When you are looking for an excellent quality Cabernet Sauvignon, you should certainly consider that produced by the Kanonkop estate. The estate lies in the Stellenbosch region of the Western Cape, and is around kilometres to the east of the capital, Cape Town. Stellenbosch has a long tradition of wine growing, and is favoured by wine producers for its hills and valleys which produce soft and fertile ground which is well-sheltered by the surrounding mountains. The mixture of warm, arid summers and dark, decomposed granite soils mean that the area of Stellenbosch is a fantastic location for many red wine grapes, particularly Cabernet Sauvignon.
The Kanonkop wine estate has a long history of growing Cabernet Sauvignon in its vineyards, and it has successfully produced a number of vintages of this deep red wine. Some of the past vintages from the estate are only now being opened and drunk, and are revealing an increased maturity and depth from the delay in uncorking. This includes a Kanonkop Cabernet Sauvignon wine from 1995, which was recommended to be opened in 2010-11, and is delivering an excellent body and powerful flavour, with deep red and black fruits, and deeply sensual acids. Kept for another few years, a good bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon from Kanonkop could be even more of a delicious experience.
The years have been kind to the Kanonkop estate, and many of their products of recent vintage, including the Cabernet Sauvignon 2005, have been given a great deal of praise. In fact, the 2005 Kanonkop Cabernet Sauvignon was given a 5 star rating by the John Platter Wine Guide in 2008. High praise indeed when you consider how much competition there is in this class of wines. It is some surprise, therefore, to find out that it is not Kanonkop’s flagship wine (which goes to a wine blend produced on their estate), as it is simply one of the best Cabernet Sauvignon wines currently available in South Africa.
The Kanonkop Cabernet Sauvignon has had many fabulous years, with the still-existing 1986 wine deeply rich on the mouth, and full of intense flavours and tannins. More recent vintages, such as the 2003, have been rightly praised by wine experts as showing the excellent characteristics of a South African Cabernet Sauvignon, complete with deep black and red fruits and a dark undertone of oak, with plenty of acidity in the aftertaste. In some cases, however, the Kanonkop Cabernet Sauvignon has been the victim of its own success. The 1997 vintage, among its brothers on either side, suffered greatly through the very damp summers, which produced an excessive amount of rot, and wine fans at the time were tempted to dismiss this year, and others, as poor simply due to the first taste. As the wine has increased in maturity, however, the depth of fruit which the grapes have produced, plus an additional growth and depth in taste has allowed the 1997 to blossom, producing fruity, sweet and pleasant-tasting wines that can be savoured over meals, or simply by itself.