Lewis Cellars Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2010

By , 13 August 2014



Cultural artifact.

Cultural artifact.

As part of the “Driving Cabernet” Day at Ernie Els Wines yesterday, a benchmarking exercise involving the three examples of the variety to be rated 5 Stars in Platter’s 2014 against three international counterparts.

The locals were Ernie Els Proprietor’s 2011, Rudera 2011 and Stark-Condé Three Pines 2011 while the wines from abroad were Concha Y Toro Terrunyo 2011 from Maipo Valley, Chile; Lewis Cellars Reserve 2010 from Napa Valley, California and Wynns John Riddoch 2010 from Coonawarra, Australia.

For what it’s worth, I ranked them as follows:
1. Wynns John Riddoch 2010
2. Rudera 2011
3. Ernie Els Proprietor’s 2011
4. Stark-Condé Three Pines 2011
5. Concha Y Toro Terrunyo 2011
6. Lewis Cellars Reserve 2010

The real talking point of the tasting, however, was the Lewis Cellars Reserve 2010, which emphatically demonstrated that a big determinant of wine quality is what people are used to culturally.

This wine, which has an abv of 15.5% and sells for $135 a bottle, placed ninth in Wine Spectator’s Top 100 Wines of 2013 with the following tasting note from critic James Laube:  “Bold, rich and complex, yet delicate and graceful, showing finely detailed currant, dark berry and licorice notes, with jazzy spice and mocha-scented oak and a long, firming finish that gains depth and dimension. Score: 96/100.”

My tasting note: “Ultra-ripe dark fruit plus a meat-stock note. Heavily extracted and lifeless. Undrinkable.” No score.


8 comment(s)

  • Ernest van den Berg13 August 2014

    “Undrinkable” is very harsh. How did the other tasters feel about the “Undrinkable” wine. Did they agree?

    • Christian13 August 2014

      Hi Ernest, I think the other tasters were pretty much in agreement, including Mr Strydom, who looked on with a wry smile…

  • Cathy Marston13 August 2014

    I was there and I would co-sign the ‘undrinkable’ but explain it somewhat. It’s not that it was totally revolting, it’s just that it was simply too difficult, too alcoholic and too jammy to drink. Agree as well that the Wynns showed best but sadly, I found jam in the Rudera too which bumped it down the favourites list for me.

  • Roland Peens13 August 2014

    Ernest. James and I were also there and have similar sentiments. It is not a wine we would like to drink, but, there are clearly palates out there who will enjoy drinking it. This trend of over-the-top, manufactured wine has only really been around for 20 years, and like all trends, it will soon pass.

  • Maggie Mostert13 August 2014

    I was also one of the tasters and while “undrinkable” sounds harsh, it is spot on. The wine had the unfortunate “too much” of everything issue: Too much sugar, too much alcohol, too much wood. Not a reflection of what the future holds for Cab Sauv, I hope.

  • Ernest van den Berg14 August 2014

    I have found that some wine traders call me and convince me over the phone that they have wine at a bargain price and that it is excellent. I then buy a case (12) and when it arrives I find it is one of those over the top new world style wines which I do not appreciate at all. I do not mind tannins except when very harsh, but do not like sweetness at all in a dry wine. I would probably have agreed with you that your specific wine was not a good wine, but if I paid for the wine, I guess I would have slowly consumed the “undrinkable” to save myself the embarrassment of admitting to wasting my money. Now to get rid of the other 11 bottles! Luckily some of my friends like sweetish dry wines.

  • Henk20 August 2014

    Hi Christian,

    What did you score the Stark Conde?

    • Christian20 August 2014

      Hi Henk,

      Given that all three wines have appeared in my Cabernet Sauvignon Reports, I didn’t re-score them. Rudera 2011 rated 4½ Stars and placed among the top 10 in 2013 while the Ernie Els Proprietor’s Reserve and Stark-Condé Three Pines 2011 both rated 3½ Stars this year. Suffice to say, I don’t think 2011 is such a great vintage for the Stark-Condé. That wine tasting is not a perfect science is demonstrated by the fact that when I reviewed the Ernie Els for Platter’s 2014, I was responsible for nominating it for 5 Stars which was duly endorsed. It is a really big wine which some will admire and others will be overwhelmed by.

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