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National Wine Challenge Double Gold Awards 2020


24 July 2020  -  buybetterwine.com

Our congratulations go to all cellar teams and winemakers whose wine entries cracked the judges nods in this year’s NWC. These Double Gold awards are a most significant commendation.

ROBIN VON HOLDT REVIEWS DOUBLE GOLD AWARDS FOR THE NATIONAL WINE CHALLENGE (NWC) 2020:

“The Double Gold Awards are taken extremely seriously at the National Wine Challenge, both by the organisation as well as by the judging panels.  This category of fine wine is very important for producers as well as for consumers seeking great quality winning wines. Often these are sold at attractive prices too. We found that in this year’s results, a substantial number of winning wines in this category were tantalisingly close to gaining Top 100 status.  Therefore generally their quality was absolutely undisputed.  Double Gold winning wines are particularly good examples of their cultivar or blend category and their high quality has once more upped the game for 2020.  The winning wines reflect regional character and many of them show a definitive sense of place.  The Double Gold portfolio of winning wines will offer wine-lovers immense enjoyment.  They are complex, balanced, and really delicious.  Many will also reward medium term cellaring. 
 
With only 70 wines gaining this prestigious Double Gold Award, it was an even smaller percentage of all the fine wine entries received, than in prior years.  The judges were both fair yet very firm in their views and in their scores.  The results are very conservative, when compared to international competition guidelines.
 
Our congratulations go to all cellar teams and winemakers whose wine
entries cracked the judges nods in this year’s NWC.  These Double Gold awards are a most significant commendation. Well done!  This is a laudable achievement and something to feel really proud about!
 
Most importantly, fortunate wine lovers are going to be very happy indeed buying and drinking these wines.
 
We have also included at the end of this press release, judges’ comments and thoughts on actual wine flights tasted.”

Significant Double Gold Award winners include the following wineries:

Perdeberg Wines (6)
Alvi's Drift Private Cellar (5)
Jordan Wine Estate (4)
Ormonde Vineyards  (4)
Stellenbosch Vineyards (4)
Cape Wine Company (3)
De Wet Cellar (3)
Vrede en Lust (3)


2 wins each: Calitzdorp Cellar, Groot Constantia Wine Estate,  Jason's Hill Private Cellar, Paul Cluver Wines, Paul Wallace Wines, Rosendal Wines, Saronsberg Cellars, Wildekrans Wine Estate.

WINNERS SHARE THEIR COMMENTS:

Perdeberg Group  (6)
Albertus Louw, Production Manager: "Receiving six Double Gold and one Double Silver across all our pricing levels, our Popular Range – The Classic Collection, to our Premium Range - The Vineyard Collection and also our Super Premium Range - The Dry Land Collection, indicates that Perdeberg offers the best quality at any given price point. No small thanks to the influence of unirrigated dryland vineyards which bares small berries with concentrated fruit and colour, combined with the intuition of our winemaking team during the artistic production process of creating wines of excellence."
  

Alvis Drift Private Cellar (5)
Riaan Marais, Cellar Master: "We are truly honoured to have 5 Double Gold and 4 Double Silver Awards in this year’s NWC Top 100 awards. Hats off to our team in the cellar who have worked so hard to ensure that we can consistently deliver on our promise to provide the best value wines across all our tiers no matter the circumstance. Thank you to all the producers, Robin and the team at NWC Top 100 for their valuable contribution to the industry."
  

Jordan Wines (4)
Sjaak Nelson, winemaker: “An amazing achievement as these specific vineyards have been looked after and developed well by Hilton Phipson and his team. Changes made in these vineyards are evident in the results.”
  

Ormonde Vineyards (4)
Theo Basson, Proprietor: “Credibility can only be built over time, and it is built from the history of our words, actions and results. We now reap the reward of accumulated knowledge over years , true dedication and investment in our passion for the product."
  

Stellenbosch Vineyards (4)
Petri de Beer, Junior Winemaker: “We are grateful to see such a haul of awards as we can see our work truly paying off. To have wines from all of our ranges up for awards, shows the golden thread of quality pull through our entire portfolio and the essence of exceptionalism we strive to achieve. Thank you for the great honour of these prestigious awards.”
  

De Wet Cellar (3)
Ters Jonck, winemaker: 
"We are flattered with this achievement especially with the 2020 harvest winners which was bottled only prior to the entry and will develop even more in the coming months. The wines that won medals is all wines that is close to our heart and it’s always nice to see them achieve at competitions like this one."
  

Vrede en Lust (3)  
Etienne Buys, co-owner of Vrede en Lust and Caseys Ridge: 
"Karlin changed direction with the 2019 Malbec and we are happy to see it perform so well early on. The Barrique and Viognier wines are regular top performers and we are working hard on getting the Elgin Pinot Noir to the same standards!"
  

Calitzdorp Cellars (2)
Jim de Kock,  Winemaker
: "Two Double Gold Awards and two Double Silver Awards.  The Double Gold and Double Silver awards include a Cape Ruby, Cape Vintage, Tinta Barocca and a red blend of Tinta Barocca and Touriga Nacional and are still evolving and young. These wines are made from Portuguese varieties that are extremely well suited to the terroir of Calitzdorp. The whole team was responsible for making these High Quality wines."
  

Groot Constantia (2)
Jean Naudé, CEO: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.”
  

Paul Cluver (2)
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."
  

Paul Wallace (2)
Paul and Nicky Wallace, owners:
"We are thrilled that the Paul Wallace Little Flirt Sauvignon Blanc 2019 and the Brave Heart Pinot Noir 2018 are able to make their vintage debut into the market proudly bearing the Double Gold accolade awarded by the NWC /Top 100 SA Wines competition. Both are wines of personality, showcasing the very best attributes of cool climate Elgin fruit."
  

Saronsberg (2)
Dewaldt Heyns, winemaker: 
"We are pleased to be the recipient of 2 double gold awards. We have no doubt that the consumer who looks at this will see that our wines are authentic in style, and in line with the consistency we expect."
  

Wildekrans (2)
Braam Gericke, Winemaker &Viticulturist :
"A good winemaking team needs to be full of depth, balance, character and strong support - just like a good wine. Our team is extraordinary, and our success is all thanks to each member in this team.”
  

Bon Courage
Jacques Bruwer, Cellarmaster
“The dedication & passion that goes into the making of all of our different styles of wine, reflects in our accomplishments."
  

Babylonstoren
Charl Coetzee, cellarmaster
"To be awarded a double gold is special, but in a year like this it is double special!  We are just grateful that in times like this we can still make something that can people can appreciate."
  

Conradie Penhill
CP Conradie Winemaker/Viticulturist  & Assistant Winemaker Ronwan Griffiths: "The Penhill Sauvignon Blanc 2019. Although the 2019 harvest was the smallest since 2005, their hard work showed their endurance with the wines. The Penhill Sauvignon Blanc also showed tremendous potential despite many hardships with the draught and constant baboon visitors. 

Penhill Range only consists of a premium white and a premium red wine. This Sauvignon Blanc is the showcase of our whites at Penhill and has a piercing acidity to carry the green and also surprising tropical fruits through to a crisp but not too dry finish. Sip on the sound of Sunshine!"
   

Darling Cellars
A delighted Pieter-Niel Rossouw, head winemaker at Darling Cellars says: "He is overjoyed by the recognition. 1 Double gold and 4 Double Silver awards show that the wine making philosophy of very little interference in the winemaking process so that the contribution of nature show in the wines, together with the positive attributes of technology, creates winning wines that can be bought with confidence.

This Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot blend is easy drinking, displays a little bit of complexity, but is never heavy, nor dull and is a perfect fit for all occasion."
   

Edgebaston
Pieter van der Merwe, winemaker: "We do our best to be versatile in our range and I love working with all these varietals. It makes life interesting as a winemaker. To win awards for all of them makes me extremely happy."
   

Fairview 
Charl du Plessis – Spice Route Winemaker:
"Spice Route Grenache 2016 - The ‘workhorse’ of the Swartland. The uniqueness, character and potential of this exciting variety are endless."

Fairview
Anthony de Jager – Fairview Winemaker:
"One Double Gold Award and one Double Silver Award - My favourite vineyard site! It's rocky, exposed and dramatic, just as I like it! The Beacon Shiraz vineyard itself is fast approaching old vine status but is still showing class and is on the money each and every year. Our Beryl Back is another consistent performer. Glad to see that the 2018 has followed suit."
  

Graham Beck
Pieter Ferreira, Cellar Master: "Graham Beck also achieved a Double Gold award with their Graham Beck Brut Zero 2014 in the Top 100.

“I am thrilled that finally a Cap Classique with no lipstick or eye shadow can be recognised as being balanced, complex and precise! What I mean by this is that our Graham Beck Brut Zero is truly the pure essence of a Cap Classique, the basic foundations, and it is a testament to our hard work that this style is being brought to the fore.

Then last but not least our Graham Beck Brut NV and Graham Beck Brut Rose NV also achieved each a Double Silver award.

I am over the moon that our main calling cards are recognised for their consistency and continuity with the golden thread of quality running through year on year! These two Cap Classiques are a tribute to quality everyday drinking, and it is important to me that our attention to detail runs the gamut of our portfolio.”
 

Highlands Road
Vanessa Simkiss, winemaker
"SINE CERA 2017.This wine’s name is a hint at what arrives in the bottle.  The best of the vintage’s Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc must be assembled in a seamless blend which is superior to its individual components.  A subtle dash of French oak and a very honest scrutiny of the wine’s balance completes the vinification.  But there is more to Sine Cera than that, it needs bottle maturation to reveal the complexed nuances of these two very noble varieties especially when they hail from Elgin.

CHARDONNAY 2018. Natural fermentation in French oak is the secret to this wines full flavoured middle palate and exceptional length.  Jancis Robinson refers to the Chardonnay producers of the world as being in a constant pursuit of producing 'Aristocratic styled Burgundy'.  It must be very subliminal, as the Highlands Road Chardonnay is always as pure a portrayal of what our unique terroir presents as possible.  The wine has substance, but is simultaneously joyful and distinctly and proudly from Elgin."
  

Holden Manz Wine Estate
Gerard Holden, Co-Owner
“We are proud of the Double Gold awarded to the wild fermented Holden Manz Chenin Blanc 2019.  This expression of South Africa’s most popular green skinned varietal is sculpted by 20% barrel fermentation and 6 months continuous stirring on the lees – a reward for lots of hard work on the part of our wine making team.”
  

Ken Forrester Wines
Ken Forrester, owner: "The FMC. “2019 marks 20 golden years of this incredible wine. Wine flies when you're having fun!! The FMC 2019 is a celebration of Chenin Blanc, and is a result of our passion and long standing commitment to this exceptional grape. The FMC is an iconic Chenin Blanc, and 20 years later this remains our challenge to the world!”
   

La Motte
Edmund Terblanche, Cellarmaster: “Making the most of the exceptional terroir we have access to, is the core of La Motte winemaking and this double gold medal performance by the 2018 La Motte Syrah bears testimony to that success. We love our Syrah elegant in style, but intriguing in character and we’re very happy that you agree.”
    

Meinert Wines
Brendan Butler, winemaker:
"One Double Gold Award and three Double Silver Awards – 2020 has been an incredibly challenging year for all and so our recent awards at NWC are a welcomed change in scenery and narrative. It also serves to remind us, as wine producers, not to take our eye off the ball."
  

Oak Valley
Jacques Du Plessis, winemaker:
"Oak Valley Groenlandberg Pinot Noir 2019: Our coolest, highest, clay rich sites are reserved for our Pinot Noir vines with more clonal plantings to come. For all of its challenges, Pinot Noir belongs on our Groenlandberg slopes. A complex, more structured and savoury 2019 vintage relative to the previous three vintages."
  

Rickety Bridge
Donovan Ackermann, Cellar Master:
We are delighted with the National Wine Challenge results, bearing fruit to our cellar endeavours. The four Double Silver Awards re-iterates that we are on the right path and we appreciate the recognition immensely.”
  

Boplaas
Margaux Nel Boplaas winemaker
: "GAMKA Branca 2018 – The Gamka Branca 2018 is an  “old skool” barrel fermented& matured Cape white blend. Viognier led blend with Chardonnay, Grenache Blanc, Chenin Blanc, Rousanne and Verdelho making up the 6 way blend. Great foods wine especially with Cantonese & Cape Malay cuisine, soft fromage & charcuterie or simply sip on its own. Drink now or in the next 5 to 8 years.
 
Ring of Rocks 2017 – The sole aim of crafting this alternate blend was to showcase the Portuguese varieties in the most enjoyable blend possible. This Portuguese led blend can be enjoyed with rustic farm dishes, hearty vegetarian dishes, firm fromage & charcuterie – or simply enjoy while sitting around a braai. Drink now or in the next 5 years."  
  

Villiera Wines
Jeff Grier, Cellarmaster:
"At Villiera we have been making Cap Classique for 36 years and the experience ensures consistent quality even at NV level. Our Tradition is a vibrant, fresh, younger style which overdelivers. Villiera Tradition Brut.

The 3 Double Silver Award winners are all reserve wines in the Villiera range, using fruit from Old Vines. Carful use of oak and a combination of techniques, to add complexity, are part of the success.
  

Walker Bay Vineyards
David Smit, winemaker:
"Respect the grapes, the sum of the soil and climate, by not overworking the fruit and the resultant wine will impress even the worst critic."
  

Zandvliet
Jacques Cilliers, Winemaker:
"Kalkveld Shiraz 2016. This vineyard is planted in a complex conglomerate of limestone, pebbles and clay. Brushed daily by the south-easterly breeze cooling the vineyard, this unique terroir gives the wine its singular mineral footprint. Delicately layered nose of prunes, violets and dark chocolate which enriches the palate that is rounded with subtle wood integration."
 

Brief comments below from various of the judges including Ginette de Fleuriott, Duncan Savage, Richard Kershaw and JD Pretorius.

Flight comments

Pinotage: An attractive category, offering good fruit-compote plus some tannic support. Pleasing that the showy over-ripe & over-oaked are rarer & only one coffee-pinotage. Most have depth of fruit, good presence.

Merlot: Pleasant line-up, some more modern generous fruit showing up. Less herbal, leafy, lean character. A category that has developed – more generous fruit, not just simple juice nor lean & mean.

Cabernet Sauvignon:  Flight showed true varietal character- a few showing good concentration & fruit balancing tannic backbone. Well-handled oak, more deftly used. Appreciated the absence of over-extraction.

Bordeaux Blend Red: A strong flight featuring a number of top AA Wines as expected from 2017 & 2015. The middle tier was solid. Wines appeared dominated by Cabinet Sauvignon and were thoughtfully blended.

Chardonnay: A rather bland flight. Lots of safe winemaking. Positive is restrained oak, no bombs here (just one with high RS). The better wines have some personality, not a load of terroir but at least some breadth & depth, oatmeal character & some minerality on the length.

Chenin Blanc: Some showing pure fruit character & attractive minerality. A few showing middle-tier pleasant character, but not stand-out.

Natural Sweet: Good balance of sugar & acid, lovely intensity.

MCC & Sparkling:   As ever, some classic, aged examples, alongside chalky mineral Blanc de Blanc and a rather pure Rosé. Quality is often high in this category & this year lived up to that expectation.

Rosé:   Rosé wines continue to improve every year as winemakers get to grips with the differing methods. Certainly they are becoming paler, dryer and fresh.

Port & Fortified: Vintage Ports – 2 offered great depth & brooding complexity with good ageing potential. That Fino style / Sherry of Sauvignon Blanc. Loved it; commendable.

Pinot Noir: Many of the wines show clean fresh red fruit which make them appealing but linear, tending to lack secondary characters. The best examples showed some better structure building blocks with intriguing spice aromatics.

Other Red Blends: Cab-Shiraz blends offering good fruit & structure on the whole.  An excellent offering for the consumers – one with stand-out cab character and one with enticing, seductive Syrah notes dominating.

Shiraz: The best wines had richness of texture, depth of flavour and balanced by fresh acidity with gently spiced oak complexity. Other wines, especially 2016 showed that bacon fat, charcoal, smoke oak notes that distracted from the fruit purity.

Red Rhone Blends: The category clearly shows varieties suited to the South African climate. A good balance of extract and purity with a clever use of oak.

White Blends:  The Bordeaux White blends were surprisingly underwhelming but the better Chenin based wines had good concentration, fruit purity, depth and deft use of oak.

Cape Blends: Generosity of fruit with two showing svelte tannins & good backbone. A pleasing category delivering on fruit presence and the best showing backbone.

Other White Cultivars:
Standout Semillon!  Rieslings offering good varietal character & pure fruit, good acid balance. All showing kerosene character.  Viogniers also showing positive attributes – not too weighty, with floral character.

Sauvignon Blanc: A number of high-quality unwooded & fumé blanc wines. A few 2020 showing surprisingly well, lots of promise. The best wines balanced the fruit & acidity.

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