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The wines of Vergelegen, Stellenbosch (South Africa)
PO Box 17, Somerset West, 7129 South Africa
Tel: +27 (0)21 847 1334

This class line up confirms that Vergelegen is one of the very best producers in South Africa. Part of the diamond and mining operation Anglo American, they were already doing pretty well when they signed superstar winemaker Andre Van Rensberg from Stellenzicht in 1998. Since then, progress has been onwards and upwards. The estate has just over 100 ha of vines (that's a reasonable size), the first of which were planted in 1989. Prices are very reasonable considering the quality (in the UK they range from 6.49 to 14), and most of these are available in either Oddbins or Sainsburys.

Sauvignon Blanc 2000
Modern 'boiled sweets' nose is rich and ripe; the palate is very rich and rounded, with good concentration. Very good

Sauvignon Blanc 2001 (cask sample)
A super effort. The nose is really lively, with a fresh, green, gooseberry-laced character. The palate is bright and intense, with great concentration. Very good/excellent

Chardonnay 2000
100% barrel fermented, 50% new oak, aged in barrel for 7 months. Another super effort. The lovely, rich nutty nose shows toasty oak. The palate is intense, with rich, ripe fruit. Very attractive: rich and spicy. Very good/excellent

Chardonnay Reserve 1999
Fermented and aged for 12 months in 100% new French oak, this is a single vineyard wine. It's a classy wine, but I actually prefer the richness of the regular Chardonnay. Lovely rich toasty nose has complex savoury notes. The palate is classy and quite lean, with savoury, nutty fruit.

Merlot 1998
Deep coloured wine showing rich, leafy blackcurrant fruit on the nose. Another classy palate combining berry fruit with a spicy richness. Very good+

Cabernet Sauvignon 1998
A blend of 87% Cabernet Sauvignon, 7% Merlot and 6% Cabernet Franc. Lovely leafy, cedary blackcurrant fruit on the nose leads to a palate showing rich fruit, underpinned by good tannins and a mineral streak. Lean and restrained. Very good/excellent

Vergelegen 1998
The flagship wine is a blend of 75% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Merlot and 5% Cabernet Franc, that is aged for 22 months in new oak. It's a classy red, showing a lovely density of rich fruit with a nice leafy edge to it. With well integrated oak, it's well balanced despite the great concentration, and there's a minerally complexity. Very good/excellent

Tasted May 2001 at the Decanter Rising Stars Fine Wine Encounter

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