2017 Thelema Mountain Vineyards, Rabelais, Stellenbosch, South Africa
This snippet of history from the Thelema website sets the scene for this truly magnificent wine. Here is an edited quote: “François Rabelais was a monk, doctor and writer (about wine among other subjects) in 16th-century France. He imagined a utopian abbey on the banks of the Loire, which admitted both men and women, encouraging them to live together in great luxury. Only one law governed its members: ‘Fay ce que vouldras’ – Do what thou wilt! This was, of course, the Abbey of Thélème.”
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This was the inspiration for Gyles Webb’s estate on the slopes of the Simonsberg Mountain, which he acquired back in 1983. Rabelais is the name of the top wine here and Gyles’s son Thomas sent me a bottle of this 2017 to taste a few weeks ago. It completely blew my mind. A highly sophisticated cabernet sauvignon/petit verdot blend, this is the most complex, controlled and intriguing cabernet blend I have tasted from the Cape.
Layered and ultra-fine, this is a far cry from the powerhouse reds that usually hog the headlines. Even though it spends 20 months in 100% new French barriques, this is one of the most elegant and luxurious wines of the year. I have timed this article to coincide with its arrival from South Africa, so MoneyWeek readers get the steal on everyone else. As Rabelais said, “If the skies fall, one may hope to catch larks”. The sky seems to have been falling all year and this wine is a rare bird indeed.
Matthew Jukes is a winner of the International Wine & Spirit Competition’s Communicator of the Year (matthewjukes.com)
Matthew Jukes has worked in the UK wine business for well over three decades and during this time has written 14 wine books.
Matthew regularly lectures, judges, speaks at wine conferences and runs masterclass tastings for both corporate and private clients all over the world. Matthew is also the creator of his ground-breaking initiative, the One Day Wine School, an indulgent day of tasting and learning first performed in 2006.
He has been the MoneyWeek wine correspondent since 2006 and has written a weekly column for the Daily Mail’s Weekend Magazine since 1999. His four highly-acclaimed, annual wine reports – the Burgundy En Primeur Report, the Bordeaux En Primeur Report, the Piemonte Report and the 100 Best Australian Wines – are published on his website, www.matthewjukes.com.
Matthew is one of the world’s leading experts on Australian wine and, with Brisbane-based wine writer Tyson Stelzer, runs an annual competition in Australia to find ‘The Great Australian Red’. He was made Honorary Australian of the Year in the UK at the 2012 Australia Day Foundation Gala dinner.
Matthew is a winner of the International Wine and Spirit Competition's Communicator of the Year Trophy. His thoughts, recommendations and tastings notes are followed very closely by the wine world at large.
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