A new look to CWG Auction wines

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.

CWG logoThe 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

Just in case anyone believes the Cape is constant sunshine, this was the view from inside George Jardine's restaurant at the CWG auction tasting. Winter 2013 is providing good rains, but without the consistent cold weather experienced last winter.
Just in case anyone believes the Cape is constant sunshine, this was the view from inside George Jardine’s restaurant at the CWG auction tasting. Winter 2013 is providing good rains, but without the consistent cold weather experienced last winter.
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