Image: Supplied

The second in Wade Bales’s groundbreaking Regional Series, the Stellenbosch Cabernet Sauvignon 2017 has just been awarded South Africa’s most sought-after accolade — John Platter’s 5 Stars.

The pioneering collaboration between five influential Stellenbosch producers saw each winemaker bring their best cabernet to be blended to create the ultimate expression of the Stellenbosch region.

In Platter terms, 5 Stars equates to a rating of 95 or more points out of 100, and the wine is considered “superlative: a South African classic”.


The five collaborating winemakers - Abrie Beeslaar of Kanonkop, Louis Strydom of Ernie Els Wines, José Conde of Stark-Condé, Morné Vrey of Delaire Graff and Nico van der Merwe – are all at the top of their game and among the best cabernet craftsmen in the country.

The Stellenbosch Winemakers.
The Stellenbosch Winemakers.
Image: Supplied

Championing the project was Bales, a wine négociant for more than 25 years, who set them the goal of creating a world-class wine which showcased the signature style of the region – in this case cabernet sauvignon from Stellenbosch.

Why? “In my view, South African wine has been underrated and undervalued for years,” Bales says. “I wanted to be a part of changing that perception, of helping a broader audience understand the quality that our winemakers are capable of and making international consumers realise that South African wine doesn’t automatically belong in the ‘cheap and cheerful’ category.

“I felt we needed to reposition our offering so that our wines can stand – proudly – shoulder to shoulder with any of the best wines in the world.”

Stellenbosch Cabernet Sauvignon 2017.
Stellenbosch Cabernet Sauvignon 2017.
Image: Supplied

Bales points out that many of the world’s greatest wines have a strong regional focus: New Zealand’s Marlborough sauvignon blanc, cabernet sauvignon from California’s Napa Valley, cabernet blends from Bordeaux and pinot noir from Burgundy in France.

This was the thinking behind the blend. Not much convincing was needed to get the five winemakers to participate. They selected their best barrel samples and– with rigorous screening, tasting and blending – created and bottled a single wine which best captures the essence of the region.

All were involved in the meticulous process, tasting multiple blends before consensus was reached. Since winemaking is often a solo pursuit, more than one of them commented positively about the cooperative spirit of being part of a team.

Greg Sherwood, Master of Wine, wrote the following tasting note for the Stellenbosch Cabernet Sauvignon 2017, scoring it an impressive 94/100 and describing it as a “new and exciting addition to the world of top Stellenbosch cabernet sauvignon”.

WATCH | The Story Behind the Wine:

“This wine shows the vibrancy and intensity of the superb 2017 vintage. It is positively brimming with youthful aromas of sweet sandalwood, violets, Christmas cake, sun raisined blackberries and a touch of sweet chewing tobacco. The acids are crunchy and fresh, framing the sweet red and black bramble berry fruits in a confident fashion. Fabulous dusty cabernet sauvignon typicity that is seamlessly blended to offer up a very fine example from multiple Stellenbosch terroirs. However, much as I like this wine now, you just know that it’s going to be so much better in five to six years’ time. Buy now and pop in your cellar. A really delightful wine.”

Bales, the five winemakers and the Platter Guide all believe the Stellenbosch Cabernet Sauvignon 2017 is a South African classic of which the country can be proud and which can easily hold its own at the international table.

• Buy it: 6 Bottle Collectors Wooden Box R2,700 (R450 per bottle)

 Wade Bales is the Founder of Wade Bales Wine Co. 

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