Last week I was one of a small group of journalists who got to taste the Cape Winemakers Guild 2013 Auction wines in advance of most people and laid out as a ‘blind’ tasting. This year there are 58 wines and spirits available on the auction and the Guild is obviously hoping to build on its massive success of 2012 and achieve record prices once more.
The Guild is an invitation-only organisation made up of 45 of the Cape’s top winemakers. In addition to providing opportunities for technical tastings and improving the knowledge and experience of Cape winemakers, the Guild also has a fantastic protégé programme, sponsored by Nedbank, which gives young winemakers from previously-disadvantaged backgrounds the chance to work with Guild members during a mentorship and training programme.
For the Auction, each member produces a (or sometimes more than one) unique wine outside their normal commercial ranges. These wines are becoming increasingly experimental since the rules of submission were changed slightly and the Guild offers great opportunities for winemakers to spread their wings, try something different and have an outlet at which to sell it. This year shows a few more unusual white wines available and, in fact, more white wines than ever before – 18 of them plus 2 MCC’s and one NLH.
Taken as a group, I think the line-up was much better than when I did a similar tasting last year so if you are planning on going to the auction showcases (on Thursday 22nd August in Cape Town or Thursday 28th August in Johannesburg - tickets from Webtickets) then you will some amazing wines for your money. I was probably more impressed with the whites than the reds, finding some of the latter a little OTT and in some cases, downright sweet, over-ripe and over-alcoholic which didn’t work for me at all.
The following are the wines I would be bidding for, had I not school fees and bond payments looming large. For details of other journalists’ opinions, check out Christian Eedes, Tim James and Angela Lloyd.
Graham Beck Non Plus Ultra MCC 2008 – 81% Chardonnay, 19% Pinot Noir, 50 months on lees has produced a savoury, marmite-y, tangy fizz with depth, elegance & class. Both this and the Villiera MCC were delicious and great wines to get hold of for a special celebration.
Hermanuspietersfontein Vloekskoot Sauvignon Blanc 2012 – 85% Sauvignon, 11% Semillon, 4% Nouvelle, this wine spent 13 months in a big barrel and has picked up some additional creaminess and richness contrasting beautifully with the grassy herbaceous undertones. More to come here.
AA Badenhorst White Grenache Vuilgoed 3 2012 – 100% Grenache Gris, an unusual mutation of Grenache, here produces a very shy wine, needing time to get going, but with lovely spiced peach notes and a delicious mouthfeel and texture.
Rijk’s CWG Chenin Blanc 2012 – I’m liking Pierre Wahl’s wines more and more and this was pretty much everything a Chenin should be in my view. Soft baked apples, zingy acidity, creamy oatmeal finish.
John Loubser Thirteen 2011, Cape Point Vineyards Auction Reserve White 2012, Bruce Jack Happy Hour 2009 – these 3 Bordeaux blend whites (ok, the Happy Hour has a little Viognier in it) were all utterly charming and delicious, showing once again that this is one of our better categories taken as a whole.
Ataraxia Under the Gavel Chardonnay 2012 – classic oatmeal nose with hints of honey and lemon meringue pie. Also enjoyed Paul Cluver The Wagon Trail Chardonnay 2012 but when is that wine ever not fantastic??
De Grendel Op Die Berg Pinot Noir 2011- best of the three Pinots on offer in my opinion, tight, concentrated and intense with good acidity and length. Plenty to come here.
Waterford Estate Auction Reserve 2BB 2009, Kanonkop CWG Paul Sauer 2010 – best of the Bordeaux blends, both showing balance, integration, freshness and supportive tannins. Both Cabernet Sauvignon-dominated with Merlot and Cabernet Franc making up balance.
Rust en Vrede CWG Estate 2010 – I don’t know what world lists a Cabernet Sauvignon-dominated wine as a ‘Rhone Blend’ as it was on our tasting sheets, however this is a thoroughly lovely wine with plenty of fruit, structure, silky tannins and lingering intensity. If we’re looking at non-Bordeaux or Rhone blends, you should also pay attention to the Ernie Els CWG 2011 (also mainly Cab Sauv with Shiraz) and The Drift We’re Here 2011, a Cape Blend with delicious spice, balance and length.
Vriesenhof Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 – if you wanted to show people what a Cabernet should taste like, I can’t think of a single better example than this wine. Absolutely textbook (cigar box, cassis, black cherries), absolutely delicious.
Groot Constantia Auction Reserve Shiraz 2010, Luddite ‘Just Alice’ Shiraz Mourvedre 2010, Saronsberg Die Erf Shiraz 2011 – this was the biggest category and quite a wide variety of styles. I’ve chosen these three for elegance (Groot Constantia), concentration and balance (Luddite) and classic pepper/violet qualities (Saronsberg) but there was plenty more class here so taste them all to discover your favourites. Also a few over-ripe, jammy sweeties here as well so beware.
Neil Ellis Auction Reserve Pinotage 2011 – I think it’s a pity there weren’t more Pinotages (and Chenins) in this line-up. After all – if these are our best winemakers, wouldn’t it be great if they showed us and the rest of the world what our 2 special varieties can do in the hands of masters?? This one will have to fly the Pinotage flag for this year and it does that very well. Appealing black fruit, spicy cloves, chewy tannins and dry –but not excessively so - finish.
Teddy Hall Eva (Krotoa) Chenin Blanc NLH 2012 – unless it’s truly dreadful, I’m generally a sucker for NLH’s and when it comes to this category, Teddy Hall rarely puts a foot wrong. Burnt orange pudding, creamy apricot curd, nice acidity, endless length. I didn’t spit this one.
Boplaas OxWagon 1889 Auction Reserve Potstill Brandy – winemaker Margaux Nel says her dad Carel uses the brandy still as a diet-indicator. If he can fit through the tight gap between the still and the wall, he doesn’t need to diet. When he can’t……. Hopefully he stays svelte enough to continue making this brandy – bready aromas with some nuts and oatmeal giving way to apricots and herbal honey. 8 years old, made from Colombar.
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