Sometimes it takes time for me to get round to write a wine piece but the Cape Wine Guild tasting held on the 23rd of August last year still lingers in my mind. Luckily I kept my tasting notes just to refresh the memory and bring some precision to this article. The Cape Wine Guild began in 1982 and is by invitation only. Each year a group of winemakers present a guild wine or perhaps an offering that shows off the best they have to offer. One always gets the opportunity to taste special wines at the Cape Wine Guild. Wines of elegance, class, concentration and power and finesse.
It is impossible in one article to review all the wines on offer but I managed to reflect on quite a number of them. Starting with Abrie Beeslaar from Kanonkop. His Kanonkop CWG Paul Sauer 2009 shows the best that a SA red blend can offer. A lovely creamy nose with a firmly rounded palate. His Kanonkop CWG Pinotage a variety that Kanonkop is famous for showed a creamy nose with cinnamon and still quite tight on the palate.
Adi Badenhorst past winemaker at Rustenburg branched out on his own and both his White and Red Blend 2009 show his individualistic touch with power, elegance and something unique that cannot be put in words.
Andries Burger from Paul Cluver shows off the elegance and yet power and finesse that the Elgin wine region brings to its wines. His Paul Cluver Wagon Trail Chardonnay 2010 gives the elegance that many wooded Chardonnays from warmer climes lack. The Paul Cluver Seven Flags Pinot Noir 2009 is a real power house Pinot needing quite a few years to reach maturity. But if you put it in a decanter you can drink it right now and its perfumed character will reveal itself.
Nitida is known for Sauvignon Blanc of tremendous concentration and powerful aromas. The guava and tropical fruit just hits you in the face and Bernhard Veller’s Nitida Sauvignon Blanc 2012 is no exception.
Beyers Truter has long been known as the Pinotage king. First at Kanonkop and then with his well known and highly successful Beyerskloof venture. Beyerskloof does not only make commercial wines but also more select offerings. His Beyerskloof Traildust Pinotage 2010 shows lovely sweet fruit silencing all those Pinotage skeptics.
Boela Gerber has done much to raise the bar at Groot Constantia. It has become a farm producing a large range of exciting and quality wines. And his Groot Constantia CWG Shiraz 2009 and Groot Constantia Gouverneurs White 2010 did not fail to impress.
When it comes to Hartenberg I am a big fan of their aromatic and fragrant Riesling. On this occasion it was Carl Schultz’s Hartenberg Estate Auction Shiraz 2009 with a lovely smoky nose, clean fruit and tight tannins that impressed maintaining Hartenberg’s reputation as a leading Shiraz producer in the Cape. Shiraz is a variety highly planted in SA that does not always display its true potential but Hartenberg remains one of its leading exponents.
Rust en Vrede is an old and respected name in the SA wine industry for its reds. Coenie Snyman’s Rust en Vrede Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 shows the typical Cabernet mint nose with a still tight but promising palate.
Cape Point Vineyards have developed a powerful reputation for their steely and classy whites. This is partly due to their terrior where the cooling ocean in the Cape Point region helps define their wines. In this case Duncan Savage presents his Cape Point Reserve White 2011 and his CWG Cape Point Auction Reserve White 2008. Both showing the precision and class that Cape Point Vineyards bring to their whites.
Etienne Le Riche once long time winemaker at the iconic Rustenburg is a Cabernet Sauvignon exponent. He carried this belief with him when he went out on his own. His CWG Cabernet Sauvignon shows strong mint characteristics and great concentration. His Le Riche Cabernet 2009 also shows mint on the nose but is less intense.
Jordan Winery is well known for their Chardonnays, particularly their Jordan Nine Yards. Here Gary Jordan presents his Jordan Chardonnay Auction Reserve 2011. A jump above even the excellent Nine Yards it has lovely nutty nose with a creamy steely palate. The Jordan Sophia 2009 is a beautiful and supple wine.
Cape Chamonix have developed a reputation for their superb Chardonnays. From their basic Chardonnay to their Chardonnay Reserve. For the CWG Gottfried Mocke’s Chamonix Chardonnay Auction Reserve 2011 is a wine of intense concentration. Like the regular Chardonnay Reserve it will age very well. Keep it for at least ten years. The Cape Chamonix Pinot Noir 2011 is very soft and supple and immediately accessible.
Villiera remains one of my favourite SA bubbly producers. They produce fine bubbly across quite a large range of spectrums. Their Monro Brut is perhaps one of their finest offerings. The Villiera Monro Brut 2007 is a beautiful wine with the typical brioche nose and intense palate.
Waterford is a producer that has made quite an impact with its The Jem. It has become one of the cult wines of the SA wine scene. Kevin Arnold’s The Jem 2007 is incredible. It has a complex nose with tremendous finesse and concentration on the palate. Definitely warranting its reputation as one of the finest reds South Africa has to offer.
Kevin Grant, former winemaker at Hamilton Russell went out on his own and started Ataraxia, another cult wine particularly his Chardonnay. For the Guild his Ataraxia Under the Gavel Chardonnay 2011 is an intense wine, more austere perhaps than the usual Ataraxia offerings with mineral undertones. The Ataraxia Serenity 2008 is very soft and accessible. This has been a trademark of the Ataraxia Serenity. It has always been an accessible and easy to drink wine, very soft on the palate.
When Tokara, neighbour to Thelema hit the wine scene it did so with a splash offering very accessible but quality wines. Miles Mossop’s Tokara Auction Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2010 reveals cream and mint on the nose with a very smooth palate.
Bouchard Finlayson has long been known as Pinot Noir specialists. Not too far from Hamilton Russell (almost neighbours) their Pinots have power, concentration and longevity. The Bouchard Finlayson Pinot Noir has long been a star performer at the Cape Wine Maker’s Guild. The Bouchard Finlayson Pinot Noir 2009 is deliciously creamy with a fine structure promising a wine that will age well.
Finally, Teddy Hall with his Muscat de Frontignan 2009 Noble Late Harvest ended off the evening on a sweet note. This wine has a lovely dusty nose with a smooth creamy palate. A beautiful Muscat. I could not stop drinking it!
Over all it was a wonderful evening and with all the hustle and bustle it was obvious that the public really enjoyed the event. I got there early but as the evening progressed it became increasingly difficult to get at the wines! The Cape Wine Guild is an important institution as it gives its members, the winemakers the opportunity to fully express themselves away from the constraints of the everyday commercial market. The quality and character of the wines vary from year to year but the 2012 offering was a real stunner with very few disappointments on offer. The Cape Wine Guild wines generally offer a different style. More elegant, more restrained and rarefied and perhaps more eclectic than the average wines on offer.