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An iconic Bordeaux-style blend in one of the great Cape vintages. For it to be awarded 100 points by UK winewriter Tim Atkin MW was just the icing on the cake for multi award-winning winemaker Abrie Beeslaar. A rich and concentrated, beautifully crafted cabernet-based blend to resist now if you can.
Product Code: SA14181
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"Good Bordeaux blend, fruity and drinking. Not sure about value at £27."
Mr Russell Sainty (12-Dec-2016)
thewinegang.com (2nd Aug 2016)
better known for its pinotage simply because Beyers Truter has been such a
great champion of the variety, its Paul Sauer is arguably Kanonkop's best wine,
a fine Bordeaux blend of cabernet sauvignon and franc with a touch of merlot
producing a polished aroma of cassis, vanilla and spice and a stylish mouthful
of cassis fruit concentration with a framework of oak that's mellowing after
seven years into smoothness of texture and fine balance. Plenty of life left in
it though. 91/100"
View all products by Kanonkop
Kanonkop, in Stellenbosch, is a leading South African estate with a whole raft of awards to its name. Kanonkop means ‘Cannon Hill’ and originates from the days when cannons were fired to signal the arrival of Dutch trade ships into Cape Town harbour. This estate is probably the most famous producer of pinotage internationally and was one of the first ever estates to even grow the grape. Incumbent winemaker, Abrie Beeslaar won the esteemed title of IWSC International Winemaker of the Year award in 2008, having taken over from legendary predecessor and so-called ‘king of pinotage’, Beyers Truter. Kanonkop is renowned for its red varietals, and chooses to specialise in only a few wines. Apart from its famous pinotage, the other grapes grown here are cabernet sauvignon, merlot and cabernet franc which go into its very approachable Cape Blend, and the best into its iconic cabernets and Paul Sauer bottlings. These tend to be big, robust wines which go superbly well with red meat and spicy dishes.
South Africa is undoubtedly one of the world's most dynamic wine producers. Established winemakers re-emerged onto the international scene in the early 1990s, following the demise of the apartheid era, and new wines, wineries, highly qualified winemakers, and even new regions have appeared steadily ever since. This makes South Africa more exciting than ever, but more complicated, too. Most South African wines are varietally labelled - a key factor in any buying decision. Styles vary of course, and our notes aim to clarify this, but you will probably already know whether you like sauvignon blanc (now among the world's best), chardonnay, riesling, syrah, pinot noir, or cabernet.South Africa's most famous grapes - white chenin blanc and red pinotage - will be less familiar unless you are already a convert. South African chenins are quite different from those in the Loire - almost always dry, but ripe and full of flavour (often with the complexity that comes from the increasingly sought-after old-vine fruit and the use of oak). Pinotage, a South African creation, is for many a love-it-or-hate-it grape. Pinotage's 'parents' are pinot noir, which imparts its strawberry aromas and lovely texture in young wines, and more complex, farmyard characteristics in more mature examples, and cinsault, the southern French grape, which adds spice and body. It was developed in South Africa in 1926. Shiraz is now making a name for itself in South Africa with some superb examples bottled varietally and showing characteristics that often places it between the plush New World style pioneered by Australia and classic Rhône balance and elegance.More significant in South Africa than much of the New World (notably New Zealand and Chile) are blends, which make selection more complicated, as the style of the wine is less easy to anticipate. As in Australia and California, however, many of the best wines here are blends - a sign of maturity in the industry. Bordeaux blends were favoured initially but there are increasing numbers of Rhône and southern French influenced blends, including some eclectic mixes, many of which are among South Africa’s best wines.The RegionsThe vineyards of South Africa are at a latitude of about 35o south, with hot, dry Mediterranean-type summers tempered by oceanic influences in the south, particularly the very cold Benguela Current. Much of the country is mountainous or hilly with a multitude of terroirs for winemakers to play with. Soils are ancient and complex, and many and varied from region to region, and even vineyard to vineyard. Rainfall is very varied from one area to another, largely depending which side of a mountain or range a vineyard lies on, and in some parts irrigation is essential. South Africa’s rigorous Wine Of Origin scheme demarcates vineyard areas, including some single vineyards, and guarantees the geographical source of the wine much like the old French appellation contrôllée system recently renamed AOP, though there are no controls on yields and grape varieties as there are in France..Bordeaux-style blends are one of the Stellenbosch region's great strengths. Wines such as Kanonkop's Paul Sauer, Meerlust's Rubicon and Warwick's Trilogy are South African icons, produced over many years, and with proven ageing capacity. The striking Simonsberg mountain names the ward (or area) most highly sought after for these reds, but Stellenbosch produces a wide range of wine styles, from excellent chenin blancs and sauvignons to robust pinotage and Cape Blends.Paarl is its less-well-known neighbour, also warm, and best known for its robust but smooth reds. Franschhoek is understandably one of the most-visited towns in the Cape (with lots of French Huguenot history and some of the best restaurants in the region). It has a number of famous producers, most notably Boekenhoutskloof, but most do not produce exclusively from Franschhoek fruit. Cape Chamonix is an exception we rate highly, producing a wide range of wine styles from bubbly to cabernet franc led red blend Troika.The generally warmer Swartland region has been at the forefront of the development of Rhône varietals in South Africa, led by stars such as Eben Sadie, as well as home to some of the best old chenin blanc vines. Further north, and much cooler is Citrusdal, where fresher styles are produced and chenin blanc can achieve real finesse.The Cape peninsula, to the south of Cape Town itself, is home to Constantia, known for its cooler climate thanks to the influence of the two oceans that almost circle it. Here, sauvignon blanc and the Bordeaux grapes predominate, but there are lovely examples of aromatic varieties too, notably Klein Constantia's elegant riesling and its wonderful sweet muscat Vin de Constance, and the vibrant sauvignon blancs from Cape Point vineyards to the south. Rhône varietals are successful new additions.Elgin, en route to Hermanus, is another very cool region, very much up-and-coming for sauvignon blanc, as is Elim, which is even further south and the source of our former Exhibition Sauvignon. Robertson is almost due north of Elim, but way inland and far hotter. A small number of family producers manage to make excellent sauvignon here, too, but it is also a good source of chardonnay, increasingly pinot noir, and elegantly styled pinotage and Rhône varietals, not forgetting the excellent fortified muskadels which are unique to the Cape.The most important factor in deciding whether or not to buy is often the producer's name. This is easily achieved when some of the grandest 'old' names, such as Meerlust, Hamilton Russell, Kanonkop, and Klein Constantia, still rank among the country's best producers. Where it gets trickier is when the winery is new, has no track record, or the winemaker is not a household name.
Early indications are that 2015 has been a truly excellent vintage in South Africa following a harvest that was a couple of weeks earlier than usual. It was also a little smaller than 2014. A warm dry spring accelerated bud break and thereafter more warm, dry and breezy conditions kept the grapes very healthy and free of rot, and speeded up ripening. All in all there is much optimism for very fine wines across the board.
First produced in 1981, Kanonkop's premium Bordeaux style blend has become a South African icon. It is produced from grapes grown on decomposed granite, Hutton and Clovelly soils on Kanonkop's own estate just outside the university town of Stellenbosch. The vines averaged twenty years of age at this point. The wine is vinified traditionally in Kanonkop's open top fermenters, and then spends two years in new French oak.
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