Stellenbosch - A great Cabernet Sauvignon region

By Jeremy Maarschalk

Thursday - 23 November 2023

Nestled in the heart of South Africa's winemaking paradise lies Stellenbosch, a wine lovers delight that has captivated the world's wine enthusiasts. However, there is one varietal that reigns supreme in this corner of the world, Cabernet Sauvignon.

Cabernet Sauvignon is celebrated for its robust character and unique sense of place, personifying the region's terroir and rich history. A visit to the Stellenbosch Winelands will reveal its pivotal role in shaping the reputation of Cabernet Sauvignon. A leading force in pushing Stellenbosch Cabernet Sauvignon onto the international stage is the Stellenbosch Cabernet Collective. Their efforts focus on bringing global recognition to this exquisite varietal from the exceptional terroir of Stellenbosch.

Stellenbosch Cabernet Collective

The Stellenbosch Cabernet Collective embodies all things Cabernet and proudly presents the Stellenbosch terroir evident in every Cabernet from the region. Here Cabernet Sauvignon grows, and it thrives from the rugged mountain slopes to the sun-drenched pastoral flatland and even in the deep, cool valleys. These diverse microclimates and soil types of each site allow winemakers the opportunity to craft elegant and expressive Cabernet Sauvignons that not only grace the palate at a young age but stand the test of time.

The Stellenbosch Cabernet Collective Chairperson, Christo le Riche, says “Here, diversity has been our strength for many years, but as our industry evolves and matures, specialisation and regionality is becoming the focus. Stellenbosch is unique, it is beautiful, and it is a home for Cabernet Sauvignon. We live in a region where the Southern Ocean’s winds collide with our mountains, twisting through valleys and softening our warm sunlight. The soils are ancient, and our Cabernets can encapsulate it all in a bottle.”

Christo’s passion for Cabernet Sauvignon and willingness to learn and grow with the industry has been an integral component of the success of the Stellenbosch Cabernet Collective.

Waterford Estate Cabernet Sauvignon

Crafted from the North facing steep slopes of the Helderberg mountain, spanning five soil types with the parent soil comprising of granitic soils the Waterford Estate Cabernet Sauvignon is a showcase of the understanding of terroir. The Estate Cabernet is not only sourced from one block but rather it is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon from the top performing Cabernet vines on the estate. This amalgamation of Cabernet is done to showcase the purity of the Helderberg mountain’s Cabernet Sauvignon, to bring about the elegance, well structure, refined tannins, the classic herbaceous character and fruit character that Helderberg drinkers have become accustomed to.

Cellarmaster, Mark le Roux elaborates on the exceptional quality of Cabernet Sauvignon being produced in the Stellenbosch stating, “I always find excitement in opening Cabernet at different ages, I feel that young Cabernet, five years from vintage has a great sense of youthfulness and fruitiness, while still having a lot of sturdiness and structure. The wines will still show a lot of potential but they aren’t so aggressive that they are undrinkable in their youth”.

The journey of ageing a bottle of Stellenbosch Cabernet Sauvignon is one all red wine enthusiasts should venture on, the evolution of the wine is incredible as the components integrate further, the tannins soften further and the poise of the wine further denotes its purpose. A purpose of expressing the diverse terroir of the Stellenbosch winelands.

Mark goes on to say that in his journey with the Waterford Estate Cabernet Sauvignon, he finds the wines expression to be exceptional at the fifteen year age point, he states “at this point, you still find great fruit but the strong sense of development shines through, with elements of forest floor and mushroom character showing that this wine has something more deliver and has stood the test of time perfectly. On the palate, Cabernet shows a lot of vibrancy while it has softened over the fifteen years of ageing.”

This fifteen-year point does not mark the end point of this wines’ tenure, it can be further aged to the twenty or even the twenty-five-year point and will still showcase that classic Stellenbosch character we have all come to know and love.

The world is beginning to understand that Stellenbosch Cabernet Sauvignon is not just another wine; it is an experience that captures the essence of a remarkable region and its passionate winemakers, and Waterford Estate is leading the way in showcasing exceptional Cabernet Sauvignon to the world.

A world of Stellenbosch cabernet awaits, follow the link below to learn more about Stellenbosch and its incredible Cabernet Sauvignon.

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