Posted on 26 August 2012 by davidbiggs
I don’t usually pay very much attention to the annual SA Young Wine Show because it seems to be of more importance to the wine industry than it is to ordinary wine drinkers. We don’t often get to taste the winners because they often end up in blends and, in any case, they’re very different wines by the time they reach the market. I was surprised to learn this year that the show’s top trophy, the General Smuts Trophy, had been awarded to a Ruby Cabernet – not usually regarded as a very serious grape variety. The trophy was won by a relatively new wine company, uniWines Vineyards, and made by their cellar master Nicolaas Rust. uniWines was established some four years ago when Groot Eiland Cellar, Daschbosch and Nuwehoop – all from the Breedekloof area – combined forces. Groot Eiland won the General Smuts trophy with a Ruby Cabernet/Merlot blend in 2006. Spier also emerged victorious, the Pietman Hugo trophy for the highest marks for the best five wines entered. Spier’s chief wine maker Frans Smit and his team competed with a Chenin Blanc (wooded), Chardonnay (wooded) and their Merlot (wooded). Vergelegen and Badsberg Wine Cellar tied with two SA Champions each. While the SA Champion White Blend went to cellar master Willie Burger and his team from Badsberg for their Chenin Blanc/Chardonnay, Vergelegen won the SA Champion Red Blend with their Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot/Cabernet Franc/Petit Verdot blend. Badsberg furthermore claimed the SA Champion Dessert Wine title for the second consecutive year with a Red Jerepigo, while the SA Champion Cabernet Sauvignon went to Andre van Rensburg and his team at Vergelegen.
Posted on 29 November 2011 by davidbiggs
Spier’s senior winemaker, Johan Jordaan, joins the elite line-up of winners of the annual Diners Club Winemaker of the Year Award.
The category for this year’s competition was Bordeaux-style red blends and Jordaan scooped the title with his Spier Creative Block 5 2009.
His was one of 110 entries and the judges said the final selection was a difficult one, as there were several extremely fine wines in the line-up.
The Spier Creative Block 5 is made up of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Petit Verdot, Cabernet Franc and Malbec.
Judging panel chairman Dave Hughes said the 2009 vintage was probably the Cape’s best vintage in the past 15 years. He added that entrants in this year’s competition had shown once again that South Africa was capable of producing wines good enough to compete with the top wines in the world. The winning wine was described as having “a great balance of fruit, tannins and alcohol”.
This year’s Young Winemaker of the year was Matthew van Heerden of Uva Mira in the Durbanville Valley.
The category for this contest was “any white wine”.
His winning wine was a stunning single vineyard Chardonnay aged in new French oak for 11 months. It was selected from an entry of 64 wines. Van Heerden serves as chairman of the SA Chardonnay Forum and is passionate about the cultivar.
It is interesting to see the wine is not dominated by big oak vanilla flavours in spite of its time in new French oak barrels. It’s fresh and tangy, with lemon notes up front – an extremely elegant and charming wine, delicate, but full-bodied at the same time.
The Diners Club Winemaker of the Year Award was inaugurated in 1981 and the winner’s prize includes a free trip to any winemaking country of his or her choice.
The Young Winemaker of the Year Award has been running for 11 years and its prize is a trophy and R25 000 in cash.
Posted on 12 October 2011 by davidbiggs
Top achievers group Front, from left to right: Margaux Nel (Boplaas), Duimpie Bayly (Veritas Chairman), Marlene Bester (Van Ryn), Kobus Gelderblom (KWV). Back, from left to right: Gerhard Swart (Flagstone), Abrie Beeslaar (Kanonkop), Jacques Bruwer (Bon Courage), Christo Pienaar (Nuy), Morne Vrey (Delaire Graff Estate), Frans Smit (Spier), Tariro Masayiti (Nederburg), Richard Rowe (KWV)
We tend to forget there was a time, not so long ago, when the KWV was regarded as the “Mafia” of the South African wine industry. Nobody was allowed to produce wine in South Africa without a KWV quota, and these were issued only to established wineries.
KWV wines were available only to quota holders and anybody who offered you a glass of KWV Roodeberg obviously had inside connections.
All that has changed, of course, and the KWV now competes in an open market with all our wine cellars. And obviously competes very successfully.
At this year’s Veritas Awards dinner, held in the CTICC in Cape Town recently, the KWV emerged unchallenged king of the evening.
The century-old Paarl cellar walked off with no fewer than five double-gold awards and nine golds – the biggest haul of gold medals ever achieved by a single cellar in the 21-year history of Veritas.
Nobody else came close to this achievement.
Other top-achieving cellars that harvested significant crops of gold included Boplaas Family Vineyards (3 double gold, 1 gold), Nederburg Wines (2 double gold, 9 gold), Nuy Wine Cellar (2 double gold, 7 gold), Distell Brandy (2 double gold, 6 gold), Bon Courage and Spier won 2 double gold and 5 gold medals each, Flagstone (2 double gold, 2 gold) and Kanonkop Wine Estate (2 double gold, 1 gold). Delaire Graff Estate also took home two double gold medals.
These are excellent achievements, bearing in mind that, of the 1739 entries received for the competition, only 42 won double golds and 158 scored double gold or gold medals – that’s little more than 10% of entries.
These very special wines will be on show around the country soon, and wine lovers all over will have the opportunity of tasting them closer to home.
Cape Town wine lovers will have the chance to taste them at the VOC Room in the Southern Sun Hotel in Strand Street on October 18 from 5pm to 8pm. Tickets cost R130 each.
In Johannesburg the wines will be available on October 26 in the Bill Gallagher Room of the Sandton Convention Centre – tickets cost R140. Wine lovers in Durban will get their chance on November 3 at the Function Room, Deloitte Head Office in Umhlanga – tickets are R100 each.
Details of the events in Port Elizabeth and Knysna can be obtained from the Details of the events in Port Elizabeth and Knysna can be obtained from the Veritas website, as can details of booking arrangements.
Photographs courtesy of Veritas
Posted on 02 June 2011 by davidbiggs
I had to restrain myself from leaping up and cheering at the awards ceremony of the Old Mutual Trophy Wine Show in Cape Town this week, when the convenor, Michael Fridjhon announced the trophy for the ”Discovery of the Show.”
It went to the Nuy White Muscadel 2005, which also won the trophy for the Best Fortified Dessert Wine.
The Trophy Wine Show has been running for 10 years and is regarded as one of the most prestigious competitions in South Africa, with a judging panel that includes several respected foreign wine experts.
It gave me enormous pleasure to see a muscadel being selected as the “discovery of the show”. About time, too! Some of us muscadel enthusiasts discovered it many years ago. I’ve always said our muscadels are underrated and deserve far more attention. Nobody in the world comes anywhere close.
Our winemakers spend endless time and trouble trying to create wines that are the equal of the great wines of France, California or New Zealand. “This comes pretty close to a good Chablis,” you hear them say proudly when they’ve made a good Chenin Blanc. Isn’t that an admission they’re trying to copy somebody else’s style? If we told the world about our great muscadels we might hear a French winemaker say with reverence: “This comes pretty close to the great muscadels of the Robertson valley.”
The trophy for the best fortified wine in the “Museum Class” went to a KWV White Muscadel from 1933. Good grief! That’s even older than I am. It just goes to show these great sweet wines of ours can last and last. Let’s treasure them. Let’s publicise them. Let’s tell the world about them at every opportunity.
We have bottled sunshine for sale here. We don’t have to copy anybody else.
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Other trophies presented at the event included the Fairbairn Trophy for the most successful producer on show, which went to Spier Private Cellar, the trophy for the best red wine on show – Thelema Shiraz 2007 and best white wine – Paul Cluver Chardonnay 2009.
The Paul Cluver Chardonnay also won the trophy for the best wine in the opinion of the international judges on the panel.
A full list of medals and awards is published in the latest edition of Wine magazine.
But remember, winter is the time to drink those delicious muscadels. Go for them! Try them with Indian food for a sublime taste combination.