I ended up drinking the South African Bordeaux-blend Rabelais 2017 from Thelema Mountain Vineyards a few times – I reported on the first of these occasions with Rabelais 2017. I really enjoyed it and got more enjoyment out of it with each subsequent encounter.
Rabelais 2017 was damned good. There are no two ways about it: it is more enjoyable than most Claret many times its price whilst being just as sophisticated, just as civilised and just as age worthy. I am terribly happy that I have a couple of bottles in my cellar that I will re-visit in a decade.
Today I have Thelema Mountain Vineyards’ Rabelais 2019 to drink and review. 2019 is shaping up to be a damned fine vintage in Stellenbosch, the region where Rabelais is grown. The jury is still out as to whether it is as good as 2017, but maybe today’s bottle will provide some evidence.
Last one to have an opinion gets no more wine!
My first impression is that this Rabelais 2019 smells gorgeous! It has got great fresh blackcurrant fruit in abundance, together with spicy oak, cigar box characters and crushed pencil complexity. All of these components have restraint and exist in excellent harmony with each other. It is the nose of a fine, refined wine.
But more important than that, it is delicious, exciting and fun-packed. It is positively titillating with its pleasure value and lubricious with its array of harmonious aromas. Quite the stunner. This is a really fine, really delightful nose.
The palate is also very elegant and refined. It has a great interplay between the rigorous, refined, slightly chalky structure and the fresh blackcurrant – perhaps with hints of blackberry – fruit. The whirl and intertwine as you taste, giving winning complexity, top bunny harmony and engaging complexity.
And… It is delicious! Its crushed pencil minerality together with cedar wood spicy give titillating complexity. The firm structure massages your palate with its bright energy and vivacious tannins. Its fruit… oh its fruit… Perfectly controlled and great restraint, but bubbling with ripe, thrilling freshness and palate flattering multivagancy. It is the perfect combination between precise correctness and nigh-limitless pantophilic charm.
Given the delicious nature of this wine you can start drinking this immediately, but with its wonderful structure, abundant fruit and precise balance it would be a shame if you did not keep this for a minimum of 10 years. It will age and improve for 20 years, if not longer. I cannot recommend this highly enough, to taste it is to love it.
Is it better than the 2017? If you bought some of that you can judge for yourself in 15 years, that is when I will decide…
Buy from Handford.