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Ancient wisdom makes for better wines

2017 Reyneke Organic, Cornerstone, Polkadraai Hills, Stellenbosch, South Africa 

£19.99, waitrosecellar.com; £22.50, theatreofwine.com; £24, biltongstmarcus.co.uk; £24.95, winedirect.co.uk.

The first time I met Johan Reyneke, nearly 20 years ago, his beaming smile, firm handshake and scintillating wines marked him as someone at peace with his confident, ethical and holistic stance on both farming his land and making his beautiful wines. Johan embodies the spirit of biodynamic farming like no one else I have met. As he wisely noted, “Some people dismiss it as old-fashioned nostalgia, but we like to think of it as ancient wisdom. And we embrace it as much as we can. Not just because it’s better for the earth, but because it makes for better wine.”

Johan’s entire portfolio is a joy to behold and somewhere in the middle of the pack sits this extraordinary Cornerstone, which is not only a stunning “claret-shaped” red, but also a wine the proceeds of which help farmworkers and their families with education, housing and retirement annuities. Made from 54% cabernet sauvignon, 32% cabernet franc and 14% merlot, and maturing for 18 months in French oak barrels, of which 30% are new and 70% are second and third-fill barriques, this is a stunning creation. What makes it so attractive is that it is reaching its peak of maturity and the complexity of the fruit, underpinned by the precise location of these extremely content vines, makes for magnificent honesty and integrity on the palate. It is as accurate as any wine I have tasted.

• Matthew Jukes is a winner of the International Wine & Spirit Competition’s Communicator of the Year (matthewjukes.com)

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