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MICHAEL GREEN’S WINE NOTES (article first published : 2002-05-28)

In my last article I gave the basic facts about the record-breaking 28th Nederburg wine auction at Paarl. I did not have the space to go into much detail, but here now are some of the individual sales involving names with which most readers are probably familiar. I should emphasise, however, that the Nederburg event has always been described as an auction of “rare Cape wines”, and you can therefore assume that the familiar names here are of particularly fine vintages and of wines made with exceptional (and expensive) care and stored under optimum conditions.

Here is a selection from the 150 wines sold at the auction. Many of the wines were sold in six-bottle cases instead of the more conventional 12 bottles, and a surprisingly large number were in magnums (double bottles, l,5 litres). For purposes of comparison I am giving the prices paid per 750 ml bottle.

The prices are the average for each item. Quantities of each wine sold ranged from one case to 500 cases. Lots varied in size, and so did prices for the same wine. For example, 310 12-bottle cases of Nederburg Auction Reserve Pinotage 1997 were sold at prices varying from R1,750 to R1,050 a case, with an average of R1,086, or just over R90 a bottle.

Here are some others: Fleur du Cap Chenin Blanc 2000, made from grapes growing on the Bottelary hills near Stellenbosch, a wine with melon, apricot, honey and butterscotch flavours, fetched an average of R34 a bottle. Chateau Libertas 1988, an excellent vintage of a famous blended red wine, an average of R65 a bottle. Hartenberg Cabernet Sauvignon 1994, matured in French oak barrels for 26 months, R165 a bottle. Blaauwklippen Cabernet Sauvignon 1996, R112.

Nederburg Petit Verdot Reserve 1997, a novelty, the first time this red wine (used in France mainly for blending) has appeared on the auction, R77. Zonnebloem Shiraz 1974, another famous red, R250. Ken Forrester Chenin Blanc 2000, flavours of honey, vanilla and apricot, should mature well for another eight years, R78.

La Motte Cabernet Sauvignon 1994, walnut, cedar and tobacco flavours and bouquet, will mature further, R130. Longridge Chardonnay 1998, a Veritas Awards gold medal winner, tropical fruit flavours, R69. Nederburg Cabernet Sauvignon 1987, leather and spice in the bouquet, smooth and fruity on the palate, R87.

Boplaas Vintage Port 1987, nutty aromas, made from Tinta Barocca grapes, R162. Le Bonheur Cabernet Sauvignon 1986, R218.

And a legendary wine that has adorned the auction for many years, Kanonkop Pinotage, this time the 1997 vintage, made from 55-year-old vines, flavours of plum, cherry and berry with a hint of banana, R256.

All the purchases were made by licensed liquor dealers. You may find some of these wines in their shops, probably with a mark-up that is likely to be quite modest in percentage terms. I think many dealers stock Nederburg Auction wines because of the prestige attached to them. – Michael Green




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