I’m not one to dismiss single-variety Sauvignon Blanc as inherently inferior à la some of our more high-profile critics and anybody making wine in the Swartland but I have to say that the Nederburg Private Bin D252 Sauvignon Blanc Semillon 2009 as the only white blend did shade just about all of the eight examples of straight Sauvignon at yesterday’s media tasting of a selection of wines to be sold at this year’s Nederburg Auction.
Sales at the auction in 2010 were just under R5.7 million, up 41% on the year before and reversing what had been a four-year trend of declining income. Efforts on the part of organisers Distell to rehabilitate this event are ongoing. Branding now in purple, “the colour of luxury and prestige” according to Carina Gous, Distell’s wine segment director, who also highlighted a new endorsement seal to run horizontally across the bottom of bottles sold on auction and a pronounced social media effort…
Key to the auction’s turnaround however has been an improved selection effort and Gous reports that only 52% of what was submitted for auction this year went through, resulting in 159 items for sale, the overall volume of wine 15% down on 2010.
Whereas in years gone by there were always too many wines that left me wondering who would want them at any price, yesterday the line-up of whites was almost universally impressive. Only De Morgenzon Chenin Blanc 2005 seemed really out of place. Worthy of 5 Stars in the 2007 edition of Platter’s, it now shows an excessively evolved bruised apple character as well as a slight spritz whether due to secondary ferment or the addition of CO₂ for extra freshness on bottling, I’d prefer not to speculate.
Not nearly as much excitement from the reds, but then it wouldn’t be the first time that local whites stole the honours. Fleur du Cap Cabernet Sauvignon Unfiltered 2006, Hartenberg The Mackenzie Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot 2003 and Le Riche Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve 2006 stood out for the fruit purity and astute winemaking in an otherwise disappointing line-up.
What were the shortcomings? Plenty of under-ripe or stressed fruit, plenty of over-extraction and excessive use of oak. Lest we all despair, Nederburg Razvan Macici made the observation that the industry has come a long way in a short time. “Ten or so years ago, we aimed for big structure which meant lots of new oak. Styles have evolved – now everybody’s trying to make softer, smoother wines”.
The Nederburg Auction 2011 takes place on 16 and 17 September.