SA’s best luxury red wine – 2022 taste-off

By , 15 September 2022

Yesterday retailer Wine Cellar held its semi-regular Luxury Red Wine Review, 33 paying guests gathering in Cape Town to blind taste 10 wines with an average price of R2 409,50 a bottle. The price of a ticket to attend was R1 500 and the line-up was at the discretion of Wine Cellar CEO James Pietersen, who related that there are now over 50 wines selling for over R1 000 a bottle in the local market.

Those attending were asked to rank the wines in order of most to least preferred and the overall result was as follows:

1.Vilafonté Series C 2019R1 950
2.Waterford The Jem 2015R1 950
3.Kanonkop Black Label Pinotage 2019R2 000
4. Delaire Graff Laurence Graff 2017R4 000
5.Rust en Vrede 1694 Classification 2017R2 000
6.MR De Compostella 2018R1 650
7.Tokara Telos 2016R4 400
8.Leeu Passant Dry Red 2019R1 150
9. De Toren Book XVII 2019R3 295
10.De Grendel Sir David Graaf 2015R1 700

Here’s how I rated the full line-up:

1. Waterford The Jem 2015 – 97
2. MR De Compostella 2018 – 96
3.= Kanonkop Black Label Pinotage 2019 – 95
3.= Vilafonté Series C 2019 – 95
5. Leeu Passant Dry Red 2019 – 94
6.= Tokara Telos 2016 – 93
6.= De Grendel Sir David Graaf 2015 – 93
6.= Delaire Graff Laurence Graff 2017 – 93
9. De Toren Book XVII 2019 – 92
10. Rust en Vrede 1694 Classification 2017 – 91

Some general observations:

  • Series C from Vilafonté grows in refinement – the 2019 is less overtly plush and sumptuous than previous vintages have tended to be. My tasting note: “Flowers, herbs, red and black berries plus attractive oak on the nose. The palate is very well balanced with pure fruit, fresh acidity and fine tannins, the finish nicely dry”.
  • Wateford The Jem must be admired for the sense of daring that went into its conception – the 2015 is a blend of 48% Cabernet Sauvignon, 22% Shiraz, 9% Mourvèdre, 6% Petit Verdot, 5% Merlot, 4% Cabernet Franc, 3% Sangiovese and 3% Barbera.
  • Kanonkop Black Label is unmistakably Pinotage – credit to this property for coming with a rendition of this often-controversial variety that is so convincing as a luxury wine.
  • MR De Compostella is an immensely classy and highly collectible Cape Bordeaux Red Blend – I drank the 2017 recently and it may be even better than the much-hyped 2018.
  • Leeu Passant Dry Red 2019 remains a remarkably fine wine but perhaps it was a little unfair to include it in this line-up as it’s reason for being is probably not to compete in the marketplace as a “luxury wine”.
  • Telos 2016 from Tokara shows the hallmarks of that difficult vintage in that it seems already quite advanced – only the second vintage of this pinnacle wine, surely declassification was an option?
  • Some of the wines trading at this level are still clearly premised on overt opulence and if this is your thing, then look no further than Delaire Graff Laurence Graff 2017 or Rust en Vrede 1694 Classification 2017.


0 comment(s)

Please read our Comments Policy here.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Like our content?

Show your support.