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Kanonkop Paul Sauer 1993

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Kanonkop Paul Sauer 1993
Tidy.

The traditional Old South African Wine Tasting to mark the commencement of judging for the 18th annual Old Mutual Trophy Wine Show took place last night, as always a fascinating bit of wine archaeology.

White wines have to be 15 years or older, reds 25 years or older to qualify. It’s a tricky exercise assessing quality because you’re compelled to make a call whether the wine has become more interesting with time in bottle rather than simply surviving but some of my favourites were: Warwick Chardonnay 2003 (91), Stellenzicht Syrah 1994 (92), Chateau Libertas 1979 (91), Vergenoegd Cabernet Sauvignon 1972 (92), Bertrams Cabernet Sauvignon 1976 (90), Nederburg Cabernet Sauvignon 1971 (90) and Neethlingshof Pinotage 1973 (92).

The stand-out, however, was Kanonkop Paul Sauer 1993. Red and blackberries, violets and herbs on the nose while the palate showed relatively dense fruit, bright acidity and fine tannins. Lovely poise but equally power given that this was apparently a wet vintage. So absolutely of the property and not at all hindered by having an alcohol of just 13% compared to 14.47% as is the case with the much celebrated 2015.

Editor’s rating: 94/100.

Find our South African wine ratings database here.

4 COMMENTS

  1. Hi, Christian. Of course people have different tolerances and preferences for mature wine characteristics. Is it fair to deduce that you just don’t particularly like old wine in general? Your favourite ones here start at 90 points, which mean that all the rest scored in the 80’s (or less). That’s pretty standard scoring, considering what one might expect you to score most of these wines’ current vintages or how you would have scored these older vintages when they were younger. I’m allowing for some older bottles that don’t shape up and the fact that they don’t make wines like Chateau Libertas like they used to.

    • Hi Kwispedoor, It’s unfortunate if I’ve created the impression that I don’t like old wine – it is always a treat and hugely insightful to attend the South African Wine Tasting but wines that were of fairly humble standing on release (Swartland Cinsault 1975 or Stellenrood 1964, for example) are not going to magically acquire greatness simply by time in bottle. Conversely, I would argue that some of the more ambitious wines in the line-up like Rust en Vrede Estate CIWG 1980 or Stellenryk Cabernet Sauvignon 1989 have been undone precisely because their producers tried too hard at the outset, the former now very tertiary, possessing a nutty, spicy mellowness, the latter quite angular and brittle. Otherwise, I would argue that wines with 40-plus years of age to rate 90 and above is no mean achievement. It is also interesting to note that Tim James in his related article cared far less for the Kanonkop Paul Sauer 1993 than I did – as ever, there are no absolutes when it comes to wine appreciation.

      • Am with you Christian.

        An aside – I feel too many tasters score a wine extra points merely because of its age. What is the quality is the answer people are looking for – they can tell the age on the bottle.

  2. My favourite topic – old SA wine. I remember the Chateau Libertas 1979 out of magnum about 3 years ago one of the best wine experiences I ever had.

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