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Meerlust Rubicon 2016

Technical Analysis

Winemaker – Chris Williams
Main Variety – Cabernet Sauvignon
Alcohol – 13.9 %vol
pH – 3.52
RS – 2.56 g/l
Total Acid – 5.9 g/l
Appellation – Stellenbosch

Characteristics

Type – Red
Style – Dry
Body – Full
Taste – Fragrant

Accolades

92 pts Greg Sherwood MW
The Rubicon component parts were transferred to barrel early for malolactic fermentation in 55% new Nevers French oak, 25% second fill barrels and the remaining 20% in older French oak barrels. The final blend of the 2016 is indicative of the vintage and its impact on the estate’s vineyards with 49% Cabernet Sauvignon, the lowest in Rubicon history, with 28% Merlot, exhibiting this varieties great expression in the unusual 2016 vintage, 20% Cabernet Franc and 3% Petit Verdot. The wine was barrel aged for 16 months before bottling. Having tasted this wine a few weeks after bottling in 2018 at the winery, it has certainly settled down beautifully and first impressions suggest further ageing in bottle will only be beneficial. It is pure, bright and generous with sweet notes of plump ripe black plums, sweet cherry tobacco, sappy sandalwood, graphite and cedar spice. The palate is still a touch taut on the entry but quickly fans out onto the mid-palate with sappy sweet black plum fruits from the high percentage of Merlot and Cabernet Franc. Thoroughly honest in style, generous and approachable, this wine is both vibrantly fresh and charmingly drinkable now on release with impressively integrated creamy oak. A wine that recognizes its vintage limitations but still succeeds in delivering a wonderfully delicious and gregarious Bordeaux blend expression. Drink now until 2028+.

90+ pts Wine Advocate Issue #245 Oct 2019
The 2016 Rubicon has an expressive nose of mulberry with subtle oak and red and brown spices. Comprised of 49% Cabernet Sauvignon, 28% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Franc and 3% Petit Verdot, the full-bodied palate is still tight and structured with a grippy, chewy edge, but elegance can be gained with age and this wine ends well structured with focused balance.

90 pts Wine Spectator 4/30/20
Very Old World in style, with a graceful profile and mouthwatering acidity standing firmly behind notes of cherry, savory mineral, rose hip and rosemary. Supple tannins create good harmony and give this more muscle. Needs a bit more time, but well-executed. Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot. Best from 2021 through 2029. 15,000 cases made.

93 pts Decanter March 2020
Cedar wood, spice, a touch of fynbos on nose and palate. Good acidity and layers of flavour that balance the ripe fruit, with a deft touch.

Tasting Notes

The 2016 Rubicon shows great charm and drinkability even at this early stage, no doubt a result of the high Merlot and Cabernet Franc composition. We were very cautious with regards to tannic structure as some of the later Cabs exhibited astringency which we wanted to minimise in the final blend. Wonderful exotic aromas of plum, sandalwood and perfume, still with a touch of creamy vanilla. The palate is medium bodied with a forward dark fruit flavour of cassis and mulberry followed by a lithe tannic structure fleshed out with juicy fruit. The impression is one of litheness and grace rather than over-arching power.

Ageing Potential

15 – 30 years, provided wine is stored in ideal cellar conditions.

Blend Information

49% Cabernet Sauvignon, 28% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Franc, 3% Petit Verdot

In The Vineyard

Soil: The Cabernet Sauvignon is grown on low yielding, predominantly biotite partially decomposed granite gravel topsoil rich in quartz and feldspar to a depth of approximately 600mm with a loamy clay subsoil. The Merlot vineyards are planted on more clay rich, yet well drained soils to ensure moisture retention and availability to the vines roots right through the summer. There are considerable deposits of iron-rich Laterite in the Merlot vineyards which accentuates the fruit definition and mineral profile of the wine. The Cabernet Franc Vineyard is situated on very well drained, stony Vilafontes soil with approximately 20% clay which is ideal for this variety.
The Petit Verdot is on Oakleaf 3 soils on a northerly aspect to ensure full phenolic ripeness

About The Harvest

The 2016 growing season was unusually cool but quite dry, presenting unique problems of fruit set and ripening. Irrigation was used strategically even on the mature vineyards to ensure slow ripening and proper flavour and tannin development. The Merlot and the Cabernets were extensively suckered from early in the season, and during veraison vendage vert was applied extensively to ensure an evenly ripe crop.

In The Cellar

The vintage was generally later with some uneven ripeness showing in the later Cabernets. A decision was made to practice very gentle extraction to ensure the wines were not overly tannic or astringent. The Merlots were the star of the vintage and so extended maceration on our best Merlot tanks yielding succulent, opulent wines. The varieties were fermented separately with a combination of remontage and delistage. The wines were transferred to barrel early for malo-lactic fermentation in 55% new Nevers oak, 25% second fill barrels and the remaining 20% in older French oak barrels. The final blend is indicative of the vintage: 49% Cabernet Sauvignon, the lowest in Rubicon history, with 28% Merlot, exhibiting this varieties great expression in the unusual 2016 vintage, 20% Cabernet Franc and 3% Petit Verdot. The wine was barrel aged for 16 months before bottling.

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