“And these are genuinely great wines, make no mistake about it, but can they remain widely accepted as great if no one really gets the chance to drink them? Is their relevance to the wider wine world already on the wane, as they become increasingly hard to access? They are in genuine danger of becoming dinosaurs – creatures that people see in museums, but have never had a “live” interaction with.”
I read the above quote in April from wine writer Dan Kavenaugh referencing the great Growths of Bordeaux, Crus of Burgundy, and Cult wines from Napa. These are wines that have become so valuable they trade as a form of currency on the aftermarket, and there is an entire new generation of sommeliers, educators, writers, and salespeople who will never have the chance to taste them. I was told by a retired customer that he bought his first 1st Growth of Bordeaux in 1968 for three dollars, which with inflation translates to $22.08 today!
I am very curious about this because Millennials are the first generation in the United States that have selected wine as their alcoholic beverage of choice. As their palates and bank accounts mature, what will they be collecting and cellaring? For a wine to be collectible it has to be both cellar-worthy and iconic–standing the test of time, and for the Millennials, affordable. Although there are some people in the industry that would say that the current trends in sales don’t support that Millennials will be collecting, my above referenced customer was quick to point out that he was also at Woodstock in 1968!
Meerlust Estate Rubicon is certainly a possibility. Founded in Stellenbosch, South Africa, in 1693 by German immigrant Henning Huising, it is older than most Chateaux in Bordeaux, and has been farmed continuously since 1753 by eight generations of the Myburgh family. Less than five kilometers from False Bay and cooled by the Antarctic Benguela Current, Meerlust has a Maritime climate similar to Bordeaux, a fact recognized by Nico Myburgh when he made the decision to plant the proper cultivars to create Rubicon, one of South Africa’s initial Bordeaux-style blends. This is certainly a wine that rewards the patient, as the initial 1980 vintage is still vibrant today. Usually rated very highly, the 2006 vintage was #27 on Wine Enthusiast’s “Top 100 “list, as well as receiving the coveted Chateau Pichon Longueville Comtesse De La Lande trophy at the International Wine and Spirits Competition held annually in London for the “Best Blended Red Wine“. The 2009, it was voted “Best New World Red” by Decanter. The 2015 vintage in Stellenbosch is widely considered the best vintage, with Rubicon scoring 97 points from Master of Wine Greg Sherwood. Created only in the finest vintages, no Rubicon was produced in 1985, 1990, 2002, or 2011. With the above accolades coupled with an average retail price under $50, Rubicon certainly fits the criteria put forth for an iconic but affordable wine!
Forward-thinking restaurateurs and retailers should begin assessing and making space for the next ‘Dinosaurs’, and Meerlust Rubicon is most certainly a wine to be considered!