Zonnebloem Shiraz 1974

By , 13 July 2010



The Nederburg manor house.

The Nederburg manor house.

The 36th Nederburg Auction takes place on 3 and 4 September and organisers Distell are apparently confident that they can reverse the negative trends that the event has shown in recent years: despite a decline in total auction sales every year since 2005, there will be more wine on offer in 2010 than there has been for some time – some 5 720 cases from over 160 producers.

Yesterday saw a media pre-auction tasting of some of the wines to go on sale. The primary purpose of the auction is to ensure the fair allocation of rare bottlings and all local producers are invited to submit wines for potential listing. A panel consisting of Distell wine buyers and Cape Wine Masters applies a simple “in or out” system and approximately only 40% of what’s put forward gets selected.

Part of Nederburg cellarmaster Razvan Macici’s brief is to make wines exclusively for the auction, and he notes that out of all the judging and assessment that his wines are subjected to, the auction selection process is the one that he treats with most trepidation. “If I enter a competition, I may or may not get a medal. If I submit a wine for auction and it doesn’t get approved, then it must be decanted or blended away. Basically it will never see commercial release”.

Wines I rated 18 of 20 on the 20 point scale were:
Nederburg Private Bin D215 Sauvignon Blanc 2007
De Grendel Koetshuis Sauvignon Blanc 2007
Bellingham The Maverick Chenin Blanc 2006
Mulderbosch Barrel Fermented Chardonnay 2005 (see previous post on this wine here)
Nederburg Edelkeur 1977
Nederburg Edelkeur 2005

Zonnebloem Shiraz 1974

Monis Collectors Port (Single Stamp Collection) 1948

Once again, it struck me that when considering the modern era, South Africa generally does seem to make better white than red wines. This is something with which Macici more or less concurs, his explanation being that white varietal vineyards are “in better balance” with regards canopies and root systems. Neil Pendock, my regular interlocutor over at the Sunday Times. thinks this is all nonsense, however, on the basis that reds fetch far higher prices, a clear indication of how the market views relative quality, and the market is never wrong…


Regardless, wine of the tasting for me was a red, namely Zonnebloem Shiraz 1974. Though labelled as a single varietal wine, legislation back then was sufficiently lax back then to allow the wine to contain 25% Cabernet Sauvignon and 10% Cinsaut. What impressed about it was how it did not decline in the glass over time but continued to reveal more dimensions of aroma and flavour. There are those that are inclined to dismiss what Marc Kent of Boekenhoutskloof is currently  trying to do with The Chocolate Block, but it is interesting to note that it is not a million miles away in terms of composition, the 2008 consisting of 69% Shiraz, 13% Grenache, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon, 7% Cinsaut and 2% Viognier.


5 comment(s)

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  • Hennie @ Batonage3 June 2013

    Interestingly enough – we opened a 1977 Zonnebloem Cab Sauv (my birth year) a few weeks ago and it was still in perfect nick, even though it was stored in a garage in Stellenbosch before I liberated it. I wonder if it was also a blend like the 74 Shiraz. I wholeheartedly agree about drinking the wine rather than sitting on it. Also have a De Wetshof 1986 Chardonnay floating around here. I think one of our long lunches are in order Christian?

  • Francois.R3 June 2013

    Hennie, your most perplexing issue should be deciding what to serve to eat with the wine. You wouldn’t want to arrive at the ‘Pearly Gates’ wondering what the wine tasted like! You could always buy another at a forthcoming Nederburg Auction.

  • Grant3 June 2013

    Hennie, my experience with the old SA reds I’ve opened in the past few years ( particularly 70’s and 80’s) is that they aren’t going to get any better with further cellaring. Not to say that most are staring death in the eye, but that they have reached their plateau of maturity. This of course varies greatly from bottle to bottle depending on the state of the cork. And as always, you can wait for a wine, but it won’t wait for you- there’s nothing quite as disappointing as opening a treasured bottle to find that you’ve ‘missed it, by that much’.

  • Hennie2 June 2013

    hi. have you perhaps any tasting notes on the zonnbloem shiraz 82? we have it in a magnum. i cannot decide whether to open or not.

    • Christian3 June 2013

      Hi Hennie, Grant is pretty much spot on (although your wine being in magnum is potentially in your favour – wines age more slowly in large format bottles).

      I would further add that I’ve never grasped the point of hanging onto a wine unopened for sentimental reasons. Pull the cork, have the experience of drinking it and then you can still display the empty bottle, if you are that way inclined.

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