Some of South Africa’s top winemakers and personalities from the industry called on the Bay last week for the Meridian Wine Merchants’ trade showcase at the Boardwalk.
The company’s show is held annually in all the big cities and gives both trade and customers the opportunity to taste and acquire newly released wines, many of them premium or limited selections.
About 400 guests attended last week’s Port Elizabeth showcase.
Regional director Olga Hafner, who is based in the city, said Meridian’s portfolio included 41 brands, all from family-owned estates, and all of these were present to share their offerings in the Bay last Thursday.
Established in 1997 with just a handful of brands, and with the Eastern Cape branch founded in 2001, Meridian is today a leading wine sales, marketing and distribution company that does business throughout South Africa and Africa.
It is recognised for its use of the Cool Wines method of distribution, according to which wines are transported from the farms, warehoused and distributed under temperature-controlled conditions, greatly reducing the chance of deterioration and oxidation.
Trade shows were also held in Gauteng, Cape Town and Durban, with the Bay event attracting the who’s who of business and social circles.
“I loved the space and elegance afforded by the Boardwalk Convention Centre, and the fact that every winemaker generously presented their premier, allocated luxury wines in the lineup offer for tasting,” Hafner said.
“Among those attending our show for the first time were De Grendel’s cellarmaster Charles Hopkins; Gary Baumgarten, MD and winemaker/consultant of Antonij Rupert Wines, and Thys Louw, owner/winemaker of Diemersdal. We were so privileged to have them attend considering their hectic calendars.”
Several prestigious estates’ winemakers were also present, among them Brad Paton of Buitenverwachting; Duran Cornhill of Klein Constantia; Edmund Terblanche of La Motte; Eugene van Zyl of Leopard’s Leap; Martin Meinert of Meinert Wines; Clive Radloff of Rupert & Rothschild, and Charl du Plessis of Spice Route.
“David Nieuwoudt, owner and winemaker of Cederberg, Ghost Corner and Longavi wines from Chile [a collaboration between Nieuwoudt and Chilean producer Julio Bouchon] was constantly surrounded by guests,” Hafner added. “His electric charisma, passion, knowledge and exquisite lineup of wines were a privilege to experience.”
Among the Methode Cap Classiques (MCC’s) that stood out were the Blanc de Blanc 2012 from L’Ormarins, made in the style of Bollinger champagne and released just two weeks ago, according to Baumgarten, from Antonij Rupert Wines.
Another top find, homed in on by the likes of Prestons’ Nico Pitsiladi, was the Saronsberg Brut 2012, made from 100% chardonnay grapes and boasting the tiniest bubble or mousse, as is characteristic of the best MCCs.
Interesting whites included De Grendel’s Chardonnay 2015 which cellarmaster Hopkins said had excellent maturation potential.
“It can last five, maybe even 10 years,” he said, “and needs a special palate to appreciate it.”
Reds that made an impression included Diemersdal’s Pinotage Reserve 2015 that, late last month, made the Absa Top 10 Pinotage Competition list for the sixth consecutive year, according to Louw, whose family have made wine at this estate in Durbanville for six generations.
Meerlust’s Rubicon, one of the first Bordeaux blends ever produced in South Africa, again impressed, the 2013 having just been released.
“It wants a meal,” marketing manager Eddie Turner advised. “Have it with lamb or a steak with a nice piece of fat on it.”
Meinert, likewise, is known for his phenomenal reds, including the luscious Synchronicity 2011, which many a Bay guest raved about.
However this owner, farmer and winemaker from the picturesque Devon Valley confessed he wished he had a little more time to play around with “project” wines, such as his brand-new Pinot Noir 2012, “which I’ll probably never do again”.