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Throughout the world, there are places defined by a signature grape. New Zealand has Sauvignon Blanc, Argentina Malbec, and Burgundy even has two – Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. In South Africa we have Stellenbosch and Cabernet Sauvignon.

While Stellenbosch has been making Cabernet Sauvignon since the 1920s, it was only in the 70s that its true potential was recognised. Stellenbosch, with its proximity to the ocean, ancient and varied soils and geology (shale, granite and sandstone), converging winds, has an additional secret weapon – its topography. Soaring mountain tops allow for a multitude of slopes and aspects, giving variation and nuance to how the vineyards interact with the elements to showcase the variance in terroir and produce world-class Cabs. With this in mind, a quest for site-specific expressions began, coupled with authenticated labelling (previous so-called Cabernet Sauvignons from the 50s and 60s contained large portions of other red varieties, especially Cinsault). With generations of winemakers dedicating their know-how to Cab, a picture of taste has emerged in Stellenbosch. Cabs from the north show typical flavours of plum and blackcurrant with a subtle herbaceous flavour and compact tannins, yet lean towards more red fruit and finer, elegant tannin structure the further east you go. Generous, juicy fruit with a vibrant and firm tannin backbone are characteristics of the west, with southern examples showing deep blueberry notes and an earthiness with nuances of olive and forest floor.

Today, Stellenbosch Cabernets rival some of the best examples from around the world. Stellenbosch winemaker Alastair Rimmer recently told Wine Enthusiast that the district’s Cabernets are relevant to a global quality discussion. “If you consider Bordeaux and Napa the poles, Stellenbosch is right in the middle, offering something for everyone, including lovers of both ends of the spectrum,” he adds. Stellenbosch Cabernet has become as emblematic of South Africa as Springbok loin from the Kalahari.

At Belthazar, we cover all four corners of Stellenbosch, offering some of the best Cabernets in the country and indeed the planet.

Belthazar Wine Editor

Author Belthazar Wine Editor

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