The great and good of the SA spitterati and snifferati fraternity assembled at Nederburg in Paarl this morning to taste 51 of the 159 wines being offered at this year’s Nederburg Auction. Volumes on offer are down 15%, which one wag said was because Ray Edwards, Mr. Wine at Spar supermarkets, retires this month. Today being Madiba’s birthday, tasting leader Duimpie Bayly announced that our deliberations counted as 67 minutes of community service.
The first public tasting was held last week at the Eastside Hotel in Woodstock, which had some southern suburbs sippers wondering why they hadn’t followed the example of Marvelous Mr. Min and gone to taste in Woodstock rather than enter the dream landscape that was the N1 to Paarl this morning, wreathed in low lying clouds.
Split equally between whites and reds, the strongest hand in the white deck consisted of six stunning Chardonnays which confirmed that ABC no longer stands for Anything But Chardonnay but rather as God intended, for the Arch-Bishop of Canterbury which explains the new papal purple colour scheme of the auction, to confuse two Western European religions. However the advertising agency were clearly taking the mickey when they filled the bottle on the Auction banner (shown above) with words that included such phrases as “spicy tart”, “ripe body”, “intense musty” and “coarse nut.”
This was the strongest line-up of whites I’ve ever tasted at the Auction. From a terroir lesson taught by no fewer than eight 2009 vintage Sauvignons Blanc to a wonderfully creamy mini-Ingenuity blend of Sauvignon and Semillion from the bottomless palette of Mr. Nederburg, Razvan Macici, the whites rocked.
The reds were patchier, but then they were mostly made a decade ago when SA winemaking hit a rough patch. Told to emulate Aussie wine styles, alcohols shot off the scale and elegance took a back seat. That said, my favourite red was Sakkie Kotze’s Le Bonheur Prima 2001, a 75:25 blend of Merlot and Cabernet which is South Africa’s first umami wine, having a distinct character of spicy ripe tomatoes.
Dave Biggs recounts the story of adding Mellow Wood brandy to Chateau Libertas “just for luck. They don’t make wines as strong as I remember them. People are getting soft” in his new toilet seat companion In Reasonable Taste, a copy of which he kindly vouchsafed me after the tasting. But in Sakkie’s case, I’d recommend adding Vodka to the Prima and the result would be a perfect Bloody Mary.
This is the type of auction that not everyone can attend e.g. Joburg people and Bid4Me Auction Services can be there on your behalf bidding at the auction.