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The latest vintage of this impressive South African pinotage from masters of the grape, Kanonkop, is rich and delicious. Spiced plum and red fruits are couched in a full body with velvety tannins and smooth smoky flavour.
Product Code: SA13361
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.
One of the earliest on record - indeed the earliest for many - and earlier even than the 2015 harvest, the 2016 growing season was marked by drought and by heat (especially in January). Indeed, those without access to water for irrigation purposes will have struggled to achieve both ripeness and rewarding yield in 2016, unless their soils were better able to handle the conditions. Grapes tended to be smaller, which meant careful, gentler extraction of the reds was essential. Sorting was required to remove berries affected by millerandage or sunburn. Winemakers had the additional knock-on effect of naturally low acidity to grapple with too, as well as a rather drawn out (but compacted grape-wise) harvest towards the end. Upsides were the lack of disease pressure, and bush fires limited (albeit sometimes devastatingly) to the Simonsberg in Stellenbosch. Cooler climate fruit was in greater demand than ever and the Cape South Coast regions were far less affected by the drought. In fact cooler regions look to have had a good to very good vintage.
"I have bought several bottles of this vintage, and I would most certainly buy it again. 5 star"
I would recommend this wine
"A knockout Kanonkop for £11.50. Buy! "
I would recommend this wine
"I really enjoyed this and I shall be buying more."
" Very nice Pinotage which I will certainly buy again! Brings back memories to our holiday in SA."
"I have bought several bottles of this vintage, and I would most certainly buy it again. 5 star"
midweekwines.co.uk 13th Mar 2019
assessments of pinotage are not hard to find but, when done as well as it is
here, the real glory that the variety can reach comes shining through.
Consider how [this] combines soft cherry and plum fruit with sharp acidity,
hints of cocoa, mint and sweetness, a firm (yet proportionate) grip of tannin
and, finally, evolving savoury depth. - Brian Elliott"
independent.co.uk 23rd Feb 2019
"…sourced from the
Kanonkop estate in Stellenbosch, one of the pioneering producers of the grape
and discover its distinctive, smoky, earthy, spicy red fruit flavours. - Terry Kirby"
"Probably 4.5 points at this price. VG vfm and a very well balanced Pinotage, just right for my taste in the sweet spot between fruit and tanin."
Mr Johnny Holmes (15-May-2019)
"Colour: Deep dark purple fading to a red rim.
Aroma: Profound and rich, blackcurrant, cherry, menthol, an earthiness, mushroom, undergrowth, sweet and sour sauce, tar, smoke, sweet tobacco and lots of spice.
Taste: Dry, med+ body, moderate firm slightly drying tannin, abundant acidity, balanced. Curious mid-palate of raspberry and smoked cured meat ending with a good hot spicy finish.
Overall: So enjoyable, great example of the 'love it' or 'hate it' Pinotage. Good nose, good length, all in all a well-rounded wine. Very good value, highly recommend."
Mr Gabriel Higgins (07-Apr-2019)
"Rustic, not enjoyable."
Mr Gawain Young (05-Jan-2019)
"Ordered six bottles for a dinner party and was very well received. Has a depth of flavour beyond that expected from its price. Great value."
Dr Scott Fegan (09-Dec-2018)
"Disappointed with this wine. Extremely peppery; an assault to the palate. Very dry & tannic. Complex, enjoyable after taste but swamped by dryness and tannins. Overall a tough wine to drink. "
Mr Paul R Thomas (19-Nov-2018)
"I ordered this wine on the strength of the reviews. I have to say I was a little disappointed and not to my taste. It definitely needs decanting and there was a large amount of sediment in the bottle. "
Mr David Adkin (17-Nov-2018)
Mr Robert Hudson (15-Oct-2018)
"I agree with Mr Peter May, excellent and for the price fantastic, decanting is a must."
Mr David Weare (10-Sep-2018)
"The neck-band of the capsule on the current capsule discloses that this is the Kadette bottling, so all the detailed facts of this wine can be seen on Kanonkops website.
Made by Abrie Beeslaar sourced from grapes grown in a vineyard outside the estate and aged in older barrels than the Estate bottling gives us the same quality at half the price, albeit with maybe less aging capability but easier to drink young.
And its lovely stuff to drink. Deep and rich, perfectly dry though with natural Pinotage sweetness, so it makes a good match with spicy dishes as well as meats. The South Africans drink it with steaks cooked over an open wood fire and at Kanonkop also with that South African bony fish 'Snoek' grilled over charcoal.
Six stars from me."
Mr Peter May (30-Jun-2018)
"From the producers of Kanonkop. This is an example of pure meaty fleshy sunsoaked African terroir. Juicy refined plums brighten up your palate while delicately tickling your senses with its soft tannins and deep flavour passing over your tongue like crimson molten. This is good value at £10.50, needs to sit in a decanter while reading Born Free."
Ms Leah Newman (01-May-2018)
Mr Dominic Murphy (10-Apr-2018)
"I really enjoyed this wine, on opening, the next day, room temperature as well as chilled. Although I am a regular visitor to Burgundy I am constantly seeking wines from around the world which approximate to a Burgundy. Stupid really as someone of my age should know. This is a delightful wine, deeper in colour than any Burgundy, a hint of Pinot Noir on the nose, but there it ends! Smooth bramble fruit, plums too. Soft tannins and a good finish. I am holding the Society to their view that this will keep till 2025 and buying more accordingly!"
Dr Brian Metters (26-Mar-2018)
"Gorgeous stuff! My first ever pinotage, but surely not my last - rich, with the fruity, gamey taste of pinot noir definitely indentifiable, but perfectly balanced and rounded. Red fruit stands out, and the 14.5% doesn't seem aggressive. Definitely recommended!"
Mr Maximilian Yuen (07-Mar-2018)
The Times (3rd Nov 2018)
tangy, savoury, mocha, liquorice and black olive-layered pinotage. - Jane MacQuitty"
"Though it stated that it's made by Kanonkop, it is nothing like Kanonkop. Way too much acidity, harsh tannins. Feels more as if grapes where collected unripe or something went wrong in the process. Decanting didn't help at all, after 5 hours bottle went down the drain as it got even worse. Complete disbalance. KWV pinotage that is stocked by Society is way better."
Mr Sergej Sidorov (04-Sep-2017)
The Scotsman (25th Feb 2017)
"Made by ex-lawyer
Johan Krige at his top pioneering pinotage estate, Kanonkop, this is plummy
well-rounded pinotage with earthy undertones with a quirky spiciness. - Rose Murray Brown"
The Buyer (16th Feb 2017)
"Bright, clean, juicy,
great freshness and vibrancy. - Roger Jones"
Mr Brian Cannell (12-Aug-2016)
"Big mouth filling dark fruit but nicely savoury rather than the sweet jammyness sometimes associated with some less accomplished producers of this variety. For my taste a bit of an alcohol burn at the finish, but overall good."
Dr Philip Dodd (09-Jul-2015)
"Big fruits that progress to a caramelised savoury earthiness. Much softer and none of the new car tyres nose that I've had with the supermarket Pinotages. Like a new world Southern Rhône with caramel."
Mr Anthony O'Halloran (22-Jun-2015)
"I cannot agree with Mr Waistnidge comments about this delightful wine. I have not drunk Piontage since the 90s. This wine is very good plum red fruit jumps out of the glass smooth and round with no sharp tannins. The legs stream down the glass making this a wonderful mouthfilling drink. I am now a big fan of this grape and will be buying more. Maybe Mr Waistnidge had a bad bottle try another one please Sir.
Mr Lawrence Marshom (28-Mar-2015)
"Have tasted a number of different bottles of Pinotage, the favourite so far being DeWaal top of the hill. This I am afraid is the worst I have tasted by some way. No depth to it, actually tastes like a cheap Pinot Noir. Very disappointing."
Mr Neil Waistnidge (21-Mar-2015)
"Good deep colour with the classic pinotage aroma of rubber and black fruit. Don't let that put you off, in the mouth it has great round tannins with deep flavour of dark fruit and a slight gamey finish with some good acidity. A great example of the classic South African varietal."
Mr Neil Dyas (19-Feb-2015)
"I've been hunting round for some Beyerskloof reserve pinotage which is a great wine but nowadays hard to find at a decent price and decided to look at The Society's website to see what was available. I was delighted to find that you are now offering an exhibition pinotage, something I have been looking forward to for a few years. I experienced a small hiccup when collecting since the wine is delivered from Kanonkop in Kadette boxes. I got a very polite confirmation that the exhibition wine is indeed specially produced for The Society and having tried our first bottle last night (without food!) I can confirm that this is indeed an excellent wine with great balance. The Pinotage grape became a favourite while we were living in South Africa in the 1970s and I have to say that after Kanonkop's own flagship wine this is the best - and at a great price. I'm now wondering if I've done myself a disservice since there may be none left when we run out!!"
Mr Peter L Bennett (19-Jan-2015)
Decanter (27th May 2015)
"Is pinotage seeing a
renaissance? It seems so, and this example from Kanonkop may convert you.
Fermented in open concrete tanks, the bright nose is plummy and generous with
enticing smoke and spice. The savoury palate has rich plum fruit and a smooth
structure. - Weekday Wines"
Sheffield Profile (1st May 2015)
"An enticing wine with
rich aromas and good potential for further ageing. Lots of pepper, some
creaminess and an array of complex flavours abound - from plums and dark red
fruits to citrus peel. Enjoy with spicy foods and red meat. - Richard Marsden"
The Scotsman (28th Mar 2015)
"For those who love
this quirky, spicy South African grape, this is extremely good value pinotage
made by the Cape’s famed Kanonkop estate. Ex-lawyer Johann Krige and his
charming family run this historic pinotage estate near Stellenbosch. - Rose Murray Brown"
wineanorak.com (3rd Mar 2015)
fermented in open concrete lagares. Deep coloured, this has a fresh sweet
blackcurrant fruit nose with some green characters and a hint of mint. The
palate is supple with a green edge to the raspberry fruit. It’s sweet and fresh
with a vivid personality, and a hint of grip. 89/100 - Jamie Goode"
York Press (31st Jan 2015)
"This is a decent
example and good value for under a tenner. Full bodied and juicy, it oozes
raspberry and plum fruit with vanilla, spice and some smoky oak. It would make
a good partner for gourmet burgers or sausages. - Mike Tipping"
Kent & Sussex Courier (30th Jan 2015)
full-bodied wine, traditionally fermented in open concrete vessels, with a
quick extraction, is laden with character and packed with fragrant red and
black berry fruits including plums, coffee, raisins, chocolate and some
oriental spices which mingle in a delicious mouth-filling mix. A truly bold,
elegant and rich winter warmer with a subtle smoky edge that will be a
revelation to those habituated to coarse and rustic editions of pinotage. There
is no burnt rubber here! It has the structure to evolve attractively over the
next five years, becoming earthier [and] meatier. - James Viner"
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We do moderate comments and reviews, purely to ensure that content published on The Wine Society's website is of value to members, and is fair and balanced. We're delighted to say that in the vast, vast majority of cases, our members' input is just that! We will normally approve comments for publication as long as they:
If a review or comment does not meet the rules above, then we may remove it from the site, and we reserve the right to do so at any time. Where we choose not to publish a rating, comment or review for a reason other than those listed here, we will reply to the member concerned by e-mail explaining our reasons and inviting them to make appropriate changes so that their input can be reconsidered. We also reserve the right not to publish reviews that mention other wine merchants and competitors.
Your review and your name will be displayed on our website. We may wish to use your comments and ratings in our literature or elsewhere online. Unless you specify otherwise, you are therefore agreeing in posting your comments that The Society has the right to use, edit, publish in any media, delete and/or store the whole or any part or parts of that post, and may quote you by name, without charge and without reference to you or anyone else.
The Society's wine buyers work very closely with our suppliers to determine how best to seal our wines. We list below those closures currently in use with a brief description of each.
A technical cork made up of the remnants from the production of natural corks which are ground down into particles and cleaned and then combined using a food-grade polyurethane glue. A cheaper closure which The Society's buyers discourage suppliers from using.
A technical cork made from cheaper-grade natural cork where the naturally occurring pores are filled with ground down cork particles and then the whole is sealed with a food-grade wax coating. Generally only used for wines with a short shelf-life.
Diam corks look like agglomerate corks but are far superior and are designed to put an end to cork taint and random oxidation. The production process chops cork into pieces and sorts the superior, highly elastic, suberin component from the less elastic lignin, which is discarded. It mixes the suberin with microscopic spheres of the same substance used for contact lenses, which fills the voids between the cork particles reducing porosity to air and increasing elasticity without introducing humidity. Finally the pieces are mixed with a glue and moulded under pressure. The mechanical properties of the cork are guaranteed for a certain minimum number of years depending on the grade of cork - for example Diam 2 is guaranteed for two years; Diam 3, 5 and 10 are also available.
The Champagne cork is 90% agglomerate made from cork off-cuts which are ground down, cleaned, compressed and then glued together with two disks of good quality natural cork glued onto the end which protrudes into the bottle.
Natural corks harvested from the cork oak (Quercus suber) forests in Spain and Portugal have been the closure of choice for wine for the 300 years. The bark of the cork oak is stripped from mature trees every nine years. The planks are stored and then cleaned and graded before the corks are punched out of the wood. For wines destined for long-ageing, high-grade natural corks are still the closure of choice.
Cost-effective synthetic 'corks' made from food-grade plastic with a silicone coating (similar to that used on natural corks). Generally used for wines for short-term cellaring.
A glass stopper with a plastic 'O' ring which acts as an interface between the top of the bottle and the stopper, held in place by a metal, tamper-proof seal. Relatively expensive as a closure and not widely used. Can be removed by hand.
A short natural or agglomerate cork with a plastic or wooden top to enable the stopper to be removed by hand. Traditionally used for whiskies, sherries, Madeira etc.
Aluminium alloy screwcaps made with an expanded polyethylene wadding for the lining. Screwcaps are also known as ROTEs (roll-on tamper evident) or by the brand name (Stelvin is a popular brand). Widely used in Australia and New Zealand and for wines for short-term cellaring. Becoming increasingly sophisticated in terms of allowing differing levels of permeability so mimicking the properties of natural cork offering winemakers more choice depending of the style of wine being made. There is still a lack of sound data regarding the performance of screwcaps for longer-term cellaring.
This is an agglomerate cork with a disk of good-quality natural cork adhered to both ends. A reasonably priced, reliable alternative to natural cork.
This is the metal pilfer-proof cap usually used to seal beer bottles but also used in the production of Champagne and sparkling wine when wines are stored under crown cap before the dosage is added. A few producers use crown caps to seal wine bottles. Open with a standard bottle opener.
Jamie Goode has written an excellent book on the subject of closures for those wishing to find out more (Wine Bottle Closures, Flavour Press).
The Society includes the alcohol by volume percentage figure for each wine available online, in Lists and offers.
Alcohol by volume%
Units per standard bottle
We always include the abv (alcohol by volume) in our wines online, in our Lists and in our offers. Members looking to choose wines with lower levels of alcohol can now search our range by level of alcohol.
It is generally accepted that over the last 20 years or so alcohol levels in wine have been increasing. There are many reasons why, including but not limited to the vast improvement in vineyard management techniques which have resulted in healthier, riper fruit being harvested. Alcohol is a by-product of the fermentation of sugars in the grapes and the best-quality wines are made from grapes that have reached physiological ripeness (colour, flavour and tannin), and this generally happens after sugar ripeness.
There are several techniques that can be used to reduce alcohol levels but currently most strip the flavour as well as the alcohol, and we don't buy wines made in this way.
Excellent-quality wine is at the heart of everything we do at The Wine Society and balance is the single most important feature of quality. The interaction of a wine's sugar, acidity, tannin, alcohol and flavour matter more than the actual level of alcohol. A well-made wine of 14.5%, for example, will taste more balanced than an inferior-quality wine with 10% alcohol. Furthermore, alcohol levels are only a guide to a wine's fullness: a 12.5% cabernet sauvignon may feel heavier and more full-bodied in the mouth than, say, a gamay of 13.5%. Our tasting notes should be able to give you an idea of the style and fullness of an individual wine.
We are committed to promoting the responsible enjoyment of wines and spirits by providing relevant information to our members that allows you to make your own informed choices.
An additional figure used on some labels (including all our Society and Exhibition wines) is the number of (UK) units of alcohol contained in that bottle. This is simply the alcohol by volume percentage multiplied by the content (so a 13% wine in a standard 75cl bottle will have 9.7 units ).
For more information, please get in touch with us or visit drinkaware.co.uk
The Society's buyers provide recommended drink dates for all of our wines to help members decide the right time to pop the cork. As a general rule, most everyday white wines are best enjoyed within a year of purchase, and most everyday reds within two years. Certain fine wines, however, those with the right structure and balance, have the ability to evolve over time and gain complexity and finer nuances of flavour.
If the product page says:
...then our advice would be:
Should be drunk over the coming months, certainly within the year.
Ready to drink now but will keep until the year shown.
We recommend keeping longer before opening. For example, a wine will be ready to drink in 2020 but still young and will keep until 2042. It's a matter of personal taste when such wines should be drunk. Many members prefer to try the wines over many years from the opening drink date to the last to watch the wine evolve.
Within one year of purchase
A non-vintage wine that should be drunk within 12 months.
Within two years of purchase
A non-vintage wine that is ready now but will keep for two years.
Savouring the wonderfully complex and intense bouquet and flavour of a wine drank at its peak is undoubtedly one of life's greatest pleasures. As with people, the ageing process will vary from wine to wine. Over the years the wine's primary aromas of fresh fruit will develop more complicated and persistent secondary and tertiary aromas. The fruity flavours of, for example, a premier cru white Burgundy will, over time, evolve buttery, toasty and yeast aromas, or fine reds may develop coffee, cedar, tobacco, vegetal, or even 'animal' flavours as they age.
There is much pleasure to be had by experimenting with bottles at different stages of maturity; finding out how a wine evolves with age and, perhaps more importantly, establishing your own preference in terms of taste for mature wine are all part of the interest and excitement of cellaring wine.
The drinking window we provide is a guide to when the wines will be at their best. Many will favour the wines in the youthful early stages of their development; others will enjoy the wines at their most mature.
Decanting is a useful way of softening the tannins, rounding out the flavours and releasing the potential of a young wine. To find out more please visit our Serving Wine guide.
The Society's purpose-built, temperature-controlled Members' Reserves offers members access to optimum storage conditions for their wines.
For more help and advice about how best to enjoy your wines contact us via our enquiry form.
Oak plays a very important role in the production of wine throughout the world. However, the level of oak detectible in a wine can vary depending on a number of factors – for example, the age and size of the barrel and the type of oak used, as well as the length of time the wine is aged in wood. Oak also influences the structure and tannins of the final wine. For wines on our website, we use the following classifications:
This suggests that a wine has either seen no oak at all, or may have been produced using very large, old oak barrels, resulting in a wine that has no taste of oak. Expect these wines to be crisp, fruit-forward and aromatic.
Some oak has been used in the production, yet it has not been a defining factor in the style of the wine. In this instance, the oak may have played more of a part in the structure of the wine but there will still be discreet flavours associated with the use of new oak.
Wines that are defined by and known for their use of new oak. This must not be confused with a wine which is 'overly oaky' as that would purely be down to bad winemaking! We buy only wines that, we believe, use oak in a balanced and appealing way, enhancing flavour and complexity, and/or imparting structure.
How detectable oak is depends a good deal on the size of the barrel and how new it is. New oak provides a much more evident flavour and aroma and must be used carefully. The size of the barrel is important, as the smaller the barrel, the more surface area of the wine is in contact with the wood and the more flavour will be drawn out. Often, very large old oak barrels are used, which impart little or no oak flavour to the wine at all. They will still bring an extra dynamic to the final taste of a wine though, when compared to stainless steel or concrete vessels, as oak is porous and therefore lets a small amount of air into the barrel. This controlled oxidation has a positive effect on wines, softening the tannins and developing secondary flavours, all helping to add a complexity which comes with age.
There are many ways that people rate wines, whether it is on the 100 or 20 point scales, 5 stars, 3 glasses or simply thumbs up or down. The pleasure of a bottle of wine is hard to express in figures, but it does help give the memory of that wine a context, and a way of sharing your opinion with others.
In response to members' requests we have added a star rating option to the site so you can mark your favourites, or maybe those occasional less-than-welcome experiences, and make your next order easier.
You can use the 5-star rating tool to record your experiences however you wish, but if you are looking for some guidance we believe that a focus on the 'value' of the wine takes into account the quality but also the pleasure it provided, and whether it is something you would recommend to friends.