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Rare treats at pre-auction tasting

Lifestyle Section - Wine


Like a kid in a candy store is exactly how I felt when I attended the Nederburg pre-auction tastings at the Paarl estate early last week. More than 100 wines, with some sought-after labels, all lined up like sentinels on long trestle tables – there to be sniffed, swirled and spat (although the temptation to swallow was of course strong when one's considering the pedigree of many of the wines).

The 39th Nederburg Auction takes place on Friday and Saturday, September 6 and 7. Judging by the wines on offer last Tuesday, which made up almost the entire selection which will go under the hammer in just over two months, with more than 130 wines representing 81 different wineries, the judges on the selection committee have made some superlative choices.

In a departure from the norm, where the usual formal tasting of about 45 to 50 wines are sampled in a guided tasting, this year saw a delightful change – where the wines were presented at an informal afternoon session attended by wine writers, sommeliers and some members of the trade.

The 2013 choices include some fabulous whites (36 in all), 72 reds, including some rare vintages, 15 fortified wines, eight "soetes" or dessert wines and one bubbly.

The wines that go on auction are chosen following a rigorous selection process – according to the auction catalogue " winemakers ... are encouraged to submit wines that represent the pinnacle of their winemaking skills, are no longer available anywhere else and wines need to be at least five years old for reds and two years old for whites". A panel of judges selects them blind and assesses them on whether they will be able to stand the test of time and mature in order to offer "a return in investment for buyer".

Yet paging through the catalogue there are several "bargains" for bidders, who make the wines available to the general public in supermarkets and liquor stores. Several of the reserve prices are under R100 a bottle, with several

six-case lots going for R500 to R750 (of course, on the other side of the coin, there are many six-bottle case lots with hefty reserve prices ranging in price from R6 000 downwards ...)

Some of the standouts:

A wonderful selection of chenins which represented a diverse range of terroir: from Stellenbosch a lovely rich tropical Chenin from Rudera, awash with bold stone fruit flavours and aromas of honeysuckle, a stunner from De Morgenzon – 2007 Chenin Blanc – floral, heady and redolent of citrus blossom, and a beaut from Bosman Family Vineyards in Wellington – 2009 vintage – a wine that was like dipping your tongue into the honey pot and coming out with concentrated flavours, with just a hint of toasted almonds.

Many of the guests were intrigued by the only Roussanne on offer, a 2011 vintage from none other than Ken Forrester, who is generally known as the chenin king. (Roussanne was grown originally in the Rhône wine region in France, where it is often blended with Marsanne. The berries are distinguished by their russet color when ripe – roux is French for the reddish brown color russet, and is probably the root for the variety's name.)

Ken only made one large single barrel of this wine (with a very reasonable reserve price of R500 a six-bottle case).

Think stone fruit and a tad of lemon grass spiciness on the nose, and a dry yet ever-so-subtle sweet sense on the palate.

Many of those at the tasting clustered around the older vintages, of which there were some stunning examples, but the 1971 Oude Libertas was just too jammy and had had its heyday – someone referred to it as having a nose of "wet bricks and burnt tinned tomatoes".

The 2008 Claim d'Or Cabernet Franc (made by Bernardo and Magriet Rapaport in Goudmyn, Robertson – close to De Wetshof) certainly tickled my tastebuds, with beautifully soft tannins and a chocolatey palate tempered by beautiful berry fruits – complex, balanced and certainly something to get your local supermarket or bottle store to bid for.

Finally temptation gave in with the "soetes" – one could not possibly spit the 1980 Nederburg Edelkeur nor the 1988 Eminence – with fragrant honeyed flavours that just seem to get better and better with time; neither the lovely Fleur du Cap Noble Late Harvest 2007 – think dried peaches and apricots and a wonderful marmalade finish.

To download the catalogue and to find out more, about visit

Written by Orielle Berry You are reading Rare treats at pre-auction tasting articles

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