GDV Reserve Bin 1969

I am getting the sense that a lot of experimentation was going on in the South African wine industry during the 60s. But then again it most certainly was the decade of big advances in technology and space exploration and one could see it in that context.

We have the iconic GS produced during the 60’s and recently I have also learned about the GDV Reserve Bin 1969 produced by Gilbey’s.

Peter Bishop tells the story:

Gilbey’s were mainly concerned with spirits. But they – at Devon Valley – were the owners of Bertrams. Now in the late 1960s the story of Max Shubert of Penfolds in Australia hit the news. Travelling to Bordeaux he returned in early 1960s to make a unique oaked Shiraz based blend that his Directors condemned, but after winning the top prize (JIMMY WATSON TROPHY) in Australia, it became an ultra-icon. And still is. Known as Grange Hermitage. The directors of SFW told their winemaker George Spies to make the GS 66 & GS 68 (that sell for R20000 & R15000 respectively).

The directors of Gilbeys asked Dr Schickerling to make an ultimate. They chose the rich Tintas Barocca to make the rare indeed 1969 at Kleine Zalze. Though Tinta Barocca was a Port grape, it produced a healthy full feel and was successful in those days.

I have not had the privilege to sample the GDV but Roland Peens of Wine Cellar recently has and reported it was very good. The back label tells us that the wine was a Tinta Barocca produced at the Kleine Zalze Cellars by the French “Methode Maceration Carbonique”. With this method, commonly known as Carbonic maceration, the berries are left whole and fermented in a closed vessel under a blanket of CO2, hence creating an anaerobic environment.

Dr Schickerling produced some excellent wines during the 70s at Bertrams and an interesting fact is that he excluded all oxygen from the vinification process. A 1971 Bertrams Shiraz and 1978 Cabernet Sauvignon tasted in 2016 where still excellent drinking – full, rich, unwavering. There’s a lot to be said for anaerobic winemaking!

I found this short biographical profile of Schickerling on the internet:

DIE BURGER LAASTE,26 Maart 1987 bladsy 9: Dr. Arnold Schickerling, besturende direkteur van Bertrams Wines, direkteur van W & A Gilbey en tegniese direkteur van Gilbey-Distilleerders en Wynhandelaars, tree einde vandeesmaand af ná 33 jaar in die wynbedryf. Hy het in 1953 die doktorsgraad in organiese chemie op die ouderdom 26 jaar aan die Universiteit van Kaapstad verwerf. Hy was eers assistent-produksiebestuurder van Castle Wine E.R. Green en later produksie- en tegniese bestuurder. Daarna het hy bestuurder van Bertrams Wines se hele Devon Valley-bedryf geword. Hy het Bertrams Wines as die maker van gehaltewyn gevestig. Bertrams se cabernet sauvignon van 1975 is eers as die kampioenwyn op die Stellenbosse skou en in 1975 as die SA kampioen- rooi wyn bekroon. In 1979 het dr. Schickerling tot sy huidige pos gevorder. Hy gaan hom en sy eggenote in Claremont vestig.

(images taken from BidorBuy)




2 thoughts on “GDV Reserve Bin 1969

  1. Michael Fridjhon

    It’s a nice story but I think some of it is wishful thinking. Grange dates to the beginning of the 1950s and by the time the GDV was in production it had long been a hit. The GS cabs were small batch production wines – which some people in the know claim that George Spies oversaw, rather than made. The fruit for both of them came from a property in Durbanville.

    The GDV was an experimental wine – I remember its release, and it certainly wasn’t offered with a massive premium. It came to market at the time of the “red wine shortage” of the early 1970s when the new wine of origin legislation revealed how little cabernet was actually planted in SA. In other words, it was probably an attempt to find a premium substitute for the cabernet. Carbonic maceration could never have been used to make a serious red wine – which suggests that an early drinking red wine (to fill the gap fuelled by the cabernet shortage) was a more likely intention than a Cape Grange

    Liked by 1 person

    1. stadsbeplanner Post author

      However, it is questionable that a wine made in “very limited quantities”, stated on the label, would be a substitute for any kind of shortage that may have occurred. Interestingly it was about 1978 that Stellenbosch producers started shortening barrel time to get wines onto the market sooner.



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