Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Report from ... Nederburg Dinner - June 12, 2008

You’ve undoubtedly seen their name on a bottle of wine in the South Africa section of your local liquor store – that’s because they are not a small company by any stretch of the imagination. They are owned by Distell, the 10th largest wine marketers in the world with a 45% market share in South Africa alone, and they are the 2nd biggest producer of cider in the world. They produce just under 20 million cases of wine per year (Distell). Nederburg is South Africa’s largest selling super premium brand and the most award-winning winery in South Africa. The property was settled in 1791, but the first official Nederburg wine didn’t flow out the cellar door until 1934.

I joined head winemaker Linley Schultz and Devron Wilcock (Distell USA) for dinner on a Thursday night at Veritas (on King Street) to discuss their award winning wines, taste and pair them up with a variety of foods.

Not being much of a foodie – I leave that up to my colleague and partner in wine crimes (on this night anyway) Dean Tudor – who’s notes about the evening’s food you can see on his blog under the June 12 heading. I’m all about the wines and tonight we tried 6 wines. 3 from the Winemaster’s Reserve Collection: Sauvignon Blanc, Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon (all available on the general list at the LCBO) and the same three varieties from the Manor House Collection – a more limited reserve selection (the Shiraz and Cab will be available at Vintages August 2, 2008).

Across the board Nederburg offers good wines at great value, the Winemaster’s Reserve line all fall under $13 and the Manor House wines are all priced at $16.95. Let’s take a look at where to best put your money.

Sauvignon Blanc …
Considering you can’t get the Manor House version here in Ontario (unless you go the private order route), you’re best value is the $11.95 Winemaster’s Reserve, side by side they are very similar with their grassy, lemony aromas and grassy-tropical fruit flavours, but the Winemaster’s crisp finish beats out the length of finish and acidity of the Manor House, especially for the $12 price tag.

Shiraz …
This one’s a no-brainer, you’ll have to wait until August to pick up the Manor House 2006 Shiraz, but considering two prestigious wine competitions (International Wine & Spirits Competition and Syrah du Monde) have honoured Nederburg’s Manor House Shiraz with gold medals. Black licorice, black fruit and black pepper accost the nose, while in the mouth it’s smooth, easy sipping, with a palate of black (pepper and fruit) – there’s just more elegance and length in this bottle and for a few dollars more (not the Clint Eastwood six gun kind) it’s worth picking up. Don’t get me wrong, the Winemaster’s is good value, but this one’s better.

Cabernet Sauvignon …
This one’s a toss up. Very little difference in flavours or smells … both had black fruit, chocolate and a sweet mid-palate. Difference is berry selection and longevity. So for drink-now buy the $12.95 Winemaster’s, if you’re wanting to hold onto this wine for a few years (5-8) spend the extra $4 in August and get the Manor House – either way you can’t go wrong … in fact, you’ll have some for now and some for later, and that’s never a bad thing.

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