Posted on 26 August 2012 by davidbiggs
I don’t usually pay very much attention to the annual SA Young Wine Show because it seems to be of more importance to the wine industry than it is to ordinary wine drinkers. We don’t often get to taste the winners because they often end up in blends and, in any case, they’re very different wines by the time they reach the market. I was surprised to learn this year that the show’s top trophy, the General Smuts Trophy, had been awarded to a Ruby Cabernet – not usually regarded as a very serious grape variety. The trophy was won by a relatively new wine company, uniWines Vineyards, and made by their cellar master Nicolaas Rust. uniWines was established some four years ago when Groot Eiland Cellar, Daschbosch and Nuwehoop – all from the Breedekloof area – combined forces. Groot Eiland won the General Smuts trophy with a Ruby Cabernet/Merlot blend in 2006. Spier also emerged victorious, the Pietman Hugo trophy for the highest marks for the best five wines entered. Spier’s chief wine maker Frans Smit and his team competed with a Chenin Blanc (wooded), Chardonnay (wooded) and their Merlot (wooded). Vergelegen and Badsberg Wine Cellar tied with two SA Champions each. While the SA Champion White Blend went to cellar master Willie Burger and his team from Badsberg for their Chenin Blanc/Chardonnay, Vergelegen won the SA Champion Red Blend with their Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot/Cabernet Franc/Petit Verdot blend. Badsberg furthermore claimed the SA Champion Dessert Wine title for the second consecutive year with a Red Jerepigo, while the SA Champion Cabernet Sauvignon went to Andre van Rensburg and his team at Vergelegen.
Posted on 29 September 2011 by davidbiggs
I sometimes think white wines are rather a mystery to most South African drinkers.
Until very recently they have been regarded as the “B team” of wines. We expect to pay less for whites than we do for reds, and we want to drink our white wines when they’re still “fresh and young,” while we assume red wines need to be laid down for a while to mature.
Nederburg winemaker Razvan Macici and David discussing the potential of aged white wines.
I chatted to Nederburg winemaker Razvan Macici after the recent auction of rare wines and he said he felt it was a pity South Africans didn’t appreciate older white wines.
We’re missing out on some of the real delights of the wine spectrum by drinking our white wine too young.
Do we really enjoy sipping battery acid?
A well aged white wine can be truly charming. Weisser Riesling (also known as Rhine Riesling here) certainly benefits from a couple of years in the bottle. Chardonnay (and particularly a wooded Chardonnay) gains complexity and softness as it ages.
I’ve been agreeably surprised by many older Sauvignon Blancs and Chenin Blancs.
For those who appreciate a well-aged white wine, Nederburg Auction produced some real bargains.
Nederburg’s 2009 Private Bin D215 Sauvignon Blanc was a real steal at R60 a bottle.
The 2005 De Morgenzon Chenin Blanc was knocked down for its reserve price of R900 a six-bottle case.
Many wine drinkers will shudder as think: “That’s R150 a bottle! For a white wine! Crazy!”
But they wouldn’t be too shocked at the thought of paying R150 a bottle for a six-year-old red wine. Why the discrimination?
I believe this conception is changing, even if the change is a slow one.
Winemakers like Vergelegen’s André van Rensburg are producing really serious white wines made specifically for ageing. Vergelegen’s 2009 White scored a full five stars in the 2011 edition of the Platter Guide – and deservedly so.
Duncan Savage of Cape Point Vineyards makes only Sauvignon Blanc wines and his award-winning Isliedh (also a Platter five-star wine) is designed for longevity. Given a couple of years in bottle it unfolds in amazing complexity.
Boschendal’s 2008 Sauvignon Blanc is still youthful in spirit and will reach its peak only in another year or two.
Hamilton Russell’s ’09 Chardonnay could stand another couple of years of maturation and De Wetshof’s ’09 Rhine Riesling will benefit from at least two more years in the bottle.
We produce serious white wines of a standard the rest of the world can only dream of, but they’re not fully appreciated here in their country of origin.
Let’s start a revolution. Tell the world old is good. It’s not always the youth that win the prizes.
Photographs: Paula Loe, Matt Stow