NEDERBURG BARONNE AT 50 – AS FABULOUS AS EVER
Say “Baronne” to almost any wine-loving South African and the name brings a smile of recognition. Succulent and spicy with a soft, velvety mouthfeel, its appeal is comfortingly familiar and widespread. For 50 years, ever since the maiden 1973 vintage, the wine has been welcoming people into one another’s homes with pride and hospitality, eliciting compliments wherever it’s enjoyed.
If you were to calculate the number of bottles of Nederburg Baronne consumed in South Africa today, it would work out to the equivalent of one opened every 15 seconds.
A crowd and *critic pleaser, it’s loved as much for its satisfying taste as its consistency of style and quality.
The Cabernet Sauvignon/Shiraz red blend was first conceived by winemaking supremo Günter Brözel to slake the fast-growing thirst that consumers were showing during the 1970s. At the time, there was a local shortage of dry reds, with wine lovers queuing by the carload to buy whatever they could find. Some wine farms even had to limit the number of bottles they were prepared to sell to individual patrons.
Brözel, already achieving international fame for Nederburg, had made his mark with Cabernet Sauvignon as a varietal wine, but it was still something of a rarity. When the call came to meet the demand for an everyday dry red, he had some nimble footwork to do. Back then, white grapes dominated the national vineyard but thanks to his forward thinking, he was in the unusual position of having access to the necessary fruit.
He hit on the idea of combining the charisma of Cabernet (aka the King of Reds), with the spicy, exotic, fleshier notes of Shiraz. Voilà! Refreshing, juicy with red berry and a dash of pepper, Baronne was born. Cabernet is always in the lead, but Shiraz plays a significant role.
As a son of a cooper and a trained cooper himself, Brözel knew exactly what he wanted the wood to impart: subtle, finessed oaking for aroma, texture and just the right amount of complexity.
The name he chose was Baronne, another form of Baroness, and like both, it denotes pedigree, elegance and charm, all the qualities he wanted his wine to express. He styled the blend to be appealingly drinkable while still youthful. It was also to be affordable, refreshing, soft-textured and, most importantly, it should lend nobility to everyday drinking pleasure.
From time to time, Nederburg still hosts Brözel at the cellar, where he spent 33 years of his working life. Now well into his 80s, he still enjoys a regular glass of Baronne with meals.
Says Zinaschke Steyn, who makes the winery’s reds: “It’s an honour to maintain Günter’s vision and his tradition, so that 50 years from now, Baronne will still be a favourite.
“There are no pairing rules with this wine. Supremely versatile, you can serve it with the food you love best. At home, we have it with potjiekos, braais, roasts, ribs, chicken, you name it. Whatever you are in the mood for, Baronne never disappoints.”
The 2022 vintage sells for around R85 a bottle and, as Steyn says, represents royal value. Look out for the special 50th anniversary commemorative pack.
- Trophy Wine Show 2023: 91 points and included in Best Value Reds list (2021 vintage)
- Wine Wizard (Michael Fridjhon) 2022: 90 points (2020 vintage)
- Winemag.co.za Prescient Signature Red Blends Report 2022: Top 10 (92 points) (2020 vintage)