Cape Winemakers Guild tasting review

Cape Winemakers Guild

If there is one thing we have enough of in Cape Town, that’s wine festivals. Each month of the year there is some sort of wine or food and wine festival happening. Not that I am complaining, I enjoy a wine festival as much as the next drinker. But having said that, some wine festivals are better than others. Last week I attended the tasting evening for the Cape Winemakers Guild and I really enjoyed it. I realised that what I liked about it were also the things I did not like about other wine festivals.

There were fewer people. That meant no pushing (of me by other people, which I hate) and no waiting and queuing for a taste of wine. I don’t know if it was related to the number of people present but the pourings were generous. It’s so hard to taste a wine properly when you have a microscopic drop of wine in your glass. You need a nice gurgle of wine in the glass to develop a bouquet and get a good swirl around the tounge two or three times, that’s how you taste wine. Talking about the glass, they gave us decent size glasses, not those small wine tasting glasses we are so accustomed to. Get rid of those teeny glasses forever, they are very 2007.

Talking about pouring wine into glasses, most of the estates represented actually had the winemakers pouring the wines so you could ask some questions and engage in decent conversations. Having the marketing person or worse, a student hired for the occasion, doing the pouring just does not promote engagement. That’s why people just put their glass forward and walk away with their teeny tasting as if they don’t care what it is.

The final thing that made the CWG tasting so special was that all the wines were either top class or at least interesting. At most wine festivals, after you’ve waited ten minutes then pushed someone out the way, you are given your teensy weensy tasting, only to find that it’s not great wine. To understand why the wines at the CWG tasting were so good, you need to know a little about what the Cape Winemakers Guild is and how it works. From their website:

Twenty eight years ago the Cape Winemakers Guild started a process that would raise the quality bar for the South African Wine Industry forever. Eight independent winemakers with a singular vision pooled together their resources and created a groundbreaking association. They wanted to ensure that great South African wines would stand out amongst the best in the world.

Membership of the Guild remains exclusive by invitation only and follows a process of nomination and voting at the Guild’s annual general meeting. Potential members are only invited if they have been responsible for producing outstanding wines for a minimum of five years and they must continue to produce excellence to remain members of the Guild, which guarantees an enduring association of top end wine producers.

The wines are selected by the Guild members and they must be uniquely created for the guild. That could mean specific barrels, specific vineyards, unusual blends, etc. As long as the wine is not the same as their normal production wine.

So these wines are some of the best around, or at least different from what else they might produce. The CWG wines cannot be sold anywhere else, they are only available from the CWG auction. There were other wines available, which you can buy, and those that caught my attention were:

Haskell IV 2007 (only female winemaker in the guild by the way)
Luddite Shiraz 2004
Steenberg Pinot Noir Brut 2007

The auction takes place on the 2nd October this year. You can read more about the Cape Winemakers Guild and the wines on the website


  1. Theo August 17, 2010 at 11:47 am

    I agree, CWG tastings are a much better experience than, say, the upcoming WineX, which is super-busy with an overwhelming amount of wine and people. The glasses at CWG makes a big difference, as do the two wines per producer, which are either a CWG wine or rare/vintage/limited release. Chatting to the winemaker him/herself also adds a lot to the experience. Two wines I’d add that stood out for me:
    Cape Point Semillon 2007
    Le Riche Cabernet Sauvignon Auction Reserve 2006

    1. Dax August 17, 2010 at 11:54 pm

      So I’ll see you at Winex then? 😉