Jacobus Joubert is guardian of the barrel.

Rebecca Meredith

A FAMILY-OWNED barrel of 200-year-old wine has received the highest score ever given to a South African wine from the international wine guru, online wine publication ERobert Parker.

The rare 1800 Muscat d’Alexandrie received a score of 99 out of 100 – an unprecedented achievement for any South African wine.

The barrel is owned by Jacobus Joubert and his son, Cobus, whose ancestors created the vintage at the family’s farm in Wellington over two centuries ago. When the family moved to Tradouw Valley in Barrydale, in 1937, Jacobus’ father carefully transported the barrel, locking it in the cellar of the family’s estate.

And there the wine remained until, 10 years ago, Cobus persuaded his father to allow him to produce bottles from the barrel for the family’s use.

As of this year, only 12 250ml bottles of the rare 1800 Joubert Family Muscat d’Alexandrie wine are produced from the French oak barrel annually.

Cobus had no idea of how spectacular the vintage really was until it was reviewed by world-renowned wine expert Neal Martin on behalf of ERobert Parker.

“I had no idea how great it was. I never imagined it would be that good. I mean, from knowing and tasting the wine, as far as I was concerned it was as good as you could get, but for it to get such a high score ... It is humbling for the family and an honour for South Africa,” Cobus Joubert said.

The family only remove about 3 to 4 litres from the 114-litre barrel each year, and top up the elixir so that it takes on the culture of the vintage wine and keeps the barrel from running dry.

The barrel has become something of a family heirloom, passing from father to son through each generation. Cobus said: “For me to now be in a position to look after the barrel, it is humbling, as my father has looked after it for 50 years.”

Martin described drinking the wine as ”an ethereal experience”.