South Africa: Day 2 in Stellenbosch

By John ~ February 27th, 2009.

LaGayle tasting at Thelema Mountain Vineyards

We started our second day in Stellenbosch at Rustenberg Wines, a huge estate equivalent to 3,000 acres, owned by the Barlow Family. It is obvious that there is money here other than wine because only a small portion of the farm is devoted to winemaking; although, they do produce about 120,000 cases of wine a year. Money was certainly not an issue when the tasting room was built. Everything is exquisitely handcrafted. The tasting room hostess was very nice and extremely knowledgeable. Of the wines that we tasted, our preference was the Peter Barlow Cab.

Next stop was Thelema Mountain Vineyards. It was another beautiful tasting room with a mountain view. We tasted eight wines and our two favorites were their Cabs. Our third stop was Neil Ellis Wines. Just as at Thelema, our favorite wine was a Cab.

Entrance to Jordan Winery

After lunch we tasted the best overall set of wines that we’ve tasted so far on the trip at Jordan Winery. Our hostess for the tasting, Mart-Mari, was very pleasant and accommodating. Jordan produces about 85,000 cases a year and sells under the Jardin label in the United States. Five of the eight wines that we tasted at Jordan we rated as excellent.

In the afternoon we had an appointment with Chris Williams, winemaker of Meerlust and the owner/winemaker of The Foundry. Chris was a very accommodating host and had a private tasting set up for us in the Meerlust wine cellar. Meerlust is another winery that dates back to the late 1600’s. We tasted five Meerlust wines and two wines from The Foundry. They were all wines we could recommend. Our personal favorite was the Meerlust Cab.

John with Chris Williams of Meerlust

After the wine tasting at Meerlust, Chris took us to the barrel room where we did a video interview with him about both Meerlust and The Foundry and his thoughts on South African wine in general (which we will include in a future post). It was another great day for us in the winelands.

Please remember from my previous posts on South African wines that because we are buying wines here at South African prices based on the rand (R), we decided that it would be misleading and of little value to our core constituency of readers in the U.S. to calculate a QPR rating unless it is a wine we can buy in the U.S. and is of good enough quality to want to buy. Therefore, for the purposes of the wine reviews on this trip, I will only calculate a QPR rating on a wine which I have given a Quality rating of 4 stars (out of 5) or higher and if I can find a U.S. vendor and price on which to base the QPR calculation. Wines that meet these criteria will be set apart from the others by bold type. Otherwise I’ll denote the QPR as Not Calculated (NC) if the Quality rating is 3 stars or higher or Not Recommended (NR) if the Quality rating is less than 3 stars.

Here’s a complete listing of the wines we tasted on Day 2 in Stellenbosch:

Quality: 4.5 stars (out of 5)
2005 Meerlust Cabernet Sauvignon, R175, QPR: NC
2005 Jordan Cobbler’s Hill (Bordeaux Blend), R198.50, QPR: NC

Quality: 4 stars (out of 5)
2008 Jordan Sauvignon Blanc, R62.50, QPR: 5 [Sherry-Lehmann (New York), $13.95]
2006 Jordan Cabernet Sauvignon, R97, QPR: 5 [Wine Library (New Jersey), $15.98 for 2005 vintage]
2005 Neil Ellis Cabernet Sauvignon, R110, QPR: 5 [Winerz (California), $19.20 for 2004 vintage]
2006 Thelema The Mint Cabernet Sauvignon, R200, QPR: 5 [Planet of Wine (New Jersey), $33.79]
2005 Meerlust Merlot, R200, QPR: 5 [Southern Hemisphere Wine Center (California), $21.99]
2005 Rustenberg Peter Barlow Cabernet Sauvignon, R310, QPR: 5 [Drink The Grapes (New York), $39.19 for 2004 vintage]
2005 The Foundry Syrah, R155, QPR: 4 [Laurenti Wines (New Jersey), $27.57 for 2004 vintage]
2004 Meerlust Rubicon, R240, QPR: 4 [K&L Wine Merchants (California), $24.99]
2005 Jordan Syrah, R90, QPR: NC
2006 Jordan Merlot, R90, QPR: NC
2006 Thelema Cabernet Sauvignon, R175, QPR: NC

Quality: 3.5 stars (out of 5)
2008 Neil Ellis Groenekloof Sauvignon Blanc, R65, QPR: NC
2004 Neil Ellis Shiraz, R85, QPR: NC
2006 Thelema Merlot, R100, QPR: NC
2008 Jordan Mellifera NLH, R105, QPR: NC
2006 Rustenberg John X Merriman, R120, QPR: NC
2007 Meerlust Chardonnay, R160, QPR: NC
2004 Meerlust Pinot Noir, R170, QPR: NC

Quality: 3 stars (out of 5)
2008 Rustenberg Brampton Sauvignon Blanc, R43, QPR: NC
2007 Rustenberg Brampton Shiraz, R48, QPR: NC
2008 Thelema Sutherland Sauvignon Blanc, R55, QPR: NC
2008 Neil Ellis Elgin Sauvignon Blanc, R65, QPR: NC
2008 Jordan Sauvignon Blanc Barrel Fermented, R70, QPR: NC
2007 Neil Ellis Stellenbosch Chardonnay, R80, QPR: NC
2006 Neil Ellis Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot, R85, QPR: NC
2007 The Foundry Viognier, R90, QPR: NC
2007 Rustenberg Chardonnay, R120, QPR: NC

Quality: 2.5 stars (out of 5)
2007 Rustenberg Brampton Viognier, R48, QPR: NR
2007 Thelema Chardonnay, R80, QPR: NR
2008 Jordan Chardonnay Barrel Fermented, R95, QPR: NR
2005 Thelema Shiraz, R100, QPR: NR
2007 Neil Ellis Elgin Chardonnay, R110, QPR: NR

Quality: 2 stars (out of 5)
2007 Thelema Sutherland Chardonnay, R80, QPR: NR

Filed under: Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Five-Bangs For Your Buck Wines, Merlot, Pinot Noir, Red Wine, Sauvignon Blanc, Shiraz/Syrah, South African Wine, Viognier, White Wine, Wine Travel, Wines NOT To Buy (1 & 2 Star), Wines Over $25, Wines Under $10, Wines Under $15, Wines Under $20, Wines Under $25

Reader's Comments

  1. Chris Williams | June 18th, 2009 at 12:26 am

    Hi John

    It was a great pleasure to meet you and show you the wines of Meerlust and The Foundry. I agree that SA is certainly one of the most dramatically beautifull wine regions of the world.

    We hope to see several more of your fellow Americans in South Africa, especially for the World cup Football.