Posted on May 16th, 2011 | No Comments
Günter Brözel, Nederburg’s cellarmaster for 33 years until his retirement in 1989, was the creator of the famous Nederburg Edelkeur that was showcased at the first Nederburg Auction. He had a vision of making wine from grapes with Botrytis cinerea (noble rot). This sweet wine so obsessed its creator that he vowed to move heaven and earth, just to ensure that legal restrictions (on sugar content) would not thwart his dream. Undaunted by the stipulation in Act No. 25 of 1957 which prohibited the production of natural wine with a sugar content above 30 grams per litre.
The Golden Liquid Nederburg Edelkeur was made in the same style as the German Trockenbeerenauslese, the French Sauternes and the Hungarian Tokay. In 1972 Nederburg entered the 1969 Edelkeur in an international wine competition in Budapest – and was judged best wine at the show. Then followed a gold medal at the International Wine and Spirit Competition in London, and designation as champion South African white wine for five years in a row. Edelkeur has collectively won 14 gold medals at the prestigious International Wine & Spirit Competition (IWSC)in. Edelkeur retains the status of having been the first of its kind in South Africa and it still fetches some of the highest prices for white wine in South Africa.
Brözel was the first South African to win the Winemaker of the Year Award at the International Wine and Spirits Competition in 1985. He was the first to make the Chardonnay/Sauvignon Blanc blend, which later became a global trendsetter. The doyen of the South African wine industry, Brözel was guest speaker at the 25th anniversary of the auction in 1999.
At the first Nederburg Auction in 1975 the total income amounted to R237 000, for which 12 400 cases of wine had been sold, but individual prices in many instances were disappointing. Edelkeur, to the intense chagrin of Brözel, who had produced it with such skill, was sold for no more than the price of Lieberstein, the local popular wine, which made nonsense of the decision that no reserve prise should be placed on any Nederburg product.
But there was no stopping the ideas and ambitions of this now legendary cellar-master. Bearing in mind that one of the main purposes of the Auction was to make rare wines available and that another was to test the tastes and fashions of consumers, he decided at the Auction of 1977 to use the occasion as a platform for the new styles of wine he was creating. Some might be high in sugar, others low, some would be deep in colour, some robust in character, they might be smooth, wood matured or blended….. The problem was how to name these new and varied innovations, for the company’s registered trademarks were inadequate for the considerable number of new wines being produced. Eventually it was decided to give a certain range of numbers – 100 to 200 – to red wines, with the added prefix of the initial letter ‘R’ (for red); dry white wines would be numbered 201 – 300, prefixed by the letter ‘D’ (for dry); and the romantic late harvest and semi-sweets would be allocated the range from 301 – 400, prefixed by ‘S’, which stood for either ‘Sweet’ or ‘Soet’. This numbering system is still in use today. And all the wines were given an added exclusivity by the label ‘Private Bin’. Highly sought-after at that Auction and at the subsequent ones, these wines are – in the delightful and characteristic words of Brözel himself – ‘small in measure – but, oho, the quality!’