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National Wine Challenge Special Awards 2019

National Wine Challenge Special Awards 2019
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Special Award Winners – Three Categories: Grand Cru Best In Class, Vineyard Consistency, Wine Consistency. Note: Double Gold Medal Award results will be released on Thursday 16th May.

ROBIN VON HOLDT reviews SPECIAL AWARDS for the NATIONAL WINE CHALLENGE (NWC) 2019:

“There are three categories of special awards that recognise crucial aspects of fine-wine performance. Each of these is a critical component, one that truly underpins all claims to fine wine globally and therefore is equally applicable in South African fine wines. Thus, we place a strong emphasis on all three and focus appropriate attention and detail on their achievement.

Firstly, we identify and reward that special category of ‘Best in Class’ wines. That one (or occasionally more than one) wine that thrills judges, believing it to be the singular, finest, example of its cultivar or blend category. Clearly all Top 100 winning wines are truly very good expressions, falling definitively into an instantly recognisable and special fine-wine category. Thus 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 always a privilege to taste this final, remarkable, flight of brilliantly made winning wines. Complex, nuanced with unfolding layers of flavour, palate texture and breadth, often extremely precise, all showing remarkable length and that ultimate verdict; balance.

Secondly, we identify and reward that special category of ‘Vineyard Consistency’. 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 9 years of this fine-wine competitions history. At this stage over the full nine year period, there are now five vineyards in leading positions with between 27 and 33 winning wines.

Thirdly, we also identify and reward the special category of ‘Wine Consistency.’ Those wines that have achieved a significant number of Top 100 winning places over this same nine year period. There are now four wines in leading positions with multiple wins each.
These levels of consistent performance are tremendous reputation boosts. They are hugely desirable and provide a stellar underpin to claiming fine-wine status. 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 mover forwards the trajectory and success of SA fine-wine quality.

Bravo, to each and every winner!


GRAND CRU AWARDS:

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


Fairview/Spice Route (2)

Anthony de Jager – Fairview Head Winemaker: “Fairview has been bottling Pinotage since 1974. Primo Pinotage is a single vineyard planted on Fairview, producing quality Pinotage since 2001. These bush vines produce wines of great structure and depth of flavour, reflecting the very best of this variety.”

Charl du Plessis – Spice Route Winemaker): “I really enjoy making this traditional style of Flor Sherry in my rustic Solera cellar, using grapes from South Africa’s oldest block of bush vine Sauvignon Blanc planted in 1965.

Jordan (2)

Kathy Jordan, Proprietor: “Being awarded the Grand Cru National Champion Best in Class for the Jordan ‘The Real McCoy’ Riesling for the third 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. The Jordan Chameleon Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot has also once again received the Grand Cru Best in Class award, a seriously good wine that over-delivers in abundance.

Orange River Cellars (2)

Rianco van Rooyen, senior wine maker: “The production team at Orange River Cellars is extremely humbled to be awarded ‘Grand Cru best in class’ for both our Red Muscadel and Straw Wine. We are well known for our fortifieds and it is extremely satisfying to be able to build upon previous successes. Our Straw Wine has been produced since 2012 and has gained quite a following and winning this award affirms that we are moving in the right direction regarding quality and style.

Ormonde (2)

Theo Basson, proprietor: “Like music, good wine tells a story; it has a narrative. To be awarded best in its class award for these two wines probably made in the most difficult of vintages has certainly a story to tell. It’s about complete devotion to the vines, believing in our terroir and bottling only the truth.”

Spier (2)

Frans Smit Cellar, Master: “Testimony to our successful collaboration with Woolworths, we’re thrilled that the Woolworths Private Collection Chenin Blanc placed best in its category. We’re similarly gratified that Spier Creative Block 2 also received a NWC Grand Cru Award. We do hope wine lovers will enjoy these wines as much as we do!

Stellenbosch Vineyards (2)

Abraham De Villiers, Senior Winemaker: “Two Grand Cru best in class Award. Our team is overjoyed by the great results especially when our Best In Category winners are so diverse, showcasing the wide variety of world-class wines available in Stellenbosch.”

Zorgvliet (2)

Bernard le Roux, winemaker: “The Zorgvliet team is immensely proud to receive two Grand Cru Awards for the Cabernet Sauvignon 2017 and Merlot 2017. We celebrate this achievement, relieved that the hard work payed off!"

Almenkerk (1)

Joris van Almenkerk – winemaker & proprietor Almenkerk Wine Estate: “This award is another milestone in our coming-of-age story. It also highlights our consistency, as the 2015 Sauvignon blanc also received a Grand Cru. The grapes comes from a Single Vineyard that is very exposed to the elements, so we get complexity in exchange for low yields. Meticulous attention to detail, small batch-winemaking and extended lees contact set this wine apart. This award is more proof that our cool climate Elgin is capable of producing extremely exciting wines with a sense of place.

Alvis Drift (1)

Dr Alvi van der Merwe, Managing Director: “It is a singular honour to have this wine awarded Grand Cru - best in its class. Particularly in the light of the fabulous wines being produced by talented friends and colleagues, in this category in South Africa, who are raising the profile of South African wines worldwide. This wine comes from our icon tier, which represents the best of each vintage. The “Albertus Viljoen Bismarck” draws inspiration from two iconic characters from our farm – My Grandfather, who famously scored the first try on African soil against the all-blacks and was instrumental in building the low-water bridge across the Breëde river from which Alvis Drift draws its name, and “Bismarck” my family great Dane - who also thought he owned the farm. With this wine, we honour their legacy. My thanks to the NWC/Top 100 team for working to raise the quality of South African wines and the Alvi’s Drift family and the winemaking team for making this award possible."

Avontuur Estate (1)

Jan van Rooyen, Winemaker: “Years of planning and production culminated in winning this great accolade for our Sarabande Sauvignon Blanc Reserve - With this “blanc fume” style of Sauvignon Blanc I am moving closer to my ultimate goal of creating an iconic white wine for Avontuur Estate by presenting you with the finest selection of our soil/climate/location crafted into your glass.

Boplaas (1)

Carel Nel, Proprietor: “Cape Tawny Port. Only the finest Touriga Nacional and Tinta Barocca are used. Initially we make a vintage style port and it is then aged for 8 to 15 years in large old oak barrels. Lovely Tawny colour with rich caramel, nutty Christmas cake flavour. A great honour!”

Babylonstoren (1)

Klaas Stoffberg, winemaker: “This is great news. Our first grand cru (best in class) award at NWC and what better wine to achieve this than our flagship red – the Nebukadnesar 2017. It is so rewarding to be awarded for the attention to detail which goes in to each bottle. This is a true reflection of teamwork and dedication to achieve consistent quality and improvement.

Bon Courage (1)

Jacques Bruwer, winemaker: Inkara Shiraz 2015: “This quintessential Blanc de Blanc is made from 100% Chardonnay, it’s notes of rich, creamy robustness comes from the 5 years lees contact.

Cape Wine Company (1)

Delaille Raubenheimer, National Sales and Marketing Manager: “We are absolutely thrilled with this result! Especially considering the world-class panel of judges involved. It is gratifying to see that our passion for Rhône varietals is evident in the quality of our wines.

Cederberg (1)

David Nieuwoudt, winemaker & owner: Cederberg Shiraz – "From the maiden vintage in 2001 – there is no doubt that this wine has become a benchmark for the shiraz cultivar in South Africa. As a team we stand behind the wine an can only add to what tasters from all over in our tasting room say when we pour the Shiraz: “And now for the big one!

De Krans (1)

Louis van der Riet, winemaker: “We are thrilled that our flagship port-style wine once again proved its quality, after named the best fortified wine in South African in Master of Wine Tim Atkin’s SA report in 2017, as well as 2018. This is a big, well-rounded wine, which will mature well for 30 years and more."

Eikendal (1)

Nico Grobler, Cellar Master: “This award I am really proud off. It is always special when your wine comes up tops against the best in the business! Also, the fact that it is an exceptional panel of judges makes this award even more gratifying.”

La Motte (1)

La Motte CEO, Hein Koegelenberg & Cellarmaster, Edmund Terblanche: “We have a passion for Rhône-style blends and are delighted to have achieved a red blend that consistently offers a wine full of flavour and complexity but with the elegance and finesse typical of a cool climate South African Syrah.”

New Cape Wines (1)

Christiaan Groenewald, Winemaker/Owner: "What an amazing accolade winning the Grand Cru Award (Best in category) for our Arendskloof Pinot Noir Rosé 2018! With this Rosé we tried to make a wine as natural as possible, with good fruit and a fuller taste, a wine that will be good for a few years, a wine for morning, noon and evening drinking."

Paul Cluver (1)

Paul Cluver, Proprietor and Andries Burger, Cellar Master: 7 Flags Pinot Noir: “We are delighted with this recognition as we see the hard work in continually improving our Pinot Noirs coming to fruition.

Raats Family Wines (1)

Bruwer Raats, Proprietor: "Raats Family Wines specializes in Chenin Blanc and Cabernet Franc and it is always rewarding to see the Raats Family Cabernet Franc 2016 as the Grand Cru in it's category.

Shannon (1)

James Downes Owner/Viticulturist: "We are delighted that our Mount Bullet Merlot 2016 achieved Grand Cru status again. Consistency is a very important achievement for this particular wine and our team. Also, on the back that our 2016 was competing again merlots from the stellar 2015 and 2017 vintages."

Vrede en Lust (1)

Karlin Nel, Winemaker: "We are tremendously proud of this achievement. Winning a Grand Cru best in class means that we are undoubtedly on the right track in our pursuit in crafting excellent wines. The White Mischief is our 6 cultivar white blend from Elgin and a true showcase of the vineyard. This is the result of a great vineyard and winemaking team working in synergy to produce outstanding wines. Great honour for the whole team!"
 

The full list of winning wines alphabetically by cultivar:

Bordeaux Blend Red - Babylonstoren Nebukadneser 2017
Bordeaux Blend White - Spier Creative Block 2 2018
Cabernet Franc - Raats Family Cabernet Franc 2016
Cabernet Sauvignon - Zorgvliet Cabernet Sauvignon 2017
Cape blend - Alvi's Drift Albertus Viljoen Bismarck 2017
Chardonnay - Eikendal Chardonnay 2017
Chenin Blanc (joint winner) - Ormonde Chip off the Old Block Chenin Blanc 2017
Chenin Blanc (joint winner) - Spier Wines Woolworths Private Collection Chenin Blanc 2017
Cinsault - Stellenbosch Vineyards Limited Release Cinsault 2018
Fortified - Spice Route Amos Block Perpetual Reserve NV
Grenache - Cape Wine Company Erasmus Grenache 2017
Malbec - Diemersfontein Carpe Diem Malbec2017
MCC & Sparkling - Bon Courage Jacques Bruere Blanc de Blancs 2011
Merlot (joint winner) - Ormonde Merlot 2015
Merlot (joint winner) - Shannon Mount Bullet Merlot 2016
Merlot (joint winner) - Zorgvliet Merlot 2017
Muscadel - Orange River Cellars Red Muscadel 2017
Natural sweet - Orange River Cellars Straw Wine 2018
Other Red Blend - Jordan Chameleon Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot 2016
Other White Blend - Vrede en Lust White Mischief 2018
Pinot Noir - Paul Cluver Seven Flags Pinot Noir 2017
Pinotage - Fairview Primo Pinotage 2017
Port (joint winner) - Boplaas Cape Tawny NV
Port (joint winner) - De Krans Cape Vintage Reserve 2016
Rhone Blend Red - La Motte Pierneef Syrah Viognier 2017
Riesling - Jordan The Real McCoy Riesling 2018
Rosé - New Cape Wines Arendskloof Pinot Noir Rosé 2018
Sauvignon Blanc (joint winner) - Avontuur Estate Sarabande Sauvignon Blanc Reserve 2017
Sauvignon Blanc (joint winner) - Almenkerk Sauvignon Blanc 2018
Shiraz - Cederberg Shiraz 2017
Verdelho - Stellenbosch Vineyards Limited Release Verdelho 2018
Viognier - Diemersfontein Carpe Diem Viognier 2018

   
VINEYARD CONSISTENCY AWARDS

The ‘Top 5’ places for the nine year period from 2011 to 2019:


Fairview (33 wins)

Charles Back – Owner: “We as a team are delighted with this recognition. We have consistently performed well in the competition since its inception. We continually strive to produce South Africa’s best range of wines. And with this award, we’re on the right path.”


Paul Cluver (32 wins)

Andries Burger, Cellarmaster:No vintage is the same yet our team’s willingness to learn, adapt and grow is the reason for our success as a winery and our ability to produce quality wine on a consistent basis.

Cederberg (31 wins)

David Nieuwoudt, Winemaker & Owner: "Winner – The Cederberg and Ghost Corner ranges managed to create a life of its own. We believe that since David first vintage on the farm, 1997 – we have now surpassed the big 21st birthday: we are now legal – as “they” say! It is time to focus more and more on the actual life that the vineyards give us. Every day. Proof is in the pudding – we believe."


Jordan (29 wins)

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 and for the 9th time, accept a ‘Vineyard Consistency Award’ for our wines that are the ultimate Synergy between Soul and Soil.
 

Saronsberg (27 wins)

Dewaldt Heyns, winemaker: "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 high vineyard consistency ranking over the past 9 years."


WINE CONSISTENCY AWARDS

Top four places (including joint winners) for the eight year period 2011 to 2019:


Boplaas (joint first place)

Carel Nel, proprietor: “We are pleased to have a joint first place for our Cape Vintage Reserve port. A lot of effort goes into producing this world class Cape Port style wine. Our winemaker, Margaux Nel, did her MSC in Touriga Nacional and both I and Margaux have visited the Douro more than 12 times to fine tune the production of these fine wines.

Groot Constantia (joint first place)

Boela Gerber, winemaker: “We are pleased and proud of this latest achievement by our Grand Constance – a wine that is a very important part of Groot Constantia's history as the birthplace of the sweet wines of Constantia. Over the centuries this farm has continued to produce high quality wines respected throughout the world, and winning the Wine Consistency Award is an excellent recognition of our teams continuous drive to maintain this quality across the board.


La Motte (joint first place)

Hein Koegelenberg, La Motte CEO: “Acknowledging the success of introducing cool climate styles to the estate’s portfolio, La Motte puts a premium on consistency and, for the same reason, celebrates the performance of its premium Pierneef Collection Syrah Viognier in the NWC/T100.
 

Raka (joint first place)

Piet Dreyer, owner: “Consistency is king. If we achieve a first place for consistency, we have achieved our goal. This is what we strive to do, to consistantly make wine of quality”.


WINE CONSISTENCY AWARD WINNERS LISTED BELOW:

Boplaas Cape Vintage Reserve
La Motte Pierneef Shiraz Viognier
Groot Constantia Grand Constance
Raka Biography Shiraz


Richard Kershaw MW:

I was delighted to support the NWC/Top100 as Panel Chair once again. I have watched this competition grow from strength to strength over its nine year history, evolving to the current version that not only selects the 100 top wines in South Africa but identifies these winning wines by cultivar and blend, ensuring the final selection truly represents wines of strength, diversity and integrity.

For consumers this provides a relevant and exciting guide to whet their appetites and try, as well as buy, new fine wines with absolute confidence. For wineries and brands, this competition provides a national benchmark as well as robust marketing and promotion features; it is a carefully thought-out marketing toolkit, that works.

To conclude, the 2019 NWC/Top 100 Wine Challenge showcases the year-on-year improvement that the SA wine industry is making, highlights many of its finest wines, and I look forward to being part of its continued development.


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