“Kanonkop Paul Sauer 2016 Presents Refined Elegance after Hot, Dry Vintage.”
The highly anticipated release of Kanonkop’s latest vintage of the iconic Paul Sauer, has delivered a red wine of extraordinary elegance, perfume and refinement. The Paul Sauer 2016 follows on the legendary 2015 vintage, which was the first South African wine to be scored a complete 100pts in the annual wine report compiled by British Master of Wine Tim Atkin.
With the 100pts rating leading to a complete sell-out and continued demand for the Paul Sauer 2015, comparisons will obviously made with the 2016. Both the 2015 and 2016 vintages are a blend of 70% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Merlot and 15% Cabernet Franc.
According to Abrie Beeslaar, Kanonkop cellarmaster, the 2016 vintage was characterised by a dry winter and hot growing conditions, with prospects for a good quality harvest not looking good at all.
“2016 was one of the most trying vintages I have ever experienced on Kanonkop,” he says. “We had extreme heat during the growing season, with a very hot January. To add to this, the rainfall leading up to harvest was 30% less than the long term average, and following on the dry 2015 it was exponentially tougher. The vines appeared nervous, and when they are nervous, so are we. There was a lot of stress going on, very much different to the 2015 season when all the vineyard cycles were in synch.”
All-in-all, the grapes ripened quicker, resulting in less complexity than 2015. “The drier conditions did, however, give a high level of concentration of flavour and aroma, but on the open-fermenters we had to work very carefully on the extraction to get the right balance.”
The grapes for the Paul Sauer originate from vineyards averaging 28 years in age. Hand-harvested, the fruit went through three sorting processes before the berries were placed in open concrete fermenters. Fermentation took place over five days at 29°C, with the cap punched down every two hours to ensure a continual and gentle extraction and interaction between skins, flesh and juice.
The Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc wines were blended after malolactic fermentation where-after the wine was placed in new 225l French oak barrels. As is usual, the Paul Sauer was barrel-aged for 24 months.
Beeslaar says the Kanonkop Paul Sauer 2016 is very typical of the style. “It is quite perfumed and elegant on the entrance to the palate,” he says. “Currently the oak is a bit separate due to the weight of the wine, but will integrate over time. The length is medium, with a classic dry finish.”
The official tasting notes read as follows: Complex and layered aromas of cassis, plums and sweet spice are further complemented by notes of tobacco, cedar wood and cigar box on the nose. The palate has a plush, juicy red and black fruit core with seamless, integrated tannins and a fine seam of acidity. Pin-point balance between the new oak and fruit results in a wine with grace and elegance. Beautiful savoury notes on the finish.
If stored correctly, this wine will mature gracefully for 20 – 25 years.