Perdeberg cellarmaster Albertus Louw
Any cellar that releases 22 million litres of wine a year and still maintains a reputation for consistent quality - along with regularly attracting awards - deserves both attention and pats on the back, no matter what geeks may pronounce about their ranges.
Perdeberg Winery is the giant producer in the Voor Paardeberg ward, a former co-operative, now a limited company,that has been going strong for more than 70 years. Some 60-plus producers, most of whom are in the ward, are contracted to grow grapes of all kinds, although it is chenin blanc for which the winery is best known.
Visit the site at harvest time and you will have to negotiate your way around the queue of trucks carrying bins piled high with grapes that snakes around the yard and out of the gate. If you get to look inside the large cellar, you will see rows of giant stainless steel tanks in the gloom.
Along with its very affordable standard range, there is the Vineyard Collection and, more recently, the Dry Land range, which have upped the quality and choice considerably. Fine chenin, wooded and unwooded, leads the whites, which include chardonnay/viognier and pinot noir/chardonnay blends. Chenin is also used for two bubblies, a maiden four-star Cap Classique and sparkling chenin in the standard range.
The cellar is celebrating a pleasing total from 2015 Veritas at present, having scooped 24 awards from 29 entries, including double gold for its Dry Land sauvignon blanc 2014 and gold for the Dry Land chenin 2014. I would have reversed these two.
A recent sampling of half a dozen of the newly-relased vintages confirms Perdeberg’s ongoing commitment to value for money. Starting at the top, the star of the show for me was the Dry Land 2014 unwooded chenin, a prime example of how the Cinderella cultivar has blossomed into princess garb, offering delicious aromas of citrus and tropical fruit followed by more on the palate, encased in a crisp summery wine, selling at R70. The chenin from the Vineyard range (R55) is less intense, but presents plenty of stone and tropical fruit, while the Vineyard sauvignon blanc (R55) should please most fans, as it offers a spectrum of flavours along with some grassiness.
I find the whites a step ahead of the reds when it comes to quality: that said, the Vineyard Collection 2013 shiraz is a very acceptable example, medium-bodied, offering classic white pepper, and plum on the palate,(R65) and the 2013 pinotage at the same price will satisfy many fans. The Dry Land 2012 cab (R82) is a typical example of contemporary ready-to-drink red with some backbone and spice along with berry fruit. And that really is what sums up Perdeberg products – if you choose to keep them they will surely improve, but the vast majority of consumers will open them soon after purchase, to toast the sunset, to sip ahead of the weekend braai or to enhance al fresco fare, whether salad, seafood or good Karoo lamb.