Taaibosch Crescendo 2018

By , 25 February 2021



The Oddo family, who also have wine ventures in Sancerre, Provence, and Sicily, acquired what used to be Cordoba on the Helderberg in 2017 and installed Schalk-Willem Joubert, previously CEO of Rupert & Rothschild Vignerons, to head up operations.

The first release is the Crescendo 2018, a blend of 65% Cabernet Franc, 30% Merlot, and 5% Cabernet Sauvignon, matured in a combination of 225-litre oak barrels, 9 000-liter foudre, and 4 500-liter cement tanks. Engaging aromatics of red berries, some leafiness, and pencil shavings precede a palate that is medium-bodied (alcohol is 13.5%) with good freshness and fine, chalky tannins. It combines clarity of fruit with a pleasing tension and comes across as both elegant and understated, very much recalling the Crescendo that Chris Keet made in the late 1990s. Price: R300 a bottle.

CE’s rating: 92/100.

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6 comment(s)

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    Tim James | 25 February 2021

    Not being lucky enough to get a tasting sample, I bought some bottles of the Taaibosch on the strength of stupendously enthusiastic notes from James Pietersen (of Wine Cellar) and Roland Peens (whose connection with Wine Cellar these days I don’t know). Naive of me, no doubt, as Wine Cellar has the monopoly of sales. I confess I was slightly disappointed and would myself come closer to Christian’s more modest appraisal. The wine is obviously very young, though it’s not hard to drink because it’s very well balanced if not yet anywhere near harmonious, and fairly easy-going in terms of structure. The alcohol level is given as 13.5%, but I’d guess it to be a bit more than that (ie certainly higher than the best of the old Cordoba Crescendos tended to be), and there’s some extracted, sweet ripeness. Very good wine, if not exciting, and I’ll certainly hold back my other two bottles for many years – being glad I didn’t buy more, however. But to my palate not up to best of Chris Keet’s more elegant, less plush version (while I prefer it to the mentioned Nebukadnesar).
    It might partly be a vintage thing; although vintage generalisations are dangerous I also tend to find Stellenbosch 2018 a lesser vintage, especially for later-ripening varieties. The one point I’d probably debate with Christian about is how much Stellenbosch has moved on with its best red wines since, eg, the magnificent Cordoba Crescendo 1997. The latter 90s saw the start of the great Parkerisation of Stellenbosch reds, which to me was a move back, not a “move on”. Though I’m hoping there’s a return to greater lightness and freshness underway now – but dipping below 14% alcohol, as this one does, is not all that common, is it?

      GillesP | 25 February 2021

      Thank you Tim for adding your valuable comments. I also fall for the exciting comments from James Pietersen and I must also state was a big fan of Cordoba Crescendo as well as Keet today. So I decided to take a leap of faith and purchase 8 bottles based on the pedigree. I haven’t tasted it yet as I like my wine matured. When do you reckon this will be open for business?

    Greg Sherwood MW | 25 February 2021

    The consensus in the twittersphere from those who have tasted it already (and I have not yet) is that your score is too conservative and in like for like quality terms, probably should sit closer to 94 or 94+/100. I think people best not get hung up on the name… as that is the only similarity it shares with Chris Keet’s famous 1995 Crescendo… or latter vintages for that matter. I look forward to tasting and assessing a bottle soon.

    GillesP | 25 February 2021

    Hello Christian. If very much recalling the late Crescendo from Chris Keet which in my opinion at the time was one of the best red blend made in SA, what prevented you to give a higher score?

      Christian Eedes | 25 February 2021

      Hi GillesP, Thank you for your question and let’s hope it leads to constructive debate… Reasons for my score: 1) I like to be conservative when it comes to maiden vintages – improvement is inevitable as those involved in a new operation gain more knowledge of a particular site; 2) I think this wine shows its vintage – Stellenbosch 2018s tend to be quite stylish without having the power of 2015 or precision of 2017; 3) Stellenbosch has moved on since Cordoba Crescendo represented the epitome of what was possible; and 4) a score of 92 places this wine next to the likes of Vergelegen DNA 2015 and Babylonstoren Nebukadnesar 2018 on this website, which I would argue means that our calibration is spot on.

        GillesP | 25 February 2021

        Thank you Christian. I was also thinking about the difficult vintage 2018. Probably lots of room for improvement with the terroir. Certainly one to watch for the future

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