The Cape Wineamkers Guild deserves kudos for letting the wines selected for this year’s auction be subjected to assessment via blind tasting (see here), but what of the wines that didn’t make the cut?
Andries Burger, winemaker at Paul Cluver Estate in Elgin, was made a member of the Guild this year and submitted two wines for auction, all those put forward undergoing peer review in order to determine if they are up to auction standard. His Wagon Trail Chardonnay 2009 went through, but a Pinot Noir did not.
No surprises regarding the Chardonnay, basically a barrel selection from the standard production 2009, this wine having picked up the trophy for best in class at this year’s Old Mutual Trophy Wine Show. We’re talking about the best 100 cases out of a total production of 4 000 – I rated it 95 on the 100-point scale and it’s worth dropping some cash on this come the auction on 2 October.
We can only speculate about what the shortcomings of the Pinot Noir were. During lunch with estate managing director Paul Cluver and sister Liesl Rust at Marlene van der Weshuizen’s Food Studio in Green Point, I was able to scrutinise both the standard bottling 2009 and the ultra-premium Seven Flags 2008.
The wines of Paul Cluver have always been smart enough, but suddenly seem to have gone to the next level. As to why this is so, Cluver reveals that R25 million has been invested in plantings over the last 10 years.
The standard production 2009 shows juicy red berries and freshness, the use of oak admirably understated (11 months in barrel, only 18% new). “The focus of great Pinot should be fruit and acidity,” says Cluver and he and Burger have got this bang on. Production is 4 000 cases and the wine costs R180 a bottle from the tasting room.
That’s not cheap and while I like the wine, it’s not that complex leading me to think it’s a tad over-priced. Production of Seven Flags meanwhile is limited to 300 cases and the wine costs R390 a bottle, more than double the standard production, but I think better value, as you’re getting a significantly more profound wine. To be hyper-critical, its shortcoming is that the oak is too obvious. The barrel regimen is hardly gung-ho however (nine months, 30% new) and Cluver says achieving even greater refinement is a key focus going forward. As I say, I’m being pedantic and compared to the some of the other reds selected for the CWG auction, the wine probably wasn’t oaky enough.