While Nederburg cellarmaster Razvan Macici remains the one to beat when judging starts on Tuesday for the Diners Club Winemaker of the Year where the category is dessert wines, Pieter Badenhorst must be a strong contender with his Fleur du Cap 2010 NLH, a heavenly blend of Chenin Blanc, Semillon and Muscat. A three jewels of a wine. My thoughts on it in the Sunday Times Food Weekly today:
Just how sweet is tupelo honey anyway? The question has been on my mind ever since Diners Club asked me to judge their Winemaker of the Year Competition which this year has sweet wines as category. For Van “the Man” Morrison (hailing from Belfast, he has impeccable barroom credentials) notes “She’s as sweet as tupelo honey/She’s an angel of the first degree” so it may come in handy to add variety and spice to tasting notes for the scores of stickies to be assessed.
Favourite this year must be Razvan Macici from Nederburg as his Edelkeur is a benchmark. Made from Chenin Blanc grapes that have been attacked by the Botrytis cinerea mould – aka noble rot – which dries out the berries, concentrating flavour and sugar, it was whole reason Distell started the Nederburg Auction over three decades ago, to market the heavenly elixir.
But sweetness is not sufficient. Acid freshness is essential to avoid falling into the cloying pit. In this department, the Fleur du Cap Noble Late Harvest [NLH] 2010 is well equipped. At R115 a (half) bottle, it is also well priced and widely available.
Two other noble notables are the Picatso NLH Chardonnay 2011 (R95) from Franschhoek winery La Vigne which is creamy lemon curd, dried apricots with a touch of tupelo. In angel-speak, a Cherub of a drop, first degree rank with identifying features four wings, or in this case, four paws, which is the brand name as the winemaker is a cat lover.
The final miracle is a noble Riesling, the Paul Cluver NLH 2011 (R180), with flavours of quince marmalade and citrus peel, a creamy palate and a tropical/floral bouquet. A real sweet Seraph of a wine (another angel of the first degree, identifiable by six wings) wildly popular in ecclesiastical circles in Elgin.