Winemag congratulates the top performers in the inaugural Sweet Wine Report 2018

by | Aug 23, 2018 | Lifestyle, Blog, News

The inaugural Sweet Wine Report is now out, the focus being on 1) Natural Sweet; 2) Noble Late Harvest; 3) Straw Wine; 4) Hanepoot and 5) Muscadel.

What to make of Natural Sweet as a category? Ever since Klein Constantia reintroduced Vin de Constance in 1986 as a late harvest wine that did not depended on botrytis character for complexity, it’s a category worthy of attention but while the panel liked the six submissions in this tasting well enough, there was frankly nothing spectacular.

Next up, Noble Late Harvest. According to Platter’s South African Wine Guide, there are some 70 examples made but only 13 were received for this report so hardly a representative sample of the category but what was tasted generally performed well, nine rating 90-plus on the 100-point quality scale. That said, the panel reflected that they had hoped for more wines of true excellence. The concern was because the category was out of favour with consumers, too many producers were making Noble Late Harvest as an after-thought and not honing their skills year on year.

Styles varied enormously, some producers inclined to reference Sauternes where the key varieties are Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc and others the Rhine and Riesling. Yet others are inclined to use Chenin Blanc while the best wine overall was the 2015 vintage of the 1769 from Buitenverwachting made from Muscat de Frontignan! Similarly it is difficult to generalize about winemaking methods, no wood at all used in some instances and rather intricate barrel regimes in others. As a result, we all need to accept that only the highly involved wine enthusiast is going to engage with the category.

As is now becoming common practice, we included an international ringer, this being Chateau Doisy Daëne 2015 from Sauternes, a wine affiliated with the late, great Denis Dubourdieu – it rated 92, a little below where most international commentators have viewed it to date.

The point has been made that because South African climatic conditions are not generally conducive to the occurrence of botrytis (the requirement being misty mornings and warm afternoons in autumn), straw wines make much more sense. The wines submitted in this category, however, were certainly impactful but for all their concentration, lacked detail and tended to be rather cloying.

On to the sweet fortified wines. These are generally not a growth category anywhere in the world, least of all in the Cape but historically, local producers have made some very fine examples that stand alongside the best from anywhere in the world and it would therefore be a great pity if the category died out altogether.

Out of the three examples of Hanepoot submitted, two rated 90-plus, while out of the nine Muscadels, seven rated 90-plus, which would suggest that there are still producers out there intent on making a serious product.

TASTING NOTES

Natural Sweet

92

Dornier Froschkönig Chenin Blanc 2016 Price: R217 per 375ml bottle Total production: 1 824 bottles Alc: 10.98% RS: 177.9g/l TA: 6.7g/l pH 3.47. Stems of bunches pinched on the vine and left to desiccate. Fermented and matured for 18 months in barrel. The nose shows hay, marmalade, honey, nuts and spice. The palate is rich, thick textured and very flavourful. Great depth of fruit and excellent freshness before a lingering finish.

Noble Late Harvest

93

Buitenverwachting 1769 2015 Price: R300 per 500ml bottle Total production: 6 500 bottles Alc: 12.79% RS: 189.5g/l TA: 7.5g/l pH 3.42 From Muscat de Frontignan. Matured for 11 months in 225-litre barrels, 25% new. Potpourri, candied orange and stone fruit plus some waxiness/plasticene on the nose. Excellent flavour intensity, freshness and length on the palate. Super-complex and beautifully balanced.

92

Doisy Daëne Barsac 2015 Price: R850 per 750ml bottle Alc: 13.5% Predominantly Semillon with Sauvignon Blanc. Citrus and white peach plus mushroom and a little sea-breeze-like character on the nose. Very rich but well balanced with nicely coated acidity and an intensely savoury finish.

92

Joostenberg Chenin Blanc 2017 Price: R165 per 375ml Total production: 13 398 bottles Alc: 14.5% RS: 114g/l TA: 6.8g/l pH 3.66 From a 28-year-old, organically farmed block. Harvest involved nine pickings, the first on 4 April and the last on 3 May. Fermented and matured for eight months in old oak barrels. White peach and honey but also subtle notes of mushroom, nuts and spice. The palate is rich, full and very flavourful. Good balance and length.

Hanepoot

92

Daschbosch Hanepoot 2015 Price: R250 per 375ml bottle Total production: 2 243 bottles Alc: 16% RS: 236.64/l TA: 5.8g/l pH 3.54

From 115-year-old vines. Matured for nine months in older oak. A top note of floral perfume before plasticene, some nuttiness and spice. The palate displays extraordinary concentration – rich, thick textured and utterly seamless

Muscadel

92

Nuy Rooi Muskadel 2010 Price: R135 per 750ml bottle | Total production: 6 933 bottles Alc: 16% RS: 221g/l TA: 4.5g/l pH 3.6

Cherry, toffee, earth and spice on the nose. Lovely weight and texture with coated acidity and a long, savoury finish. Fruity upfront but the finish is long and savoury – very well balanced.

BUYING GUIDE: CELLAR-DOOR PRICES FOR WINES (RATED 90 – 91)

Natural Sweet

91

Glen Carlou The Welder 2016 – R111 per 375ml bottle

90

Thelema Semillon Late Harvest 2014 – R120 per 375ml bottle

Thelema Vin De Hel Muscat Late Harvest 2015 – R120 per 375ml bottle

Noble Late Harvest

91

Nederburg The Winemasters 2017 – R107 per 375ml bottle

GlenWood Grand Duc Noblesse NV – R400 per 375ml bottle

90

Mulderbosch Sauvignon Blanc 2014 – R150 per 375ml bottle

Lourensford Limited Release 2014 – R190 per 375ml bottle

Neetlingshof Maria 2017 – R230 per 375ml bottle

Delaire Graff Sunburst 2015 – R345 per 375ml bottle

GlenWood Grand Duc Noblesse 2014 – R360 per 375ml bottle

Straw

91

Orange River Cellars 2017 – R118 per 375ml bottle

90

Boplaas Ouma Cloete 2016 – R130 per 500ml bottle

Orange River Cellars 2016 – R118 per 375ml bottle

Meinert Semillon 2014 – R197 per 375ml bottle

Hanepoot

90

Boplaas The 1932 Block 2015 – R150 per 500ml bottle

Muscadel

91

Orange River Cellars Red 2017 – R58.50 per 750ml bottle

Rooiberg Red 2016 – R59 per 750ml bottle

Boplaas Heritage Collection 2013 – R140 per 750ml bottle

Nuy Barbieri Idro Rooi Muskadel 2013 – R220 per 500ml bottle

90

Orange River Cellars White 2017 – R58.50 per 750ml bottle

Allesverloren Red 2018 – R152 per 750ml bottle

COMPLETE SCORES A – Z Name

Wine of Origin

Score

Natural Sweet

Dornier Froschkönig Chenin Blanc 2016

Stellenbosch

92

Glen Carlou The Welder Chenin Blanc 2016

Paarl

91

Groot Constantia Grand Constance 2015

Constantia

88

La Bri Double Door Roussanne 2018

Franschhoek

87

Thelema Semillon Late Harvest 2014

Stellenbosch

90

Thelema Vin De Hel Muscat Late Harvest 2015

Stellenbosch

90

Noble Late Harvest

Bergsig Estate Gewürztraminer Edel Laat Oes 2017

Breedekloof

88

Buitenverwachting 1769 2015

Constantia

93

Delaire Graff Sunburst 2015

Western Cape

90

Doisy Daëne 2015

Barsac

92

Durbanville Hills Rhinofields 2017

Durbanville

89

GlenWood Grand Duc Noblesse 2014

Franschhoek

90

GlenWood Grand Duc Noblesse NV

Franschhoek

91

Joostenberg Chenin Blanc 2017

Paarl

92

Lourensford Limited Release 2014

Stellenbosch

90

Mulderbosch Sauvignon Blanc 2014

Western Cape

90

Nederburg The Winemasters 2017

Western Cape

91

Neethlingshof The Short Story Collection Maria 2017

Stellenbosch

90

Paul Cluver Riesling 2017

Elgin

89

Tokara Sauvignon Blanc Reserve Collection 2016

Elgin

88

Straw

Boplaas Ouma Cloete 2016

Calitzdorp

90

Donkiesbaai Hooiwijn 2017

89

Lammershoek’s Mysteries Die Swart Strooi 2015

Swartland

87

Meinert Semillon 2014

Devon Valley

90

Orange River Cellars 2016

Northern Cape

90

Orange River Cellars 2017

Northern Cape

91

Tierhoek NV

Piekeniers-kloof

88

Villa Esposto Muscat d’Alexandrie 2016

Olifants River

89

Hanepoot

Boplaas The 1932 Block 2015

Calitzdorp

90

Daschbosch 2015

Breedekloof

92

Muratie Amber Forever 2015

Western Cape

87

  

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