The Artisan Collection current releases

By , 6 February 2020

The Artisan Collection is a series of small-batch wines made by James McKenzie, former banker and the man behind the resuscitation of Wellington property Nabygelegen in Wellington in the mid-2000s. The Artisan Collection had its beginning with a red blend made in 2007 to commemorate the passing on his mother Beulah although McKenzie later deemed a Cap Classique a more appropriate tribute. Tasting notes and ratings for the current release as follows:

Beulah Brut Rosé NV
Price: R220
A blend of 75% Chardonnay and 25% Pinot Noir. 36 months on the lees. Citrus, strawberry and some yeasty complexity on the nose. Relatively rich and broad on the palate with a creamy mousse and a gently savoury finish. Entirely satisfactory if not outstanding.

CE’s rating: 88/100.

Steen 2017
Price: R180
From old-vine Chenin Blanc in Wellington. Skin contact upwards of 20 days. Deep yellow in colour, the nose shows marmalade, dried apricot, some intriguing reduction and spice. The palate is rich and thick textured – plenty of fruit packed around a good line of acidity, the finish long and slightly grippy. Completely fascinating rather than refined.

CE’s rating: 91/100.

Kalk Bay Vineyards Cabernet Franc 2017
Price: R180
From a tiny vineyard planted behind the well-known Olympia Cafe, 57m from the sea and 15m above sea level. Matured in old oak for 15 months. Archetypal nose of cassis, pencil shavings, violets and the vaguest hint of fresh herbs. The palate is seemingly light bodied with fresh acidity and fine tannins. Modest but charming.

Alcohol is 15% although McKenzie says that he usually struggles to ripen the block above 23˚ Balling and posits that this elevated abv is due to super-efficient Italian yeast strains. He also relates that “we also battle with bird strike, salt spray and the various moulds” so a real labour of love. Total production: 200 cases.

CE’s rating: 90/100.

Cashing in.

The Banker 2017
Price: R180
A blend of 55% Cabernet Franc, 21% Merlot, 13%  Cabernet Sauvignon, 8% Petit Verdotand 3% Malbec (all Fibonacci Numbers). Wonderfully enticing nose with notes of red and black fruit, some floral perfume and fresh herbs. The palate is medium bodied with great fruit definition, fresh acidity and fine tannins. Limpid and harmonious, this is a very smart example of a Cape Bordeaux-style red blend.

CE’s rating: 93/100.

Find our South African wine ratings database here.

Attention: Reviews like this take time and effort to create. We need your support to make our work possible. To make a financial contribution, click here. Invoice available upon request – contact


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.