Price:  £13.50 | Case Rate: £12.83
Ex Tax: £11.25

Rustenberg - John X Merriman 2016


  • Country: South Africa
  • Wine Region: Stellenbosch
  • Wine Area: Simonsberg
  • Wine Maker: Randolph Christians
  • Grape: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot
  • Grape Percentage: 49% Cabernet Sauvignon, 38% Merlot, 8% Cabernet Franc, 3% Petit Verdot, 2% Malbec
  • Alcohol Percentage: 14.3%
  • Unit Quantity (ml): 750
  • Best To Drink: Drink Now - 2019.
Duty/Vat Paid
WA: 90 (2012) VS: 90+ (2012) JR: 16.5 (2012) WS: 90 (2013) WE: 91 (2010) JP: 4.5 Stars (2012)

Wine tasting notes

Plum & Cigar box aromatics prelude a multi-layered palate with an elegant tannin structure. A Bordeaux blend that typifies Rustenberg terroir with good ageing potential, if cellared correctly.

Winery Information


Rustenberg Estate, founded as long ago as 1682 on the slopes of the Simonsberg Mountain in Stellenbosch, stands proud as one of the true grandees of the South African wine trade. Current owners, the Barlow family, have been at Rustenberg for over 70 years – the longest period any one family has owned the farm. Their family ownership has transformed Rustenberg from a distinguished producer on the local scene to a new era South African standard setter on the international stage.

Expert Reviews

Wine Advocate/Robert Parker (2012)90 pts

Nov 2015 - Neal Martin - The 2012 John X Merriman is a blend of 49% Cabernet Sauvignon and 38% Merlot with Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot and Malbec filling in the gaps. Spending 20 months in oak, 35% new, it has a dark plum and blackcurrant-scented bouquet that is more primal than other vintages I have encountered at this stage. The palate is medium-bodied with tobacco-tinged black fruit. This is supple, almost soft in the mouth that lends an easy drinking texture, but it clearly deserves a couple more years in bottle for those tannins on the finish to melt. One of South Africa's most consistent brands and still great value.

Vinous/Antonio Galloni (2012)90+ pts

May/June '15 by Stephen Tanzer. Bright red-ruby. Mellow, inviting scents of currant, plum, graphite, cigar box and smoky oak. Silky on entry, then quite firm in the middle, with red berry, mocha and spice flavors firmed on the back end by dusty tannins. A touch of sweetness (3.3 g/l r.s.) is nicely hidden by ripe acidity. Not a particularly big wine considering its 14% alcohol, this stands out for its clarity and class.-- Stephen Tanzer (2012)16.5 pts

Tasted Oct 2015 - 49% Cabernet Sauvignon, 38% Merlot, 8% Cabernet Franc, 3% Petit Verdot, 2% Malbec. Not as leafy as I expected for this wine - at least compared with some older vintages I have tasted. Much more cassis sweetness. And on the palate that herbal quality is barely there. Instead there’s pure dark fruit and fine tannins. Straightforward and finishes just fresh enough. (JH)

Wine Spectator (2013)90 pts

Dec 2016 - A firm, smoky style, with a tobacco leaf and charcoal frame around mature mulled currant and blackberry fruit flavors. Mint and bay shadings on the finish complete the old-school feel. Approachable now, but has enough rustic guts to cellar further. Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot. Drink now through 2023.

Wine Enthusiast (2010)91 pts

Rustenberg’s Bordeaux-style blend, made with 48% Cabernet Sauvignon, 45% Merlot, 4% Petit Verdot, 2% Malbec and 1% Cabernet Franc, is a complex and layered wine, with waves of black fruit and earthy spice that dance endlessly on the nose and mouth. Heady notes of blackberry, boysenberry, cassis and fig are spiced by accents of cocoa, tobacco and sweet, charred wood… — L.B. (3/1/2014)

John Platter (2012)4.5 stars

Perfumed, leafy 2012 is typical Rustenberg Bordeaux expression, marrying red & black fruit with pencil lead & herbal notes. 5-way blend, mostly cab & merlot; much more balanced & characterful than 2011 & 2010.

Vinification Notes

2012 Vintage comments - "Although we had a dry winter, there was plenty of water available when required in the hot summer months to ensure that the vineyards matured naturally, without undue stress. The vineyards boasted perfect canopies, allowing optimum light penetration for the ripening of bunches and the development of good colour. During the harvest, perfect phenolic ripeness with soft, ripe tannins was achieved. The berries were of great quality and ideal colour, and came in at lovely low sugars due to cool conditions at harvest." 19 different vineyard batches were vinified separately, and approximately 9 aerative pump-overs were employed. 2 or 3 rack and returns occurred during primary fermentation at approximately 26°C, in order to ensure maximum extraction, followed by 2 to 3 weeks extended maceration on skins. The wine was then drained and gravity-filled to barrels for Malolactic Fermentation (MLF). The separate batches were blended after 11 months and then returned to barrel for a further 9 months’ maturation. Plum and cigar-box aromatics prelude a multi-layered palate with an elegant tannin structure. This Bordeaux blend typifies Rustenberg terroir and has good ageing potential, if cellared correctly.