Caption: Boplaas Family Vineyards winemaker Margaux Nel.
There’s an oft forgotten adage, “Alll grapes wish they could be wine, while all wines wish they could be a Port” – and the king of this style is doubtlessly vintage. A ‘vintage port’ deservedly demands decades of bottle maturation to showcase its true craftsmanship and full potential.
A finely crafted Tawny allows those amongst us who don’t have the luxury of time, capacious cellars or patience, an opportunity to experience a matured fortified which has been imbued by the magic of time, craftmanship and an unhurried journey in cask.
The glistening golden mahogany elixir that is a fine Tawny, greets a taster with a heady melange of warming spice ‘n oak, brandied raisin ‘n fruits, butterscotch brulé and the tell-tale nuttiness; with a reassuring tug of tannin and sweet, but not too sweet, restorative finish.
Due to the sheer amount of time, funds and stocks required to allow the transformation of a once obsidian liquid into a shimmering coppery golden wine; very few producers outside of the Douro even attempt to craft this style of fortified.
Thankfully for wine lovers in the Cape, an illustrious history of matured fortified wines exists, and to this day, a scant few diehard producers persist with the legacy. Among these, Boplaas Family Vineyards and its winemaker, Margaux Nel.
Nestled in the picturesque Klein Karoo hamlet of Calitzdorp and fortuitously put upon the path of crafting fine fortifieds and table wines from Portuguese varieties by patriarch Danie Nel’s mistaken planting of Tinta Barocca, the Nel’s of Boplaas have an enviable reputation of being amongst the finest producers of “Port”-styled fortifieds in the Cape and outside of the Douro.
The current, father and daughter winemaking team of Carel and Margaux Nel are obsessed with refining the art of crafting fine Tawnies. To this end, Boplaas is the only local producer, who regularly releases an exceedingly rare Colheita – or Single Harvest Tawny – having only previously released a 1980, 1995 and 1997 to be followed by the upcoming release of the 2005 of which only 3 000 bottles exist.
Of the seventeen or so recognised styles of Port, Boplaas Family Vineyards release a Cape Ruby, Cape Vintage, Cape Vintage Reserve, Cape Tawny N/V (non-vintage blend), Colheita Cape Tawny and ever so occasionally a Cape White & Late-Bottled Vintage. The most familiar of these wines is the bright garnet coloured Boplaas Cape Ruby – a blend of young Port matured for a year to two year in cask and bottled early to capture the buxom ripe fruit ‘n spice of the Portuguese varieties utilised in its crafting while and best enjoyed young.
A step up in concentration, seriousness, quality and enjoyment is the Boplaas Cape Vintage – a wine crafted from a single harvest, matured a year in cask and a wine with more spice, intense fruit and tannin allowing one to cellar this wine a decade or more to gain complexity, although upon release it can be enjoyed with very little effort.
Crafted from a selection of barrels and vintages, with youngest wines being six years of age, the Boplaas Cape Tawny with its coppery-golden colour, brandied raisin, caramel ‘n toffee, walnut and oak spice flavours hit all the right notes. Crafted from a rigorously callous barrel selection to identify the finest wines of the vintage, blended and destined for decades of bottle maturation as the finest example of this style should, a Boplaas Cape Vintage Reserve is a rarity to be treasured and enjoyed when the occasion arises.
These multi-award-winning Cape “Port”-styled fortifieds can be experience at Boplaas Family Vineyards cellar door in Calitzdorp and Groot-Brak, or visit the website www.boplaas.co.za for online purchases. Alternatively look out for wines at reputable stockists nationwide.