Saxenburg Private Collection Cabernet Sauvignon 2017

Saxenburg Private Collection Cabernet Sauvignon 2017

South Africa has a long history of producing outstanding wines. Proudly South African to my core, many friends and family have received bottles as gifts and considered me a wine evangelist (or nuisance), long before qualifying as a Cape Wine Master.

On a road trip to the Cape in late 1995, several cases of the Private Collection Shiraz 1993 accompanied me back to Johannesburg. Frequent travels depleted those purchases and a number of these bottles were gifted. By 1996, I had a subscription to Wine Spectator and remember the pride of seeing the success of this wine in the Top 100.

It would be another 11 years before returning for a visit with friends in 2007. On that trip, we were lucky enough to taste The Private Collection Cabernet Sauvignon 2003 which won the IWSC best Cab title and the prestigious Warren Winiarski trophy later that year.

Time passed, our wine industry went through an unprecedented cycle of growth with many new wine brands on the shelves and young, dynamic winemakers (or troublemakers as some were known) stepping into the limelight. Instead of steadfastly supporting stalwart producers, consumption habits had shifted to focus on breadth not depth, devouring emerging wines and new stories. While wine had been a passion and a small part of my culinary adventures, it had become my career. Lots of time was spent listening, tasting, and taking notes as well as observing how consumers interacted with wine brands.

Fast forward to May 2021.  I was surprised and delighted to be gifted a bottle of the soon-to-be-released Private Collection Cabernet Sauvignon 2017. The 2015 stood out in a blind lineup just before lockdown showing great typicity as a Stellenbosch Cabernet. Sitting down with the 2017 vintage, I spent time really focusing on the glass. In fact, I actually tasted it in three different glasses. With great restraint, it was tasted over five days. Why? Because on the first sip, I was transported back to the 2003 and knew this was a wine that needed time. It opened up beautifully and continued to evolve in each glass nightly. Taste is a powerful memory.

This premium, youthful, single-vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon from the Polkadraai Hills in Stellenbosch is full-bodied, fresh, fruity, and seriously age-worthy. Beautifully balanced juicy acidity and ripe, firm but fine tannins, with aromas and flavours of cassis, red cherries, tobacco, blackcurrant leaf, dark chocolate, and graphite (pencil lead). Smooth, rich and elegant with a long finish.  It will reward judicious cellaring over the next 7-10 years. Quite lithe, this versatile wine will pair well with creamy wild mushroom pasta, duck and cherry pie, or a rare ribeye on the bone.

Cellarmaster and winemaker, Dirk van Zyl, has done an exceptional job with this Cabernet Sauvignon. From harvesting at optimum ripeness to gentle handling in the winery this is a class act. The wine was fermented in open tanks at 28°C with regular punch downs and pump over as well as two to three weeks of skin contact after fermentation. It was matured in 300-litre French oak barrels (40% new, 40% second fill and 20% third fill).

In my opinion, the Saxenburg Private Collection Cabernet Sauvignon 2017 outshines the lauded 2015 with greater poise and complexity. It was quite simply a pleasure to taste this wine. Left wanting more, last having visited fourteen years ago, Saxenburg is firmly on my radar when I next travel down to the Cape.

Dating back to 1693, the farm, owned by the Bührer Family since 1989, features a tasting room, restaurant and accommodation.

Available at your local liquor merchant or via the Saxenburg online portal at R265 a bottle

Debi van Flymen
Cape Wine Master