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Maturity of SA industry shows in Nederburg Auction Wines

This year’s selection of some 140 Nederburg Auction wines, smaller than in the past, is a clear reflection of the growing maturity evident in the wine industry, says renowned oenologist Duimpie Bayly, who was also one of the main judges responsible for choosing the wines that will come under the hammer of Stephan Welz in September.

A technical consultant and adviser to the wine industry who serves on key industry bodies, Bayly says: "The impact of the deregulation of the industry well over a decade ago is already manifested in some of the older reds from the late 1990's and is materially apparent in more recent vintages. Greater international exchange of information and improved access to new viticultural techniques, the establishment of cooler wine-growing regions, improved matching of varietal with location, better fermentation procedures as well as a lighter touch in the cellar, have influenced many of the wines on offer this year. In the main, they express a consummate sophistication with great finesse."

"I would say that common to virtually all is an elegance of structure complemented by pronounced but contained fruit expression."

Referring to the vintage reds from the early 1990's and some of the dessert and fortified wines that pre-date the re-entry of South Africa into international markets, he adds: "At the same time there are some venerable wines of outstanding quality that have excelled, even without the benefit of access to international research in viticulture and winemaking. True classics, they transcend trends and technology."

Very stringent application of selection criteria, he stresses, meant that fewer than half the wines submitted this year were accepted. However, Bayly and his co-judges were particularly impressed by the quality of the red blends and the dexterity of local winemakers in working with newer varietals to South Africa like Mourvèdre and Sangiovese, found mostly in blends. He adds that the MCC sparkling wines were also of an exceptionally high standard.

"It’s good to see so many fortified wines this year. With the renewed and growing interest in this category amongst many wine-producing countries, we are confident they will be well received."

"The Pinotage's also offer a very impressive showcasing of what this varietal is able to achieve when skilfully handled."

According to Auction manager Christine Joubert, this year’s offering represents fewer than 70 producers, compared with 86 producers last year. New to the Auction are award-winning De Trafford Wines, Audacia Wines, Diemersdal Estate, Mont du Toit Kelder, Oak Valley Wines and Webersburg Wines. Stalwarts who have participated in every auction since its inception in 1975 and continue their uninterrupted run are Delheim, Groot Constantia, Overgaauw and Simonsig, in addition to the host, Nederburg.

Joubert is excited by the inclusion of new blood on the panel of judges who assisted in selecting the wines. Past participants are invited as a matter of course to serve on the judging panels as a way of introducing new palates to the appraisal process. "We are extremely fortunate to have many highly respected industry veterans evaluating the wines submitted. They provide continuity and experience. At the same time, younger producers, who have new and fresh ideas about wine and winemaking, were also represented. The combination has afforded us a well-balanced spectrum of views. Interestingly, there was very little difference of opinion about the wines identified for inclusion, despite any generational difference in perspective we might have anticipated."

The catalogue with the full list of wines on offer will be available in July.

Last year’s Auction realised just under R7m.

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