25-01-2012

The age-old Rustenberg

Producing wine since the late 17th century, Rustenberg is a winery in the Greater Simonsberg area that has been run by the Barlow family for the last 60 years. In total the farm has 1,200 hectares with 160 dedicated to vines that all seem to center on the old, traditional white Colonial home in the middle.

Their Roussane 2008 is unique in that they claim to be the only farm making a Roussane in South Africa. The nose to it is rather tart and a bit acidic as well. The body is a complete departure from the nose however and is rather mineraly with only a touch of acid on the finish. It’s an enjoyable white in a way that is considerably different from many South African white wines. There is a thick honey quality to the body although with air, a lime quality opens up which isn’t ideal. It would be good for hot days and good with fish, pork, and any number of creamy cheeses. R 135

The Chardonnay 2008 has a nose that is a bit acidic and not completely likeable. Again, like the Roussane the body is 180 degrees from the nose and presents green apple with a bright, rather nice bouquet of summer flowers to it that completely avoids being annoyingly floral. The finish is clean, relaxed and cleansing to have with fruits or any meal that has cream or egg-based dishes. R 60

The John X. Merriman 2007 is named after the owner of the farm and is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Petit Verdot, and Cabernet Franc. The winery claims that it is a very young wine that needs another five to six years for maximum enjoyment. The nose is very dry with a touch of tobacco elements to it. The body is pretty flat with unstructured tannins and proves that yes, it definitely needs a good deal more time to age. The finish comes across a bit bitter on the end and not so clean. It’s hard to detect any good fruit elements to it as it needs a good deal more time to set itself up via aging. R 145

The Peter Barlow 2005 is 100% Cabernet Sauvignon that spent 20 months in new French oak barrels. Named after the man bought the farm in 1941, production is limited to 6,000 bottles a year that comes from a select 20 hectares of grape vines. The nose is light with hints of plum and a touch of spice. The body is definitely better set up than the Merriman, but it still comes across as a bit acidic in the finish. Flavors include the plum from the nose as well as black cherry. It too still needs more time to set up given that the flavors are relatively undeveloped, but you can taste the potential. R 310

We talk a great deal more about the wines of Stellenbosch and other Cape Town wineries in our Stellenbosch wine guide.