Author Archives: Hennie Taljaard

Monis Collectors Port 1948

Die 1948 Monis Collectors Port (Seëlversameling) was al verskeie kere op die jaarlikse Nederburg wynveiling verkoop en het in 2011 die rekordprys van enige wyn op die veiling behaal. Vir ‘n kissie van ses bottels van 750ml was R68 000 (R11 333 per bottel) betaal!

Dié port is van uitgesoekte kultivars gemaak en sluit onder meer Pontac, Souzao en Tinta Barocca in. Slegs 5000 bottels was vrygestel wat die wyn se skaarsheid verduidelik. Die chemiese analise is as volg:

A% 18.72 | RS 117.00 | TA 6.00 | pH 3.44

Op die etikette verskyn ‘n uitbeelding van ‘n waardevolle versameling seëls van die voormalige Boerepublieke, die Unie van Suid-Afrika en sy voormalige provinsies, asook Duits-Suidwes-Afrika.

Die wyn bekoor steeds vandag en persone wat gelukkig genoeg is om daarvan te proe praat met groot lof daarvan. Mnr. Roland Peens, wynhandelaar van Kaapstad, het dit in 2015 as volg beskryf:

“This is a brilliant wine! No sign of oxidation or rancio, there is amazing purity of fruit and freshness. The rim has a slight green/yellow tinge while the core is a brick red. Waves of complexity waft from the glass: baked figs, melon rind, nuts, molasses and a touch of cold coffee. The palate is rich, but not sticky. Deep, spicy and delicious, the finish lasts for an hour on your palate. World class.

In great condition and with such a perfect structure, this wine could last another few decades.


M. Frijdhon’s (May 2013) tasting note:

“Pale golden copper, spirity and a little thin, not too sweet, and with fine herbal notes to restrain the finish.

81 Points”

Ten spyte van pryse wat op veiling behaal word, verkoop ‘n bottel van tyd tot tyd op die ope mark vir enige iets van R500 tot R5000.



Roman Waher’s wood engravings for “Wines of South Africa”

The illustrations for Gordon Bagnall’s “Wines of South Africa” (published by the KWV in 1961 and re-issued in 1972) were taken from wood engravings made by Roman Waher.  The engravings, all 8 of them, was also available as limited numbered sets, individually signed, dated and titled by Waher. They depicted the history of Cape wine under the following titles:

Bringing the vine to the Cape

Van Riebeeck’s first wine

Groot Constantia

A Cape vineyard

Old drinking vessels

Ancient wine vessels

Shipping the wine

In the KWV cellars

There were only 250 sets produced which today makes them very scarce. The engravings measuring 330mm x 500mm came in a protective black paper sleeve. Shown below are images of set number 95.

Roman Waher was an Estonian who studied in Leipzig. Born in 1909, lived in South Africa from 1964 and passed away in 1975. He also taught graphic art at the Michaelis School of Art.

(Click on thumbnail to enlarge)



The notion of “dikvoet” wines.

“Dikvoet” is an Afrikaans term used to describe a particular older Cape wine style and its use has always fascinated me. Translated it means thick-foot and that is exactly what those wines were; thick, dense, full & heavy. Wine reporter Andrew Marais once described it as wine which had to be put through a sieve before it could be drunk. But we also know that many wines of this style have aged very well. Marais wrote in 1997 of a tasting he attended of Nederburg Cabernets ranging from 1962 – 1996. He cited the 64 and 74 as his top wines and quoted the analysis for the 1960’s Cabernets as follows: alcohol slightly below 13%, Acid < 5g, Sugar of 3g with a Ph of 3.6 to 3.7. Marais also alluded to a sweet nutty taste evident on the wines of the 60’s. It follows that the wines were fairly high in sugar and weak in acid which goes against the conventional wisdom that a low ph is needed for longevity. During the 80’s producers started to move toward lighter style wines, which Marais attributed among other things to new plant material and the introduction of new wood.

Marais, A. 1989. Dikvoetwyne al meer ‘onder bed gevee’. Die Burger. 17 June, P13.
Marais, A. 1991. Die gespierde rooie en sy makkers. Die Burger. 19 July, P4.
Marais, A. 1997. Wynfondament is rotsvas gele. Die Burger. 31 Oktober, P6.

KWV’s coffee table books

The KWV produced a striking series of coffee table books beginning in 1967 with the publication of The White Wines of South Africa by W. A. de Klerk. The author remarked that… “further titles are planned to cover red wines, sherries, dessert wines, etc. Each will be presented by an acknowledged specialist in his field”. The book is beautifully illustrated with sketches and water-colours by well-known artist Francois Krige. An Afrikaans edition of de Klerk’s book is also available, as are all the other titles in the series. The other books are Spirit of the Vine (D. Opperman, 1968), Wine Country (H. Merwe-Scholtz, 1970), Red Wine in South Africa (B. Biermann, 1971), Brandy in South Africa (A. Brink, 1972), Dessert Wine in South Africa (A. Brink, 1974), Wine & Wisdom, (Versfeld, et al, 1978) and Sherry in South Africa (G. Calpin, 1979). All are readily available on the second-hand book market and collectively make an appealing series.


Nederburg’s 1974 Auction Cabernet Sauvignon

Some time ago I was given 3 bottles of Nederburg Auction Cabernet Sauvignon from the 1970, ’72 and ’74 vintages. These wines were stored in a garage and the corks showed seepage over many warm summers. At home I stored the bottles upright but really had little hope that they would be any good.


Nederburg has always produced some big flavourful Cabernet’s befitting a warm climate. The ’74 opened recently had an interesting port-like character, by no means gone and gave a glimpse of what it once was; big, flavourful and dense. David Hughes wrote in his 300 Great South African Wines (1983) that the 1972 was “…big, powerful…” with the 1974 “…much along the same lines…”.

Wine Cellar (Cape Town) stocks a range of fine older vintages which can be found here:



JP Cloete’s Groot Constantia wine

J P Cloete was the last private owner of Groot Constantia before it became a Government farm in 1885. Cloete acquired the farm in 1824 by purchase from his parent’s estate and produced there 5 different kinds of natural sweet wine-

Red Constantia
White Constantia

Below are images of two objects that survived from JP Cloete’s time. The first two images are of a bottle of Pontac and the little sticker sitting above the label carries the date 1874. This bottle was offered on Ebay in 2014 by a French seller. The last image is of the Frontignac label which I was advised (also an Ebay item) came from a late 19th century label collection.

H.O. Taljaard




1938 Wynbereiding

In 1938 the Department of Agriculture and Forestry issued a 104-page pamphlet on the subject of “Wynbereiding” (Winemaking). Authored by Prof C. J Theron and C.J.G Niehaus, it was the first publication in South Africa to deal with the practical science of winemaking. The Department was very actively producing pamphlets on almost every aspect of agriculture, including wine titles on fortified wine, sherry, and vine growing all now extremely scarce.