Lady May Cabernet hits sweet spot

The Tasting Room bar was made using granite from the estate
The Tasting Room bar was made using granite from the estate

Glenelly’s recently released 2013 Lady May Cabernet Sauvignon is the next step towards founder and owner Madame May de Lencquesaing’s dream to “craft the finest Cabernet Sauvignon blend outside of France”.

Considered wine royalty in her former home of Bordeaux, Madame de Lencquesaing set out on her venture to bring French flair to South African winemaking at the age of 78 in 2003, when she bought the old fruit farm in Ida’s Valley, Stellenbosch, and planted it to vineyards.

Winemaker Luke O’Cuinneagain worked with her from the beginning and recalls the unique challenge she set him in 2008: “In France, Madame poured me a wine displaying extraordinary finesse, freshness and depth. To my huge surprise, an 1873 Lafite Rothschild: ‘the benchmark’, according to Madame, for the flagship wine we would be producing at Glenelly."

”Lady May (this vintage 85% cab with dashes of cab franc, petit verdot and merlot) is intended to be “a ground-breaking Bordeaux-style wine with great elegance and exceptional ageing ability”.

Time will tell, of course, but O’Cuinneagain says the cooler conditions of 2013 have produced a wine of elegance, complex aromatics, lush fruit, freshness and balance, that will reward cellaring patience of at least seven, and up to 20, years by evolving in depth, nuance and complexity.

Consider it an investment then, at recommended retail of R520 (spotted this week on special at Makro for R460), or a superb wine to slowly savour with someone special now.

In the Glenelly style, it’s more about restrained power and finesse than big-hitting Bordeaux-style – deep dark fruit balanced with freshness and a light touch of spice, layers of flavour that just keep unfolding into more.

Released at the same time, the Estate Reserve 2013 is the signature red blend, similarly reflecting the Glenelly style of light touch, elegance with delicacy of flavour and underlying power – very different to Lady May with staying power ‘til 2030, says O’Cuinneagain.

The Reserve is richer and bolder, with Syrah added into the cabernet sauvignon-led blend of Bordeaux varietals, the wine headily aromatic with berries, touches of spice, florals and cedar; on the palate ripe and complex fruit, spice and savoury flavours, with freshness on the finish (R245 recommended retail, but better priced at Makro and some online shops).