Cabernet Sauvignon is one of the most familiar wines produced by South Africa, and the Meerlust Rubicon is perhaps one of the most well-known blend using Cabernet amongst other wines including Cabernet Franc and Merlot. Developed by Nico Myburgh in the 1980s, the Meerlust brand quickly became an international sensation, and a benchmark against which all South African Cabernet Sauvignons have since been graded. By making such a top-end product early on in the modern career of South African wines, Myburgh has taught drinkers to expect something wonderful when they come upon a red wine by Meerlust, and it is a high standard which the vineyard continues to uphold.
The estate is found close to Stellenbosch, and like that area has a position close to False Bay. This allows the Atlantic current to be slightly modified by the warmer climates of the Bay, creating an exceptional area for the growing of different wines. During the hot days of summer, the Atlantic winds are perfect for cooling down the vines, allowing the grapes to come to maturity over a very long period, increasing the amount of tastes and flavours that they absorb from the surrounding countryside. These slow growing and ripening processes create grapes which are uniquely flavoursome and mature, giving the wine a complexity and body that is a mark of the Meerlust estate.
The Meerlust Rubicon wine is made under the instruction of Hannes Myburgh, a graduate of both Geisenheim and Chateau Lafite wine-making methods, and he is assisted by Chris Williams, who was made the Master of the Cellar in 2004. It is under the direction of these experienced wine-makers that the Meerlust Rubicon has grown to be an internationally respected wine, and one which is highly sought both inside and outside of South Africa. The Meerlust estate and its managers have combined to create a sensuous and rich red wine which can stand alone amongst the finest of South African wine products, becoming something like a deep European Bordeaux as it matures.
The wine itself is a deep red colour turning slightly cerise at the edges. It has a full body with big flavours, not lead of which is the dark tobacco and blackcurrant, along with a smoky and fruity aftertaste which extends well into the acidic taste of the tannins. This wine is excellent when served along with red meats such as beef and game, and also goes well with strong, mature cheeses. Some of the best vintages include the Meerlust Rubicon 2007, which has a deep plum and violet aroma, mixed with woods and spices that give it a well-rounded flavour on the tongue. The 2001 had slightly more bite, with a hint of nettle along with black cherry and a deeply earthy core which gave the taster a mix of tastes and sensations as they drank. Many consider that it has a rather dark, peppery finish which will continue to last. Maturity will also help the tannins, which some general drinkers find a little strong, to mellow and allow the Meerlust Rubicon to become a soft, velvety drink.