Blaauwklippen’s annual wine blending competition is unique. Unlike other wine competitions this one is for non-professional wine lovers like you and me.
And, unlike other competition, this one is purely for fun.
Competing wine clubs around the country are sent packs of base wines and asked to use them in varying proportions to create a brand new wine, which will be bottled and marketed by Blaauwklippen.
The finalists from each region are flown to Stellenbosch where they are entertained at Blaauwklippen and the award-winning blend is announced at a festive lunch.
This year’s winners were from Port Elizabeth and call themselves the Engineer Wine Club. It’s the 10th time they’ve entered the competition. They’ve reached the finals three times before but never reached the top spot until now.
That shows persistence some would say is typical of engineers.
Their blend was judged the best out of more that 75 entries.
The Engineers Wine Club was originally formed in Durban by a group of wine-loving engineers, but has subsequently moved to the Eastern Cape and now has only two engineers among its 16 members.
The name, however, stays the same.The photograph shows Rolf Zeitvogel, Blaauwklippen cellar master, victorious blenders Guy and Lindsay Thomson and artist Frans Groenewald who designed the label.
Other finalists this year included the Tipsy Tarts Wine Club from Durban – originally started as a book club, the Tipsy Tarts gradually evolved into a far merrier wine group.
Then there were the Parys Winefly Club from the Free State, entering for the first time this year. They were presented with an award for the best first-time achievement.
The only club from the Western Cape was the Weskus Wyngilde, which has entered the competition for the last 15 years but never reached the finals before.
Competing clubs were each sent a pack containing a bottle of the 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, Shiraz and Blaauwklippen’s signature grape, Zinfandel.
They were required to try out various proportions of each or any of the wines and send their recipe to the organizers. Their brief was to create a serious, easy-drinking dry red wine with subtle tannins.
The winning blend was selected by a panel of experienced wine judges.
Magnums of the blend have been bottled and a special label created by local artist Frans Groenewald are available from the estate, as well as from some specialist wine stores.
For me, the real joy of this competition is that it allows ordinary wine lovers to become involved in the intricacies of wine blending. Just a small variation in proportions can make a huge difference to the character of the final blend.
Most good winemakers realize this, but it’s perhaps not as well understood by consumers.
Incidentally, the winning blends consisted of 6% Cabernet Sauvignon, 42% Shiraz, 7% Malbec and 45% Zinfandel.
CWG AUCTION: Saturday, October 2.
This year’s Winemakers Guild Auction takes place of October 2 and has been described by members as the best offering ever. Many of the wines on offer were presented at a blind tasting in New York and scored more than the coveted 90 points, regarded internationally as a standard of excellence.
There are 39 wines on this year’s catalogue, all made exclusively for the auction and carefully selected in a blind tasting by members of the Guild. The line-up consists of 21 red wines, 13 white wines, three Méthode Cap Classiques, a dessert wine and a port.
After one blind tasting American wine writer James Molesworth singled out the AA Badenhorst Family Kalmoesfontein Semillon Noble Late Harvest as his top scoring wine, describing it as “A rare treasure worth chasing after.”
Other top scorers included Hidden Valley Top Secret 2008, Kaapzicht Cape Blend Auction Reserve 2007 and Simonsig Auction Reserve Shiraz 2008.
Bidding is open to the public and begins at 9am at the Spier Conference Centre near Stellenbosch.
There are facilities for telephone bidding for buyers unable to attend.
For further details and to attend the auction, visit the guild’s website or contact the Guild Office on 021 852 0408.