Cape Bordeaux Red Blend Report 2018

By , 26 June 2018



The fourth annual Cape Bordeaux Red Blend Report  is now out.

81 entries were received from 64 producers for this year’s competition and these were tasted blind (labels out of sight) by the three-person panel, scoring done according to the 100-point quality scale.

The producer of the wine judged best overall won a new 300-litre Selection barrel worth €955 (equivalent to R15 175 at the current exchange rate) from Tonnellerie Sylvain.

Wines to rate 90 or higher on the 100-point quality scale were as follows:

Delaire Graff Botmaskop 2016
Price: R325

Mulderbosch Faithful Hound 2015
Price: R170

Zorgvliet Richelle 2016 – BEST WINE OVERALL
Price: R290

Ernie Els Signature 2014
Price: R785

MR de Compostella 2014
Price: R1 265

Muratie Ansela van de Caab 2015
Price: R360

Fairview Drie Papen Fontein Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot 2016
Price: R200

Fleur du Cap Laszlo 2015
Price: R415

Groot Constantia Gouverneurs Reserve 2015
Price: R415

Miravel 1952 Family Blend 2015
Price: R175

Tokara Director’s Reserve 2014
Price: R400

Idiom Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot Cabernet Franc Petit Verdot Malbec 2015
Price: R300

Spier Creative Block 5 2015
Price: R159

Babylonstoren Nebukadneser 2016
Price: R498

Bartinney Elevage 2011
Price: R276

Creation Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot Petit Verdot 2016
Price: R202

DeMorgenzon Maestro Red 2016
Price: R215

Diemersdal Private Collection 2013
Price: R150

Fleur du Cap Laszlo 2014
Price: R430

Haskell IV 2012
Price: R350

Keet First Verse 2013
Price: R385

Lanzerac Le Général 2015
Price: R500

Leopard Frog Vineyards Tantra 2006
Price: R119.95

Louis57 Jasoma Conclusion 2016 (Boschkloof)
Price: R200

MR de Compostella 2015
Price: R1 150

Overgaauw Tria Corda 2014
Price: R388

Raats Red Jasper 2015
Price: R195

Rousseau Babette 2015
Price: R120

Simonsig Tiara 2015
Price: R325

Vondeling Philosophie 2015
Price: R720

Vrede en Lust Boet Erasmus 2014
Price: R205

Warwick Three Cape Ladies 2015
Price: R160

Warwick Trilogy 2015
Price: R350

To read the tasting report in full, download the following: Cape Bordeaux Red Blend Report 2018


12 comment(s)

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    Le Penseur | 28 June 2018

    Kwispedoor, I wholeheartedly agree with you especially the remark regarding the “greenness”, apparently also referring to the Rubicon. This remark and in particular the assessment and consequent rating of the Rubicon is somewhat incongruous.

    “A culmination of viticultural factors and the incredible 2015 vintage have resulted in the best Meerlust Rubicon we have ever tasted. The benchmark 2009 showed signs of being a great modern Rubicon but we had to wait until 2015 to taste something really special. What the 2015 possesses is a beautiful purity of fruit, incredible poise and extraordinary depth. Supported by a slither of new oak and detailed tannins, it is finely balanced and will drink well from 2020. Taut, yet ripe tannins provide a towering structure…” – Wine Cellar – April 17, 2018

    “A mesmerizingly dark black purple colour, this youthful wine is wonderfully crystalline, focused and pure, possessing such pretty aromatics of cherry blossom, rose petals, caramelised cranberries, violets, cherry pie, raspberry infused herbal tea and a subtle creamy vanilla pod extravagance. The palate is ultra suave, opulent yet effortlessly fresh and defined, supremely balanced and concentrated. Such gorgeous depth and seamless elegance, a tantalizing brûléed buttered brown toast complexity, creamy filigree tannins and an incredibly long, spellbinding finish. This is going to be a definite future icon vintage on par with the very best Cru Classe…” – 97+/100 Greg Sherwood MW

    “… the nose shows red and black fruit, an attractive herbal note, pencil shavings and oak spice. The palate is medium bodied and has a lovely composure about it – excellent fruit definition, zippy acidity and fine-grained tannins… It’s being talked up as being able to last for decades and I think it will but not because of any massive structure but rather how pure and harmonious it is.” – 94/100 Eedes [Winemag]

    At the Old Mutual Trophy Wine Show the Rubicon was assessed and rated 92/100. Pietersen [Wine Cellar] was a judge in the Bordeaux style red blend category.

    Now, regarding the Winemag Cape Bordeaux Red Blend Report, I accept that Eedes was consistent in his rating of 94/100 and it can arguably be reasoned that Pietersen rated the Rubicon at least 90/100 also accepting that he too must have been fairly consistent in his assessment of the Rubicon.

    Now, placing the rating of 88/100 in context it simply means that Peens [Wine Cellar} must have rated the Rubicon 80/100 notwithstanding the glowing review of the Wine Cellar referred to above. I accept that it is somewhat based on mere postulations without hard facts, but that is all we can do without the panel revealing their individual scores [something the Decanter Magazine in fact does] and drawing inferences from the assessments referred to above.

    This rating must necessarily, then, also, be juxtaposed against the rating of 97+/100 by Greg Sherwood. Such a variance is simply untenable, if not indefensible. This goes to the root of confusion for the wine consumer and debatably makes wine assessment and ratings obsolete.

      jonathan snashall | 28 June 2018

      you appear to be presuming that all palates are the same, and that they are consistent day in and day out – there is no perfect palate, no perfect wine competition, no perfect result. Your points are about as old as wine itself, while wines and competitions will always be subject to vagaries of the human condition.

        Le Penseur | 28 June 2018

        The word “criticism” implies evaluation. It is derived from the Greek word kritikos, which means to judge, and the kritikoi were the judges or jurymen who gave verdicts (often in competitions).

        The kritikoi were also encouraged to come to their judgements after careful consideration – for Aristotle, criticism was not simply judging but judging well – and mindful that they should be for the good of the society allowing future judges to judge more soundly.

        Over time, however, criticism has become capacious including all manner of commentary, and its evaluative dimension is less determining and, in many cases, non-existent.

        It is noteworthy that a core concept in science generally is replication of results: our willingness to believe something depends upon our ability to demonstrate it again. But that seems particularly difficult with wine assessments and represents something of a challenge to our embrace of the assessment or method employed or both.

        Jonathan, I do not presume a perfect palate, perfect competition not even consistent palates day in and day out, however, you are trying to defend assessments and rating that varies by 6, 10 or more points on the 100-point scale on the basis of the vagaries of the human condition. Variances of 2 points up or down the scale is arguably acceptable, but to argue that variances of 6, 10 or more points are acceptable, justifiable on the basis of the vagaries of the human condition merely serve as affirmation to the perception that wine assessment and ratings are ambiguous and in such circumstances redundant.

        An Analysis of the Concordance Among 13 U.S. Wine Competitions – Robert T. Hodgson* – “An analysis of over 4000 wines entered in 13 U.S. wine competitions shows little concordance among the venues in awarding Gold medals. Of the 2,440 wines entered in more than three competitions, 47 percent received Gold medals, but 84 percent of these same wines also received no award in another competition. Thus, many wines that are viewed as extraordinarily good at some competitions are viewed as below average at others. An analysis of the number of Gold medals received in multiple competitions indicates that the probability of winning a Gold medal at one competition is stochastically independent of the probability of receiving a Gold at another competition, indicating that winning a Gold medal is greatly influenced by chance alone.”

        How Expert are “Expert” Wine Judges? – Robert T. Hodgson – “Recent papers by Hodgson (2008) and Gawel and Godden (2008) have questioned the consistency of expert wine judges in a wine competition setting. In the latter paper, a methodology introduced in psychometric research to measure judge reliability corrected for chance was used to quantify judge consistency (Cohen, 1968). This paper extends that notion, suggesting a value of 0.7 for Cohen’s weighted kappa might be used to define an expert wine judge. With that criterion, less than 30% of judges who participated in either of the two studies would be considered “expert.” (JEL Classification: C1, L15)

        *Robert T Hodgson is a retired professor of oceanography and statistics.

        Jamie Goode, in his excellent book, I Taste Red makes the following remark:

        “A remarkable double-think is commonly found among well-known wine critics. If they are questioned, they almost invariably affirm that wine tasting is a subjective process: your own palate should be your guide, and there is no such thing as ‘wrong’ when it comes to tasting wine. Yet it is obvious that they believe wine tasting to be an objective process, one which their expertise gives them an advantage over us; they are the ones with expertise…”

        Professor Barry Smith, is co-director and founder of the Centre for the Study of the Senses. He works mainly in the philosophies of mind, language and psychology where he works on self-knowledge, knowledge of language, the nature of taste and the multisensory perception of flavour. He questions what we can know about wine as follows:

        ”How accurate or objective is the language we use for describing [the features, qualities, and character of] the wines we talk about?

        If taste is subjective “as we are always told” is sharing during tasting truly a shared experience in the sense of having something significant in common and knowing what each other is tasting?

        If a wine requires tasting it for oneself, does our tasting reveal properties of the wine itself or, instead, our subjective responses to the wine?

        Is judgment about wine neither entirely subjective nor objective but perhaps relative — that is, accurate for “a standard or assessment, or set of preferences,” that is not shared among experts?

        How much trust should we place in wine connoisseurs or experts” and are they able to communicate effectively with anyone other than perhaps other experts?”

        Presumably Professor Smith’s points are also about as old as wine itself?

    Kevin | 27 June 2018

    If anything, it must cause confusion to the consumer if a wine like Diemersdal Private Collection 2016 gets Trophy for the best Bdx-style Red at the OMTWS and then only 87 in this report. Any idea who was on the particular panel at the Old Mutual show? Same confusion applies to the 2015 Rubicon.

    Bobby | 26 June 2018

    Hi – The John X Merriman has been a consistent achiever over the years but seems missing this year?

      Christian Eedes | 26 June 2018

      Hi Bobby, The short answer is that Rustenberg was between vintages at the time of the tasting, i.e. 2015 already reviewed (92 points) and 2016 not yet released.

    Christian Eedes | 26 June 2018

    Hi Ashley, It looked very muted on the day causing both bottles to be opened. The panel also noted a green/leafy edge which some might consider a hallmark of the property but always difficult to know how much of this character to tolerate when tasting blind.

      Ashley Westaway | 26 June 2018

      Thanks Christian. The Winemag tasting reports are certainly very useful reference documents.

      Kwispedoor | 26 June 2018

      I really don’t think that wine has any undue (unripe/aggressive) greenness to it at all. It already drinks very well, too. I do see however that basically all the top wines are around or over 14.5% ABV, which could mean that the panel is arguably tending to reward a certain style, more than they are rewarding high quality over a range of stylistic expressions? The Leoville Poyferre perhaps being one case in point, scoring comfortably below the average for all the wines.

        Neil | 26 June 2018

        I’m sure James and Roland will stand by the huge hype they applied to the 2015 Rubicon on so does a subsequent score of 88 emphasise the vagaries of tastings, especially blind?

        Christian Eedes | 26 June 2018

        Hi Kwispedoor and Neil, I don’t think the panel tends towards a certain style – rather that the days of deluxe Cab-Merlot blends at 12.5% are over and they’re not coming back – Rubicon 2015 itself has an alcohol of 14%. Looking at the category as a whole, pyrazine character remains an issue, quite a few wines which in every other respect appear to be made from properly ripe grapes still showing some degree of green character. Whether this is due to leafroll virus, the proximity of eucalyptus trees to the vineyards in question or inappropriate viticulture, who’s to say? As for the measure of Rubicon 2015, should be 88 points? Or 97.5 as Greg Sherwood MW scored it pre-release? Or somewhere in the middle? Suffice to say, it’s not going to disgrace your cellar.

    Ashley Westaway | 26 June 2018

    Good morning Winemag team! Any comment on the poor showing of the much-heralded Meerlust Rubicon 2015?

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