An assessment of the wines to be sold at this year’s Cape Winemakers Guild auction was recently completed, the first time ever that local commentators have had the opportunity to do this in a blind tasting.
WINE magazine coordinated the exercise and those participating included Michael Fridjhon of Business Day, Tim James of The Mail & Guardian and Grape.co.za, Neil Pendock of the Sunday Times, Christine Rudman of Die Burger and Beeld and me in my capacity as WINE’s panel chairman.
Whereas WINE normally arrives on a rating underpinned by an arithmetic average but also taking into account post-tasting discussion, in this case the five judges operated independently. Here are my scores and tasting notes:
Méthode Cap Classique
Simonsig Cuvée Chêne Cap Classique 2004
100% Chardonnay. Citrus and some leesy character on the nose. The palate shows juicy fruit, bright acidity and a fine mousse. An elegant bubbly with a very dry finish. Drink now.
Teddy Hall Tribute Méthode Cap Classique 2003
100% Chardonnay. Pronounced developed character on the nose and palate. Flavours of honey, nuts and liquorice. Rich and full with somewhat tart acidity. Drink now.
Villiera Shooting Star 2007
100% Chardonnay. A slight yeasty note on an otherwise shy nose. On the palate, the immediate impression is of an explosive mousse and a soft acidity. Flavours of ripe citrus and brioche. Drink now -2012.
Cederberg Private Cellar Semillon 2010
The nose shows a distinct but entirely attractive pyrazine quality. The palate has great flavour intensity, being strongly herbaceous. Great line of acidity. Very persistent finish. Drink now – 2015.
Nitida Aureus 2009
56% Sauvignon Blanc, 44% Semillon. Expressive nose showing array of aromas from dirt-road dustines through to green melon. Rich, full and textured. Oak very well judged m aking for a seamless wine. Drink now – 2014.
Paul Cluver The Wagon Trail Chardonnay 2009
Forthcoming nose of citrus and an attractive hint of vanilla. The palate is focussed and pure with juicy lime fruit, fresh acidity and well judged oak. The finish is long and dry. Drink now – 2014.
Teddy Hall Mediterranean White 2008
Chenin Blanc driven. The nose shows attractive oxidative character. The palate has a weightless intensity to it with flavours of ripe peach, apricot, spice and some nuttiness. The acidity is well integrated and comes across as gentle but refreshing. Drink now – 2013.
Tullie Family Vineyards The Yair 2009 (Nicky Versfeld)
52% Sauvignon Blanc, 48% Semillon. Pronounced herbaceous note as well as some dirt-road dustiness on the nose. The palate shows good weight and texture but is not at all clumsy. Fresh acidity lends balance. An elegant, focussed wine. Drink now – 2014.
De Grendel Amandelboord Sauvignon Blanc 2010
Sauvignon Blanc with a dash of Semillon. Complex nose showing herbaceousness, musk (cat’s pee) and green melon. The palate is juicy with bright but not aggressive acidity. Range of flavours from lime trhough to granadilla and pine-apple. Very well balanced. Drink now – 2015.
Flagstone “Happy Hour” Sauvignon Blanc & Semillon 2009
57% Sauvignon Blanc, 29% Semillon, 14% Viognier. Overtly herbaceous on the nose, recalling buchu in particular. uicy fruit, bright acidity. Pure and clean, but does not possess the extra dimension that would elevate it into the 90s. Drink now – 2014.
Rijk’s Private Cellar Auction Reserve Semillon/Sauvignon Blanc 2009
72% Semillon, 28% Sauvignon Blanc. Prominent oak as well as tangerine on the nose and palate. Rich and full with relatively soft acidity. Oak currently sits a little apart but should integrate with time. Drink now – 2014. 2014.
Cape Point Vinyeards Auction Reserve White 2008
62% Chenin Blanc, 38% Chardonnay. Honeysuckle aroma on the nose. The palate displays citrus fruit, bright acidity and well judged oak. Appealing but lacks the distinction for a higher rating. Drink now -2013.
Rijk’s Private Cellar Auction Reserve Chenin Blanc 2009
Very forthcoming nose of ripe peach. Sweet on entry to the mouth. Some leesy character lends interest; smooth textured with relatively soft acidity. Drink now – 2015.
Steenberg The Magus 2009
85% Sauvignon Blanc, `5% Semillon. Shy nose and the palate is relatively plain or at least shut down; lime fruit, zippy acidity, no apparent oak. Finishes a little short. Drink 2012 – 2015.
Keets Viognier 2009
Oak prominent on the nose and palate. Extravagant style: rich and full but balanced by fresh acidity. Flavours of peach and vanilla, slightly bitter on finish. Drink now.
Jordan Chardonnay Auction Reserve 2009
Shy nose. The palate shows ripe citrus fruit and soft acidity. Not unappealing but lacks the distinction of some of the other whites on offer. Comes across as sweet, lacking mid-palate and has a relatively short finish. Drink now – 2012.
Edgebaston Cabernet Sauvignon Auction Reserve 2008
Intense black in colour. Dark fruit on nose and palate. Rich and full but balanced. Very concentrated with fresh acidity and firm but fine tannins. Drink 2012 – 2018.
Hidden Valley Top Secret 2008
Shiraz based. Intense black. Red fruit, fynbos and spice aromas on the nose. The palate is pure and focussed with weightless intensity. Wonderfully fine tannins. Well balanced with a long finish. Drink 2012 – 2015.
Villiera Mother Earth 2008
85% Cabernet Franc, 10% Merlot, 5% Cabernet Sauvignon. Red and black berries as well as an appealing if hard-to-describe savoury note on the nose. The palate is medium bodied and elegant with great fruit expression, fresh acidity and well judged oak. Drink 2012 – 2018.
Kanonkop CWG Paul Sauer 2007
68% Caberent Sauvignon, 17% Cabernet Franc, 15% Merlot. Cassis and a subtle herbal note on the nose. Medium bodied and elegant with clean, pure fruit and fresh acidity. Drink 2012 – 2017.
Simonsig Auction Reserve Shiraz 2008
Vanilla on the nose and palate. Oak currently dominates this wine but there is a core of black fruit that suggests the wine will mature well. Pleasing note of cracked pepper so typical of the variety. Chewy tannins. Drink 2012 – 2015.
Le Riche Cabernet Sauvignon Auction Reserve 2006
Red and black fruit, an attractive herbaceous note and dusty oak on the nose. The palate is medium bodied with bright acidity and fine tannins. Old fashioned in the best sense. Drink now – 2016.
Kanonkop Pinotage 2008
The nose displays dark cherry and a slight reductive note. Good flavour concentration on the palate. Rich and broad in structure with juicy fruit and firm tannins. A little astringent on the finish. Drink 2012 – 2018.
Neil Ellis Auction Reserve 2007
50% Cabernet Sauvignon 20% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Franc, 10% Shiraz. Intriguing nose showing both red and black fruit as well as a fynbos note and spice. On the palate the fruit appears ever so slightly jammy and there’s plenty of oak in evidence. Lacking a little in freshness. Drink now – 2015.
Boschkloof CWG Conclusion 2006
62% Cabernet Sauvignon, 18% Merlot, 12% Cabernet Franc, 8% Petit Verdot. Oxidative on the nose and palate. Flavours of dark fruit, chocolate and spice. Rich and broad with soft acidity before a dry finish. Drink now – 2013.
AA Badenhorst Family Wines Auction Red 2005
40% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Petit Verdot, 20% Cabernet Franc, 20% Merlot. Ripe dark fruit and vanilla on the nose and palate. Very modern in style, this wine comes across as slightly sweet and is smooth textured with a soft acidity. Drink now – 2015.
Boschkloof Auction Reserve Shiraz 2007
The nose shows dark fruit, charry oak and a hint of reduction. The palate is rich and concentrated but balanced. Sweet berry flavours and slightly discordant minty note to go with fresh acidity and firm tannins. Drink now – 2012.
Kaapzicht Cape Blend Auction Reserve 2007
40% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Pinotage, 20% Merlot. Prominent oak on the nose. This extravagantly styled wine is sure to impress some showing sweet, ripe fruit and smooth tannins. It’s weighty and powerful but lacks freshness for a higher score. Drink now – 2015.
Spier Merlot 2008
Dark fruit and an appealing herbal note on the nose. The palate shows huge flavour concentration with very ripe fruit, smooth tannins and soft acidty. Heavily extracted, it is quite drying on the finish. Modern style. Drink now – 2012.
Louis Cabernet Sauvignon 2008
Slightly jammy note on the nose and palate. Medium bodied with soft acidity and fine tannins. Finishes a little short. Appealing but lacks real distinction. Drink now – 2013.
Saronsberg Die Erf Shiraz 2007
Oak prominent on the nose. The palate is sweet and rich, lacking in freshness with smooth tannins. Flavours of very ripe black fruit and some spice. A blockbuster. Drink now – 2012.
Bouchard Finlayson Unfiltered Pinot Noir 2007
Dark fruit and charry oak on the nose and palate. This full-bodied wine appears to be from very ripe fruit and lacks nuance. There’s also a not altogether enticing savoury, meaty note (although some might find it typical of the variety). Drink now – 2015.
Ernie Els CWG 2008
60% Caberent Sauvignon, 30% Shiraz, 10% Merlot. The nose appears confected with ultra-ripe dark fruit as well as some fynbos and floral notes. The palate is sweet, rich and concentrated with soft acidity and smooth tannins. Lacks freshness. Drink now – 2012.
Kaapzicht Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot Auction Reserve 2007
80% Cabernet Sauvignon, 205 Merlot. Closed on the nose while the palate is sweet, rich and ripe with the oak sitting apart and no great freshness. Lacks poise. Drink now – 2012.
Cederberg Teen Die Hoog Shiraz 2008
Very ripe fruit, hint of mint and some volatility on the nose. The palate is jammy and simple. While the grapes were obviously picked late, there’s a paradoxical and not very attractive green note. Drink now – 2012.
De Grendel Op Die Berg Pinot Noir 2009
The nose and palate have an oxidative note. There’s some red fruit, but the wine is ultimately simple and lacking in distinction. Drink now.
Grangehurst Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve 2005
Noble Late Harvest
AA Badenhorst Family Wines Kalmoesfontein Semillon NLH Volume 2 2008
Very attractive nose showing blossom as well as dried peach and apricot. The palate shows excellent flavour intensity, weight and texture without becoming unctuous. Wonderful line of acidity and a long, dry finish. Drink now -2018.
Boplaas Auction Reserve Port 2008
The nose shows dark berries and the spirit addition is very well handled. On the palate, the wine is huge in structure but well balanced with pure, optimally ripe fruit, fresh acidity and firm but fine tannins. Also flavours of chocolate and spice. Drink 2018 onwards.
The 26th Nedbank Cape Winemakers Guild Auction is open to the public and will be held at the Spier Conference Centre in Stellenbosch on Saturday 2 October 2010. Prospective buyers who are unable to attend the auction on the day, can register in advance with the Guild and take advantage of its telephonic and proxy bidding facilities. For further details, call 021 852 0408, send an email to email@example.com or visit www.capewinemakersguild.com.