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MICHAEL GREEN’S WINE NOTES #144 (article first published : 2006-01-31)

Two unfamiliar grape varieties will make their debut at this year’s Nederburg wine auction, to be held at Paarl on April 7 and 8. The auction is the 32nd such annual event and it will offer a total of 6,449 cases of 156 fine wines from 86 producers.

The newcomers are a 100 percent Viognier white wine from the Nederburg cellar itself and a 100 percent Barbera red wine from the Altydgedacht estate in the Durbanville wine region, about 30 kilometres north of Cape Town.

Viognier is a white grape that originates in the Rhone valley in France. It usually produces wines with interesting scents and quite fruity flavours and the Nederburg auction manager, Christine Joubert of the Distell liquor organisation, says it is being punted as the wine of the future in South Africa. At present it covers only 0,5 percent of the total South African vineyard area but it has become quite popular as a component in blended white wines. The Nederburg Private Bin D212 Viognier 2004 will be the first single cultivar viognier to appear on the auction.

The Barbera red grape comes from Piedmont in north-western Italy and is widely grown in California. It appeared on the Nederburg auction three years ago as part of Nederburg’s own Italian-style blend, Barbera, Sangiovese and Nebbiolo. This year the Altydgedacht Barbera 2001 will be the first single cultivar Barbera to be placed on the auction. Wine made from this grape is generally full-bodied, deep-coloured and full flavoured, and it is said to go particularly well with Italian food.

The Nederburg auction has become the classic showcase for South African wines. All the entries have to be approved by a highly critical judging panel. This year’s line-up consists of 101 red wines, 28 whites, six sparkling, ten noble late harvest, nine ports and two muscadels.

The reds include 27 cabernet sauvignons, 20 shirazes, 15 pinotages and eight merlots, and the whites include 11 chardonnays, five sauvignon blancs and five chenin blancs.

Six cellars are participating for the first time: Avondale (at Paarl), Diemersfontein (Wellington), Graceland (Stellenbosch), Kaapzicht (Stellenbosch), Morgenster (Helderberg) and Uva Mira Vineyards (Stellenbosch). At the other end of the time scale are the old stalwarts, Groot Constantia, Overgaauw, Delheim and Simonsig, who all participated in the first auction in 1975.

After 31 years the auction will no longer be conducted by Patrick Grubb of Oxfordshire, who has retired from this job. The new auctioneer will be the well-known Capetonian Stephan Welz.

Only licensed liquor dealers may bid at the auction. If you are interested in buying you should speak to your liquor shop. Public tastings will be held before the event. Details on the website www.nederburg.co.za – Michael Green




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