Meerlust Estate Rubicon
Stellenbosch, South Africa
Wine Review Online
October 10, 2018, Michael Apstein
“Williams and his team will release the majestic 2015 shortly. It’s just a slightly larger version of the 2014, still balanced and elegant, but with a bit more of everything -- fruitiness, a savory leafiness, and engaging aromatics.”
August 2018, Neal Martin
“The 2015 Rubicon had been a source of contention prior to my visit, hailed by some respected commentators as one of the Cape’s greats and then almost pilloried in a contemporaneous blind tasting. It is a blend of 61% Cabernet Sauvignon, 23% Merlot, 12% Cabernet Franc and 4% Petit Verdot, each fermented separately before blending. It was matured for 18 months in 66% new oak and the remainder second-fill. So what do I make of the wine? It is clear in color with quite a deep core. The bouquet is refined and focused, offering attractive mint- and graphite-infused black and red fruit and perhaps leaning a little more toward the latter compared to previous vintages. With aeration, subtle touches of pencil shavings emerge. The palate is medium-bodied with fine-grained tannin and quite velvety in texture, displaying very well integrated new oak. There is a satisfying sense of harmony to this Rubicon and it is certainly well constructed, but it does not possess that peacock’s tail on the finish that takes a very good wine to the level of great. Perfectly enjoyable, and it demonstrates very good winemaking; however, when compared to, say, the 2015 Paul Sauer, it just falls a little short. [I tasted this sighted and then in a mini blind tasting to confirm.]”
Meerlust Estate has been part of the Myburgh family tradition for eight generations, dating back to 1693. Long recognized for producing world-class wines, the Meerlust Estate is singularly rich in charm and history. Meerlust produces wines that are true to the intrinsic character of their vineyards located in the Stellenbosch region in South Africa. The diverse soils, the unique coastal climate and over 300 years of dedication are all essential components of Meerlust’s complex, rich and truly distinctive wines.
The cabernet sauvignon is grown on low-yielding, predominantly biotite partially decomposed granite gravel topsoil rich in quartz and feldspar to a depth of approximately 600mm with a loamy clay subsoil. The merlot vineyards are planted on more clay-rich, yet well-drained soils to ensure moisture retention and availability to the vines roots right through the summer. There are considerable deposits of iron-rich Laterite in the merlot vineyards which accentuates the fruit definition and mineral profile of the wine. The cabernet franc vineyard is situated on very well-drained, stony vilafontes soil with approximately 20% clay which is ideal for this variety. The petit verdot is on oakleaf 3 soils on a northerly aspect to ensure full phenolic ripeness.
Very early on, the winemaking team recognized that 2015 had the potential for true greatness, so its viticulture and winemaking practices focused on capitalizing on the perfect weather conditions. Coupled with this, most of the vineyards are over twenty years old, ensuring perfect balance between vigor and crop size. The 2015 Rubicon is a blend of 61% cabernet sauvignon, 23% merlot, 12% cabernet franc and 4% petit verdot, each variety was fermented separately before undergoing malolactic fermentation in 300L barrels, 66% new French Nevers and 44% second fill casks. After nine months in barrel, the components were blended and given another nine months in barrel for harmonization before bottling.
The Rubicon 2015 is showing all of the hallmarks of a great, classic vintage of Rubicon. Incredibly dense purple-ebony core with very slight gradation at the rim. The nose is brooding, dark bramble fruit, cassis, plum, incense and liquorice, it is still very tightly coiled, slowly offering cigar box, crushed stone and subtle oak spice. On the palate the wine is concentrated yet restrained with dark fruit flavors of pastille, mulberry and dark chocolate, all held in an intricate lattice of polished sleek grape tannin. Still very young yet approachable, this Rubicon promises a long future of maturation and enjoyment.
All the vineyards were green harvested during veraison to reduce yield, increase concentration and fruit definition. The cold wet winter of 2014 and early spring were ideal to promote very even canopy development and good fruit set. Extensive canopy management, leaf removal and bunch selection was practiced to ensure a uniformly ripe and healthy crop. 2015 is widely acknowledged as superb vintage in the Cape and this is clearly evident in the Rubicon 2015.
This wine pairs well with venison, game, pot roast and noble cheese. Suggested serving temperature is 64°F - 68°F.
Varietals: 61% Cabernet Sauvignon, 23% Merlot, 12% Cabernet Franc, 4% Petit Verdot
Wine Alcohol: 14%
Titratable Acidity: 5.6 g/L
Residual Sugar: 3.4 g/L
Aging Potential: 15-20 years