Top Wine SA Hall of Fame 2013

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Good Cab Franc isn't as elusive as it was years ago

MORE PLEASE! Red Jasper has got many of the delicious things you might dream about in a good Bordeaux-style blend.

While perhaps a little too forward for some, it's a fine example of the many lovely red things that Stellenbosch vintner Bruwer Raats comes up with at various cellars apart from straight Cabernet Franc... Cab Franc is what he's been most successful with over the past decade, and while some will be critical of the decision to expand his range of wines, others will welcome the introduction of a different variation on a theme...

Raats, together with fellow Stellenbosch producer Warwick, has led the way in developing a market for South African reds made from a variety that most winemakers only use as a small component in a Cabernet Sauvignon- or Merlot-driven blend, if at all. In an about turn, so to speak, Red Jasper is mostly Cab Franc, with other Bordeaux varieties performing the supporting role for a change.

Cabernet Franc has long frustrated cellar masters wary of its austerity, fearful of the green character that can result when you don't get it right in the vineyard or cellar. However the number of Cape wineries whose Cab Franc efforts command respect has grown to 20 or so - including Buitenverwachting, KWV, La Petite Ferme, Longridge and Raka. Moreover, not all of the wines are high-priced - relatively speaking, recent releases of Ridgeback and Zorgvliet expressions have offered particularly good value, and it was just last year that Raats introduced a second-tier Cabernet Franc for sale under the Dolomite label at around R100pb (versus well over R300 for the flagship).

Here are the vintages that have done the category proud in terms of good reviews locally and/or internationally during the past couple of years:

Avontuur 2009; Buitenverwachting 2009; Claime d'Or 2009; Druk My Niet 2009; KWV Mentors 2010; Lisha Nelson 2008; Longridge 2007; Oldenberg 2009; Raats 2009 & 2010; Raka 2009; Ridgeback 2007; Von Ortloff Quintessence 2008; Warwick 2008 & 2009; Whalehaven 2007; Zorgvliet Silver Myn 2007

Click HERE to read complete Blog Top SA Wine - Editor Mike Froud. | Click HERE for details on the ratings and awards given for these wines as well as the prices, ex-cellar...

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