Being great is enough

There is a perception, mainly held by idiots, that all new world wine is mass-produced plonk that has very little connection to any place it where it was grown.

That is a particularly moronic assumption to hold about South African wines. The vineyard that produces Stark-Condé’s 2019 Oude Nektar Cabernet Sauvignon-based wine made just 11 barrels.

I found the 2017 Oude Nektar to be filled with personality. For a wine that less than 3,300 bottles are made the price is very reasonable too (2019 Oude Nektar costs around £60) – imagine the terrifying price some Burgundy Grand Cru that a producer only made 11 barrels of would ask! For £60, one should expect real quality and, my, does 2019 Oude Nektar pulse with it!

2019 Oude Nektar’s Turangawaewae is the highest vineyard in Stellenbosch, 550m above sea level in a geographical region, the Jonkershoek Valley, that Stark-Condé were the first to recognise as having great viticultural potential. At this altitude the vines experience quite cold winds, meaning slower ripening, longer hang-time for the grapes and so more accumulation of flavour.

The South-Western aspect of this vineyard allows it to get 45 minutes more sunlight per day than a flat vineyard would. The grapes do get ripe despite the cold microclimate. The resultant wine is not some boring monolithic blockbuster that the idiots assume all South African wines to be as it clocks in at an idoneous 13.5% alcohol.

2019 Oude Nektar is composed of 85% Cabernet Sauvignon and 15% Petit Verdot. The loganberry mixed with herbal throat pastille flavour profile of this grape it is so charged with character that you cannot fail to spot it in any future wine that you try that has a beyond minimally vanishing proportion of it. I love it as a component of serious Bordeaux blends.

Less drivel, more drink!

Stark-Condé Oude Nektar 2019

Oude Nektar Cabernet Sauvignon 2019, Stark-Condé

This has a highly engaging nose, both ripe and attractive but additionally highly complex and intellectually exciting. The Cabernet cassis and green, leafy aromas are charged with intricate detail from the Petit Verdot and rock dust flavours. These aromas swirl together to create a synergistically involute, complete nose of class and style.

There is no getting away from the fact that, despite this possessing an upright restraint to the nose, 2019 Oude Nektar also smells pretty bleeding lovely. If you could not be smitten by the aromas here just because it is a Cabernet, you would be suffering from an ideological coulrophobia. Even though that combination of fruit, earth, herbs and a spicy hint of oak just seems entertainingly fun and grown to make you happy, sheer bloody-mindedness means you cannot possibly enjoy the show on offer. You clown.

2019 Oude Nektar’s palate shows a progression as you taste. Sweet, delicious blackcurrant and loganberry fruit, with a bit of leafy verve, on the entry, evolving through deep spicy, herbal characteristics perfectly balanced by a core of skilfully managed oak into an upright, elegant finish of brilliantly lively chalky structure.

2019 Oude Nektar is a complete Cabernet-blend experience, and if more Cabernets were like this I could understand why the style is so popular.

However, most Cabernet is tedious prosaic swill for uneducated plebeians – this includes an awful lot of rather expensive Napa Cabernets and wines from Bordeaux. No, Oude Nektar 2019 is a wine of eclat, not just because it is produced in small quantities nor that it is a keenly priced for its rarity, but it has real personality of undoubted charm, winning complexity, distinct elan and, bloody hell, it is just so stylish!

Missing out on buying a wine of this quality, easily up to the towering brilliance the 2017 possessed, whilst it is at this price, especially for a reason as questionable as disapproving of Cabernet, would be a serious mistake.

One day the greater wine world is going to stare at the Jonkershoek Valley and demand to know why the hell they were not told. Then all 11 barrels of production will be snatched up buy a greedy market with more money than (probable) ability to appreciate greatness and there will be none left for us.

OK, this is not cheap, but there are at least 20 years of lavish engagement in each bottle and a few bottles in your cellar will arrantly increase both its quality and happiness quotients. I may only have one more bottle, but I’m damned proud to have it fulgurating in my cellar.

Buy from Museum Wines.

If I may prepare the ground a little for a future post and request. Both of my regular readers will have noticed that my organ’s output has been pathetically minimal this year. I apologise. This has been due to constant pain in my back (and from my body being battered from falling over all the time when my legs stop working) that, an awful lot of medical running around between MRI scanners, blood tests and being poked, has been revealed to be caused by Persistent Spinal Pain Syndrome Type 2 – this used to be known as Failed Back Surgery Syndrome.

The treatment for this is getting a Spinal Cord Stimulator implanted. This is someone sticking electrodes inside my spine and 10kHz electrical pulses zapping around in it. The electrodes are attached to a controlling computer and battery that is implanted just above one’s buttock. (The Editor insists this will make me the first cyborg he will know and asks if I will be able to set my arse to stun. Ho hum.)

The National Health Service in my area is not performing this kind of necessary treatment in these times of long waiting lists. Even when they were, many years ago, I have been told the waiting list was usually over four years long. Bastards.

I cannot wait a long time, for reasons of my mental health, a desire to write here and a desire to cease being stuck at home all the time sweating, swearing and cursing because I am in so much pain. This means I will have to get it inserted privately to save me from unspeakable pain and repair the connections to my legs. I got interviewed for the i newspaper about this and you can read the story here, if you like.

It seems poking about inside my spine and hopefully not paralysing me is not the expensive part. The device inside me are where the money goes and, even though I do not like asking strangers for money, I am going to have to crowd fund the operation.

I will put up an article with the full price of the procedure (The Editor has already spent a small fortune on the preparatory steps for this to go ahead), explaining again why I need this doing, etc., when I get a quote from the hospital. I appreciate all and any donations, no matter how small they are. If you cannot help but know someone who can please feel free to twist their arms, just so you get more articles to read!

I apologise in advance once again for asking for contributions for surgery on my spine, but it is a serious requirement and I need all the help I can get. Thank you.


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