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MICHAEL GREEN'S WINE NOTES (article first published : 2002-04-1)

This year's Nederburg wine auction, to be held at Paarl on April 12 and 13, will feature 17 cellars which are participating for the first time, seven of them producing white wines of rare distinction.

Fifteen chardonnays will be sold on the auction, and one of the most interesting comes from the Longridge winery, a boutique cellar on the slopes of the Helderberg mountain, not far from False Bay. This is a 1998 vintage made by an Australian-born winemaker, Ben Radford, and in the past four years it has received much praise. It has been given a four-star rating in wine guides and magazines, it has won gold medals at the Veritas Awards and the Vinexpo of 1999, and it has appeared on the wine lists of SAA first class, British Airways and Concorde, Virgin Atlantic and KLM.

The wine is described as having a pale straw colour with a greenish tint. It is oak-matured and has rich tropical fruit on the nose and palate, and it has a powerful 14 percent alcohol. Only 10 six-bottle cases will be auctioned. The reserve price is R50 a bottle. My guess is that it will go for more.

The present vogue for chenin blanc, long the most underrated of all the Cape wine grapes, is carried further with some high class entries for the auction. One is the Old Vines Chenin Blanc of 1997, which has been made by Irina von Holdt, a winemaker, wine writer and Cape Wine Master, and her daughter Francoise Botha. The grapes came from Stellenbosch vineyards ranging in age from 23 to 70 years. Thirty cases of this wine, six bottles to a case, will be available on the auction at a reserve price of R60 a bottle.

Other chenin blancs come from new auction participants Fleur du Cap (one of South Africa's best-known labels, made by the Bergkelder at Stellenbosch) and Fort Simon at Stellenbosch. The Fleur du Cap is a 2000 vintage, barrel-fermented, with flavours of melon, apricot and honey. One hundred six-bottle cases will be sold, with a reserve price of R30 a bottle.

The Fort Simon, 2001 vintage, has been given five stars in John Platter's Wine Guide. Yeasty flavours and ripe fruit, and another full-bodied wine at 14,37 percent alcohol. One hundred six-bottle cases will be sold, reserve price R37 a bottle. It will probably fetch much more. Michael Green




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