When I reviewed the 2004 vintage of Cabernet Sauvignon from Stellenbosch property Meerlust recently, my overriding impression was of an austere, rather unyielding wine (see here). Of course, Cabernet Sauvignon made with serious intent should not exactly be easy from the word “go” but I thought even those of the most ascetic tastes might find this a bit too demanding.
I concluded that the wine left me with a “grudging respect” more than anything else, something that did not disturb winemaker Chris Williams too much who agrees with me that the 2004 is a wine for “purists” (and by implication is still far off drinking at its best). He promptly sent a bottle of 2005, which he describes as “all rich crushed fruit, silky tannins, opulence and curves [as opposed to the linearity of 2004]”.
The 2005 spent 24 months in French oak, 75% new. It unquestionably has more weight and power than 2004 but is not at all exaggerated and could hardly be termed facile. Aromas of cassis and graphite swell from the glass while everything promised on the nose is delivered on the palate, with there being huge concentration of optimally ripe dark fruit before powdery, mouth-coating tannins provide a pleasantly dry sensation on the finish. Excellent stuff but but rather heady at the moment, something that time in bottle will surely temper.
The 2004 was the first bottling of single-variety Cab from this Stellenbosch property since 1993 and when considered in isolation, Williams’s vision for the variety going forward was hard to discern. Put next to the 2005, however, and there’s a sense of Cab that’s intended to have great intensity of flavour but without sacrificing firmness of structure as so often happens locally.
Williams wants vintage variation to be something of a factor in how each of his wines present, but apparently not to the extent that fundamental quality is compromised, so no 2006, 2007 or 2008. Next up the 2009 to be released in August and probably ready for drinking in 2021 if its predecessors are anything to go by.