Glitz, glam­our and fine wine

The vine­yards are buzzing with ac­tiv­i­ties, and vis­i­tors have a range of op­tions to keep them busy

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - GOODSTUFF -

SEPTEM­BER her­alds a stream of wineland ac­tiv­i­ties de­signed to at­tract lo­cals and up­coun­try vis­i­tors to check out new cel­lars and to sam­ple early re­leases of what is likely to be one of the best vin­tages of this young mil­len­nium.

First up is WineX 2009, the three­day fes­ti­val at the Cape Town In­ter­na­tional Con­ven­tion Cen­tre start­ing on Septem­ber 9 and open from 5pm to 9pm. This will be the sev­enth such event, and prom­ises to be an­other well-or­gan­ised af­fair, of­fer­ing vis­i­tors close to 1 000 wines from about 150 South African and in­ter­na­tional pro­duc­ers. The wine­mak­ers are there for at least part of the evening, while vis­i­tors can also book for ses­sions at the Dis­cover Wine the­atre, run by Un­der the In­flu­ence, an or­gan­i­sa­tion which hosts tast­ings and in­ter­ac­tive cour­ses and or­gan­ises wine tours. Cheese, olives and glass­ware will be on show and for sale, as will the wines.

Early bird tick­ets at R75 are avail­able un­til Septem­ber 6, af­ter which the en­trance charge is R90 and R95 on Fri­day. A two-day pass valid for Septem­ber 9 and 10 costs R140. Book at Com­puticket or buy at the door. For more in­for­ma­tion, call 083 915 8000.

As WineX draws to a close, in­vited guests will gather at Neder­burg for the start of the two-day an­nual auc­tion – an event which, along with glit­ter and glam­our, raises con­sid­er­able amounts of money for char­i­ta­ble and ed­u­ca­tional causes.

This year the auc­tion’s 35th birth­day and the 350th an­niver­sary of the Cape wine in­dus­try are be­ing marked with unique items go­ing un­der the ham­mer at the Char­ity Auc­tion. First up will be Raz­van Macici’s Neder­burg Trib­ute shi­raz 2007, a pur­pose-made lim­ited edi­tion sin­gle vine­yard wine. His­toric la­bels that have been do­nated in­clude two bot­tles of Meeren­dal’s 1969 pino­tage along with one of shi­raz from the same vin­tage. An­other pino­tage comes from Belle­vue, where Dirkie Morkel has put his 2006 vin­tage into a three-litre bot­tle to at­tract bids. A num­ber of note­wor­thy in­ter na­tional la­bels have been do­nated, in­clud­ing a 1927 Madeira AG Pacheco, pre­sented by auc­tion­eer Stephan Welz.

The Avalon Springs ho­tel out­side Mon­tagu shows lit­tle sign of the dev­as­ta­tion wrought by the flood­wa­ters of 2008. Two teams, one for whites, the other for reds, set­tled in the restau­rant to judge the South­ern Cape young bot­tled wines on a chilly morn­ing ear­lier this month. I dis­cov­ered some stars among the dessert wines, and Dave Hughes, while prais­ing the red soetes, de­clared the three brandies en­tered to be world-class spir­its.

The na­tional win­ners of South Africa’s young wines were an­nounced at Gou­dini Spa last week, with nearby Bads­berg cel­lar walk­ing off with the two top tro­phies for their nat­u­ral sweet white wine and for the high­est score with five en­tries. Boland Cel­lar and Con­stel­la­tion Wines SA also notched up two cham­pi­ons each.

Echo­ing the stel­lar 2009 grape har­vest, Plat­ter’s South African Wine Guide an­nounced this week that it had se­lected a bumper crop of 41 five-star wines for its 2010 edi­tion. The top two wines of the year are Pal­la­dius 2008 from Sadie Fam­ily Wines, voted White Wine of the Year, and the Caber­net Sau­vi­gnon Re­serve 2005 from Le Riche Wines, the year’s top red.

Vis­i­tors are al­ways well looked af­ter at Blaauwk­lip­pen. This is red wine ter­ri­tory, and one of the few Cape farms that spe­cialises in zin­fan­del, which is known as prim­i­tivo in south Italy. It has be­come the quin­tes­sen­tial Cal­i­for­nian grape thanks to large plant­ings and well-mar­keted wines rang­ing from pale pink roses to pow­er­ful al­co­holic reds.

At a re­cent zin­fan­del tast­ing led by Blaauwk­lip­pen’s cel­lar mas­ter Rolf Zeitvogel, we tasted a few of th­ese ro­bust Cal­i­for­nian reds, two from Napa Val­ley, one from Paso Robles and the fourth from Sanoma Coun­try.

Al­co­hol lev­els ranged be­tween 14.5 per­cent and an as­ton­ish­ing 16 per­cent – with only one, Peachy Canyon at 14.5 per­cent, show­ing some com­plex­ity rather than just boozy fruit. It was a plea­sure to move on to Blaauwk­lip­pen's zin­fan­dels, where a vertical tast­ing from 2004 to 2009 of­fered Old World el­e­gance at best, and an ar­ray of flavours which in­cluded liquorice tof­fee in two of the vin­tages, pos­si­bly con­trib­uted by grapes from the old­est vine­yard, now up­rooted.

WIN: TGW and RMB WineX have 15 pairs of tick­ets to WineX to give away to Week­end Ar­gus read­ers. To be in line to win a pair, an­swer the ques­tion be­low, add your name and day­time tele­phone num­ber and email your en­try to pip­pa­ to reach her by close of busi­ness on Wed­nes­day, Septem­ber 2. Please put TGW/WineX give­away in the sub­ject line. Usual com­pe­ti­tion rules ap­ply and no cor­re­spon­dence will be en­tered into.

VINE­YARDS: Blaauwk­lip­pen es­tate spe­cialises in zin­fan­del and other red grape va­ri­eties.

DON’T’ MISS WINEX 2009: Last year’s vis­i­tors in­cluded, from left, No­manesi Ngcwang, Luy­olo Sil­wane, An­nel­ize Fer­reira and Henk Kotze.

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