wines of Rupert & Rothschild
South Africa revisited, part 19
Clive Radloff (assistant winemaker)
and Schalk-Willhem Joubert (winemaker)
Rupert and Rothschild is one of South
Africa’s aristocratic wine estates. The Friderickburg Estate in
Franschhoek where the project is run as a 50:50 partnership between
the Rupert family and the Rothschild family (of Bordeaux fame). The
farm was formed in 1690 and was purchased by Anthonij Rupert in
1984, and since then the historic buildings and vineyards have been
60% of the grapes come from Rupert-owned
vineyards, with other grapes bought-in. Half the wines are exported,
with the most important export markets being Germany, China, Japan
and Hong Kong.
Superstar winemaking consultant Michel
Rolland is employed here, visiting the estate four times a year and
assisting winemaker Schalk-Willem Joubert. I met with Schalk and
assistant winemaker Clive Radloff to taste the wines.
‘More has happened in the last 10 years
in the South African wine industry than the last 100,’says Schalk,
commenting on the rapid pace of change here. He adds, ‘Our style
is not as big as you’d expect from a new world producer: alcohol
levels are 13.5–14%. I focus more on mouthfeel than anything else,
and also on careful use of wood.’
Just three wines are made: a Chardonnay
and two red blends. First vintage was in 1998.
Baroness Nadine Chardonnay 2007
Intense, savoury, mealy, toasty nose, which is quite creamy and
nutty. The palate is savoury yet rich with a mealy, nutty character.
Refined. Bold and quite sophisticated with a hint of oiliness to it.
Rupert & Rothschild Classique 2007
This is the second wine. 500 000 bottles are made annually, and
this sells out 10 months after production. Rich, aromatic
blackcurrant fruit nose with some fresh, minerally, gravelly notes.
The palate is bright and elegant with lovely bright, supple, forward
dark fruits and some fresh cherry notes. Balanced and quite classy.
Fruit-driven and deliciously berryish. 90/100 (105 Rand)
Rupert & Rotschild Baron Edmond
20 000 bottles made annually. A very interesting European-styled
wine. Bloody, gravelly nose with sweet but restrained blackcurrant
fruit. The palate is ripe but balanced with lovely dark fruits and a
savoury, mineral character. Elegant and fresh with hints of gravel
and tar. Not at all opulent and showy, and better for it. 93/100
Wines tasted 11/09
Older notes from September 2003:
Rupert & Rothschild Baroness
Nadine Chardonnay 1999 South Africa
100% barrel fermented in French oak. Quite a restrained nutty,
toasty nose. Nothing sticks out here: it has a classy, restrained
palate with herb-tinged, toasty, creamy fruit. Good balance and
concentration. Very good/excellent (c. £16)
Rupert & Rothschild Classique 1998
A blend of Cabernet and Merlot matured in new oak barrels. Open,
leafy berry fruit on the nose with a slight herby edge. This is
quite classy and restrained. Nice chalky, leafy edge to the fruit on
the palate: it’s tending towards the old world in style.
Impressive. Very good+ (c. £10)
Rupert & Rothschild Baron Edmond
1999 South Africa
Another Cabernet/Merlot blend aged in new French oak. Quite deep
coloured. Complex leathery, herby spicy notes on the nose which
isn’t overly fruit driven. Good concentration on the palate which
shows a classic rich tarry spicy edge to the restrained berry fruit.
Firm tannins underpinning everything: classically structured, this
is a bold wine with good ageing potential. Very good/excellent (c.
Part 2, Cape
Part 3, AA
Badenhorst Family Wines
Part 4, Eben
Sadie: Sadie Family Wines and Sequillo Cellars
Part 5, Paul
Kretzel of Lammershoek
Part 6, Mullineux
Part 7, Vondeling
Part 8, Scali
Part 9, Sterhuis
Part 10, Raats
Part 11, Migliarina
Part 12, Charles
Back and Fairview
Part 13, Hermit
on the Hill
Part 14, Klein
Part 15, Iona,
Part 16, Paul
Part 17, Eagles'
Part 18, Antonij
these wines with wine-searcher.com