A day after being a bit rude about the oaking of Lammershoek Syrah I felt a bit guilty, because I enjoyed the second half of the bottle much more than the first. The air had done it good, it seemed to me, and it was much more harmonious and the wood bothered me less. There is seldom a valid absolute in wine tasting. Nowhere, surely, is the old idea that “truth changes with time” more valid. And I confess I wouldn’t swear to my own consistency either….
But there are strong convictions, of course, that we believe to be truth! And I’m convinced that Boekenhoutskloof Cabernet Sauvignon 2000 is a truly excellent wine, and delighted that I have five more bottles of it, and only wish they were eleven. Whether the wine will continue improving I wouldn’t venture to guess – but the reminiscence of primary fruit lingers alongside some complexity from development, and it certainly is going to continue being very good for a while; I’d wager a small bet that in another five years it will still be excellent, one of the best Cape Cabs that I’ve had.
In his generous article not long ago about Cape cabernet, Eric Asimov of the New York Times was a bit sniffy about the 2006 version of this wine, and thought it a bit too international and modern in style. I would love him to taste this 2000 as it is now, and re-consider his judgement in the light of what a few years does to Boekenhoutskloof Cab. For this is totally recognisable as a South African wine in tone, I think (though with not a hint of burnt rubber!), as well as being forcefully flavourful. The tannins, as to be expected from chunky 2000, are big (but well-balanced), and the wine is not exactly refined, perhaps, but I don’t think that’s the point: it is harmonious, generous, and immensely drinkable. It has a juicy dryness of finish that is especially pleasing – and quite rare in local reds.
As an advertisement for Franschhoek – once rather sneered at, especially for reds: Boekenhoutskloof Syrah is of course from Wellington – nothing could do more. And as an advertisement for Boekenhoutskloof too. In what sadly looks like being the last edition for at least a while of the Wine Report, Tom Stevenson’s well reputed annual guide to world wines, Cathy van Zyl and I, as the South African correspondents, listed Boekenhoutskloof as our top local winery (with some hesitation we had it overtake Vergelegen). Drinking something like the 2000 Cab is reassuring – though I must try some of the Vergelegen of the same year, which should be stunning now too, and might get me worried again.