, because I think it’s terrific and you get the best of both worlds.

  5. I quite like Diam, but have not opened a bottle of wine that’s been under Diam for, let’s say, a decade or so. Diam significantly reduces the chances of TCA, but oxidation is still a possibility…


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