Neil Ellis

Cabernet Sauvignon Jonkershoek – 2017

Region: South Africa - Stellenbosch

Neil Ellis

Neil Ellis is a South African wine industry icon and one of the early pioneers to bring quality levels up to world class standards. The winery sits 5 miles east of the town of Stellenbosch in the Jonkershoek Valley. It was founded in 1993 with the philosophy to source grapes from the top growers of the region. The eco-friendly winery produces wines from the regions of Stellenbosch, Darling, Darbanville and Elgin.

Grapes / Soils

100% Cabernet Sauvignon


The majority of the Jonkershoek Valley is a nature reserve well known for its fynbos, trails and waterfalls but it is the mouth of the valley that is known for its distinctive conditions best suited for grape growing. The 98.8 acres/40ha of vines on the Oude Nektar farm were planted during an ongoing replanting program that started in 1990 introducing the latest soil preparation techniques and best plant material. The south facing slopes are significantly cooler than the surrounding area of Stellenbosch and a howling South Eastern wind during the summer months cools down the vineyards considerably, minimizing vine disease and holding down yields. The soils are decomposed granite and table mountain sandstone. Vineyard altitudes range from 625 to 1805 feet/190 to 550 meters above sea level.

The Wine

Vineyard Profile

Jonkershoek Valley and the South facing slopes are the coolest sites in Stellenbosch, with howling winds in the winter months.

  • Aspect: Southwest
  • Soils: Decomposed granite and table mountain sandstone
  • Vine Training System: Trellis
Harvest Notes
  • 2016 winter the 2nd year of drought in Western Cape
  • Early budding resulted in early harvest, beginning February 27
  • Grapes harvested at 24.8ºB, with total acid 7.3 g/l, pH: 3.5
  • Yield: 5.5 tons/ha
  • Grapes crushed and pumpovers until dry in stainless steel tanks
  • Further maceration followed by light pressing
  • Malolactic fermentation in 100% new French oak barrels
  • Aged 18 months in 100% new French oak barrels
  • Bottled December 2018
Winemaker's Notes

This is our signature Cabernet Sauvignon. Its distinctive style has all the hallmarks of Jonkershoek Valley: a balance of elegance and power.

Intense dark color. The nose shows restraint, with deep underlying aromas of complex blue and blackberries and cedar aromas typical from Jonkershoek. The palate is nervous and fresh, followed by fine, dense tannins. This wine is built to last and early drinking would benefit from decanting.

Pair with venison and ribeye on the bone.

Wine Summary

100% Cabernet Sauvignon; alcohol: 14%; vineyard in coolest part of Stellenbosch on a Southwest facing mountain; decomposed granite and table mountain sandstone soils; fermentation in stainless steel, malolactic fermentation in 100% new French oak barrels; aged 18 months in barrel.

Technical Information
  • 100% Cabernet Sauvignon grapes
  • Alcohol: 14%
  • Total Acidity: 5.8 g/l
  • pH: 3.6
  • Residual Sugar: 2.5 g/l


92 Points

This is a rich and robust pour, with an intense nose of char, cigar box and pipe tobacco atop a core of black fruit preserves. It’s full and decadent in the mouth, with a robust, velvety palate that offers beautiful structure and fruity richness all at once. The finish is long and wood-fueled at the moment, but this has the stuff and overall harmony to do well over the medium term. Drink through 2031.

Wine Enthusiast, September, 2021

92 Points

Bursting with an impressive nose, the 2017 Cabernet Sauvignon Jonkershoek Valley immediately shows layers of complexity with cassis, redcurrant, blackberry essence, red plum skin and dusty cherry tones before giving way to an undercurrent of dried herbs, pencil shavings and supporting oak tones in the glass. Medium to full-bodied, the wine is impeccably balanced with buttressing tannins that lift the expression and energetic acidity that gives way to a nuance of turned earth and dried hay on the palate. The wine offers finesse and elegance on the long, winding, dark berry-laced finish. Just under 8,000 bottles were produced of this charming wine. Give it a try.

© Wine Advocate, January, 2021

91 Points

Neil Ellis, the Cape’s first négociant winemaker in the 1980s, is one of the most prominent figures in the industry but it is increasingly his children who run the business, with son Warren in the cellar. Jonkershoek Valley Cabernet is prized, and this wine is intended to represent the estate’s finest quality, showing red and black fruit, violets and dried herbs on the nose while the palate is rich and broad with fine, mouthcoating tannins.  2020 – 2027

Decanter, August, 2020

General Info

Country South Africa
Region Western Cape
Appellation(s) Stellenbosch, Darling/Groenekloof, Elgin
Proprietor Neil Ellis
Founded 1993
Winemaker Warren Ellis
Annual Production 50,000 9L cases
Farming (Sustainable, organic, biodynamic) Sustainable