Waterford The Jem 2016

By , 25 August 2023



The 2015 vintage of Stellenbosch property Waterford’s pinnacle red blend was hugely convincing, with it receiving a rating of 96 when I tasted it sighted in March 2021 and then 97 when I encountered it blind in the semi-regular Luxury Red Wine Review held by retailer Wine Cellar in September last year (it was also my best wine overall out of a line-up of 10).

What of its follow-up? The Waterford decision makers initially planned to release the 2017 vintage of Jem before the 2016, as they were inclined to view the 2016 as a particular tight vintage. 2016, of course, saw the notorious Western Cape drought at its height, less rain and higher temperatures during growing season causing more fruit concentration and softer acidities and Waterford have now reversed their original thinking, the 2016 recently released ahead of 2017.

Consisting of 48% Cabernet Sauvignon, 22% Shiraz, 8% Cabernet Franc, 7% Mourvèdre, 6% Petit Verdot, 4% Merlot, 3% Barbera and 2% Sangiovese, maturation lasted 20 months in French oak, 35% new. The nose shows red and black berries, rose, dried herbs, mushroom and earth while the palate is relatively medium bodied (alcohol is 14.1%) with fresh acidity and soft tannins. As with so many wines from this vintage, there’s a sense that this has already reached its plateau of optimum drinking. Price: R2 000 a bottle.

CE’s rating: 92/100.

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4 comment(s)

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    Dieter Gugelmann | 27 August 2023

    Supply, demand and prestige determines the price.
    I’m sure I’ll find 4 bottles of wine just as good as the Jem for Rand 2,000!
    A few years ago I bought the Pinot Noir Gevrey Chambertin for CHF 40 per bottle from the Domaine Armand Rousseau in Burgundy. He ist the TOP, TOP Burgundy producer. Today the same wine costs CHF 540 per bottle and this is the cheapest wine from the domaine.
    I do not buy this wine from Rousseau because the wine is no longer worth the price to me.
    Rousseau is always sold out, even in the most expensive segment which is CHF 4500 per bottle !!!
    Happy who can achieve such prices. Why shouldn’t he offer his wines at astronomical prices when they are in demand.
    The same goes for the Jem. If they get the price of R 2000 why not. It is up to the buyer to put this wine in his cellar!

    Jos | 25 August 2023

    Never really got the point of these outlier luxury wines prices R1000+ that some estates sell. They are often good, even great, but there are just so many great wines that cost 1/3 of the price… unless they have a super vintage that really pulls ahead there just doesn’t seem like there is any reason to even consider them, regardless whether you can afford them.

      Wessel Strydom | 27 August 2023

      Jos, I can not agree with you more. A very well-known winemaker who is selling his wine at R400 per bottle told me he is making a very decent profit at that price point. His wines is usually sold out. After all I suppose it is anyone’s right to select a price point that he/she is comfortable with…

    Greg Sherwood | 25 August 2023

    Was the decision not to release 2017 ahead of 2016 reversed as a result of “staff changes?”

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