Louis Cabernet 2008: First in the US, Last in SA

Louis Nel is the original nice guy in SA wine. And as corny quotes confirm, nice guys finish last. Which is what happened at the controversial blind tasting of CWG Auction wines earlier this month. Taster Tim James CWM rated the Louis Cabernet 2008 15/20. It was his worst wine with a “ripe sweet, fruity nose. Quite pretty in a vapid way, but actually has more structure than fruit forcefulness, thanks to over-ripeness. Leaves an unsatisfactory, sweet impression” while Michael Fridjhon was also not a fan: “savoury animal notes, more oak and development rather than fruit, very chunky on the mid-palate and finish, oak dominated, coarse 76/100.”

 Louis Cabernet 2008: First in the US, Last in SA

Pundit Ground Zero in Pinelands, blind tasting CWG Auction wines

Yet for two respected American pundits, the wine was a very highly rated indeed. Wine Spectator’s James Molesworth scored it 91/100 and found “a dark, lightly rustic version, with ample character thanks to the roasted chestnut, cedar, coffee, currant paste and sage notes. The grippy finish lets tar and dark tapenade notes fill in” while it was Steve Tanzer’s best red, scored 92+ with tasting note “bright ruby-red. Classic cabernet nose combines briary dark berries, black cherry, tobacco leaf, dried flowers and sexy oak. Juicy, suave and sweet, with superb depth and grip to the complex flavors of berries, spices, flowers and minerals. In a distinctly Old World style, finishing with sweet, supple tannins and terrific energy and length. Really grips the palate.”

You can’t invent this material. And no surprises if the Cape Winemakers Guild politely declines next year’s approach for a “professional” blind tasting of Auction wines by local luminaries. My own tasting note was “brooding, shy nose (hint of barnyard), wood over fruit, dense and intense, a big bruiser. Dodgy bottle? 83/100” which puts me on Ilha do Sal with Cesaria Evora, mid way between the US and SA pundits. A hopeless, but beautiful place to be.