Elegant Bordeaux Reds from The High Road

Words: Crush

The High Road, the boutique producer renowned for wines of layered complexity and finesse, has released the 10th vintage of its elegant reds, the 2012 Directors Reserve and Classique, both crafted from classic Bordeaux grape varieties, firmly rooted in Stellenbosch soil.

Established in 2003 by owners Les Sweidan and Mike Church as a dedicated négociant vintner, The High Road has invested more than a decade seeking out the most suitable low yielding Stellenbosch vineyards to achieve the great concentration of flavours and character that these elegant Bordeaux-style blends are renowned for. Guided by winemaker Mark Carmichael-Green for the past 12 vintages, these two insurance industry kingpins have succeeded in producing exceptional wines with the elegance, intrinsic depth and distinction of a classic Bordeaux red at its core and expressing a sense of place that is unique to Stellenbosch.

The High Road wines have an impressive lineage with no less than three Veritas Double Gold medals and a Classic Wine Trophy in its cachet of accolades garnered over the years. This single minded dedication towards Bordeaux-style wines saw the induction earlier this year of Les Sweidan into the Commanderie de Bordeaux en Afrique de Sud, the South African chapter of the worldwide Commanderie which unites producers and wine lovers with a passion for Bordeaux.

The High Road Director’s Reserve 2012 is a Cabernet Sauvignon driven blend of four classic Bordeaux varieties matured for 16 months in 100% new French oak. Increased concentration of fruit from the carefully selected, low yielding vines in prime Stellenbosch vineyards, sets this wine apart as a fine expression of a Bordeaux blend. Beautifully integrated and complex on the nose and the palate, this wine is intensely rich in fruit with deep layers of cassis, blackberry, cherry and dark chocolate with subtle wood nuances supported by a backbone of full, ripe tannins. A blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (61%), Merlot (30%), Cabernet Franc (5%) and Petit Verdot (4%), the wine is a definitive expression of the 2012 vintage with its elegance and richly layered fullness.


“The tannins are full, not forward and a fine expression of a vintage widely held as one of the best in South African history. The use of carefully selected new French oak barrels lends subtlety and quiet power rather than being hard and forward. The barrel impact is in the background, building the foundation for the layers of fruit present in the wine,” says Carmichael-Green, who believes this vintage will stand above others for many years to come with its elegance and refined complexity, that The High Road wines are known for.

 Differing slightly in style with less exposure to new wood, The High Road Classique 2012 is an accessible fruit forward wine with its signature of soft, elegant tannins. This wine is composed of Cabernet Sauvignon (46%), Merlot (43%) and Cabernet Franc (11%) and teems with black cherries, blueberries and mulberries on the nose and palate, with just a hint of mocha. “This is a wonderful wine that will only become more exciting as it ages. The uniqueness of the blend and vintage allows for the individual varieties to combine particularly well,” Carmichael-Green explains.


This year also sees the release of The High Road’s second Cabernet Sauvignon vintage.

The High Road Cabernet Sauvignon 2014 is a proudly Stellenbosch fruit forward wine with ample back and red berry fruit complemented by sweet blackcurrant on the nose and palate. Complex tannins from 12 months in French oak barrels meld with soft, ripe fruit tannins making this wine eminently drinkable now, yet allowing for further development with age. 

The 2012 vintage of the flagship Director’s Reserve and the Classique are both available in special release, heritage labelled bottles. The Director’s Reserve 2012 sells for R275 per bottle at the cellar door, the Classique 2012 is available at R125 and the Cabernet Sauvignon 2014 costs R100.

Wine lovers who join The High Road Wine Club benefit from a 20% discount on all wine purchases. Upholding the tradition of small Bordeaux producers in France, The High Road sells most of its wines directly to consumers through its wine club. The wines can also be found at specialist wine shops, fine dining restaurants and special interest groups.

Orders of 12 bottles or more are delivered free of charge and all members qualify for VIP invitations to sample new releases, complimentary tastings at the cellar, as well as preferential access to limited release, older vintages and exclusive collections. Daily tastings at The High Road, situated in the vibrant Bosman’s Crossing precinct in Stellenbosch, are by appointment only. Call 076 044 5020 to book your tasting.


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