Jewels of the Cape Winemakers Guild Auction Showcase
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The Cape Winemakers Guild Auction Showcase is one of the highlights of the South African wine year, and it never fails to be a fascinating and satisfying tasting experience. This extraordinary tasting is the only regular opportunity for the public to taste the unusual, creative wines that our top winemakers produce when they’re having fun and stretching the limits of their craft.

The Guild is an exclusive group of independent winemakers, most of whom are involved in shaping the wines of South Africa’s premier wine estates. Between the wines they make for commercial production, they also create more experimental wines in small quantities to try out new ideas and perfect their skills. Each year, they choose their best of these and present them to the public at this event. The Cape Town tasting took place on Thursday 23 August and the auction will be held at Spier on Saturday 6 October.

As one would expect, the wines at the Showcase were all highly individual, with plenty of character and of superb quality. I began the journey with the Cap Classiques. Simonsig and Graham Beck both offered light, crisp, delicate bubblies, with the Graham Beck having the added interest of a touch of French oak and 50 months on the lees. Villiera’s Monro 2007 was finely balanced, full and leesy. Steenberg gave us a preview of their 1682 Brut Pinot Noir, due for release next month. It’s pale onion-skin pink and full-bodied for a Cap Classique, with fresh hints of red berries, but it’s bone-dry. It was so elegant and appealing that it’s a shame they’re only producing 3000 bottles.

Highlights among the whites included a rich, complex Chenin Blanc by Teddy Hall, an old-style green-noted Sauvignon Blanc from De Grendel, and a crisp Semillon from Cederberg that had an remarkably long and varied finish. The Chardonnays ranged widely in wood treatment, from the subtle wood of Paul Cluver and Jordan to a dense, taut oaky foundation in the Ataraxia.

Notable white blends were Cape Point’s 2008 Chenin/Chardonnay, which skilfully brought out the character of both grapes, along with the Groot Constantia Gouverneurs White 2010 and Adi Badenhorst’s delicious concoction of ten cultivars.

Of course, there were many outstanding reds as well. Hartenberg excelled with superb Merlot and Shiraz. John Loubser’s single-varietal Nebbiolo 2009 was an excitingly different wine with notes of rhubarb and cherry and a velvety mouthfeel. The Boschkloof Bakhand Shiraz was impressively complex considering it had only spent two months in the bottle.

A conspicuous feature of the tasting was the wide selection of completely different Pinot Noirs. The Op Die Berg from De Grendel was particularly individual, with flavours I had never encountered in a red wine before. Cape Chamonix presented their 2011 Pinot Noir, which was heavily wooded for long-term cellaring and showed great promise. The Galpin Peak 2000 from Bouchard Finlayson was a rare treat – carefully cellared for 12 years, it had evolved into a mature Pinot Noir with layers of secondary aromas and flavours.

Blending provides perhaps the greatest scope for a winemaker’s creativity, so it was natural that there would be many excellent red blends on offer. Those that stood out from the rest in my personal opinion were the Luddite Shiraz/Mourvèdre, the Graham Beck Shiraz/Viognier, the Kaapzicht Cabernet/Merlot 2007, and a pair of wines that exemplify the restraint and elegance of the old-world winemaking style: the De Trafford Perspective and the Ernie Els Cabernet/Merlot/Shiraz blend made especially for the CWG auction.

If you’re interested in tasting rare wines that pack character as well as quality, the CWG Auction Showcase is a date you should not miss.

The next CWG Auction Showcase will be held on the 22 of August, 2013.

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