Warwick Estate The First Lady Cabernet Sauvignon 2017
The First Lady range of wines are a tribute to Norma Ratcliffe. The founder and first winemaker at Warwick estate and of the first women to make wine in South Africa. Cabernet Sauvignon is the first wine made under the Warwick label. It is fitting that this is the best known and most popular wine from the estate.
Situated on the northern border of the Stellenbosch wine region, along the slopes of the Simonsberg Mountain, Warwick Wine Estate has a long history of producing some of South Africa's finest and most acclaimed wines.
The classic red wine portfolio is led by two blends, the 'Reserve' and the 'Three Cape Ladies.'
The 'First Lady' range immortalises the legacy and irrepressible personality of Norma Ratcliffe - one of the Cape's first female winemakers who guided Warwick to acclaim since producing the estate’s first wine in 1984. Fondly known now as South Africa's 'First Lady' in the South African wine industry, Norma was an innovator by nature; which she had to be in a male dominated industry and was never scared to be the first at anything. In 1989 she became the first female winemaker to be inducted into the Cape Winemakers Guild and became its first female chairperson in 1993.
Having released award-winning wines vintage after vintage, Warwick was eventually sold to San Francisco-based Eileses Capital in 2017, and CEO Christiane von Arnim – a 'First Lady' in wine in her own right - was entrusted with taking Norma's legacy into the future. JD Pretorius (Diners Club Young Winemaker of the Year 2014 and Cape Winemakers’ Guild Member since 2018) joined Warwick as Cellar-master in 2019, heading up the vineyards and cellar and was tasked with translating the wonderful terroir of Warwick Wine estate into wine for the world to enjoy and connect over.
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.
A noble variety bestowed with both power and concentration, Cabernet Sauvignon enjoys success all over the globe, its best examples showing potential to age beautifully for decades. Cabernet Sauvignon flourishes in Bordeaux's Medoc where it is often blended with Merlot and smaller amounts of some combination of Cabernet Franc, Malbecand Petit Verdot. In the Napa Valley, ‘Cab’ is responsible for some of the world’s most prestigious, age-worthy and sought-after “cult” wines. Somm Secret—DNA profiling in 1997 revealed that Cabernet Sauvignon was born from a spontaneous crossing of Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc in 17th century southwest France.