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The 2002 Landskroon Cabernet Sauvignon is as dark, deep, and foreboding as a wine can be, but don’t let that scare you off. What lies within is as beautiful and exhilarating as the great continent that produced it. Reminiscent of Cahors, the “black wine” of France, or an old vine Coonawarra Cabernet from South Australia, the charm of the Landskroon lies in the heart of the wine, in the layers of rich flavor that suffuse it. The savor of dusty blackberry fruit, intermingled with mint and plum, emerge from this wine’s center and act as a harbinger of the wine’s long, distinctive finish. The Landskroon’s explosive aftertaste conjures all of the flavor of fruit, oak, and the unique soil that appear as the community calling card for all of the finest Cabernets made on the Cape of South Africa. We suggest allowing the 2002 Landskroon Cabernet Sauvignon the courtesy of airing for at least thirty minutes before serving. Also, considering the Landskroon’s broad soft tannins, a little extra time in bottle will most certainly pay further dividends, so why not put a few extra bottles aside for a rainy day; you will be glad you did.
An antelope steak would indeed provide a more than suitable accompaniment to the 2002 Landskroon Cabernet Sauvignon, and lest you gasp or gag at the mention of it, please consider the source of this fine wine and the appropriateness of pairing local foods with regional wines. Nonetheless, local supermarkets and even most specialty butcher shops in the United States are not likely to purvey antelope – one of South Africa’s gastronomic delights, according to some sources. “A crying shame,” one member of the tasting panel muttered. However, never fear, the Landskroon Cabernet does an equally splendid job when paired with less exotic fare. Consequently, we suggest tenderloin of veal, served with mushrooms in a truffle sauce, or smoked breast of duck, served with warm foie gras. Grilled lamb chops and top sirloin steaks provide other fine choices. Quail, venison, and most other forms of game render splendid companions to the Landskroon Cabernet Sauvignon as well.
The Landskroon Wine Estate is situated near Paarl in the heart of the Cape Winelands of South Africa. A sizeable estate, Landskroon comprises 1440 acres of which some 700 acres are devoted to noble grape vines. The estate is owned and managed by the de Villiers families of Paul and Hugo de Villiers Jr. They are the ninth generation of de Villiers to carry on the proud tradition of winemaking in South Africa. Even with a rich history that dates back more than three hundred years; it is truly amazing just how few outsiders have heard of the Landskroon Wine Estate, until now. History is full of unsung champions and undiscovered providers of excellence, and among the de Villiers can be found a goodly number of history’s unheralded, dating all the way back to 1692 and the first French Huguenot settlers to South Africa. Among those early pioneers was Jacques de Villiers, a winemaker from Niort in France, who came to the Cape of South Africa to help save South Africa’s fledgling wine industry. The Cape’s wine industry had begun in 1655 at the instigation of Jan van Riebeck, the first commander of the Dutch Colony on the Cape, but without Jacques de Villiers and his compatriots, viticulture may well have failed in what is now one of the world’s most important wine growing lands. Furthermore, more than three hundred years later, the present winemaker Paul de Villiers would win the coveted Diners Club Wine Maker of the Year 2000 Award and land the de Villiers family on the world’s viticulture map; at the same time he would assist South Africa in rebuilding its wine industry after years of international sanctions and neglect. Not surprisingly, it was Landskroon’s Cabernet Sauvignon that also won Double Gold in 2002, an event that would effectively end the de Villiers unsung status and rightfully catapult Landskroon to the forefront of the world’s notable wine estates. Bravo! Low yields, excellent terroir, modern winemaking facilities, and expert vinification are all keys to Landskroon’s success. Undoubtedly, quality is the watchword here; the de Villiers value a natural winemaking process that eschews the addition of chemicals or excessive irrigation, and the results appear in their numerous award-winning wines. The estate’s Cabernet Sauvignon is Landskroon’s most widely decorated soldier as of late, but there is much more to this property than a single variety. Red varietals predominate, constituting seventy percent of the estate’s production. Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Shiraz, Cinsault, and Pinotage – South Africa’s own unique grape – all are grown and skillfully handled by the de Villiers. Elegant white wines are produced, too, mainly from Chenin Blanc, Chardonnay, and Sauvignon Blanc. However, what may remain the wine world’s best-kept secret is just how fine the fortified wines of South Africa are. South African Ports rival those of Portugal itself, and Landskroon is indeed one of South Africa’s best fortified wine producers. The de Villiers use the traditional varieties of Tina Barocca, Tinta Roriz, Souzao, and the beloved Touriga Nacional to fashion many of the continent’s most exciting and provocative Ports. For what it is worth, Robin Leach of Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous has called the Landskroon Cape Vintage Port “The BEST PORT in the World,” and who are we to argue? Enjoy!
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