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.