Glitz, glamour and fine wine
The vineyards are buzzing with activities, and visitors have a range of options to keep them busy
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 email@example.com 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.