Kanonkop Paul Sauer Makes a Raquet

Lafras Huguenet

Novak eventually beat the Italian, and I left Wimbledon before the next match wishing to avoid the hysteria meeting Cameron Norrie’s appearance before the home crowd. The tube was quiet and getting off at High Street Kensington, I noticed the traffic stiller than usual, too. Even the Londoners are feeling the fuel prices, it would appear, although the diesel-scent from the black cabs was as evident as the tattooed arms of the hipsters strolling towards Kensington Market.

I walked past the Armenian church in-haling the heavy, slow air oxygenated by the elms and the horse-chestnuts and the oaks further down my road. The Abingdon Villas flat was cool, I opened the windows before switching on the television for the Norrie-Geffin match. The crowd was crazy, and only three games had been played.

The bell rang and Julia arrived having trotted down from the third-floor. She bore a bottle of cool Chablis. Before sitting down, I had another idea concerning the drinks. Me, I had been drinking Pol Roger all day at Wimbledon and needed some sterner stuff.

My wine fridge contained a bottle of the recent vintage of Paul Sauer, the great red wine from Kanonkop in Stellenbosch, this one from the 2019 vintage. Far too young, sure, but as I told Julia, one is never too old to go through an experimental phase.

She parked the Chablis and watched as I opened the Paul Sauer. It spilled purple and brooding into the decanter, filling the living-room with a heady aroma of crushed grapes, fermenting wine cellar and mossy autumnal forest. The wine was given 30 mins to open-up and draw in air and to get to know the world it had left behind during the 24mths in casks of new French oak.

Julia and I nibbled on the strawberries and she took of her shoes, tucking her feet next to her lap, as women of casual grace and confident elegance tend to do.

I poured the wine into two glasses and handed her one. She loves claret and noticed a Margaux element on the Paul Sauer’s nose. I told her she was correct: it is 70% Cabernet Sauvignon, the balance made up with Cabernet France and Merlot. Structure, she said marvelling. Yes, those decomposed granite soils on the Simonsberg Mountain slopes, and the constant air-flow, and the geographical and historical provenance of Kanonkop, that all adds to the immensity of the wine.

This was my first sip of the Paul Sauer 2019, so I asked her to allow me some time to do a bit of reflecting and assessing of my own.

It is a sharper, cooler wine than Kanonkop produced in 2017 and 2018, more in line with the magnificent Paul Sauer 1997, which is still in as fine a shape as Julia’s calves, although I did not tell her that. The 2019 is already remarkably approachable. Decanting has whisked away most of the oak, only a brief bacon-kip stroke remaining. But apart from that, it is all wine purity; juicy and alert, corralling loads of classic Bordeaux-styled tastes. There is mulberry and crab-apple, a crunchy wet and sappy pomegranate. This deliciousness leads to sour-cherry and a load of plum, the showiness ending as the stern, sombre drama of pedigree and class takes over. Long, sleek tannins, more sinewy than dry. Gum-prickling, edgy energy and an firm, severe palate weight commanding as much attention as respect.

My chest swelled with pride at having the opportunity of entertaining Julia with such a splendid wine from my home country. She took out her phone to call her wine merchant to place an order, and before putting down the phone, she took a photograph of me as we both smiled and watched the tennis. Norrie had just played a stunning half-volley.

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3 thoughts on “Kanonkop Paul Sauer Makes a Raquet

  1. Healthy dose of envy here.
    Wimbledon, strawberries, Paul Sauer, good company…
    All we have here is the Caribbean sea, palm trees, and the Kanonkop we leave for later at dinner.

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