Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Stark-Condé Winery: An Essential Stellenbosch Experience

The view from outside the Stark-Conde tasting room is one to behold.
When I was planning my trip to Stellenbosch, South Africa, Stark-Condé winery was on the top of my list. I’ve enjoyed a few of their wines in the past, and knew of their outstanding reputation. But visiting in person was far better than I could’ve imagined.

Located in the Jonkershoek Valley, a more highly elevated area of the larger Stellenbosch region, Stark-Condé is one of the most stunning and awe-inspiring wineries I’ve visited. Period.

When I arrived in late May, near the start of the South African winter, the area was a few degrees cooler than Stellenbosch central, and a heavy fog lingered. The views of the surrounding mountainous are epic. The tasting room is located on a small island gazebo in the middle of a pond, surrounded by weeping willows and squawking ducks. There’s something serene about tasting wine in this location.  
Beneath those willows on the left lies the tasting room. What a spot!
Winemaker Jose Condé casts quite a wide net with the varieties he vinifies and the different wines he produces. But Stark-Condé is best known for their Bordeaux varieties. Unfortunately, I didn’t taste any of the higher-end Three Pines series, but I was still impressed with the rest of the lineup.
If you’re visiting Stellenbosch, I dare say a stop at this winery is an absolute necessity. Here are my notes on the wines I tasted.

2013 Stark-Condé The Field Blend - South Africa, Coastal Region
Love the lemon, honeysuckle and potpourri nose. Zippy and tangy on the palate with lemon, pineapple and quince. I get some creamy notes, but this is a mineral- and flower-driven wine. Lots of stuff going on here. A unique and exciting blend of 44% Roussanne, 41% Chenin Blanc, 8% Viognier, 7% Verdelho, all co-feremented, 60% in tank, 40% in oak barrels, 10% new. (88 points)

2012 Stark-Condé Pinot Noir Pepin Condé Rowey Vineyards - South Africa, Overberg, Elgin
Cool berries and roses on the nose. High acid, fine tannins, crisp red berry fruit. Cool, soft, with floral, earth, cedar, spice, tobacco and oregano. Complex, elegant, beautiful, drinking well now but could age. (91 points)

2012 Stark-Condé Cabernet Sauvignon - South Africa, Coastal Region, Stellenbosch
Violets and cedar accent the cranberry and blackberry aromas. Full and grippy on the palate with medium acid. Young but beautiful, with notes of olive, dark earth, smoke and violets. This could open up wonderfully in the cellar. Aged in 25% new oak, includes a bit of Merlot, Petite Verdot and Cab Franc. (90 points)

2013 Stark-Condé Petite Sirah - South Africa, Coastal Region, Stellenbosch
Bold, tannic, brooding, with blueberry, cedar, charcoal and sweet barbecue sauce flavors. Could use three to five years unless you want a kick in the teeth, which is sometimes fun. (86 points)

2011 Stark-Condé Syrah Unfined and Unfiltered - South Africa, Coastal Region, Stellenbosch
Elegant aromas of plum, soil and violets. Silky and pure on the palate with fresh acid and fine tannins. Fresh plums and blackberries mix with loam, smoke, pepper and black olive notes. Could develop in the cellar over the next few years, and hold for more, but it’s drinking quite well now. Aged 22 months in 25% new French oak. (90 points)

2012 Stark-Condé Lingen Vineyard - South Africa, Coastal Region, Stellenbosch, Jonkershoek Valley
Dark purple colored. Earthy, soil, spice, cedar and moch notes on top of deep black cherries. Bold and tannic, but the waves of pure blackberry fruit roll in. Notes of plum cake, pepper, cedar, anise and cola add all sorts of complexity. A beauty, but deserves some time in the cellar. A blend of Cabernet, Petite Verdot, Syrah and Petite Sirah. (91 points)


  1. Loved my visit there too! Great wines and Jose is fantastic.

  2. Wow! It seems that you had a nice trip! It’s just too bad you didn’t have the chance to take a sip of their wines. I can say Stark-Condé’ wines are certainly one of the best. What I love the most in their wines is that they all have a crisp and spicy aroma that will surely make you enjoy every sip. Thanks for sharing, Isaac!

    Irvin Moss @ Shop Brewmeinster

    1. Irvin, I tasted the lineup except for the Three Pines... I assume that's what you're talking about. I really dig their wines and I can't say enough about the beauty of this place. One of the most memorable winery visits of my life. Cheers!