2018 Neethlingshof Estate Wine, The Caracal, Red Wine, Short Story Collection, Stellenbosch, South Africa.
The 2018 The Caracal Bordeaux style red blend from the Neethlingshof Wine Estate, a new winery for me, but one that has been around sine 1892 or so, is remarkably Medoc like, easily mistaken for an Haut-Medoc and or a Saint-Julien Bordeaux with hints of graphite, gravelly loam and black olive to go with some very elegant blackberry, plum, mulberry and kirsch on the medium/full palate. Not all that surprising, but tasted blind, I really guessed left bank here with this old world style effort, it is made up of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Petit Verdot, Cabernet Franc and Malbec that all play roles with fine grained tannins, a light earthiness, toffee/cedary wood, tobacco leaf, brown spices and dried dark flowers perfectly accenting the core fruit. Those that like Calon-Ségur, Gloria, Branaire-Ducru and Beychevelle will find this Stellenbosch region wine a hugely rewarding and generous bottle of wine and a great value, plus it should age another 5 to 10 years.

The Cabernet Sauvignon led The Caracal Red was picked by varietal and fermented separately using 100% de-stemmed grapes in tank where it saw a selected culture (yeast) for a quick primary and secondary fermentation before being are in toasty/smoky French oak for 12 months, with a selection of new and one time filled hogs head 300L barrels being employed here, after which the different components were blended. Each vintage is slightly different on the final percentages, but usually it sees 50% Cabernet Sauvignon, with this 2018 having a good dose of Merlot, Cabernet Franc (which doesn’t always make an appearance) and Petit Verdot, along with a very small splash of Malbec, all adding to the wine’s complexity. Neethlingshof’s winemaker De Wet Viljoen has produced a really good, ripe and nicely structured offering and it was made adhering to vegan guidelines, for those that search those out. The nose and profile of this The Caracal red again scream of classic Bordeaux and in the glass its deep garnet color is very inviting, it is a wine that will impress for quality and depth, especially with winter cuisine with the winery suggesting it being paired with brisket, casserole and or hard cheeses.
($25 Est.) 92 Points, grapelive

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