South African wine icons: Rustenberg Peter Barlow

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Rustenburg Peter Barlow
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Rustenburg Peter Barlow

Some time ago the wine lover and entrepreneur in me thought it would be a most original and profitable idea to introduce wine futures to the local market, I simply could not fathom why it does not already exist, but I felt I can surely ponder that while sipping fine wine and counting my retirement millions from this brainchild.

Alas I was not the first, once I started looking I quickly discovered it has been tried before in South Africa and the market simply is not as mature as the EU where wine futures are big in investment circles. I stumbled upon a dissertation that discussed it in more detail: Wine Investment in South Africa

One of the reasons given for the failure of a wine futures market locally is the lack of instantly recognizable and internationally acclaimed wine “icons”. In my mind this only means much of the world simply does not realize yet that we have the finest wine known to man, but I digress. The dissertation went to some length to determine what local master winemakers regard as icons in our market and I just had to taste all of them. Naturally I focused only on dry red wines, which is the only kind of wine that should exist, and there is a total of five of them according to the study; one I could not track down yet, three waiting on my winerack for their special occasions and one soldier that has fallen to date, this is its story.

Interestingly the Rustenburg Peter Barlow is the only single varietal on the list, a Cabernet Sauvignon, the one I bought was a 2009 and cost a reasonable R295. The occasion reserved for this fine specimen was a weekend away in Kommetjie which just felt like the right amount of relaxation, mountain and ocean to do it all justice. Without further ado I’ll just run through how it tickles the various senses to cover colour, aroma, texture and taste.

I firmly believe only you can determine if a wine is good or not for your own taste and that only you can relate the experience to your own past experiences. So this is in my language, not a professional’s and the terms may or may not make sense to you which is perfectly fine.


The cork shows a deep red as does the wine when it congregates neatly together in the glass, but hold it up to the light and you’ll spot some maroon as well.

Rustenburg Peter BarlowRustenburg Peter Barlow


I struggled a bit here to get a reference from my own lexicon that describes it well enough, I specifically did not cheat and look at what is written on the back label. So you are most welcome to believe I’ve lost the plot completely when I tell you many, many sniffs later and it truly reminds me of the aroma of earth after a spell of rain i.e. wet ground, the clay variety out in the middle of nowhere, a crisp earthiness. The marketers description on the label is at the end of this post for comparison and laughter (either at me or them).


The surprise here carries through to the taste, but in terms of texture the Peter Barlow feels somewhat grainy on the tip of your tongue and just when you dare think for a split second it may not be as amazing as you hoped it rolls further and feels smooth as silk on all the other taste buds.


Complex and contradictory are the terms that come to mind, I had to look at the label in disbelief to confirm this was indeed a 7 year old wine, the first taste was one of a very young red wine, and as it settles down the full body comes through strongly and confirms the wine’s maturity. I’d almost say balanced, but it was more like a young and mature wine at the same time rather than something that sits in between, hence: contradictory. Some bold flavours that deserve to be sampled in isolation, no need to confuse things with snacks or the juicy steak about to go on the braai.

I finally relented and took a glimpse at the back label for some inspiration to identify what I thought I tasted: blackcurrant is the closest, but I didn’t agree fully, maybe because I’ve eaten more blackberries in my life than blackcurrant, who knows.

Will I buy it again?

Indeed I will, although next time I would prefer to have another well known local Cabernet Sauvignon right next to it so I can compare them to each other. I should really pay the estate a visit too, of all the icons the Rustenburg Peter Barlow was the least known to me and just proves what great quality we have in our own backyard.

Rustenburg Peter Barlow

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