When I first put my nose into a glass of this wine, my reaction was, "Ah, Cab … this is a Bordeaux Cab."
Well, I was about two-thirds right—it is a Cabernet, or primarily so, though I missed the 37 percent of Syrah in the blend, and the Bordeaux connection is very real. Two of the three partners in the project are Bruno Prats, whose family for many years owned Château Cos d’Estournel in the Médoc, and Hubert de Boüard de Laforest of Saint-Émilion’s Château Angelus.
I was, however, just a teensy bit off as to the exact geographic location, as the latest wine of the week, the Anwilka 2005 ($30-$50), actually comes from the famed Klein Constantia Estate in Constantia, South Africa. O.K., 5,500 miles off, but you get the point.
Prats and de Boüard were looking for a local partner with whom to start producing wine in South Africa and in 1997 teamed up with Klein Constantia’s co-owner, Lowell Jooste, to develop the Anwilka vineyard. The result is the best South African wine I have ever tasted.
A little tightly wound at first, the Anwilka had opened up beautifully after an hour. It was mellow, soft, and smoky, with touches of licorice, cocoa, and cinnamon—the Syrah’s influence, I expect—set off by bright blackberry and cherry notes.
As de Boüard explains, "This is not a lifestyle venture. We are serious about wine and aim to be a new benchmark of good quality South African red wine." Judging by the Anwilka, they have already set that benchmark—and pretty high it is, too.
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When to Drink: Now and for the next five years.
Breathing/Decanting: one hour of breathing is essential
Food Pairing: Roast meats and game, soft cheeses
Grapes: 63% Cabernet Sauvignon, 37% Syrah
Country: South Africa