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Some thoughts on some wines, Cape Winemakers Guild 2020

The wines of the annual Cape Winemakers Guild auction are something I always look forward to. Yes there’s a sense of rarity, exclusivity – but I also feel like the winemakers inject the full force of their personalities into the wine, like they’ve been given a canvas to play with. Removed for a moment from their house styles, their sacrosanct ranges; it’s the chance to bring that idea to life.

I sampled a selection a few days ago, the rain hammering down on my porch roof above me.  My picks:

The one that illustrated my point above the most has to be Andrea Mullineux’s Leeu Passant Radicales Libres 2015. Inspired by the extended barrel-aged white wines of the Jura and Rioja, this chardonnay (fruit hailing from the Klein Karoo) was aged in barrel for five years after fermentation. The slow evaporation in oak means that as water evaporates, everything else in the wine concentrates resulting in a powerful; hold-my-beer, kind of wine.  Coconut suntan lotion in the best sense and salty sea breezes to match draw you into a palate that’s concentrated and creamy layered with peaches, lemon oil and roasted hazelnuts. It stays in your mouth long, long after you’ve swallowed.

Strydom Family Wines The Game Changer 2017 -  like a sleeping leopard on tree it opens with a growl, herbaceous and spiced. On the palate, it’s softer and finer than the nose would suggest. Cab franc (80%) and merlot blend, the red fruit of both varieties shine bright on this.

Andrea Mullineux’s
Leeu Passant Radicales Libres 2015

I’m not one to use words like ‘seduce’ when it comes to wines, but that’s exactly what the Boschkloof Epilogue Syrah 2018 does. A total seduction, perfumed and elegant, brooding. The palate has this exhilarating clarity of fruit, so precisely tailored with ripe, satiny tannins.

What a joyful wine this is. The Raats Family Wines The Fountain Terroir Specific Chenin Blanc 2019 showcases just what a master of his craft winemaker Bruwer Raats is. He’s chenin-obsessed and it shows. Super complex, there’s beautiful sun-warmed, fragrant fruit, bayleaf and sandalwood spice and gunpowder-like crushed rocks. Fresh and weighty, with a real stony acidity on the palate and a long zesty finish.

Salty licks of liquorice on the Neil Ellis Wines Amper Bo Tempranillo 2015, dark cherry compote, dried thyme and cigar-like spice let you know you’re in for something serious; coiled and intense on the palate, savoury. The kind of finish that feels as if you’re turning the pages of an epic novel. Built to last – and will get even more interesting.

Just utter supreme winemaking; Kanonkop CWG Paul Sauer 2017 is so driven, structured, a supple skeleton of oak framing pure, glossy fruit. Racy, lemony acid and a serious dry finish complete the perfection.

The Auction went live on the Bonhams website in September and will closes at 4pm UK time on Saturday (October 3). There’s also a live online Auction starting at noon (also UK time.)︎

Epilogue Syrah 2018

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