A large, beautiful family-owned wine estate, Stellenbosch revisited part 5

Rustenberg was the next visit. No time for a tour round this most beautiful wine estate (which I visited last in 2005), so it was straight to the tasting, with owner Simon Barlow and his son Murray (pictured above).

It's a 950 hectare estate with 120 hectares of vines. The annual crush is around 1000 tons, with 65 000 cases produced each year. Recently, the Brampton brand was sold this was a lower-priced range of  more commercial wines that had been successful. This left a gap in the range, and Rustenberg have now introduced two more affordable wines into their range.

Murray Barlow has just finished his masters degree in Adelaide, and is now involved in the family business, which has been in the Barlow's hands for 72 years. 

Rustenberg has a great reputation for Chardonnay. The Stellenbosch Chardonnay is always the fastest selling wine, and when I visited was sold out. The winemaking for this wine is quite interventionist, says Simon, 'there is a recipe for making this'. The fruit is whole-bunch pressed, lightly settled and goes to barrel (30% new). It's a wild ferment, which sometimes results in a little more residual sugar, but this is part of the style. Five Soldiers is the top Chardonnay, picked slightly earlier and from a single vineyard. Half of the oak is new, and it spends 15 months in barrel. Of the reds, Bordeaux varieties are the focus, although an impressive Syrah was introduced a few years ago. The value wine here is the John X Merriman, which has a capacity to age that belies its modest price tag. Peter Barlow is the real deal: a substantial wine that's ripe but balanced and which ages very nicely.


Rustenberg Sauvignon Blanc 2011 Western Cape, South Africa
A blend of Stellenbosch and Elgin fruit. Ripe, fresh and aromatic with nice fruitiness. The palate shows lovely fruit precision and good acid. Pear and peach richness coupled with citrus freshness. 90/100

Rustenberg Roussanne 2011 Stellenbosch, South Africa
Quite rich yet fresh with rounded pear and peach fruit, as well as some spiciness. Still quite fresh despitethe ripeness, with herb, nut and honey notes. 91/100

Rustenberg Ida's White 2011 Western Cape, South Africa
An inexpensive blend of Sauvignon, Chardonnay and Viognier designed to take the place of the Brampton wines. Very fresh, ripe, fruity and crisp with sweet pear, peach and citrus fruit. Crisp yet generous. 88/100

Rustenberg Chardonnay 2011 Stellenbosch, South Africa
Toasty, broad and complex with some spiciness on the nose. Rich and intense with toast, fig and peach on the powerful palate. Ripe, complex and balanced. 93/100

Rustenberg Five Soldiers Chardonnay 2009 Stellenbosch, South Africa
Rich, mealy, toasty, buttery, spicy nose. The palate is dense and complex with intense, textured fruit including some melony richness, as well as a soft nuttiness. A thrilling Chardonnay. 94/100

Rustenberg Ida's Red 2011 Western Cape, South Africa
Gravelly, rich and sweet with fresh berry and plum fruits. The palate shows lovely fresh cherry and plum fruit with nice definition and some gravelly structure. Lovely drinkable wine with a hint of seriousness. 90/100

Rustenberg Merlot 2010 Stellenbosch, South Africa
Deep coloured. Sweet berry fruits nose with some spicy, gravelly savouriness. The palate has fresh, sweet, pure berry fruits. Stylish wine with lovely purity. 92/100

Rustenberg RM Nicholson 2010 Stellenbosch, South Africa
Ripe, rich, sweet blackberry nose. Pure, inviting and nicely aromatic. The palate is fresh with nice vivid fruit. Well defined, ripe and generous with good structure and fine-grained tannins. 93/100

Rustenberg John X Merriman 2009 Stellenbosch, South Africa
Fresh and gravelly on the nose with intense black fruits, as well as some savoury spicy notes. The palate is fresh, grippy and structured with some chocolatey notes alongside the sweet black fruits. Just a hint of mint. Good ageing potential. 94/100

Rustenberg Syrah 2009 Stellenbosch, South Africa
Sweet, lush, ripe blackberry and black cherry fruit nose. The palate is ripe, lush and pure with sweet, soft textured, generous fruit. Smooth, ripe mouthfeel. Stylish if quite ripe. 93/100

Rustenberg Peter Barlow 2006 Stellenbosch, South Africa
Sweetly aromatic and gravelly with lush smooth sweet black fruits. Wonderfully pure, sweet palate has good definition. Fine-grained tannins provide structure: a lovely ripe wine. 95/100

Rustenberg Peter Barlow 2007 Stellenbosch, South Africa
Fresh, vivid nose of blackberry and spice, with tar and blackcurrant bud. Ripe and smooth but with edges. Fresh, vivid, structured, well defined palate has good acid and some spicy, tarry notes. Needs time. 94/100

Rustenberg Straw Wine 2010 Stellenbosch, South Africa
A blend of Chenin and Viognier, made from healthy raisined fruit. This is sweet, viscous and supple with honey, spice and apricot notes. Luscious and nicely complex. 93/100


Part 1, Waterkloof
Part 2, Waterford
part 3, Reyneke
Part 4, Kanonkop
Part 5, Rustenberg
Part 6, Meerlust
Part 7, Delheim
Part 8, Thelema
Part 9, Neil Ellis

Part 10, Tokara
Part 11, Oldenburg

Wines tasted 03/12  
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