Thelema The Abbey 2018

By , 17 August 2020



You wouldn’t say family-owned Thelema on Helshoogte Pass outside Stellenbosch is undistinguished but surrounded by swanky, more recently established neighbours such as Delaire Graff and Tokara, there might be some who fail to properly appreciate it as a result of overfamiliarity.

Gyles Webb abandoned accountancy to acquire the 157ha property in 1983, the first wines released in 1988 – today there are some 50ha under vine with around 300 000 bottles under the Thelema label produced annually. Tasting notes and ratings for some of the current releases as follows:

Do what you wilt.

Thelema The Abbey 2018
Price: R220
New – available from the farm and Woolworths. 60% Shiraz, 30% Grenache, 10% Petit Verdot. Matured for 18 months in French oak, 10% new. A hint of reduction before fresh herbs, red and blackberries, violets and pepper. Pure fruit, bright acidity and crunchy tannins make for a very engaging drop.

CE’s rating: 91/100.

Thelema Merlot 2017
Price: R200
Matured for 18 months in French oak, 10% new. Red and blackberries, pleasing notes of dried herbs and crushed leaves plus subtle oak. Medium bodied with fresh acidity and fine tannins, the finish winningly dry. Well balanced and understated.

CE’s rating: 90/100.

Thelema Merlot Reserve 2018
Price: R390
Matured for 18 months in French oak, 100% new. A complex nose with a top note of rose before red and blackberries, olive, chocolate and oak spice. Good fruit density, bright acidity and firm but fine tannins. Has both a succulence and smoothness about it, the finish long and dry.

CE’s rating: 93/100.

Thelema Rabelais 2017
Price: R650
83% Cabernet Sauvignon and 17% Petit Verdot. Matured for 20 months in French oak, 100% new. A subtle and enticing nose of red and blackberries, violets, cigar box, pencil shavings and spice. The palate has great fruit density without being unduly heavy while the tannins are exceptionally fine. This is beautifully judged and shows great refinement.

CE’s rating: 95/100.

Thelema Cabernet Sauvignon 2017 rated 92/100 in this year’s Prescient Cabernet Sauvignon Report – see here.

Thelema Gargantua Muscadel 2000
Price: R1 400/500ml bottle
From a 1986 Muscat de Frontignan vineyard. Matured for 19 years in older French oak barrels. A super-complex nose – dried fruit plus dried herbs, burnt honey and nutty, spicy notes. The palate is intense but beautifully balanced – not too unctuous, this has layers and layers of flavour, the finish long and dry.

CE’s rating: 96/100.

Check out our South African wine ratings database.

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


1 comment(s)

Please read our Comments Policy here.

    Greg Garden | 17 August 2020

    Over-familiarity is a good first point. A second is lack of focus and dedication to Estate excellence. To the first, you can’t put a wine as ordinary as Thelema Mountain Red on your main label and not expect it to discount perceptions of your Rabelais. To the second, this new Abbey is just another (nice, but meh) distraction to what should be a single-minded concentration on their uber-classy Cabernet (2017 world-class) and perhaps the Bordeaux blend. Plus a classy mainstream Stellenbosch Chardonnay. Both with quirky and unique value adding variants. Giles left the CWG too soon – there was much for him to both gain and give by remaining. A great wine family and team, doubtlessly commercially very sussed and successful (300 000 bottles :)) but not Premier Cru unless or until……

Leave a Reply

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

Like our content?

Show your support.