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IN THE past, I have been more diffident than enthusiastic about the wines of the Cape Winemakers Guild. In the very early days of the guild, in the 1980s, we were all excited about the advent of craft winemaking in the Cape.However, as the guild came of age and prices at the annual auction started to move upwards drastically, the question of what was really attracting the premium became an issue. Suddenly it was important to question if these "rare" wines were all they were cracked up to be.From the mid-1990s onwards the primary point of difference between the producers’ standard offering and what was consigned to the guild auction was an extra dollop of oak. Then more recently, the extra oak came with a sense of even more "pushing-the-envelope" ripeness — in other words, playing chicken with the balance to squeeze ever greater opulence into the offering.It worked as a strategy. Prices have risen year on year and the smaller-volume sale now achieves turnovers that dwarf the longer-e...

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