Vergelegen “V” 2001

By , 11 January 2012



The Notorious B.I.G.

There’s always been a lot riding on Vergelegen “V”, this being a very deliberate attempt by the Somerset West property’s brains trust to come up with a wine that would justify a price tag of more than $100 a bottle in the USA and hence be on its way to “icon” status.

The maiden vintage 2001 was a blend of 91% Cabernet Sauvignon, 8% Merlot and 1% Cabernet Franc,  and though it was duly rated 5 Stars in the 2004 edition of Platter’s, I distinctly remember thinking that it was overdone when tasting it on release in 2005, as if winemaker André van Rensburg was trying too hard to impress. 15% alcohol by volume and 21 months in oak, 100% new tells you that this was a wine intended to be rich and powerful…

The 2001 had a launch price of R650 a bottle so I can’t say I’ve drunk it too often in the interim, but with it now being just about 10 years on from vintage, I was curious to see if it has mellowed into something less domineering.

Over lunch consisting of af prime rib at the Hussar Grill in Rondebosch yesterday, a bottle was broached. If in its youth it appeared very polished and rather “international”, which is to say not particularly expressive of its origins, it is now unmistakably “South African”.

Dark fruit but also lots of tertiary character on the nose  – earth, tobacco and even blood.  Huge in weight, broad in structure, it appeared sweet upfront before a savoury finish.  Incredibly concentrated but lacking in nuance. “Dikvoet,” my dining companion observed. “You have a sense that it’s going to be like this for the next 20 years.” Score: 16/20.


1 comment(s)

  • Billabong27 November 2016

    I had a visit from a South African friend recently and we decided to put the Vergelegen V 2001 up against a similarly priced Bordeaux. I bought half a case of the V back in 2004, paying a mighty £50 a bottle, which at the time felt pretty expensive. The Bordeaux that I chose from my cellar was a 2003 Leoville Barton 2003, which I bought enprimeur around the same time for about £30 per bottle(taxes Inc.). The V 2001 is now hard to find, but I last saw it offered at around £55, which confirmed my original thoughts about its original price. The Barton 03 has appreciated in line with the rest of Bordeaux is now available at around £85.

    So having satisfied myself that we were comparing apples with apples(almost!), I proceeded to decant the wines, ready to serve them with BBQ’ed Lamb cutlets, followed by a French cheese course.

    The Barton ’03 was beautifully seductive Bordeaux. It had a lovely classic nose, full of cassis, chocolate and black currant. It had a very long aftertaste that ended off being quite savoury and restrained.

    The Vergelegen V on the other hand had mellowed cinsiderably since my last tasting, and was now very soft on the back palate. The tannins were well rounded, and there was plenty of cigar box and coffee in there. The nose was destinctly South African with loads of fynbos and eucalyptus, something I hadn’t noticed before. A very good bottle indeed.

    For the record I thought that the Vergelegen V stood up quite well against the Barton, but was ultimately outclassed. If I were to assign points to the two “contestants”, I would have scored the V at 91, and the Barton at 95. More importantly, the whole evening scored a well deserved 100 points!

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