Lunchtime conversation at Ellerman House yesterday with the Sanhedrin of SA Sommeliers (below) focused on the highest Robert Parker score ever for an SA wine – 97 for Vin de Constance 2007. As a judge at last week’s Diners Club Winemaker of the Year Competition tasting in which 62 dessert wines were put through their paces, the list of finalists offers no confirmation:
• Pieter Badenhorst, Bergkelder
• Marc Kent, Boekenhoutskloof Winery
• Adele Swart, Rudera Cellar
• Razvan Macici, Nederburg Wines
Was the VdC even entered? Being a blind tasting, it’s hard to tell. There were several sweet Muscats, but a natural sweet would have its work cut out to compete with Razvan Macici’s incredibly concentrated botrytis Chenin Blanc Nederburg Edelkeur 2007, if that was indeed entered. Or was this another case of an incompetent panel as Mr. Min alleged happened at the Amorim MCC Challenge last month?
A bit of Sherlock Holmes stuff turned up the evidence. Bordeaux Index reports Neal Martin’s tasting notes: “tasted at The White Club’s dinner in Basel. Even against Denis Dubourdieu’s decadent L’Extravagant 2003, for me, the superlative Vin de Constance 2007 is the better wine. It offers a scintillating bouquet that is beautifully defined with mandarin, wild honey, lavender and Seville orange marmalade vying for attention on the nose. The palate displays more race and better acidity than the Barsac with crystalline honeyed fruits and immense freshness and poise on the finish. Brilliant winemaking here – a South Africa legend that does not disappoint. Drink now-2040+ Tasted September 2012.”
Presumably Neal tasted the wine sighted? If so, its caveat emptors all round. Especially with Neal happy to compare a natural sweet Muscat de Frontignan to a botrytized Sauvignon Blanc.
My own opinion of the wine, tasted blind last month at Groot Constantia for Neil Pendock’s Winelands Guide 2013:
♥♥♥♥♥ Klein Constantia Vin de Constance 2007 Pineapple marmalade, orange peel and pith with a lively sweet and sour palate.
PS. From the Klein Karoo Wine Route Newsletter last October: “A bottle of 1800 Jaubert Muscat d’Alexandrie was rated, on the online publication ERobert Parker, by Neal Martin 99/100. The highest score ever for a South African wine by the publication. The sweet dessert wine is produced by the extended Joubert family of Joubert-Tradauw from a single 100 litre French oak barrel. This is the oldest barrel of wine in South Africa (circa 1800) and 12 x 275ml bottles are produced from the barrel annually. After bottling, fresh Muscat wine is used to top up the barrel, thus implementing the Solera system.”
Once again, a sighted result which throws a few Platter sized question marks at the score, but in this case, the wine is hardly a commercial proposition, which is not the case with the Vin de Constance. Speculators should load up on VdC as the new cycling management team have obviously decided to put the wine up where they think it belongs, in the palaces of plutocrats and members of White’s.