A contender for possibly the country’s most-awarded estate – and definitely the ‘First Growth’ mantle, Kanonkop is home to some of the country’s most premium wines. A succession of luminary winemakers including Springbok rugby player Jan ‘Boland’ Coetzee, Pinotage Godfather Beyers Truter and incumbent three-time ‘World’s Best Winemaker’ winner Abrie Beeslaar have added layers to the rich history of the estate, which produces only red wines.
The offering is concise – the tier two Kadette range features accessible but still nuanced Pinotage Rosé, Pinotage and Cape Blend, while the tier one range includes a Pinotage, Cabernet Sauvignon and Paul Sauer blend, with the limited-edition Black Label Pinotage sharing prominence. The 2015 vintage of the Paul Sauer – traditionally a Cabernet Sauvignon-led blend which includes significant percentages of Cabernet Franc and Merlot – was the first wine in South African history to be awarded a perfect 100-point score by British Master of Wine Tim Atkin in his annual report. As a result, the full production run was snapped up on release and you’d be advised to pay whatever the asking price is, should you ever stumble across a bottle, for a truly remarkable experience.
While the Kadette range is designed for easy drinking, the upper reaches of the range reward careful cellaring for upwards of a decade – and well beyond. All of Kanonkop’s wines are layered, intense and fruit-driven in an unashamedly South African style that is gaining international traction. Though the price matches their history and complexity of the wines, the exchange rate to currencies like the Dollar, Pound or Euro make them astonishingly good value purchases. If their provenance were French rather than South African, they’d surely occupy the higher reaches of the premium price spectrum.
Despite all the gravity that the estate carries, its tasting room is welcomingly unpretentious and doesn’t come with any of the bells and whistles flaunted by so many other estates. There’s a small store and an art gallery beyond the cellar – the walk through the barrels to access it is something akin to a religious experience for devotees – but the focus is on a comfortable space where the wines themselves, shine. The tasting team know what they’re working with and don’t need to oversell the wines – meaning that visitors can simply revel in the wines without being faced with a barrage of statistics.
The Standard Tasting (R70) is astonishingly well-priced, since it offers the opportunity to try all available wines in the current vintage, bar the Black Label Pinotage. Unsurprisingly for a wine which costs upwards of R1 600 per bottle, the single-pour tasting is priced at R145, but is entirely worth it – even for comparative purposes. Premium and Private tutored tastings are also available with pre-booking. Fees for individual tastings are waived on purchase of the wines – another practice which has largely fallen by the wayside in the face of economic pressures.
If you’re travelling in a group, pre-book a traditional ‘snoek braai’ and revel in the estate team’s welcoming hospitality to get a real feel for life on the historic property – many of the 54-strong team live on the farm itself.
Off the R44,
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