2017 Cabernet Sauvignon Report

Waterford Estate Cabernet Sauvignon 2014 Voted in South Africa’s Top 10 – 4 out of 5 Years Running

The Prescient Cabernet Sauvignon Report 2017 is the sixth Cabernet Sauvignon report conducted by a panel of three judges annually, namely, Christian Eedes, Roland Peens, and James Pietersen. Christian Eedes is an acclaimed wine expert with extensive experience in judging high profile wine compettitions, currently the editor of Winemag.co.za. Both Roland Peens and James Pietersen are part of the Wine Cellar team, one of South Africa’s foremost importers and retailers of fine wines.

The selection of 65 wines are chosen based on recent local or international accolades, as well as those producers Christian Eedes considers to be the best in their field. The tasting is conducted blind and scoring is done according to the 100 point system.

The Stellenbosch region dominated with 14 out of 15 wines scoring 90 points or higher on the 100-point scale. Out of the top wines, 9 were from 2014, indicating that 2014 was a particularly good vintage for Cabernet Sauvignon. The average score of all 65 wines in the line-up was 87.8 points, proving South Africa’s potential in producing Cabernet Sauvignon.

Previous appearances of the Waterford Estate Cabernet Sauvignon on the Cabernet Sauvignon report include;

2013 Report – Waterford Estate Cabernet Sauvignon 2009, with 4 and a half stars,

2014 Report – Waterford Estate Cabernet Sauvignon 2011, first place with 5 stars

2015 Report – Waterford Estate Cabernet Sauvignon 2012, first place with 93 points

This year Waterford Estate has appeared in the top 10 with 91 points for the fourth time out of five years being selected for the competition.

by Waterford Estate
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Words from the Winemaker

I’m Mark Le Roux, I am the winemaker at Waterford Estate. In 2004, while I was still studying, I spent my summer holiday working in the vineyards at Waterford Estate. This was my first encounter with Waterford Estate and I have since come to truly believe in the land and the wines we produce. In 2009, after spending some time overseas and at other well-known South African wineries, I joined the cellar team at Waterford Estate.

At the end of 2012, I took over as Winemaker at Waterford. I believe my style in winemaking to be an honest, true and authentic style in winemaking. I also believe it requires a lot of planning around practicality and logistical aspects throughout the winemaking process in order to produce well-conditioned and stable wines. I have an open-minded approach to winemaking and firmly believe in attention to detail and desire to explore new grounds as key aspects in producing wines consistent in quality and style. A true sense of place is expressed by interpreting all factors and breaking away from formula farming and winemaking.

The vineyard is where it all begins, the months prior to the actual harvest season are crucial in the formation of important flavour precursors and tannins. I spend a great deal of time in the vineyard, working alongside our viticulturalist, David Van Schalkwyk, a great friend of mine. Our mutual understanding is what allows for us to take leaps towards producing fantastic wines. The sites on Waterford Estate are unique in their ability to produce 11 different varietals, driven by Cabernet Sauvignon. There are most definitely vineyards consistently producing high quality grapes year after year. This can be seen in upcoming single vineyard wines, produced in limited quantities under the Library Collection label, which come from these sites.

The 2017 harvest saw the last of our grapes entering the cellar in the middle of March, leaving me on a high from what I believe to be the best vintage I have seen in my career thus far. This harvest once again experienced a bone-dry season, with even more force than previous years. On our daily vineyard walks, monitoring the ripening patterns of the grapes, very low dam water levels or completely dry dams were quite a common sight. The vineyard teams nevertheless managed the water usage very well and, as a result our vineyards, were in top shape throughout the season.

Owing to windless and rainless flowering conditions, the yield on the 2017 vintage was carrying at full potential. This lead to record harvest levels on some varietals, and more excitingly, on Cabernet Sauvignon tonnages which were most welcome. Not quite the biggest vintage, (in fact the second biggest) for Waterford, but in my views, it was the best quality vintage to date.

The harvest was filled with creative winemaking and small parcel ferments. Open top fermenters, egg shaped fermenters and cement fermenters all playing integral roles in creating some spectacular wines. I cannot wait to start looking at the individual batches we have for blending and single vineyard bottlings.

by Waterford Estate
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