Prescient Signature Red Blend Report 2021: Top 10

By , 14 September 2021

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20

Introduction

This year’s Signature Red Blend Report convened by Winemag.co.za and sponsored by multinational financial services company Prescient is now out. There were 50 entries from 38 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

The 10 best wines overall are as follows:

94

Mary le Bow Red 2018
Price: R320
Wine of Origin: Western Cape
Abv: 13.5%

93

Strandveld The Navigator 2018
Price: R225
Wine of Origin: Elim
Abv: 14.07%

93

Waterford The Jem 2015
Price: R1 950
Wine of Origin: Stellenbosch
Abv: 14.37%

92 – Best Buy

Chateau Libertas 2019
Price: R59
Wine of Origin: Western Cape
Abv: 13.2%

92

Guardian Peak SMG 2019
Price: R160
Wine of Origin: Western Cape
Abv: 14.24%

92

Spice Route Chakalaka 2018
Price: R175
Wine of Origin: Swartland
Abv: 14.13%

91

Boschendal Black Angus 2018
Price: R345
Wine of Origin: Stellenbosch
Abv: 14%

91

Haskell II 2016
Price: R240
Wine of Origin: Stellenbosch
Abv: 14.44%

91

La Cave Cape Blend 2018
Price: R220
Wine of Origin: Wellington
Abv: 14.5%

91

Old Road Wine Co. The Spotted Hound 2019
Price: R99
Wine of Origin: Western Cape
Abv: 13%

Waterford, Stellenbosch.

About the category

Why should South Africa be bound by the Bordeaux model when it comes to creating great blended red wine? Perhaps the Rhône is a better reference point given local growing conditions while the so-called “Cape Blend” incorporating Pinotage potentially gives us a unique selling proposition. Then, of course, there are the red blends of yesteryear – Alto Rouge, Chateau Libertas and Rustenberg Dry Red to name but three – which conformed to no particular model but are revered for their complexity and longevity.

Once again, we called for wines which were “distinctive of their originators” and instead of the usual practice of dividing them into various sub-groups according to style (Pinotage-based vs Shiraz-based being the differentiation most usually made), we tasted them as one continuous line-up – the thinking being that the fundamentals of wine appreciation such as complexity and balance should apply when it came to making quality assessments.

What do top Signature Red Blends go for?

The average price of the 25 wines to rate 90-plus is R257 a bottle and of the Top 10 is R379. Offering the best quality relative to price is Chateau Libertas 2019 from Distell with a rating of 92 and selling for R59 a bottle.

Discovery of Report

The “Discovery of Report” serves to recognise previously unsung wines.

90

De Wet Vintage Mashup 2020
Price: R95

Founded in 1946, De Wet Cellar located in Worcester is grower-owned and processes 19 000 tons of grapes annually. The Vintage Mashup 2020 is a dead sexy blend of 34% Shiraz, 27% Cabernet Sauvignon, 26% Pinotage and 13% Merlot – fragrant aromatics of red berries, rose geranium, fynbos and white pepper while the palate is medium bodied with lots of juicy fruit and fine tannins.

In-depth analysis

To read the report in full, including key findings, tasting notes for the top wines, buyers guide and scores on the 100-point quality scale for all wines entered, download the following: Prescient Signature Red Blend 2021

Shop online

Johannesburg boutique wine retailer Dry Dock Liquor is offering some of the wines in the Top 10 for sale and can deliver nationwide – buy now.

Online retailer Wine-of-the-Month Club is offering a six-bottle mixed case selected from the Top 10 – buy now.

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Comments

20 comment(s)

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  • Jacques de Villiers28 September 2021

    Sad fact is that there are many phe nominal wines available at many cellars that were not entered into the “competitions” that are magical in their own way
    Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately) it takes many bottles of wines to be considered (or consumed) to determine your own preferences
    Don’t drink the label
    The bling really does not count
    Ultimately its what is in the glass that determines if u feel ripped off or vindicated in paying the asking price per bottle

  • Carno21 September 2021

    Hi Christian, thanks for this – only 36,337 bottles produced in this seal range, bottled Sept 2020, so I’m not surprised you did not find any. My search also came up empty. Pity, I was looking forward to tasting the wine

    • Top Wine SA22 September 2021

      Chateau Libertas 2019 is available at Checkers Rondebosch. No mention of Distell on the labels, but there is reference to Stellenbosch Farmers’ Winery – which every winemaker under 30 years old is quite familiar with… Phhh!!

  • Carno16 September 2021

    Would you mind sharing the lot number of the Chateau Libertas you tasted? 107K is not much for such a brand and probably one of many bottlings of 2019 vintage. Sometimes if the accountants are not paying attention a special tank can find its way to the bottle 😉

    • Christian Eedes16 September 2021

      Hi Carno, The WSB seal on the unopened second bottle reads: “9173 476596”.

      • TomH16 September 2021

        Hi Christian. Would you consider doing a sighted tasting of the 2019 Chateau Lib for us? Perhaps of a retail bottle purchased at random. I must confess that I find it quite thrilling that this has performed so well in your report and its fun to see the reactions that this has elicited. Its also fun to contemplate romantic hypothetical explanations such as a “special tank” accidentally finding its way into bottle as a result of an accounting error. So lets keep the story going on this site with a sighted tasting!

        • Wilrich Niehaus17 September 2021

          I love this idea Tom.

          • Christian Eedes17 September 2021

            I shall acquire TWO bottles, one to taste sighted and the other to taste blind against the second bottle that was officially submitted!

            • TomH17 September 2021

              That’s a bloody brilliant idea. I cant wait for the outcome. Thanks, Christian!

            • Rolff17 September 2021

              please send your results to me!
              Chat Lib blind tasted again, by you, will be interesting to see if it was a special bottle or the whole 2019 bottling????
              Love to get my hands on some!!

            • Wilrich Niehaus21 September 2021

              Great stuff, thanks Chrstian, very much looking forward to this.

              • Christian Eedes21 September 2021

                I fear our interesting little research project is going to come to naught. On visiting three separate retail establishments, two did not stock Chateau Libertas at all and the third had already moved on to the 2020 vintage (review coming soon). I shall continue to look out for the 2019 but it seems hard to come by!

      • Sam+Venter6 October 2021

        I’ve just been sent a 2019 (along with a 2020 bag-in-box). The 2019 not the same batch as Christian’s – the seal number starts with 9084 , also a batch of about 36,000 bottles. Planning to taste both blind to see how they stack up against some other red blends.

  • Mike14 September 2021

    Wonder why Distell makes no reference to Chateau Libertas on their website…

  • Wilrich Niehaus14 September 2021

    I went out to buy the 2019 Chateau Libertas, I’m sorry this is a very average wine. I’m very disappointed, I think you guys were tricked in the blind tasting. The Spotted Hound is good value for money though.

    • MS15 September 2021

      Why would you say that and by your comment I guess you are an experience taster?

      • Wilrich Niehaus16 September 2021

        The bottle I tasted was just nowhere near a Top 10 wine. Unfortunately, it was not a blind taste, but I really wanted to like it. I also paired my second glass with Cypriot style lamb ribs to see if I can get those flavors out, but it was really a disappointing wine. My guess is there’s a premium batch that they share selectively.
        I scored it a generous 12/20

  • DCF14 September 2021

    I did not expect to see Chateau Libertas score 92, especially given the Winemag sighted review of the 2017: https://winemag.co.za/wine/review/chateau-libertas-classic-dry-red-blend-2017/ (picture caption: ‘How the mighty have fallen?’) Can we get some more commentary on this please?

    • Christian Eedes14 September 2021

      Hi DCF, A provocative result! I have to say I find the outcome pleasing – it has for a long time seemed to me that there is no reason SA wine corporates should not deliver high quality wines at competitive prices given their access to suitable vineyards, their ownership of well equipped production facilities, their capacity to attract and retain reliable if not outstanding winemakers and economies of scale. The challenge always comes from the finance department but a preoccupation with profitability and wine quality don’t necessarily have to be mutually exclusive.

      Another point I would make is that I think the success of the independents in recent times has forced the corporates to raise their collective game – consumers simply won’t accept shoddy quality at any level of the market.

      No doubt there will be observers who feel that Chateau Libertas has been over-rewarded relative to other wines in this tasting but as I have argued many times before this is to misconstrue the role of a blind tasting, which deals with the construction of a wine in a mechanical sense (how well put together it is) at a certain point of time while sighted tasting deals with issues of pedigree and long-term potential. If you’re on a tight budget and you’re looking for something pleasant to drink tonight then opt for the Chateau Lib. If, on the other hand, you’re looking for something to open in 20 years time, then The Jem is probably a better bet…

      • Jaco3 October 2021

        Opened a bottel of 2019 Chateau Libertas this weekend, 3 people had some of it and all were in agreement that it is one of the better vintages they tasted… having said that I was not convinced on the 92 rating… but then again everyone is entitled to their own opinion and rating. Nothing wrong with the wine… good value at that price, goes well with any braai!

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