Any lover of well made Cabernet Sauvignon who has been following us knows that South Africa, in particular, Stellenbosch, produces some of the finest and best value versions of the varietal anywhere in the world. And surely at the top of that Stellenbosch Cabernet pyramid for value has to be the Kanonkop Kadette Cabernet Sauvignon. It took years of trial and error to get it right before Kanonkop felt the wine was worthy of carrying the Kanonkop name on the label. Only released several years ago, it has been one of the great go to Cabernets we have carried and seems to get better with each passing vintage.
On our trip to South Africa last fall we had the honor to try the 2020 Kadette Cabernet Sauvignon at the winery and we were impressed by its over delivering quality. It has now finally made its way into our market. Although it’s already approachable, an important fact was mentioned in the reviews was that it has good mid-term aging potential, as well. For all you Kanonkop fans you know what to do; for all others who aren’t familiar with the label and love well made, value orientated Cabernet, now is a great time to see why Kanonkop is such a reliable producer of Cabernet. If you are looking for a Cabernet that won’t break the bank then this is pretty much a no brainer.
92 pts Tim Atkin MW 2022
Like the Kadette Pinotage, this is a very impressive red, especially given its volume and price tag. Made with a 65/35 split of purchased and home-grown grapes, it has graceful tannins, nuanced oak and cassis, bramble and dried herb flavours. Textbook stuff. 2022-27
4 ½ Stars 2023 Platter’s South African Wine Guide
Fresh cassis, along with some cedar & vanilla from 75% new oak on 20 (90 pts). Less splendid, structured & deep-fruited than senior version, but a serious offering & good bargain at a fifth of the price. Approachable already, it should develop – also true of 19 (88 pts). This applies to all the range.
90 pts Wine Enthusiast Nov 2022
Blackberry leaf, cassis and plum skin all dance on the nose of this wine, with supporting accents of singed herbs, tobacco leaf and cedar. The medium-weight palate is like crushed velvet in texture, with ripe black-fruit flavors framed by plush yet structuring tannins and ample acidity that lends some lift along with the grip of the close. It’s well balanced and attractive now, though it should hold well through 2026.
90 pts Wine Spectator Advance Issue June 30, 2023
A dark, juicy, medium- to full-bodied red, with a streak of tarry smoke underscoring flavors of baked black cherry and black plum reduction, with notes of licorice and dried parsley and sage. Firm, chalky tannins emerge to trim the finish. Drink now through 2026. 15,000 cases made, 2,102 cases imported.
By the mid-1980s, Kanonkop was experiencing an ever-growing demand for its estate wines. This had led to new plantings of Cabernet Sauvignon and Pinotage. While the new vineyards were a blessing in terms of future increased volumes, the ethos of Kanonkop’s cellar, under Beyers Truter at the time, required that these newer vines reach a certain stage of maturity before the fruit was deemed good enough to be vinified into a wine that portrayed the depth and complexity associated with Kanonkop.
It was Jannie Krige who came up with the idea of making a second label under the name Kadette. The thinking behind the new name was logical: with the military association of ‘kanon’ (cannon) in Kanonkop, the Kadette was deemed a deserved junior to the more senior main brand.
The grapes used in the Kadette range of wines no longer come from the Kanonkop vineyards; the demand is too great and the volume required simply too large. However, every bunch of grapes brought in for the making of Kadette is subjected to the same meticulous processes in the winery as the Estate range.
The youngest addition to the Kadette range is simply delicious and offers extraordinary value. A well rounded wine showing great accessibility with a juicy fruit core and fresh acidity. The tannins add a grainy texture, and the wine lingers on the finish with beautiful flavours of blue berries and subtle oak spice. A classic Stellenbosch Cabernet at a great price!