Thelema Cabernet Sauvignon 2008
Cabernet Sauvignon from South Africa
This age-worthy Cabernet from the heralded Thelema estate is a benchmark South African bottling with an impressive track record. Sleek and stylish, this wine abounds with alluring flavors of blackberry and blackcurrant intertwined with complex notes of coffee, cedar, tobacco and eucalyptus.
The Wine Advocate - "In complete contrast, I feel that Thelema is far more adept with that other noble Bordeaux variety. The 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon was aged for 18 months in 45% new oak and has a very succinct nose of ripe red berries, wild hedgerow and a touch of cedar all with very fine definition. The palate is medium-bodied with fine, supple tannins. It has good acidity and a lovely caressing, ironically Saint Emilion-like finish. This is a superb Cabernet Sauvignon drinking beautifully now. Drink now-2016. "
Wine Enthusiast - "There's a prominent herbal streak to the nose of this wine, but it's not jarring thanks to the suport of rich black cherry and black currant fruit core. The savory herbs, menthol and licorice herbaceousness continues through to the palate, where again it's matched by equally intense dark fruit flavors and a mouthwatering finish. Silky wood-spice accents the long finish. Drink now - 2014."
Wine Spectator - "A supple, old-school style, with an alluring mint note leading the way for mulled plum, fig and spice notes, followed by a suave cocoa powder hint on the finish. Stylish, but has the stuffing to age nicely. Drink now through 2014. 400 cases imported."
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Thelema Mountain Vineyards
In 1983, Gyles Webb and his wife's family purchased a run-down fruit farm at the top of the Helshoogte Pass in Stellenbosch, where they established Thelema Mountain Vineyards. At a time when the South African wine scene was focused on quantity rather than quality, Webb was a trailblazing pioneer on a mission to craft world-class wines. Construction began on the winery in 1987, and Thelema produced its first vintage in 1988. Situated on the slopes of the Simonsberg, Thelema occupies mainly south-facing aspects that afford spectacular views of the Simonsberg, Drankenstein and Jonkershoek mountains. Elevations ranging from 370 to 640 meters above sea-level make the 157-hectare estate one of the coolest and highest wine farms in Stellenbosch. View all Thelema Mountain Vineyards Wines
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A long history of growing grapes and making wine, but less of a history on exporting it, and even lesser on the quality aspect. At the turn of the century (1900, that is), a surplus of wine in South Africa created a hierarchy of cooperatives, the biggest and best known being KWV. This organization seemed to favor quantity over quality and had most control over wines and vineyards until the late 1980's. Now, with a bit more competition, quality is coming around. Yet, South African wine was not even seen in American wine stores until the mid-1990's – the trade embargo on the country for their racial apartheid laws kept South African wine out of the US. When apartheid fell, so did the embargo, and SA bottles began showing up on US shelves.
White wine has always been the cash crop of South Africa, with much of it distilled to make brandy. More white than red is planted, much of it the Steen variety – known elsewhere in the world as Chenin Blanc. Good producers are making top quality dry wines from this grape. Another grape gaining some raves is Sauvignon Blanc, producing whites that are dry and crisp, yet rounder than many of its Southern Hemisphere counterparts. For reds, the top grapes are Syrah/Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon (& blends) and Pinotage. Cabernet Sauvignon and Bordeaux blends was once the favorite and most-produced, but Shiraz is taking over as wineries crank out high quality wines from the variety. Pinotage, which used to be a grape only your mother could love, has improved dramatically and is often as delicious as it is distinctive. The most popular regions of the country include Stellenbosch and Paarl.
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Notable FactsWhite wine has always been the cash crop of South Africa, with much of it distilled to make brandy. More white than red is planted, the majority of it is Steen – known elsewhere in the world as Chenin Blanc. Good producers are making top quality dry wines from this grape. Another grape the critics rave aboutSauvignon Blanc, producing whites that are dry and crisp, yet rounder than many of its Southern Hemisphere counterparts. For reds, the top grapes are Syrah/Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon (& blends) and Pinotage. Cabernet Sauvignon and Bordeaux blends were once the favorite and most-produced, but Shiraz is taking over as wineries crank out high quality wines from the variety. Pinotage, a man-made crossing between Pinot Noir and Cinsault, has improved dramatically and is often as delicious as it is distinctive. In describing red wines in South Africa, smoky and meaty are two terms that are common. Regionally, the most popular wine-making areas include Stellenbosch and Paarl.
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Alcohol By Volume GuideMost wine ranges from 10-16% alcohol by volume. Some varietals tend to have higher (for example Zinfandel and Cabernet Sauvignon) or lower alcohol levels (Pinot Noir and many white varietals), but there is always some variation from producer to producer. Some wine falls outside of this range, for instance Port weighs in closer to 20%, while Muscat and Riesling are usually a bit below 10%.
Wine Style Guide
Light & Fruity
- Red wines that are more fruit-forward and lighter in tannin and body.
Smooth & Supple
- Medium bodied reds that go down easy, with smooth tannins and supple fruit.
Earthy & Spicy
- Wines where earthy and/or spicy dominate the flavors – typically medium to full body.
Big & Bold
- Full bodied wines that have concentrated fruit and are higher in alcohol and/or tannins. Some need age.
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