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.