Cellar shows how to rise above norm

AT a lofty 1100m above sea level, Cederberg Private Cellar has South Africa’s highest vineyards and, aptly enough, are taking their wines to new heights too.

This year alone, their accolades include being one of just three wineries with four five-star wines in the 2014 Platter’s South African Wine Guide and winning an international trophy at the Decanter World Wine Awards for best in show Sauvignon Blanc over £15 (about R250). That was for their 2012 Ghost Corner Sauvignon Blanc.

Just last week, the estate shared the SA Wine Index (SAWI) Winery of the Year Award with Bouchard Finlayson. Cederberg’s fifth-generation owner and winemaker David Niewoudt was also named Winemaker of the Year.

Cederberg sits at the foot of Sneeuberg Mountain, about 250km north of Cape Town, between Citrusdal and Clanwilliam.

Niewoudt is friendly and outgoing, knowledgeable and enthusiastic about wine – but his eyes really light up when he gets onto his passion, Sauvignon Blanc.

His mission is to make not just good, but great, Sauvignon Blanc. For this, he perfects his art on grapes grown at altitude at Cederberg and in the Ghost Corner range from Elim, near Cape Agulhas, one of the country’s southernmost vineyards.

“We use the same clones, the same yeast, the same preparation, and the same cellar. If you don’t believe in terroir after this, you never will,” he says.

Where the Cederberg Sauvignon Blanc is crisp and flinty with clean fruit flavours, the Ghost Corner version is layered and complex, intense and concentrated, with more citrusy flavours and great depth. Both are great wines on their own and with food.

Niewoudt’s third Sauvignon Blanc, the Ghost Corner Wild Ferment Sauvignon Blanc, is one of his Platter five-star wines, and sees him taking on the international trend for wild yeast fermentation. Rather than injecting a commercial yeast strain, the wine-maker allows the wine to ferment spontaneously on the wild yeasts that occur naturally on the vines and in the air.

The result, says Platter’s, is “dry and uncompromising” with citrus, “dusty minerality and creamy vanilla oak”.

Cederberg’s other five-star wines are the Five Generations Cabernet Sauvignon 2011, Cape Winemakers’ Guild Auction Reserve Teen die Hoog Shiraz 2011, and Ghost Corner The Bowline 2012, a “knockout combo” of Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc.

And, just for added variety, Niewoudt recently made a range of wines in Chile, including a Sauvignon, of course, supervising the process via Skype. They are due to land in South Africa this month.

Released just in time for Christmas, the annual Platter’s makes a great gift for wine-lovers. It’s widely available in stores and from www.wineonaplatter.com. Buy it online before the end of December and stand a chance to win a case of five-star wines and brandies.

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