The spotlight fell squarely on the excellence and multi-generational consistency of Boplaas wines and spirits during the Calitzdorp Expressed Festival, this week. In a rarity, if not first, for the industry, father and son hosted separate master classes that highlighted Boplaas’ award-winning red wines and ports, founded by Carel Nel; and, whiskies, spearheaded by Carel’s son and sixth generation distiller, Daniel.
It was furthermore a choice moment for the occasion. The festival saw out-of-towners converge on the Little Karoo town in droves during the first sizeable event hosted here in years, since the relaxation of pandemic regulations. Some 31 venues participated, including Boplaas, which gave a rare insight into its legacy.
Carel Nel provided a short history on Boplaas’s journey with Portuguese varieties and how the Tinta Barocca planted by accident at Boplaas was first thought to be Shiraz, and how from the start Boplaas has made world-class table wines and ports.
Son Daniel focused on Boplaas whisky, providing tastings and discussions about six variants, but not without a nod to his dad, maker of top brandy too. Alongside his creations, he had a tasting of Platter five-star winner, Carel’s 20YO Boplaas Pot still Brandy.
“It was a special day for us at Boplaas,” says Carel. “We’re always eager to share the story of our wines, whiskies, and brandies. But we were especially happy to be part of an event that really helped towards reviving the economy of our small community after Covid and severe droughts.”
The tasting included Boplaas’s Tinta Barocca and Gamka Red, a blend of Touriga Nacional, Tinta Barocca, Souzão, Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz; and, port wines.
Carel says the 1996 Cape Vintage Reserve truly showed how well Boplaas ports age. As for the two Platter five-star winners – the classic Vintage Reserve Port 2009 and the Cape Vintage Reserve 2018 – both revealed the positive contribution of Touriga Nacional.
“Most of the tasters preferred the 2005 Colheita Tawny Port from Boplaas that was complex and well integrated compared to the Sandeman 10 Year Tawny where the alcohol was quit prominent,” he says.
Fortunate participants in the spirits master class led by Daniel had the opportunity to taste the 6YO Boplaas Single Grain Whisky (Finished in Tawny Barrels), which won the title of Best SA Whisky at the Michelangelo International Wine and Spirits Awards in 2018. The whisky shows beautiful caramel, nutty and Christmas cake flavours contributed by the Tawny casks.
The tasting of two 8YO single cask whiskies was also a revelation. Each employed different casks.
The Tawny version, with alcohol of 56%, showed beautiful aromas of tawny port reminiscent of Christmas fruitcake, roasted walnuts and salted caramel. “Only the best casks are selected for this whisky, with only 300 bottles released per bottling,” says Daniel.
The Virgin Single Cask, with an alcohol content of 46%, is a drier style whisky. It shows beautiful wood-spiced flavours of cigar box and pencil shavings. The whisky was matured for five years in an ex-Bourbon cask, before being finished for three years in a new American oak barrel.
Next up was an unreleased Boplaas Single Malt 6YO, which matured in a Constantia Noble Single Cask and has an alcohol content of 49%. “The whisky shows classic peaty characters typically associated with Scotch. The peat is forward, but well integrated with the flavour of the malt,” says Daniel. “The sweetness of the Constantia cask rounds it out beautifully and gives it aromas of rich dried raisons, honey and dried lemon peel.”
Rounding out the occasion was the highlight Boplaas 20YO Pot still Brandy. It shows dark gold in glass with full maturation flavours of dried fruit raisins and orange peel. The finish is smooth and lingers, thanks to great integration of the alcohol.