I’m not inclined to turn down an invitation to the launch of a new vintage of Epicurean as it typically involves a long lunch with only the finest fare. On Thursday, Mutle Mogase of Vantage Capital and politician Mbhazima Shilowa, who along with Ron Gault, retired head of JP Morgan Chase SA and Moss Ngoasheng of Safika Holdings own the brand, hosted a function at Caveau Wine Bar & Deli to present the 2007 vintage.
When the maiden 2003 arrived on the scene, you couldn’t help being a little cynical about the project: the wine is made at Rupert & Rothschild in Franschhoek, and you kind of got the sense that it was Johann Rupert allowing his mates to mess around in the cellar on weekends.
Five vintages on and it has to be acknowledged that Epicurean is no passing fancy on the part of those behind it, with it now possible to take a view on the stylistic vision they are collectively trying to implement.
“One of the fundamental dichotomies of wine is power versus elegance. We’re trying to achieve power AND elegance,” says Mogase. How successful are they? As with previous vintages, the 2007 is made in a modern idiom with plenty of fruit concentration and super-smooth tannins. A blend of 41% Cabernet Sauvignon, 31% Cabernet Franc and 18% Merlot, it was barrel fermented with 40 days post-ferment maceration and then matured for 24 months in 100% new oak. I’m not sure they’ve achieved their desired synthesis of both power and elegance – it tends towards rich and weighty – but it’s impeccably crafted and comes with an aspirational price tag (R275 a bottle) and relative rarity (only 500 cases made) that will make it irresistible to a certain sector of the market.