I was invited to attend the Cape Winemakers Guild Auction Showcase at the Cape Town International Convention Centre on Thursday evening, tasting some of the superb wines of the 44 members of the Guild, representing the best of the best of our country’s winemakers. The Auction Showcase is in preparation of the Cape Winemakers Guild Auction, which takes place at Spier on Saturday 29 September. It was impossible to taste all 44 winemakers’ wines, so I have reported on those wines I tasted and the winemakers I spoke to. Talk of the Showcase was the resignation of three senior members of the Guild.
On arrival Aurélie Jullien, a visiting Parisian who loves our city and its restaurants, and who would love a job here on Cape Town to enable her to live in our city, and I bumped into Gudrun Clark, owner of Gudrun Clark Communications, the PR Consultancy for the Cape Winemakers Guild. She told us that three of the Cape Winemakers Guild members have resigned, this being their last Auction and Showcase:
# Jan Boland Coetzee of Vriesenhof told me that he has done 40 vintages at Veiesenhof, and 12 at Kanonkop before that. He wants to spend more time on the farm, and with his grandsons, one of them at least becoming a winemaker in future, he hopes. At the Showcase Jan offered his Vriesenhof Vineyards Swanesang Pinot Noir 2015, and Vriesenhof Grenache 2016 for tasting.
# Kevin Arnold of Waterford Wines told me that he would like to stand back for his winemaker Mark Le Roux. The wines he offered to taste were the Waterford Estate ‘1988 Kept Aside’ Chardonnay 2017, and Waterford The Jem 2012.
# Etienne Le Riche of Le Riche Wines said that he would like to make space for newer younger winemakers, including his son Christo. He offered the CWG Cabernet Sauvignon Auction Reserve 2015, and Le Riche Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve 2014 Wines to taste.
Last year acclaimed winemaker Neil Ellis announced his resignation from the Cape Winemakers Guild. His son Warren Ellis has since been nominated as a member, and presented his first Cape Winemakers Guild wine, the CWG Neil Ellis Wines ‘Amper Bo’ Tempranillo 2015, grapes for this Spanish wine variety coming from the Amper Bo farm of Pieter Smit in Bottelary outside Stellenbosch, I was told by winemaker Christian van der Merwe. It is the first time that a Tempranillo wine will be offered at the Auction. The Neil Ellis Wines Whitehall Chardonnay 2017 was also available to taste. I have a very soft spot for Neil Ellis Wines, Neil and I having been classmates at Huguenot High School in Wellington in the ‘Sixties.
The 44 Guild Member wine makers were arranged around the room alphabetically, but Aurélie Jullien and I started at the end of the room, with a glass of bubbly by Mr Bubbles himself, Peter Ferreira of Graham Beck Wines and his bubbly wife Ann. They were pouring the CWG Cuvée 105 ‘MGA’ Zero Dosage 2009 Cap Classique, and Graham Beck Cuvée Clive 2012. I am so impressed to hear that Ann’s 80 year old father Arthur McWilliam Smith will soon depart for Spain to walk the Camino, and that he is seen practicing walking up the Franschhoek Pass. It was at their stand that I bumped into Jennifer Hugé, the second person from La Colombe that I have connected with in the past four days. Such a small world.
It was lovely to see Gary Jordan of Jordan Wines, after what seems like a long absence. Gary and Kathy Jordan began making wines outside Stellenbosch in 1993. They are the first husband and wine winemaking and viticultural team in our country. Gary grew up in Wellington. Gary and Kathy have bought Mousehall country estate dating back to 1328, on the East Sussex/Kent border in the UK, an hour south of London. The name originated from its owner James de Mouleshale, Gary shared. Plans have been submitted to refurbish and extend the main house. They plan to plant Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, as well as botanicals for gin, including hops, elderflowers, and juniper berries in particular. A gin distillery, winery, and honey house are planned. At the tasting Gary offered Jordan Sophia 2015, and Jordan CWG Chardonnay 2017.
Only two women winemakers are members of the Guild. Andrea Mullineux of Mullineux Wines needs little introduction, this American-born dynamic winemaker having been named best in the world. She and viticulturist husband Chris make wines of note, and have become part of the Leeu Collection through a 50% share. Andrea is a very busy lady, but she made time to ask me about my Camino walk at the tasting. She offered the CWG Mullineux ‘The Gris’ Semillon – Old Vines 2017, and the Mullineux & Leeu Syrah 2016.
Rianie Strydom of Strydom Family Wines had the CWG The Game Changer Cabernet Franc – Merlot 2015, and Strydom Family Wines Daniele Chenin Blanc 2017 on offer for tasting.
John Loubser of Silverthorn Wines offered his CWG Big Dog IV Méthode Cap Classique 2013, and Silverthorn Wines The Green Man 2013 for tasting. He told me that Thursday was the third anniversary of the death of their dog after which the MCC is named.
A substantially fewer number of six-bottle cases of wines by the Cape Winemakers Guild members will be offered at the Auction at the end of September, compared to last year, with just more than 2000 cases. The total 2018 Auction mix consists of two MCC wines, 14 white wines, 31 red wines, and one port-style wine. The wines can be tasted tomorrow from 18h00 to 21h00 in Johannesburg, at The Atrium at Nedbank Sandton. Tickets cost R350 per person.
Cape Winemakers Guild Auction, Spier, 29 September. Tel (021) 852-0408 www.capewinemakersguild.com Twitter:@CapeWinemakersG Instagram: @CapeWinemakersG
Chris von Ulmenstein, WhaleTales Blog: www.chrisvonulmenstein.com/blog Tel +27 082 55 11 323 Twitter:@Ulmenstein Facebook: Chris von Ulmenstein Instagram: @Chris_Ulmenstein