Boplaas patriarch and veteran winemaker Carel Nel will – after more than three decades of participation – bid farewell to the renowned Cape Winemakers Guild (CWG) Auction this year. One of the event’s most prolific contributors over the years, he offers two exclusive wines as his parting shot when the auction takes place in Somerset West on October 6 and 7.
Significantly, this year’s auction has been rated by some commentators as one of the most exciting of the decade. “For the past decade there is for me nothing that surpasses this annual release in order to understand the quality of South African wines and why these wines should be on everyone’s lips,” writes the UK’s Roger Jones, a veteran judge of leading international wine shows, about the 2023 Cape Winemakers Guild Auction.
The wines from Carel Nel this year are the Boplaas Daniels Legacy Red Blend 2021 and Boplaas CWG Colheita 2007 Cape Tawny. They are added to a total of over 50 wines that he has made specifically for the CWG auction, including Sauvignon blanc, Riesling, Cabernet Sauvignon, red blends from Portuguese cultivars, port, potstill brandy, muscadel and straw wine.
“It has been a real privilege and pleasure to be part of the auction,” he says about the tenure, which is a regulated term for all members of the organisation. “I’m proud to have been able to contribute to this institution that continues to be an important part of shaping the future of South African wine.”
Although this will be his last auction, Carel stays on as a non-producing member at the CWG.
“To have 35 years at the guild you need a lot of help from the heavens and work well together with your family,” he says.
First there was the great partnership of Carel and his father, Danie. Then, Carel worked with his family – wife Jeanne, and their children Rozanne, Boplaas’s marketing manager with her brother Daniel, who is also a distiller; and, winemaker Margaux.
His career includes a vast number of highlights, he says. He remains grateful for being welcomed among the numerous friends of the wine community over the years and becoming a Cape Wine Master in 1991. During his study to become a Cape Wine Master, he met a multitude of exceptional farmers and worldclass winemakers including Peter Symington, Bruce Guimaraens, Robert Drouhin and Robert Mondavi.
He says the CWG’s monthly technical tastings remain a high point for him. “Two stood out in particular. The first was the Domaine Romanée-Conti tasting by Aubert de Villaine where wines like Montrachet, Richebourg, Echezeaux and Romanee Conti were tasted.
“The second was hosted by Piero Antinori himself,” Carel recalls. “When I told him Boplaas is now a sixth-generation winery he replied that only the first 200 years are difficult. Wise words for an owner of a winery that is 600 years old!”
During his time with the CWG there were many other stand-out occasions too. Boplaas was named Best Winery at the Veritas Awards in 2005; Best Producer at the Michelangelo International Wine & Spirit Awards in 2019; and, a maker of wines among the Top 150 in the world. It has amassed 25 Veritas Double Gold medals; 17 Platter 5 Stars ratings; Wine Spectator’s highest scoring wine of the CWG for the 2005 Colheita Cape Tawny; and, Tim Atkin, MW’s title of Fortified Wine of the Year for the 2007 CWG Cape Tawny.
More about the guild
The Cape Winemakers Guild was founded in 1982 to improve the quality of South African wine by tasting international benchmarks and sharing knowledge among its members. Membership is by invitation only and many of South Africa’s leading winemakers are members of the Guild. Most of the industry’s elder winemakers have also counted among its number.
“Through initiatives such as the Protégé Programme, the CWG has show itself also to be a dynamo for the empowerment of new and young talent,” says Carel.
While the Guild is largely focused on the industry, its annual auction showcases its achievements through the public and international sale of rare and unique wines produced in small quantities exclusively for the event by the members. It is a annual milestone of the wine industry.
The first of the two Boplaas wines from Carel Nel on auction this year – the Boplaas Daniels Legacy Red Blend 2021 – is a blend of Touriga Nacional, Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz and Tinta Barocca.
“This wine is made in celebration of Oupa Danie’s mistaken planting of Tinta Barocca instead of Shiraz, after his sojourn to the Swartland in the early 1970s. We later discovered the mistake, but the wine was so good, it became one of Boplaas’s calling cards!”
The wine is bright garnet-red in colour and shows notes of black hedgerow fruits, tart cranberry, ripe plum, spice and fynbos. “This wine only reveals its true underpinnings with time in the glass and tempts one to return for more,” Carel says.
The second wine, the Boplaas CWG Colheita 2007 Cape Tawny, is made from Tinta Barocca and aged for 15 years in barrel. It recently scored 97 points in Tim Atkins’ South Africa Report and was judged to be Fortified Wine of the Year.
“This is the only wine on the auction I can safely say that is expected to last at least 100 years, but is also perfect to drink now!” Carel declares.
The wine has a fiery red-brown tawny colour with flecks of olive green on the rim. The bouquet unfurls with walnut, roast almonds, a blend of spices, warming brandy and charred oak.