Nederburg’s The Wood Diaries: A ‘Smoky’ Winter Experience

Nederburg in Paarl recently presented The Wood Diaries, an intimate late afternoon event expressed in a fun, hands-on way, offering guests the chance to learn the intricacies and impressive skill associated with not only the ageing of wine in oak, but also the blending of a number of wines matured using different types of oak and ageing techniques, into one beautifully balanced blend.

“We set out to give the audience a sense of what being a winemaker is like, while imparting knowledge of the impact of different types of wood used, time spent in barrel as well as frequency of barrel fill. The blending of various Cabernet Sauvignon wine components to make up a final ensemble seemed to really drive the point home that wine making is not for the faint-hearted!” says Patrick Kutumane, Nederburg’s SA brand activation manager.

The tasting and blending experience was hosted by Nederburg’s red-wine maker, Samuel Viljoen. Intimately involved in the making of Nederburg’s lauded red wines since 2007, he was joined by assistant red-wine maker, Heinrich Kulsen; white wine-maker, Elmarie Viljoen and recently appointed assistant white-wine maker, Jamie Fredericks.

Participants battled it out for the title of “Nederburg Wooded Wine Experts” and came up with some well-thought-through, layered and tasty Cabernet Sauvignon blends.

Viljoen says that the diversity and dexterity of blends made up by the four teams, each comprising a maximum of five individuals, was most interesting. “One team chose wine matured in American oak as dominant component for its sweet vanilla character, another group the moderately toasted French oak for its complex mocha and caramel flavours, while the other two teams selected the intensely toasted French oak for its spicy, smoky notes; and Eastern European wood for its sweet and spicy cinnamon taste.

“This resulted in an interesting task when it came to judging the participants’ final blends. My fellow winemakers and I considered a range of aspects, from flavour intensity, aroma and aftertaste to structure and colour. We were actually pleasantly surprised by the talent expressed through the blends, but our ultimate winner was a team that made use of Cabernet Sauvignon aged in Eastern European oak, as their main ingredient,” he explains.

The winning squad comprised Lindy Hibbard of Smile FM, Ilse van den Berg of Bizcommunity.com, Claire Horn of Ilovefoodies.co.za and Bradley Rossiter, The Wine Amateur. They each walked away with a selection of six of Nederburg’s awarded wines, presented in a wooden box.

The blending experienced was followed by an informal presentation of eight oaked red and white wines, each tastefully matched with a delight of tapas, a flavourful fire-and smoke-filled feast lit up by a breathtaking Cape winter sky.

Participants truly etched their story into the Nederburg Wood Diaries.

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