C ape Winemakers Guild (CWG) Auction Wines were on show in London on Thursday 7 September. This pre-auction walk around tasting, organised by Wines of South Africa, was held in the library of South Africa House, overlooking Trafalgar Square.
CWG Chairman Gary Jordan (Jordan Winery) was the host, assisted by David Trafford (De Trafford Wines) and Jeremy Walker (Grangehurst Winery).
Membership of the Cape Winemakers Guild is by invitation only and members must annually submit a special wine of which they are particularly proud. The wines are blind tasted by all the members of the Guild to decide which are worthy of the prestigious CWG label and thus inclusion in the annual charity auction. Winemakers who fail selection for three consecutive years have to leave the Guild. Auction wines are sold only through the auction, to both private and trade buyers.
All but three of the forty-two auction wines and one brandy were available for tasting. But tasting such wines presents its own problem, since these are the crème-de-la-crème, chosen by the best winemakers in South Africa as premium examples of their craft. You may consider that only a fool would say other than that they were all equally wonderful. But here goes.
Cabernet and Shiraz dominated the selection with twelve Cabernet or Cabernet based wines and eleven Shiraz varietals. I found many wines, including much of the cabernet based wines, to be unpleasantly heavily oaked. “What you must remember,” Gary Jordan told me, “is that most of them have just recently been bottled, so while the wood may be apparent now, it will meld in. And because these wines are made for aging they need the tannins.” However there were some which were pleasant drinking now. I found the following three found most approachable. All spent between 14 and 22 months in oak barrels and whatever magic that had worked, it didn’t leave me feeling I had been chewing a wardrobe.
Jean Daneel Auction Reserve 2003 75% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Merlot
- this underwent malolactic fermentation in oak barrels and its 22 months in 50% new French oak has given it a great underlying structure, but up front are sweet ripe berry fruit flavours. It is a beautifully balanced elegant wine.
Lourensford Limited Release 2004 75% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Shiraz 5% Merlot
- This had seen 14 months in oak barrels, but the tannins were not overt and the wine was nicely balanced with the Shiraz delivering an enjoyable spicy uplift in the middle palate.
De Trafford Perspective 2004 67% Cabernet Franc, 33% Merlot
- An attractive sweet perfumed nose was followed by some ripe raspberry flavours underpinned by a good body, and a lingering finish. Aged 20 months in new French oak barrels. David Trafford says “Cabernet Franc is a vigorous grower that loves clay so we planted most of ours right up a mountain with good drainage that helps keeps growth in check and we pick it only when it is very ripe.”
There was quite a variance in flavours among the Shiraz varietals. Jeremy Walker explained “Shiraz is very sensitive to where it is grown, and the differences are reflections of terroir.”
Three that I particularly liked were
But what of Pinotage, and the other varieties, you must be asking? There is one Pinotage and one Cape Blend, one dessert and one sparkling wine , two fortified port styles and one brandy.
Cederberg Teen Die Hoog Shiraz 2004 100% Shiraz
- Young purple colour, very soft and approachable, upfront fruit with a smoky tarry finish.
Flagstone Love Handles 2004 100% Shiraz
- Beautiful herby garrigue nose and flavours, tangy and sweetly spicy on the tongue with a balancing dry finish. (Unfortunately there was no explanation of its unusual name.)
Simonsig Shiraz Auction Reserve 2004 100% Shiraz
- Purple colour stains the glass. There are ripe berry sweet fruits; it is silkily smooth and has an incredibly rewarding mouth feel. There is just a hint of underlying oak to provide a platform. My favourite.
Among the seven white wines I was most attracted by the single sparkler and single Sauvignon Blanc.
Kaapzicht Estate Pinotage Reserve 2003 100% Pinotage
- Very dense dark opaque staining colour with concentrated mulberry flavours.
Grangehurst Cape Reserve Blend 2003 36% Pinotage, 32% Cabernet Sauvignon, 32% Shiraz
- Ruby red colour, some plum flavours but rather closed.
Villiera Blanc de Blanc Brut 2003 100% Chardonnay Methode Cap Classique
- Generous vigorous mousse of tiny bubbles giving a soft foam in the mouth. Creamy with brioche flavours and a balancing lick of acidity on the finish.
Nitida CWG Selection Sauvignon Blanc 2006 97.5% Sauvignon Blanc, 2.5% Semillon
- You want Sauvignon Blanc? You got it. No prisoners are taken here with intense green capsicum and cats pee on new mowed grass flavours over intense razor sharp acids.
All forty-three CWG wines and brandy in lots of 6 bottles and upwards (details of the lots may be seen at here plus some special lots, will be publicly auctioned for charity on 7 October 2006.
The Cape Winemakers Guild auction will be held Saturday 7 October 2006 at The Lord Charles Hotel, Somerset West with pre-auction tastings the day before. See www.capewinemakersguild.comfor details and to register