Wine of the week: a wondrous South African Bordeaux blend

Babylonstoren wine

2014 Babylonstoren Nebukadnesar, South Africa (£26.90, SomersetWineCompany.com; £28.99, TheSavanna.co.uk; £26, Babylonstoren.com).

This is the top Bordeaux blend from the luxury lifestyle retreat and wine haven Babylonstoren, an hour outside of Cape Town.
I was sent this wine by Milly Wood of the Somerset Wine Company and it is a genuine tour de force. I am naturally wary of heavy bottles, numbered labels and the like, but it was clear as the very first molecules of scent triggered my olfactory system that this is a noble creation.

Made from 46% cabernet sauvignon, 18% merlot, 15% petit verdot, 12% cabernet franc and 9% malbec, this “Bordeaux blend” is one that all of the big boys in South Africa have a go at. Most overshoot the target with high-tone oak, heavy-handed extraction and heightened alcohol levels. This wine ducks all of these excesses with exquisite balance, mellow tones and perfect integration of tannins and oak. But what really impresses, other than the value (which, compared with Bordeaux, is incredible), is the flavour.

There is no trace of the burnt rubber tang that haunts many South African reds. In its place the fruit is sensational. This fruit is tended by specialist viticulturists, in the same way that they tend their stunning kitchen and formal gardens. There is no substitute for epic fruit and this is why Nebukadnesar is such a wondrous wine.

 Matthew Jukes is a winner of the International Wine & Spirit Competition’s Communicator of the Year (MatthewJukes.com).