Waterford, The Jem 750ml 2014South Africa, Stellenbosch
One of the most defining elements in red wine is the quality of the tannins, and we haven’t tasted any finer than those in Waterford’s The Jem 2014. There is no better flagship Stellenbosch blend to lead SA’s luxury wine market. The tannins and precision make your heart skip a beat.
Decades of experience at Delheim and Rust en Vrede led Kevin Arnold to the prime Waterford Estate on the slopes of the Helderberg. Having researched which varieties might perform best on the property, Kevin planted a basket of Mediterranean varieties with the vision of creating an ‘icon blend’.
The Jem 2004 was the first release. Then a ground-breaking blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Malbec, Petit Verdot, Shiraz, Mourvèdre and Barbera, it was made traditionally, blended early and aged for an extended period. Last week, we tasted the latest release, now from established older vines, and the 2014 oozes class.
‘There is a higher striving involved with this wine … [The Jem] has never embraced the establishment but rather courted the esoteric.’ – Greg Sherwood MW
Waterford’s rocky Helderberg slope is ideal for elegant, more classically styled Cabernet Sauvignon and, as the vines age, The Jem has become an identity in itself. With a backbone of Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah, The Jem 2014 is primarily about fine-grained tannins, finesse and elegance, and secondarily about providing a sense of velvet luxury.
To our minds, this is Stellenbosch’s most mature and accomplished icon red. Greg Sherwood sums it up best: ‘With the more recent vintages I can see the evolving tannin elegance, the textured nuances, interwoven acidity and exotic herbal Italianesque spices that set this icon wine apart from its competitors.’
'There was no Jem in 2013, but Waterford's flagship blend is back with a flourish in 2014. Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz based, it includes contributions from Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Petit Verdot, Mourvèdre, Sangiovese and Barbera. Still oaky at the moment, but this is a scented, glossy, beautifully weighted cuvée that has wonderful texture and mouthfeel, fine tannins and wild herb scents. 2021-32.' – Tim Atkin SA Special Report 2019, 97/100
'Made from a warm, moderate growing season, 2014 as a vintage is best remembered as the last normal year before four drought seasons. The 2014 Jem blend is made up of 45% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Shiraz, 14% Cabernet Franc, 6% Petit Verdot, 6% Merlot, 4% Mourvedre, 3% Sangiovese and 2% Barbera. According to winemaker Mark Le Roux, the Jem is based on both red and black berry fruits with spicy aromatic tones and a polished, textured mouthfeel. The nose does indeed reveal opulent layers of fruit and spice with pronounced notes of oregano, thyme and dusty stony minerality. It certainly invokes notes of high octane wine making that thrives on the exotic. This wine could so easily be another Bordeaux blend based around Cabernet Sauvignon and it would no doubt excel under the watchful eye of Mark Le Roux. But there is a higher striving involved with this wine and since its inception, it has never embraced the establishment but rather courted the esoteric.
It is on the palate that the idiosyncratic blend components reveal themselves, showing spicy black olive, red cherry spice, red peppercorns and red currant bramble berry fruits that buffer a darker, denser core of earthy black currant and saline cassis depth. In the past, this wine was perhaps a little too big and bold for me but now with the more recent vintages I can see the evolving tannin elegance, the textured nuances, interwoven acidity and exotic herbal Italianesque spices that set this icon wine apart from its competitors. If you like bold, modern, adventurous red wines, I suggest you crack a couple of these with your Sunday roast beef. Satisfaction is guaranteed. Drink now to 2034+.' – Greg Sherwood, 95/100
'A wine which encompasses our entire philosophy at Waterford Estate, the true reflection of the diversity and fruit on our property. Intriguing aromatics of fresh fruit, wild spice, warmth and complexity complimented by the well layered and integrated tannins to offer an elegant yet long lasting finish that is classically dry and rewarding.' – Wine Maker
All the components of The Jem blend are from vineyards grown on Waterford Estate. Of the 120 hectare property, 48 hectares of vineyards stretch throughout the property, offering several distinct soil composition and varietal choices. The extreme mountainous region of Helderberg Stellenbosch as well as the close proximity to two oceans provides a warm region by day but a uniquely cool region by night.
Good long winter, but late rains and cold delaying pruning. Great windless conditions experienced during flowering resulted in a high yielding vintage. February temperatures were extremely hot pushing ripening and this made for a quick harvest especially for white wines. Highest recorded tonnages for Waterford Estate to date. Whites were challenging but the red wines have impressed.
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