Rustenberg RM Nicholson Stellenbosch Review

One of the few wineries to be jumping into the modern age with their own expansive webpage, Rustenberg Wines are located in South Africa in an expansive estate. Located in Stellenbosch, part of the main wine growing region of South Africa, they are also located in the African hub of viticulture and viticulture research. Since the region itself has a mediterranean climate (hot dry summers, cool wet winters), this was a natural conclusion of the import of wine from the old world to South Africa.

Rustenberg RM Nicholson Stellenbosch
Rustenberg RM Nicholson Stellenbosch

With a dusty, almost incense-like quality to the smell, the wine exhibits some of the classics of the Stellenbosch terroir, displaying mineral notes (less common in reds by tradition than their white counterparts) such as graphite.

Well balanced tannins combine with a slight acidic quality to produce a versatile wine almost reminiscent of a mild, less fruity, Malbec. The juices stride proudly through the tasting notes and push forward the fruity profile of the wine as the mineral notes begin to fade away to give rise to the true underlying flavor profiles.

Blackcurrant aromas push forward first, accompanied by more subtle notes of herbs and peppers. Although the bold fruit-forward flavors (similar to a Malbec) dominate the palate, the underlying herbaceous and minerality persists through to the end of the tastes.

For a mid-to-low priced wine, one significant gain of the Rustenberg RM Nicholson Stellenbosch is that it will improve over age if correctly cellared. Generally, you’ll need to push higher up the price spectrum for these qualities.

Growing prominence of Stellenbosch

Although Stellenbosch itself has long been known as a hub for viticulture and winemaking, it is predominantly in the last half decade where the wines here have really been known to excel and start to command high prices (and world renown) on an international stage.

We wouldn’t say that the Rustenberg RM Nicholson Stellenbosch is going to be prominently featured at major wine auctions in a few years, but this doesn’t mean that it isn’t a fantastic way to start to explore the region rapidly becoming more known as a low-to-mid-price South African wine.

Another key aspect of the region is the mineral-strong terroir, which frankly produces some very interesting wines. This does mean that many Stellenbosch are “hit and miss”, so if you’re not a fan of minerality then it’s likely that you might not be so keen on the bottles from this region – but at minimum you should try at least one or two before you write the area off.

Back of Rustenberg RM Nicholson Stellenbosch
Back of Rustenberg RM Nicholson Stellenbosch

Specifically, some of the best cabernet sauvignon wines here are rapidly gaining accolades, and while the Rustenberg RM Nicholson Stellenbosch features a more varied blend of these (along with Syrah and Merlot) it’s still an excellent first foray into the region and we’d highly recommend the wine!

Our final thoughts

Unlike many wines, we actually feel that this Stellenbosch is best enjoyed alone rather than paired with foods. Although excellent, the minerality of the flavor profile does not well lend itself to pairing with foods, and to really appreciate the wine it’s likely necessary to enjoy it alone as a glass without additional flavors pushing into your palette.

If you do opt to pair the wine with food, make it something subtle such as with light canapes or perhaps a mild (even soft) cheese board. These flavors should still provide ample space for the wine to shine and show it’s true colors!

PS: While we haven’t (yet) aged any ourselves, if you have we’d love to hear from you so we can update our article with some information on the tasting notes for a longer aged bottle – let us know!