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.