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National Wine Challenge Special Awards 2018

National Wine Challenge Special Awards 2018
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Special Award Winners – 3 Categories: Grand Cru Best In Class, Vineyard Consistency and Wine Consistency. Double Gold Medal Award results will be released on Friday 25th May.


These special awards recognise three crucial aspects of fine-wine performance that demand focus and attention.

Firstly, we identify and reward that special category of ‘Best in Class’ wines. That single wine that judges believe to the singular, finest, example of its cultivar or blend category. Clearly all Top 100 winning wines are very good expressions, falling definitively into an instantly recognisable and special fine-wine category. So the Grand Cru Best in Class award is given to those wines that have a defining quality of something ‘extra’ special about them. It is indeed a privilege to taste this final, remarkable, flight of brilliantly made winning South African wines. Complex, nuanced with unfolding waves of flavour, palate texture and breadth, often extremely precise, all showing remarkable length and that ultimate hallmark; balance. Bravo!”

“Then, the consistent achievement of high-quality accolades is a characteristic that underpins all great wines worldwide. As a consequence of this fact, we assess and award those vineyards that have proved to be consistently at the fore of Top 100 winning wines over the 8 years of this fine-wine competitions history. Similarly, we mark and award those wines that have achieved a significant number of Top 100 wins over this same period. At this stage over the full eight year period, there are now nine vineyards in leading positions with between 19 and 29 winning wines. There are now eight wines in leading positions with multiple wins each. These levels of consistent performance are hugely desirable. They are tremendous reputation boosts. Great pride can be taken by each winning producer and wine making team who receives one these top performing track-record accolades.

The additional credibility that these unique achievements bring to vineyards and to their wine making teams is of huge and tangible substance. Each award offers further positive local brand impact and an enhanced global awareness. It also provides differentiation of and recognition for their brands uniqueness, as they consistently push forwards and upwards the barriers of fine-wine quality.



‘Best in Class’ award winners per cultivar and per blend. Quotes from winning vineyards firstly by number of wins, thereafter in alphabetical order:

Stellenbosch Vineyards (6)

Bernard Claassen: “It is a great honour to receive a double platinum award for your wine but we are super excited to have six of our wines selected as best in class. We’re happy to see that the recognition of quality is not merely limited to our Flagship wines, but also filters through to our other wines within the Stellenbosch Collection of Fine Wines.”

Spier (3)

Johan Jordaan, senior red winemaker: “Cabernet Sauvignon is a big focus for Spier and to have 3 of our Cabernet wines recognized by a blind tasting is fantastic. It is not a grape that everyone understands and many expect it to be less rather than more, but great Cabernet wines are always well received. To have a “tie" at the top, for best in class, does seem surreal but I guess quality wine will always win the day. The two wines could also not be more different as the 21 Gables is a single vineyard wine from the Helderberg Mountain in Stellenbosch and the Private Collection is a blend from Darling and Stellenbosch fruit, great partners for depth of character and alluring fruit.”

Alvis Drift (2)

Dr. Alvi van der Merwe, Proprietor: “I am truly overwhelmed and exceptionally proud of our team. The drive and passion for quality and the uniqueness of our red blends have excelled and we are grateful and proud of the achievement.”

Bon Courage (1)

Philip Viljoen, winemaker: Inkara Shiraz 2015: "Year after year this vineyard has shown great potential. The 2015 vintage even more so and we matured it in a barrel that simultaneously protected the varietal character and also gave great complexity to this wine. Typical Shiraz that reflects our unique Robertson terroir in which it flourishes."


Rudi von Waltsleben, winemaker: “The Following 2016 – This wine is called The Following as we experiment with this wine each year and only use our premium grapes. We used minimal intervention winemaking and experiment with different aging agents such as concrete eggs.This is a honest and complex wine with a lot of finesse."

De Wetshof (1)

Johann de Wet, CEO: “Over the past few years South Africa has gained a reputation for making some of the finest Chardonnays in the world – the best outside of Burgundy, according to some critics. To win this category is recognition for De Wetshof’s commitment to the importance of making site-specific wines, an ethos that will forever remain at the heart of what we do.”

Diemersontein (1)

Francois Roode, winemaker: “This is truly a great achievement for our Malbec to receive Double platinum/top 100 winning wine and Grand Cru first place. Malbec has always been a nice varietal in our Reserve range but has become very popular over the last couple of years. Our viticulturist and his team’s hard work, the cellar team working long and late converting the beautiful grapes to great wines has paid off. Malbec is such an underdog that has raised to the top in South Africa and besides Pinotage a very exciting grape to work with and to make wine. The deep dark colour, black berries and undertones of herbs with a lingering palate and soft tannins makes it ideal to enjoy with your favourite food or with a special friend. Malbec has found its place and we will have to plant some Malbec in the future.”

Fairview (1)

Charles Back, Proprietor: “We are delighted with our Grand Cru First Place category win for our Fairview Nurok 2016. It just goes to show that the secret ingredient to wine is always love, as Nurok was named after my wife Diane’s maiden name, and tells the rather intriguing tale of our linked heritage.”

Groot Constantia (1)

Jean Naudé, CEO Grand Constance: “This award would have made our founder, Simon van der Stel, very proud. Consistency was an attribute that van der Stel held in high esteem and one of the reason that he named his farm Constantia.”

Highlands Road (1)

Michael White, Proprietor: “This is the second year running that one of our wines has been awarded this accolade. The SemSauv 15 showcases the intensity of Elgin fruit, finishing subtly but with generous length on top of typical minerality. We’re really proud of this wine and look forward to it being received favourably by our market.”

Iona (1)

Werner Muller, winemaker: "2013 was the first vintage when all Pinot blocks came into production. The young vines were healthy, showed good ripening, low pH and vibrant acidity. Our wines are more traditional in style, needing time in the bottle to fully express their potential and site - something we strive for at Iona. This is a team investment coming into fruition”.

Jordan (1)

Kathy Jordan, Proprietor: “Being awarded the Grand Cru National Champion Best in Class for the Jordan ‘The Real McCoy’ Riesling for the second time in a row is an affirmation that we are taking our highest and coolest vineyards seriously, and with a variety that is experiencing a resurgence of interest from serious wine lovers. True to its name, this wine is The Real McCoy.”

Paul Cluver (1)

Andries Burger, Cellar master. 7 Flags Chardonnay: “It’s a privilege to work with one of the oldest Chardonnay vineyard (31 yrs.) in South Africa that consistently produces great quality wines.”

Shannon (1)

James Downes, Owner/Viticulturist: "On behalf of the team in the vineyard and Gordon & Nadia who head up the winemaking, we are honoured that the Mount Bullet 2015 has been awarded Grand Cru status. With this stellar 2015 vintage having just been released onto the market, this award just validates the quality in bottle of this spectacular wine and vintage."

Simonsig (1)

Johan Malan: "A wonderful result for our Redhill made in a classic vintage 2015”

Zorgvliet (1)

Bernard le Roux, winemaker: “The Banghoek Valley is renowned for the quality of its Cabernet Franc. The ward provides the optimal cool ripening conditions for the variety and allows us to make rich yet elegantly styled wines from it. We are proud to be representing our valley by winning this ultimate accolade for the second year running (Zorgvliet Merlot '16 won in 2017)”

Ultra Liquors (1)

Mark Norrish - Ultra Liquors Wine GM, (and very proud Father of the Secret Cellar and Top Secret brands.): “This Secret Cellar Rose has a very special place in my heart for many, many reasons, and I can only say that receiving this Award has truly cemented that special place forever. This is a “WOW” wine and I am ‘over the moon’ with the recognition of this superb wine.”

The full list of winning wines alphabetically by cultivar:

Bordeaux Blend Red - Stellenbosch Vineyards The Flagship right bank 2015
Bordeaux Blend White - Highlands Road Sine Cera 2015
Cabernet Franc - Zorgvliet Cabernet Franc 2016
Cabernet Sauvignon (Joint winner) - Spier 21 Gables Cabernet Sauvignon 2014
Cabernet Sauvignon (Joint winner) - Spier Woolworths Private Collection Cabernet Sauvignon 2015
Cape blend (Joint winner) - Alvi's Drift Reserve Drift Fusion 2015
Cape blend (Joint winner) - Alvi's Drift Albertus Viljoen Bismarck 2016
Chardonnay (unwooded) - De Wetshof Bon Vallon Chardonnay 2017
Chardonnay (wooded) - Paul Cluver Seven Flags Chardonnay 2017
Chenin Blanc - Stellenbosch Vineyards Credo Chenin Blanc 2016
Grenache - Stellenbosch Vineyards Limited Release Grenache 2017
Malbec - Diemersfontein Carpe Diem Malbec 2016
MCC & Sparkling - Nuy Celine MCC NV
Merlot - Shannon Mount Bullet 2015
Natural sweet - Groot Constantia Grand Constance 2015
Other Red Blend - Stellenbosch Vineyards Credo Shiraz/Merlot/Viognier 2015
Other White Blend - Fairview Nurok 2016
Petit Verdot - Stellenbosch VineyardsThe Flagship Petit Verdot 2012
Pinot Noir - Iona Pinot Noir 2013
Pinotage - Simonsig Pinotage Redhill 2015
Port - Boplaas Cape Vintage Reserve 2016
Riesling - Jordan The Real McCoy Riesling 2017
Rhone Blend Red - Spier Creative Block 3 2015
Rosé - Ultra SECRET CELLAR ROSE 17 2017
Sauvignon Blanc - D'Aria Winery The Following 2016
Shiraz - Bon Courage Inkara Shiraz 2015
Verdelho - Stellenbosch Vineyards Limited Release Verdelho 2016


The ‘Top 6’ places (including joint winners) for the eight year period from 2011 to 2018:

Cederberg (29 wins – joint first place)

Tammy Turck-Nel, Red Winemaker: “A proud moment for the Cederberg Team to receive this Vineyard Consistency Award, it shows that success comes from hard work, dedication and believing in the same goal, only to strive for the best!”

Paul Cluver (29 wins – joint first place)

Paul Cluver, Proprietor: “We are truly honoured to be recognized as one of the most consistence wineries. Our goal is to improve every year, although working with nature it is not always an easy task. Here we must acknowledge the experience and dedication of the team.”
Andries Burger, Cellar master: “The experience of Twenty Two Vintages gives great insight into terroir, making it both easier and more difficult. Easier due to our understanding, but more challenging to perform better consistently, every year.”

Fairview (27 wins – second place)

Charles Back, Proprietor: “We are very proud by the recognition for our Vineyard Consistency Award for a second year running. Over the decades, the goal has not only been to refine our craft, but to be able to continue on that deliverable year on year, as for me, consistency is only the starting point. There are still lots to do and improve on, but that’s what keeps me passionate about wine - it can only get better.”

Jordan (25 wins – joint third place)

Gary Jordan, Proprietor: “An incredible team effort from vineyard to cellar has, over the years, enabled Jordan Wine Estate to claim consistency across vintages and varietals for all the wines that we make. We are delighted to once again accept a ‘Top Six’ Consistency Award for our wines that are the ultimate Synergy between Soul and Soil.”

Simonsig (25 wins – joint third place)

Johan Malan, Cellar master: “In the wine business, which is a very long term type of business, a reputation is built over many, many years and that is why the consistency in quality is imperative. Consistency ensures your wine is trusted by the consumer and that is how you build a quality wine brand.”

Saronsberg (24 – fourth place)

Dewaldt Heyns, Cellar master: "We are delighted to be the recipient of two National Wine Challenge Top 100 awards, and two Double Gold awards. We consider the NWC as an important benchmark for measuring our progress and consistency against some of South Africa's other top producers. Our dedication to consistency is reflected in the fact that we have retained a Top 6 ranking over the past 8 years."

Groot Constantia (20 wins – joint fifth place)

Floricius Beukes, Estate Manager & Viticulturist: “The Groot Constantia trademark has become a mark of consistency and quality - as it was 200 years ago. Credit must go to the vineyard team, who remain consistent in their dedication - from pruning to canopy management and harvest."

Spier (20 wins – joint fifth place)

Frans Smit, Cellar Master: “Thank you for this great recognition to our team of winemakers and growers who tirelessly contribute their knowledge and energy to craft our wines and to maintain this through different vintages. It is a result of our collective experience of many years working together with our ageing vines and great growers. We all know nothing is possible without our teams in the vineyards and the cellar. These are an extremely great group of people to make wine with.”

Graham Beck (19 wins – sixth place)

Pierre de Klerk, Winemaker: “This year Graham Beck has entered the Vineyard Consistency Awards ranking and is now part of the ‘Top 6’ winners – a fantastic achievement for a producer which focuses all our passion on producing world class Cap Classique. These days competition in the wine industry is exceptionally stiff. Therefore we’re thrilled to be the bubbly of choice for so many dedicated Graham Beck fans out there – a privilege we’ve enjoyed for quite some time as an established and well respected MCC producer.”


Top three places (including joint winners) for the eight year period 2011 to 2018:

Boplaas Cape Vintage Reserve Port (joint first place)

Carel and Margaux Nel: “The 2016 Boplaas continues the Nel’s heritage of crafting the very finest Cape Ports utilising Portuguese varietals, traditional vinification methods and remaining true to style to create a wine which will offer decades of enjoyment. The 2016 was also crowned the SA Champion Port at the SA Young Wine Show in 2016.”

Groot Constantia Grand Constance (joint first place)

Jean Naudé, CEO: “Seven of our wines were chosen for the Top 100 wines in South-Africa list. Having 7% of SA’s Top 100 wines is certainly our greatest wine accolade achievement over the last decade.”

La Motte Pierneef Shiraz Viognier (joint first place)

Hein Koegelenberg, CEO: “Vintage influence is one of the intriguing traits of wine. Having an extraordinary vintage is something that is celebrated by winemakers and enjoyed by wine drinkers. Overcoming the odds of a season to consistently deliver quality, is however, a special achievement and one we are very thankful to be recognised for.”

Rustenberg John X Merriman (joint second place)

Murray Barlow, Cellar master: “We are very pleased to have the John X Merriman recognised again with the Wine Consistency award. As one of our iconic wines, it is very rewarding for everyone at Rustenberg to have the consistency of quality recognised in this way.”

Raka Biography (joint second place)

Elna Dreyer, Marketing: “We pride ourselves in our wine and their constant good performance. We are humbly proud and very grateful to be joint second in the Wine Consistency Award over 8 years. Wine maker Josef Dreyer's favourite saying is: “Consistency is King” and this award confirms the truth of his words.”

Simonsig Redhill Pinotage (joint second place)

Johan Malan: “Debbie Thompson has been called the Princess of Pinotage and the Redhill’s consistently strong results reiterate her skill and understanding of Pinotage."

Paul Cluver Chardonnay (joint third place)

Paul Cluver; Proprietor: “Chardonnay is a great passion for us and this award just further confirms that Elgin is an ideal area for this varietal.”

Saronsberg Provenance Shiraz (joint third place)

Dewaldt Heyns, Cellar master: “We consider the NWC as an important benchmark for measuring our progress and consistency against some of South Africa's other top producers. Our dedication to consistency is reflected in the fact that, in addition to our Vineyard Consistency recognition, we now have entered the Wine Consistency ranking too."


"It is always a pleasure to judge as panel chair for the NWC/Top100. Since its debut in 2011, the focus has been firmly on finding the best wines from within the South Africa wine space across all categories. Initially, this comprised the select list of the winning top 100 wines only. But more recently this has expanded to now include those wines that really shine in their peer group flights, as the ‘best in class’ of their cultivar or blend. These prestigious wines are awarded the ‘Grand Cru’ designation.”

“Then in addition, those wines, as well as those wineries, that have achieved the most consistent recognition by virtue of total number of Top 100 awards over the full eight year duration of this fine-wine Challenge, are bestowed a special winners certificate. These are a Wine Consistency Award for those select few top performing wines, and a Vineyard Consistency Award for the handful of top performing wineries.”

“I can confirm that the winery submissions and more importantly the winning wines were consistently among the highest quality across styles that I have ever judged.

Richard Kershaw MW

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