Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Vintage tasting and lunch at Saxenburg

Saxenburg shows off some of their impressive vintage wines
Cellarmaster Nico van der Merwe joined Saxenburg in 1990, just a year after the Swiss Bührer family bought the estate. Vines were first planted by the founder Joachim Sax in 1701. Winemaker Edwin Grace took over from Nico recently and is now the Cellarmaster. Nico made wines to last and this was a chance to taste quite a few of the older vintages with members of the family and Edwin, followed by lunch at the Cattle Baron restaurant on the farm
A list of the wines we tasted. The Private Collection Merlot: The three Merlots were interesting and each different. The 1995 still has huge tannins but shows suppleness. The 1998 is attractive with a pretty nose filed with cherry and raspberry and floral, so Merlot. Slightly spicy but sweet berry fruit, warm alcohol and tannins say this wine still has years to go. The 2005 has balsamic notes with brandy hints and the tannins overtaking the fruit still.
The Private Collection Shiraz: 1994 was spicy, peppery, intense and interesting, with green herbs and truffles. Dry chewy tannins soft berry fruit beneath. The 1996 was contentious in the room. Coffee mocha notes on black berries with violets, it had clean almost crisp fruit acids, the tannins are soft and supple, more Rhone like. Drink now. 2000 smells of wonderfully of kelp, spice and rich red fruit. On the palate rhubarb, tayberries and boysenberries, with some spice. A good food wine. The best of the bunch.
The Private Collection Cabernet Sauvignon: 1992 Cassis leaves and berries, oak notes, lactic and different herbal notes. on the palate herbal with basil and oregano, then light red fruit, pomegranate rather than cassis. 1998 A Full-on nose of cassis leaves and berries Silky on the palate with warm alcohol, very 'together' a proper Cabernet in the French style except the nice warmth from our South. Vanilla oak and violets make an appearance. 2000 Balsamic spice then berries on the nose; soft sweet cassis and cherry fruit, lively and refreshing backed up by good wood and chalk. Nose does not marry with palate. 2003 Vanilla violets and cassis and rich cherries, a block buster nose, so different from the 2000. Light spicy fruit, very warm alcohol, this wine needs to get together a bit more.
The Saxenburg Shiraz Select (SSS): 1998 Dusty musty spicy with dark black berries and pepper on the nose, Hot red fruit very Rhone style with some herbs dark liquorice wood, spice and warmth of alcohol, long flavours and linseed. nice lively fruit, with a pure fruit end. 2001 Balsamic with wood, almost cassis fruit, clean sweet and sour fruit on the palate, long with warm alcohol. 2005 Pretty nose with dark fruit, perfume and warmth, no faults and interesting, showing good age notes a bang of alcohol and sweet fruit. Lovely wine for red meats - steak or rare roasts. It was a very good tasting and rather special to be able to taste these wines.
On a warm autumn day we met on the lawn outside the wine cellar
Mike Bampfield Duggan examines a bottle of the Saxenburg Non-vintage MCC, a new offering made from 85% Chardonnay, 15% Pinot Noir
The tasting was held inside the old wine cellar. This was previously owned by KWV and was used to ferment brandy, vodka, Gilbey's Gin and to make sweet wines
A mural above one of the tasting tables
Vincent Bührer, in charge of Management & International Wine Sales with his sister Fiona, has been at the reins since 2011. Vincent welcomed us and introduced the team
Cellar master Edwin Grace
Media and wine industry discussing the wines
Pouring the wines for the other table
Each of the old kuipe cellars displays one of the Saxenburg wines
The line up of the vintage wines we tasted
Lunch was at the Cattle Baron restaurant on the farm
Inside the Cattle Baron restaurant, the room has a mural of the farm
Herb margarine for the bread
The lunch menu
Fiona Bührer, sister of Vincent, is also in charge of Management & International Wine Sales, she spends her time between Europe and South Africa, she is the European Brand Manager
With lunch we got to taste the current wines, this is the new rather contentious label on the 2016 Guinea Fowl Chenin Blanc
It is a typical Stellenbosch Chenin grassy and dusty on the nose, juicy with lots of tropical flavours like pineapple and apple. Unoaked.
The starter was a briefly citrus cured Norwegian salmon ceviché, served with pickled vegetables and spring onion
A rather fetching arrangement of lamps
The group enjoying lunch
Fiona telling us about the current wine range
Saxenburg are known for their excellent Shirazes. This is the 2009 Triple S Select, just launched at the lunch, from 3 vineyards, 50/50 America and French oak R800 on the farm,. Only 3000 bottles were vinified and it is only made in the best years. It has savouriness with rich wood and berries on the nose and more intense berries and some spice, with warm alcohol and taut tannins and chalk on the end palate. Needs time
This was served with the main course which was a first for several people, tender and succulent, well flavoured beef cheeks on truffle mash, with a wine jus, baby rainbow carrots and half an onion. Not sure why the onion was there, it didn't add anything to the dish
Dessert was a coconut Panna cotta with a mango coulis, topped with roasted coconut flakes. They unfortunately collapsed as it was rather thin in texture.
Served with dessert was the La Reve Natural Sweet Wine made from Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon and Chardonnay. Lovely label with a bee on a vine on the World. Sticky sweet grape must with some honey and hints of pourriture but not enough to get it certified as Noble Late
In conversation
Johannesburg Sommeliers asking questions of Vincent Bührer
Johann de Wet, visiting from Robertson, with Fiona Bührer
A double espresso to go. Saxenburg had kindly arranged Uber to take us there and back home

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