South Africa’s winemaking future is in safe hands.
The evidence to prove it took the form of a preview of the wines which will go under the hammer at the Cape Winemakers Guild auction at Spier on October 1. The aim of the Guild which was established 29 years ago was to try and produce wines of world-beating standard. Membership remains by invitation only and while there are a few of the country’s hottest oenological prospects who don’t require validation by belonging, the fact remains that arguably South Africa’s best and brightest belong to this august guild.
Just 39 wines of the 58 items (there is a potstill brandy on offer too) were tasted informally at the Cape Town International Convention Centre. Obviously, impressions of the wines on offer differ but there were a few standouts for me. Neil Ellis’ Rodanos 2007 blend of Syrah and Grenache is a stupendous wine. It’s been auctioned before in 2009 and the wine has only benefitted from additional time in bottle. Ellis may describe himself as one of the “old farts” but there’s no doubt that he can show the youngsters a thing or two about respecting fruit and sympathetic oak maturation.
Saronsberg’s Dewaldt Heyns quipped that with his Die Erf Grenache 2010 he proves that he can make wine with an alcohol less than 15% and that it’s also possible for him to re-use barrels and not rely on brand-new oak! “These Grenache vines are only seven or eight years old and should start peaking from now onwards,” he said, expressing excitement and anticipation at forthcoming fruit off them.
Merlot has copped a lot of flak of late. Carl Schultz of Hartenberg showed the Loam Hill Merlot 2009 that defies criticism of the grape as being green, vegetal and unforgiving. The wine is rich, elegant and classic. Complex and refined with beautiful harmony between the fruit and oak, Schultz said fruit had come off Hartenberg’s first high-density vineyards planted with a new Merlot clone.
Other wines really impressed, notably those from first-timers Rianie Strydom of Haskell Vineyards who has The Expatriate 2009 (a Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz blend), and that of Johan Joubert of Kleine Zalze who put up a deliciously drinkable Cabernet Sauvignon, Granite Selection 2009. Marc Kent is always good value and told a tale of how Boekenhoutskloof came by the Porseleinberg fruit from the Swartland which is in his Syrah Auction Reserve 2009.
The CWG tasting would not be the event it is without some humour. Speaking about the grapes which had gone into the Jordan Chardonnay Auction Reserve 2010 as being well hung and perfectly matured, Gary Jordan’s quip was that he realised this “refers to at least half of the room present today”…
(For a full list of auction wines and more details about the CWG Auction, visit www.capewinemakersguild.com )