Thursday, December 15, 2016

Nederburg vine planting, Platter's five-star wine tasting and lunch

We were invited, along with other media, to get our hands into old soil and plant new vines at Nederburg, "a special vine planting event to honour the 225-year legacy of the winery’s founder Phillipus Wolvaart, who acquired the Paarl farm in 1791". So there we were in our sensible shoes, hats and covered in sun block prepared for the journey to the top of a hill on a very warm and sunny morning
In case you had missed breakfast with the early start, fruit and croissants were provided in the Visitors’ Centre before we ventured out
Oh, and a glass of Nederburg MCC
The wine display in the Visitors’ Centre
Cool and modern, an inviting place to enjoy a wine tasting
The growing crowd of planters
We were taken up the hill in a bus to meet the gang who were going to help us plant. They had laboured hard before we arrived, as all the holes had been dug. They are led by farm manager, Bertie Faure, who will retire at the end of the year after 28 years at Nederburg. We loved meeting him; he has lots of Nederburg history to relate
Waiting for the "OFF"
Andrea Freeborough, Nederburg Cellarmaster
Bertie Faure, the farm manager at Nederburg and Bennie Liebenberg - Nederburg Viticulturist
Bertie showed us vines that had already been planted and explained that we would be planting an unusual cultivar, Chambourcin, on a block that’s been resting for three years to improve the decomposed granite soil. This grape is able to withstand extreme weather, pests and diseases. It is grown in USA and Australia. The challenge of global warming and climate change is making our industry look at grapes like these
We are split into teams and sent up the hill to find our planting positions
Our helpers show us how to spread the roots and then position the vine in the hole, so that it lines up with a marker on the wire
Then another worker helps us to fill in the soil around the vine and tamp it down gently with our feet
John planting his vine. We only planted one each; we would have like to have done more; it was not the first time we had done this
Nederburg’s viticulturist, Bennie Liebenberg, told us that these vines were grafted onto phylloxera free rootstocks but further up the hill they have planted ungrafted Chambourcin, a French-American hybrid, as it does seem to be resistant to this devastating little louse (phylloxera vastatrix), as well as mealybug and downy mildew which can rot ripe grapes. They already grow Tempranillo, Graciano, Carignan and Grenache and have access to Italian varietals such as Sangiovese, Nebbiolo and Barbera, which enabled the previous cellarmaster, Razvan Macici, and his team produce their first Italian blend. They are now planting Villard blanc and Seyval blanc to help with disease control and the elimination of pests in more environmentally friendly ways
Magnificent blue mountain views from the Nederburg vineyards
Media filming and tweeting while the planting continues apace. The workers were so much quicker than we were and plant a row in no time at all
Discussion between Christian Eedes, editor of Winemag. co.za, and former Cellarmaster Razvan Macici, while resting on our spades
The row is planted and the irrigation pipes go in
You can see the midday heat coming up off the vineyards
Back to the famous barrel cellar for a tasting of the four Nederburg wines which were awarded 5 stars in the 2017 Platter, each wine paired with an older version, and then some lunch. You can see why they score so highly when you taste them. The Private Bin D234 2015 Sauvignon Blanc from Darling is intense, with green peppers, cats pee, herbal, grassy and white asparagus on the nose. Concentrated crisp limes and green melon with long flavours; so well made. The 2010 bottle of this wine has ripe asparagus, and is lovely, with a more mature nose, still with crispness, more integrated, still that asparagus and long flavours. Sauvignon Blancs age well
Lots of water was drunk to rehydrate after the hot hillside. Then the Brew Master 2014, a Bordeaux blend. Cherries, chocolate, violets and incense wood. It is silky soft with long concentrated cassis flavours with salty liquorice and soft tannins. The 2011 was from a hot, late harvest, again with cassis flavours, it is elegant and more classic and longer lasting. It still has tight tannins and chalk
The glasses. Next came the Private Bin R165 Cabernet Sauvignon. Complex fruit nose, vanilla wood, incense, cassis and leaves. Sweet delight on the palate, full of soft sweet fruit with vanilla, a food wine with long elegant flavours. The 2005 is more herbal with expensive oak, greener on the nose with spice and perfumed sandalwood. On the palate, mushrooms, mixed berries, cassis, cherries, loganberries, well integrated soft chalk and tight tannins, almost mouth puckering, so years more to go. These wines are made to be 'tighter' and are made especially for the Nederburg Auction, when they are usually only submitted at 10 years of age. The bunches are selected by hand, the berries are then selected at triage, undergo open barrel fermentation and they spend 24 months in French oak
The tasting sheet. Then we tasted the Noble Late Harvest 2015, a blend of 48% Chenin Blanc, 52% Muscat de Frontignan. Honey and lemons, with a good balance of sugar and acid, then dried peaches, apricots and pineapple appear. Not too heavy or sticky. The grapes are handpicked late harvest. 2008 was an good year for Botrytis. A blend of 60% Chenin Blanc, 27% Weisser Riesling and 13% Muscat. On the nose, bruléed honey, grapey smoky lees. This carries through to the palate with raspberry syrup notes, honey, limes, great balance and a jammy end.
Previous cellar master Razvan Macici took us through the older wines
and current Cellarmaster Andrea Freeborough spoke about the new generation
Time for lunch. We moved the Manor house and collected a glass of refreshing Nederburg MCC on the way
A welcoming hug for Razvan Macici
Lunch at a long table under the trees and umbrellas
The interesting menu with lots of local touches. The wines to be served all come from the Heritage Heroes range
Bread and butter with snoek paté
Roses make a lovely table decoration
The smoked snoek paté deep fried in tempura batter with a balsamic fig dressing
Accompanied by The Anchorman 2015, named for Phillipus Wolvaart, who founded the farm in 1791. A wooded Chenin Blanc, fresh and mature with cooked apricots, peaches, a good match for the snoek
The cabbage wrapped Denningvleis, a traditional Cape Malay dish of braised and shredded mutton. Served with a red wine jus and 'Sunday Lunch vegetables'.
Paired with the Motorcycle Marvel. The wine is named for biker Gunter Brözel, who was Nederburg’s Cellarmaster for 33 years and was a great innovator, making the first Rhône style blend in SA. Intensely perfumed with spicy pink peppercorns cinnamon, vanilla and dark berries, followed by intense layers of dark fruit and salty spice. Perfect with the spicy and fatty mutton
This is also a Rhône blend with a lovely colour
We could also taste the Nederburg Auction Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon again
Served with dessert was The Beautiful Lady, a Gewürztraminer named for Ilse Graue, wife of Johann Graue who took over the farm in 1937. She planted the rose garden in front of the manor house, where her piano playing could be heard. The wine shows honey, rose petals, litchis on the nose. Only 16g/l sugar makes it clean and dry with lovely aromatics
Dessert was a set wild geranium Panna Cotta with griddled litchis, berries and a berry coulis
© John & Lynne Ford, Adamastor & Bacchus 2016
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