The show is on. Cape Winemakers Guild season, and with the auction beckoning in October a selection of wines crafted by the Guild’s esteemed members was recently laid out for scrutiny. Your intrepid reporter scored an invite to this gig and decided that some gold reserves are to be cashed and Cape buffalo bulls sold to bid on the following stunning nine CWG vinos:
Kershaw Wines Ziggurat Chardonnay 2022
A master at work. And working well. Richard Kershaw takes grapes from Hemel-en-Aarde Ridge – Corton Charlemagne clone, to boot – gives them a whole-bunch squeeze and natural ferment. Bung in Burgundian barrels for 12 months with rigorous assessing done every eight weeks. As can be expected the paint is still wet on this master-piece, but signs of greatness are evident. The steely thrust of polished power, a neurotic edginess verging on the dramatic and electric rays of green citrus-peel, smashed almond and sun-baked buffalo skull. The most fantastic Cape Chardonnay in a long, long time.
Bartho Eksteen Vloekskoot Sauvignon Blanc 2022
The only Sauvignon Blanc in this year’s CWG offering, yet shows this variety has a role to play in the organisation’s lofty ambitions. Grapes from the Hemel-en-Aarde Valley give momentous cool-climate flavour, with whacks of buchu and thyme joining grapefruit and gooseberry to offer a delectable juiciness. A slight salt-lick maritime edge adds to the deliciousness and drinkability, although a few years in the bottle will re-invent this wine as an austere Sancerre-like classic from the south.
Paul Clüver Wagontrail Chardonnay 2022
Andries Burger has made this wine a perennial CWG classic and vintage 2022 is unique in that the vineyards from which this Chardonnay is vinified are now 35 years old – the first commercial Chardonnay sticks planted in Elgin. All the classic features of Wagontrail are evident: the yellow citrus on the nose, honey-suckle and bitter-orange on the palate with a whisper of Meursault-like nuttiness. But vintage 2022 has a flirtatious complexity that I can’t recall this wine ever having, as if some Turkish delight, persimmon and green plum has joined the fray to offer a seductive and very beautiful white wine.
De Grendel Op die Berg Pinot Noir 2021
CWG member Charles Hopkins shows his versatility as a winemaker with a brilliant Pinot Noir made from grapes sourced from the Witzenberg mountains, the vineyard just shy of 1000m above sea-level. Hopkins does Shiraz, Sauvignon Blanc and red Bordeauxs at exceptional levels, but somehow, I think he’s outdone himself with this Pinot Noir. Scintillating stuff, with a brooding power waiting to pounce as the wine ages yet already offering enough sour-cherry, brittle pine-cone and seedy Marseille musk to make the wine evocative and vivacious with a long run of polite refinement.
Erika Obermeyer Wines Silver Linings 2021
I want to use an infantile expression like “fuck me, sideways”, and I shouldn’t. But hell, this is a marvellous wine. The blend is Syrah-dominated at 63%, with Grenache and Cinsault filling in the gaps plus a teensy 3% Cabernet Sauvignon. Not much information is available about the wooding, but this red wine is crafted with masterly skill by someone with the soul of an artist and an eye for beauty. A comforting plushness on the palate leads to that sensual grip of supple tannins as dark fruit – plums, currant, mulberry – oozes into the mouth, cut with a riveting line of pine-needle freshness. Truly gorgeous.
Newton Johnson Family Vineyards Sandford Chardonnay 2021
Gordon Newton Johnson gets lotsa mileage for his perfumed Pinot Noir, but I’ve always reckoned Chardonnay is the best grape on this Upper Hemel-en-Aarde property. And getting this wine selected for CWG duty vindicates my assertion. It is Chardonnay greatness on every level and the offering of this greatness looks just so damn easy. The nose is a medley of floral aromas with a mouth-watering edge of burnt-butter. In the mouth a hospitable, broad generosity pumps nutty, citrus and floral flavours while a cool lasso of steely minerality keeps things fresh, wanton and very much alive. Take me to the edge of heaven…..
David Finlayson Wines Inkunzi Tempranillo 2018
The Zulu for bull, is inkunzi, and this wine has the biggest balls of any of this year’s CWG offerings – except possibly for Donovan Rall’s pony-tail look. Aged for four years in oak, as per a Rioja regime, this Tempranillo is brooding in colour and already shows enormous power in its feral tannic scent. The attack on the palate is about as coy and genteel as an Eben Etzebeth clean-out at ruck-time, but thundering tannins and a vice-like grip are tempered by succulent black fruit and a hit of paella spice, finishing with a musky sliver of freshly sweated flamenco dancer. The biggest and most unique wine on show, and a keeper. No bull.
Kanonkop CWG Paul Sauer 2020
No surprises in this selection as this wine is the CWG’s hottest item, and that includes Sam O’Keefe. Vintage 2020 has Paul Sauer, made by Abrie Beeslaar, once again showing a low-alcohol refined elegance allowing one to ascertain the splendour and beauty while the wine is in a state of youth. Calm, polite and cool, Paul Sauer 2020 brings autumnal dark fruit together with graphite and oyster-shell to make for a wine of such classic profile that it can make a Rasta DJ switch to violin music. A whiff of oak still drifts on the surface, but a dive into the still depths reveal awesomeness where taste, mouth-feel and beauty await.
De Trafford Glenrosa Syrah 2021
This number from David Trafford is one of those wines that defies corralling into a grape varietal or a region in that it is just such a super offering transcending preconceptions and borders. As Terry Theise wrote, many wines let you hear their noise, but only the great wines allow one to hear the silence. And this is one of them. A shy, yet intriguing nose of damp, dew-wet plum grove. On the palate the wine coaxes with silk-lined tannins while a resounding power reverberates across the senses. Dark, deep and mysterious flavours evoke the will to pry, search, but the joy is right before you.
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