Stark-Condé Cabernet Sauvignon 2018, Stellenbosch, South Africa

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One of the bigger challenges for wine lovers is finding distinctive Cabernet Sauvignons in the $20 range. Sure, there are plenty of them, but it will take a lot of tasting to find ones that rise above the generic — whether from California, France, or Chile, to name just a few Cab-centric wine regions.

Enter South Africa, from which Stark-Condé’s excellent 2018 Cabernet Sauvignon gives us a wine of unusual depth. Stark-Condé is in the Jonkershoek Valley of Stellenbosch, the famed wine region just east of Cape Town that is often described as the Napa Valley of South Africa.

With its hot and dry climate (and a moderating influence from the winds of False Bay), this is Cabernet country, and Stellenbosch is deservedly famous for its Bordeaux-style blends.

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Stark-Condé Cabernet Sauvignon 2018, Stellenbosch, South Africa is a good wine you can actually find

In Stark-Condé’s 2018 Cabernet, concentrated dark fruit tastes — especially blackberry and blueberry — are accented by cedar and herb notes and framed by polished tannins, making the wine easy to drink now. There’s a slight stemminess, which is not uncommon in relatively young Cabernet and which in this wine is more interesting than off-putting. Good balancing acidity keeps the wine refreshing and makes it a great complement to a variety of meats and fall vegetables.

The wine is a blend of 85 percent Cabernet Sauvignon, 10 percent Petit Verdot, and small amounts of Malbec, Petite Sirah, and Cabernet Franc. With an average price of $21, this is one of the better values out there for Cabernet Sauvignon.

Having traveled around Stellenbosch and the other winelands of South Africa, I found that they include some of the most breathtaking vineyards on Earth. And with significant gains in the quality of its wines, South Africa should be near the top of your wine country bucket list.

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