Savage Red Blend 2018
Small hand selected parcels of fruit are meticulously sourced from a number of altitude and maritime vineyards around the Western Cape farmed by passionate South Africans. In the cellar, minimal intervention and old large format French Oak is combined to ensure that the essence of South African terroir is captured in the wines.
Critical AcclaimAll Vintages
The 2018 Red Savage, made with 50% whole bunch, is matured in 500-liter French oak for the first year and foudres for the second. It has a sublime bouquet of brambly red fruit, sous-bois and light sea spray scents that gradually gain intensity with aeration. The palate is medium-bodied with chewy tannins. Quite dense and weighty in the mouth, leading to a ferrous finish that just needs to develop finesse and precision. Two bottles were tasted; in the second I discerned a little more nuance and edge.
Made from Syrah this year, the 2018 Proprietary Red is dark ruby colored at the core and has a nose that is unmistakably Syrah. Wafting with juicy scents of blackberry and black plum over black peppercorn, the nose expresses hints of sweet tobacco, olive and smoked salami in the glass. The medium-bodied wine is classic and pleasurable on the palate with ripe flavors of juicy plum and black cherry skin over fresh cracked pepper flavors before displaying gripping tannins across the mid-palate. The wine concludes with a long, drawn-out finish that leaves me craving fire-roasted meats from the grill. It's simply delicious.
With an important wine renaissance in full swing, impressive red and white bargains abound in South Africa. The country has a particularly long and rich history with winemaking, especially considering its status as part of the “New World.” In the mid-17th century, the lusciously sweet dessert wines of Constantia were highly prized by the European aristocracy. Since then, the South African wine industry has experienced some setbacks due to the phylloxera infestation of the late 1800s and political difficulties throughout the following century.
Today, however, South Africa is increasingly responsible for high-demand, high-quality wines—a blessing to put the country back on the international wine map. Wine production is mainly situated around Cape Town, where the climate is generally warm to hot. But the Benguela Current from Antarctica provides brisk ocean breezes necessary for steady ripening of grapes. Similarly, cooler, high-elevation vineyard sites throughout South Africa offer similar, favorable growing conditions.
South Africa’s wine zones are divided into region, then smaller districts and finally wards, but the country’s wine styles are differentiated more by grape variety than by region. Pinotage, a cross between Pinot Noir and Cinsault, is the country’s “signature” grape, responsible for red-fruit-driven, spicy, earthy reds. When Pinotage is blended with other red varieties, like Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah or Pinot Noir (all commonly vinified alone as well), it is often labeled as a “Cape Blend.” Chenin Blanc (locally known as “Steen”) dominates white wine production, with Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc following close behind.
With bold fruit flavors and accents of sweet spice, Grenache, Syrah and Mourvèdre form the base of the classic Rhône Red Blend, while Carignan, Cinsault and Counoise often come in to play. Though they originated from France’s southern Rhône Valley, with some creative interpretation, Rhône blends have also become popular in other countries. Somm Secret—Putting their own local spin on the Rhône Red Blend, those from Priorat often include Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. In California, it is not uncommon to see Petite Sirah make an appearance.