Whenever we asked people about their impression of South African wines, it is inevitable that people will think of low quality, cheap, supermarket wines. An unfortunate impression but a marketing strategy that helps consumers to get acquainted to their presence. Nederburg wines are no stranger to the supermarket shelves, but in their latest masterclass presentation in Marina Bay Sands, the new series named Heritage Heroes can possibly help to bring up their profile.
It takes a good winemaker to make good wines, but a great winemaker to make wines that speak for land, values and stories. The 2012 Diners Club Winemaker of The Year, Razvan Macici and team created two whites and two reds to commemorate the pioneers who had contributed significantly to Nederburg’s history.
Few would have guessed, but Nederburg story began in 1791 when Phillippus Wolvaart, a German immigrant, settled in Paarl and built a Dutch-style manor that remains today. Named after then Commissioner-governor of Cape Town, Sebastian Cornelius Nederburgh, this manor was completed in 1800.
Today his story is represented with The Anchorman Chenin Blanc. Like his story as an unexpected settler, this wine was made using unusual techniques of carbonic maceration and malolactic fermentation. Carbonic maceration applied only to a small part of the fruits imparted hints of fruit freshness layered beneath the nuttiness overtone. On the palate it was smooth, gently oily and balanced with acidity.
Fast forward to 1937, another German Johann Graue, both a tea specialist and brew master, took over the ownership and brought in fresh ideas on wine making. Understanding the relationship between fine fruits and fine wines, and increased use of technology, Nederburg started to gain recognition in international wine fairs.
International recognition cannot be expressed better than with a Bordeaux style blend. The Brew Master with its predominant Cabernet Sauvignon hinted great potential for ageing. However during our tasting, the aroma was restraint and tightly firmed on the palate.
His son Arnold Graue, who had trained and served as an air-gunner with the South African Air Force, was another gifted man with great appetite for life and adventure. Unfortunately his stellar career ended early with an air crash in 1953. He was only 29.
After his untimely death, Nederburg broke all records on the Western Province Wine Show by winning twelve first prizes, the General Smuts trophy for the best wine and a gold medal for scoring the highest number of points on the show. To commemorate his achievements, the wooded Sauvignon Blanc was named The Young Airhawk in his honour.
The Young Airhawk resembled California Fume Blanc over the New Zealand Marlborough, showed great deal of oak aroma encapsulating over light flintiness with hints of pineapple. Zesty acidity with creamy texture, the strong contrasting attributes excite the palate keeping it from fatigue.
In 1956, Günter Brözel was appointed the cellarmaster. Known for showing up in the vineyard with his 250cc BSA motorcycle, this motorcycle marvel was the first South African wine maker awarded International Wine & Spirit Competition’s International Winemaker of the Year Award. Günter’s attention to the vines, and his bike, were both impeccable.
The Motorcycle Marvel, a Rhone blend with Grenache, old vines Carignan and old vine Shiraz, was my favourite. The intense red fruits demonstrated thorough ripeness that can only be achieved in a sunny warm region, while the bright acidity reminded of cool nights. On the palate the tannins was velvety and the alcohol, in excess of 14.5 per cent, showed no deterrence for this highly approachable marvel.
During the masterclass, it wasn’t certain how the wines would be carried in the market. But regardless of the channels, the wines will certainly impressed drinkers on what South African wines can truly offer.