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MICHAEL GREEN’S WINE NOTES #141 (article first published : 2005-11-16)

Three tasting panels have chosen 165 South African wines for inclusion in next year’s Nederburg Auction, to be held at Paarl on April 7 and 8. This will be the 32nd annual Nederburg auction. The event is now rated one of the top five wine auctions in the world.

The wines selected include all the varieties that have become the staple fare of these auctions --- cabernet sauvignon, pinotage, shiraz, merlot, chardonnay, sauvignon blanc and so forth --- plus some other cultivars that are gradually increasing in popularity, such as barbera, pinot noir and semillon, and blends such as sangiovese/barbera/nebbiolo and semillon/viognier. Nebbiolo and sangiovese are two of the best red wine grapes of Italy and barbera is another red wine grape grown widely in northern Italy.

The three panels of tasters consisted of winemakers, viticulturists, Cape winemasters and wine judges.

Duimpie Bayly, who headed one of the tasting panels, said that the quality specifications had become even more stringent in the past three years. He pointed out that it took five years for a vineyard to come into full production, and then the wines still had to be aged. He felt that the wines on offer at the auction were getting better every year.

The business and social proceedings of the last auction took place in one day, a concentration which put some pressure on the 1,400 buyers and invited guests who attended. Next year’s auction will revert to the earlier two-day format, on a Friday and Saturday.

Christine Joubert, the newly appointed auction manager, says that the wine tasting, lunch and fashion show of the auction will be repeated on April 9 for the public and tickets will be sold in aid of charities: the Organ Donor Foundation, Mothers to Mothers, and the Hospice Association.

Nederburg’s cellarmaster, Romanian-born Razvan Macici, has delved into the past in his latest newsletter. He refers to a report that King Tutankhamun (1358 BC – 1340 BC) was buried with amphorae (tall jars) containing wine. Research has shown that the amphorae contained syringic acid, a product of the pigments found in red wine.

Razvan Macici says it seems that wine was taken very seriously by the ancient Egyptians, who labelled containers to indicate vintage, source and even wine grower --- and all this about 3 500 years ago.




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