Get more Mail & Guardian
Subscribe or Login

Great whites make a meal out of full-blooded reds

About time. This prestigious annual event, which began over 30 years ago as, primarily, a showcase for experimental, ambitious wines, has had depressing features. 

Although white wines have generally offered the most interest and variety, reds have outnumbered them, too many in blockbuster style: overripe, overoaked, overdressed. And overpriced–reminding me not to blame the winemakers alone. 

Buyers have ignored exquisite white wines, leaving them to get derisory prices, whereas even second-rate reds have reached absurd levels compared to what arguably better, non-auction wines are getting on wine-shop shelves.  

Promisingly, this year a larger proportion than ever before (though still just a third) of the nearly ?60 wines are white. Given the more lucrative pickings to be gained from reds, this in itself argues ambitious integrity on the winemakers' part. Also cheering is that many more than before (though not all) of the reds eschew fruit-packed massiveness in favour of elegant, savoury drinkability. 

Moreover, as the guild's chairperson, Jeff Grier of Villiera, says, "there is definitely a more creative edge to the line-up" this year–with some interesting varieties and blends peeking over the shoulders of the usual suspects. The lovely, delicate (if alarmingly named) Grenache Gris Vuilgoed from Badenhorst is an example, and a rather overblown Roussanne from Simonsig.

That said, chardonnay (six of them) remains the biggest category of white wines–and an impressive one, with Ataraxia, Paul Cluver, Jordan and Teddy Hall offering superb examples, reminding me just how good Cape chardonnay is. 

Those four were among my top wines when I last week tasted (blind, labels unseen) the auction line-up. Other favourite whites were Nitida's Sauvignon Blanc, and two splendid blends of sauvignon blanc and semillon: John Loubser Thirteen and Tokara Tribute.

Four red wines joined those seven whites as my standouts, though others of both colours were close behind–and I confess I wouldn't swear to the indelibility of my choice, given that sampling 60 wines in a few hours is hardly an undertaking likely to produce results that are unchallengeable, including by the taster him/herself.

That said, I'm pretty confident about the quality of my top scorers. First, two Bordeaux-style blends: Haskell Vineyards Paradigm and that old auction stalwart, Jordan Sophia; then the shirazes from Badenhorst and Boekenhoutskloof. Significantly, neither wine had seen a new oak barrel, allowing the freshness and purity of fruit to stand out in the largest category of all–one that also harboured a few overemphatic wines.

Whether you're buying at auction or waiting for the wines to appear on shelves or restaurant winelists, I have never felt as confident to make a general recommendation as I do this year. 

There are throwbacks, but let's welcome the Cape Winemakers' Guild to the great South African wine quality revolution! 

Next year, let's hope even more winemakers will show the evidence of having picked their grapes that bit earlier, worked them less hard and reused some of those old barrels instead of new ones.

Cape Town winelovers have already had a chance to taste ?and judge the auction wines for themselves. 

Gautengers can still do so at ?the CWG auction showcase on August 29 at the Atrium, Ned–bank Sandton. 

The auction takes place at Spier in Stellenbosch on October 5

Subscribe for R500/year

Thanks for enjoying the Mail & Guardian, we’re proud of our 36 year history, throughout which we have delivered to readers the most important, unbiased stories in South Africa. Good journalism costs, though, and right from our very first edition we’ve relied on reader subscriptions to protect our independence.

Digital subscribers get access to all of our award-winning journalism, including premium features, as well as exclusive events, newsletters, webinars and the cryptic crossword. Click here to find out how to join them and get a 57% discount in your first year.

Related stories

WELCOME TO YOUR M&G

If you’re reading this, you clearly have great taste

If you haven’t already, you can subscribe to the Mail & Guardian for less than the cost of a cup of coffee a week, and get more great reads.

Already a subscriber? Sign in here

Advertising

Subscribers only

Tourism industry hopeful of UK red list review

Meeting between scientists of both countries may pave way for removal from red list

R350 social relief grant not enough to live on

Nearly half of the population in South Africa — one of the most unequal countries in the world — is considered chronically poor.

More top stories

Tourism industry hopeful of UK red list review

Meeting between scientists of both countries may pave way for removal from red list

Triple murder in Khayelitsha investigated by police

Three young women have been shot dead execution-style in one of Cape Town’s gang-riddled communities

Q&A Sessions: Kagiso Rabada — ‘When I retire, I will...

Kagiso Rabada talks to Eyaaz Matwadia about his love for music and production, how the lockdown affected him, and how he hopes to get back to his best

State to subpoena and fact-check Agrizzi’s ‘illness’ claims

The National Prosecuting Authority will conduct its own probe into Angelo Agrizzi’s claims of ill health, after he failed to attend court again
Advertising

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…
×