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Monis Collectors Marsala 1983

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Iconic.
Iconic.

The 41st Nederburg Auction takes place on 11 and 12 September with 60 red wines, 35 white wines, 12 sweet wines, six fortified wines, nine Ports and seven MCCs going under the hammer. Yesterday approximately 100 of the 129 items were available at a pre-auction tasting.

Difficult to taste the entire line-up in the hour and a half allotted but a useful exercise even so in that it enabled one to look at a meaningful sample of top-end local wines at various stages of development.

Some general observations: Chardonnay and Chenin Blanc were both magnificent as a whole – prospective buyers almost can’t go wrong regardless of which particular wine they choose to bid for; Sauvignon Blanc was largely a disappoint  – too many wines appeared stylistically exaggerated, either severely green or overwhelmingly rich and fruity.

Reds were more patchy and buyers are advised to do their homework. I concentrated on Cabernet Sauvignon and Bordeaux-style red blends and too many of the wines from the mid-2000s showed all too familiar short-comings: either green or over-ripe or worst of all green AND over-ripe.

My wine of the day was the Monis Collectors Marsala 1983 (actually a barrel-aged red Muscadel). Wonderfully expressive with aromas and flavours of toffee, mint, spice and some developed savouriness. Concentrated, layered, fresh – a wine of both breadth and depth. Quite extraordinary. Only five six-bottle cases available and the reserve price per case is R600.

Score: 95/100.

7 COMMENTS

  1. Was lucky enough to be on the panel that selected the sweet / fortifieds for this year’s auction. There are some really remarkable wines here. Pity they struggle to find a place in the market.

  2. What is the deal with these old Red Muscadels that seem to crop up at competitions and auctions every now and again? I’ve seen at least 4 or 5 instances in the past few years of people raving about Muscadels from various properties, dating between the 1930’s and 1990’s.

    Are Red Muscadels reliably age-worthy? Or is just that in the past 80 years, there have been just a handful of specific wines from a few producers that somehow age magnificently?

    Put another way, if I buy a case of, for example, 2012 Boplaas Red Muscadel, and cellar it for 30 years, is it going to be amazing? If one has to be careful about choosing a Red Muscadel to age, which ones do you recommend?

    Thanks!

    • Hi Joe,

      Obviously the significance of Muscat de Frontignac in the SA context is not to be underestimated given that it was responsible for a good portion of the original sweet wines of Constantia but as to why we make such good fortified wines from it, I’m not quite sure.

      Are they reliably age-worthy? I think the basics which apply to predicting the maturation potential of all wine apply – is there fruit purity and balance to start with? Presuming those are in evidence, you’ve probably got something quite special on your hands as the high sugar and the fortification will both act as extra means of preservation.

  3. I think part of the problem is that many of the muscat fortified desserts are released too young when they seem just fruity. Yet the best age beautifully. You can’t go wrong with Nuy Muscadels, they really are the benchmark for the unwooded style. There are other good ones, but Nuy has the best track record. I see Monis is still selling their 2004 Wood Matured Muscadel, a wine which they were urged to bottle by a group of journalists when we tasted it from the barrel. But I think I’d be right in saying it’s time in barrel rather than bottle which makes all the difference. Some of the old KWV fortifieds I tasted at Kanonkop recently had spent many years in large oak before bottling.
    That reserve price on the Monis 1983 says it all about the image of these lovely wines.

  4. Thanks, Christian and Angela.

    Besides Nuy, do you have any suggestions of producers whose regular-release muscadels are worth putting a case of away for a decade or two? (So far I’ve seen a few prizes for Nuy’s “recent” [last 15? years] releases, but otherwise I’ve seen old KWV, Boplaas and now Monis.)

    On a related note, has anyone here done a vertical tasting of red muscadels from the same producer, with the same barrel aging (e.g., 1 year for each), to see the difference caused by bottle aging?

    • Hi Joe, I’ve been lucky enough to judge the fortifieds at Old Mutual Trophy Wine Show on quite a few occasions where Nuy typically enter wines across a wide range of ages and vintage variation is just as much of a factor as it is with table wines – grapes need to be optimally ripe and the spirit addition spot on if the wine is going to go the distance.

      Other consistent producers are De Wet and Orange River Cellars.

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