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2015 Stellenbosch Cabernet Sauvignon en-primeur


In my 18 years at Tokara, 2015 is the best vintage I have worked with,’ hailed Miles Mossop, CWG Chairman and a panel member of the first Stellenbosch Cabernet – The Collection. Held in Johannesburg last week, the event hosted 24 winemakers who showed-off their 2015 Cabernet Sauvignons – en-primeur style. Armed with new clones, virus-free vineyards and a finer identity of South African Cabernet, today’s top winemakers have taken advantage of the sublime 2015 vintage conditions. The message was clear: Cabernet Sauvignon is king in Stellenbosch and 2015 is quickly being regarded as the greatest modern day vintage.

Eight wines were poured at the preceding Masterclass, including fine and mature examples such as the Kanonkop 1984, Warwick 1995 and Waterford 2003. Norma Ratcliffe, having produced Stellenbosch Cabernet Sauvignon since the 70s, described the above as top vintages. ‘We should expect the same from 2015,’ she noted. The pure fruited and perfectly balanced 2015s are set to age with similar grace for decades to come.

+ The vintage:

  • The preceding season was cold and wet which provided good reserves for the vintage ahead. Early bud-break from a warm August meant that the vintage was always going to be early. Importantly, February was remarkably cool, especially during the night, allowing steady ripening. A lack of significant heat waves lead to very healthy pH levels and moderate alcohols. March was warmer and Cabernet Sauvignon was picked about 2 weeks earlier than usual in dry conditions.

+ The wines:

  • Those expecting dark, thick-textured wines may be disappointed. The 2015s are generally medium-bodied with red rather than black fruits. There is tremendous consistency however, in elegant ripeness, lovely freshness and powerful tannins. Those producers who were able to balance the evident purity of fruit with big tannins, produced wines on a whole new level of quality.
  • Style is important. New oak and fruit sweetness is generally in check as Stellenbosch Cabernet finds its home between the New and Old World. But, with diverse terroir within Stellenbosch and varying winemaker preferences, the wines lie anywhere between lean and overtly bold. Consumers more akin to riper fruit and softer, albeit powerful tannins, should look at Kleine Zalze, Delaire Graff, Uitkyk and Alto. Those who prefer the more classic style and wines that require more patience, should look to Neil Ellis, Waterford, Thelema, Glenelly and Kanonkop amongst others.

+ What is en-primeur?

  • En-primeur is the French word meaning ‘newly produced and made available’, also commonly known as ‘wine futures’. These terms refer to the sale of the recent vintage before it’s released, offering the customer the first opportunity and the lowest price. Bordeaux has offered their top wines en-primeur for over 2 centuries – providing an efficient system to communicate the merits of the vintage and distribute their wines around the world. Wine Cellar has been offering Bordeaux en-primeur since 2002 and has recently offered the fine 2016 vintage.

+ En-primeur wines and tasting notes:

Wine Cellar has been offering Bordeaux en-primeur for 15 years and now, for the first time, will apply the model to Stellenbosch Cabernet Sauvignon 2015. As these wines will be released at different times, en-primeur gives you the opportunity to buy a range of the top Cabernets all in one offering. Purchasing the fine 2015 Stellenbosch vintage en-primeur offers you a discount on the future release price, or ‘farm price’. Of the 17 wines where the 2015 future ‘farm prices’ are known, en-primeur saves you on average 10%.

Until the end of February 2019, Wine Cellar will store your en-primeur purchases free of charge and offer free delivery on your total order once the wines have been released.

How to order:
Orders will be accepted in 6-bottle cases only and payment is required on order. To place your order, copy the table below or download the form below, fill in your order and send it via email to info@winecellar.co.za before Monday, 17 July. Please ensure that you’ve read the terms and conditions.

2015 Stellenbosch en-primeur  Download the 2015 Stellenbosch Cabernet en-primeur order sheet.


For tasting notes and drinking dates, please see below:

Wine Release date Score R/bottle  Order
Alto, Cabernet Sauvignon Early 2019 94  R 207   
Bartinney, Skyfall Cabernet Sauvignon Mid 2020 90+  R 320   
Delaire Graff, Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve Late 2017 92  R 650   
Delheim, Grand Reserve Mid 2019 91+  R 295   
Ernie Els, Proprietor's Cabernet Sauvignon Late 2017 92  R 290   
Glenelly, Lady May Mid 2020 92-94  R 420   
Jordan, The Long Fuse Cabernet Sauvignon Early 2018 90  R 200   
Kaapzicht, Cabernet Sauvignon Mid 2019 91-93  R 180   
Kanonkop, Cabernet Sauvignon Mid 2020 92-94  R 370   
Kleine Zalze, Family Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon Mid 2018 92  R 335   
Le Riche, Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon Mid 2018 94+  R 520   
Neethlingshof, Cabernet Sauvignon Late 2017 88  R 97   
Neil Ellis, Jonkershoek Cabernet Sauvignon Mid 2018 95  R 385   
Oldenburg, Cabernet Sauvignon Late 2019 93  R 235   
Rust en Vrede, Single Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon Mid 2018 96  R 950   
Rustenberg, Peter Barlow Early 2018 96-98  R 400   
Spier, 21 Gables Cabernet Sauvignon Mid 2018 93  R 260   
Stark-Condé, Three Pines Cabernet Sauvignon Today 93  R 325   
Thelema, Cabernet Sauvignon Mid 2019 94  R 250   
Tokara, Reserve Collection Cabernet Sauvignon Mid 2018 94  R 305   
Uitkyk, Carlonet Late 2019 90  R 141   
Warwick, Blue Lady Cabernet Sauvignon Mid 2018 94  R 320   
Waterford, Cabernet Sauvignon Mid 2018 95  R 315   

– Free delivery on orders over R 1,500, see the terms and conditions.

Tasting notes:

Alto, Cabernet Sauvignon 2015
'One of the darker and richer styles of Cabernet Sauvignon. A richly fruited entry eventually opens to lead pencil, black olive and deep spice. Mammoth tannins are coated in gorgeous cassis-laden, sweet fruit, leading to a remarkably silky, graphite-like finish. This 2015 reminds me of the great Altos of the early 70s and remarkably there are 80,000 bottles for sale! It’s a great buy. Drink 2020-2035.' – Roland Peens 94/100

Bartinney, Skyfall Cabernet Sauvignon 2015
'The nose shows powerful, ripe fruit and a lifted leafy bouquet. Sweet fruit, a touch of smoke, wet earth and liquorice offer a complex bouquet. The finish is slightly stewed and disjointed now, perhaps time will give it more elegance and drive. Drink 2020-2027.' – Roland Peens 90+/100

Delaire Graff, Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve 2015
'This is certainly one of the more modern, fuller wines on show. Powerfully ripe, rich and exotic fruit give a deep, succulent mouthfeel and generosity. Seriously structured tannins are balance by rich fruit and hints of new oak. A touch of sage and origanum on the back palate add to complexity to a very suave finish. The 2011 Reserve suggested immediate drinking. Drink 2018-2025.' – Roland Peens 92/100

Delheim, Grand Reserve 2015
'The Grand Reserve is a backward Cabernet, produced in a fresh, serious and traditional style. Hints of smoke and tomato leaf linger on the nose, leading on to a pure-fruited, tannic palate. It shows good breed and is deftly elegant and fine on the finish. Drink 2022-2030.' – Roland Peens 91+/100

Ernie Els, Proprietor's Cabernet Sauvignon 2015
'The Ernie Els seems to have become more elegant over the last few years. It does have a dense black core but I was expecting sweeter fruit and more new oak. The tannins, acidity and phenomenally pure fruit are not quite knit, giving a backward initial impression. The finish is elegant and fine with lovely perfumed depth. Classic New World Cabernet Sauvignon. Drink 2019-2026.' – Roland Peens 92/100

Glenelly, Lady May 2015
'The Lady May is one of the later releases and the sample gave you a sense why. It was one of the most backward of styles and is not easy to understand at this stage. There is however astonishing purity, very finely textured fruit and a gritty backbone of acidity and fine tannin. Medium-bodied but very serious and long on the palate. Expect this to age well for decades and it may open up to greatness. Drink 2023-2035.' – Roland Peens 92-94/100

Jordan, The Long Fuse Cabernet Sauvignon 2015
'One of the more conservative, yet solid wines tasted. It shows more of the leafy, earthy and savoury notes that Cabernet Sauvignon can produce. Licks of new oak and some fruit-sweetness lead on to a tomato leaf-laced, elegant and composed finish. This will drink a bit earlier. Drink 2018-2027.' – Roland Peens 90/100

Kaapzicht, Cabernet Sauvignon 2015
'Remarkably elegant and finely tuned, this shows a more generous. yet elegant Cabernet expression. Notes of roasted meat, black olives and black fruit line the palate. It's big, powerful, mineral and dense with a little heat on the finish. The finished wine should show more poise and balance, although it’s still remarkably good and long on the palate. Drink 2020-2030.' – Roland Peens 91-93/100

Kanonkop, Cabernet Sauvignon 2015
'Lighter in colour, this is medium-bodied, backward and more on the delicate side. Classic notes of tobacco, cedar, raspberry and dried herbs slowly unfold in the glass. Lovely balance of sweet fruit, fine texture and earthy complexity. There is a dense back palate and long, mineral finish. It should be even more refined once in the bottle. Drink 2022-2035.' – Roland Peens 92-94/100

Kleine Zalze, Family Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2015
'A powerful nose shows intense, purple fruits with an underlying herb edge. Quite lush on the palate with sweet fruit and fine tannins. Sleek and long on the finish. There has been a slight shift in style here, under Alastair Rimmer the 2015s from Kleine Zalze are less opulent and more elegant than before. Drink 2018-2025.' – Roland Peens 92/100

Le Riche, Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2015
'The 2015 Reserve from Christo Le Riche is hedonistic and powerful in style with darker notes that push the limits of elegance. Densely knit, deep, tannic and powerful, it delivers immense flavour on the palate, eventually finishing with cassis and salted liquorice. The opulent fruit is a slightly off-kilter at the moment, time may give it a finer expression and warrant a higher score. Drink 2022-2038.' – Roland Peens 94+/100

Neethlingshof, Cabernet Sauvignon 2015
'This shows hints of wet earth, some greenery and slightly stewed fruit on the nose. There is a generosity to the wine along with a solid tannic grip. A bit raw and rustic on the finish, this will settle over the next few years and offer good drinking. Drink 2018-2022.' – Roland Peens 88/100

Neil Ellis, Jonkershoek Cabernet Sauvignon 2015
'Neil Ellis has been a classically-styled, benchmark Cabernet for more than 2 decades. The 2015 could be the finest ever, showing grilled herbs, graphite, olive and pure, crystalline fruit. It starts slowly on the palate, building up to a super-rich, densely textured palate. Beautifully poised, deep and seamless, the structure is loaded with cassis and lasts forever. Drink 2022-2040.' – Roland Peens 95/100

Oldenburg, Cabernet Sauvignon 2015
'The Oldenburg shows a shimmering display of deep Cabernet fruit. Perhaps a bit more forward in style, it is sweetly-textured with a sense creaminess on the nose and palate. There are lovely balanced and soft, yet powerful tannins and savoury complexity. Tasted against the 2011, the 2015 is of a really fine breed and set for the long haul. Drink 2020-2035.' – Roland Peens 93/100

Rust en Vrede, Single Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon 2015
''We are all about elegance,’ quipped Coenie Snyman as I asked about the 2015. I didn’t believe him, and then he poured the wine. Produced from a single vineyard high up on the Helderberg, it is lighter than most, medium-bodied and totally elegant. It was also one of the finest Cabernets in the room! Hints of new oak slowly blow off to reveal beautiful red and black fruits with an array of complex spice and graphite notes. What's more remarkable is the high level of tannin and huge finish to the wine. Somehow silky and towering at the same time, the finish is immensely long and fine. Tasting the fresh and composed 2010 next to the 2015, we can expect this prodigious wine to age with grace for a very long time. Drink 2022-2038.' – Roland Peens 96/100

Rustenberg, Peter Barlow 2015
'This is a full-bodied, dense wine with a black core. The nose is extremely pure and compelling, showing notes of graphite, cassis, salted liquorice, dried herbs and a hint of new oak. Towering and structured, the deep, rich fruit is finely knit on powerful tannins and balanced by a lovely freshness. The pure fruit dances on your palate for minutes, giving it a long, profound and utterly engaging finish. This is about to be bottled but this incredible vineyard high up on the Simonsberg has produced the finest young South African Cabernet Sauvignons I have tasted. Drink 2023-2040.' – Roland Peens 96-98/100

Spier, 21 Gables Cabernet Sauvignon 2015
'This is essentially from a single vineyard on the Helderberg and is fast becoming one of the finest Cabernet Sauvignons in Stellenbosch. A touch more modern in style, the impressively ripe fruit is well balanced by a hint of mint and a savoury edge. There is a wonderful backbone that gives the sense of minerality, laden with dense cassis and cedar notes. This is a serious wine that will need time to show its best. Drink 2022-2030.' – Roland Peens 93/100

Stark-Condé, Three Pines Cabernet Sauvignon 2015
'This is a lighter, more elegant style of Cabernet Sauvignon from the more marginal Jonkershoek ward. Lead pencil, attractive greenery, earth and spice combine with red fruits and floral notes. Tight, mineral and seriously textured, it will take more time to show its full potential. Long, fine and classic. It is already on the market. Drink 2022-2030.' – Roland Peens 93/100

Thelema, Cabernet Sauvignon 2015
'Medium-bodied and light in colour, the Thelema is the most elegant and lean of all the wines. Notes of dried herbs, little red berries and touch of chocolate are wound around taut, yet silky tannins. It’s all structure now, but there is huge intensity lurking beneath and it will take time to unfold. Think fine St Julien. Drink 2023-2035.' – Roland Peens 94/100

Tokara, Reserve Collection Cabernet Sauvignon 2015
'A lifted, powerful and deeply complex nose leans towards the riper fruit spectrum. With air it gains momentum on the nose and palate, revealing a hint of mint and some meaty notes. It has the silkiest of tannins which, when combined with the powerful style, are reminiscent of the Margaux appellation. Polished, long and classy, this is a very impressive Cabernet Sauvignon. Drink 2018-2030.' – Roland Peens 94/100

Uitkyk, Carlonet 2015
'One of the few wines to show a touch of jamminess. It is potent, exotic and rich with gorgeous, sweet fruit and a silky texture. It really shows great breed, but lacks poise and detail. This is one for the hedonists! The 2001 out of a magnum was similarly ripe but was completely intact and delicious! Drink 2018-2030.' – Roland Peens 90/100

Warwick, Blue Lady Cabernet Sauvignon 2015
'The Blue Lady is beautifully pure and shows a lovely balance between rich tannins, aromatics and savoury depth. Hints of new oak and grilled meat add complexity and contrast the deep opulent fruit. It’s a big, sexy wine that could be enjoyed in its youth but time will add grace and detail. Drink 2019-2032.' – Roland Peens 94/100

Waterford, Cabernet Sauvignon 2015
'The 2015 Waterford Cabernet Sauvignon is thrilling. Darker than most of the 2015s, it shows an inky core and purple edge. Tightly wound notes of cassis, charcoal and hints of dark chocolate follow on to powerful, richly ripe, polished fruit. There is a palpable fruit sweetness but it's well-balanced by finely textured tannins and a salty liquorice finish. It is incredibly solid, youthful and long on the palate. The purity of fruit reminds one of Pauillac, especially with its towering structure and fine precision. The sublime 2003 shows how the top vintages blossom with incredible depth and class with time. Drink 2022 – 2035.' – Roland Peens 95/100

Wine Cellar offers the greatest wine region in the world en-primeur (as futures). 2017 will be our 17th Bordeaux campaign and will be offered from April 2018 onwards for delivery in 2020.
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