This year’s 32nd Cape Winemakers’ Guild Auction will be held on Saturday 1st October at the Spier Conference Centre.
The auction has developed quite a bit over the years. Originally red wines dominated over white, and wines were blind tasted by a panel, often resulting in more unusual wines missing the cut and lavishly wooded wines being selected for prominence rather than quality, but this didn’t stop the wines receiving extraordinarily high prices at the annual event.
However, over the past few years auction lots have diversified, as has membership; and winemakers have adopted a ‘less is more’ approach, especially when it comes to oak and extraction of tannins.
This year’s list also features many wines, whites especially, from the highly-regarded 2015 vintage.
A handful of journalists were treated to a blind tasting of all 52 Lots. The wines are listed below in the order they were presented. I’ve made a few notes about a few that were particularly interesting, and it goes without saying that all are investment wines with excellent ageing potential, but I can honestly say the quality and individuality of the wines as a whole would make it difficult not to raise a paddle for any of them:
- Simonsig Cuvée Chêne Chardonnay Blanc de Blancs MCC 2007
- Graham Beck Wines Non Plus Ultra Méthode Cap Classique 2008
- Silverthorn Wines Big Dog II Méthode Cap Classique 2011
60/40 blend of chardonnay/pinot noir, the chardonnay oak fermented; 53 months on lees, 6 on cork. Amazingly fresh with just a little red grape richness.
- Nitida Swan Song Sauvignon Blanc 2015
- Bartho Eksteen Vloekskoot Sauvignon Blanc Wooded 2015
A pair of very different yet distinctive Sauvignons. The Nitida, clearly cool climate, with blackcurrant leaf and a whiff of sweat. It’s ripe with lovely weight and natural energy. Bartho’s is in a more linear, flinty style, with spicy oak still evident. The flavours are intense and persistent.
- Cederberg Ghost Corner Semillon 2015
- Nicky Versfeld Double Barrel Semillon 2015
As different and distinctive as the Sauvignons. The Cederberg speaks of its cool climate (Elim) with a dusty, lemongrass character. Bracing but weighty with deep and long flavours. Nicky Versfeld’s is in a richer, waxier, honeyed style but it’s backed by freshness that lends great length.
- Mullineux Clairette Blanche 2015
More mouthfilling, vinous than fruity with a firm structure and clean, dry finish. Versatile food style.
- Simonsig Mediterraneo 2015
What a pity there aren’t more white blends, especially ones as delicious as this: 66% Roussanne, 28% Grenache Blanc and 6% Verdelho, from which I pick up florals, spice, citrus and herbs. It’s firmly built, tangy with a long, savoury tail.
- Rijk’s CWG Chenin Blanc 2013
- Beaumont Family Wines ‘Moerse Moer’ Chenin Blanc 2015
- Kaapzicht Estate Auction Selection 1947 Chenin Blanc 2015
All three interesting in different ways but the last just has the intensity and delicacy of old vines with great natural acid. Bruised red apple fragrance appears frequently in 2015.
- Waterford Estate ’88 Kept Aside Chardonnay 2015
- Paul Cluver The Wagon Trail Chardonnay 2015
- Jordan Chardonnay Auction Selection 2015
- Ataraxia Under the Gavel Chardonnay 2015
- Tokara Siberia Chardonnay 2015
- Groot Constantia Auction Chardonnay 2015
I like the oatmeal notes in the Waterford and Ataraxia, hazelnuts in the Jordan and Groot Constantia, citrus in the Tokara and the Cluver’s overall elegance.
- Vriesenhof Pinot Noir 2013
- De Grendel Op Die Berg Pinot Noir 2013
- Paul Cluver Auction Selection Pinot Noir 2014
- Newton Johnson Family Vineyards Seadragon Pinot Noir 2015
- Gottfried Mocke Wine Projects Pinot Noir 2015
The Newton Johnson lives up to all the positive comments. It’s complex, subtle, and pure with wonderful texture and structure. A new level in local Pinot Noir.
- Neil Ellis Insignium 2013 70% Tempranillo, 30% Grenache.
- Hartenberg CWG Auction Shiraz 2012
- Mullineux Trifecta Syrah 2013
- Boekenhoutskloof Syrah Auction Reserve 2014
- Groot Constantia Auction Shiraz 2014
- Boschkloof Epilogue Syrah 2014
- Cederberg Teen Die Hoog Shiraz 2014
- Teddy Hall Wines Maria van Loon née Engelbrecht Shiraz Reserve 2015
- Saronsberg Sneeusig Shiraz 2012
Eight stylistically different Shirazes but notable in all is freshness and restrained oaking. If you like a more spicy style, you’ll find it in Mullineux, Boekenhoutskloof, Boschkloof, Cederberg, the others have richer, dark fruit.
- Luddite The Broken Ankle Shiraz-Cabernet Sauvignon 2013
- Saronsberg Die Erf Shiraz-Grenache-Mourvèdre 2011
- Sijnn Wines /awa 2014 62% Syrah, 38% Mourvèdre
- The Drift Farm Kindred Shiraz-Malbec-Barbera 2014
- Louis Nel Unobtainium Cabernet Sauvignon-Shiraz 2014
- Strydom Family Wines The Expatriate Cabernet Sauvignon-Shiraz 2013
- Rust en Vrede CWG Auction Estate 2013 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Syrah, 5% Merlot, 5% Petit Verdot
- Ernie Els CWG 2014 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Shiraz, 10% Merlot
All really interesting but the stand out wine is the Sijnn from that remote area at the Breederiver mouth. Seductive in its expressive fragrance, texture and fine structure, one can’t help but feel excited as to what the future holds.
- Spier Auction Selection Frans K Smit 2011 47% Cabernet Sauvignon, 36% Merlot, 17% Cabernet Franc
- Jordan Sophia 2013 56% Cabernet Sauvignon, 33% Merlot, 11% Cabernet Franc
- Kanonkop CWG Paul Sauer 2013 69% Cabernet Sauvignon, 14% Merlot, 17% Cabernet Franc
- Etienne le Riche Special Select Cabernet Sauvignon 2007
- Etienne le Riche Cabernet Sauvignon 2013
- Edgebaston Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve 2013
- Hartenberg CWG Auction Cabernet Sauvignon 2014
For those who prefer their Cabernet ready to drink, Etienne le Riche’s is an excellent mature example: savoury, fresh with well-rounded tannins.
- Rijk’s CWG Pinotage 2013
- Kanonkop CWG Pinotage 2014
- Beyerskloof Traildust Pinotage 2014
Three Pinotage masters, three different styles, each revealing the grape doesn’t have to be full-throttle to be distinctive.
- Boplaas Cape Vintage Auction Reserve 2009
- Boplaas 1880 Ox Wagon Reserve 8 year Potstill Brandy 2009
For anyone intending to bid, have a well-filled credit card; I can’t see prices going anywhere but upwards, encouraged by long-time auctioneer, Henré Hablutzel of Hofmeyr Mills.