What I Drank Last Night
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Stellenzicht Cabernet Sauvignon 1993 vs. 2003

Stylistic opposites.

During the submission period for the RE:CM 10 Year Old Wine Awards, Stellenzicht inadvertently sent the 1993 vintage of its Cabernet Sauvignon and then sent its 2003 too late for judging. We opened them side by side the other night and what a contrast.

The 1993 was 12.5% abv, the 2003 15%. The 1993 showed both red and black fruit plus some tomato cocktail character. Medium bodied, fresh, tannins nicely resolved – not profound but still going strong and very more-ish (score: 16/20). The 2003 had a liqueur-like quality about it – sweet dark fruit, mint and chocolate. Rich, soft and smooth and not going to get any better (score: 15/20).

As Tim James of Grape.co.za reminded me, 1993 was André van Rensburg’s first vintage at Stellenzicht (before he departed for Vergelegen) and the 1996 edition of Platter’s relates that it was “a serious attempt to improve on previous” – 10% Cabernet Franc, small French oak for 15 months, large barrels for six months. The cellaring recommendation on the back label reads “Can be enjoyed now but will improve until 2000”. A somewhat conservative estimate, it turns out.

Comments

  1. Seems like the authorship of Stellenzicht Cab 1993 is not simple! I’ve had an email from Andre van Rensburg – some of which at least is quotable without getting either of us into trouble. Say’s Andre: “I arrived at Stellenzicht on 1 October 1993. So I did not make the ’93 harvest, nor did Hein [Hesebeck]. The winemaker was Marinus Bredell but he left early April that year and Stellenzicht had no one till my arrival!” For various reasons, “most of the ’93 red havest was de-classified to dry red”, so Andre had very little to work with in getting stuff into bottle under the varietal names.

    But of course, the most interesting part of Christian’s story is the profound difference in winemaking styles at Stellenzicht. Interesting, and a bit scary. I’d guess that the ultra-ripe 2003 is not going to last the 20 years that the 1993 clearly has.

  2. Angela Lloyd says:

    According to Platter 1994 (so produced in 1993), Hein Hesebeck was the winemaker at Stellenzicht in 1993, or at least during the harvest. Andre is cited as winemaker in the 1995 Platter, so would have ‘raised’ the 93 cab, but not vinified it. For interest’s sake, Andre was at Warwick (in the vineyards) prior to Stellenzicht after he left Saxenburg in 1990. Believe it or not, he made a very smart pinotage whilst at Saxenburg!

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