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NB: as of 23 September 2008, all new artSMart articles are being published on the site news.artsmart.co.za.

MICHAEL GREEN’S WINE NOTES (article first published : 2004-11-28)

Shiraz and sauvignon blanc have been particularly bright stars among the 380 wines submitted by 122 wineries for inclusion in next year’s Nederburg Auction, the thirty-first such event.

Fifty-four winemakers, viticulturists, Cape Wine Masters, wine consultants and judges participated in the selection process for the auction, which takes place at Paarl on April 8 and 9, 2005. The wines submitted were scrutinised in terms of strict criteria relating to vintage, rarity and quality. Bennie Howard, auction consultant, said: “This year there has been an even greater emphasis on quality to maintain our reputation as one of the top five wine auctions in the world”.

Nico van der Merwe, winemaker at the Saxenburg cellar at Stellenbosch, said: “Shiraz as a class showed extremely well. The wines have developed a beautifully mature character and they display the variety of the terroir (soil conditions) and vintages. This trend follows the continuing success of South African shiraz overseas and locally”.

Mike Ratcliffe, of the family who own the Warwick estate at Stellenbosch, said: “The growing reputation of South Africa’s sauvignon blancs can be seen in the wines chosen for the auction. All six of the sauvignon blanc wines entered were selected, including mine!”

The label “Sold at the Nederburg Auction” has become accepted by the public as evidence of high quality. To ensure exclusiveness the red wines must be from the 2000 vintage or older, white wines from the 2004 vintage or older, and fortified wines (such as port) from the 2001 vintage or older.

Three groups of 18 tasters took part in blind tastings to ensure absolute anonymity about the wine, the judges’ impartiality and the integrity of the selection process. Each wine was tasted by two different panels using different bottles, to allow for any bottle variation.

The Nederburg Auction tastings for liquor licensees and the public, which are always popular events, will be held in various parts of the country in February next year.

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And now for some news about Irish whiskey (with the e), not Scotch whisky (without the e).

Jameson 18 Years Old Irish Whiskey has won a gold medal at the 2004 International Spirits Challenge, held in London. This whiskey, which is available in South Africa, is marketed by the Pernod Ricard organisation, which won gold medals with two other whiskies, Midleton Very Rare and Redbreast 12 Year old.

Jameson 18 Years Old is described as wonderfully mellow and smooth, with a complex palate that shows fudge, toffee, spice, hints of wood and leather, a gentle sherry nuttiness and vanilla. Wood, spice and toffee dominate the lingering finish. All this comes at a price of course, about R450 bottle. – Michael Green




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