Monthly Archives: August 2016

1966 GS Cabernet tasted

Over the weekend I had the opportunity to open a GS with good friends at the historic Bizansgat in the Ceres Karoo. The bottle has good provenance as it came from descendants of George Spies himself. It had a good ullage just below the neck and close to top shoulder and the cork, although darkend, came out in one piece.

The wine had an incredible deep color and not light as one would expect of older wine. On the nose there was something that reminded me of sherbet and something else.. almost dare I say chemical (or synthetic?).

In the mouth it was dense, concentrated and incredibly fresh for such an old wine. There was lots of fruit, velvet and fine tannins and very new-world like. All was in balance and complete.

Interestingly the table was somewhat divided on the “greatness” of the wine. One taster was in awe while another was not convinced.

I thought it incredible but not so much for how it tasted (although it does taste great), but the fact that it was completely intact and fresh almost to the point of a modern era SA red. Also because it is so very different to any other old South African wine I ever tasted.

My thoughts keep returning to the wine because I am puzzled by it. I am puzzled because it is so different, so intact and years ahead of its time. We might never know what exactly George Spies did in the cellar in 1966, but it certainly was a resounding success!

Hennie Taljaard

22 Aug 2016

GS pic

A couple of wine critics wrote about the GS, but I thought Tim James provided an accurate description of the wine in 2013:

I’ve had various experiences with the GS cabs (only two vintages made, remember: 1966 and 1968) – some excellent bottles, some poor ones. That weary bit of wisdom about there being no great wines, just great bottles applies most relevantly to older wines, of course. This one was served blind. The light was fancy-restaurant-poor, but the wine was fairly deep-coloured, with no very great signs of ageing. I’m sure better light would have given me a better clue, but I guessed mid 1990s, and my first guess at origin was California. It was rich, fresh, full of flavour, and still hinting at primary fruit. I reckon the most youthful bottle of this wine I’ve had, though Chris said the level was right down into the shoulder. I might have suspected a bit of cheating – but the cork was certainly authentic: tiny, black and shrunken.

Also read: “The mystery of South Africa’s greatest red”: the-mystery-of-south-africas-greatest-red

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GS Cabernet 1966 (Part 1)

If ever there was a true unicorn wine from South Africa it would have to be the 1966 GS Cabernet. What has been written about the wine leaves one with more questions than answers. Other than repeating the same unconfirmed information, it is not clear whether anyone has in fact done any primary research on the wine. Most intriguing is what Romi van der Merwe wrote in 2000 in “The Magic Blend”, that:

“Spies produced some outstanding experimental wines that are much appreciated to this day by a fortunate few collectors, notably the GS Cabernet 1962, 1966 and 1968, although these were never released onto the general market.”

This statement begs the following questions:

  • What was the experiment? How different was it to the conventional way of making wine at the time?
  • Was Spies making the wine for Monis (where he was employed at the time) or was it a private concern?
  • Did he not keep record of the method(s) he employed? And if they existed where would those records be? In the company archives perhaps?

No doubt the experiment was a huge success and being lauded by prominent critics as the best wine ever to come out of South Africa the GS is without a doubt our National Treasure of wine and the secret behind its making deserves to be unearthed.

GScab1996