Meerlust Rubicon Vertical Tasting: the first 21 years
Caldesi Restaurant, London
9th June 2007

1980 Meerlust Rubicon
Very attractive nose: quite subtly scented. Definitely gamey rather than meaty. Very soft, attractive palate. This is definitely showing its age on the palate - much more so than on the nose. There are some quite sweet secondary tones.
This was still well alive at 10:30: a nice, pleasant, old wine. Very Good Indeed+. 93/100

1983 Meerlust Rubicon
This has mature cherry fruit on the the nose, with some high tones and lots of cured meat notes. Very mature palate: much more so than the 1980. A touch dried out. On the evidence of this particular bottle, the 1983 needs drinking up quickly. Very Good. 88/100

1984 Meerlust Rubicon
The 1984 has a rather volatile nose with sweet cherry fruit and some roast lamb scents. With time, the nose becomes increasingly vegetal. This is very old on the palate, but also rather attractive with a gentle tannic structure that makes itself felt especially on the finish. Very Good. 88/100

1986 Meerlust Rubicon
A rather closed, black fruits nose. Very attractive palate: good structure and a really nice balance. It has some very deep, concentrated black fruit flavours. There's also a touch of portiness to the palate, but without the weight and spirit. Very Good Indeed. 92/100

1987 Meerlust Rubicon
This has deep black fruits on the nose, but also at the same time some aged high tones and some salady notes. Vibrant palate with a touch of spirit, which rather than marring it, makes it rather interesting. Very Good Indeed. 91/100

1989 Meerlust Rubicon
A rather unexceptional nose: quite cheesy with some red fruits; and also fairly spirity. Very open palate: this feels pretty much at its peak. Soft red fruits dominate the palate, which is ultimately rather simple and uni-dimensional, but offering pleasing drinking. Very Good Indeed. 90/100

1991 Meerlust Rubicon
An interesting nose: very deep, concentrated fruit with bacony overtones. After a while the nose becomes more dominated by cheese and bacon. Good palate, but it becomes dominated by a very firm tannic structure and spirit. Very Good. 86/100

1992 Meerlust Rubicon
A funky, sweaty nose with prunes and cheese, feeling a tiny bit maderised. It feels simple and direct on the palate. There are some green, almost vegetal flavours. I suspect there's some kind of fault with this, but goodness knows what. If it isn't faulty, then it's distinctly unimpressive. 81/100

1993 Meerlust Rubicon
A deep, pruney nose that feels quite winey, in a wine-chocolate sort of way, and there''s some chocolate raspberry fruit too. You can see a family resemblance to the 1992, though I'm sure the '92 is faulty. Very nice palate: this is a very attractive wine, with chocolatey raspberry fruit flavours, with great depth and a decent complexity. There's a nicely integrated tannic structure. Very Good Indeed+.

1994 Meerlust Rubicon
The nose has the same family resemblance, though with fresher, more definite black fruit. It has quite an old-fashiond South African floral scent. Very open, expressive palate, with good fruit, but it yields to very sandy tannins on the finish. Very Good Indeed. 89/100

1995 Meerlust Rubicon
A very high-toned nose. The palate is a bit disjointed with high acidity and the same high tones as the nose. Rather Musarey and so probably faulty. 82/100 if it isn't faulty.

1996 Meerlust Rubicon
Very much the family nose: pruney, chocolate fruit with some horse sweat, together with some slight high tones and funk - funky, non-brett farmyard. There's some sweet fruit on the palate, but the overall impression is that it's all nicely integrated. The tannins are especially well integrated in comparison to other vintages. It's a bit reminiscent of one of those Rhone/Burgundy boundary wines. Very Good Indeed. 92/100

1997 Meerlust Rubicon
A definite air of Frazzles on the nose: a sort of artificial smoky bacon and corn syrup smell, with some mulberry fruit. Good palate: fairly direct, lacking complexity, but very pleasant. After a while the bacon on the nose blows off and you get more Christmas and mulled wine spices on the nose. Very Good. 87/100

1998 Meerlust Rubicon
This has sweet cherry and blackberry fruit on the nose, with a gentle, attractive smokiness. Notably good palate. This is rich, full and deep with a nice character and depth. It's fairly well integrated, but there's still sufficient distinct tannic structure to keep it further. Very Good Indeed. 92/100

1999 Meerlust Rubicon
This has blackberry, chocolate and leather on the nose. Nice smooth, rich, velvety palate. This feels the most international of the wines here today. Was there a change in winemaking in 1998/99? Very Good indeed. 89/100

2000 Meerlust Rubicon
This is less floral than the 2001, which much more blackberry fruit: there's much, much more fruit on the nose. There's much more obvious fruit on the palate too, and it doesn't have the complexity of th 2001. The tannins seem a bit less integrated than the 2001, and some of the flavours feel a bit separate. Much simpler than the 2001. Very Good. 87/100

2001 Meerlust Rubicon
This has a notably floral, herbaceous nose with some salami and parma ham notes. Very nice palate: the young forward fruit makes it feel immediately attractive and easy. Good structure with a nice tannic mouthfeel. Excellent length. Very Good Indeed. 91/100

And the supporting cast:

2001 The Foundry Syrah
The nose has smoky grilled meats and some garrique spice. Firm, nicely textured palate. Fairly gamey. Very Good. 87/100

2003 The Foundry Syrah, 14.5%
A powerful, smokey, meaty nose with rocket and nutmeggy spice. Very smooth, sweet-alcohol palate. This is ripe and lacking character, whether regional or varietal. A very international style. Good. 84/100

2005 Redoma Rosť, Niepoort, 13%
There are spicy, vanilla-y red fruits on the nose. An open, inviting palate, but ultimately, it's a bit short and doesn't deliver the promise of the nose and initial attack. Good. 84/100

NV Matusalem Oloroso Dolce Muy Viejo, Gonzalez-Byass
A salty, nutty, savoury nose with some spirit. Rich and savoury on the palate with a gentle, elegant sweetness and dried fruits thatare slightly overtaken by the spirit on the finish. Very Good/Very Good Indeed. 88/100

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Last updated: 25 June 2007