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National Wine Challenge Special Awards 2020


20 July 2020  -  buybetterwine.com

Special Award Winners – Four Categories: 1. Grand Cru Best in Class, 2. Vineyard Consistency, 3. Wine Consistency, 4. Wine of the Year; Both Red & White. Double Gold Medal Award results will be released on Friday 24th July.

ROBIN VON HOLDT reviews SPECIAL AWARDS for the 10th NATIONAL WINE CHALLENGE (NWC) 2020:

“There are four categories of special awards that the NWC uses, in order to recognise significant  aspects, indeed core components, of fine-wine performance. Each one of these categories is as a matter of fact recognised  as key, separate and free-standing.  Crucially, they all underpin  claims to being a fine wine.  This is equally as true globally  as it is for South African fine wines.  We therefore place a strong and continuing emphasis on all four categories  and now focus appropriate attention and detail on their various achievements.

Grand Cru ‘Best in Class’ Awards

In each flight of tasting, the judges are able to identify with acute diligence that one (or on one occasion, two) wine that offers compelling thrills and exquisite qualities. It is the singular, finest, example of its cultivar, or of its blend category.  Clearly, all Top 100 winning wines are truly outstanding expressions, falling definitively into an instantly recognisable and special fine-wine category.  It is however the wine that has something else, something utterly compelling about its presence and attractiveness, that captures the panels attention and in the end, gains the Grand Cru ‘Best in Class’ Award. It is always a privilege to taste this final, remarkable, flight of brilliantly made Grand Cru winning wines. Complex, nuanced and offering multi layers of flavour, texture and breadth. Often extremely precise, all winners show remarkable length and that ultimate classic underpin; exceptional balance. 

‘Vineyard Consistency’ Awards

The consistent achievement of high-quality wines as measured by benchmark accolades, is a characteristic that underpins, globally, all of the greatest vineyards.  As a consequence of this qualitative fact that is proven only with time, the NWC assess and award only those top ranking vineyards that have proved to be consistently at the fore of Top 100 winning wines throughout the 10 years of this fine-wine competitions history.  At this stage and over the full ten year period, there are now five vineyards in leading positions with between 30 and 37 winning wines. This stellar performance is a remarkable endorsement of  each winning vineyards terroir, vineyard and cellar teams, as well as its wine making skills and abilities.

‘Wine Consistency’ Awards
Next up, we also identify and reward the special category of a single wines consistent performance.  Those wines that have achieved a significant number of Top 100 winning places over this terrifically exciting ten year period.  There are now just  three fine wines that occupy the top leading positions, measured by the multiple of Top 100 wins for each wine. These envious track records and levels of consistent top performance are tremendous reputation boosts for each wine maker and for their support teams.  Hugely desirable yet incredibly scarce, this recognition provides a stellar underpin to claiming fine-wine status. Great pride can be taken by each winning producer and wine making team who receives one of currently three top performing track-record accolades.
 
'Wine of the Year' Award; a red and a white
We have decided to add this fourth category to our special awards. It feels appropriate that, with our 10 year track record and experience, we should now also identify during the judging process, and promote, those two individual wines that stand apart from every other very fine wine.  One white wine and one red wine only, those two wines that each achieve the single highest judged score in their generic colour band during the competition.

The additional level of recognition and endorsement that these unique achievements bring to vineyards, as well as to their wine making teams, is of tangible brand and commercial value and benefit. Each one of these awards offers a further enhancement of credibility and reputation, providing positive local market impact together with an enhanced global awareness and brand footprint.  It also provides for differentiation of and recognition for their brands uniqueness and USP’s. 
 
Finally, they help too, to support and endorse the positive trajectory and success of SA fine-wines worldwide.  Which is more critical than ever, as the fierce and about to become fiercer, global wine sales and market share war embraces all of our overseas markets.
 
Thumbs up and huge kudos 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: 

Groot Constantia (5)

Groot Constantia Gouverneurs Reserve Red 2017
Groot Constantia Constantia Rood 2017
Groot Constantia Gouverneurs Reserve White 2017
Groot Constantia Rosé 2019
Groot Constantia Grand Constance 2016


Jean Naude, CEO (pictured with Winemaker Boela Gerber): "I am very proud of my team for having achieved this. It is the result of years of hard work towards a common goal of improving vineyards and at the end improving wine quality. The result also underlines the versatility of the Groot Constantia Estate and our ability to produce excellent wines across a wide varietal spectrum."


De Krans (2)


De Krans Cape Vintage Reserve 2017
De Krans Touriga Nacional 2018


Christoff de Wet, winemaker:  "It is wonderful to have two wines this year as Grand Cru National Champions & Best in Class, showing the excellent and consistent quality of our wines made from Portuguese grape varieties grown at De Krans in Calitzdorp."


Highlands Road - (2)


Highlands Road Semillon 2018
Highlands Road Sauvignon Blanc White Reserve 2017


Vanessa Simkiss, Winemaker: "Oz Clarke describes his favoured wines made from this varietal as 'big, round, slightly creamy but with a lovely aroma of fresh apples, which is exciting.' I liked that, and I aspire to put that into the bottle with Highlands Road Semillon, especially because we also like apples.  I have high hopes for South Africa’s success with Semillon.  Our vineyard delivers generous aromas and flavours, but the fruit requires focused guidance through the vinification process, with careful choices of French oak to add some drama to the tasting experience.

The Sauvignon Blanc White Reserve is produced with discerning customers in mind.  The wine must be multi-faceted, like an interesting journey, made up of many experiences.  This wine derives sophisticated charm from being fermented in French oak barrels with subtle toasting, no overt infusions, it is slightly reined in, and vinified to reflect grace and elegance.  In one of Jancis Robinson’s many wine books, she refers to the cultivar as 'best in a blend', it’s been a challenge to me ever since to prove her wrong."


Ridgeback (2)


Ridgeback Cabernet Franc 2017
Ridgeback Viognier 2019


Toit Wessels, winemaker: "We are truly proud at the announcement that the Ridgeback Viognier 2019 follows on the success of the previous vintage as the most highly rated Viognier (Platter’s Viognier of the Year and 5 star) in the country. This bold, expressive wine with a focus on mouthfeel is ideally suited to the warmer Paarl region where the sun-kissed bunches generously exhibit their full stone-fruit and floral flavour potential.

Precision viticulture is at the forefront of the success of the Ridgeback Cabernet Franc 2017 where leaf-plucking and bunch thinning ensures ripe tannins and full flavour development. Only the very best berries are harvested for this premium niche wine where flavours of blackcurrant and a hint of pepper promises remarkable ageing potential."


Stellenbosch Hills (2)


1707 Reserve Red 2016
Kastanjeberg 2017


James Ochse, winemaker: It’s great to see one of our champion wines sharing the limelight with a maiden vintage. Our sublime 1707 Reserve Red has always been a top gun, clinching numerous awards over the years. But this year we are especially delighted by the performance of our Kastanjeberg, a wooded Chenin Blanc from our Sense of Place range which we launched in 2019. A story of a showpiece vineyard has certainly been captured in this wine.”


Stellenbosch Vineyards (2)


Limited Release Grenache 2019
The Flagship Petit Verdot 2015

 
Bernard Claassen, Senior Winemaker: "These awards can only be a result of years of hard work, dedication, and passion from our winemaking team. This truly is a sign that our continuous determination to produce respectable quality wines is paying off.”


Almenkerk

Almenkerk Merlot 2016

Joris van Almenkerk, owner & winemaker:
"Merlot is our largest planted red variety on the farm since we've always believed Elgin's cool climate, when paired with right soils could yield world-class Merlot. Our single vineyard Almenkerk Merlot has received many awards and citations over the years. This award is another validation of the efforts of our whole team over the last decade."


Avontuur Estate


Luna de Miel Chardonnay Reserve 2018

Jan van Rooyen, Winemaker: “This is one of our iconic Première Range wines with a long and illustrious history. It is named after the Argentinian Broodmare, Luna de Miel, (trans­lates as 'honeymoon' in Spanish) who graced Avontuur Thoroughbred Stud for 18 years. A Chardonnay for the Chardonnay lover.”


Backsberg


Checkers Collab 4 Pillars Shiraz 2018

Simon Back, Owner & CEO:
"Named after the four generations of Back family ownership, and the pillars to the entrance of our winery, this wine, and its Grand Cru status, is a testament to my family's winemaking efforts over the past 104 years. We are proud of the entire Backsberg Team who were involved in its production.”


Cavalli


Cremello 2017

Craig Barnard, winemaker / viticulturist:
"Cavalli is thrilled to have its Cremello flagship white blend awarded Grand Cru Best in Class  for a second time, a fabulous achievement."


Diemersfontein


Cabernet Sauvignon 2018

Francois Roode, winemaker: "We are delighted with this result, a great team working together to make this happen, one of Lauren’s (our assistant winemaker) favourite cultivars to work with and enjoy."


Graham Beck
 
Graham Beck Blanc de Blancs 2015

Pieter Fereirra Cellar Master: Graham Beck is thrilled that the Blanc de Blancs Vintage 2015 was awarded the prestigious Grand Cru National Champion ‘Best in Class’ title.
 
“We are honoured to be recognised as the National Champion for Cap Classique. For decades, I have championed the Robertson region as an ideal area for growing Chardonnay, thanks to the balance of sunshine, diurnal shifts and limestone deposits. I believe that the stringent selection process the Blanc de Blancs grapes undergo ensures that only the finest expression of each vintage is created, and 2015 is clearly no exception. I trust that the 2015 Graham Beck Blanc de Blancs will bring you plenty of drinking pleasure, just as it was intended to do.”


Ken Forrester Wines


The Gypsy 2015

Ken Forrester, owner:  “When people think of Ken Forrester, Chenin Blanc usually comes to mind, but we also have a love affair with Rhone varietals. Our first Rhône ranger was in 1996, a blend of Grenache and Syrah. The Gypsy 2015 is expectedly somewhat wild and intense, just like her namesake. 2015 was a fantastic vintage in the Cape, and this wine is delicious now and is only going to get more interesting.”


La Couronne Wine Estate

Malbec 2017

Juan du Toit, Marketing and Sales Manager:
"Receiving the Grand Cru award for our Malbec is a great privilege. I am very proud of the Winemaker (Henk Swart) and his team. This award reflects all their hard work and passion for winemaking."


Meinert Wines

"Printers Ink" Pinotage 2017

Brendan Butler, winemaker: "This is a tremendous achievement and one that the Meinert team is honoured to receive. It is an incredible acknowledgement of our unrelenting commitment to best express our unique terroir."


Paul Cluver Wines

Estate Pinot Noir 2018

Paul Clüver, Proprietor (pictured with Andries Burger, Cellar Master): "Pinot Noir has been the only red wine we have been producing for more than a decade.  Not only are we passionate about producing Pinot Noir but we are passionate about producing world class Pinot Noir.  It is an honour that the hard work and passion of our team is being recognized."


Shannon

Mount Bullet Merlot 2017

James Downes Owner/Viticulturist:  “We are delighted that our Shannon Mount Bullet has achieved not just Top 100 Double Platinum status again, but also Grand Cru best in class status for a third time. Consistency at the Premium level is of utmost importance for us and we are chuffed that the superb 2017 vintage is delivering on its reputation.”


Vrede en Lust

Anni Sauvignon Blanc 2019
 
Dana Buys, co-owner of Vrede en Lust and Caseys Ridge:
"We established our Caseys Ridge, Elgin vineyard in 2005, specifically to utilise the cool climate that the Elgin provides. This together with a variety of deep fertile soils ( Sandstone , Tukulu and Nabank Shale)  created the perfect terroir for Sauvignon Blanc cultivation. Plantings include 20ha of Sauvignon Blanc. We are delighted in our Vrede en Lust Anni 2019 ‘s Grand Cru award at the 2020 National Wine Challenge! Great job team VnL!"


The full list of winning wines alphabetically by cultivar:


Bordeaux Blend Red - Groot Constantia Gouverneurs Reserve Red 2017
Bordeaux Blend White - Groot Constantia Gouverneurs Reserve White 2017
Cabernet Franc - Ridgeback Cabernet Franc 2017
Cabernet Sauvignon - Diemersfontein Cabernet Sauvignon 2018
Cape blend - Groot Constantia Constantia Rood 2017
Chardonnay - Avontuur Luna de Miel Chardonnay Reserve 2018
Chenin Blanc  - Stellenbosch Hills Kastanjeberg 2017
Fortified - Spice Route Amos Block Perpetual Reserve NV
Grenache - Stellenbosch Vineyards Limited Release Grenache 2019
Malbec - La Couronne Wine Estate Malbec 2017
MCC & Sparkling - Graham Beck Blanc de Blancs 2015
Merlot (joint winner) - Almenkerk Merlot 2016
Merlot (joint winner) - Shannon Mount Bullet Merlot 2017
Natural sweet - Groot Constantia Grand Constance 2016
Other Red Blend - Stellenbosch Hills 1707 Reserve Red 2016
Other White Blend - Cavalli Cremello 2017
Petit Verdot - The Flagship Petit Verdot 2015
Pinot Noir - Paul Cluver Estate Pinot Noir 2018
Pinotage - Meinert Wines "Printers Ink" Pinotage 2017
Port - De Krans Cape Vintage Reserve 2017
Rhone Blend Red - Ken Forrester The Gypsy 2015
Riesling -  Jordan The Real McCoy Riesling 2019
Rosé - Groot Constantia Rosé 2019
Sauvignon Blanc (Fumé Blanc) - Highlands Road Sauvignon Blanc White Reserve 2017
Sauvignon Blanc (Unwooded) - Vrede en Lust Anni Sauvignon Blanc 2019
Semillon - Highlands Road Semillon 2018
Shiraz - Backsberg Checkers Collab 4 Pillars Shiraz 2018
Touriga Nacional - De Krans Touriga Nacional 2018
Viognier - Ridgeback Viognier 2019


VINEYARD CONSISTENCY AWARDS

 
The ‘Top 5’ places for the ten year period from 2010 to 2020:

Fairview  (37 wins)

Anthony de Jager, Fairview winemaker:"Vineyard Consistency Award – first place overall - Consistency to me is more important than any individual award for a 'one hit wonder' and is the greatest prize of all! It's wonderful to see the team performing so well in a difficult time for the SA Wine Industry. A massive honour and an award we celebrate with our entire team!"


Paul Cluver Wines (36 wins)

Paul Clüver, Owner: " I am so proud of our team.  They are continuously trying to improve while at the same time trying to manage the variables that we are dealt with by nature. We are not only fortunate to have an incredible terroir, but also an incredible team that manages it and produces our wines."


Jordan Wines (35 wins)


Gary & Kathy Jordan, Proprietors “Having farmed the estate since 1983, we have a better understanding of the terroir & fruit that is given to us from our vines. We are able to work consistently, even under drought stricken times, to produce quality grapes for our wines. The vineyard team, headed by Hilton Phipson, has done an incredible job maintaining the vineyards and ensuring excellent results.”


Groot Constantia  (32 wins)


Floricius Beukes Estate Manager & Viticulturist ( beside Boela Gerber winemaker): “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."


Saronsberg (30 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 10 years."


WINE CONSISTENCY AWARDS

Top three places joint winners for the ten year period 2010 to 2020:

Boplaas (joint first place)
Cape Vintage Reserve

Margaux Nel Boplaas winemaker: "Our Cape Vintage Reserve Port style wines are selected form the small parcels in the vineyards that deliver consistently the highest quality grapes. Using only Portuguese varieties like Touriga Nacional, Touriga Franca, Tinta Barocca and Sozao make this a true authentic Port style wine. In the cellar the Port wine get once again selected before going in the barrels and then before bottling we select only the best barrels that will last at least 50 years to go into the final blend to make of the Boplaas Cape Vintage Reserve Port! We will not bottle a reserve if we do not believe the Port wine will not be able to last more than 50 years. Therefore at Boplaas we strive to make consistently the best Port wine we can make for generations to come!"

  
Groot Constantia (joint first place)

Grand Constance


Boela Gerber, winemaker: “We really have to credit our vineyard team for consistency of the Grand Constance.  Flo and his team put an insane amount of detail and work in the Grand Constance, especially during harvest time, where they literally select individual berries and raisins in the vineyard.  This attention to detail translates to the consistency of the final product.”

Raka (joint first place)
Biography Shiraz 

Piet Dreyer, owner: "Since the maiden vintage in 2002 the Biography Shiraz has earned several awards annually, so there is no doubting the constant quality of the wine. We are honoured."
  

WHITE WINE OF THE YEAR AWARD

Highlands Road

Semillon 2018

Michael White, Owner: "We at Highlands Road are delighted at having again been acknowledged on the NWC/Top100 - we hope to continue to make it an annual habit!

The Semillon and SB White Reserve are both wines that represent a bit of a step out of our usual box. We decided to try to make these wines in an even more elegant style than for which Highlands Road has become known, and to give both varieties a chance to be the very best they can.To garner these prestigious accolades is highly rewarding, and a credit to Vanessa’s meticulous approach.

Most of all, for the Semillon 2018 to be awarded as the White Wine of the Year is not only recognition for the outstanding wine that we think it is, and for Elgin, but also for a variety that is hopefully fast returning to its rightful place as one of those at the top of the South African wine tree.

Thank you for a super competition in trying times!"


RED WINE OF THE YEAR AWARD

Diemersfontein

Cabernet Sauvignon 2018

Francois Roode, winemaker"This is a big surprise for us and it is for our Cabernet Sauvignon, we have been working hard to make an outstanding Cabernet Sauvignon and finally we got it right. Well done to the team."

 

For further information please contact Lisa accounts@buybetterwine.com.