Food24's wine editor shares her thoughts on the stand-out wines to be sold at this year's Cape Winemakers Guild Auction

Cathy Marston says overall quality more than matches the price this year.

by: Cathy Marston | 12 Sep 2017
 

(image: iStock)

This is the best line-up of CWG wines I’ve tasted. You could actually stop reading this article now if you liked because in my opinion, you are going to be pretty happy whatever you buy this year. 

For the first time since I’ve been blind-tasting these wines, the alcohols seem to be kept well in check – even though many of them come from the stellar 2015 vintage. Less over-ripeness, less oak, less extraction – tasting through all 61 wines was as pleasurable a way of spending a morning as I can remember.

Here are a few general thoughts
 If there’s only going to be one bubbly on the Auction, then John Loubser’s is a good one for it to be. Racy and vibrant, it’s a great wine to keep for a decade, maybe even more. There seemed to be fewer whites overall this year, but most of them were very good to stunning. Both the wooded Sauvignons of Charles Hopkins at De Grendel and Bartho Eksteen were delicious, well-balanced and intense whilst Nicky Versfeld’s Semillon was much better than previous incarnations, with a lovely waxy overtone to fresh lemony fruit.

The Chardonnays and Chenins formed an excellent line-up – as we have come to expect from these winemakers and these varieties – with faves being Mullineux, Rijk’s and Johan Joubert’s Chenin Blancs, Jordan, Ataraxia and Paul Cluver’s Chardonnays – Jordan’s in particular conducting a masterclass in the use of oak. Miles Mossop’s Chenin/Clairette blend had wonderful texture and a pithy finish whilst De Morgenzon’s maiden wine, a Roussanne, was a complete surprise showing wonderful fruit, tingly spice and an excellent length.

Onto the reds and there is a wonderful selection this year. As a category, I particularly enjoyed the non-Bordeaux reds, a broad category, encompassing some stellar offerings. Adi and Duncan’s Love Boat red was as fine a wine as I’ve had in a long time – a blend of Shiraz, Grenache and Cinsault, exploding with raspberries and spice – whilst Louis Nel, Louis Strydom at Ernie Els and Coenie Snyman at Rust en Vrede all demonstrated what a wonderful combination Cab/Shiraz is, with luscious black fruit backed up by pepper and elegant oak.

Danie Steytler from Kaapzicht is retiring from the Guild this year and bows out in style with two delicious blends. I probably preferred the Ultimate Vision Cape Blend with its combination of dark cherries, hint of mint and leathery oak. Sticking with Pinotage, the Beyerskloof was elegant whilst the Kanonkop was bloody, bold and resolute – bit of a keeper there methinks. Kanonkop also offers a grippy but lovely Bordeaux-style blend alongside that of Groot Constantia whilst Le Riche’s stand-alone Cabernet is an absolute knock-out wine. 

Bruwer Raats confounds everyone by deviating from his beloved Chenin and Cabernet Franc and showing his skills with Cinsault instead – fresh, sappy, juicy but with real intensity of flavour. And finally the Shirazes – plenty of elegant examples but the stand-outs for me were Adi Badenhorst’s Chase the Spice and Saronsberg’s Die Erf, both elegant spice bombs with years in front of them. 

I could go on. And on. And possibly on a bit more as well but the long and short of it is: go there yourself and enjoy. The Nedbank Cape Winemakers Guild Auction takes place at Spier on 30th September – more details from www.capewinemakersguild.com and although everything indicates that prices will be high once again, I think it safe to say that this year, overall quality more than matches the price.

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