Rustenberg 2021 John X Merriman

Tasting notes
Dark fruits, cassis, black currant and sour cherry notes with fine tannins. Goes excellently with roast and grilled meats and hard cheeses.

Why we recommend this wine
Rustenberg is an iconic family-owned South African wine estate that we have visited often. (Refer to our visit notes here.) Their John X Merriman Bordeaux blend is regularly on most people’s list of the Top 10 reasonably priced cabs and is certainly one that we rate highly.

The wine
This wine is named after a former owner of Rustenberg, John Xavier Merriman, the last prime minister of the Cape Colony before the formation of the Union of South Africa in 1910. He bought the farm in 1892 and played a great role in revitalizing Rustenberg and in promoting the tourism and agricultural value of Ida’s Valley, the area close to the town of Stellenbosch in which Rustenberg is situated. The John X Merriman is a blend of Bordeaux varietals (Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, and Malbec) that illustrate the ageability and true expression of Rustenberg's finest vineyards. The wine was aged in oak for 20 months; 35 % new and 65 % 2nd and 3rd fill 225L French oak barrels. We recommend decanting this wine about an hour before serving.

The wine estate
When asked for a recommendation of wine estates to visit in Cape Town, Rustenberg is always first on our list. The drive from the entrance up to the winery is a superb example of what the Cape must have been like 300 years ago; winding streams, shady oaks and pastures full of cows. And then there is the homestead of traditional Cape Dutch architecture. And the wines match this bucolic paradise!

Food and wine
Dark fruits and tannins mean roast and grilled meat, particularly prime rib and hogget (one year old lamb), and aged hard cheeses. Also see our guide to pairing food and wine here.

Did you know?
The Cape Dutch architecture style was developed around the 1800's. It is believed to have originated from the Dutch gabled buildings of Amsterdam, but there were also Malay influences (from the slaves brought by the Dutch from Indonesia). These farmhouses had thatch roofs and white walls with a simple symmetrical facade. Over time, a central gable emerged as the hallmark of the style, as the curvy white walls against the thatch gave a memorable impression.