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Durban - There is a tradition in wine circles that anyone having the honour to taste a wine older than they are, must stand while doing so. There was not a single person seated when those few of us lucky enough to be invited to the Nederburg pre-auction tasting earlier this month were treated to the final wine in the line-up.
The KWV 1929 Port had wafted its aroma around the room long before anyone had picked up their glasses to inhale the honeyed Christmas cake and sweet apricots and it is worthy of virtually any price a wine collector will pay for its ownership when it comes to the auction in five week’s time.
However, what is more noteworthy is that, along with the other two wines that had some people standing, the Chateau Libertas 1968 and Nederburg Edelkeur 1977, it reflects the ability South Africa has to make wines to stand the test of time.
Each of these wines were outstanding and none would have come close to giving away their age in a blind tasting (where the labels are hidden so wines are judged on merit without interference from the name, vintage or prejudices).
There are times SA wines are criticised for their inability to age; the potential to disappoint when a premium wine has been purchased for a special occasion only to find it does not live up to the hype. Yet, equally there is evidence it can be done and these are flagships to that achievement.
This year’s auction - to be held on September 28 and 29 - will see 158 of our finest wines come under the hammer. Now in its 38th year, the Nederburg Auction is one of the world’s five major wine auctions and brings to the market a collection of distinctive, rare wines often only available in limited quantities.
Each wine is sold bearing the golden seal of approval label, a reflection indicating the judges have selected only the cream of SA’s wines, matured under optimal conditions, to drink now or age further.
Only red wines five years and older and white wines two years and older are considered for the auction.
Maybe, though, the comments about age and the honour for drinking a wine that exclusively requires consumption while standing will go to a piece on the charity auction leg of the event. Auctioneer Anthony Barne has donated a bottle of 1825 Lomelino Boal Solera, a Portuguese Madeira from which those fortunate enough to taste it can “expect a heady aroma of toffee and walnuts and a long, complex finish”.
Hopefully anyone who does have the privilege will reflect, too, on arguably the most dynamic period of mankind’s history that has passed since that wine first entered the bottle. - The Mercury