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MICHAEL GREEN’S WINE NOTES #174 (article first published : 2007-05-20)

This year’s selection of 140 Nederburg Auction wines, a smaller number than in the past, reflects a growing sophistication and maturity in the Cape wine industry, according to an industry veteran, Duimpie Bayly, who is one of the judges who have chosen wines for the auction.

This year, for the first time, the auction will be held in September rather than in March/April. It will take place as usual at the Nederburg farm at Paarl and the auctioneer will be Stephan Welz.

Duimpie Bayly says that among the factors that have influenced the wine industry in recent years are greater international exchange of information, access to new viticultural techniques, the establishment of cooler wine-growing regions, better fermentation procedures and “a lighter touch in the cellar”.

Fewer than half the wines submitted this year have been accepted for the auction. Duimpie Bayly says he and his fellow-judges were particularly impressed by the quality of the red blends, and the Methode Cap Classique sparkling wines were also of an exceptionally high standard. The pinotages, too, were impressive.

The auction manager, Christine Joubert, says that this year’s offering represents fewer than 70 producers, compared with 86 producers last year. Names new to the auction are De Trafford, Audacia, Diemersdal, Mont du Toit Kelder, Oak Valley Wines and Webersburg.

Stalwarts who have participated in every auction since the first in 1975 and who continue their uninterrupted run are Delheim, Groot Constantia, Overgaauw, Simonsig and the host, Nederburg.

Last year’s auction realised just under R7 million.

**** **** ****

Nederburg’s cellarmaster, Romanian-born Razvan Macici, is understandably pleased that his 2006 Nederburg Chardonnay has been chosen as the best in its class by the Wine of the Month club judging panel for May.

He says: “We were striving for a greater layering of flavour. We wanted clean citrus and apricot character with rounder, fuller qualities of butter, yeast, vanilla and toast. So we experimented, pressing whole grape bunches and fermenting with natural yeasts. We fermented part of the wine in new and second-fill oak barrels, where it was left on the lees (sediment) for six months, and the balance in stainless steel tanks. We are very happy with the outcome”.

This Nederburg Chardonnay retails at about R38 a bottle, a very reasonable price for a wine of this quality. – Michael Green




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