R55 for one of the world’s best sweets? How about that!
These wines are generally under-valued, as in very competitively priced, many of them nothing short of cheap. In part it’s because some of the country’s very good Muscadels – red and white – are made in areas of the Cape winelands not renowned for top award-winning stuff when it comes to the unfortified wines of various sorts. In part it’s because many of the top quality unfortified wine producers choose not to dabble in desserts, let alone fortified wines. And the type of packaging is another factor… The SA Muscadel producer’s association is so determined to raise the status of the category that the top awards in its annual competition are presented on the basis of both intrinsic and extrinsic qualities. As things stand, industry benchmarks include the much-lauded Nuy Muscadels in fairly humble livery and priced at R40 a bottle (750ml).
Enter KWV… Or rather, re-enter KWV. The Paarl co-op-turned-company has been making sweet fortified wines for nearly a century. However, since the beginning of the current millennium and even more so during the past half-dozen years or so, KWV has metamorphasised to position itself at the cutting-edge of quality SA winemaking across the board, now producing boutique-type quantities of speciality items in addition to the big-volume lines in a large portfolio of wines and spirits.
Among the dessert wine options from the KWV are some lovely old bottlings so rare that the price-tags have to be big enough to accommodate a string of zeros, a 2005 White Muscadel presented as a gift-pack and selling for a couple of hundred or so, plus a wooded Red Muscadel (non-vintage) that has come tops both at this year’s local Muscadel SA awards as well as the 2012 Muscats du Monde in France where it ranked among the Top 10 – and priced at just R55 a bottle!