Meerlust Red 2019

By , 25 February 2021

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Meerlust in Stellenbosch will not be releasing the 2019 vintage of its famous Cape Bordeaux Red Blend called Rubicon on account of it not meeting self-imposed quality standards: cooler conditions plus rain during harvest meant grapes did not reach full maturity while the preceding drought years finally took their toll. In its stead, the Red 2019, this downgrade only previously occurring in the case of the the ’85, ‘90, ’02 and the 2011 vintages.

With the decision also taken not to bottle the property’s single-variety Merlot from 2019, the Red from this vintage is a blend of 43% Cabernet Sauvignon, 31% Merlot, 21% Cabernet Franc and 5% Petit Verdot, the wine matured for 17 months in French oak, 46% new – this compared to the current release Rubicon 2017 which is more Cab dominated (68%) and saw 60% new oak. The price, in turn, is lower at R230 compared to R440 for Rubicon 2017.

The nose shows red fruit, violets, subtle notes of vanilla and spice plus a hint of reduction. The palate is opulent and open, or at least as much so as any Meerlust wine ever gets. To be hyper-critical, it might be said that it is lacking in mid-palate, but there’s a nice freshness and the tannins are quite soft making it instantly likable. You suspect the property won’t have any cash flow problems in the foreseeable future.

CE’s rating: 90/100.

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  • Greg Sherwood MW25 February 2021

    We are fortunate to get to sell the Meerlust Red every year out here in Blighty (UK). The current release 2017 is particularly popular and drinking beautifully. If SA consumers weren’t so cash strapped, the Estate might also sell this wine in the home market… but there is always the real fear it will cannibalize Rubicon sales. That is not an issue in the UK / European market where the culture of second (and even third) wines is firmly established and increases the demand for the first wines if anything. SA home market still has some maturing to do.

    • Billabong26 February 2021

      Thanks for clearing that up Greg. I have just finished a very fine case of the 2015 Red, which the Wine Society claimed came from parcels of younger vines (10-15yrs old). Given the stellar vintage, I wasn’t surprised that it was good. But it drank so well as a youngster, that I’m really annoyed that I didn’t buy more at that price (£12 bottle)

    • Matie27 February 2021

      Thanks for clarifying this, Greg. We were always sold the idea that this is the “downgrade” version.. quite a different spin to it being a regular (good value) 2nd label!

      • Top Wine SA1 March 2021

        According to the cellarmaster, the Meerlust Red that you usually get in the UK is made using grapes from younger vines that those used for Meerlust Rubicon. The collector’s items in this instance, those editions of Meerlust Red that have come about as a result of the Rubicon being declassified, are limited to 2019, 2011, 2002, 1990 and 1985. All other vintages of Meerlust Red, including the 2017 and 2015, are from vines deemed not yet ready for inclusion in the Rubicon.

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