JUST THE FACTS
Price: Current vintage R385-R450 (as of Sep 2016)
Winery: Rust en Vrede
Varietal: roughly 60% Cab Sauv, 30% Shiraz, 10% Merlot
Wine Region: Stellenbosch
Country: South Africa
Value: kinda irrelevant (but compared to other wines in this price bracket…this is stellar value)
Ponce Factor: Stratospheric
Occasion: Dinner with the firm’s partners
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If you read nothing else
Who cares what it costs? This is discernment, dominance, desire, and alliteration. In a bottle.
This is like Lincoln, Mandela & Thatcher pressed and distilled into a bottle of pure authority. An enormous wine that is simultaneously imposing and seductive.
Vanguard aromas carry black olives, oak, plums, cassis, and dried violets, leading onto a heavy rounded palate of ripe plums and cassis set against glorious black cherry acidity.
Pepper emerges on the tail, accompanied by gloriously well-integrated tannins and a marachino cherry tail that lingers for days.
If the sheer joy of drinking it is not enough, it has more than its fair share of bragging rights:
1. 93 points from Wine Spectator
2. Position 78 on Wine Spectator’s Top 100 for 2012
3. Concour Mondial Bruxelles Gold Medal
There are times where the joy of a wine is purely sensory, and then there are those times, where half the joy it to be attained outside the bottle. This wine is the latter.
Not only does it comes from an estate with over 300 years of winemaking history behind it, but Rust en Vrede has been established over the years as one of the most lauded South African estates on the International stage. Not only has their Estate blend garnered silverware from Concours Mondial Bruxelles, and given Rust-en-Vrede their fifth appearance in the esteemed Wine Spectator‘s Top 100 list, but R&V’s Single Vineyard Cab Sauvs & Single Vineyard Syrahs are no strangers to the upper Echelons of the Wine Spectator scoring system, or Platters 5-star status either.
In short, Rust en Vrede did not simply produce a superb wine in their Estate Blend 2008, but have proven time and time again, that they are a truly world class vineyard. They were Nelson Mandela’s choice of wine at his Nobel Peace Prize-giving dinner; they produced the first South African wine to be listed in the Top 100 wines of the world; and the proceeded to repeat that feat for the next four consecutive vintages. I don’t often gush like a Taylor Swift fan on Grammy night, but when I do, it’s usually because of an overwhelming sense of national pride, not unlike this wave, brought on by the genius of a team like the one lead by Jean Engelbrecht and Coenie Snyman.
Don’t even say the word “Rubicon”.
But let’s just pause for a second. Because whenever making claims of this grandeur about a South African wine, there will always be a reprobate, usually just having returned from the can, where he most certainly did not wash his hands, who will say, “Yeah, but nothing can touch the rubicon.”
Now, there are no doubt a number of contenders who could stand shoulder-to-shoulder with this beauty – Groot Constantia’s Gouverneurs Reserve; Costantia Glen’s Five; Warwick’s Trilogy, Rustenburg’s Peter Barlow… But Meerlust’s Rubicon is not one of them.
Admittedly I feel like the lady doth protest too much on this matter (“the lady” being me in this case), but I only do so, because it is almost a certainty that any one of your dinner companions, who realises that he has been properly wet-willied by your magnificently tasteful wine choice will (no doubt) try to invoke the power of this status totem by saying something vulgar like, “Oh, now I wish I’d brought the Rubicon that I left in my gym bag.”
When this happens, don’t get violent, as would be fitting, but rather just suggest that it’s best that he let it rest for a few more years. It is a commonly known fact that Rubicons are universally and perpetually “going to be magnificent in a a decade or so.” They’re life retirement annuities for vampires. Far more valuable when unrealised.
Don’t take my word for it
In contrast to a lot of wine in the R300+ bracket, this wine performs remarkably well in blind tastings, and is superb value despite it being priced where it is. But rather than have to endure any more of me frothing uncontrollably about it, why not slip a bottle into your next red blend blind tasting and see for yourself. To really test value, you’ll want to have wines from a range of price points…and just for good measure, include a Rubicon from the same vintage and decide the matter for yourself ?
About the Author
Jono Le Feuvre is not a bean counter. He is a bean roaster. Bean roasters carry far more street cred & get to speak at bizarre niche gatherings of enquiring-but-unhinged-minds. They also usually have addictive tendencies. When he is not roasting beans he is pulling corks. Or deftly removing screwcap enclosures. But you can read more about him here.