My life is made up of a series of Nederburg footprints. My first recollections are Nederburg wines in the 1960s – the ‘cutglass’ Nederburg Rosé bottles with condensation running down the bottles on tables under trees on the lawn in front of our farmhouse when my parents entertained on Sundays. Later as a young man, I got to know Ilse Graue – widow of Johann Graue who owned Nederburg from 1937 until the family sold it to Stellenbosch Farmer’s Winery – who had a house in Hermanus behind the Riviera Hotel where I worked as an apprentice to a wonderful old Swiss Chef always referred to as Mr. Keller.
Later I moved to Lanzerac in Stellenbosch where I met the legends of the wine business, Dr Anton Rupert, Dr Piet Venter and Dr Baumgartner from Distillers, Ronnie Melck and Bill Winshaw of Stellenbosch Farmers Winery, Annemie Canitz who owned Muratie and the ebullient Gunter Brozel who was winemaker at Nederburg for a period of 33 years from 1956.
And it was Gunter – the legend and two times winner of The International Wine and Spirit Competition Winemaker of the Year Award who put Nederburg on the map. His innovations such as the creation of Edelkeur South Africa’s first botrytis affected dessert wine, the success of his Private Bin Wines for the Nederburg Auction made him the country’s doyen of winemakers.
Today his worthy successor is Rumanian Razvan Macici – “South Africa is my home, Rumania is my country of origin.” Razvan and his ‘shadow’ Vladimir the Jack Russell terrier are well known to thousands of television viewers as stars of the Nederburg TV advertisement.
It is Razvan who, with his white-wine maker Tariro Masayiti and red-wine maker Wim Truter, walked away from a function at The Vineyard Hotel in Claremont, Cape Town recently holding the trophy for the most successful producer at the year’s Old Mutual Trophy Wine Show and a trophy for the best unwooded Sauvignon Blanc together with a series of gold, silver and bronze medals.
Nederburg’s Manor House Shiraz 2005 was last year awarded the Rosemount Trophy for best in class at London’s International Wine and Spirit Competition. Nederburg did exceptionally well at SA’s Veritas Wine Awards 2007 tying with another for the best performing winery.
The Manor House at Nederburg is central to the farmstead and is used for entertaining important visitors to the Estate. There is a modern tasting and sales facility with a selection of meals offered at various seasons from picnics in summer to soup in winter.
The annual Nederburg Auction, held in September, which has on offer some of the finest wines of the Cape from a variety of producers, not only Nederburg, was first held in 1975.
Apart from its well knows Private Bin wines that are specially made for the Auction Nederburg has cleverly redesigned its range to include:
The Lifestyle Range which are wines to be enjoyed on their own and include such stunners as the Lyric, a fruity and floral off dry white, the ever popular Duet which is a Shiraz and Pinotage blend and the super quaffer Prelude.
In the Classic range you’ll encounter some well known Nederburg names like the Edelrood – lovely fruit, well managed oak, the fabulous and lush bemedalled Noble Late Harvest, and the Rosé now sadly no longer in its tear shaped bottle with the cutglass bowl. Excellent varietals here too, Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz, Chardonnay, our own Pinotage and the classical Rhine Riesling.
The Winemakers Reserve range has amongst others a recently released and utterly delicious Merlot.
The Manor House range offers premium wines such as a Collection Cabernet Sauvignon, a Shiraz and a Sauvignon Blanc.
Part of Razvan Macici’s pushing of the envelope includes a range of two wines called Ingenuity – this to attract the more affluent experimental wine drinker. Though I think still very reasonably priced, the Ingenuity red at 180 a bottle is an ‘Italian’ blend of Sangiovese, Barbera and Nebbiolo. The companion white at R120 a bottle is an eight-way blend led by Sauvignon Blanc and includes lesser-known varietals such as the Portuguese Verdelho and South African Nouvelle. Approximately 4000 bottles of each of these are made. There is room in my opinion for über premium Nederburg labels and a champagne style Methode Cap Classique Macici-style would be a welcome addition.
Nederburg also produces a fine Solera Brandy. Brandy is after all a natural progression from wine. The tiers of barrels rest quietly under temperature and humidity controlled conditions. Sophisticated and elegant it has all the attributes of a great cognac.
Firmly on a predestined path under the guiding hand of Razvan Macici, I believe Nederburg is set to recapture its position at the helm of winemaking in South Africa. Razvan will need a broad neck to carry all the medals.
Winegrowing area Paarl – grapes bought in from various appellations
Executive Cellarmaster Razvan Macici
White Wine Maker Tariro Masayiti
Red Wine Maker Wim Truter
Viticulturists Hannes van Rensburg & Drikus Heyns