|2016||87-90||NYR||Wildly hot and extremely dry vintage caused problems, with sugar ripeness racing ahead of phenolic ripeness and many growers picking early. Dry-farmed areas suffered; wildfires hurt producers in Simonsberg-Stellenbosch. Inconsistent overall, with some successes; yields markedly lower|
|2015||93||Drink or hold||Warm, dry conditions throughout the Cape's myriad growing regions led to a very consistent vintage, with even ripening and no disease pressure or damaging heat spikes; the only hiccup was producers who picked too early as sugars rose, before phenolic maturity arrived. Best since 2009|
|2014||87||Drink or hold||A very wet spring, causing higher-than-usual disease pressure, was followed by a generally cool, wet growing season that resulted in a late-running harvest with many varieties ripening at the same time. Whites harvested under good conditions in February, later-ripening reds more variable|
|2013||89||Drink or hold||A strong start to the season and excellent late-season weather, but humidity midway led to some disease pressure and put a premium on canopy management. Reds variable from producer to producer, with the best showing an elegant style; crop about 10 percent larger than usual|
|2012||91||Drink or hold||A cool, dry start led to a smaller-than-usual crop, though ripening occurred under moderate temperatures that persisted in February and March. Reds show polish and ripeness, with lower alcohols, while whites are fresh and delineated; similar in style to 2011, with an extra bit of concentration|
|2011||90||Drink||Following another dry winter, windy and dry conditions persisted through the growing season, though temperatures were moderate; wines are concentrated, but still fresh and racy|
|2010||87||Drink||Cold, wet winter resulted in late budbreak, with windy weather during flowering leading to reduced yields and a wet growing season causing some disease pressures. Late-season dryness and warmth helped save vintage, but beware of inconsistencies|
|2009||93||Drink or hold||Following the growing season's typical heat wave, moderate temperatures and well-timed rains extended the harvest into April and May. Very consistent for reds and whites in warm inland areas and cooler coastal spots|
|2008||87||Drink or hold||A late-flowering, wet spring and intermittent heat spikes during the growing season led to a challenging year. Vineyard management was crucial for success; reds and whites have lower-than-usual alcohols and lighter-bodied textures|
|2007||88||Drink or hold||Up-and-down growing season marked by a heat wave in late January. Most whites and early-ripening reds (Pinot Noir, Merlot) harvested in sweltering conditions; later-ripening reds (Syrah, Cabernet) benefited from dry, moderate second half of season|
|2006||90||Drink||Wet winter replenished vines after three dry seasons. Warm, dry growing season; consistent temperatures in second half led to even ripening. All major varieties performed well|
|2005||93||Drink||Dry growing season with a hot finish. Whites were picked under cool conditions, but yields were reduced; later-ripening reds are rich, tannic and muscular|
|2004||87||Drink||Mostly cool season interrupted by a heat spike led to some uneven ripening. Those who picked Cabernet and Syrah late did well; others more variable|
|2003||91||Drink||Even flowering and a long, dry growing season; many growers feel it's the best in a generation for both reds and whites, though some reds can show a slightly roasted quality|
|2002||84||Past peak||Variable weather, with uneven ripening and reduced yields for whites and reds; some successes, but choose carefully|
|2001||91||Drink||Late-ripening red varieties have intense fruit, with ripe tannins; whites also good|
|2000||90||Drink||Hot and dry conditions brought an early harvest. Reds performed well; whites more variable|
|1999||87||Past peak||Very warm and dry season. Reds have ripe tannins; good whites|
Note: Most South African white wines should be drunk on release.
A score range indicates preliminary analysis based on barrel samples and/or a limited sampling; many wines of the vintage not yet reviewed.
Vintage ratings: 95-100, classic; 90-94, outstanding; 85-89, very good; 80-84, good; 75-79, mediocre; 50-74, not recommended
Drinkability: "NYR" means the vintage has not yet been released; "drink" means most of the wines of the vintage are ready to drink; "hold" means most of the ageworthy wines have yet to fully mature; "past peak" means most of the wines are declining rather than improving.
SOURCE: WINE SPECTATOR