Bottle of The Week, Rustenberg, John X Merriman Stellenbosch Blend 2012

When in doubt, the best present is a bottle of wine. That, at least, is my firm opinion. The key to a good, present-worthy bottle is the element of surprise! So I am going to suggest you take the element of surprise to a whole new level when it comes to giving wine as a gift and pick something totally unexpected. For a present this Christmas we received a bottle of South African wine, and boy was I ever in for a very pleasant surprise.

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South Africa is one of those places that doesn’t generally jump to mind when you think of fine wine. It is an New World wine producer, meaning the grapes grown there are mostly imported from Europe, where they originated. This week’s bottle of the week is the Rustenberg, John X Merriman Stellenbosch Blend 2012. It is a Bordeaux style blend (I thought would make it the perfect wine to review this week since last week’s bottle was a French Bordeaux) made up of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot and Malbec grapes, which provides it with a great deal of complexity and layers. You can see Bordeaux blends with any number of different grapes, generally Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot comprise the majority of the wine, while Cabernet Franc is also very common, though generally in smaller amounts. Seeing as this wine is not from the Bordeaux region of France, however, it cannot be called a Bordeaux, so it has been named after a former owner of Rustenberg (which I learned from looking the bottle up on their website). Their site also informed me that the percentage of grape varietals, and predominant grape of the blend, varies from year to year, depending on which grape has a “better showing” each year. This only makes me want to get my hands on several different bottles from various years to compare them.

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Moving on to the moment  you all have been waiting for, the actual review of the bottle, itself. It is deep red in color, with an earthy, a little spicy, and black fruity nose. It tastes of dark fruit and red berries, with earthy undertones and a hint of chocolate, with a medium long finish of tobacco and pepper. The tannins are a little grippy, yet not too overpowering, it would probably age for several years pretty well. Overall this wine is a complex and bold blend, very smooth and very impressive a solid 9.1 out of 10. I would highly recommend picking up a bottle, I hear you can get it at Costco for about $25.

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