Glenelly Lady May 2016

By , 6 May 2022

Lady May, the Cape Bordeaux Red Blend from Glenelly in Stellenbosch, became firmly established as one of the best in category in my mind when the 2015 rated 96 points, emerging ahead of Rauzan-Ségla 2015 from Margaux and Cos d’Estournel from Saint Estèphe in a blind tasting last year – see here.

The 2016 is about to be released and winemaker Luke O’Cuinneagain again showed it blind next to some international benchmarks. 2016 is generally considered a lesser vintage but O’Cuinneagain is of the opinion that, while it had its challenges, commentators would be less critical of it were it spaced further away from the stellar 2015 and 2017. “Some vintages are for the long haul and others offer earlier drinkability,” he observes. Tasting notes and ratings for the four wines (in the order poured) as follows:

Ridge Monte Bello 2016 – Santa Cruz Mountains, California
72% Cabernet Sauvignon, 12% Merlot, 10% Petit Verdot, 6% Cabernet Franc. The nose is complex with black and blue berries, cocoa, incense, earth and tar. The palate shows massive power – great fruit depth and smooth textured, the finish extraordinarily long. Unashamedly opulent.

CE’s rating: 94/100.

Glenelly Lady May 2016
80% Cabernet Sauvignon, 8% Merlot, 6% Petit Verdot, 6% Cabernet Franc. Matured for 20 months in 300-litre barrels, 75% new. Red and black berries, some herbal lift and oystershell on the nose. Full but balanced – great clarity of fruit, bright acidity and a pleasantly austere finish. Very pure and focused but that much less imposing than 2015.

CE’s rating: 95/100.

Sassicaia 2016 – Bolgheri, Tuscany
85% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Cabernet Franc. Attractive aromatics – more red than black berries, some tomato leaf and floral perfume. Medium bodied with lively acidity and fine tannins – particularly elegant.

CE’s rating: 94/100.

Chateau Smith Haut-Lafite 2016 – Pessac-Léognan, Bordeaux
65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, 4% Cabernet Franc, 1% Petit Verdot. Red and black berries, olive, cigar box and turned earth on the nose. The palate displays weightless intensity with dense fruit, bright acidity and fine tannins. Utterly seamless with a long, very dry finish.

CE’s rating: 97/100.

Shortly after O’Cuinneagain had demonstrated the high quality of his 2016, he revealed that release of 2017 is probably going to be bought forward to keep up with global demand for this cuvée. Another blind tasting then, and the excellence of Lady May was again plain to see. Tasting notes and ratings as follows:

Vintage Bell Wirra Wirra Cabernet Sauvignon 2017 – McLaren Vale, Australia
The nose is especially fragrant with notes of red and black berries, floral perfume and a quite pronounced herbal note. Medium bodied with fresh acidity and fine tannins, the finish nicely dry.

CE’s rating: 94/100.

Cherubino Rivers End Cabernet Sauvignon 2017 – Western Australia
Intense cassis plus some earthiness on the nose. The palate appears sweet, rich and full. Smooth in texture, this makes a big impression but ultimately lacks verve.

CE’s rating: 91/100.

Glenelly Lady May 2017
90% Cabernet Sauvignon, 6% Cabernet Franc, 4% Petit Verdot. Very attractive aromatics of red and black berries, floral perfume, some leafiness and pencil shavings. Lovely clarity of fruit, bright acidity and firm but fine tannins. Excellent structure and focus, all the elements coming together to very pleasing effect. Youthful and on point, this should mature magnificently.

CE’s rating: 97/100.

Domaine Eden Cabernet Sauvignon 2016 – Santa Cruz Mountains, California
Red and black berries, some herbal character and attractive oak spice on the nose while the palate is full and round in the best way – good fruit expression, moderate acidity and tannins which are soft and supple. Luxurious but equally still balanced and vinous.

CE’s rating: 95/100.

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