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Home Winners > Winners 2014 > NEW WORLD: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc & Bordeaux Blends: South Africa

Winner Details

Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc & Bordeaux Blends: South Africa


2014: Gold 2 Silver 3 Bronze 10 Commended 4
2013: Gold 1 Silver 6 Bronze 0 Commended N/A
Must-list status: 70%
Overall SWA performance 2014: B

If South Africa’s performance with Chardonnay was eyebrow-raising, its performance here was ‘beat me round the chops with a haddock to prove I’m not dreaming’ in its unexpectedness. This, after all, is a country whose dominant red-wine notes are burned rubber, unripe tannins and pyrazines hidden under a liberal coating of sugar. Oddly, it’s not been too popular with SWA judges in the past.

Well, if anyone was going to write a book about the Cape’s winemaking in the 21st century, they could do worse than title it ‘Learning to Live with Leaf Roll’, because the standard here was pretty good.

Yes, there’s a certain irony that while the Australians are learning to take ripeness out of their wines the Saffers are finally working out how to get it in, but there’s no arguing with the results – even if they do come with a caveat.

As The Tate Group’s Hamish Anderson put it, ‘These styles of wine are a personal thing. Certain consumers are used to that style.’

Some sommeliers might think said customers are nuts, but in its own way it’s as typical as Kiwi Sauvignon or Bordeaux, and does mean that this is a handy style to have on the list.

‘For a red wine, customers want good pairing with red meat and good value for money; smoky hints but fruity as well,’ said Paolo Pivato of Wernher Restaurant, Luton Hoo Hotel Golf & Spa. ‘These wines are very attractive and you know where you are in the world.’

FOOTNOTE: Includes wines where Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, or Cabernet Franc are the main varietal, plus Bordeaux blends.

From The Tasting Teams

‘We sell a lot of South African wine. People are looking for powerful wines, well-blended and typical of South Africa.’ Paolo Pivato, Wernher Restaurant, Luton Hoo Hotel Golf & Spa

‘What is interesting is that there was still quite a bit of oak on these wines, but enough material in the wines to balance this - it was integrated.’
Olivier Marie, Le Coq d’Argent

‘A great flight! These are wines that sell well anyway. Customers know South African Cabernet blends and go for them.’ Gus Gluck, Vinoteca