Of modern vinous vision

Thursday, 28 October, 2004
Backsberg's recent releases: good looks and high star count.

There is only one way to counter cynics set on shooting down stars: confirm the doubters wrong by calling in the top judges' opinions. They'll soon be convinced that the target of their scruples has handcrafted staying power and plenty of shine.

Such is the status of the three top-of-the range wines that Michael Back decided to release under screwcaps. Putting one's flagship range under that modern, durable closure instead of taint-potential cork, was and is rather revolutionary.

A clutch of awards since has proven that the quality and artistry inside can put the modern message across. Betting on his best wines to convince long-time fans and a wide range of customers that this is the right thing to do, is paying off well.

The past year has seen an overall of the famous, established Backsberg estate. Among the changes and focus-shifts that Back described earlier this year as the 'Changing Face of Backsberg', was the repackaging and repositioning of the winery's wide range.

Now the Backsberg range comprises premium varietals, a super-premium tier - the black-label range - and, at the top of the pyramid, the Babylons Toren range.

It is the latter range, closed with screwcaps, that is pushing the envelope for the new-look Backsberg. The range currently comprises a complex, charming Chardonnay, a vigorously-seductive Viognier and an intriguing red blend.  

Recently released, the Babylons Toren Viognier 2004 joins the rich, classy Babylons Toren Chardonnay 2002 and the classic Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot blend, simply labelled Babylons Toren 2002.

All three wines got prestige-red, four-star ratings in this year's John Platter SA Wine Guide, while the Viognier was awarded a silver medal in the Fairbairn Capital Trophy Wine Show. The Chardonnay won gold in the Michelangelo International Wine Awards.

Like his enthusiastic and talented winemaker, Alicia Rechner, Michael Back believes that wines of this quality and status need the best packaging treatment: not only elegant, stand-out labels, but also screwcaps - which assure that the wine reaches the consumer as intended in the cellar.

This is in line with the modern vision recently propounded by American wine guru, Robert M Parker Jnr in the US Food & Wine magazine that the screwcap "will become the standard for the majority of the world's wines".

He predicts that cork-bottled wines will be a 'minority' in ten years' time.

Many of the world's foremost producers are switching to the new closure, and the first international Screwcap Symposium is scheduled for November with leading producers descending on New Zealand.

With its top-end Babylons Toren range and their sweet performance, Backsberg is certainly a bright local flag bearer.

As one of the country's best-known wine producers, founded in 1916 and taking off under Back's dynamic father, Sydney, after the first bottlings of wine in the early 1970s, the renewed vitality and vision is clear evidence of the changing face of Backsberg.

The Babylons Toren range is available from the winery in Paarl and at specialist retailers.

More information:
Carina Rabie Tel 021-8755141