You may not be aware that Thelema’s flagship Rabelais is actually a reserve selection of the estate’s finest Cabernet Sauvignon. Starting as a Cape Winemakers Guild offering in 2003, Gyles Webb subsequently retired from the Guild and the Rabelais was born.
Having produced long-ageing, classic expressions since 1988, Thelema’s track record with Cabernet Sauvignon is almost unparalleled in SA. A recent sampling of the impressive and composed 1995, showed the incredible pedigree and ageing-potential of this special terroir high up on the Simonsberg.
The Rabelais 2015 is perhaps their finest Cabernet Sauvignon, even finest red, yet! Greg Sherwood MW agrees that this ‘epic rendition’ is ‘a high point of hedonistic, compact opulence’. Containing a smidgeon of Petit Verdot, it offers more power and decadence and has broader shoulders than the estate Cabernet Sauvignon. Matured in 100% new oak, it is built to last and showcases Thelema’s signature elegance.
This is another exceptional 2015 that will reward cellaring over the next 2 decades.
Thelema, Rabelais 2015
What must surely be among the last of the great renowned 2015 Cape reds to be released, the Rabelais 2015 Bordeaux blend is an epic rendition of this classic Cape wine. Supremely dark, dense and almost overwhelming, this wine speaks loudly, boldly but also incredibly intelligently and at no point courts excess or any extremes of style. The nose is fantastically deep, dark and intense with hints of campfire ember smoke, black currant pastille allure, maritime salinity and a subtle note of freshly cut hedgerow. There is an oak imprint, but finer and more integrated at this ‘youthful’ age it couldn’t be with the vanilla pod spice melting into seductive notes of cedar, cassis, graphite, granitic minerality and stony quarry dust tannins.
I loved the 2013 expression of this wine and in preparation for this rating retasted the majestic Rabelais 2014 for added perspective. In the end, it is as clear as day that the Thelema Rabelais 2015 not only represents a benchmark of quality within their range but also a high point of hedonistic, compact opulence that may not be repeated at this level for a decade or more. A reassuringly bold, restrained, classical 2015 that will undoubtedly serve to move the market for this great vintage ever upward in desire and demand. Drink from 2021 to 2042+. – Greg Sherwood MW, 96+/100