Highlighting the remarkable longevity of Nederburg wines and the equally appealing collectability of its newer vintages, this year's line-up from the famous Paarl cellar spans five decades, from the 1970s to 2014. The varied selection made by the 2016 Nederburg Auction panel includes many venerable dessert and red wines, a 14-year-old Chenin blanc, as well as a nine-year-old Sauvignon blanc, all showing very clearly the extent of Nederburg's consummate versatility.
The oldest is a Günter Brȍzel wine, the still glowing 1979 vintage of Edelkeur, the legendary noble late harvest that gave rise to the Nederburg Auction and was to earn the cellar considerable international kudos. It was to bypass prevailing legislation that the auction was established in 1975. At the time, the residual sugar content of natural wines could not exceed 30g/l, whereas Edelkeur came in at well over 200g/l. A compromise was reached with the authorities of the day whereby the maiden 1969 Edelkeur, that had already captured significant international attention and acclaim, could be sold on auction to local licensed wine buyers. The organisers decided to use the opportunity to showcase a handpicked collection of other rare and very special wines too. The law subsequently changed but the auction remains a key source of rare and limited-edition connoisseur South African wines, and Edelkeur remains a significant draw card for bidders, fetching impressive prices with its alluring and luscious honey notes backed by vibrant acidity.
There are also two other vintages of the renowned botrytised Chenin blanc poised to go under the hammer this September. They are the 2006 and 2009, both made by Razvan Macici. Between them, these newer Edelkeurs have captured a collection of Decanter World Wine, International Wine Challenge, and International Wine & Spirit Competition medals, and a Veritas double gold.
An additional noble late harvest wine on offer, but made from botrytised Weisser Riesling, is the 2003 Private Bin S316, richly tropical in its expression, with notes of white peach.
Another dessert wine made famous by Brȍzel is Eminence, a natural sweet produced from Muscat de Frontignan. There are three vintages on offer, the 1991, 2001 and 2005, the latter two made by Macici and well decorated to include a gold at Muscat du Monde and golds at the Michelangelo International Wine Awards.
This year's choice is only just led by reds, and includes two 1985 wines, the Private Bins R163 Cabernet Sauvignon and R121 Shiraz, both impressing with velvety plushness and elegant, still firm tannins. There are also more recent vintages of both on auction, bold and graceful, and latterly made from dryland Paarl vines and spontaneously fermented with wild yeasts in 500 litre open-topped barrels. Amongst the younger reds is a 2011 Private Bin R172 Pinotage, similarly made from dry-farmed bush vines growing in Groenekloof, Darling. Collectors should also look out for the 1999 Pinotage, displaying rich dark fruit and chocolate.
The single red blend is the 2007 Private Bin R109 Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot, twice the best-in-class winner at the International Wine & Spirit Competition.
The whites include the barrel-fermented 2014 II Centuries Sauvignon Blanc, scored 92 by Tim Atkin MW in his 2015 South Africa Special Report and that is made from individually selected bunches of vines from Cape Agulhas and Darling.
The 14-year-old white in the line-up is the Reserve Chenin Blanc, sourced mainly from Groenekloof dryland bush vines, but also including some Simondium fruit. It shows superb evolution of character but also great vitality, suggesting that it still has many more years ahead of it. Then there is a nine-year-old Sauvignon blanc made from top cool climate vineyards and that expresses intense herbaceous aromas with hints of citrus.
While the creamy, citrusy Private Bin D270 Chardonnay is sourced from a selection of blocks, the rich, vivacious 2012 Private Bin D266 Semillon is made exclusively with Durbanville grapes. The 2011 Private Bin D252 Sauvignon Blanc/Semillon, at five years' old, is zesty, herbaceous and fruity with aromas of guava and citrus and a rich, layered mouthfeel.
Says global marketing spokesperson for Nederburg Dè-Mari Shaw: "Although the number of wines submitted by the industry to this year's selection panel was substantially bigger than previously, the criteria were exceptionally strict by all accounts. To have 21 wines featured is a major coup for our team. With a spectrum of stickies, reds, young and mature whites on offer, there is an ample choice to intrigue and delight collectors."
The auction takes place at Nederburg on Friday, September 16, and Saturday, September 17.