2007 Rustenberg John X Merriman Stellenbosch (Elsewhere $30)

SKU #1063028 91 points Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar

 Bright ruby-red. Aromas of plum, minerals, graphite, licorice and mint. Big and rich but firmly structured and tight. Bright acidity--and a smaller percentage of merlot than usual--give this Bordeaux blend a youthful toughness. Finishes savory, solidly tannic and long. Lay this down and forget it for a good seven or eight years." According to the Wine Spectator: "Dark and toasty, offering currant, fig and boysenberry fruit flavors all laced with a pronounced green olive note, with a twangy iron hint weaving through the finish. A touch rustic in the end, but will have some fans for sure. Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Petit Verdot, Cabernet Franc and Malbec. Drink now through 2011. (12/10)

89 points Wine Enthusiast

 Strong aromas of cassis, cocoa nibs, fresh mint sprigs, black currant leaf and licorice are the first things you experience with this wine. After that, the creamy mouth provides loads of black berry, plum and anise flavors that stay through the finish. A firmly structured and well-balanced Bordeaux-style blend.  (3/2011)

Robert Parker's Wine Advocate

 Dark and toasty, offering currant, fig and boysenberry fruit flavors all laced with a pronounced green olive note, with a twangy iron hint weaving through the finish. A touch rustic in the end, but will have some fans for sure. Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Petit Verdot, Cabernet Franc and Malbec.  (12/2010)

K&L Notes

Rustenberg remains for me one of the most consistent producers in South Africa, and the 2007 "John X" continues that tradition. The bouquet offers notes of cedar, pencil lead, dark plum, currant, earth, coco powder and a hint of herbs. On the palate, there are fine integrated tannins with good acidity that lend a juicy mouth-feel, and at this point a more supple wine than the Tanzer review would suggest and showing fine length. This is without a doubt one of the best $20 in the store and reminded me of Pichon Lalande which is ironic because the former owner of that Chateau is now their neighbor at Glenelly. (Jim Chanteloup K&L South African Wine Buyer)

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Staff Image By: Joe Manekin | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: 5/24/2011 | Send Email
If you're in the market for a very well made cab blend, something to decant and enjoy now or to cellar for north of 10 years, here's your bottle. Featuring terrific purple fruited purity, a subtle leafy savor and overall sense of balance similar to good Pauillac, Rustenberg's John X Merriman is, yet again, on point. Serious stuff for the price, and dare I say our best value cab blend in the store right now? Yes, I think I will. This is the best value cabernet blend in the store right now.

Staff Image By: Chiara Shannon | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: 5/24/2011 | Send Email
The 2007 John X from Rustenberg is a standout. Tasted recently at our last South African staff tasting, it emerged as a clear favorite amongst the Bordeaux-loving staff. The nose is all black fruit and mineral-rich soil aromas, with some rose petal/potpourri accents. This wine is young, as the tannins and acids are still tight, but overall it shows great balance, concentration, and potential to age gracefully. Jimmy C advises to "sock some away" for 10 years for a real treat.

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Cabernet Sauvignon and Blends

- Cabernet Sauvignon has come a long way from its role as a blending varietal, however dominant, in the wines of Bordeaux. Today it is the most planted red varietal in the world. Identified as a descendent of Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc, the late-ripening Cabernet Sauvignon needs to be planted in warmer climates to fully ripen. Its small berries can easily be identified for their distinctive blue color, thick skins and high tannins. And while the varietal has its own definitive characteristics: green pepper-like aromas and black currant flavors among them, it is perhaps most prized for its ability to convey terroir, vintage and winemaking. A relatively new varietal, Cabernet Sauvignon started making inroads into the wines of the M├ędoc and Graves in the late-18th century. Today it is also dominant in the up-and-coming Entre-Deux-Mers region of Bordeaux and can also be found in Southwest France. It is the companion varietal to Sangiovese in Italy's Super Tuscans and is planted all over Europe, stretching to lesser-known winegrowing regions like Russia and Lebanon. In the Americas Cabernet Sauvignon has found champions in every nook and cranny of California and among winemakers in Washington, where it complements plantings of Merlot. In South America, Cab thrives in Chile, but can also be found in smaller amounts in Argentina and even in Mexico.

South Africa

- Now that it has adopted a multi-racial attitude, and now that the world has embraced its government and its exports, South Africa has become a major wine producer. Unfortunately, South Africa has had a difficult time joining the ranks of competitive winemaking countries. During the anti-apartheid sanctions in the 1980s, South African wine was dealt the huge blow when it was removed from the international market, and for political reasons it was quite difficult for wine producers to market wine to the black majority. Things are finally looking up for the wine industry here, and quality has never been higher. South Africa produces a grape cloned from Pinot Noir and Cinsault, called Pinotage, which is the country's unique varietal. Chenin Blanc (known as Steen) makes up one-third of its vines. Cabernet, Merlot, Pinot Noir and Shiraz are becoming increasingly popular as are Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay. Click for a list of bestselling items from South Africa.