A year ago the Cape Winemakers Guild changed the selection procedure for wines submitted for their annual auction. Criticism had come from within and without the guild about the wines which made the grade and, perhaps more vociferously, those which didn’t.
The decision was taken to continue with a tasting of potential entrants, but allow any member to put his or her wine on the auction, regardless of the outcome. The one proviso is that the wines have to undergo a thorough analysis to avoid the embarrassment of any faulty ones creeping through.
This happened too late to have a significant effect on last year’s auction, but, as anticipated, it has provided positive results this year, as was evident from the 58 wines poured blind for a few of us earlier this week at George Jardine’s restaurant on Jordan Wine Estate.
The immediate benefits are a wider range of varieties and greater balance between the mix of varieties and blends. But I am surprised only one chenin blanc and two pinotages are listed.
Far less (obvious) new oak than in the past and, concomitantly, far better stylistic definition is another positive that adds interest to the catalogue.
So, while the wines I mention below are among my favourites, this is more from a stylistic than quality perspective. Of course, there were one or two I neither liked nor thought particularly good.
I should add that apart from one or two I had tasted during my Platter duties, I had not looked at the auction list beforehand, hoping this would bring greater objectivity to my notes.
Villiera Meteor 2008 Méthode Cap Classique a blend of all three Champagne varieties shows lovely balance between developing nutty chardonnay and pinot’s red fruit in the generous yet well-structured Villiera style. A creamy mousse and precise, brut finish makes this another winner for Jeff Grier. Bartho Eksteen’s expertise with and love of sauvignon is well illustrated in his Hermanuspietersfontein Vloekskoot Sauvignon Blanc 2012. There’s a little semillon and nouvelle for texture and complexity with the older, larger oak barrel knitting and enriching the wine. The result is an assertive but not harsh sauvignon with vivid blackcurrant leaf character and plenty of ageing potential. When it comes to designated Bordeaux-style white blends (anyway, a favourite white wine styles) John Loubser’s Thirteen 2011 blew my socks off, as the saying goes. Much more about texture and vinosity than overt fruit from its 50/50 sauvignon/semillon co-fermented blend, it has that slightly earthy character of natural ferment with a positive oxidative hint. Ageing should turn it into something even more delicious. Again, older oak is used and to good, harmonising effect.
Turning to new varieties, Adi Badenhorst’s A A Badenhorst White Grenache Vuilgoed 3 2012 and Johan Malan’s Simonsig ‘The Russety One’ Roussanne 2012 should tempt those unfamiliar with what grapes from southern France and the Rhône respectively can do here. Very well in my opinion. The former quiet on the nose but more expressive wild herbs, thatch and savoury acid on a quite dense, pithily textured base. The latter, also shy – just a nuance of white flowers but good sense of balanced volume and savoury length. Both are great food wines. And I’ll say it again, oaking is subordinate to the wine.
I’m a big fan of the tighter, fresher chardonnays with precise, clean lines. Kevin Grant’s Ataraxia Under the Gavel 2012 and Teddy Hall Maria van Swaanswijk 2012 fit this description. Kevin’s still shows some oak, but it’s nothing that time and the concentrated fruit won’t absorb. I see from the analysis that Teddy’s wine is much riper than Kevin’s, but it’s also tightly built and balanced with less obvious oak.
Right to the reds. Once I had the crib sheet in my hand, I wasn’t surprised I like Kevin Arnold’s Waterford Estate Auction Reserve 2BB 2009. A lovely vintage, of course, and a lovely, cabernet-led Bordeaux-style blend in classic style. Youthful in appearance with mouthwatering crunchy cabernet fruit in a compact frame. Yes, oak is apparent but this is a wine that screams for laying down. Jan ‘Boland’ Coetzee’s Vriesenhof Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 (refreshingly with no fancy soubriquet!) will undoubtedly also do well with further years under its belt, but also offers great pleasure now; a contrast between mature and fresh notes. It wasn’t an easy vintage, but Jan’s hit the sweet spot here, the balance is perfect. The hint of lingering sweet fruit wraps up a classic Stellenbosch cabernet. David Finlayson’s Edgebaston Cabernet 2011 more modern with riper dark fruit, but also well structured and balanced, neither extraction nor oaking are over-done.
Afraid I have to single out three shirazes, each very different from the other but all excellent. Carl Schultz’s Hartenberg 2010, Adi Badenhorst’s LDR 2011 and David Trafford’s Sijnn Syrah 2011. Carl’s with it’s dried herb, fynbos aromas, broad, supple feel and well integrated tannins; Adi’s all ripe red fruits, earth, garrigue and rumble of tannin; and for those who have never experienced a delicate yet totally convincing shiraz, David’s, from his Malagas vineyards offers a shower of white spice.
One more red, Neil Ellis Auction Reserve Pinotage 2011, which rejoices in its juicy fruit, leaning more to its pinot parent but at the same time, distinctly pinotage. So all there now, I’m not sure how it will evolve or where to, but it would be a hard soul who couldn’t enjoy this.
What would a CWG auction be without a Carel Nel brandy? Boplaas Ox Wagon 1880 Auction Reserve Potstill Brandy is actually only eight years old, younger in age and character than some previous. This has fresh floral and spice aromas, a fiery yet smooth spirit, finishing whistle clean and dry.
We really do distill some great brandies!
Afterwards, we lunched royally on George Jardine’s dishes washed down with the remainder of the wines.
The Cape Winemakers Guild showcase, where the auction wines and others from Guild members will be presented, will be held this coming Thursday, 22nd August at the Cape Town International Convention Centre from 6 – 9pm; tickets cost R170 per person, which includes a tasting glass. Bookings via http://www.WebTickets.co.za.
For some inexplicable reason, the Shiraz Association will be holding its showcase the same evening at The Vineyard Hotel & Spa from 5.30 – 8.30. Tickets, also available from WebTickets, cost R120.
It should irritate sponsors and winelovers alike that these important and popular events clash; I’m surprised it doesn’t seem to bother the several producers who are participants in both.
See below for the full list of wines with case quantities on offer at this year’s CWG Auction, which will be held at Spier on Saturday, 5th October.
AA Badenhorst Family Wines Grenache Gris Vuilgoed 3 2012 40 x 6 x 750ml
AA Badenhorst Family Wines Siebritskloof Shiraz L.D.R. 2011 60 x 6 x 750ml
Ataraxia Under The Gavel Chardonnay 2012 40 x 6 x 750ml
Beyerskloof Traildust Pinotage 2011 40 x 6 x 750ml
Boekenhoutskloof Syrah Auction Reserve 2011 30 x 6 x 750ml
Boplaas Cape Vintage Auction Reserve 2009 30 x 6 x 750ml
Boplaas Ox Wagon 1880 Auction Reserve Potstill Brandy 24 x 6 x 750ml
Boschkloof Auction Reserve Syrah 2011 40 x 6 x 750ml
Bouchard Finlayson Auction Reserve Domaine Chardonnay 2012 80 x 6 x 750ml
Bruce Jack Happy Hour 2009 60 x 6 x 750ml
Cape Point Vineyards Auction Reserve White 2012 44 x 6 x 750ml
Cederberg Teen Die Hoog Shiraz 2011 60 x 6 x 750ml
De Grendel Op Die Berg Pinot Noir 2011 44 x 6 x 750ml
De Grendel Wooded Sauvignon Blanc 2013 44 x 6 x 750ml
Edgebaston Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve 2011 50 x 6 x 750ml
Ernie Els CWG 2011 70 x 6 x 750ml
Etienne le Riche Auction Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2010 80 x 6 x 750ml
Graham Beck Wines Non Plus Ultra Cap Classique 2008 40 x 6 x 750ml
Graham Beck Wines The Catalyst 2010 50 x 6 x 750ml
Grangehurst Auction Reserve 2007 70 x 6 x 750ml
Groot Constantia Auction Reserve Shiraz 2010 40 x 6 x 750ml
Hartenberg Auction Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2010 80 x 6 x 750ml
Hartenberg Auction Reserve Shiraz 2010 80 x 6 x 750ml
Haskell Vineyards Merlot 2010 70 x 6 x 750ml
Haskell Vineyards Paradigm 2008 70 x 6 x 750ml
Hermanuspietersfontein Vloekskoot Sauvignon Blanc 2012 70 x 6 x 750ml
John Loubser Thirteen 2011 42 x 6 x 750ml
Jordan Chardonnay Auction Reserve 2012 80 x 6 x 750ml
Jordan Sophia 2010 80 x 6 x 750ml
Kaapzicht Cape Blend 2010 60 x 6 x 750ml
Kanonkop CWG Paul Sauer 2010 60 x 6 x 750ml
Kleine Zalze 3 Expressions 2010 80 x 6 x 750ml
Lanner Hill Double Barrel White 2012 60 x 6 x 750ml
Luddite “Just Alice” Shiraz Mourvèdre 2010 100 x 6 x 750ml
Miles Mossop Wines Maximilian 2011 60 x 6 x 750ml
Neil Ellis Auction Reserve 2011 60 x 6 x 750ml
Neil Ellis Auction Reserve Pinotage 2011 40 x 6 x 750ml
Nitida Sauvignon Blanc Barrel Twenty Eight 2013 40 x 6 x 750ml
Paul Cluver CWG Pinot Noir 2011 40 x 6 x 750ml
Paul Cluver Wagon Trail Chardonnay 2012 40 x 6 x 750ml
Rijk’s CWG Chenin Blanc 2012 44 x 6 x 750ml
Rijk’s CWG Shiraz 2011 38 x 6 x 750ml
Rust en Vrede CWG Estate 2010 40 x 6 x 750ml
Saronsberg CWG Viognier 2011 26 x 6 x 750ml
Saronsberg Die Erf Shiraz 2011 42 x 6 x 750ml
Sijnn Syrah 2011 (1.5 Litre bottles) 12 x 3 x 1.5L
Sijnn Syrah 2011 (750ml bottles) 66 x 6 x 750ml
Simonsig “The Russety One” Roussanne 2012 32 x 6 x 750ml
Simonsig Heirloom Shiraz 2011 70 x 6 x 750ml
Spier Auction Reserve Frans K Smit 2010 72 x 6 x 750ml
Teddy Hall Eva (Krotoa) Chenin Blanc Noble Late Harvest 2012 40 x 6 x 375ml
Teddy Hall Maria van Swaanswijk Chardonnay Auction Reserve 2012 60 x 6 x 750ml
The Drift We’re Here 2011 60 x 6 x 750ml
Tokara Tribute 2012 60 x 6 x 750ml
Villiera Meteor Cap Classique 2008 40 x 6 x 750ml
Vriesenhof Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 100 x 3 x 1.5L
Vriesenhof Pinot Noir Bin 115 2008 74 x 6 x 750ml
Waterford Estate 2009 Auction Reserve 2BB 50 x 6 x 750ml
Waterford Estate Chardonnay Auction Reserve 2011 30 x 6 x 750ml