Seldom does it happen that when you take a sip of a truly fine wine, your shoulders relax, all thoughts disappear, and you just take in the glory of the glass. This is what happened when I first tasted Riani Strydom’s Rex Cabernet Sauvignon 2016. This is one of the most impressive glasses I have held for a long time. Riani is the winemaker of Strydom Vineyards, a Stellenbosch Artisanal Winery. She is a member of The Cape Winemakers Guild, she has travelled the wine world and soaked up the knowledge of winemaking from others. And now she, and her husband Louis, are doing their own things with huge success if this bottle is anything to go by.
2016, Riani says, was a “good year for yield and quality, especially in respect of early to midseason cultivars. In the case of the Cabernet Sauvignon physiological ripeness was achieved at lower sugar and higher acid content which ended in fresher wines with lower alcohol.”
The Cabernet Sauvignon grapes come from 2 sites, with different elevations, both of which are 8 to10% clay with a de-composed granite and gravel combination. Once hand harvested early in the day, the grapes wine to the cellar and were sorted on a vibrating table to ensure only the finest grapes went through for fermentation. After yeast inoculation, and the cap of skins lifted in the fermentation tank pump overs took place every four hours. This is pumping of the fermenting juice over the cap of skins for gentle flavour and tannin extraction. Immersion of the skins lasted for 16b days. After pressing 650 litres per ton of grapes, the wine underwent malolactic fermentation in French Oak Barrels of which 30% were new. After that the wine spent 18 months in the barrels before being prepared for bottling.
From a Bordeaux shaped bottle, closed with natural cork. The label is strong and defining. In the glass, the wine is a dark opaque bloodplum which pales out to ruby at the edges. The aromas are classical Cabernet. Strong Crème de Cassis, dark red berries and Bing cherries. The palate is just brilliant. Soft, rich and round, mellow. A lovely line of fruit acidity, soft like Whiteheart Cherries, runs through from entry to the long and gently waning aftertaste. The fruit is magisterial, an undertow of oak with its concomitant spice and vanilla is there too. A truly, truly impressive glass. Eminently drinkable now, though ready to give you a couple of years of cool cellaring for later reward.
The Strydom Vineyards Rex Cabernet Sauvignon 2016 is just perfect as a glass on its own for serious conversation or listening to some great classical music. Brahms would be my choice. It also needs some serious food. Now that figs are on the shelves again, Nina Timm’s Rib eye Steak with Camembert & Fig Chutney would be the perfect partner. Click HERE for her recipe.
Nina Timm of my-easy-cooking.com
I will be writing soon about Riani’s Freshman Sauvignon Blanc soon, another stonker of a wine.
Read more about Strydom Vineyards – CLICK HERE