Bruwer Raats has been making his single-variety Cabernet Franc since 2001, working with the same two Stellenbosch blocks from 2005 and the wines keep getting better. I thought the 2011 was terrific (see here) and wondered how he might possibly improve on it the short-term. He just has with the 2012.
A really lovely array of aromas and flavours including red and black berries, violets, crushed leaves and pencil shavings. The fruit concentration is awesome – it’s about as pure and unadulterated as any modern-era South African wine I’ve tasted – and there’s also a wonderful sense of freshness although you don’t notice the acidity specifically. The tannins, meanwhile, are firm but fine and it should be a pleasure to watch them resolve over the next 10 years, maybe 20.
All this and the wine has only 13.5% abv, pretty much unheard of in recent times. How does he do it? “We prune early to encourage early budding. Then we open up the canopy early so ripening begins in late-spring, early-summer – the grapes get used to the sun and we get proper physiological ripeness,” he says. It comes available in November and can be pre-ordered from Wine Cellar now at R395 a bottle.