The 2020 Cape Winemakers Guild Auction Wines

This year is a bit of a change for the Cape Winemakers Guild Auction. It is going to be held in the UK, at Bonhams on Saturday 3 October, rather than its usual location (in South Africa).

Because of the complicated situation with the virus, there are just 28 wines in the auction this year from the 46 members of the Guild. These are special Auction-only wines, and – as you’d expect – the standard overall is very high.

Here are my notes on all the wines.

Silverthorn Big Dog VI Méthode Cap Classique 2015 Robertson, South Africa
70% Chardonnay, 30% Pinot Noir. Chardonnay fermented and aged in old French oak, Pinot Noir in steel. 50 months on lees. Lively and intense with nice citrus fruit, and some pear richness. Vivid fruit here with finesse and purity, as well as great concentration. 93/100

Graham Beck Cuvée MGA 129 Extra Brut 2009 Western Cape, South Africa
51% Pinot Noir, 49% Chardonnay. Winemaker: Pieter Ferreira. Cuvée 129 refers to the number of months on the lees aging – 10 years and 9 months. From six different geographical areas – Franschhoek, Robertson, Stanford, Stellenbosch, Slanghoek and Walker Bay. Apple, toast and spice on the nose with some honeyed depth and even a touch of cherry. This is powerful with nice depth of fruit. Good intensity. 93/100

Bartho Eksteen Vloekskoot Sauvignon Blanc 2019 Cape Coast, South Africa
Winemaker: Bartho Eksteen. Whole bunch pressed, no settling. Naturally fermented in older, big wood. Powerful and quite intense. A bit grassy with fine spiciness. Grainy and detailed with some pithy notes, and a trace of salinity. 91/100

De Grendel Wooded Sauvignon Blanc 2019 Darling, South Africa
Winemaker: Charles Hopkins. Crushed, 18 hours skin contact, then settled and fermented in old oak. Detailed nose of grapefruit and some green methoxypyrazine notes. Rounded, textured and powerful with a slight nuttiness and well integrated geen notes. 92/100

Simonsig Mediterraneo 2015 Stellenbosch, South Africa
66% Roussanne, 28% Grenache Blanc, 6% Verdelho. Winemaker: Johan Malan. Whole bunch pressed, mix of wild and cultured yeast. Powerful nose of fig and pear with some peach and a hint of mint. The palate is fresh and quite textural with pretty yellow fruits. Rounded and smooth. 90/100

Miles Mossop Wines Saskia-Jo 2018 Swartland, South Africa
65% Chenin Blanc,  25% Clairette Blanche, 10% Grenache Blanc. Decomposed granite soils. The fruit was whole bunch pressed together and the juice co-fermented in a small concrete egg, where it matured for 11 months before being bottled without fining or filtration. A fresh, beautifully balanced wine showing concentrated pear and white peach fruit, as well as a twist of citrus. Very fine and expressive with good balance. 93/100

Ataraxia Under The Gavel Chardonnay 2019 Hemel-en-Aarde Ridge, South Africa
Winemaker: Kevin Grant. Lovely freshness here: very fine and vital with a lovely lemony core, but also nicely textured pear and white peach fruit. Lovely mineral core and pure fruit. 95/100

Raats Family Wines The Fountain Terroir Specific Chenin Blanc 2019 Stellenbosch, South Africa
Winemaker: Bruwer Raats. The best barrel of Chenin. This has lovely balance with ripe pear and white peach fruit, a bit of spice, and nice detail. Compact, showing concentration and poise. 94/100

Rijk’s CWG Chenin Blanc 2018 Tulbagh, South Africa
Winemaker: Pierre Wahl. 14-year-old bush vines, fermented in new and used French oak. Ripe, expressive nose with toast, honey and yellow fruits. The palate is lively, showing ripe apple and citrus together with nuts and wax. Some fennel on the finish. 93/100

Leeu Passant Radicales Libres 2015 Klein Karoo, South Africa
Winemaker: Andrea Mullineux. 100% Chardonnay, long elevage inspired by Jura and Rioja. From the incredibly cool Barrydale valley in the Klein Karoo, after fermentation this Chardonnay was aged in barrel for five years. Concentrated and mineral with lovely spiciness. Very spicy, intense and multidimensional with richness and poise. 96/100

Paul Cluver The Wagon Trail Chardonnay 2018 Elgin, South Africa
Winemaker: Andries Burger. From the oldest Chardonnay vineyard on the Estate, planted in 1987 (it’s the oldest in Elgin). Wild ferment. Nice complexity on the nose with a delicate lemon and green apple core. The palate has precision, some waxy notes, and a citrus drive. Fine, with a long, tapered finish. 95/100

Newton Johnson Family Vineyards Windansea Pinot Noir 2017 Upper Hemel-en-Aarde Valley, South Africa
Winemaker: Gordon Newton Johnson. Stoniest, most clay-rich parts of the vineyard used for this. No sulfites in the winemaking. 11 months in barrel then six months in large oak. Very floral with appealing red cherry and redcurrant fruit. Silky and fine with bright, floral, elegant fruit. Such finesse and precision with lovely purity and elegance. 96/100

Hartenberg CWG Auction Cabernet Sauvignon 2018 Stellenbosch, South Africa
100% Cabernet Sauvignon from the Bottelary Hills. Winemaker: Carl Schultz. 20 days on skins, 20 months in 50% new 225 litre French oak barrels. Good concentration here: ripe and dense with a slight creaminess. Impressive concentration. Ripe and primary with a sweet fruit quality. Lots of potential for this polished, modern wine. 94/100

Kanonkop CWG Paul Sauer 2017 Stellenbosch, South Africa
76% Cabernet Sauvignon, 17% Cabernet Franc, 7% Merlot. From Simonsberg. Winemaker: Abrie Beeslaar. Fermented in open top ‘kuipe’ for six days, then malolactic fermentation in tank, and matured in new French oak for two years. Linear and fresh, and this has swallowed the new oak. Pure blackcurrant and berry fruit with real refinement and nice purity. Primary at the moment with a lot of potential, showing structure and freshness. 96/100

Boschkloof Epilogue Syrah 2018 Stellenbosch
Winemaker: Jacques Borman. Harvested in three tranches, 30% whole bunch. Some matured in concrete, some in barrel (30% new). Lovely aromatics: peppery, meaty and perfumed with brooding black cherry fruit. There’s some savoury olive character on the palate with sweet black fruits to the fore. 94/100

Edgebaston Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve 2017 Stellenbosch, South Africa
95% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Cabernet Franc. Winemaker: David Finlayson. From the clay-heavy section of their GS vineyard, picked five days earlier than the rest of the vineyard. New French oak for two years. Very ripe and sweet with a slight jamminess. This is concentrated with good weight. Berryish and ripe. Seductive. 90/100

Luddite The Lone Stranger Mark II 2018 Bot River, South Africa
50% Mourvèdre, 40% Shiraz, 10% Grenache Noir. Winemaker: Niels Verburg. Small open fermenters then pressed to barrel for two years. There’s some lovely flesh to this wine: it’s rounded with a nice silkiness to the bold, ripe fruits. Combining power and elegance, this is very fine. 94/100

Spier Frans K Smit Auction Selection 2017 Stellenbosch, South Africa
60% Merlot, 40% Cabernet Sauvignon. Winemaker: Frans K Smit. Organic (the first organic CWG red). Fresh, juicy and vivid with bright red fruits and good structure. Shows a sense of freshness. Firm finish. 90/100

Delaire Graff Estate Banghoek Cabernet Franc Cabernet Sauvignon 2016 Stellenbosch, South Africa
55% Cabernet Franc, 34% Cabernet Sauvignon, 8% Petit Verdot, 3% Malbec. Winemaker: Morné Very. Whole berry fermentation with limited punch downs. Four weeks post-ferment maturation on skins before being basket pressed. Matured in 40% new French 225 litre barrels for 16 months and a further 45 months in bottle. This has freshness. It’s supple and quite elegant with a gravelly edge to the blackcurrant and black cherry fruit. Polished. 94/100

Saronsberg Die Erf Shiraz 2017 Tulbagh, South Africa
Winemaker: Dewaldt Heyns. The best barrel of Block 27. Aged for 20 months in a new French Allier oak barrel. Concentrated, showing sweet black fruits. A bold wine with nice structure under the polished, bold fruit. Very ripe and dense with real impact. Oak is here, but it’s quite well integrated. 92/100

Neil Ellis Wines Amper Bo Tempranillo 2015 Stellenbosch, South Africa
Winemaker: Warren Ellis. Whole berry fermentation then 18 months in 60% new French oak barrels and 40% in second fill. Concentrated and dense with nice richness to the silky cherry and berry fruit. Some spicy notes. Focused and ripe. 93/100

Ernie Els CWG 2017 Stellenbosch, South Africa
60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Shiraz, 10% Cinsault. Winemaker: Louis Strydom. Fermentation in small 300 litre open top oak barrels with three weeks extended maturation. The wines were punched down manually five times per day. Fresh, almost minty, with a spicy edge to the blackcurrant fruit. Shows nice freshness and seductive bright fruit. Has substantial structure and extraction. 92/100

Villiera Drip Barrel Cabernet Franc 2018 Stellenbosch, South Africa
Winemaker: Jeff Grier. 18 months in new and used French oak. Bold blackcurrant fruit with some nice freshness. Floral, with some red fruit character. Fresh and intense; juicy, direct and appealing. 92/100

Strydom Family Wines The Game Changer 2017 Stellenbosch, South Africa
80% Cabernet Franc, 20% Merlot. Winemaker: Rianie Strydom. North facing slopes on the Helderberg. Nice weight. Rounded tannic structure. Ripe but balanced. 93/100

Cederberg Teen Die Hoog Shiraz 2018 Cederberg, South Africa
Winemaker: David Nieuwoudt. Red slate soils. 85% new oak. This is quite ripe and concentrated with sweet cherry and berry fruits. Good structure. Some charry, spicy oak in the mix. Juicy finish. 92/100

Groot Constantia CWG Gouverneurs Reserve 2018 Constantia, South Africa
55% Cabernet Sauvignon, 45% Cabernet Franc. Winemaker: Boela Gerber. 75% new oak. Intense and aromatic with blackcurrant fruit on the nose. Very refined with lovely fruit on the palate and a touch of savoury herbal character. Some blackcurrant bud notes. Great concentration. 94/100

Rust en Vrede CWG Auction Estate 2017 Stellenbosch, South Africa
75% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Syrah. Winemaker: Coenie Snyman. Very concentrated and polished, showing lovely dense blackberry and black cherry fruit with nice weight and rounded tannic structure. Ripe but balanced. 93/100

Boplaas Cape Vintage CWG Reserve 2015 Western Cape, South Africa
80% Touriga Nacional, 10% Touriga Franca, 6% Souzão, 4% Tinta Barocca. Winemaker: Carel Nel. Fermented and fortified in small lagares and barrel matured in large seasoned oak barrels. This is bold and powerful; sleek and elegant. Sweet, floral and quite luscious with great purity and some liqourice, mint and spice. Lovely depth here: just gorgeous. 95/100

The 2020 CWG Auction