Rare release highlights Boplaas port’s world class status


South African champion port producer Boplaas Family Vineyards has announced a special release that wine connoisseurs will be eager to get their hands on. Reflecting the unmistakable thread of consistent quality, Boplaas has re-launched its award-winning 2006 Cape Vintage Reserve Port along with the release of the 2016 vintage.

The Calitzdorp farm has a long history of producing excellent wines from Portuguese varieties and ports, thanks to ideal terroir and years of expertise. Boplaas Cellar Master and co-owner Carel Nel celebrated his 40th vintage of making wine this year. He has spent more than 10 000 hours achieving world-class knowledge and skill in producing port-style wines. Winemaker Margaux, Carel’s daughter, did her MSc thesis on the production of Portuguese variety table wines.

“We only release our Cape Vintage Reserve ports on the most exceptional vintages. The special release this year features two of the most outstanding in that period,” says Carel. “It made absolute sense that the 2006 and the 2016 Boplaas Cape Vintage Reserve Ports be presented together.”

The 2016 recently won double Platinum at the SA Top 100 and the title of Grand Cru National Champion Port for the best Cape Port in South Africa at the 2016 SA Young Wine Show. Soon after its original release, the 2006 vintage was named SA Champion Port Trophy at the SA Young Wine Show. It also received a Veritas Double Gold and five-star ratings from Wine magazine and Platter’s South African wine guide.

The accolades are just a small indication of a track record that dates to 1986 – the first year Boplaas port was singled out as champion at the SA Young Wine Show. Last year, it collected this same trophy for the 11th time while Boplaas port has amassed 25 Double Gold medals at Veritas since 2003 and 18 five-star ratings by Platter’s.

It’s a remarkable feat for any winemaker, and especially for Carel Nel whose journey with port began with the discovery that Tinta Barocca had been planted on the farm instead of Shiraz. His father Danie had ordered the vines from a nursery and planted them 10 years earlier, but it was Carel – fresh from his studies – that discovered the happy mistake. His first trip to Portugal followed. That was the 1970s and been followed by many.

Over the years Carel became friends with port-makers of note, among them the Symington’s, Guimaraens and Niepoort families, who shared their knowledge and experience with him.

Those early plantings of Tinta Barocca were quickly supplemented to include Touriga Nacional, Touriga Francesca and Souzáo – all varieties that do well in the climate that is similar to the world famous port producing valley of Douro of Portugal.

Boplaas soon became renowned for crafting benchmark, authentic and age-worthy Cape ports with traditional Portuguese varieties. They are vinified to a drier style in open top cement fermenters or lagars and matured in large-format French oak barrels.

The 2006 is a blend of Touriga National, Tinta Barocca and Souzáo.  In the glass, the inky black wine has a tinge of bright purple at the rim. It shows notes of fresh red earth, ripe apricots, fynbos, pepper and allspice. The palate displays bullish tannins, a full mouth-feel and a long finish. “This port can easily age another 25 years,” Carel says.

The 2016 was crafted from hand-harvested fruit originating from a quartet of varieties. The inky blackness here is highlighted with hints of fiery garnet. The bouquet is crushed black berry, tart cranberry, kirsch and purple plums with bright top notes of savoury allspice and fynbos. The palate is bold, reminiscent of liquorice and red fruits with a hint of cacao. The finish is long and dry.

The 2016 Boplaas Cape Vintage Reserve Port is available from the cellar door at R350 p/b while the 2006 is available – in limited quantity only – exclusively from the cellar door in Calitzdorp at R1 200 p/b. It is packaged in a special issue wooden gift box.