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Special Awards – National Wine Challenge 2017
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Special Award Results – 3 Categories - Wine Consistency, Vineyard Consistency & Grand Cru Best In Class Winners

ROBIN VON HOLDT reviews SPECIAL AWARDS for the NATIONAL WINE CHALLENGE (NWC) 2017:

These special awards mark three aspects of fine wine  that deserve noting and mention.  Consistent, high-quality performance and recognition are  characteristics that underpin all great wines, anywhere in the world.  Therefore,  we mark and award any wine that has proved to be a consistent winning Top 100 wine, over many vintages, for the period that this unique fine-wine competition has been in existence.  Similarly, we mark and award those vineyards that have achieved a significant number of Top 100 winning wines consistently over this same seven-year period.  Over this considerable  period, there are now five wines in joint First place, with 6 wins each.  There are now also six vineyards in leading positions with between 22 and 27 winning wines each. These levels of consistency are hugely desirable as well as being tremendous reputation boosts for the lauded vineyards. Great pride can be taken by each blue chip winner whose stellar performance over time deserves,  and receives, these top level accolades.

Then, we also identify and reward that special category of ‘Best in Class’ wines.  Here, the focus is on each individual wine that judges believe is the singular best example of its cultivar or blend category.  Clearly, all Top 100 winning wines are really 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.  Highly sought after Awards, it is fantastic to see, and 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!

 
WINE CONSISTENCY AWARDS

Joint FIRST PLACE with six wins each over the seven year period 2011 to 2017:

Boplaas Cape Vintage Reserve
 
It is a family effort with Carel Nel (Cellarmaster) and Margaux Nel (winemaker) - joining hands to get the best combination of experience and youthful energy to make the best wine possible.

Groot Constantia Grand Constance
 
Jean Naude, CEO: “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 possibly the reason why he named his farm Constantia”.

La Motte Pierneef Shiraz Viognier
 
Cellarmaster Edmund Terblanche: “Winemaking deals with a wide set of variables and to ensure consistency in quality and style vintage after vintage takes careful consideration. Although delighted with exceptional vintages, we put a premium on consistency and celebrate the extraordinary performance of our Pierneef Syrah Viognier over the period from 2011 to 2017.

Raka Biography Shiraz

Josef Dreyer, winemaker: "I always strive to get the biggest volume of the best quality wine from each vintage into the bottle. It is my goal every year - to grow the best grapes from which to produce the best wine. If an award like this is bestowed upon the fruit of your labour, it serves as confirmation that you have done your part well, that you fulfilled your purpose. We are indeed 'blessed' by the earth.

Rustenberg John X Merriman

Murray Barlow, Cellarmaster: “It is a wonderful achievement for our John X Merriman to be awarded the Wine Consistency award, as we have always felt that this is the wine that best represents the estate and Rustenberg’ s red winemaking style as a whole.

Duncan Savage, winemaker and panel member quoted: “The 2017 National Wine Challenge / Top 100 was a fantastic event! Awesome wines, the 2015 vintage was in particular a standout. It’s always great for me as a producer to get a snapshot of the state of SA fine-wine through judging with such an esteemed panel.


VINEYARDS CONSISTENCY AWARDS
 
The ‘Top 6’ winners for the seven year period 2011 to 2017:

Cederberg (27 wins)

David Nieuwoudt, owner and winemaker: "For the leading overall Vineyard Consistency Award… Terroir, commitment and sometimes long lonely hours in the cellar: it all adds up."

Paul Cluver (26 wins)

Managing Director Paul Cluver:  "All the credit will have to go to the whole Paul Cluver Wines team.  This shows an understanding of our terroir with the ability to adapt to vintage changes to still produce wines at the highest quality."

Fairview (24 wins)

Anthony de Jager, chief winemaker at Fairview:  “We are humbled by the recognition for our vineyard consistency, but with wine, consistency is only the starting point. The goal is to improve and always do better.”

Jordan (22 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 accept a ‘Top Six’ Consistency Award for our wines that are the ultimate Synergy between Soul and Soil.

Saronsberg (22 wins)

Dewaldt Heyns, winemaker: “Great brands are built through consistency in quality. Not from podiums or social platforms, but on the battlefield of the vineyard and cellar floor. Being honoured with the Vineyard Consistency Award makes me immensely proud of our amazing team. Sharing it with others vineyard goes to show that South African wines are a force to be reckoned with!

Simonsig (22 wins)

Cellarmaster Johan Malan: “At Simonsig, team work is our key to success and we are extremely proud to retain the Top six position in the Vineyard Consistency Award.

Ginette de Fleuriot CWM & panel chair quoted: “Judging is most satisfying for me when the panelists are in sync. Faced with a line-up of Sauvignon Blancs, we discussed the merits of and stylistics preferences for a pyrazine (think green) vs a thiol-driven (think tropical fruit) wine and we reached satisfying results. But it was the White Blends (Bordeaux-styled and Chenin-driven) which brought the most satisfaction for me – both on the palate and in our unanimous appraisal. Pleasurable drinking and some rising stars amongst them.


GRAND CRU AWARDS:
 
‘Best in Class’ award winners per cultivar and per blend. Quotes from winning vineyards in alphabetical order follow:

Boplaas
 
Margaux Nel winemaker/owner:  “We are committed to making world class Cape Port. It starts in the vineyard were we select the best full ripe Portuguese grapes (Touriga Nacional, Tinta Barocca and Souzao) and pick it by hand.  We use traditional open lagers for maximum extraction of flavour and colour.  Aged in old Portuguese barrels.

Boschendal

Shirley van Wyk, Marketing Manager:  “Vin d’Or is what we refer to as our ‘liquid gold’ and truly is an exquisite wine. Being recognised on this platform is recognition of the time taken in careful vineyard and ideal grape selection, following a desire to produce a stand out Noble Late Harvest with perfect structure and balance. It is first and foremost a food wine.

Cape Wine Company
 
Erlank Erasmus, Director and Founder: “Both of our wines that won the amazing Grand Cru awards are wines which we are personally very proud of. The Erasmus Family 2015 Mediterranean blend is the jewel in our crown and the Nieuwe Haarlem Cinsault 2016 is one of our new releases.

Cavalli
 
Craig Barnard winemaker: “As a winemaker, one has to be willing to try the unusual, while remaining true to both one’s own style and that of the grapes. The 2015 Cremello is symbolic of everything that Cavalli encompasses, namely our passion for subtle feminine wines, our quality grapes and pursuit of perfection.” 

De Krans

Winemaker Louis van der Riet:  “Our Touriga Nacional grapes are coming of age now and produce beautiful, balanced and complex wines. This year we went one step further with our Touriga Nacional, winning a Grand Cru First Place in the category!

De Wetshof
 
Johann de Wet CEO and Chairman of the SA Chardonnay Forum: “This Grand Cru award is a tremendous honour for a number of reasons. South African Chardonnay is receiving critical acclaim as being of the best in the world. For De Wetshof to stand out in this strong category of brilliant wines reaffirms our whole-hearted commitment to the variety that built De Wetshof. The Site 2015 is a showpiece of site-specific wine-making, expressing the unique Robertson terroir in a vintage that will be remembered as one of the finest in recent memory. De Wetshof is humbled to have been chosen to receive this award, which is another vehicle for promoting excellence in South African Chardonnay.

Doolhof

Johan Fourie, General Manager:  “When the owners of Doolhof, the Kerri son family, started producing wine ten years ago, it was with Pinotage. The love affair continued with Single Vineyard Pinotage, the flagbearer, winning many national and international awards. Receiving this award, Grand Cru best in class Pinotage, is another feather in our cap, underpinning our terroir and attention to detail. We are proud to win this coveted award whilst competing with so many great wines.

Fairview
 
Charl du Plessis, Spice Route Chief Winemaker:  “Spice Route The Amos Block Perpetual Reserve NV and Spice Route Saffron Rosé 2016; the fact that both these wines are new and are doing so well makes me extremely happy, especially when it comes to the Amos Block Perpetual Reserve, as this was a passion project of mine, and it is wonderful to see it being recognized, and Flor sherry-style wine gaining momentum in South Africa.

Highlands Road

Vanessa Simkiss, winemaker:  “Sauvignon Blanc Reserve 2015; the achievement of Best in Class/National Champion for our Sauvignon Blanc is really gratifying! This was an exceptional vintage for Sauvignon Blanc.  I allowed a small portion of our best block to complete fermentation in 4th fill French oak barrels.  It was left on lees for a further 18 months before undergoing careful fining and stabilization processes. I attribute the success of this wine to the wonderful support and encouragement that we as a team receive from Michael White, the owner of Highlands Road Wines, the viticulturally expertise from Paul Wallace, and our exceptional Elgin terroir.
Michaels retort of course is that Vanessa has taken our wines to a new level across the board.

Jordan
 
Proprietor Kathy Jordan: “Being awarded the Grand Cru National Champion Best in Class for the Jordan ‘The Real McCoy’ Riesling 2016 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.

Klein Constantia

Hans Astrom, managing director:  “Back in 2005, Robert Parker described Anwilka’s flagship as “the finest red wine I have ever had from South Africa”. We believe it has gone from strength to strength since Anwilka merged with Klein Constantia in 2012, thanks to the guidance of our Bordeaux-based shareholders, Hubert de Boüard and Bruno Prats.

Oldenburg

Owner Adrian Vanderspuy: “Shiraz and Viognier; I am very excited about our two Grand Cru best in class placings, in conjunction with great results across our other six entries. Our enthusiasm for the potential of Oldenburg’s small corner of cool climate Stellenbosch continues to climb and results like these add to the excitement.

Paul Cluver
 
Paul Cluver owner and MD:  “We are honoured to have achieved this award for our Close Encounter Riesling.  Our focus and passion on this varietal over the last couple of years is definitely bearing fruit.

Paul Wallace
 
Nicky Wallace co-owner: "To have both our Brave Heart Pinot Noir 2015 and Black Dog Malbec 2015 judged by this respected panel of judges as Grand Cru National Champion Best in Class winners has had me walking on air these past few days. It is a thrill to see that our vision in transforming a tired apple farm with steep slopes and a multitude of soil types, into a little gem of a wine estate. It is fascinating that from this 25 hectare property we are able to produce two stylistically different wines yet both of equal stature within their category. It is simply wonderful that our passion and dedication to all things vinous, is now being recognised through the quality of our wines."

Raats
 
Bruwer Raats owner and winemaker:  “Raats Cab Franc 2014; at Raats Family Wines we specialized in Cabernet Franc and winning the Grand Cru National Champion Award for this category is in line with our vision to constantly produce world class Cabernet Franc.

Rickety Bridge
 
Wynand Grobler winemaker: “We regard white blends as a major category for the South African Wine Industry.  Many wineries are producing top quality white blends. We are exceptionally proud of the Foundation Stone White achieving the honour of Grand Cru category winner in the National Wine Challenge.

Saronsberg
 
Dewaldt Heyns winemaker: “The Best in Class Grand Cru Award received by the Full Circle 2015 underscores our team’s ceaseless effort to produce one of the most consistently awarded red wines and Rhone-style blends in South Africa, as well as our ongoing commitment to express it in a uniquely South African style.”  

Shannon
 
James Downes owner and viticulturist:  “We are delighted that our Shannon Semillon has now won two years in a row, not only Double Platinum/Top 100 status but also the Grand Cru award for the category, proving that the Top 100 tasting panel recognises that last year’s award was not a one hit wonder and that that cool climate Semillon from Elgin terroir has firmly established its place.

Simonsig
 
Johan Malan Cellarmaster:  “We could not have asked for a better wine to claim the title as Grand Cru National Champion best in class other than the Frans Malan Reserve. It is truly a tribute to Frans Malan, the creator of this fine Cape Style blend: Where the unique fruit driven characters of Pinotage collaborates and unites with the king of cultivars, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot as the silver lining.

Spier
 
Frans Smit Cellarmaster: “The Woolworths Private Collection Cabernet Sauvignon 2014 is crafted from a blend of Stellenbosch and Darling grapes. The former provides its restrained structure while the latter’s higher temperatures provides a luxurious richness.  This intoxicatingly complex combination makes this one of our most frequently awarded wines.”

Stellenbosch Vineyards
 
Eduan Steynberg MD of Stellenbosch Vineyards: “Grenache and Petit Verdot; our winemaking team was over the moon, to say the least, upon receiving the great news about winning for all five of our wines entered into the 2017 Challenge. The combination of their passion and flair in the cellar along with the longstanding relationships with our grape growers allows the wine and the vineyards to express their true potential, which in turn ensures continuous innovation and superior quality from vine to bottle. These wines were all created to offer great quality and deliver against our company vision of becoming the most admired South African wine producer. We intend to continue with our efforts of playing a big role in creating high quality South African wines and it is encouraging to receive such good feedback from an accomplished selection of judges.”

Ultra Liquors
 
Mark Norrish Wine GM:  “It is no Secret to Ultra Liquors that this wine is regarded, by us, as the showpiece of our entire Secret Cellar wine range. We are really proud to have received this Grand Cru Award, and, especially so, as  we were up against so many wonderful bubbly’s that so many South African farms are producing currently. Cheers to “Proudly SA" MCC!!

Uniwines

Willem Visagie winemaker:  “Daschbosch Steen; at DASCHBOSCH we strive to uphold the craftsmanship of pure wine-making that is true to the area; Breedekloof. My philosophy for DASCHBOSCH is very simple and honest “putting earth, vine, sun and passion in a bottle. The 2016 ripening and harvest season was a very dry and healthy one. Sorting of grapes, de-stemmed and crushed, cold soaking and slow fermentation at 13-15 °C to enhance flavours and colour.

Vrede en Lust

Susan Erasmus winemaker:  “Topping both white and red classes in the Bordeaux category is an achievement that prides all of us at Vrede en Lust.  Red Bordeaux from the Eastern slopes of the Simonsberg Mountain - well suited for Cabernet and Merlot and our White Bordeaux from our cool Elgin property planted on Red Shale soil.  We hope to see the White Bordeaux category grow with consumers - as this is a hidden gem!

Zorgvliet
 
Bernard le Roux - Winemaker.  “We feel honoured to have received this year’s Grand Cru Award for our Merlot 2015.  This is only our second bottling of this single variety that was made from well-aged and low yielding vineyards in the Banghoek Valley.  It reflects the concentration and finesse that are inherent to the wines of Zorgvliet.”


The full list of winning wines alphabetically by cultivar:

Bordeaux Blend Red  - Vrede en Lust Boet Erasmus Red 2013
Bordeaux Blend White - Vrede en Lust Barrique White 2015
Cabernet Franc - Raats Family Wines Family Cabernet Franc 2014
Cabernet Sauvignon - Spier Wines Woolworths Private Collection Cabernet Sauvignon 2014
Cape blend - Simonsig Estate Frans Malan Cape Blend 2015
Chardonnay -De Wetshof Estate The Site White 2015
Chenin Blanc - uniWines Vineyards Daschbosch Steen Chenin Blanc 2016
Cinsault - Cape Wine Company Piekenierskloof Cinsault 2016
Fortified - Fairview Wines Spice Route The Amos Block Perpetual Reserve NV
Grenache -Stellenbosch Vineyards Credo Limited release 2015
Malbec - Paul Wallace Wines PAUL WALLACE BLACK DOG MALBEC 2015
MCC & Sparkling - Ultra Liquors SECRET CELLAR MCC BDB 428 NV
Merlot - Zorgvliet Wines Merlot 2015
Natural sweet - DGB Boschendal Vin d'Or 2015
Other Red Blend - Klein Constantia Estate Anwilka  2013
Other White Blend - Cavalli Wine and Stud Cremello  2015
Petit Verdot - Stellenbosch VineyardsThe Flagship Petit Verdot 2011
Pinot Noir - Paul Wallace Wines PAUL WALLACE BRAVE HEART PINOT NOIR 2015
Pinotage - Doolhof Wine Estate Single Vineyard Pinotage 2015
Port - Boplaas Landgoed Cape Vintage Reserve 2015
Touriga Nacional - De Krans TOURIGA NACIONAL 2015
Riesling Sweet - Paul Cluver Wines Close Encounter Riesling 2016
Riesling Dry - Jordan Wine Estate Jordan The Real McCoy 2016
Rhone Blend Red (Joint winner) - Cape Wine Company Erasmus Family 2015
Rhone Blend Red (Joint winner) -Saronsberg Cellars Saronsberg Full Circle  2015
Rhone Blend White - Rickety Bridge Winery The Foundation Stone White 2016
Rose - Fairview Wines Spice Route Saffron Rose 2016
Semillon - Shannon Vineyards and Wines Semillon 2016
Sauvignon Blanc - Highlands Road Wine Sauvignon Blanc White  Reserve 2015
Shiraz - Oldenburg Vineyards Syrah 2013
Viognier - Oldenburg Vineyards Viognier 2015


Greg Sherwood MW quoted:
 
It has been my great privilege to be involved in judging the NWA/Top100 since its inception. The concept is simple... use the best international palates in the global industry to assess and select the very best wines, and then present those currently available offerings direct to the consumer. Locally and internationally, quality wine is becoming more and more expensive, so giving consumers precise, educated, unequivocal wine buying recommendations seems more important than ever before. As a panel chair in 2017, I can confirm that the winery submissions were among the highest quality consistency across styles that I have ever judged. Don’t miss the stunning White Blends, the awesome Pinot Noirs or the superb Cinsaults – these categories were on fire! World-class.




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