On Friday, a visit to the Tabernacle, Distell’s underground wine library housing a 14 000-bottle collection of rare local and international wines. A small group of tasters including the likes of Wineanorak.com’s Jamie Goode and Greg Sherwood MW were there to select some older wines for this year’s Nederburg Auction.
The extraordinary line-up was as follows:
Flight One: Oude Libertas Pinot Noir 1979, Oude Libertas Cinsaut 1971 and 1972, Oude Libertas Tinta das Baroccas 1971, Oude Libertas Tinta Barocca 1977
Flight Two: Lanzerac Pinotage 1963 and 1964, Oude Libertas Pinotage 1971, 1972, 1973 and 1975
Flight Three: Chateau Libertas 1940, 1965 and 1982
Flight Four: Zonnebloem Cabernet Sauvignon 1963, 1973 and 1980, Oude LIbertas Cabernet Sauvignon 1971, 1973, 1977
Flight Five: GS Cabernet 1966 and 1968
And then, because the enthusiasm of all attending could not be contained, Chateau Libertas 1959 and Monis Collectors Port 1948.
My first observation would be that there were almost no outright duds (the two vintages of Tinta Barocca were the weakest for me being very developed, lean and acidic) and it could be argued that assembling any sort of panel to determine what should or shouldn’t be listed on auction is superfluous as most of these wines are going to sell themselves on curiosity value alone.
That said, there were some wines on show I considered to be truly great, these being:
Lanzerac Pinotage 1963: 17/20
Shy on the nose but a wonderful palate with red fruit plus hard-to-describe but delicious savoury notes. Good richness and complexity.
Chateau Libertas 1940: 18/20
Macerated dark fruit and roasted nuts on the nose and palate. Intense in flavour, huge in structure but this bottle showing more freshness compared to the one shown in May last year when the brand celebrated its 80th anniversary.
Chateau Libertas 1959: 18/20
Red and black fruit and soy sauce. Medium bodied and still remarkably athletic. Layers of flavour, great freshness.
Chateau Libertas 1965: 19/20
Red and black fruit plus attractive savoury notes by virtue of age. A beguiling wine by virtue of it weightless intensity, perfect balance and overall elegance.
Chateau Libertas 1982: 17.5/20
Red and black fruit plus some fynbos perfume. Medium bodied, fresh acidity and fine tannins. More Bordeaux-esque.
GS Cabernet Sauvignon 1966: 19/20
Still incredibly youthful with great flavour intensity (cassis and slight sundried tomato quality), bright acidity and nicely resolved tannins. A show-stopper.
GS Cabernet Sauvignon 1968: 18/20
Red and black fruit on the nose and palate. Relatively less full bodied than the 1966 but arguably even more alive with fresh acidity and good grip.
The flight of Zonnebloem and Oude Libertas Cab was good but not in the same league as the old Chateau Lib. Something to be said for the eclectic approach to blending that Chateau Lib typically entailed back then?
In any event, the gesture of being invited into the inner sanctum that is the Tabernacle was greatly appreciated and an indication that Distell is doing all it can to provide the revitalisation that the Nederburg Auction so desperately needs.