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MICHAEL GREENíS WINE NOTES (article first published : 2003-05-3)

The recent Nederburg wine auction at Paarl produced an interesting array of prices, from exceptionally high to solid good value. On the whole a sense of realism prevailed among bidders, all of them licensed liquor dealers, so much so that 762 cases remained unsold because nobody was prepared to meet the reserve prices stipulated by the sellers. Mind you, 762 is not a large proportion, considering that 6,000 cases were on offer at the auction, which realised a total of R7,5 million.

There was a strong demand for the stickies, sweet noble late harvest wines which have a following all their own, your humble scribe included. The equivalent of 246 twelve-bottle cases of these wines went for an average of R146 a bottleThe top price in this category was paid for one of the Capeís most celebrated wines, the Klein Constantia Vin de Constance, 1986 vintage, which went for R1,100 a 500-ml bottle (two-thirds of the ordinary size bottle).

Among the dry whites the 2001 Iona Sauvignon Blanc went for R208 a bottle I sampled this at the pre-auction tasting in a huge tent on the lawns at Nederburg, and it was delicious, with flavours of pears, figs, gooseberry, guava, plus the grassy character so typical of sauvignon blanc

This is a maiden vintage from Iona, a farm overlooking the Atlantic Ocean near Kleinmond, on the coastal road between Gordonís Bay and Hermanus. The place was an apple farm until 1997, when it was bought by Andrew Gunn, an engineer of Scottish ancestry, hence the name Iona, which is an island off the west coast of Scotland. The farm is co-owned by Andrew Gunn and his employees. The first vines were planted in 1998

Here are some familiar names among other wines sold, with descriptions based on the tasting comments of Patrick Grubb, the auctioneer.

Graham Beck Shiraz 1998, average price R134 a bottle. Dark colour, powerful.

Old Vines Chenin Blanc 1998, average R62. Made by Irina von Holdt and her daughter Francoise BothaIrina is known as the Steen Queen of the Cape, steen being an alternative name for chenin blanc. Straw coloured, tastes of melon and citrus.

Kanonkop Pinotage 1995, average R600 a bottle. Cherry bouquet.

Ken Forrester Chenin Blanc 2000, price R84. Pale gold, honey and citrus tastes.

Chateau Libertas 1991, R64 a bottle. An old favourite. Sweet cherry nose, elegant.

Pongracz 1992. Three-litre bottles of this Methode Cap Classique sparkling wine went for an average of R543 each. Biscuit nose, fine delicate flavours. These outsize bottles are each equal to four ordinary bottles, so the price for this particularly good vintage is not unreasonable.

Neil Ellis Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve 1993, R270 a bottle. From one of the Capeís most distinguished winemakers. Ruby colour, packed with fruit.

La Motte Merlot 1995, R300. Made for this Franschhoek estateís 300th anniversary. Powerful fruit with earthy tang, great depth.

Nederburg Auction Cabernet Sauvignon 1973. R783 a bottle. Living proof that correctly cellared wine can improve and hold its quality for a very long timeAfter 30 years this wine still has ripe fruit flavours and the soft sweetishness typical of old Nederburg cabernet. - Michael Green




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