Maiden vintage of Tiara, the Bordeaux-style red blend from Stellenbosch property Simonsig, was 1991 so this wine is just shy of two decades. The current 2009 (R175 a bottle) sees Malbec introduced for the first time, the blend comprising 76% Cabernet Sauvignon, 17% Merlot, 3% Cabernet Franc, 2% Petit Verdot and 2% Malbec. To mark its release, it was tasted next to some older vintages to track how stylistics have evolved.
72% Cabernet Sauvignon, 13% Merlot. Abv 13%
Red and black fruit as well as some age-derived savoury notes on the nose. Advanced on the palate with a stewed veggie character and tart acidity. Old-fashioned but still quite rewarding to drink.
62% Cabernet Sauvignon, 28% Merlot, 6% Petit Verdot, 4% Cabernet Franc. Abv 14%.
Ripe dark fruit and a slightly wild note on the nose and palate (I suspected low-level Brett but easily tolerable). Rich and full with fresh acidity and smooth tannins. Perhaps slightly overdone.
65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 29% Merlot, 4% Cabernet Franc, 2% Petit Verdot. Abv 14%. Optimally ripe dark fruit, attractive oak, some fynbos. Medium to full-bodied with fresh acidity and firm but fine tannins. Shows good balance and still remarkably primary – drinking very well right now.
76% Cabernet Sauvignon, 17% Merlot, 3% Cabernet Franc, 2% Petit Verdot, 2% Malbec. Abv 13.5%. Very primary on the nose and palate. Concentrated dark fruit and a hint of leafiness. Well-judged oak (tannins are firm but fine) and good freshness. Drink 2014 – 2017.
Significantly, Simonsig advises that Tiara reaches its peak eight to 10 years from vintage and I think this lack of bombast when it comes to the age-worthiness of what is clearly intended as a serious offering is greatly to the credit of those involved.