Cabernet Sauvignon Stellenbosch 2009 94 points – Loam, espresso and bittersweet cocoa notes lead the way here, with a dense core of steeped black currant and warm plum sauce flavors. The long, charcoal-lined finish has a plush feel, ending with a savory echo. Drink now through 2020.From South Africa.—J.M.
Syrah Stellenbosch 393 2010 94 points – Features a dark profile, with blackberry, steeped black currant and melted black licorice notes rolled together. Fruit cake, plum skin and bramble accents add grip on the finish. Though still rather backward, this is showing more guts than polish now, featuring loads of charcoal-infused structure. Should age wonderfully. Best from 2016 through 2022. From South Africa.—J.M.
Elevation 393 Stellenbosch 2008 93 points – Dark earth, roasted plum, singed cedar and coffee notes form the frame of this old-school Cabernet, with bay, tobacco, mulled currant, mint and steeped blackberry fruit at the core. The long finish lets the savory notes play out beautifully. Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Shiraz and Cabernet Franc. Drink now through 2018. – J.M.
Sijnn Malgas 2010 93 points – This has good range, with blueberry, loganberry and blackberry fruit pumping along, lined with texture-enhancing charcoal and roasted alder notes. Shows lots of briary grip through the finish, revealing a buried iron accent. Let this settle in the cellar for a bit. Shiraz, Mourvèdre, Touriga Nacional and Trincadeira. Best from 2015 through 2020.—J.M.
The Wine Spectator comprehensively taste BLIND any wine available in the U.S. and submitted free of charge. Wines are tasted every day by full time professionals and seldom more than 20 a day. (Their stock awaiting tasting is larger than our production!) The great classics like Ch. Latour and Ch. Yquem and most of the Grand Crus of Burgundy are tasted and rated on a regular basis. It is true that big wines with great intensity and complexity can do very well, but there are many fine, subtle and complex wines that do just as well too. Parker scores are probably the only scores to have a greater global influence, but the tastings are not blind.