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Waterford Estate The Jem 2012

Waterford Estate The Jem 2012

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"The 2012 The Jem comprises approximately the same grape varieties as the 2011, the fruit this year picked earlier than the previous year at around 13.5% alcohol (final). It has a tightly wound bouquet with black plum and subtle menthol aromas, although they demand coaxing from the glass. The palate is medium-bodied with a gentle but insistent grip on the entry, tarry black fruit, a pinch of red peppercorns mixed with bay leaf and a touch of Chinese five-spice that is sprinkled over the structured finish. Tight at the moment, but there is certainly plenty of potential here. Drink: 2020-2040. 93 points

I visited Waterford Estate in the idyllic Blaauwklippen Valley during my trip to South Africa to conduct a comprehensive tasting with winemaker Kevin Arnold, who spent many years at Delheim and then Rust en Vrede, where he really made his name. His lives on the estate with his wife in a beautiful house, built when Waterford was founded and out the back is a garden that "Capability Brown" would be proud of (although he didn't have the stunning mountainous backdrop). I have praised Kevin's wines in previous reports and it was interesting to compare new vintages with a few 2007s, in order to monitor their ageing potential. Rather than a standout wine, what I observed was a consistency across the range irrespective of grape variety. Whether it is the Chardonnay or Syrah or Cabernet Sauvignon, there is sense of a pair of steady hands at the tiller, a trustworthy name that delivers in the bottle."

Neal Martin, Wine Advocate (230)