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Martin Meinert, The Graduate Syrah 2017 (1x75cl)


Awarded a Gold medal and 95 points at the 2020 Decanter World Wine Awards (click link for details and review).

For other 2020 DWWA winners, click here.

Meinert Wines produces a small and personalised range of wines in limited quantities from both the hillside Devon Crest vineyard outside Stellenbosch as well as a number of vineyard sites across the Cape Winelands. One such wine is the Meinert Sauvignon Blanc sourced from the cool climate region of Elgin, an area also renowned for apples and pears. Each wine is created with much thought and care to ensure uniqueness and individual character.

Meinert's Family Collection wines are unique bottlings from small lots made for family, friends and loyal customers, and one such wine is The Graduate Syrah. While traversing the Cape’s many vineyards in order to find ‘that’ unique vineyard, they by chance, stumbled across gnarled Syrah vines basking in the sea breezes of Hermanus. In true fashion, these grapes are always the last to ripen and when allowed to take their own course, yield an interesting and unique wine. This wine bears testament to not only the graduation of the vines from soil to glass, but also its custodian, Brendan Butler, a Cape Wine Master.

Meinert are not allowed to mention this on the wine’s back label as the SA Wine & Spirit Board prohibits pretension of single vineyard status unless so certified. However, the grapes are sourced from a single Syrah block in the Upper Hemel-en-Aarde overlooking the coast and are farmed with much love and a surgical-precision attention to detail yielding truly remarkable fruit.

The Syrah grapes are always the last come into the cellar, and after careful hand harvesting, the fruit is transported by means of refrigerated truck to the Meinert cellar in Devon Valley. A portion of the fruit is whole-bunch fermented where whole bunches are placed into stainless steel red wine fermenters and covered with de-stemmed and partially-crushed berries. The balance is fermented traditionally following careful destemming and berry sorting. Fermentation took eight days to complete where after the wine was left on its skins for a further 5 days. The individual components are matured for 12 months prior to bottling in a combination of seasoned barrels and Flexcube tanks. Only 3,000 bottles were made.

100% Syrah.

With the grapes hanging on the vine late into the harvest season, the tannins are always supple and silky and supported by an elegant fruit profile of blueberry, blackberry, plums and true Syrah pepper tones. A minimalist approach to vinification ensures the ultimate expression of terroir that pairs superbly with venison carpaccio and hearty beef steaks. This wine is ever charming in its youth but will develop further with careful cellaring for the next 8 – 12 years.

ABV = 13.0%.


Journeys End The Cape Doctor (Red) 2015 (1x75cl)


Awarded a Platinum medal and 97 points at the 2020 Decanter World Wine Awards (click link for details and review).

For other 2020 DWWA winners, click here.

Awarded 94 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter ( in their April 2020 edition expert tasting of Global Bordeaux blends (see blue link below).

Journeys End The Cape Doctor Cabernet Sauvignon 2015 - April 2020 Decanter review

Among the long rolling south-facing slopes of the Stellenbosch winelands, caressed by cool coastal breezes, lies the boutique winery and vineyard, Journey’s End. With only a handful of premium, hand-crafted wines produced here, the focus is very much on quality. In 1995 the Gabb family (originally from Shropshire, UK) took control of this picturesque wine farm surrounded by 20 ha of gorgeous vineyards. They have invested heavily in both the vineyards and the winery – with the estate growing to 120 ha by July 2011. The Gabbs are entirely committed to being environmentally sustainable and socially responsible. Those behind Journey’s End have a keen eye on the sustainable and ethical production of their premium wine. There is a tangible and deep respect for the environment, clearly apparent in farming practices that are integrated as closely to nature as is possible. Journey’s End converted to solar power in 2014. The farm became fully Fairtrade certified from April 2017.

This wine, the Cape Doctor, is only produced in the most exceptional years.

The Cape Doctor is the local name for the strong south-eastern wind that blows from False Bay and funnels through to Cape Town and Blouberg. The Doctor works his magic by blowing away smog and impurities, clearing the skies and making way for some fresh sea air.

Because it can play havoc with the vines at flowering, it is often cited as a negative factor for winemakers.  At Journey’s End, though, it has a beneficial effect of long ripening periods for the grapes, which produces concentrated berries with fantastically firm acidity. It also minimises the risk of any fungal diseases on the vines.

39% Cabernet Sauvignon, 33% Merlot, 17% Petit Verdot, 6% Cabernet Franc, 5% Malbec (NB: this is a marked shift from the 2014, which was 100% Cab Sauv).

To see an excellent (albeit iffily-formatted) information/tech sheet, produced by the team at Journey's End, please click on the blue link below.

Journeys End The Cape Doctor Cabernet Sauvignon 2015 - fiche technique

Deep fruitcake richness on the nose, cinnamon and nutmeg spices, followed by a perfectly balanced, silky smooth, streamlined body. Misleadingly accessible, despite the current appeal, there is enough underlying power for a long future ahead.

ABV = 14.5%.


Ken Forrester Three Halves 2013 (1x75cl)

Click here for a one-minute intro video to - and tasting note for - the Three Halves from Ken Forrester himself (in classic Ken fashion).

Situated on the slopes of the Helderberg Mountain, in the heart of South Africa's most famous wine region Stellenbosch, Ken Forrester's vineyards are commonly referred to as the home of Chenin Blanc and other premium award-winning wines. Over the years, this range of top quality wines has received massive national and international acclaim with literally hundreds of awards and accolades. The wines are broadly available in reputable restaurants and exported around the globe. Ken Forrester’s philosophy has always been to create a range of handcrafted, individually made wines that suitably complement a wide variety of food styles and provide excellent value.

What is Three Halves? And why?

Mourvèdre (earthy) with a splash of Grenache (fruity) here and a dash of Shiraz (spicy) there was blended to create this incredible wine. The overriding requirement being that the blend of the “three halves” has to be greater than the sum of the parts..

57% Mourvedre, 32% Shiraz, 11% Grenache. The Cape Region is specifically defined as a Mediterranean climate. These three grapes have stood the test of time in the Rhône and show fantastic results in Stellenbosch's ocean-influenced microclimate.

- From duplex soils, fine sandy loam on a clay base.

- A hand-picked selection of the best and ripest fruit, at a yield of 6-8 tons per hectare.

- Taken to the cellar and cool soaked prior to fermentation, then run to second-fill French oak barrels for 18 months.

Tasting note: see the video link above.

ABV = 14.5%.


Mulderbosch Faithful Hound 2016 (1x75cl)

Awarded 92 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter ( in their April 2020 edition expert tasting of Global Bordeaux blends (see blue link below).

Mulderbosch Faithful Hound 2016 - April 2020 Decanter review

Founded in 1989, multi-award winning Mulderbosch Vineyards is one of South Africa’s foremost wine producers. As advocates to the Integrated Production of Wine (IPW) code, they manage their vineyards limiting the use of herbicides, fungicides and pesticides. They use a restrained approach in the cellar to produce distinctive and characterful wines that represent the Stellenbosch terroir. Chenin Blanc is the Cape’s signature variety and they have the largest planting of this variety in the world. In 1996, Mulderbosch was one of the very first producers in the Cape to ferment Chenin Blanc in barriques. The resultant wine garnered an avid following and Mulderbosch has since become synonymous with the variety. 

The Faithful Hound is a blend of five varieties; all are estate grown grapes except the Malbec and Cabernet Sauvignon which come from neighbouring vineyards carefully chosen for their consistency and quality. All vines are trellised, using Vertical Shoot Positioning and moveable foliage wires. The basic geological structure is decomposed granite, with soils comprising varying levels of gravelly clay. Leaf removal at an early stage of the grape's life generally ensure the pyrazine or ‘green’ flavours often encountered in Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc are avoided. Moderate cropping levels of between eight to 12 tonnes provide the vines with a natural load that encourages slower accumulation of grape sugars and thus allows for riper flavours at lower Brix levels. Mechanical under vine weeding takes place as herbicides are no longer used at Mulderbosch.

2016 saw a hot and dry growing season, which reduced disease pressure in the vineyard and resulted in excellent concentration in the fruit.

The grapes were meticulously sorted prior to being destemmed. The fermentation process was initiated by naturally occurring yeast, and finished by a selected strain, added during the course of fermentation. Gentle extraction and long maceration time are the hallmarks of the winemaking style, followed by barrel maturation. The wine spent 16 months in French oak barriques, of which 30% were new and the remainder in 2nd- and 3rd-fill.

Cabernet Sauvignon 33%, Cabernet Franc 20%, Merlot 19%, Malbec 17% and Petit Verdot 11%.

Beautifully textured, the fleshy ripe fruit is balanced by an smoky, savoury character showing pronounced cassis, dried figs, dates together with hints of clove and chocolate. Classically styled, pronounced cassis is followed by dried figs, dates, hints of clove and notes of forest floor on this complex bouquet. Underpinned by serious structure, the fleshy ripe fruit finds balance with an earthy, savoury character. A poised and elegant wine. Perfect with grilled steak and charred tomato salsa. 

ABV = 13.5%.


Stark-Conde Cabernet Sauvignon, Stellenbosch 2017 (1x75cl)


Awarded 96 points, top spot and Outstanding status by Decanter ( in their September 2020 edition article, South African Cabernet Sauvignon: 20 Wines to Buy (see blue link below).


Stark-Conde Cabernet Sauvignon, Stellenbosch 2017 - September 2020 Decanter review

"If you want to know what textbook Stellenbosch Cabernet tastes like - blended with 15% Petit Verdot, Petite Sirah, Malbec and Cabernet Franc, I'll grant you - this is a very good place to start. Focused, perfumed, balanced and very fine, this has wonderful freshness and elegance. Drink 2022-29. 94 points". Tim Atkin MW, SA Special Report 2019.


We've carried out a video tasting for this one - click here to watch (4 mins 40 secs)


Stark-Condé Wines is located in the picturesque Jonkershoek Valley in Stellenbosch. It is a dramatic valley with steep changes in vineyard elevation from 150 to 600 metres making for a range of sites with distinct characteristics. At Stark-Condé, they stick to traditional winemaking methods: open tank fermentation meticulous sorting of grapes hand-punchdowns basket pressing and maturation in small French oak barrels.

The grapes for this wine are from 4 different Cabernet vineyards and their best Malbec, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot vineyards, all at a mix of different elevations. Although all are on the decomposed granite soils typical of the hillsides in Jonkershoek, the soil textures vary markedly and this, together with the differences in elevations and clones, gives a variety of different flavour profiles to the grapes.

2017 was warm and dry, thus producing very small berries with great concentration of flavour. The wines are boldly fruited and very plush with velvet-like tannins. 

The Cabernet Franc grapes were picked in late February, the Malbec early March, and the Cabernet Sauvignon grapes and the Petit Verdot were harvested in mid-March. The grapes were picked into small lug boxes and cooled overnight to about 14 degrees before being hand-sorted and crushed into small open-top fermentation vats. After being cold-soaked for a couple of days, some of the musts were inoculated with a mix of domestic and imported Bordeaux yeast. About 40% underwent fermentation with the natural yeasts. The fermentations were hand punched-down every 4 hours for the first half of fermentation and every 6-8 hours until dry. At dryness, the wine was basket-pressed and racked to barrel for malolactic fermentation and barrel maturation. Only 300-litre French oak barrels were used, of which about 30% were new. Bottled without fining and with no filtration after 20 months barrel maturation.

For extra info, here's Stark-Condé's own data sheet/fiche technique (click link below).

Stark-Conde Cabernet Sauvignon, Stellenbosch 2017 - fiche technique

This wine is a blend of 85% Cabernet Sauvignon, 8% Petit Verdot, 4% Petite Sirah, 2% Malbec, 1% Cabernet Franc. 

Blackberry fruit aromas with tea-leaf and cedar notes. The palate is rich and polished with dark fruit and mocha flavours and a finely balanced acidity. Long finish with the fine tannins typical of a Jonkershoek Valley wine.

ABV = 14.0%.


Flagstone The Music Room Cabernet Sauvignon 2017 (1x75cl)

Cabernet can be made anywhere in the world. The reason this imperialistic grape variety is omnipresent is because it adapts well to different environments. It is an easy traveler that has spread from its recent origins in Bordeaux, France, to most arable corners of the globe. It is relatively easy to make a good Cabernet, but to make a great Cabernet requires brilliant vineyards, resolute dedication and meticulous practice. Of course, you first have to start with the right vineyards. Flagstone's Music Room Cabernet hails from three distinct vineyard blocks.

First, the real core is from an old block of Cabernet high up in the mountains above the hamlet of Ashton on the spectacular farm called Wildepaardekloof, which means “Wild Horse Valley”. The second block that gives the wine so much cassis fruit comes from the slopes of the Waaihoek Mountains between Tulbagh and Worchester high above the Breedekloof valley. The third block is found nestled in the cool, high-altitude climate of Elgin on the farm Glen Fruin and provides taut blackcurrant and mint flavours.

The resultant combined aromas and flavours of these spectacularly positioned vineyards are expressed in the final blend as complex, ripe, summer fruits like strawberry, cherry, and black-ripe young berry. This density of red berry flavours is framed by herbs like fennel, mint and fresh thyme. The bitter chocolate notes and hint of vanilla come from the barrels they use which are hand-coopered to very exacting specifications in a variety of small, family-owned cooperages in Bordeaux and Napa Valley. The tannins are almost creamy in texture. This is directly the result of the ancient, manual practice of gently hand-plunging the fermenting cap down. The serious palate weight is usually balanced by enough natural acidity to compliment intensely flavoured, rich food.

100% Cabernet Sauvignon. 

The Music Room has a deep, dense purple colour. On the nose summer fruits, cassis, fennel, mint, dark, bitter chocolate and the faintest hint of basil - all wrapped up in serious, warm toasty oak. The palate is all about chunky, chewy, magically integrated tannin. This rewarding mouth-feel is complemented by concentrated flavours of young berry, cassis, blueberry, wild mint and chocolate. A block-buster Cabernet that will live easily for 20 years from bottling if stored correctly.

ABV = 14.5%. 

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