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MICHAEL GREEN’S WINE NOTES (article first published : 2004-01-20)

The thirtieth Nederburg Auction in Paarl on April 2 and 3 will offer 9,290 cases of 178 wines from a record 102 participants, ample evidence that there is no decline of interest in this the most prestigious of South African wine events.

This year 11 Cape cellars are participating for the first time. The newcomers are Annandale, Asara, Darling, De Toren, Durbanville Hills, Hidden Valley, Kleine Zalze, Nitida, Onderkloof, Stellenbosch Vineyards and Tukulu. The names may seem fairly unfamiliar, but you will find many of their products in the better-stocked KwaZulu/Natal wine shops.

You are, however, not likely to find any of the wines and vintages coming up in the auction. Wines submitted for the auction are scrutinised by a panel of experts for their quality and rarity, and they come on to the market only afterwards, usually with the prized Nederburg Auction sticker.

As usual, red wines, led by cabernet sauvignon and blended wines, dominate this year’s auction. There are 123 reds, including 36 cabernet sauvignon, 17 pinotage, 16 shiraz, nine merlot, one malbec, one cabernet franc and 42 blends.

South Africa’s own cultivar, pinotage, has long been a sought-after wine on the auction. Last year, the Lanzerac Pinotage 1968 was sold for R7,000 for a six-bottle case, the highest price for a red wine. This year the 1964 vintage will be on sale.

The 29 white wines on the list include 10 chardonnay, eight chenin blanc, seven sauvignon blanc, three semillon and one blend.

In addition there are sparkling wines, ports and dessert wines, including Nederburg’s famous Edelkeur and Eminence.

The auction manager, Bennie Howard, seems well justified in describing this collection as a milestone in the South African wine industry.

Among the more unusual items are five 10-bottle cases of the 1980-89 vintages of Nederburg Private Bin R115, a 50/50 shiraz/cabernet blend specially created for the auction, and 12 uninterrupted vintages of Nederburg Private Bin R103, this one a 75/25 cabernet/shiraz blend.

Well-heeled wine collectors will certainly be interested in three sets of 30 single bottles of Nederburg cabernet sauvignon representing each vintage from 1971 to 2000, made by the cellar’s three winemakers during this period, Gunter Brozel, Newald Marais and Razvan Macici.

The sparkling wines include the Pongracz Methode Cap Classique 1992. A single three-litre bottle of the same vintage went for R740 last year, the highest price for a sparkling wine for the second year running. – Michael Green




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