10-Year-Old Wine Report 2022

By , 8 March 2022

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17

Introduction

This year’s 10-Year-Old Wine Report convened by Winemag.co.za is now out. There were 58 entries from 31 producers and these were tasted blind (labels out of sight) by a three-person panel, scoring done according to the 100-point quality scale.

Top 10

Below are the 10 best wines overall. Some of these feature in the 2012 vintage theme online auction that Strauss & Co is currently running – click on the relevant links below to place a bid.

White

95

Tokara Director’s Reserve White 2012
Wine of Origin: Stellenbosch
Abv: 14.42%

94

Klein Constantia Sauvignon Blanc 2012
Wine of Origin: Constantia
Abv: 13.9%

93

Constantia Glen Two 2012
Wine of Origin: Constantia
Abv: 13.5%

Red

94

Rust en Vrede Estate 2012
Wine of Origin: Stellenbosch
Abv: 15.07%

94

Usana The Fox Cabernet Sauvignon 2012
Wine of Origin: Stellenbosch
Abv: 14.5%

92

De Grendel Rubaiyat 2012
Wine of Origin: Coastal Region
Abv:14.5%

92

Vergelegen G.V.B 2012
Wine of Origin: Stellenbosch
Abv: 14.52%

Sweet

93

Durbanville Hills Rhinofields Noble Late Harvest 2012
Wine of Origin: Durbanville
Abv: 9.59%

93

Nederburg Private Bin Edelkeur 2012
Wine of Origin: Western Cape
Abv: 9.65%

Fortified

93

De Krans Cape Vintage Reserve 2012
Wine of Origin: Calitzdorp
Abv: 18.64%

About the Report

Just how well do modern-era South African wines perform as they get older? One of the most important measures of great wine is that it should be age-worthy, that is it should become more pleasurable and more interesting to drink with time in the bottle and the annual 10-Year-Old Wine Report sets out to examine precisely this.

In-depth analysis

To read the report in full, including key findings, tasting notes for the top wines and scores on the 100-point quality scale for all wines entered, download the following: 10-Year-Old Wine Report 2022

Prize

Tokara, as producer of the best wine overall, won a bottle of Chateau Libertas 1982 sponsored by Amorim Cork.

Video

Comments

17 comment(s)

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  • Steve Moult7 April 2022

    I have just read your article and coincidentally had a bottle of Overgaauw Tria Corda 2012 last week. It has been in my little wine fridge for many years and was absolutely glorious. I have never had a Premier Cru Classe Bordeaux but have drunk a number of lower Cru Classés from Deuxieme down and the TC was easily their equal.

  • Greg Sherwood9 March 2022

    I recently bought a parcel of 6×6 cases of Warwick Trilogy 2013, almost 10 years old, and it was a thrilling wine. Hitting the shelves only fractionally more expensive than the current release 2018, the stock did not hang around as consumers were more than willing to buy an estate aged wine of this quality for £36pb instead of £29pb for the current release. There is a lot to be said for well cellared stock from a good vintage.

  • Schalk Burger9 March 2022

    The terms “classic” and “old school” are not mutually exclusive. In fact, the opposite often applies. I haven’t had a Vergelegen V for a long time, but I remember enjoying a number of them tremendously, years ago. I suppose that would categorise my taste as “old school” – and I would hope, also “classic”!

    • Christian Eedes9 March 2022

      Hi Schalk, You are entirely correct that “classic” and “old school” are not mutually exclusive. The issue was that these descriptors were used by some of the panel as euphemisms for decrepitude (or at least the onset of this) rather than in a complimentary sense.

  • Claude Felbert9 March 2022

    In my opinion, the two most important points to take out of this report are as follows:
    1. Excluding the Noble Late Harvest the top wines all had an alcohol content of 13,5 and above. It would have been interesting to see the alcohol content of all the wines. In my experience, most low alcohol wines (below 13%) do not age well. I have also never seen a wine purchaser in a supermarket or a bottle store check the alcohol content on a bottle before purchasing the wine.
    2. How wine will age is in a large part dependent on how that wine is stored. These wines were submitted by the producers and therefore we can assume they were correctly stored. Home storage can’t always achieve this.

    • Kwispedoor9 March 2022

      Hi, Claude

      Regarding your first point, I almost always check the alcohol content before purchasing wine. I know that many of my wine buddies do the same. It often provides useful information regarding the style of the wine and definitely influences my buying decisions. I’m seldom interested in any unfortified wine that clocks in at 15% ABV of higher. Even 14.5% doesn’t particularly get me excited, although I do buy some of those.

      I have to disagree about the longevity of wines below 13% ABV. With the exception of the old GS Cabernets and very few others, all of the SA red wines of the sixties and seventies that have matured so fantastically, clocked in at below 13%. Once ripeness creeped up in the eighties, longevity was definitely negatively impacted. Most classic French red wines from the previous century also typically clocked in at lower alcohol levels.

      • Schalk Burger9 March 2022

        Kwispedoor, to add to the point you make re: the longevity of lower-alcohol wines – the most famously long-lived of white wines, German Riesling, typically has alcohol levels of around 8-11% and routinely lasts (and develops) over periods of 30 years or more. It seems that, at least in this particular case, the high acidity level has more to do with the ageability of the wine than the alcohol.

        • Kwispedoor9 March 2022

          Indeed. Alcohol is a preservative, but in wine I think there are more important things that could secure longevity, like winemaking methods (for instance the almost bullet proof oxidative winemaking of Madeira), fruit quality, overall balance, strong pH, tannins and sugar.

  • BvR9 March 2022

    I am amazed by the poor result for the Vergelegen V. This is the same wine that beat Haut Brion, Dominus, Mouton Rothschild & Colgin at a blind tasting at the estate not that long ago. I painfully managed to source a case of this “legendary” vintage recently, at some premium. Could it have been a bad bottle Christian? Is it really that bad!?

    • Christian Eedes9 March 2022

      Hi BvR, It must be said that Vergelegen V (89/100) was a divisive wine, variously described as “classic” and “old school”. The nose appeared quite shy with notes of red fruit, tobacco and earth while the palate was viewed as elegant to the point of dilute (despite and alcohol of 14.5%). There was general consensus that it was looking particularly evolved.

      • Kwispedoor9 March 2022

        I’ve never tasted a Vergelegen V, but I always thought it was intentionally made in a more “Parkerised” idiom – rich, ripe, etc. So it’s very interesting to see it described as “classic” and “elegant”.

      • BvR10 March 2022

        Thanks Christian. I had better start drinking it then!

    • GillesP9 March 2022

      Vergelegen V has never been anywhere close to the level of above mentioned wine estates. Only South African judges can come up with such a conclusion….

      • BvR10 March 2022

        Hey Gilles. Below is the extract of the relevant event, which seems to have included various UK soms. The author is head of sales for Europe of a very well known importer of fine wines with offices all over the world.

        “In July 2018, Don Tooth, CEO of Vergelegen in Stellenbosch hosted a tasting for 6 Masters of Wine along with some of London’s top sommeliers. In the tasting, Don would serve blind his Vergelgen ‘V’ & GVB, his top cuvées vs. the Bordeaux 1st Growths as well as Lafleur plus Dominus, Opus One, Colgin Tychson Hill and Verité La Joie from the USA.

        The reason for Don hosting this tasting (that cost him quite a few Rand as he bought all the 1st Growth bottles himself), was his burning frustration that tasters and critics do not take South African Cabernet seriously as a world class wine. He was not expecting the blind tasting panel to judge that Vergelegen’s wines were better than the 1st Growths, but was optimistic that they belong in such esteemed company. The 2005 vintage was chosen across the board so there could be no cry of ‘foul’ by choosing a lesser Bordeaux or Napa vintage!

        The results of the blind tasting were absolutely extraordinary. Once the scores had been aggregated, not only did the Vergelegen wines do well, the 2005 Vergelegen ‘V’ came in 1st Place, beating the likes of Mouton-Rothschild, Haut-Brion & Dominus! This an outstanding result considering the comparative pricing of these wines!

        2005 Blind MW Tasting
        Ranking
        Wine
        1
        Vergelegen V
        2
        Chateau Mouton Rothschild
        3
        Chateau Haut Brion
        4
        Vergelegen GVB
        5
        Colgin
        6
        Dominus

        Sadly there is no 2005 V remaining at the Vergelegen Estate but after the extraordinary results of the blind tasting, Don was happy to arrange a dinner last year where the experiment was conducted again but with the newer vintage release, 2012. I was lucky enough to attend this special evening where yet again Vergelegen V came out on top, beating the great names of Bordeaux & California.

        2012 Blind Tasting
        Ranking
        Wine
        Price/6 IB
        1
        Vergelegen V
        £330
        2
        Chateau Haut Brion
        £1,900
        3
        Dominus
        £925
        4
        Chateau Mouton Rothschild
        £2,170
        5
        Colgin
        £3,000

        • Billabong29 April 2022

          Thanks for posting this fascinating blind tasting result. I have been buying Vergelegen V on and off since the very first release in 2001, which I purchased at a Corney & Barrow event in London. Over the years I have served it to fellow amateur wine enthusiasts, putting it up against Haut Brion 2001, Lafite 2002, Grange 2000 and Leoville Barton 2003. The general consensus was that it came second each time, by a reasonable margin. But that hasn’t deterred me because in my view the wine has considerable merit. The fynbos on the nose is particularly pleasing to a fan of SA reds. In addition these tastings were not really a “fair fight” given the price differentials. Only Leoville Barton is/was close to the price of Vergelegen V. The rest were 3 to 8 times the price. So on a QPR adjusted basis the V did very well in my IMHO, but it wouldn’t have been close in a direct comparison. As the wine ages, the tastings will continue.

  • George8 March 2022

    Hi Christian,
    I note all three of your top reds were aged in 100% new oak. Any thoughts on this? While the Vergelegen Reserve Cab Sauvignon also scored 92 points, it didn’t make your top ten. What was the thinking there? It’s a pity as this isn’t so oaked – usually 40% – and did outperform the Vergelegen V. Would be interesting to know the contrast you found between those two after 10 years.

  • Gareth8 March 2022

    I wonder if scores like 87 for a wine like the Trilogy doesn’t do some reputational damage, which might explain the decline in entries?

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