Wine Review: A Sentimental Red

Wine review Rietvallei

By Renate Engelbrecht

Wednesday, Mar 27

Considering its accolades, Rietvallei Wine Estate’s 2019 JMB Cabernet Franc is definitely a wine worth talking about. After the first sip – especially on such a momentous evening for us as a family – even more so.

It’s won the SA Terroir Award as National Winner, Top Cabernet Franc. It also walked away with Grand Cru & Double Platinum at the 2023 National Wine Challenge and won Gold at the SA Cabernet Franc Challenge, as well as the Veritas Wine Awards in 2023. Furthermore, the 2019 JMB Cabernet Franc was awarded Double Gold at the 2023 Vitis Vinifera Awards. It certainly is a mouth full of accolades, but also a mouth full of pure goodness when you taste it.

Accolades Rietvallei 2019 JMB Cabernet Franc

The 2019 Rietvallei JMB Cabernet Franc was dedicated to winemaker, Kobus Burger’s father and was made in a gentle way from a single vineyard that was planted in 2003. While it was made with a gentle touch, the colour is intense, with strong blackcurrant flavours on the nose. Of course, the 27 months in French oak barrels also contributed to the sentimental value and incredibly soft tannins on the palate.

Rietvallei wine review

A momentous occasion for a memorable wine

My husband, Wikus and I opened this wine on the day we heard that our house was officially being sold. It was a bitter-sweet moment, since we’d been waiting on the news for a couple of weeks, even though selling had not originally been the plan. As someone who values family and home, it was hard to realise that we were going to have to say goodbye to the very first home we had as a family. Our kids were both born out of this house. They learned to crawl, to walk, to run in this house. We had many sleepless nights with our two babies in this house and now, we need to move out and make new memories. But, it’s not the structure that makes a house a home. It’s the people in it.

Similarly, it’s not only structure that makes the wine. It’s also the generations of winemakers who know its terroir. It’s the people.

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Rietvallei wine

Generations of winemaking

While structure, planning and terroir have a significant role to play in the winemaking process, I can’t help but believe that the people making the wine and the sentiment that goes into the process contributes to making a wine special.

Rietvallei’s 2019 JMB Cabernet Franc is a wine like that. Not only because the winemaker dedicated it to the man he’s been looking up to for so many years – his dad and mentor – but also because it was made on a wine farm that has seen seven generations of farmers. In fact, in 2014, they celebrated being one of the few South African wine estates that have been under the ownership of one family for 150 years! This most certainly contributes to the Burger family’s knowledge of the soils in which their grapes grow and brings things full circle in a bottle like the JMB Cabernet Franc.

Rietvallei Cabernet Franc

The 100% cultivar wine is full-bodied and well-rounded, with a combination of fruit and wood wonderfully woven into it. It certainly was the right wine to open when we got the news of our house officially being sold. As I sipped and swirled the sentimental red, I realised that it is the moments we share with the people we love – not the house we share it in – that we will reminisce about in ten years’ time.

We can’t wait to buy a case and sip on another glass of this complex red wine as we light the fireplace in our new home for the first time.

Cheers! To the people who make a house a home and to the winemakers who add a touch of sentiment to their wines.

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