Cape Wine 2008 Closes

Well the spittoons have all been emptied and the armies of depleted bottles dispatched to the bottle bank. Friday morning’s weather confirms an industry wide hangover: torrential rain, intermittent blasts of wind, the regional thermostat stuck on freezing cold. The legions of Swedish sommeliers will be pleased to return to the relatively clement climes of Scandinavia.

cw Cape Wine 2008 Closes

Opinions as to the overall success or otherwise of CW2008 are divided: one larger-than-life Stanford producer called it a total waste of time while others pronounced themselves happier with proceedings. From a wine perspective, Sunday night’s opening tasting at Waterford was arguably the highlight: a perfect evening enhanced by brilliant wines with everyone on their best behaviour. Tasting around the tables, the conclusion was staring you straight in the face: SA wine has never been as good as it is now.

As for the show, the topology of lining producers up in rows results in tunnels of terror. For anyone with a profile slightly higher than a mushroom, the only way to navigate was to focus on an imaginary spot on the far wall of the convention centre and propel yourself singlemindedly in that direction, as if on wheels, feigning not to hear the siren calls from both sides. For to stop at a stand was to be lost, as exhibitors lined up their entire range for your delectation, with some special bottles lurking out of sight.

That said, a few wines did make an impression on this timid taster. Adi Badenhorst’s 2007 white blend of Rousanne, Grenache Blanc, Viognier, Chenin Blanc and Sauvignon Blanc was a true showstopper. Made from mainly Paardeberg fruit, the hallmark fat fruit flavours, richness and length confirm the sex appeal of new white blends. Another worthy example is Ian Naude’s 2007 blend of Chenin, Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc. At R60 a bottle, it is amazing value and drinking beautifully while the follow-up 2008 (at the same price) is even better, and one for the cellar.

The Kleine Zalze Family Reserve 2008 Sauvignon Blanc is a triumph in a vintage that will not be remembered as one of the best for Sauvignon Blanc. Made from grapes grown in five different appellations (Koekenaap, Stellenbosch, Darling, Durbanville and Elim) it is both grassy and tropical at the same time. The same may be said of the Lomond Sugarbush 2008 which has awesome elegance and poise.

The standard Lomond 2008 Sauvignon Blanc is all pear drops, green pepper and grass and the flavours don’t suddenly drop off like the Dow Jones – a common problem with Walker Bay Sauvignons this year. Another intense Sauvignon vaut le voyage (as they say in the Michelin) is David Nieuwoudt’s Ghost Corner 2008. Made from Elim fruit this ghost is more Casper than ghoul.

As for the reds: a wonderful Merlot from Elgin and the Frans K Smit 2004 blend of Merlot, Cabernet, Shiraz and Petit Verdot from Spier with massive concentration and complexity. The Hawequas 2007 from Mont du Toit has a wonderful overripe strawberry finish while Callie Louw’s fine reds from TMV in Tulbagh define linearity of flavour. If for nothing else, CW2008 was a big fat success simply for being a platform on which such jewels may be displayed.