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National Wine Challenge Double Gold Awards 2021


20 May 2021  -  buybetterwine.com

Robin Von Holdt reviews Double Gold Awards for the National Wine Challenge (NWC) 2021.

"The Double Gold Awards granted to winning wines are a key category of fine wine in SA. The judging of these is a task taken very seriously by the panels of judges and chairs, whom are seeking to find a particularly smart and appropriate range of commendable  winning wines. The same rigorous criteria is applied to assess each and every wine that is a  likely candidate for awarding. The organisation and the logistical support of the NWC is always at the highest level at all stages of the process, so as to best aid appropriate and best practice outcomes that are both meaningful and accurate.

This highly regarded category of fine wine is just up the street, for so many consumers who are on the lookout for awarded wines of great quality. Ongoing feedback and research in all major markets, conclusively indicate that for wine lovers,  price becomes a considerably less sensitive matter, when a Double Gold Award adorns a wine bottle. Thus over the years, it has become a really important category for producers to perform well in. Once again in this year’s results, there was a marginal gap between achieving Double Gold status and achieving Top 100 status. A goodly number of DG winning wines were really very close in quality to achieving Top 100 status. High quality was an absolutely undisputed fact, without question. 

The Double Gold portfolio of winning wines can now offer wine-lovers immediate (in many cases) and serious enjoyment.  These wines yield delicious qualities and showcase complexity and balance.  Many of these awarded wines will also be enhanced by medium term cellaring. The winning wines typically reflect regional character and many of them show a definitive sense of place.  

We can safely emphasise and endorse the judges views, that the Double Gold winning wines announced today are very fine examples of their cultivar or their blend category.  They show that great care has been taken in vineyard practices to bring ripe, high quality fruit into the cellars.  These wines also show keen, skilled, focus and smart cellar work, allowing in many instances the wine to be made and bottled in a light-handed fashion. The results speak for themselves.

With just 94 wines gaining this prestigious Double Gold Award in the 2021 NWC, it was, as ever, a realistically small percentage of all the fine wine entries received.  The judges were hard taskmasters in their assessment, views and in their allocation of  final scores for  all the wines.  Despite their rigour, judges were consistent and equally fair to all wines entered.  The results are conservative, when compared to international competition guidelines.


We offer our sincere congratulations to all of the cellar teams and winemakers whose wine entries successfully gained the judge’s approval and achieved these substantial wins  in this year’s NWC.  These Double Gold awards really are a most significant commendation. Well done on this praiseworthy achievement.  It is something to celebrate and to be justifiably proud about!
 
Wine lovers are going to be very, very happy with these 94 wines now in their sights!    

We have also included at the end of this press release, judges’ comments and thoughts on the actual wine flights tasted.”


Significant Double Gold Award winners include the following wineries:

Alvi's Drift Private Cellar (5)
Jordan Wine Estate (5)
Ridgeback Wines (5)
Painted Wolf Wines (4)
Paul Wallace Wines (4)
uniWines Vineyards (4)
Vrede en Lust (4)
Diemersfontein Wine Estate (3)
Du Toitskloof Wines (3)

Flagstone Winery (3)

2 wins each: Allee Bleue Wines, Boplaas Landgoed, Cape Wine Company, La Motte, Le Bonheur Wine Estate, New Cape Wines, Oak Valley Estate, RAKA WINE, Saronsberg Cellars, Stellenbosch Hills, Van Loveren Wines, Zandvliet Wine Estate
 

WINNERS SHARE THEIR COMMENTS:

Alvis Drift Private Cellar (5)

Junel van der Merwe – Cape Wine Master: "The NWC Top100 awards remain one of the outstanding awards events on the South African winemaking calendar.

We applaud the professional and consistent approach of the NWC team and are grateful for the support and promotion this award provides to uplift the profile of our entire industry. We thank the team for the recognition of the quality and pursuit of excellence exhibited in our wines with the award of 5 double gold and 6 double silver awards and congratulate our fellow winemaking teams for the outstanding quality of the wines presented this year."

Jordan Wines (5)
 
Gary & Kathy Jordan, owners: “We are proud of all the awards that we have received this year, not only these 5 Double Gold Awards, but also having 5 wines selected to be in the Top 100.  Through this we have been placed Joint 1st for the Top 100 Vineyard Consistency Award which is the cherry on the top.  These multiple awards make the Jordan Team feel motivated and energised in what has been a difficult year world-wide.”

Ridgeback (5)

Toit Wessels, winemaker: "We are immensely proud of our entire Ridgeback team with another stellar performance including 5 Double Gold awards at the National Wine Challenge 2021. Meticulous viticulture with site-specific selections and attention to detail in the cellar combine perfectly in our quest to produce consistent wines of the very highest quality throughout the range. Thank-you for hosting this benchmark competition for our wonderful industry."

Painted Wolf (4)

Jeremy Borg, Co-Founder & winemaker: 
"I am humbled and delighted by the recognition our wines are receiving. Of course our ultimate goal is to raise as much money as possible for African wild dog (painted wolf) conservation through wine sales, and these awards are invaluable in helping us to accomplish that”.

Paul Wallace Wines (4)  
                         

Nicky Wallace, co-owner: "We are delighted that all our wines entered into the prestigious NWC/Top 100 SA Wines competition garnered medals.  Four Double Gold Awards certainly has us celebrating.  Particularly pleasing is to see both the 2016 Brave Heart Pinot Noir as well as the soon to be released 2019 Brave Heart both recipients of Double Golds.  This illustrates consistency and the staying power of Elgin wines.  Our 2020 Little Flirt Sauvignon Blanc and 2019 Reflection Chardonnay both also look so pretty dressed up in gold."

Du Toitskloof (3)

Tiaan Loubser, winemaker:“Fantastic news after a very long and challenging harvest! We feel blessed to have received such results and it remains something quite remarkable to be a part of such an amazing team at Du Toitskloof. Every year as the grapes arrive at the cellar there is only one primary goal; to make beautiful wines. When I look at these accolades it reflects the long hours, passion and commitment which go into every wine that we produce. One final thought wraps it all up for me, “When love and skill work together, you can expect a masterpiece.”

Flagstone Winery (3)

Gerhard Swart, Head winemaker: 
"We are very happy in having our Cape Blend and both our Sauvignon Blanc’s awarded Double Gold. The Dragon Tree Cape Blend and Free Run Sauv Blanc are our biggest volume lines produced in the winery and to have both awarded double gold is a great testimony of the overall quality produced at Flagstone."

The Cape Wine Company (2)

Erlank Erasmus, founder and winemaker:
"What's wonderful about the Top 100 every year is that the awards span an entire gamut of styles and varieties. It's an honour to receive two Double Gold awards for the Nieuwe Haarlem Pinotage 2019 and Nieuwe Haarlem Chenin Blanc 2020 and a Double Silver for the Erasmus Shiraz 2019. Each wine tells a unique story and is exceptional in its own right. It's fantastic to be recognized for this."

Le Bonheur Estate (2)

William Wilkinson, winemaker:
“The combination of altitude and old vineyards is essential in creating classic and timeless wines that beautifully showcase the essence of Stellenbosch.”

New Cape Wines (Eagles Cliff Winery) (2)

Christiaan Groenewald, winemaker & owner:
"We are proud to have received double gold awards for both vintages (2019 & 2020) of our flagship wine.  Shiraz/Tannat is the perfect blend. These two varietals complement each other and the synergy effect is unbelievable. The fruit and structure of both varietals carries through and gives a wine with multiple fruits, flavours and a lasting impression on any wine lover."

Oak Valley (2)

Jacques du Plessis, winemaker& viticulturist: "We are thrilled that our Groenlandberg Chardonnay and Pinot Noir wines impressed the judges. These two wines are our pride and joy and they encapsulate the Estate as a whole. They speak of our sites, our soils and our vine growing philosophy."

Raka Wine (2)

Josef Dreyer, winemaker:"A lot of time and effort went into the making of the Erica Shiraz which is from our premium range. It was nurtured for 36 months in brand new oak barrels. We are very appreciative of this well-deserved award. The Raka Quinary is a Bordeaux style blend and has always been very popular and a best seller. This double gold award confirms that it is not only popular but indeed a quality wine. As always it is a team effort by the Dreyer family."

Stellenbosch Hills

James Ochse, winemaker:
 “It is significant and gratifying that these awards have gone to wines of different vintages, varieties, styles and price points – including the maiden vintage of the Suikerboschrand,” says winemaker James Ochse. “To us, it reveals a thread of excellence we strive for through our shared vision and continuous pursuit of the purest expressions. It is yet another tribute to the efforts of everyone involved.”   

Van Loveren Family Vineyards & Zandvliet Wines

Chris Crafford and Jacques Cilliers winemakers: “Over time, it takes small steps in reaching our goals and building credibility.  With patience and an incredible terroir at hand we are continuously learning and adjusting to produce wines that the world remembers. The Van Loveren team are super proud to receive these awards.”

Almenkerk

Natalie Opstaele,owner :"Yes, Elgin can do red – very well in fact! We love getting awards for our wines, it gives a fantastic boost to the whole vineyard and cellar team who work so very hard to make sure only the best grapes end up in the wine.  We’re all very chuffed with this recognition."

Babylonstoren

KlaasStoffberg, winemaker: 
"Thank you to NWC for the Double gold award. We feel honoured and it’s a great motivation for our team to produce top quality wines."

Bon Courage

Jacques Bruwer, owner:“Our motto is that great wine is made in the vineyard and only guided through the process in the cellar. Being innovative and passionate about what we do pays dividends. It shows consistent success in our brand.”

De Wet Cellar

Tertius Jonck, winemaker:
"De Wet Cellar’s team is very proud of the results. Through these results we remind ourselves that site specific wines create much more constant and reliable quality. The end result is keeping your customers loyal."

Doolhof

Gielie Beukes, Cellar Master:
"We have been fortunate given the drastic seasonal and meso-climate variances and the associated challenges they bring. Our team have done well to maintain and excel in certain areas to produce great fruit year on year in spite of these challenges. Our focus has always been to take care of the detail and build on a solid base. This has been a key and testimony to delivering consistent quality to our loyal followers, for whom we are extremely grateful."

Dornier

Francois Theunissen, winemaker:
"Improved approaches in the vineyards and in the cellar have facilitated a truly remarkable Stellenbosch Cabernet Sauvignon produced by Dornier. We are proud of the recognition thereof as extended in this Double Gold Award."

Elgin Vintners

Marinda Kruger-Claassen, winemaker:
“For our Syrah, we allow whole-berry fermentation instead of crushing the grapes. This method allows to slow down the release of tannins with a softer colour extraction, and this gives us better control over the whole vinification process. If you are looking for the perfect winter red wine companion, this Syrah is it.”

Highlands Road

Vanessa Mead, winemaker:
SINE CERA 2018 - “The great Bordeaux that most wine lovers are missing out on”, by Lettie Teague.  I read her article with this title as I was searching for answers to my question of why don’t more people know about white Bordeaux blends.  I still don’t have an answer but I agree with her that vinophiles have a blind spot when it comes to this style of wine, one day when I am a real “wine grown up”, I’d like to taste the Chateau Haut Brion.  Unfortunately it has a price tag of about $1200. In the meantime I will try my best to make the best possible one I can each year."

Holden Manz Wine Estate

Gerard Holden, Co-Owner:
"The Holden Manz Chenin Blanc receives Double Gold recognition for the second year in a row.  This time for the 2020 vintage.  Made from bush vines with an average life of over 30 years this wine is 20% barrel fermented using indigenous yeasts and constantly stirred on the lees for 6 months before bottling." 

La Motte

Edmund Terblanche, cellar master:“At La Motte we believe that white wine is much more than an aperitif. Of course much of the appeal is in its refreshing qualities, but an elegant white can be complex, with maturation potential while being exceptionally versatile with food.”

Maree Family Wines

Jacques Maree, winemaker & director: "A great privilege to work with these old vines on the foothills of the Simonsberg. Acting as custodians to preserve the heritage of a small portion of our history brings a lot of joy to us at Maree Family Wines. Receiving recognition for all the hard work is an added benefit."

Meinert Wines

Brendan Butler, winemaker:
"Having just finished harvest, we’re delighted with news of a double gold for our Meinert Sauvignon Blanc 2018, this being a testament to our unrelenting commitment in our vineyards and cellar. I would also like to use this opportunity to pay thanks to my team for their commitment and dedication through thick and thin."

Ormonde

Theo Basson, Proprietor:
"The Single vineyard  Old Block Sauvignon blanc has proven to be a vines of constant quality vintage after vintage. Our gentle approach in the cellar allows the fruit to take centre stage."

Villiera Wines

Alexander Grier, winemaker:
"Villiera has been making Merlot since 1989 and it is well suited to our Terroir. After working with it for years, we identified the best portions of our vineyard and use them to craft our Monro Merlot, using 3 different techniques for complexity and complementary oak barrels for maturation." 

Wildekrans Wine Estate

Braam Gericke, winemaker & viticulturist:
"The team has worked exceptionally hard under sometimes challenging circumstances, never taking their eyes off the collective goal of producing beautiful wines with great care, so these awards are invaluable in inspiring us to keep on with great passion for all we do. We are most grateful.”

 

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

Chardonnay comment:  The strongest wines showed elegance, well balanced natural acidity and ripeness of fruit complete with well-managed oak.  Quite a few wines displayed unripe character whilst a few were overblown, blowsy and had some residual sugar.  When handled well, very good indeed.

Sauvignon Blanc comment: A fair flight, representative of what’s on the market. A number showing Semillon influence, adding some intrigue & complexity. Some surprisingly pyrazine-driven but with more weight than in the past.  Some wines also had lovely texture, some breadth and the older, more mature 2019 & 2018 showing off how Savvy can improve with time.

Chenin Blanc comment: A really very strong class in this year’s judging, across a variety of unoaked and oak styles. Oak is definitely being more judicially used and thankfully far less phenolic bitter notes than in the past.

Bordeaux White comments:  Generally well to very well-made examples dominated.

Other White Blends comment:  This category was quite up and down. Some a little blowsy, whilst the best had some finesse, texture and length.

Other White Cultivars comment: Beautiful Rieslings – play of acidity and fruit sugar, expressive.  Roussanne’s were another great category – delicate, yet complex. Viogniers disappointed a little this year, a number lacked varietal character.  Dry, but missing their typical weight and perfume.  A few good Semillons shone – greener in style but true.

Pinotage comment: A challenging flight, a mixed bag.  2018 not showing all that well.  Not the ease that one expects and often gets with Pinotage.  But a few stand-out wines of complexity, true to their variety, with excellent fruit and not overly acidic nor over-oaked.

Pinot Noir comment:  Pinot Noir continues to improve every year and this year the averages are definitely a notch up again.  Clean wines; fruit driven, it comes to the fore.  The oak, whilst still noted, is being pared down.

Shiraz comment: A large flight of course. A number of them (especially the 2018 vintage) lacked brightness and freshness.  Many well-made, solid, but lacked individual or terroir expression.  Played it safe, perhaps?  We rewarded wines (top category 2019’s) which offered brighter acidity, perfume and some excitement through their own individuality.

Cabernet Sauvignon comment: A very strong flight with a high percentage of winners. The best had complexity and depth, whilst even the middle ground wines had true varietal character.

Merlot comment: Generally less herbaceous than in the past. Better managed extraction and use of oak. The best showed a balance of ripe but not overripe fruit along with finer tannin.

Bordeaux Blend Red comment: One stand-out wine. 2018’s fared well. A good flight overall with fruit fresh & outstanding, integrated tannins in most cases, with pleasing length. Some wines of real potential, few in the flight were disappointing. No over-extraction or overly high alcohol. Most had restraint, if not poise.

Cape Blends comment:  A fair proportion disappointed, sadly.  These wines generally lacked freshness, life & verve. The other half offered some real stars –flora lift, enticing nose, poise & elegance to the palate.  Solid stuff, concentrated with all the components one expects.
Red Rhone Blends comment: A rather variable line-up which is unusual, with many different interpretations – from super fruity, simple to more savoury, complex examples. The best wines stood out, as they showed concentration & depth of flavour.

Other Red Cultivars comment: The Cabernet Francs in general with a few exceptions were a little underwhelming.  The Malbec’s showed well, with more black fruit & well managed tannins.  There were no outright poor wines.

Other Red Blends comment: A disparate flight where the best wines showed class and pedigree focused blending, understanding and good balance, whereas the weakest showed the opposite.

Rosé comment:   Pretty average. Some pleasant strawberries and cream, appetiser notes. One smart example.

Sweet Wines comment:  Fresh bright and delightful play of fruity sugar and acidity in the main. Lovely concentration and complexity.

MCC & Sparkling comment:  A very good flight. Some beautiful fresh cut apple and gentle oatmeal, lees notes without any aldehyde character.  Rosés – a few beautiful raspberry and red apple expressions with texture and length!  The Moscato flight was pretty and very appealing, delightful wines.

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