Clinging on by its teeth (ER, the wine has longer)

Happy New Year! The start of a new decade, and Elitistreview is still running (for the time being). If you read my last post (read it here), you will know I need help to keep it running. Here is the link you can click to help me.

I am writing this using speech to text on my phone, so The Editor will have to cut out all the bits that go: complete complete complete bastard bastard bastard not complete complex not complete complex bastard! I am sure he will have fun doing that. If you like expletives just leave me a sodding comment and I will put more in, but I do want my hand fixed. Clicked that link yet?

I am grateful to my friends Keith and Greg for today’s wine. It is a rare wine from a transitional period in a country‘s history. Much has changed since it was made. South Africa and, indeed, the world has changed greatly in the last 29 years. This wine has lived through momentous times. The question is how well has it lived and survived through those times? Let us dive in and find out!

Paul Sauer 1991, Kanonkop

In case you have not read my previous notes on Paul Sauer (1997; 1994, 1995 and 2009), this is a Bordeaux blend that is considered one of the finest wines from South Africa. I have really loved some of the other vintages I have tried, but this one is the oldest of them all.

It claims to be low in alcohol, and they have put 12.5% on the label, whilst recent vintages are 14.5%. I prefer the idea of 12.5%.

As I opened it and poured it, it had a bit of a stink of rusty chains and old metal. This is not a fault, luckily. Anyone who has drunk Bordeaux from the mid-80s recently will know that when you pop a bottle, they can often be a bit whiffy. All that is required is a vigorous swirl in the glass.

That is better! This is proper Saffer Claret! It has cedar wood, cigar box, creme de cassis and earthy aromas.

Indeed, if you place this in a lineup of ‘86 and ’88, mid-tier classed growth clarets, you would have to be a bloody good blind taster to spot it as a ringer. Your clue would be that it is just a hint more exotic than claret. Also, though I really hate to suggest that mid-tier classed growth clarets are piss-boring, it just smells nicer, more pleasing, more charming – better.

I had some Lynch Bages ‘88 recently, this is just so much more pleasing. The nose does not say, “I am dried out old crap”. It says “You will enjoy me, we will have fun together”. I prefer that message.

On the palate this really shines. It is no tough gnarled old bastard who just wants to slap you around. It is a well-toned svelte lovely, elegant and refined, with a bit of flesh, clad in shimmering silk. It gives your palate all that image promises, and more!

It has a good polished presence in the mouth, with good length, stylish fruit, and very nice complexity. Perhaps this would have been better five years ago, but it delivers the full force of personality which the momentous time is it was created in merits.

This is a really good wine. Thank you, Keith. Thank you, Greg.


This is the first tasting note I have ever dictated. Admittedly I am ill and only got three hours sleep, but it is a really hard job dictating tasting notes. When writing these, one has to dwell on each sentence, and that is hard with dictation. Please help me fix my hand so I can type Elitistreview for years to come, here is the donation link again.

Many thanks to The Editor for fixing this horrific mess.

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