Monday, March 06, 2017

Francois Naude's 9th annual auction of Le Vin de François

Francois Naude, a master Pinotage maker, who was the first winemaker at L'Avenir and has consulted with some of the best farms in the Cape, produces his ultimate Pinotage every year with the help of several of the respected Pinotage farms and winemakers. He selects from their best barrels and sell his blend on auction at the launch to trade, collectors and aficionados'. We were invited to attend on Saturday and write about it
It was a magical mystery tour. We were collected from home at 11.30 by sponsors Jaguar /Land Rover looked after most of the transport. Our first venue was La Paris function venue opposite the Victor Verster prison in Franschhoek. And then we moved at about 4.30 to the second venue where the auction and dinner were held. It turned into rather a long day as we were delivered home at 11 pm 
Our driver Natalie arrived at a quarter to 11, which gave us a panic as we were aiming for the agreed time of 11h30. She went off to collect the other two Sea Point passengers and came back for us when we were ready.. The Jaguar did give us that James Bond feeling: sleek, smooth, powerful comfortable and quick, if a tad small for four generous passengers!
The view from the road of the La Paris function venue, just outside Franschhoek
Once inside the La Paris estate, we were driven up the hill to a spot beside this dam and had a fairly long walk around it and down the hill again till we reached the first snack station
The theme was Africa and the staff were all dressed appropriately. Not all of the guests had got the message in time, but most were very smartly dressed. Here we were offered biltong, peanuts and raisins
Then a long stroll down the Australian cherry tree and lavender edged path
at the end of which we were met with more nibbles, this time dried fruit, grapes on sticks and koeksisters
After the walk through the forest, another stand with more nibbles
This time with more peanuts, dried fruit and raisins and some biltong
Finally, at the first venue by the swimming pool, a smiling Francois Naude, suitably dressed in his African tuxedo
A glass of Soutiran French Champagne...
 or some Brut Rosé MCC from the Naudes’ Wingnut label
Two of the esteemed winemakers who provide Francois with some of their best Pinotage for his Vin de Francois: Abri Beeslaar from Kanonkop and Beyers Truter of Beyerskloof
Francois Rautenbach from Singita was there to purchase some of the wine for his restaurants
Marimba music, and parasols by the pool
The crowd gathers
Help yourself to bubbles and parasols. Just a few chairs and tall tables
Beyers sporting a Pinotage hat
Pretty ladies
Oysters were served
After about 2 hours we moved to this porch venue with huge sofas, where there were more nibbles and bubbly
And thankfully, on the hot day, lots of cold water
Some mini kebab canapés. They were not circulated well by the staff, so we didn’t get many
Fruit and koeksisters, more peanuts and raisins, and Zambuk ointment for the mosquitoes
Face painting was done by some lovely ladies
And if you were quick, you could have a lovely foot massage which stopped at 2.30.
The line up of cars which transported us - donated by the sponsor, Jaguar/Land Rover
Chatting and drinking the bubbles
Francois Naude Jr outlined the rest of the programme
Winnie Bowman CWM enjoying the foot massage
Francois Naude Junior with his wife Catherine in their matching Africa themed outfits
Face painting
More chilling and chatting
The lovely ladies who did the face painting
Artists at work
Then some pole dancing acrobatics
Many patterns could be done
Abri Beeslaar getting his wave
And Beyers his daisy
Inga Rix from Nitida getting her attractive pattern
What a star!
Then at about 15h30 we got in the cars and travelled for about 15 minutes to the next venue, Ex nihilo [Latin: out of nothing] wedding and conference venue, on the R45 half way between Paarl and Franschhoek
The display of wines being auctioned
The tables set for not lunch but dinner
We were served this Chenin Blanc from the Wignut range. It was nice and buttery and full on the palate, Full of lemons, melon and granadilla with a bitter marmalade finish
One of the other sponsors of the auction is Crystal Direct Glassware
A magnum in a box
Three and five litre bottles. Each of the farms who supplied wine for the Vin de Francois had also donated a signed bottle to be auctioned
Each special bottle is signed by the winemakers
The Simonsig mountains
One of our table companions, Samantha van der Riet
The menu
First we were served these mystery packets
Which contained traditional deep fried vetkoek, a bread morsel fried in mutton fat
Lots of chatting and meeting new people for about an hour
Francois starts proceedings at about a quarter to 5. We will have the starter followed by the first half of the auction, then the main course, the rest of the auction, and then dessert followed by brandies
Staff at the ready
Winemakers William Wilkinson of Wildekrans and Dirk Coetzee of L'Avenir with their donated bottles. The money raised on these donated bottles will go to a nominated charity
The starter of salmon three ways arrives. The food was prepared by Lientjie Wessels, a relative of the Naudes
 Grilled and glazed on top; Beetroot and gin cured gravadlax in the middle and baby spinach and smoked salmon salad. Goats cheese croutons were promised but were not on this serving
Francois Senior gets the auction going by a quarter past 6. He thanked the sponsors and talked about the wine and the wine farms and wine makers involved for letting him take the best of their fruit and wine so that he could make Vin de François. The wine farms involved are Beyerskloof, L'Avenir, Simonsig, Rhebokskloof, Wildekrans, Lanzerac and Kanonkop. Francois has consulted or made wine on many of them in his career. It was the driest and earliest harvest in years, one of the very best if not the best vintage in years
And we finally get to taste the wine just as it begins, so you had to make up your mind quickly if you wanted to buy. The waiting staff poured one table at a time, each had a decanter. It took a while
The vintage is 2014. The wine is dark mulberry in colour with pale to pink edges, On the nose hints of roses, balsamic, bananas and cherries and some lactic notes. On the palate tight tannins, good fruit, lots of depth. Chocolate and stewed plums with a little zinc, cinnamon and black pepper. Good length. Built to last 20 years or more, will age well

The auctioneer Philip Powell in full flow. He went so fast that he almost skipped a couple of lots! The first 5 lots of one case of 12 went for R12000. When a magnum or a special signed bottle was auctioned they got upwards of R14000 to R16000 a case. Large lots were slightly lower. If you bid for a lot with the special signed bottles, called Artworks, you also got dinner for four with Francois and the winemaker of that particular bottle
Francois Jr explains how the Artwork bottles work
The signed bottle of Simonsig Tiara
The main course of lamb shank with raw pickled vegetables on a bed of Bulgar wheat with raisins, topped with a sweet sultana and saffron sauce. The wine did go very well with this course. The shanks were enormous
We left at after this course at 10 pm, so we did not get to taste the desserts which sounded very good
© John & Lynne Ford, Adamastor & Bacchus 2017
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