Notes on wines from the 30th Cape Winemakers Guild Auction

south africa

Notes on wines from the 30th Cape Winemakers Guild Auction


The Cape Winemakers Guild was formed in 1982, and its first auction in 1985 involved 13 winemakers and 18 wines. The guild was formed when South African wine was at a very different stage, in international isolation, with an industry dominated by two big players. The idea was to help lift standards by sharing knowledge and tasting the best wines in the world. The auction gave the members a chance to showcase what South Africa was capable of.

Andries Burger
Andries Burger

Things have changed a lot in the last three decades, and as the Cape Winemakers Guild Auction enters its 30th year, there are now 45 winemakers who are members. The auction, which takes place on October 4th 2014, will feature 62 wines from 42 of the members.

These wines are specially made for the auction, with a special auction label, and each winemaker is allowed to make 120 cases of auction wine (so if they have two in the auction, they have to split this allocation). They are not allowed to sell the wine anywhere else, but they can use extra bottles for marketing purposes. 72 bottles of each wine are required for samples.

Interestingly, 20% of these wines are sold internationally, although it’s quite rare to see any of these bottles in the UK. The auction takes a 25% commission, and profits are used to fund projects such as a protégée program, cellar worker training and viticulture training.

Here are my notes on some of the 2014 auction wines, from a lunch with CWG member Andries Burger (winemaker at
Paul Cluver) at High Timber restaurant.

Bartho Eksteen Vlockskoot CWG Sauvignon Blanc 2013 Hemel-en-Aarde, South Africa
From Hermanuspietersfontein, this is very aromatic and sweet with tropical pear, melon and passionfruit characters as well as a bit of green pepper. Powerful palate with some guava and pear character and rich texture. Lovely. 92/100

Cape Point Vineyards CWG Reserve White 2013 Cape Point, South Africa
From Duncan Savage, this is a blend of Semillon and Sauvignon spontaneously fermented in 600 litre barrels. Fresh and precise with nice focus and lovely crisp, pure citrus fruit. Nicely mineral with lovely purity and acidity. 92/100

Cederberg Ghost Corner Semillon 2013 Elim, South Africa
David Nieuwoudt makes this. It’s very fresh and green, with purity and intensity. Powerful spicy green flavours dominate, but it works. So distinctive and intense. 91/100

Kleine Zalze Granite Selection Chenin Blanc 2013 Stellenbosch, South Africa
Winemaker: Johan Joubert. One barrel selection from 31 year old bush vines in the Helderberg. Lovely intensity with powerful peach, pear and spice flavours with nice density. A bit of toast in the mix, too. Rich and interesting. 91/100

Rijk’s CWG Chenin Blanc 2013 Tulbagh, South Africa
Made by Pierre Wahl (Rijk’s Private Cellar). Rich, spicy and lively with lovely pear and peach fruit as well as some sweet spiciness. There’s grapefruit freshness countering the richness and it works well in a seductive, ripe style. 92/100

Ataraxia Under The Gavel Chardonnay 2013 Hemel-en-Aarde, South Africa
Kevin Grant has made this from a single vineyard (Skyfields) in the Hemel-en-Aarde. Rich, creamy and toasty, made in a ripe style but with finesse. Lively lemony palate shows lovely precision as well as some toasty notes. Real finesse allied with power. 93/100

Paul Cluver The Wagon Trail Chardonnay 2013 Elgin, South Africa
Winemaker: Andries Burger. From 26 year old Chardonnay vines, the oldest on the Cluver property, wild ferment. Sweet but taut with a lovely toasty edge to the nose as well as pear and citrus fruit. Focused, fresh palate (no malo) with finesse to the pear and white peach fruit, and some spiciness. Balanced and fine. 94/100

Jordan Chardonnay Auction Reserve 2013 Stellenbosch, South Africa
Gary Jordan has made this from the Nine Yards Chardonnay vineyard. Rich, bold pear and peach fruit with some toasty richness. Nice texture and spiciness. 91/100

Paul Cluver Auction Selection Pinot Noir 2012 Elgin, South Africa
Andries Burger made this from his highest Pinot Noir vineyards. Clones 667,113 and 115. Sweet, lively cherry and berry fruits nose. Supple, spicy palate with a bit of grip and nice weight. Spicy with a savoury focus. 91/100

Bouchard Finlayson Auction Reserve Pinot Noir 2012 Hemel-en-Aarde, South Africa
Peter Finlayson has presented the first Hemel-en-Aarde Valley Pinot Noir to the CWG auction, and it’s a cracker. Complex and spicy with some ginger notes and a lovely texture, with savoury spiciness integrated into the black cherry and red berry fruit. Rich but precise and full of interest. 94/100

Strydom Family Wines Triple 7 Pinot Noir 2013 Stellenbosch, South Africa
Rianie Strydom used 10% whole bunch fermented, matured 11 months in 30% new oak. Fresh and spicy with nice red cherry fruit and some herbal notes. Keen green streak to the bright cherry fruit. A really precise style. 91/100

De Trafford Merlot 2009 Stellenbosch, South Africa
David Trafford has selected a single, new oak barrel of Merlot from his Mont Fleur vineyard. Weighs in just shy of 15% alcohol. Sweet, ripe and lush with nice spicy blackcurrant fruit as well as some black cherry. Hints of tar. Attractive. 90/100

Vriesenhof Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 Stellenbosch, South Africa
Jan Boland Coetzee selected four barrels of this Cabernet. Bright, fresh, focused blackcurrant fruit with nice spiciness. Very bright with lovely focused fruit and real purity. 92/100

Hartenberg CWG Auction Cabernet Sauvignon 2010 Stellenbosch, South Africa
Made by Carl Schultz. Another 15% alcohol wine, this is sweet, ripe and rich with spicy, tarry notes. A big, rich wine. 89/100

Kanonkop CWG Paul Sauer 2011 Stellenbosch, South Africa
Abrie Beeslaar has used 26 year old vineyards, picked at 24.5° balling, made the traditional Kanonkop way in shallow open fermenters. 100% new French oak barrels for 24 months. Savoury, spicy and tarry with powerful fruit, yet it still has freshness. Rich, bold blackberry and blackcurrant fruit with a taut, fresh core, made for the long haul. 93/100

Jordan Sophia 2011 Stellenbosch, South Africa
A blend of the best “Cobblers Hill” barrels and a reserve Cabernet Sauvignon. Ripe, juicy and spicy with sweet blackberry and blackcurrant fruit, with a bright personality. 90/100

Ernie Els CWG 2012 Stellenbosch, South Africa
Louis Strydom is the winemaker. Ripe, sweet black fruits with some black olive notes. Nicely focused ripe black fruits dominate with nice balance. Rich and intense. 91/100

Boekenhoutskloof Syrah Auction Reserve 2012 South Africa
Marc Kent doesn’t disclose where this fruit comes from, but it’s an impressive wine. Fresh with some green to the lovely blackberry and black cherry fruit. Great focus with supple, sweet, direct fruit and notes of meat and pepper spice. 93/100

Cederberg Teen Die Hoog Shiraz 2012 South Africa
David Nieuwoudt selects his three best barrels for this. Ripe, sweet and spicy with richness and a tar note underneath the aromatic black fruits. Very ripe and intense. 89/100

Boplaas Ouma Cloete Straw Wine 2013 South Africa
Carel Nel ferments raisined bunches after cold soaking them for two days in lagares. 10.5% alcohol, 183 g/l residual sugar. Sweet citrus, melon and marmalade notes with lively fruitines and nice weight and texture. 92/100

1 Comment on Notes on wines from the 30th Cape Winemakers Guild AuctionTagged
wine journalist and flavour obsessive

One thought on “Notes on wines from the 30th Cape Winemakers Guild Auction

  1. If I’m not mistaken, about half of that Boekenhoutskloof Syrah’s fruit comes from the Porseleinberg vineyard.

Leave a Reply

Back To Top