Nederburg's sweet success during 2019

– News Article

Nederburg achieved a trove of awards for its famous noble late harvest wines on local and international competition platforms during 2019, an achievement that underscores the winery’s enviable reputation for this style of wine, built over close to five decades.

It all started with one of the greatest names in South African winemaking, Günter Brözel, cellar-master at Nederburg for 33 years.

He was familiar with the legendary sweet wines from his days of living in Germany, before moving to South Africa in 1956 to join the Paarl winery. When the accomplished chemist Dr Nino Costa suggested during the 1960s that he and Brözel should experiment to inoculate specially selected vineyards with botrytis cinerea, he was more than up for the job. Also known as noble rot, this is the special fungus that, if the weather plays along, attacks the grapes to concentrate their sugars to create wines of extraordinary lusciousness, complexity and longevity.

The ideal vintage conditions in 1969 were the reward for his meticulously detailed work that had gone several years before, and he succeeded in making his first Edelkeur that year. But while nature was on his side, the authorities were not. The liquor legislation of the day restricted the residual sugars of natural wines to 30 grams per litre and this wine’s defining character was its intense sweetness with residual sugars way above that.

As the story goes, the local authorities did not even believe it possible to produce a natural wine with such a high sugar level, so to ensure that Nederburg did not add additional sugar to the wine, an inspector was sent to sleep in the cellar, next to the noble late harvest tanks, during the fermentation period. Brözel, ever the generous host, wined and dined the inspector, walking him back to the cellar and his camping bed at night.

Nimble negotiations with the authorities eventually saw a compromise that would permit Edelkeur to go on sale but solely on auction to invited licensees and so the idea for the Nederburg Auction was born. Not only would the auction ensure the equitable distribution of the very rare Edelkeur, it would provide a showcase for other South African producers of limited-edition fine wines. The very first auction took place in 1975. It has evolved into what is now known as the Cape Fine & Rare Wine Auction.

Although the legislation has since been changed to allow for the unrestricted sale of noble late harvest wines, Edelkeur is still made for sale exclusively on auction platforms or via fine wine outlets. However, Nederburg offers a variety of noble late harvests, including the delicious and much-acclaimed The Winemasters version that is readily available on the open market.

Lizelle Gerber, appointed cellar-master of Nederburg in August 2019, and her talented team have set out to continue to experiment and show great dexterity in making dessert wines, augmenting the award-winning tradition created by Brözel and his successors. Gerber is supported by white-wine maker, Elmarie Botes; as well as assistant white-wine maker, Jamie Williams.

Accolades earned for Nederburg’s noble late harvest wines, during 2019

The Winemasters Noble Late Harvest 2018:

  • 2019 Old Mutual Trophy Wine Show: Trophy for best dessert wine (unfortified)
  • 2019 Michelangelo International Wine & Spirits Awards: Platinum medal
  • 2019 International Wine & Spirit Competition (IWSC): Gold medal
  • 2019 Six Nations Wine Challenge: Gold medal
  • 2019 Veritas Awards: Gold medal
  • 2019 Tim Atkin SA Special Report: 94 points
  • 2019 Top Wine SA: Top 10 SA Unfortified Dessert Wines (non-vintage specific)

Private Bin Eminence Muscadel Noble Late Harvest 2009:

  • 2019 Veritas Awards (museum class): Double gold medal
  • 2019 10-year-old Wine Report: 93 points

Private Bin Eminence Muscadel Noble Late Harvest 2018:

  • 2019 Tim Atkin SA Special Report: 93 points

Private Bin Edelkeur Chenin Blanc Noble Late Harvest 2009:

  • 2019 Veritas Awards (museum class): Gold medal
  • 2019 10-year-old Wine Report: 93 points

Said managing director for Nederburg, Niël Groenewald: “These awards affirm Nederburg’s status as a top level producer of dessert wines. The winery consistently outperforms its competitors on international and domestic shows with both older and newer vintages of these outstanding nobles. The pressure is on to keep bettering our best efforts!”

Visit the Nederburg farm in Paarl, go to or enquire with your nearest fine wine outlet to purchase from a wide variety of Nederburg’s award-winning noble late harvest wines, including its Private Bins. Nederburg The Winemasters Noble Late Harvest 2018, offered at around R120 per 375ml bottle, is however widely available from liquor stores across South Africa.