The best wines from the best winemakers – who wouldn’t want to taste them? I certainly did, which is why I was so disappointed when I couldn’t make the CWG Auction tastings last week. Thankfully, I was included on the list to taste the wines blind – something which I always enjoy and which I believe gives the most interesting and impartial results.
Two of the other tasters present have already published their findings – Christian Eedes and Neil Pendock – and I wait to see what Angela Lloyd and Tim James have to say with interest. I see that some backlash has already happened with winery Vrede en Lust deciding that the divergence of opinion from Christian and Neil is the final straw for them in terms of having their wines judged, so they have decided to withdraw from Platter. I don’t expect that my opinions will have quite such a dramatic effect, but for what it’s worth, here are my favourites and my nots.
Those who know me, know that I don’t like to score wines. I find any system where you allocate 3 points for 'nose' to pretty much everything willy-nilly to be somewhat facile, and a bland ‘16’ or ‘18’ doesn’t really mean much or help me to recall enjoyment- or not - of the wine. Those who live their lives by numbers, feel free to leave this post now.
Enjoyed – in the order they were tasted.
Graham Beck Non Plus Ultra MCC 2005 – rich, honeyed now with plenty of baked peaches and melons. Lively mousse and acidity, apple Danish mid-palate, good length.
Cape Point Vineyards Barrel Fermented Sauvignon Blanc 2010 – distinctive aromas and flavours of tinned grapefruit segments, some spiced naartjies on the palate, well-integrated acidity, muted oak, good length.
Flagstone Happy Hour 2009 – shyer nose with somewhat confected aromas. Layers of flavour through the mouth, cream and spice offset by citrus and honey. Exciting wine.
Nitida Aureus 2010 – aromas of perfumed green figs with hints of spice. Fresh lively green flavours, well-balanced and integrated citrus fruit giving way to a seamless finish.
Teddy Hall Hendrik Biebouw Auction Reserve Chenin Blanc 2010 – soft honeyed nose of baked apricots. Ripe, spicy fruit with an almost meaty-sweetness, all balanced by zesty acidity. Good food wine.
Paul Cluver The Wagon Trail Chardonnay 2009 – lemon curd on toast nose, then plenty of pears, apples, baked figs with upfront acidity, toasty oak and a satisfying finish.
Hartenberg Loam Hill Merlot 2009 – baked plums on the nose then a funky mouthful of sweet dark fruit, spice and a pleasing, but not too obtrusive, slug of alcohol. Moves beautifully through the mouth, thoroughly enjoyable.
Waterford Estate 2009 Auction Reserve BB – Sweet blackcurrant fruit with gluhwein spice. Polished and elegant with well-integrated tannins and excellent length. Very modern wine.
Louis Wines Rebel Rebel 2009 – attractive herbaceous nose with hints of furry tomato leaves and some capsicum hints. Soft tannins, approachable now, forthright drinking pleasure.
Le Riche Cabernet Sauvignon Auction Reserve 2008 – crowded black fruit nose with a good punch of creamy vanilla-pod spice. Sweet black cherry fruit, hints of cedarwood, big alcohol, big finish. Plenty to come here.
Cederberg Teen Die Hoog Shiraz 2009 – plenty of violets and pronounced white pepper aromatics on the nose. Meaty, peppered (black this time) salami with sweet ripe, red and black fruit. Well-integrated tannins, good length.
De Trafford Sjinn Touriga Nacional 2009 – sweet black fruit and polish on the nose with whiffs of perfume. Concentrated black fruit, stand-up tannins, plenty of structure, savoury finish – exciting things to come.
Rijks CWG Pinotage 2009 – meaty, sweaty nose with licorice hints and smoke. Similar on palate balanced by juicy black fruit, perfumed spice and well-integrated tannins. Nice mouthfeel.
Simonsig Pick of the Bunch Pinotage 2009 – ‘liver-y’ nose with plenty of alcohol and spice. Concentrated black fruit flavours, hint of leather, more spice and a positive finish.
All tasting notes and opinions are nothing more than that – opinions. I don’t expect people follow me because they think I’m ‘right,’ but hopefully because over time, they come to realise that their tastes and mine coincide. So in that spirit, and not necessarily because I am passing a value judgement on them, these are a couple of the wines I didn’t enjoy yesterday.
Ataraxia Chardonnay 2010 – Kevin Grant makes amazing Chardonnays, but this one had all the different elements (oak, acidity & alcohol) standing very far apart. Perhaps that’ll change.
Kaapzicht Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot Auction Reserve 2007 & Kaapzicht CWG Pinotage Reserve 2007 – when you blindtaste two wines from the same producer and mark them both down, it suggests a difference in opinion as to style rather than necessarily something wrong with the wines themselves. I found these both to be ‘old-fashioned’ with a touch of oxidation which I didn’t like.
Luddite ‘The Chosen One’ 2008 – I found this to be very thick with almost cloying flavours of chocolate and baked fruit. Again some oxidation and unbalanced alcohol. Loved the Shiraz though!
Groot Constantia CWG Shiraz 2009 – this is one of Boela Gerber’s first auction wines and the white blend he's showing is great. This one, however, was not – sweaty, stinky, very dry tannins. Not even close to the league of the other Shirazes.
Thanks to Christian and the Cape Winemakers Guild for organising and to Nitida for hosting.