Stark-Condé - superb Stellenbosch wines

From a mailing we sent in mid-June 2021...

We feature here one of our favourite South African producers. For wines at this price point, they are very hard to beat.

That producer is Stark-Condé, of the Jonkershoek Valley in South Africa’s Stellenbosch. We’ve long maintained the superb value that SA offers, and that’s at its very height with Stark-Condé.

We offered their excellent 2017 Cabernet Sauvignon last summer (2020), after its 96-point review in Decanter. It vanished fast, but we now offer the 2018. It’s yet to pass through the review circuit, but is in fine form again. Compared with the 2017, it’s a more ‘immediate’ and crowd-pleasing vintage: softer, darker, plusher and very much glass-ready. It’s probably not the longer-term ‘keeper’ that the 2017 was, but for direct richness and warmth, this is a great New World Cab Sauv at a superb price for its quality. There’s our video tasting here for the curious and interested. Buyers of the 2017 will not be disappointed (personally, I rather prefer the new vintage), allowing them to squirrel away any remaining 2017 for a few more years...

Cabernet Sauvignon
Stellenbosch, 2018

Why mention Stark-Condé this week? They don’t just make reds, you see. The unique Estate Field Blend 2019 is this week’s Wine of the Week at Seldom indeed do we see a WoW column that waxes quite as lyrical as this one (see here for the full and excellent article).

For example: “I was captivated by the perfume on this wine – so much so that I abandoned the Zoom tasting, briefly, to get another glass so that I could leave this wine in its glass on one side and just keep going back to it, breathing it in. It holds layers of florals (jasmine, lemon blossom, choisya, philadelphus) between gauzy layers of smoke and richer swathes of peach cream and tropical fruit – mango, passion fruit, key limes”.

And we echo this excitement: this is a white that really has it all: heady aromas, a rich texture, a wide spectrum of ripe flavours, great acidity, you name it … It’s safe to say we too are in love with the charms of this one (see our video tasting). It’s an ideal, top-quality Summer White.

However, demand for such wines is invariably fast and furious. The 2019 ran out with us and at the importer almost instantly (having been depleted in Stellenbosch some months earlier). If you're looking or hoping for the 2019... sorry, it's all gone.

Fortunately, the 2020 has just arrived into the UK and is just arriving with us (Thurs 24th June). We've yet to try it (and a bottle is on the way to Team Jancis). The Roussanne component has been increased from ~30% to ~50% (compared with the 2019), with the other components all being reduced slightly. This is wine that is highly scored rated and regarded every year and it's hard to believe it will be any diminution in its new vintage. We will report back very shortly!

(Estate) Field Blend
Stellenbosch, 2020

We are not yet finished with Stark-Condé. The 2017 Syrah recently saw a very high score from Team Jancis: 17.5 of 20 and Good Value status to boot. That review included: “A restrained, peppery, savoury style – complete from the touch of violet and spice fragrance on the palate to the velvety dark-plum and red-nectarine-skin fruit to the lithe, supple, taut tannins. Everything in place. Perfectly South African but with a northern Rhône elegance and freshness blowing like cold night wind and cooling rain over hot stones”. Much recommended here.

(For other excellent, similarly-priced New World, Rhône-alike Syrah experiences, see also the Terciopelo from Argentina’s Uco Valley).

Stellenbosch, 2017

And one more: Stark-Condé's Round Mountain Sauvignon Blanc 2019 took 95 points and a Gold medal at DWWA20 (results for 2021 out soon!). Like the excellent Lismore Sauvignon Blanc (a Jancis WoW a few weeks back; the new vintage arrives next week), it’s barrel-fermented, barrel-aged and brings a lot more to the party than the average SB. Again, very much end of vintage, this.

Round Mountain Sauvignon Blanc
Stellenbosch, 2019