Chantal and I attended a special lunch and Cape Winemakers Guild (CWG) wine tasting at Kasteel Groot Engelenburg in Brummen last Sunday. It was a special occasion as it was part of the festivities of Winematters‘ 10th anniversary (congrats Udo!!), but it was also organized in light of the 2016 CWG Auction that will be held on October 1 at Spier Wine Estate in Stellenbosch.
About the Cape Winemakers Guild
The CWG is a personal membership for winemakers (i.e., regardless of their employer) and started in 1982 as a forum to share knowledge to further improve the overall quality of South African wines. The membership is on invitation only for craftspersons that have been responsible for producing outstanding wines for a minimum of 5 years and are actively involved in operations in the cellar from harvest to bottling.
There are now 48 CWG members and Udo managed to get 4 of them to come over and join the various festivities: Andrea Mullineux (Mullineux & Leeu Family Wines), Gordon Newton Johnson (Newton Johnson Family Vineyards), Niels Verburg (Luddite) and Jeremy Walker (Grangehurst Winery).
Since 1985 there have been annual auctions whereby the members bring forward their most experimental, innovative, and unique wines that are made especially for the annual auctions. Part of the proceeds goes to programs whereby young and promising winemakers and viticulturists get the opportunity to learn from the best in South Africa and to developing accredited training programs for cellar workers.
About the lunch and wine tasting at Kasteel Groot Engelenburg
Kasteel Groot Engelenburg is a beautifully situated monumental mansion in Brummen in the Gelderland province of the Netherlands. The original castle dates back to the Middle ages and has been destroyed, rebuilt and remodeled several times in its vast history. The last main upgrade dates back to 1988 with a conversion from private residence to a country hotel, restaurant and conference center. Next door is the 9-holes golf course of the Engelenburg Golf & Country Club.
In 2005 Johan and Carin Agricola became owners of Groot Engelenburg. There is a clear link with South Africa as they lived there quite some time where Johan worked as general manager of hotels in Somerset-West and Plettenberg as well as general manager of a restaurant in Cape Town. Maurice Kersten is the chef de cuisine since then, and he was has been trained by Robert Kranenborg at The Amstel Hotel and by Pascal Jalhai at Restaurant Vermeer. Arjen Pleij en Jurgen Luppes, the sommeliers, have built an impressive collection of South African wines in the cellar as well as a vast single malt whisky collection in the lounge. Gault Millau awarded the restaurant with 14 out of 20 points and the hotel as 2016 Hotel of the Year.
Updates: In August 2018 Arjen Pleij joined the select ranks of Magister Vini, the highest Dutch level for wine proficiency, as the 12th person ever. Furthermore, Tom Langenkamp, the sous-chef of Kasteel Engelenburg for 12½ years, has been appointed as Executive Chef per January 1, 2019.
We were welcomed with a glass of Newton Johnson Résonance 2015 (a Sauvignon Blanc / Semillon blend) as an aperitif, before being seated for the lunch in the conservatory. The 4-course lunch would be paired in such a way that overall we would be having 2 “regular” wines from each of the CWG members.
The second courses:
The main courses:
Finally, bringing the fantastic lunch to a close, the Chenin-based Straw Wine 2015 from Mullineux was served with coffee/tea.
After that, we needed to hurry to attend the CWG wine tasting, whereby a number of wines that will be up for auction could be sampled. Originally, the CWG tasting was supposed to be part of the dinner arrangement but we – as parents with kids that need to go to school on Monday – were lucky enough to get it combined with the lunch.
It was a very enjoyable and interesting tasting session – especially for wine novices like us – with plenty of funny anecdotes and the winemaker’s views on more technical issues like blending, corking, vintages, etc. We sampled the following amazing CWG wines:
- Pieter Ferreia’s Graham Beck Wines Non-Plus Ultra Méthode Cap Classique 2008
- David Nieuwoudt’s Cederberg Ghost Corner Semillon 2015
- Andrea Mullineux’s Mullineux Clairette Blanche 2015
- Gary Jordan’s Jordan Chardonnay Auction Selection 2015
- Andrea Mullineux’s Mullineux Trifecta Syrah 2013
- Niels Luddite The Broken Ankle Shiraz-Cabernet Sauvignon 2013
- Jeremy Walker didn’t have a suitable wine to put up for this years’ auction, so we got one of his past entries instead: The Grangehurst Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve 2006
The quantities of both production and cases up for auction are very low: aside from some limited volume magnum and double magnum entries, there are only 24 to 90 regular cases available of each of the 55 wines that are put up for auction this year. In the past 5 editions, the average price per auctioned case volume had increased with 300% to about R4500 (EUR 275 / USD 310). Unfortunately, transportation costs and VAT are involved to ultimately get the wines to the Netherlands, so participating can become a costly affair. Nevertheless, the Graham Beck MMC and Jordan Chardonnay are quite tempting…
I had drawn the short straw and therefore was the designated driver. Therefore, merely tasting for me on this part of the day. A pity given the truly outstanding quality of the wines 😉! Chantal confiscated my leftovers; so next time we are definitely staying the night at the hotel part of Groot Engelenburg…