Sax ‘n’ Berg at the Vineyard
It has been a while since I have been to the Vineyard Hotel, Newlands, for a Monday evening wine tasting. Tonight, it was the turn of Saxenburg to showcase 4 of their wines. I introduced myself to Paula, their representative, as she was setting up indoors. Saxenburg is one of the oldest farms in South Africa, dating back to 1693. The name stems from 2 original owners: Joachim Sax, a free burger who was given the land by Simon van der Stel, and Olaff and Augustus Berg who gained the farm in 1705. Today, it is owned by a Swiss couple, Adrian and Birgit Buhrer and managed by their son and daughter.
West of Stellenbosch, the estate today extends to 195 hectares of which almost half (85 hectares) are under vine. Red wines make up 80% the production. Saxenburg is best known for Shiraz that makes up near to 60% of production. Paula bought 2 white and 2 red wines to sample. The MCC made an excellent start to the tasting. Dry apple and yeasty toast aromas filled the glass as the larger than usual bubbles rose in the glass. It was as if it was waiting to be released after 5 years on the lees, fresh and lively without being brash. This was an elegant wine and with a good mouthfeel.
The Chardonnay was just as good. I liked the layered complexity of cosy baked apple and lemon notes on the nose. Creamy, warm nectarine and caramel flavours emerged on the palate, from maturation in French oak barrels (20% new, 40% 2nd fill, 40% 3rd fill). This was another quality wine.
The medium-bodied purple ruby Shiraz (matured in 50% French oak, 50% American oak) was very drinkable. It was less spicy and lighter in character than many I have tasted and good for it. Blueberry and mulberry flavours gave way to silky soft tannins in harmonious balance. Not made in 2014 due to insufficient quality of grapes harvested, I would readily buy a bottle. Excellent as the first 3 wines were, my favourite was the classic Bordeaux-styled Cabernet Sauvignon. It showed all the hallmarks of an excellent food wine: full body; deep ruby colour; juicy red to dark berry fruit with hints of peppermint; open rounded tannins; good structure; and a lengthy finish. Ready to drink now I can only imagine how much more it will improve with age.
The Saxenburg wines from the flagship Premium Collection were of high quality. They were not cheap at R150 to R200 but offered value for money. I would happily consider buying any other wine from the Collection without prior tasting on the basis of these excellent wines. I can see that an early visit to the estate is high on my list of forthcoming visits.
2011 Brut MCC (70% Chardonnay, 30% Pinot Noir) – R190
2015 Chardonnay – R150
2015 Shiraz – R200
2012 Cabernet Sauvignon – R200 FAVOURITE WINE