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Tasting notes from South Africa

text and photographs © 2010 Tom Cannavan

These notes accompany our in-depth feature on South Africa 2010.


Guardian Peak began life as a second label to Rust en Vrede according to Marketing manager Kobie Lochner, and it was intended to broaden out Rust en Vrede's reputation from the 'connoisseur bracket'. It was also an outlet for experimentation, like the Shiraz/Mourvèdre/Grenache blend which was one of South Africa's first, and their rather good Tannat/Malbec blend.

Since being spun-off as a label in its own right, the Guardian Peak facility in Somerset West has become and extremely popular lunch spot with its fine dining restaurant on a terrace overlooking the vineyards and mountains, where only Guardian Peak wines are sold. The concept is an interesting one, as you first choose what wine or wines you wish to drink, and then you are offered a choice of dishes to go with the wine.

the wines

UK Agent is Seckford Agencies. See all stockists on wine-searcher.

Guardian Peak Sauvignon Blanc 2009
Gently peachy and orangy, appley, fruit salad. A pleasant, slightly off-dry style with fresh acidity. 84/100.

Guardian Peak Rosé 2009
Cabernet Sauvignon pink. Generic, slightly sherbetty, green apple sharpness. Lacking in flavour and slightly too acidic. 82/100.

Guardian Peak Merlot 2008
Lightly smoky, spicy red berries, some fudge like oak and lots of fat fruit sweetness. Plush and supple, perhaps just a touch harsh in the finish? 86/100

Guardian Peak Shiraz 2008
Nine months in French and American oak. Dusty, cedary black fruit nose. The palate has a soft, jammy fruit sweetness and a plush finish. 87/100

Guardian Peak "Frontier" Cabernet, Shiraz, Merlot 2008
Rounded, sweet and soft, the palate a touch of coffee and vanilla on the palate and a touch of greenish tannin and alcohol on the finish that unbalances slightly. 86/100

Guardian Peak SMG 2007
18 months for Shiraz and Mourvèdre components. Dense and plush on the nose, spicy, with plenty of dry extract. Plummy and dry, with a touch of leathery character and a slightly aggressive finish again. 88/100

Guardian Peak Tannat Malbec 2007
A blend of 60% Tannat, 30% Malbec and 10% Merlot, this spends 18 months in all French oak. Big, plush and creamy. A touch of cedar. The palate is robust and sweet-fruited, with a nice finish, the tannins grippy in a well-balanced wine. 88/100.

Guardian Peak 'Lapa' Cabernet Sauvignon 2007
Eighteen months in new French oak. Name is word play on Napa Valley, also meaning 'a meeting place'. Huge, sweet, plush nose with copious cassis and cherry. Delicious sweet and sour, glossy black cherry fruit. Plush tannins, and quite long finish. A very plush style but very well made. 90/100.

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