The generic Stark-Conde Cabernet is one of the most boring wines I have ever poured down the sink, so why did I follow up that tiresome experience with buying a bottle of the rather more expensive Oude Nektar 2017? Just a whim…
So what do I know about Stark-Conde Oude Nektar 2017? Remarkably little*. I know it is a single vineyard Bordeaux blend from the Jonkershoek Valley in Stellenbosch. I know 2017 is considered a good vintage in Stellenbosch. I know they made 4,617 bottles. So shall we see if it is any good?
Jesus Shit, this smells good! Really fantastic, indeed, and there is much to think about as we smell and sniff.
For a start, there is a core of really sophisticated, sweet fruit. It mostly smells of ripe blackcurrants, but there is additional complexity from the extra colour of redcurrants and blackberries. This is really classy and just too nice to be called simply ‘impressive’. It is gloriously commanding!
I don’t get much in the way of Merlot plumminess, but Cabernet fruit is drop-dead fabulous. There is a leafy edge that could be Cabernet Franc, but I think it is real quality Cabernet Sauvignon that is allowing all its details and multifaceted class to dominate one’s glass with serious explendency.
If we are playing ‘spot the blend components’ I feel sure there is a hint of the musky fruit that shows when even small amounts of Petit Verdot are present. I also think there is a suggestion of the rasping horribleness of Malbec, but I would prefer to think they did not sully this excellent wine with that, at absolute best, pitifully ordinary varietal.
The basic message is there is a wonderful centre to this nose of brilliantly involute, highly attractive fruit.
I do not know if it really makes sense to describe a set of aromas as a three dimensional structure, but I am about to do that so let us say it does.
That pulsing shaft of refulgent fruit towers in the centre of this nose. It is surrounded by beautifully detailed layers that support the fruit core wonderfully.
There are a lot of fine cedar wood shavings around the core, delightfully scented and increasing the complexity to ever greater levels.
These cedar wood shaving are dusted with crushed pencil points and around this perfumed layer there is the solid structure of rich earth mixed with gravel. It is a tremendously complex edifice of a nose.
Some of you may be thinking this sounds quite Claret, and it is! It reminds me of a very specific Claret I drank at five years old. Alas, it was five years old twenty-eight years ago, but honestly my postulate is accurate!
What this smells of to me is five-year-old Leoville-las Cases 1988. That had the sophisticated fruit core with the complex layers surrounding it. It was also terribly grown-up and serious. Maybe this is a shade more fun, but we are talking a seriously classy wine here that is not playing around in the paddling end of the quality-pool.
So we have a taste… Yeah that’s LLC ‘88, alright! It’s got a solid structure of cedar wood and slightly chalky tannins woven around dense earth and gravel. There is a decent amount of acidity, some a little rasping, but it is definitely correct. This upright, taut structure slaps lesser wines back to the paddling end, yielding the quality zone to no also-runner… err.. also-swimmer…
Once again, there is a core of sweet, delicious, intellectual but also god-damn lubricious fruit. It pulses with all the dimensions Cabernet Sauvignon can display at its very finest. Supremely complex… What a stunner!
The length here is awesome and the exquisitely composed melange of flavours it leaves as you swallow a mouthful of richly-detailed, pointed-end of pleasure, utter joy easily jerks a tear to the eye and a desire to taste more of its sapid seriousness. What a mouthful of living excitement this is!
I feel spent and drained after reliving the drinking experience by editing my stream-of-consciousness dictation of my first, explosively enjoyable experience. This is truly a wine of few equals. Sure, if you had one bottle you a would pleasure yourself immensely if you popped its cork now but, please, take it when it is over fifteen.
Procure from Museum Wines.
*I know so little partly because The Editor put the bottle in the recycling just after I had decanted it. I do not even know the claimed alcohol level!