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National Wine Challenge Special Awards 2021


13 May 2021  -  buybetterwine.com

Special Award Winners – Four categories: Grand Cru Best In Class, Vineyard Consistency, Wine Consistency and Wine Of The Year; Red, White, Sweet & Bubbly

Note:  Double Gold Medal Award results will be released on Thursday 20th May.

ROBIN VON HOLDT reviews SPECIAL AWARDS for the 11th NATIONAL WINE CHALLENGE (NWC) 2021:

“We have assessed with care, worldwide, key aspects of fine wines’ recognition and achievement.  These include cellar practice, vineyard management, as well as strong leadership that supports the team workers who themselves are focussed on delivering excellence.  We are of the researched view that the following four key categories of special awards that the NWC focusses on, are critical long term benchmarks.  They encapsulate and recognise core components of fine-wine performance. Each one of these four categories is key, distinct and each of them are free-standing in their own rights.  Crucially, they all serve to underpin and support claims of fine wine recognition.  This is a categorical fact, true for any fine wine assessment, either in South Africa or indeed anywhere in the winemaking world.

Let us now focus appropriate attention on the details of the various measurements and achievements that led to wineries winning these unique awards.

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) wines that offers beguiling and 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 the instantly recognisable and special fine-wine category.  It is however that single 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 and a delight to taste this final, remarkable flight, of brilliantly made Grand Cru winning wines. They typically offer layers of flavour, texture and breadth.  The wines are complex, nuanced and show remarkable length, together with that ultimate underpin, exceptional balance. 

‘Vineyard Consistency’ Awards
The consistent achievement of high-quality wines as measured by benchmark accolades, is a characteristic that underpins the world’s greatest vineyards This qualitative fact can only be proven 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 11 years of this fine-wine competitions history.  At this stage and over the full eleven year period, there are now four vineyards in leading positions with between 29 and 40 winning wines. This stellar, long term performance is a remarkable achievement, endorsing each winning vineyards’ terroir, their high calibre vineyard and cellar teams, together with  recognising the exceptional wine making skills.

‘Wine Consistency’ Awards
We also identify and reward the special category of, a single wines’ consistent performance.  The handful of wines that have achieved a significant number of Top 100 winning places over the entire eleven year period.  There are now just four fine wines that occupy the overall 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 the wine making teams. Incredibly scarce, this recognition provides a hugely desirable, blue-chip underpin to claiming fine-wine status. Great pride can be taken by each winning winery and team, who receives one of currently just four, top performing wine consistency accolades.
 
'Wine of the Year' Awards; a red, white, bubbly and sweet wine
We decided in 2020 to add this fourth category to our special awards. It felt appropriate that with our long track record and commitment to recognising and rewarding excellence in the industry, we should also identify during the judging process, and award and promote, those individual wines that stand apart in their generic group from every other very fine wine.  One white wine and one red wine, one bubbly and one sweet wine, that each achieve the single highest judged score in their generic band during the 2021 NWC 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 wine brands uniqueness and USP’s. 
 
Finally, we note that all of these special awards  help and aid positively our fine-wine industry by endorsing the general success, reputation and positive trajectory of SA fine-wines, worldwide. 
 
A huge thumbs up and big kudos, to each and every well-deserved 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:
 
Flagstone Winery (3)

Flagstone Winery Music Room 2017
Flagstone Winery Dark Horse Shiraz 2017
Flagstone Winery Treaty Tree 2018


Gerhard Swart, Head Winemaker:"We could not have wished for a better result than having three wines awarded best in class. Having three of our premium wines acknowledged for its quality and rewarding the team for all the hard work from the vineyard to the bottle is such a great result and honour. Having received five Top 100 awards and then to have three of them being awarded the best in class is more than we could have wished for."

Highlands Road  (2)

Highlands Road White Reserve 2018
Highlands Road Semillon 2019


Vanessa Mead, Winemaker:
SAUVIGNON BLANC WHITE RESERVE 2018: (Grand Cru, DB Platinum, best in class)
The reason why we still have so much to say about wine is that we are intrigued by how we still don’t know enough, I hope I never do.  It’s my reason for getting up every morning.  The variables involved in making a truly good Sauvignon Blanc are numerous and each year presents a new set in the form of climate, canopy management, vinification methods, cooperage and, of course, the unexpected little dramas.  

SEMILLON 2019:  (Grand Cru, DB Platinum, best in class)
I know it is unfashionable as a varietal, but I believe in this grape.  It can be so sublimely fleshy and pleasing while retaining a little allure of flavours that keep developing and changing as you savour it.  Semillon does not need a special pairing or occasion, it is always seems ready to delight my palate. 

Jordan (2)

Jordan Black Magic Merlot 2018
Jordan The Real McCoy Riesling 2020


Gary & Kathy Jordan, owners:"To be rated 1st for this award and especially for both red and white wines grown and produced on Jordan Wine Estate, recognises our consistent team effort over many vintages. Thank you for this wonderful acknowledgement.”
 

Koelenhof Winery (2)

Stellenbosch 1679 The Legacy 2017
Stellenbosch 1679 Pinotage 2019


Nicholas Husselman, Winemaker:"We are immensely proud of the team for achieving Grand Cru best in class for both our Stellenbosch 1679 The Legacy 2017 (Bordeaux Blend) and Stellenbosch 1679 Pinotage 2019."
 

Paul Cluver (2)

Noble Late Harvest 2020
Seven Flags Pinot Noir 2017

 
Paul Clüver, Managing Director:"Our family is dedicated to the pursuit of excellence - producing wines with a strong provenance whilst having sustainability at our core. We strive, year after year, to continue learning and improving. It is heart-warming to have our efforts recognised and endorsed. We are grateful for our dedicated team who make this possible. We cannot do it alone - it takes a village."

Alvi’s Drift

Albertus Viljoen Bismarck 2018

Riaan Marais, Cellar Master:
"Looking at the quality of the wines that were entered again this year, we are humbled to receive recognition for the Bismarck 2018 as the National Champion - best in class. It is a wine close to our hearts which we look forward to sharing with the world."

The Cape Wine Company

Erasmus Grenache 2019

Erlank Erasmus, Founder and Winemaker: "It's wonderful to see the uptake in interest for Grenache. It's a robust grape variety that is so well suited for South African soils and this award helps solidify that there is still so much potential to uncover"


Cloof Wine Estate


Inkspot 2018


Hennie Huskisson, head winemaker:“Cloofwines are synonymous with THE VERY SEXY SHIRAZ and once again this iconic wine has proven to be a top-quality Shiraz and up and beyond the best in its class, achieving a Double Gold in the 2021 NWC competition as well as receiving a CWSA Gold medal along with the prestigious 4 Star John Platter award”.

Martin Breffit MD added“Cloof Wine Estate’s team headed by Hennie’s outstanding expertise in winemaking has achieved even greater heights with not only a Top 100, Double Platinum but also a Grand Cru National Champion best in its class for the Inkspot. This is the latest testament to the staggering number of accolades and endorsements that Cloof and the team are proud of here in the beautiful Darling region."


Du Toitskloof


Du Toitskloof Nebbiolo 2016

Ed Beukes, Marketing & Sales Manager: 
“We’ve been making Nebbiolo since the early 2000s. She’s that dark horse who has patiently been waiting in the stables as we’ve groomed her over two decades. Now, as we begin to understand this lovely and mysterious Italian variety grown in our South African soil, we know how to best showcase her exotic beauty and I believe that the 2016 vintage is but the beginning of great things to come for this Du Toitskloof wine.”

 
Graham Beck
 
Graham Beck Blanc de Blancs 2016

Pieter Fereirra, Cellar Master: “We are elated when our Cap Classique’s receive top honours from experts in the industry.  As Cap Classique specialists we’re inspired by our passionate pursuit of the perfect bubble.”

 
Holden Manz

ROTHKO 2020

Gerard Holden, Co-Owner: "It is a huge pleasure to be awarded Grand Cru - Best in Category for our Holden Manz Rothko Rosé 2020.  A blend of 60% grenache, 30% syrah and 10% cinsault this Provençal styled rosé is perfect for enjoying by the pool or with a light lunch or to be honest at any time of the day!  At Holden Manz we like to say #roséallday!!"


Maree Family Wines


Klein Jakkals 2019


Jacques Maree, Winemaker & Director: "A true expression of Stellenbosch terroir, and very excited for the upcoming vintages. A culmination of hard work and a dream of starting a family owned business to showcase exceptional wines from Stellenbosch."


Painted Wolf Wines


Black Pack Roussanne 2019
 
Jeremy Borg, Co-Founder & Winemaker:
“I always like to do things a little differently, working with unusual grapes and allowing them to guide my winemaking decisions. I have been making Roussanne for several years now and I am delighted to have received such an accolade. Hopefully this will raise the profile of this wonderful and little-known grape and encourage more people to give it a try."


Paul Wallace Wines


Black Dog Malbec 2018

Paul & Nicky Wallace, owners:
"Way back in 2005 we took a chance by planting Malbec in the cool viticultural region of Elgin.

Since launching the Black Dog in 2008, this wine has steadily built a reputation, both locally and abroad, and has proven viticulturist Paul’s instinct for an elegant, cool-climate, fruit driven Malbec correct. This is borne out by the wine being awarded Grand Cru National Champion, Best in Class at the prestigious NWC/Top 100 SA Wines competition."

Saronsberg Cellars

Saronsberg Full Circle 2019

DewaldtHeyns, Winemaker:
"We are delighted to be the recipient of the Grand Cru prize for our flagship Full Circle Rhone style blend. We consider the NWC as an important benchmark for measuring our progress and consistency against some of South Africa's other top producers."
 

Stellenbosch Vineyards

Credo Chenin Blanc 2019

Bernard Claassen, Winemaker:
"I am extremely honoured with this outstanding achievement of Best in Class for our Stellenbosch Vineyards Credo Chenin Blanc 2019 at one of South Africa's most well-renown wine competitions. This award, in a highly competitive category, can only result from years of hard work and passion from our winemaking team."


Van Loveren Wines


Retief Reserve Cape Blend White 2019


Jacques Cilliers & Chris Crafford, Winemakers:“The award attests to Van Loveren’s continued commitment to making quality wines that surpasses consumers’ high expectation.  The fact that these awards come only 2 weeks after the launch of Van Loveren’s new packaging (which forms part of our 40 year brand celebration) is of extra meaning to our team."

Vrede en Lust Wine Estate

Vrede en Lust Viognier 2020

Dana Buys, co-owner:
"This is a particularly special award for the Vredeen Lust Viognier, as it is made from grapes from our Elgin and Simonsberg vineyards. The cool and warm climates complement one another so well. Viognier has a lot to offer when paired with the right food and our market enjoys spicy dishes a great deal."

The full list of winning wines alphabetically by cultivar:

Bordeaux Blend Red-Koelenhof Stellenbosch 1679 The Legacy 2017
Bordeaux Blend White-Flagstone Winery Treaty Tree 2018
Cabernet Franc-Diemersfontein Wine Estate Thokozani Cabernet Franc 2019
Cabernet Sauvignon-Flagstone Winery Music Room 2017
Cape blend-Cloof Wine Estate Inkspot 2018
Chardonnay-Oak Valley Tabula Rasa South Ridge CY95 Chardonnay 2018
Chenin Blanc -Stellenbosch Vineyards Credo Chenin Blanc 2019
Fortified-Rietvallei Red Muscadel 2018
Grenache-Cape Wine Company Erasmus Grenache 2019
Malbec-Paul Wallace Black Dog Malbec 2018
MCC & Sparkling-Graham Beck Blanc de Blancs 2016
Merlot- Jordan Black Magic Merlot 2018
Natural sweet-Paul Cluver Noble Late Harvest 2020
Nebbiolo -Du ToitskloofNebbiolo 2016
Other Red Blend-Alvi's Drift Private Cellars Albertus Viljoen Bismarck 2018
Other White Blend-Retief Reserve Cape Blend White 2019
Pinot Noir-Paul Cluver Seven Flags Pinot Noir 2017
Pinotage-Koelenhof Stellenbosch 1679 Pinotage 2019
Port-Boplaas Cape Vintage Reserve 2017
Rhone Blend Red-Saronsberg Full Circle 2019
Riesling- Jordan The Real McCoy Riesling 2020
Roussanne -Painted Wolf Wines Black Pack Roussanne 2019
Rosé-Holden Manz Rothko 2020
Sauvignon Blanc-Highlands Road White Reserve 2018
Semillon-Highlands Road Semillon 2019
Shiraz-Flagstone Winery Dark Horse Shiraz 2017
Shiraz -Maree Family Wines Klein Jakkals 2019
Touriga Nacional-BoplaasTouriga Nacional 2019
Viognier-Vrede en Lust Viognier 2020


VINEYARD CONSISTENCY AWARDS

 
The ‘Top 4’ places for the ten year period from 2010 to 2021:

Jordan Wine Estate (40 wins)
Paul Cluver (40 wins)
Saronsberg Cellars (34 wins)
Alvi's Drift Private Cellar (29 wins)


Jordan (40 wins)

Kathy & Gary Jordan, owners: “One of the best compliments a wine estate can receive is to be recognised as producing high quality wines consistently.  This implies that the wines produced are not just excellent by chance, but that the vineyards are producing quality grapes and the cellar is ensuring that this quality is expressed in the finished wines.  To be rated Joint 1st for this award recognises our consistent team effort over many vintages. Thank you for this wonderful acknowledgement.”

Saronsberg (34 wins)

Dewaldt Heyns, winemaker: 
 "Our dedication to consistency is reflected in the fact that we have retained a high vineyard consistency ranking over the past decade."

Alvi’s Drift (29 wins)

Riaan Marais, Cellar Master:"At Alvi’s Drift we strive for excellence and continual improvement in all aspects of the winemaking process. We recognise that our entire industry is continuously and rapidly improving and therefore, being recognised for consistency in performance against such an ever-improving landscape is a great honour for our team."

 

WINE CONSISTENCY AWARDS

Top four places joint winners for the ten year period 2010 to 2021:

Boplaas Cape Vintage Reserve (joint first)
Raka Biography Shiraz (joint first)

La Motte Pierneef Shiraz Viognier (second place)
Paul Cluver Chardonnay Seven flags (third place)


Raka (joint first place)


Biography Shiraz 

Elna Dreyer:"We at Raka received wonderful support from all our customers during the past year, despite the stress and strains of Covid19 and liquor bans. We dedicate this award to all of you who enjoy Raka Biography Shiraz, and are delighted to have official confirmation that Biography is still the top wine you love so much! "


La Motte (Second place)


Hein Koegelenberg, La Motte CEO:“Consistency is something to treasure in these uncertain times. We are delighted with the Pierneef Syrah Viognier repeating its exceptional performance of previous years. Trusted quality.”

WINE OF THE YEAR

RED: Koelenhof Stellenbosch 1679 The Legacy 2017
WHITE: Oak Valley Tabula Rasa South Ridge CY95 Chardonnay 2018
SWEET: Boplaas Cape Vintage Reserve 2017
BUBBLY: Graham Beck Blanc de Blancs 2016

MCC WINE OF THE YEAR AWARD

Graham Beck

Graham Beck Blanc de Blancs 2016

Pierre de Klerk, Winemaker:“Creating this exceptional Cap Classique with 100% Chardonnay, hand selected from the limestone rich vineyards on our Robertson property, makes this particular vintage of our Blanc de Blancs an extraordinary expression of the outstanding Cap Classique terroir characteristics of our estate. This award underscores the unique appeal, timeless elegance and superb quality of the Graham Beck Blanc de Blancs.”

RED WINE OF THE YEAR AWARD

Koelenhof Winery

Stellenbosch 1679 The Legacy 2017

Nicholas Husselman, Winemaker: "To top off our awards, our Stellenbosch 1679 The Legacy 2017 also won 'Red Wine of the Year'. This was the first year we entered our flagship Stellenbosch 1679 range into the NWC and could not be happier with the results. It feels very rewarding to see a combination of hard work, an exceptional team and good quality grapes come together to create these exceptional wines."


WHITE WINE OF THE YEAR AWARD

Oak Valley

Oak Valley Tabula Rasa South Ridge CY95 Chardonnay 2019


Jacques du Plessis, Winemaker/Viticulturist:"Our Chardonnay block of clone 95 always provide acidity and length to our Groenlandberg Chardonnay. In 2018 it had a very small crop with very concentrated flavour with great balance of elegance, structure and aromatics."

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